Racking up an incredible 40 years in the business is Darroch Crawford. Crawford moved to Dubai in August 2006 to spearhead the growth of UK-based Whitbread’s budget brand in the Middle East and since then, has established Premier Inn as one of the strongest contenders in the region’s economy segment.
Parent company Whitbread has recognised this, with Premier Inn Dubai International Airport winning Hotel of the Year in 2011, quite an achievement considering the sizeable UK portfolio and the stringent measurements, from profits to staff turnover, required for the award.
Three hotels are open in Dubai and Premier Inn Abu Dhabi Capital Centre is set to open by November this year. With the Capital Centre hotel now complete, construction on a second property in the emirate will commence shortly and a hotel in Doha is in the design phase.
According to Crawford, the chain has the potential to open a minimum of 25 hotels in Saudi Arabia over the next 10 years. In total, the brand expects to open at least 50 hotels in the GCC and Levant countries over the next decade.
“If we can do 600-plus in the UK then surely we can do 25-plus in a country the size of Saudi Arabia,” Crawford told Hotelier Middle East.