Bristol will offer more choice

The Bristol Hotel.

The Bristol Hotel, which says it is the first boutique hotel in Jordan, is set to open its new extension early next year offering more choice to visitors to Amman.

The number of rooms at the hotel will increase to 127 once the new extension becomes operational. The new wing will consist of clubrooms and suites only.

"With only 98 rooms, we redefine the term personal service," says the hotel's marketing manager, Rami Jarrar.

Jarrar says that the hotel's main target is the business traveller. The hotel is currently running an occupancy rate of 52 per cent, with guests from the Middle East and the rest of the Gulf making up 27 per cent.

The volatile political scenario on Jordan's borders are grabbing headlines the world over, and it has affected the tourism industry in the region.

"More so the leisure industry," said Jarrar.

He added that although most hotels recorded an increase in corporate business, the truth was that there was no 'actual' increase.

"If you leave the percentages aside and look at the 2000, 2001 figures, you will find that the corporate increase is a result of the drop in the leisure market, and not an increase in the corporate one. It is as though we console ourselves with such percentages, and pretend the corporate market - with its high room rate - is going up," he said.

Travel agents in Jordan never really paid much attention to the corporate sector of the industry.

"In fact, they left that sector for the hotels to handle," said Jarrar.

But now with the drop in the leisure sector, the agents have been forced to sit up and take notice of alternative sectors.

"The incoming leisure sector is going down and in some cases disappearing," said Jarrar

Now agents are going after the local corporate market and offering companies travel agent rates.

"The result of this will be an increase in the leisure market and a drop in the corporate market. So whatever happens in this market, the losers are always us, the hotels," he said.

As for steps taken by the Jordanian government to bolster the hard-hit industry, Jarrar said there is not much the government can do.

"I think their hands are tied. The only thing they can do is counter the negative feedback from the global media, which is harming us with the general use of the term Middle East, rather than using the specific locations of the crises," he said.

Jarrar feels that one of the few options left to the hotel industry is to take a leaf out of the Sharm El Sheikh book.

"Sharm El Sheikh started selling to agents at $9.99 per person in a twin, on BB basis, just to attract volume on the expense of Average House Rate, depreciation of rooms and so on. And then just wait for things to pick up," he said.

"Thank god, however, that we have not reached that stage, yet"