Dutch brand wants 5-star blooms in 2007


Golden Tulip Hotels and Resorts hopes to make a strong showing at the upcoming Arabian Travel Market, says MENA vice-president Amine Moukarzel.

“We are taking our brand further into the five-star segment with our Royal Tulip offering,” he told TTN. “We have already signed the first hotel in Oman, and are in talks with people in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Totally, we are looking at five Royal Tulips in the region.”
The Oman property is set to offer state-of-the-art leisure and entertainment facilities, as well as a spa, which will be co-branded with Mandara Spas. “To maintain exclusivity at the Royal Tulip, we have tied up with an European tour operator, who will be chartering a private jet to fly guests down – that’s the level of treatment we are talking about.”
Last year, he says, was a good year for the group in the region. “We have made strides in two major aspects. The first is the improvement of operations, which includes not only revenue but also standards. The other is the brand has gotten bigger and many success stories have come out of it. We have seen major improvement in the GCC market,” he says.
So what does 2007 hold for them? “We are opening new hotels, and several of our recently acquired properties are undergoing renovations and refurbishments. For example, our Golden Tulip in Bahrain has received the award for Bahrainisation in the first year of its operation. That how we like following through with our vision, ‘International brand, local flavour’. We have made a lot of innovations at our properties across the GCC, and these have consequently seen tremendous mileage.”
New properties being added this year include the newly opened Golden Tulip in Dibba, Oman. Also in Oman, the group will manage two hostels or hotel apartments, which are being planned with the help of the government which wants to support the local communities.
Other new hotels include a 65-room Golden Tulip in Kuwait, as well as another property in Dubai and two in Abu Dhabi. Of the hotels in the UAE’s capital, one is a new property, while the other is an acquisition.
Moukarzel is also in the process of finalising a 50-room hotel apartment block in Abu Dhabi that will carry the Flamingo name. He is also president of the Flamingo Hotel Management Company.
“2007 is an important year for us. The sector is very demanding in three aspects. One is the new projects we are in the middle of, in Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Al Khobar, Jeddah, Medina,” he says.
“Secondly, most of our properties are in high demand, and to ensure that it stays that way we have a lot of loyalty programmes in place. We are one of the few chains that have a tie up with Emirates airlines, along with other major airlines in the region. And finally, we look after our people. With the number of hotels coming up around the region it is essential for us to maintain our standards. For this it is essential to find the right kind of people. Once we find them we groom them and take care of them to make sure they grow in their career.”
While the rest of the industry focuses on Dubai, Moukarzel says the time is ripe for the region’s emerging countries: “Oman has already made its mark, but this is the year for Qatar. Saudi Arabia, too, is definitely going to be big and we’d like a piece of that cake.”
by Sonorita Chauhan