Marriott mulls plans for Protea in the Middle East

First Protea branded property slated for Dubai or Egypt

Alex Kyriakidis.
Alex Kyriakidis.

Marriott has discussed plans to bring its newly acquired Protea brand to the Middle East, with the debut property most likely to be located in Dubai or Egypt.

Earlier this year, Marriott International became the biggest international hotel operator in Africa having completed the acquisition of the 116-hotel Protea Hospitality Group based in South Africa.

Marriott International, Middle East and Africa president and managing director Alex Kyriakidis told Hotelier Middle East that the Protea brand is seeing a lot of interest from the company’s existing Middle East owners.

“They like the fact that [Protea] is a full service brand, but that it has more of a quality tier positioning rather than upscale. They like the flexibility that gives them. Our development team is in discussions with interested parties to bring Protea to the Middle East,” Kyriakidis told Hotelier.

“It would actually be very synergistic because the Gulf carriers are increasing the frequency of their flights and penetration into Africa, particularly South Africa. If we can get the Protea name into the Middle East market it could be hugely synergistic for our customers of Africa and the Middle East and Africa.”

Kyriakidis said that Marriott International is speaking to owners about Proteas in Dubai and in Egypt.

“These are two markets where we have a lot of interest. Developers wanted to talk to us in the early stages and I’m certainly very pleased that already the name is out there and people know it. People in this market know Protea, which is great.”

While the Protea deal reportedly “catapulted” Marriott International to the number one slot in Africa, it also put the group at number two in the Middle East and Africa according to Kyriakidis, and the company is now looking to become the largest operator in the region.

Currently, Marriot has 14,000 rooms in the Middle East and North Africa and will focus mainly on Saudi Arabia and the UAE for future growth.

A total of 3500 rooms are already under construction in KSA, representing 35% of the group’s target of 10,000 rooms by 2020.

The same target has been outline for UAE rooms, and currently Marriott has 1750 under construction in the country.

Kyriakidis said that he wouldn’t rule out another acquisition but currently Marriott is focusing on integrating its existing acquired portfolio.

“Nothing is out but this year our plate is full. We’ve got to concentrate on getting that business integrated successfully into the Marriott family”.

The Marriott International pipeline combined with the portfolio at the end of 2013 shows a cumulative annual growth rate in rooms of 25% between 2013 and 2018.

Fees are also set to increase from US $36 million at the end of 2013 to $120 million by 2018.

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