Best Western’s first footing in ME opens 2009

De Souza

Best Western International (BWI) recently forged an area development deal with the Zainal Mohebi Group (ZMG), one of the UAE’s top 100 companies.

Key to its market development strategy was establishing a strong foothold in the Middle East according to Glenn de Souza, Best Western vice president International Operations Asia.
“The region’s economy is booming and it offers great opportunities for the hospitality sector,” he said. 
As part of the BWI-ZMG agreement, Mohebi Investments (MI) will operate Best Western’s Middle East area development office and the first Middle East property to be branded and managed by the chain is the $55 million 220 room Best Western Residences in Dubai due to open February 2009.
The agreement also named Mohebi Aviation to manage BWI’s International Sales Office (GSA) in Dubai. Since December 12 last year the company has been responsible for Middle East marketing and sales, promotion and public relations activities focusing in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait.
Best Western maintains its brand quality in its 4,000 hotels across 80 countries, says de Souza, by focusing on the staff and ensuring the brand’s standards are adhered to.
“Like every company, development is done strategically. With concentration on Thailand and surrounding areas like Indo-china, there is only so much time that you can spend on developments. We try and keep our overheads as low as possible, which means we work with area developers to develop the brand. Now that we have critical mass in these areas, we are looking at new markets.
“We have set occupancy targets to reach 90 per cent in our first year of operation. The Residences will feature studios and one to three-bedroom accommodation starting at $300 per night, conference and meeting facilities, a rooftop bar, restaurant and a spa,” he said.
The group has further plans to open up to 25 hotels in the region in the next five years in areas including Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain, Abu Dhabi, Ajman and Sharjah.  They were also looking towards Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar. 
By Shalu Chandaran