Multinational hospitality company Accor has identified opportunities in Oman’s luxury hotel market and is undertaking extensive expansion plans across the region.
Speaking at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) in Ras Al Khaimah, Accor’s vice president for development, Jean Baptiste, told Hotelier Middle East that they have 10 mid-ranged hotels in development in Muscat and five new brands that will enter the market in 3-4 years.
He explained that currently Oman has only five branded luxury hotels in the entire country and believed there was a gap in the market for premium hotels.
“We see a lot of opportunities in the luxury segment of Oman,” said Baptiste. “We still think that Oman, particularly in Muscat, should focus on quality luxury products. At the moment, there are only five branded quality hotels in the market. We would say that a brand like Sofitel or Fairmont would do very well there. We also see an opportunity for a product like Rixos in Salalah. Something like an all-inclusive concept that is positioned at a luxury level doesn’t exist at all in the entire country.”
However, Baptiste expects some complications for its hotel pipelines due to various restrictions in Oman.
“People tend to make decisions a bit slower and financing is a bit restrictive. Getting permits and working with the Ministry of Tourism is also not easy,” Baptiste added. “In terms of an investment perspective, the current hotel classification is challenged because the requirements for the Ministry of Tourism for three and four star products in terms of room size and facilities are very extensive. We are going hand-in-hand with the government to evolve those classifications.”
At the moment, Accor has only one hotel in Muscat – the Ibis, as well as a Mercure hotel in Sohar. Overall, Accor has around 150 hotels in operation in the Middle East and 125 hotels under construction, mostly in the UAE and Saudi Arabia regions.