Top 10 biggest hotel stories in the Middle East this summer

We bring you a round up of the top ten biggest stories that shook the hotel industry both in the Middle East and in international markets

Operators, Dubai, Hospitality trends, Hotel industry, Hotel news, Middle east hotels, Middle east tourism, Summer, Uae

It's been a busy summer for both the regional and international hospitality market this year. 

We bring you a round up of the top ten biggest stories that shook the hotel industry both in the Middle East and in international markets. 

Marriott International and Alibaba Group enter into a joint venture

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Marriott International, Inc. have established a joint venture aimed at the hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers travelling abroad and domestically every year. The joint venture will leverage Marriott International’s global portfolio of brands combined with Alibaba’s role as a gateway for international brands to reach over 500 million mobile monthly active users across its platforms. Drawing on resources from both Marriott and Alibaba, the joint venture will manage Marriott’s storefront on Fliggy, Alibaba’s travel service platform. It will also market directly to Alibaba’s customer base, provide a link between Marriott’s loyalty programmes and Alibaba’s loyalty programme, and support Marriott hotels globally with content, programmes and promotions customised for the Chinese traveller.


Wyndham Hotel Group spins off from parent company

Wyndham Worldwide is set to spin off the company’s hotel business resulting in two separate, publicly traded companies: Wyndham Hotel Group and Wyndham Vacation Ownership. Wyndham Hotel Group, with headquarters in Parsippany, New Jersey, will become a new, publicly traded pure-play hotel company with a portfolio of brands. Wyndham Vacation Ownership, with headquarters in Orlando, Florida, will be the world’s largest publicly traded timeshare company and will be joined with Wyndham Destination Network, home to RCI, the world’s largest timeshare exchange company.


Five Holdings and Viceroy Hotels & Resorts enter into a legal battle for Palm Jumeirah property

Dubai-based Five Holdings and Viceroy Hotels and Resorts have continued the legal argument over the Palm Jumeirah property, with a number of statements responding to each other over which firm actually controls the hotel. While the hotel operator claims the owner is denying its team access, the owner has now taken the matter to the Dubai Joint Judicial Committee to decide which is the relevant court for the legal battle, and has asserted that the property is licensed as a Five Hotel.

Related: Viceroy and Five Holdings continue legal tussle

Related: Five Holdings takes over Dubai's Viceroy Palm Jumeirah property

Related: DIFC Courts confirms Viceroy as Dubai Palm Jumeirah hotel operator


Marriott voted best employer to work for by MENA hoteliers

Marriott International is the hotel operator that MENA hoteliers would like to work for the most, according to the results of the Hotelier Middle East Salary Survey 2017. For the first time, Marriott International has topped the list, with nearly 50% of our surveyed respondents wanting to work for the behemoth operator.


AccorHotels to consolidate three luxury brands under onefinestay

AccorHotels announced the merger of Travel Keys, Squarebreak and onefinestay with the intention to integrate the three companies under the onefinestay brand by the end of the year. The announcement follows AccorHotel’s 100% acquisition of French villa rental firm Squarebreak earlier this year – it has owned 49% since February 2016. It also acquired Travel Keys earlier this year and onefinestay in 2016. The release added that this integration of the three brands will mean that onefinestay guests will be able to experience over 10,000 of the world’s finest homes combined with hospitality and concierge services.


Emaar Hospitality Group announces two new hotels in Dubai

Emaar Hospitality Group has announced its second hotel project this month. The upcoming property named Address Fashion Avenue, is the group's 28th hotel project and the second hotel soon to be built - Vida Dubai Mall will link directly to The Dubai Mall and will have direct views of the Burj Khalifa. With two other hotel brands, Vida Hotels and Resorts, and Rove Hotels, Emaar Hospitality Group now has 11 operational hotels and 28 hotel projects in the pipeline in Dubai and international markets including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and Turkey.


Millennium to take over Makkah Hilton effective September 1

Millennium Hotels and Resorts will be taking over operations of the Makkah Hilton Hotel & Towers and flagging it as Millennium Makkah Hotel and Towers as of September 1, 2017. The takeover plan was revealed by Millennium Hotels and Resorts Middle East and Africa founder, president and CEO Ali Hamad Lakhraim Alzaabi during an interview with Hotelier Middle East. He also disclosed that the property has been operating as Makkah Hilton Towers for the past 23 years but that it will be deflagged as a Hilton by end of August 2017. Alzaabi declared that the significance of the signing makes the Makkah hotel a prized addition to the global Millennium portfolio.


Seven Tides to build and operate new hotel in Dubai's JLT

Seven Tides is currently working on a new hotel plan that will be launched at Dubai's Jumeirah Lake Towers. The company's CEO Abdulla Bin Sulayem revealed in an interview with Hotelier Middle East that Seven Tides will manage the property itself and is close to announcing a contractor for the project. The company currently owns four hotels in the region: Dukes Dubai; Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort; Mövenpick Hotel Ibn Battuta Gate and Avani Hotel in Deira.


Sofitel signs its largest property in the Middle East in Dubai

Sofitel has signed its largest  property in the Middle East with development partner MKM Commercial Holdings LLC: the Sofitel Dubai Wafi, which is expected to open in early 2019. Sofitel Dubai Wafi will feature 501 luxury guestrooms, inclusive of 86 suites, ranging in size from 55-625m2, in addition to 97 studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom serviced residences to be operated on an extended-stay basis. The property will offer a number of dining concepts including an Asian speciality restaurant, gastro pub, a  destination restaurant, bar and lounge on the 43rd and 44th floors, a French lobby café, an all-day restaurant and a pool bar.


Jumeirah Hotels and Resorts named UAE's strongest hospitality brand

Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts is the UAE’s heathiest hospitality brand according to the first-ever global brand health rankings released by YouGov BrandIndex. Data from YouGov’s global daily brand tracker showed the Dubai hotel group achieving the highest brand health perception scores among consumers in the Emirates, placing it ahead of competitor hospitality groups Hilton and Rotana. Sheraton and Le Meridien complete the top five strongest hospitality brands in the UAE over the past 12 months.


Saudi Arabia announces mega Red Sea tourism project

The chairman of Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) announced the launch of The Red Sea, a 34,000km2 tourism hub between the Umluj and Al Wajh cities. Deputy Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, launched the development in a bid to support the kingdom's Vision 2030 strategy, reports Construction Week Online. Hotel companies will be invited to develop resorts on more than 50 natural islands between Umluj and Al Wajh, state agency SPA reported. The development will begin construction only in Q3 2019, with its first phase due for completion in Q4 2022. Hotels and luxury residences are expected to be developed under Phase 1. 

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