Established in the UAE in 2007 — and in the British Virgin Islands in 2012 —Cristal Hotels and Resorts opened its flagship property in Abu Dhabi, Cristal Hotel, in April 2009. The Cristal Group’s co-founder, Kamal Fakhoury, took over as the CEO last year.
The group operates five properties in the Middle East and North Africa currently, and plans to manage seven more in the coming years. With 894 rooms currently in hand, Cristal intends to add significantly to that number — 1,780 more keys are planned.
In the last year, the group has opened two new hotels, Fakhoury tells Hotelier Middle East. “We opened our first Emerald-branded hotel in Erbil, Kurdistan, and we opened our first Bayat by Cristal hotel in Abha, Saudi Arabia,” he says, adding: “We have also expanded further in our existing markets of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq.”
Having been with the group for 10 years, Fakhoury says: “[I] worked very hard to steer it through difficult economic and geo-political times; I am delighted to have managed to continue growing the company to 12 hotels today. Also, after three years of negotiations, I managed to solidify a joint venture with StayWell Hospitality Group from Australia to become strategic partners globally.”
An industry veteran, Fakhoury has worked in the hospitality sector for 24 years, of which 14 were served in the Middle East. His ultimate goal, he says, is for Cristal to become a leading hotel operator in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.