New Staybridge brand indicative of InterCon’s aggressive growth plans

The new InterContinental Hotel Kuwait City will be ready in 2009

The InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has launched its Staybridge Suites extended-stay brand across the Middle East region.

The launch was marked by the announcement that four properties are already in the pipeline and will be located in the UAE, Kuwait and Egypt.
This is part of an aggressive regional development plan that will see almost 7000 rooms added to the group’s Middle East and Africa portfolio over the next three years. The dramatic increase in capacity will come from the expected opening of at least 30 properties across five of the group’s hotel brands located in eleven countries throughout the region. The multi-brand expansion will make a significant contribution to InterContinental Hotels Group’s global objective to achieve net organic growth of 50-60,000 hotel rooms by 2008. The regional plan represents not only rapid growth of the hospitality industry across key destinations in the Middle East and Africa, but also significant diversification of travel trends as more established markets mature and confidence grows in emerging tourist destinations and business hubs, said Phil Kasselis, vice-president, development, IHG Middle East & Africa.
In the upscale travel sector, IHG is building on its existing portfolio of properties under both the InterContinental Hotels & Resorts and Crowne Plaza brands. Seven InterContinental hotel deals have been signed and will be developed in key destinations such as Saudi Arabia and the Dubai Festival City property due to open later this year.
The most recent of these is an iconic InterContinental Hotel in Kuwait City, set to open early in 2009, and being developed with Bu Khamseen Group Holding Co. This is the fourth IHG Kuwait property to be backed by the group.
Similarly, at least three Crowne Plaza properties will enhance the brand’s presence in the Middle East over the next two years. Besides the Crowne Plaza Dubai Festival City, these include the 247-room Crowne Plaza Al Khobar, set to open this summer, and the Crowne Plaza Al Madinah, a 620-room property set for a 2008 opening – both being developed by Al Rajhi Investments. Separately, the group also announced the opening of a 126-unit Crowne Plaza Hotel in the industrial city of Sohar in Oman.
While there is substantial growth ahead for the five-star sector, IHG is focusing its most aggressive development plans on the four-star and mid-scale property tiers. The Holiday Inn brand will increase through the signing of eight properties to date in Nigeria, Ghana, Jordan, South Africa, Qatar, Egypt and two in the UAE. Like the recent hotel opened in Sharjah and one to open in Abu Dhabi, new Holiday Inn properties will carry the established brand hallmarks of ‘the best night’s sleep’, ‘the best breakfast’ and dependable levels of friendly service at excellent value.
Finally, expansion will also come through InterContinental Hotels Group’s entrance into the extended-stay market through the launch of Staybridge Suites. Four property deals, amounting to 558 new rooms, are already in the pipeline, in the UAE, Egypt and Kuwait, with plans to expand throughout the Middle East in the near future. The brand delivers a unique accommodation proposition to the region, aimed primarily at long-stay business travellers looking for ‘more home than hotel’.
“The launch of the Staybridge Suites hotel concept in the Middle East market signals the strength and performance of the Staybridge Suites brand in the US and the viability of the extended-stay segment overall,” said William Morris, senior vice-president, sales and marketing, Europe, Middle East & Africa, IHG.
Although tailored to meet the specific requirements and cultural sensitivities of the region, all Staybridge Suites in the Middle East will follow the successful US and UK model with studio, one, and two-bedroom suites. The modem interior design will be a familiar, residential-style environment, featuring wood flooring and furniture, including casual armchairs and over-sized sofas.
Rooms will include a desk> and ergonomic chair with space for working, high-speed internet access, flat screen TV's and a kitchen area including oven, refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave and utensils.
Two properties are proposed for Dubai, with one set for Bur Dubai and expected to open by the end of the year, said Kasselis. Meanwhile, Bu Khamseen Group Holding Co is the confirmed investor for the pending Kuwait property, which will offer 150 rooms and also be complete by 2008.