Shangri-La Hotels eyes Saudi expansion and resort properties

The hospitality group is also looking at new opportunities in the UAE

Shangri-La Colombo. Image used for illustrative purpose only
Shangri-La Colombo. Image used for illustrative purpose only

Shangri-La Hotels is examining a number of opportunities in Saudi Arabia, including resort-style properties on the Red Sea as part of an ambitious expansion drive in the Gulf, John Northen, the firm’s executive vice president for the Middle East, India and the Indian Ocean told sister title Arabian Business.

Shangri-La already has plans to open a property in Jeddah in 2020, a 65-storey tower that will include 236 keys and 122 branded and services residences.

In an interview with Arabian Business, Northen said that the property is already in an “advanced state of construction.

“At this point, we are looking at further opportunities in Saudi Arabia, besides Jeddah,” he added. “We do get approached quite often for potential developments and I think there will be a lot of things.”

Northen added that Shangri-La is also looking at “resort-type” opportunities on the kingdom’s Red Sea coast, as well as in Riyadh.

“It [Saudi Arabia] has some very untapped natural landscape and interesting archaeological sites and marine and ocean life,” he added. “It’s a country we’re also interested in working with.”

Any additional developments, he added, would only be three to five years away.

Additionally, Northen said that Shangri-La is looking at new opportunities in the UAE to bolster its three properties in the country, and is eying new properties in North Africa and “possibly Oman” in the future.

In 2022, the company also plans to open a 250-key property in Bahrain’s Marina area. 

In mid-June, Shangri-La re-opened its hotel in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo, which was struck during a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in the country on April 21.

“We weren’t in a hurry to re-open. I think we could have re-opened the building a bit sooner, but we really wanted to make sure we took care of all our guests and employees,” Northen said. “That was the priority.”

Shangri-La has worked with private security consultants and Sri Lankan authorities to improve security at the property, one of two the company has in Sri Lanka.

“We feel very comfortable and confident with the measures we’ve taken going forward,” Northen added.

Immediately following the attacks, Sri Lankan authorities said they expected tourist arrivals to drop by as much as 50 percent for several months.

“This is a setback, but we have long-term faith in the destination,” Northen said. “Our investment in Sri Lanka is a long-term investment. We believe in the island.

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