Le Meridien buoyed by bumper year


Following an exceptional year in 2000, when revenues from outbound reservations rose 130 per cent, Le Meridien Hotels will be back in force at next month's Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in Dubai, to underscore its growing presence throughout the region.

The group currently operates 23 hotels in the Middle East and West Asia, and has another 19 under development, including five launching this year alone.

"The region is the fastest growing of any in the world for Le Meridien, and we recognise that Arabian Travel Market is a key element in our marketing strategy here," said regional vice president, sales and marketing Russel Sharpe.

"As far as outbound travel is concerned, we have achieved the highest average rate of any region worldwide, capitalising on the excellent reputation enjoyed by our hotels in key markets, both regionally and around the globe.

At the show, which will be held from May 1 to 4, Le Meridien Hotels will promote a series of sales initiatives including the highly successful Ahlan programme for Arab travellers and the Summer Passport discount scheme.

"The latter is a vital tool for the travel trade since it not only offers competitive rates at our hotels worldwide, but also guarantees allocations at peak season in key destinations such as London, Paris and Thailand," said Sharpe.

"In addition, we have joined with a number of partners such as Saudi American Bank, National Bank of Kuwait, Standard Chartered of India, Dnata and Emirates' Skyward loyalty scheme to offer additional benefits for their customers."

Full details will also be available on new Le Meridien properties including the 900-room Nile Tower in central Cairo, a golf resort in Kathmandu, city hotels in Madinah, Saudi Arabia and Cochin, India, and the Red Sea resort of Sharm-El-Sheikh in Egypt.

"The Arabian Travel Market is now a major event on the international travel calendar, bringing in buyers not only from the region but also new source markets," said Sharpe.

"While we have enjoyed considerable success in countries such as the UK - with around 30 per cent of guests at our Dubai hotels last summer originating from here - we are also keen to look farther afield, and the show gives us an ideal platform to showcase our expanding portfolio."

Since the last event, Le Meridien has opened two resorts in Egypt and three hotels in India, as well as a 150-room tower at the rebranded Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa in Dubai.