KSA-based MENA Hotels & Resorts, the hotel-management arm of Al Hokair Group, has set its sights on becoming the Middle East and North Africa's leading operator through an aggressive expansion strategy.
“MENA is a local, regional brand and if you look at the success stories of other regional brands in the area, we aspire to take MENA Hotels and Resorts to such heights,” Al Hokair Group deputy CEO Sami Al-Hokair told Hotelier middle East.
Al Hokair said the firm would soon be competing with other homegrown management companies in the region, naming two: “After two or three years, MENA Hotels and Resorts will be the biggest group in the Middle East, the same as Rotana or Coral, but a Saudi company."
There are already three hotels operational under the MENA brand, all in Riyadh: the MENA Hotel Riyadh was the first to open under the brand in 2009. This was followed by the 400-key, five-star MENA Grand Khalidiya, Riyadh and the MENA Suites Olaya, Riyadh which opened last year.
By the end of 2012, the group hopes to have brought this number up to five with the launch of the MENA Suites Hotel Al Khobar and a boutique 90-room hotel in Riyadh, according to the brand's director Fadi Mazkour.
“By 2013 we’ll have about 10 properties operating and by 2014 we’ll have brought this up to 15-16 properties operational,” declared Mazkour.
“The majority of our hotels will be in Saudi Arabia, Jeddah, Al Khobar, Dammam, Riyadh, Yanbu and Dubai,” he added.
Last month Hotelier Middle East uncovered Al Hokair Group's plans to reflag half of its portfolio of internationally-operated hotels in Saudi Arabia by the end of 2013 at an investment of US $40. Read more here.
“We will continue to work in partnership with hotel brands like Golden Tulip, Novotel and Hilton Garden Inn, but the focus for Al Hokair Group has moved to developing MENA Hotels & Resorts, our hotel management company which was established in 2008," said Al-Hokair.
Furthermore, Mazkour revealed the chain's plans to soon launch its 'Bayti Suites' budget, long-stay brand in Saudi Arabia.
The operator is also venturing outside the Kingdom, with signed properties under construction in Oman, Jordan and Lebanon.
“There is no indication towards the opening dates; there are some delays in construction so they will not be due in 2012 for definite, it will be more like 2013 or the beginning of 2014,” explained Mazkour.
In addition, there are plans to restart construction on two signed MENA-run hotels within Al Hokair Group’s Al Sahara Kingdom project in Dubailand next year.
The Al Sahara Kingdom has been master-planned over a 50 million ft² area in Dubailand, the stalled multibillion-dollar real estate development backed by Dubai Properties Group (DPG).The project includes two four-star hotels, an indoor theme park, restaurants, residential areas and a retail souk.
“This is on hold now, but we will try to [restart construction] of the hotels and theme park in 2013, combined with the apartments and villas. This is our plan,” Al-Hokair told Hotelier.