AHIC 2011: Starwood eyes Arabian expansion

Starwood Hotels is poised to embark on a Middle East expansion programme with the target of reaching 100 hotels in the region with the next three years.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide president for Europe, Africa and the Middle East Roeland Vos told the 7th annual Arabian Hotel Investment Conference that Starwood is planning for rapid expansion in the Middle East.

“Starwood brands have been growing very rapidly in the region,” Vos said. “We now have nine hotel brands in the Middle East and we have 63 hotels. We expect to reach 100 hotels in the next two-three years. I don’t see any obstacle to us doubling the number of hotels in the region in the next five-10 years.”

The strength of the region was also back by Kirk Kinsell, IHG President for Europe, Middle East and Africa, who told delegates the IHG group regards the area as a key emerging market with substantial development potential.

“Today we have within the Middle East and Africa region about 100 hotels and approaching 75 in Middle East proper,” Kinsell said. “We have five of our seven global brands in the region and IHG looks at the Middle East and Africa as a market that can hold its head up high with other emerging markets.”

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Also to emerge on day 2 of AHIC 2011, a leading player in Saudi Arabia’s hospitality industry says the kingdom needs more budget hotels to fulfil growing demand.

Bassam Boodai, Managing Director, Jenan Real Estate Company of Saudi Arabia told delegates at the 7th annual Arabian Hotel Investment Conference:

“In recent years we have seen a lot of investment in five-star facilities but very few plans for budget hotels,” Boodai said. “There is scope international brands to enter the market. There is a need for a family-focused product. Average family in Saudi Arabia size is 6.5. Living in a hotel is costly. Budget hotels have to cater for this sector.”