Le Meridien to open $600m Gulf properties


LE MERIDIEN has signed up with developers to construct nine new properties $600 million in the Gulf, it was reported.

The new properties, when completed by 2006, would increase Le Meridien portfolio to 144 properties.
The new properties, have 2,869 rooms,  that are currently in various phases of development, said Ashok Ummat, Le Meridien's senior vice-president, finance and development for the Middle East and  the West Asia region. “Currently, the Middle East and West Asia are  one of the fastest growing regions. We have signed up with developers to construct nine new properties in the region, valued at $600 million,” he said.
Ashok Ummat said the chain's regional operation contributed about 18 percent to its annual global sales revenue of $1.5 billion. The chain recently opened Le Meridien Fairway in Garhoud, Dubai. The Dh400 million Grosvenor House is under construction at Dubai Marina, which will increase the number of Le Meridien properties in the UAE to 13.
The new properties include a $200 million 1,320-room Le Meridien Makkah Towers, which is being built by Al Majad Holdings. Construction of the property, which began six months ago, will be completed by June next year. It will have eight towers. This follows the recent opening of the 231-room Le Meridien Makkah, also developed by Al Majad Holdings.
“We have also signed up for a 275-room Le Meridien Riyadh, scheduled to open in June, 2005. In Kuwait, we are developing three new properties, including the 70-room Le Meridien Kuwait which will be opened this month. This is followed by another 70-room property, Le Meridien Mubarakiya Kuwait, and the 80-room Le Meridien Salmiya Kuwait – both to be completed by early 2006.”
Construction work for the chain's Grosvenor House Hotel and Apartments at Dubai Marina is in full swing. It is expected to be opened in the first quarter of next year.
Le Meridien is currently undergoing a corporate restructuring programme, following the Lehman Brothers' buying of its £1.2 billion debt portfolio. Le Meridien's Middle East and West Asia region, which covers 26 territories, currently manages 32 properties out of its global portfolio of 135 hotels and serviced apartments.
The chain manages 33,000 rooms in 135 properties in 56 territories. Last year, Le Meridien opened 15 new hotels and announced the development of a further 15. Ummat said his company was aggressively looking into the South Asian markets. “India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal are some of the next growth countries and we are looking for opportunities there,” he said.