(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Rotana plans to start the new year with aggressive expansion as the company will open four new hotels with nearly 1,500 keys in the Middle East, its top official says.
Rotana manages a significant portfolio of properties throughout the Middle East, Africa, South Asia and Eastern Europe regions. The brand includes Rotana Hotels & Resorts, Centro Hotels by Rotana, Rayhaan Hotels & Resorts by Rotana and Arjaan Hotel Apartments by Rotana. The hotel management company will add 1,096 keys in the Gulf countries including the UAE during the first quarter of 2014, and an additional 400 keys during the forthcoming summer in Jordan.
"Overall we are very optimistic about 2014. We will be extending our regional presence across our various brands, all of which will be supported by aggressive sales and marketing efforts. We have four openings in 2014 across the region and others in the final stages of being signed," Rotana president and chief executive officer Omer Kaddouri told Khaleej Times in an interview.
New openings for 2014 include Salalah Rotana Resort in Oman with 444 rooms and opening in March; Hili Rayhaan by Rotana in Al Ain with 254 rooms and opening in February 2014; the Boulevard Arjaan by Rotana, Amman with 398 fully furnished hotel apartments and opening by the end of first quarter of 2014. In Doha, City Centre Rotana with 300 luxurious modern rooms and suites and 100 serviced apartments, opening in summer 2014.
Kaddouri mentioned that the company manages more than 13,000 keys across 48 properties and by the year 2017, Rotana will be operating 89 properties, adding 10 new destinations and employing more than 20,000 colleagues.
"Despite the generally gloomy global outlook, Rotana is proud to be growing and expanding. We believe our growth is supported by our commitment to keep evolving our products in line with travel trends and guest preferences," he said.
The UAE market
Kaddouri said the UAE is expected to feature quite prominently in Rotana's expansion plans in the coming years with the huge boost the economy is expected to receive in light of the World Expo 2020 win, and the permanent opportunities that will be offered to the hospitality industry in an expanded post-expo economy.
"The fact that this event will also be the first staging of the World Expo in the Middle East makes it even more relevant to us as a homegrown company, whose core property base lies in the Middle East and North Africa," he added.
Talking about the competition in the UAE, he said the country continues to be a very robust market and with the recent World Expo 2020 win Rotana expects the pace of hospitality development to pick up significantly.
"As our home market, the UAE continues to hold strong potential despite a healthy share of competition. However, Rotana has a very well established and recognised brand presence and reputation in the market and we expect to capitalize on this to grow our presence in areas that hold interest to both the business and leisure market."
Responding to a question, he said: "The area around the new Al Maktoum International Airport is definitely of strategic interest to us. We are very keen to have a presence in an area that will be one of the key new growth areas for Dubai. We are considering a few interesting opportunities to make sure we enter this area with the right product in the right location."
He added: "As we continue on our expansion path, venturing into new territories, expanding our property portfolio, and consolidating our position as the leading hotel management company in the region, we believe that it is our duty to embrace a more sustainable operation and we expect to focus very strongly on our recently launched Corporate Sustainability Platform Rotana Earth in 2014."
2013 performed well
Kaddouri said Rotana's hotels performed well in 2013, despite a few regional markets continuing to experience challenging economic and political conditions. He said the UAE in particular witnessed a very healthy revenue growth of more than 18 per cent over 2012 figures - in Abu Dhabi revenues increased by 12.4 per cent over 2012, while Dubai saw a significant increase of 25.5 per cent in revenue. Overall occupancy in the UAE increased by one per cent and RevPAR grown 5.4 per cent. In 2013, Rotana widened its footprint in one of the region's most promising emerging markets with the opening of its second property in Iraq in Karbala.
The Karbala Rayhaan by Rotana is the first 5-star hotel to open in Karbala, one of the country's largest tourist cities, which annually attracts more than 12 million visitors. Also Rotana opened its first hotel in the Kingdom of Bahrain, Majestic Arjaan by Rotana and with both openings, Rotana is currently managing around 13,000 keys in the region. Last year, Rotana launched two key initiatives Rotana Earth and the upgrade of Rotana Rewards.
"Our highly successful loyalty programme, which now offers even greater benefits and a host of new elements designed to give guests more reasons to choose Rotana, while simultaneously serving as an aggressive driver of business," Kaddouri said.
He said that Rotana Earth formalises a process that began long ago and underscores the company's commitment to building a more sustainable operation and demonstrating greater responsibility to new generations to follow.