Accor Middle East, one of the leading hospitality operators in the region, is strengthening its presence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Hot on the heels of the signing agreement with Munshaat Real Estate Projects Company to launch the 1315-room Zamzam Pullman Makkah, formerly Zamzam Grand, at the recent Arabian Travel Market (ATM) held from 30 April to 3 May, the Group has announced that it has also signed a management contract to develop a midscale hotel in Jizan.
Christophe Landais, Managing Director Accor Middle East, said: “The Kingdom constitutes a strategic base for Accor to develop its world-class brands. The tourism industry in KSA rapidly expands and our development plans reflect the growing demand for high quality hotels in this market.”
Accor currently operates 12 hotels in KSA representing 3,346 rooms in 6 different cities under the brands Sofitel, Pullman, Novotel and Mercure. Some of the flagship properties can be seen for example in Riyadh with Novotel Al Anoud or in Al Khobar with Sofitel the Corniche.
Both Zamzam Pullman Makkah and the 253-room Pullman Al Hamra, formerly Sofitel Al Hamra in Jeddah, will undergo an extensive renovation to truly portray the core characteristics and values of the Pullman brand. The renovation will start with the public areas and restaurants in late 2012 and will continue with the full refurbishment of the suites and rooms.
The upscale Accor Pullman brand was globally launched in late 2007, and the first Pullman in the region successfully opened in October 2010 in Dubai with the 481-room Pullman Mall of the Emirates. “We have two Pullman properties under development in the UAE and Qatar and we are currently in discussion for potential Pullman developments in the Kingdom with the upscale Pullman product offering meeting both investors’ and end users’ requirements,” added Landais.
Accor, as the pioneer in the economy hotel segment with its ibis brand, has an objective to operate a network of 15 to 20 ibis hotels in the Kingdom. Strengthening its leadership position, it will be the first international operator to introduce an internationally recognised economy brand in the Kingdom. It will debut its 176-room ibis hotel in Riyadh in December 2012 and its 196-room ibis Yanbu in 2013.
In addition, 3 hotels are currently under construction or at design phase and will bring the KSA network to a total of 17 hotels at horizon 2015: Ibis Jeddah Malik Road by 2014, Adagio Jeddah Malik Road by 2014 and Novotel Jizan by 2015.
Accor will also focus on the Holy Cities of Makkah and Madinah where religious tourism is growing. Makkah will welcome over 10 million pilgrims per year and this number is expected to rise significantly in the upcoming years, due to the improvement of local infrastructures such as Jeddah Airport’s renovation which will have a capacity to service 30 million passengers per year upon completion.
As one of the resource speakers at two panel sessions during the Kingdom Hotel Expansion Summit 2012 (KHES 2012), at the ‘Loyalty programmes: Valuable USP or a costly must-have’ session and at the ‘Future of human resources in the hospitality sector’ session, Landais will provide interesting insights on how to attract and retain members through its innovative loyalty programme Le Club Accorhotels, as well as his thoughts on training and preparing the Saudi youth for a career in hospitality and an update on Accor’s Saudisation plan in the Kingdom.
Louis Durand, development manager at Accor ME, is also part of the panel session ‘The budget and mid-market brand explosion in the Kingdom’ while Bassem Salem, regional director of revenue management at Accor ME, speaks at the ‘How to get revenue right’ session.