Gulf on Baglioni expansion radar
Hotel group eyes Dubai, KSA, Oman and Qatar
Italy’s Baglioni Hotels has revealed aggressive expansion plans, which include rolling out properties in four of the Gulf States.
The top-end hotel brand, which already boasts 15 properties in Italy, London and France, plans to double its portfolio in the next few years and the GCC is one area earmarked for expansion with properties planned for Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Qatar.
The company’s Dubai property will feature 70 villas on ‘Iceland’ – one of the islands comprising Nakheel’s offshore project ‘The World’ – and is set to open in 2012.
“It will be the only property on that island,” Baglioni Hotels owner Luca Magni told Hotelier Middle East.
He said the hotel would have an Italian flavour, with “Italian touches” such as Murano glass pieces as a reference to “the ancient art of shaping things”, yet a contemporary design and feel.
What’s more, it promises to have the most authentic Italian restaurant in town.
Magni said Dubai was selected as it was “a destination for those people who are already our clients”.
“Plus if the economy goes bad, hopefully we can make money out of this property,” he joked.
The design ethics of all of Baglioni’s new properties, said Magni would be “contemporary, elegant and refined”,
“What makes us different from the others is our warm hospitality – anyone can serve a coffee or make a bed but hospitality is very much about people and relationships with clients,” he said.
“In Italy our culture and heritage is about relationships – in this respect we are appreciated very much and considered different from other hotels and chains.”
In addition to properties in the Gulf, Magni is eyeing additional ventures (all under management agreements) in the North America (New York, Miami, Beverly Hills, San Francisco and Toronto), India, Sri Lanka and Marrakech, while in November this year, the company will open in Budapest – a project that has seen the refurbishment of an ancient spa with one bath dating back to the 1500s.
“There will be a thermal spa covering a total area of eight thousand square metres,” Magni revealed.
When asked why Baglioni was embarking on expansion now, given that the company was originally established in 1975, Magni said: “We have proved that the concept of intimacy, privacy and elegant hotels worked – plus it takes me a long time to make decisions!”