Hotelier Express Power List 2017: Who ranked from 6 to the top 10?
Hotelier Express compiles the annual rankings of the most influential hoteliers in the mid-market sector
6. Amine Moukarzel
President/partner, Louvre Hotels Group/Golden Tulip Hotels MENA
With 50 operational hotels classified in the mid-scale segment, representing a total of 3,573 rooms, Louvre Hotels Group, under the stewardship of president Amine Moukarzel, identified the Middle East’s growing need for mid-scale branded hotels very early on.
In a bold, forward-thinking move, Moukarzel placed Louvre Hotels Group at the forefront of the mid-scale hospitality industry, specialising in executing quality, budget-friendly, bottomline-focused and profitable hotels for its investor partners. As a result, Louvre Hotels Group has been able to grow its turnover by more than 300% in less than 10 years.
His leadership has overseen the overhaul of the group’s core four-star brand, Golden Tulip Hotels, repositioned and re-aligned to cater to the tech-savvy, millennial and modern traveller, with 10 properties in the pipeline, including Golden Tulip Design Tbilisi, Georgia (2018), first entry into Tbilisi; Golden Tulip Muscat (2018), marking the relaunch of the brand in the region and featuring the brand’s new markers in a modern, new build hotel.
The group’s economy lifestyle brand in the region, Campanile, is currently under design development in Kuwait and Oman, with Campanile Mangaf, Kuwait (2019); and Campanile Resort Oman (2020).
Meantime, over the last year, three mid-market hotels joined Louvre’s stable of operating properties:Tulip Inn Ras Al Khaimah; Tulip Inn Downtown Muscat, Oman; and Tulip Inn Modon Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. New signings for the brand included Tulip Inn Modon Jeddah (2018), first entry into Jeddah and Tulip Inn Algiers Airport, Algiers (2018).
7. Alexandra Murray
Area vice president operations, focused service hotels, Europe, Middle East & Africa, Hilton
The sole woman on the Hotelier Express Power List 2017 has almost three decades of international hospitality management experience, with deep experience in operations as well as commercial areas of the business on both a property and regional level. Instrumental in the success of Hilton Europe’s focused service hotels, as of August 2015, Alexandra Murray’s Europe remit expanded to include the Middle East and Africa portfolio.
“I am passionate about the mid-market hotel sector and its expansion across the Middle East and Africa. My vision is for Hilton to be recognised by guests, team members and owners as EMEA’s leading focused service hospitality operator. This is key to our continued growth,” Murray shares with Hotelier Express.
Murray has played a key role in that growth, which has seen the debut of Hilton Garden Inn, now operational across four hotels in the UAE and seven in the region. The group is set to welcome the Hampton by Hilton brand to the region with signings including Hampton by Hilton in Dubai with 420 keys, and Hampton by Hilton Al Marjan Island in Ras Al Khaimah with 493 keys, the largest Hampton by Hilton in EMEA.
8. Ali Hamad Lakhraim Alzaabi
Founder, president & CEO, Millennium Hotels and Resorts, Middle East and Africa
During the past 16 years since he has founded and reigned as president and CEO for Millennium Hotels and Resorts Middle East and Africa, Ali Alzaabi has steered the hotel group to new markets and launched new brands, including mid-market and budget concepts and long-stay serviced accommodation, such as Studio M, M Hotels and Millennium Executive Apartments.
As of September 2017, with the opening of M Hotel Downtown by Millennium in Dubai and M Hotel Makkah in Saudi Arabia, the group operates 11 mid-scale properties, representing a total of 3,000 rooms.
In the regional supply pipeline, 15 additional mid-scale hotels are committed, totalling 6,365 rooms. These include three Studio M hotels due to open in Dubai by 2018 as well as another in Muscat and in Saudi Arabia, underscoring the group’s concentrated push for mid-scale. Among these is the 750-key Studio M Dubai World Central, which will be one of the largest budget hotels in the region.
“We see tremendous potential in the development and introduction of our mid-range and budget brands to the region, as we believe this market is undersupplied and there is a strong demand for quality three and four-star brands with international standards,” Alzaabi says.
Saudi Arabia is a key focus for the group in its mid-scale thrust, with seven operational properties. Millennium is also developing a new mid-scale hotel brand called Agarwood; the ‘eco-lifestyle concept’ is expected to launch in Salalah, Oman in 2018.
9. Omer Kaddouri
President and CEO, Rotana Hotel Management Corporation Ltd
Rotana was one of the more forward thinking, early adopter hotel management companies in the Middle East when, in 2005, the UAE-based group foresaw upcoming changing traveller behaviour and resulting demand for more accessible, quality accommodation and, consequently, launched its affordable lifestyle brand, Centro by Rotana.
Currently, there are eight Centro by Rotana hotels operating within the region, with a 2,213-room inventory spanning the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Three Centro openings in the GCC within the past year have included Centro Waha in Riyadh and Centro Shaheen in Jeddah, both in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Looking back at the past year, Rotana Hotel Management Corporation president and CEO Omer Kaddouri tells Hotelier Express: “Diversification is now under way throughout the region, with increased interest in mid-range products in domestic, international and business markets.The mid-range segment, therefore, looks set to provide profitable long-term investment.”
In the coming years, according to Kaddouri, Rotana will further sharpen its focus on promoting the concept of economy hotels in the region, by providing “great accommodation at convenient prices to suit different segments of the market, whether people are visiting for business or leisure and, at the same time, offer services that meet the highest standards of hospitality”.
As part of Rotana’s mid-market push in the region, Centro by Rotana intends to gain favour with budget-conscious travellers who focus on quality and convenience, by opening an additional 13 properties in the region, representing 2,612 rooms.
10. Mohamed Ahmed Awadalla
Chief executive officer, Time Hotels Management LLC
With a decade under his belt at Time Hotels, CEO Mohamed Awadalla’s UAE-headquartered company is moving from strength to strength in the hospitality industry.
The Time Hotels brand portfolio includes flagship Time Hotels & Resorts with four-and five-star properties, extended stay Time Hotel Apartments and Time Residence, and Time Express Hotels for budget-conscious travellers.
In mid-2017, under Awadalla’s stewardship, the hotel operator announced plans to open eight mid-scale properties across the Middle East by Q4 2018. The expansion will see the company extend its footprint to Ajman and Fujairah in the UAE, followed by Saudi Arabia before the end of Q4 2018. The new additions will join Time Hotels’ existing portfolio of seven mid-scale properties between Dubai and Sharjah, taking the tally to 15 properties in the Middle East. In Dubai, two new mid-scale hotels will open: Time Asma Hotel and Time Express Hotel Al Jaddaf. Time’s international openings in Riyadh and Qurayyat demonstrate the brand’s strength and popularity in markets outside of the UAE. Saudi Arabia will see the 137-key four-star Yasma by Time Hotels and Resorts in Qurayyat, and Yasma by Time Express Hotels, Riyadh. A debut for the Express brand in the Kingdom, this hotel will comprise 105 rooms.
Awadalla says: “It has been a busy year for Time Hotels with a raft of properties announced with several of them due to come online in the next 12 months. We have been very strategic with our openings by identifying and assessing the demand within the market and implementing the most suitable brand from the Time portfolio.”