Ali Hamad Lakhraim Alzaabi has been the prolific head leading Millennium Hotels & Resorts as the president for the last 16 years and in the last year, the self-made Emirati hotelier has made noticeable strides in his efforts to expand the footprint of the company.
Having started from a single property in Abu Dhabi, as of July 31st, 2018, Millennium commands 10,850 rooms in operation in the region with 35 hotels in operation but under Alzaabi leadership, the hotel company has its eyes set on a massive expansion with nearly 18,396 keys to open within the next four years within 45 properties in the pipeline.
The key area of focus for Millennium, Alzaabi tells Hotelier, has been the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In September 2017, the company took over operations of the Makkah Hilton Hotel & Towers and flagged it as Millennium Makkah Hotel and Towers. In June 2018, 227-key Millennium Madinah Airport opened next to Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz Airport. With religious tourism gaining traction more now than ever before, Alzaabi says the company plans to open 5,000 to 10,000 more keys in the Holy City in the next three years. Four hotels are expected to open this year, namely Millennium Al Naseem and Copthorne Al Naseem in Makkah, Millennium Tabouk, and M Hotel Makkah Al Aziziyah.
“We are fully committed to a strategic expansion in Saudi Arabia, extending our reach across the entire Kingdom, with 21 hotels planned to open in locations such as Jizan, Baha, Madinah, Makkah and Tabouk in the next two years.” Alzaabi reveals.
Dubai is also an area of focus in the region for Millennium with seven hotels in the pipeline and two new brands: Millennium Place and Studio M. Studio M brand will debut in Dubai this year with Studio M Al Qiyadah and Studio M Al Barsha. The three-star hotels will offer an affordable price point and design that is aligned with the “millennial mindset”. Four properties, Millennium Place Jumeirah Village Triangle, Millennium Place Business Bay and Millennium Place Mirdiff will follow in the next two years. The seventh hotel, Grand
Millennium Business Bay will house eight restaurants and is expected to open soon this year.
To support the impressive rate at which Millennium is shooting to grow at, the company also has ambitious plans to increase its employee pool. Alzaabi currently head 7,000 team members but plans to more than double it to 15,000 by 2020 providing sufficient employment opportunities within the region with the vision of advancement for the local GCC nationals in mind.
To contend with this, Millennium launched TooMooh — which means ambition — a concerted, consistent programme to accelerate nationalisation and be an active contributor to the vision and initiative of GCC countries. The initiative plans to integrate nationals in the private sector and offer increased opportunities in the hospitality industry.
For the near future, Alzaabi tells Hotelier is to strengthen the existing portfolio and that the development objective for Millennium Hotels & Resorts is to have 100 hotels under its belt by 2020.