Saudi hospitality sector set to grow with new hotels

By K.S. RAMKUMAR  www.arabnews.com 

JEDDAH: Some of the major hotel chains have been embarking on plans to renovate, expand their existing properties, or come up with new projects. The Kingdom’s major cities of Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam already boast scores of hotels ranging from three stars to five stars.

According to business leaders representing the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s hotels committee, there is a renewed enthusiasm on the part of major hotel chains to renovate their properties or expand their existing capacity. “This is due to increasing demand from year-round Umrah visitors, as well as from both business and leisure travelers,” Mohammed Alghamdi, a JCCI member said on Monday.

In fact, 38 new hotel rooms are being opened daily this year in the GCC including Saudi Arabia. Forty-eight hotels with 14,178 rooms are set to open in 2010, at an estimated cost of $7.3 billion.

The Saudi hospitality sector looks set to grow in tandem with inbound travel on the up, both in terms of religious tourism and business visitors. It is forecast that there will be another 21 hotels with 7,000 hotel rooms in Saudi Arabia by 2013. Two thousand of these rooms will open this year.

Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal will preside over the formal opening of the new Park Hyatt Jeddah-Marina Club and Spa project at the Equestrian Club of Jeddah in Al-Hamra district early next week, following the hotel’s soft opening a few months ago. It is a residential-style hotel where French interior designer Gilles Quiffet and architect Patrice Hart have fashioned rooms that fuse a sleek European style with Arab-Andalusian architecture.

Sheraton Jeddah Hotel & Resort is going through major changes. The upgrading of the hotel started mid-2009 and will continue through 2010. The hotel has already started renovating the Al-Nakheel and Loa Loa rooms.

Work is in full swing on some of the new hotels planned across the Kingdom. In Jeddah, Four Points by Sheraton Mall of Arabia, a 300-room property, is scheduled to open in mid 2012. The new hotel will provide direct access to the Mall of Arabia, which is home to numerous retail stores, restaurants, an office complex, a gold souk and an entertainment area with an ice rink.

Four Points by Sheraton Dhahran is expected to open in early 2013. The hotel will have 236 rooms and suites ranging from deluxe rooms to executive suites.

Aloft Riyadh is due to open in the capital in 2013. This will be the second Aloft in the Middle East, following the opening of Aloft Abu Dhabi in 2009. The new-build hotel will offer 225 loft-like rooms, tech-savvy touches, a hip, social atmosphere and easy access to Riyadh’s commercial and shopping hubs.

The Ritz-Carlton Hotels in the Middle East has been increasingly focusing on the Kingdom.  “Saudi Arabia represents the largest GCC market for us and we see tremendously high potential across the Kingdom for the coming years,” says its Sales Director Mohamed Halawani who has been appointed as the associate director of sales to be solely responsible for “this all-important” market. “I have to accomplish my revenue goals for the years ahead, and at the same time, I need to raise the awareness of the Ritz-Carlton brand among the top travel partners and companies in the Kingdom ahead of our competition,” he told Arab News.

Movenpick Hotels & Resorts recently celebrated the opening of its new 201-room five-star hotel and resort in Yanbu. “We have quickly become the center of business meetings and major events in Yanbu,” says its GM Khaled Habbab.

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