Accor Middle East managing director Christophe Landais Accor Middle East managing director Christophe Landais

Global hotel giant Accor is predicting a strong year of expansion in the Middle East for 2012, according to Middle East managing director Christophe Landais.

“We are planning to open 10 new hotels representing 2800 rooms in the UAE and in Saudi Arabia. This will grow our total regional network to 65 hotels (over 15,000 rooms),” Landais told Hotelier Middle East.

The 10 hotels will be positioned across all markets, from economy to luxury, and include brands such as Ibis, Novotel and Sofitel.

Eight of the 10 upcoming hotels will be in the UAE. These include: Ibis Abu Dhabi Gate, Novotel Abu Dhabi Gate, Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche, Mercure Dubai Gold Jumeirah, Novotel Abu Dhabi Al Bostan, Adagio Abu Dhabi Al Bostan, Pullman Dubai Jumeirah Lake and Novotel Dubai Al Barsha.

Two Ibis hotels will launch in Saudi Arabia; the 176-room Ibis Riyadh Olaya Street and the 196-room Ibis Yanbu.

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The expansion “will reinforce Accor’s position as one of the leading hotel operators in the region,” said Landais.

In terms of future development, Accor will “focus and further expend on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Qatar for its economy brands with Ibis and mid-scale with Novotel,” he added.

As well as prioritising regional growth, Accor has identified social media and sustainable hotel operations as focus points for 2012.

“With the evolution of technology, we predict more and more digital solutions. 2012 will be a landmark year for digital marketing,” said Landais. “We recently launched our new ‘geo-localised’ website, Accorhotels.com, which has been operational since July 2011. It is already attracting more online guests from the region generating more bookings.

“With the launch of the latest version of Accorhotels.com, we have observed a significant increase in our online bookings with approximately 30% increase. More than 800,000 users are currently going online, surfing our new improved website. By end of 2011, we will nearly reach 1,000,000 users in the Middle East.”

He added that Accor’s third priority would be to target “green travellers”.

“A recent survey by Accor Worldwide showed that three out of four guests are interested in sustainable development. This is also evident from the increase in the number of guests that are today opting to participate in green initiatives like re-using towels to reduce water and chemical usage,” Landais observed.