Shrewd international investments in award-winning properties have helped IFA Hotels & Resorts weather the global hospitality downturn. The Kuwait-based hotel group, which holds stakes in a string of luxury resorts ranging from Zimbali and Legends Golf & Safari in South Africa to Dubai Golden Mile Palm Jumeirah, has posted profits of US$108m (KD30.8m) for the year ending 30 June.
Unveiling the results, Ibrahim S. Al-Therban, Chairman of IFA HR, said: “2009 was no doubt a challenging year for many companies around the world. We are very happy with our profits during these times. We believe there are still many opportunities for us as a company to explore in order to continue growing in the coming years.”
(Pictured left: Talal Jassim Al-Bahar, Vice Chairman & CEO, IFA Hotels & Resorts)
It was also a particularly strong year for shareholders in the hospitality group. Equity increased 50 percent to KD101.4m (US$ 354.6m), whilst the company’s total assets increased to KD338.26m compared to KD 277.88m for 2008. Shareholders of IFA HR, which is listed dually on the Kuwait and Johannesburg stock exchanges, also receive dividends of 10 % bonus shares for the year.
The group’s solid performance in an adverse global climate was reflected in the accolades received from the travel industry. The group picked up “Middle East’s Leading Overseas Development Company” at the 2008 World Travel Awards. And this May Zimbali Lodge & Country Club was voted “Africa’s Leading Sports Resort” at the 2009 World Travel Awards Africa Ceremony. Meanwhile Legend Golf & Safari Resort scooped “Africa’s Leading Tourism Development Project”.
(Pictured right: Werner Burger, President & COO, IFA Hotels & Resorts)
Talal Jassim Al-Bahar, Vice Chairman and CEO of IFA HR said: “Our diversification and commitment to developing superior and differentiated international projects is the key to our continued success. We have focused on maintaining lucrative businesses in our existing markets and delivering quality products to our customers.”
During the period, IFA HR increased its roll-out of YOTEL with the announcement of two YOTELS in Abu Dhabi in collaboration with Abu Dhabi National Hotels. YOTEL also opened its third hotel at the start of the year in Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, its first property in The Netherlands.
The company also opened its first leisure and restaurant facilities in Dubai with Gusto restaurant and the Al Shalal Beach Club located in The Palm Residence on Palm Jumeirah.
(Pictured left: Wessel Witthuhn, President of IFA, Zimbali Lodge & Country Club, picks up the award for “Africa’s Leading Sports Resort”; Graham Cooke, President & Founder, World Travel Awards; David Macgillivray, General Manager, Zimbali Lodge & Country Club)
Last November, IFA HR took majority ownership in two new projects – Fairmont Palm Jumeirah in Dubai and the Fairmont Zanzibar hotel. In return, IFA HR transferred its minority interests in five hotels in Kenya to its investment partner Kingdom Hotel Investments.
Continuing in Africa and the Indian Ocean region, IFA HR launched two major projects in South Africa – the Zimbali Lakes Resort and the Zimbali Office Estate.
The US$685m Zimbali Lakes Resort development covers 2.73 million square metres and is designed to feature over 1,000 residences with shopping and retail areas, restaurants, entertainment facilities, offices and hotels; this addition to the greater Zimbali area is set to extend the development lifespan of Zimbali for a further 15 years.
The company further strengthened its interested in South Africa by acquiring an additional 5.25% in Boschendal Limited, increasing its stake to 37.33%.
(Pictured above: Golf in paradise, Zimbali Lodge & Country Club, winner of “Africa’s Leading Sports Resort” at the 2009 World Travel Awards)
This year IFA HR acquired an additional 14.92% stake in Raimon Land, a Bangkok based luxury condominium and real estate development company, increasing IFA HR’s ownership in Raimon Land to 41.07%.
Werner Burger said: “We have been working closely with Raimon Land for the past two and a half years and have witnessed many positive synergies between the two companies. Raimon Land is the leader in premier real estate development in Thailand. Their residential projects are on track and currently being completed with successful hand over to customers.”
(Pictured left: Zimbali Coastal Resort, South Africa)
Raimon Land has delivered projects valued at over US$ 200 million in luxury residential products to the Thai market. Additionally, the company has a project pipeline with a sales value exceeding US$1 billion.
Hubert Viriot, Raimon Land CEO, said: “We have seen great value created by working closely with IFA Hotels & Resorts. Fortunately, the Asian market is showing signs of healthy recovery in comparison to other regions. We strongly believe we will maintain strong sales levels and will continue to deliver quality products and residences to our valued customers.”
Also in Asia, the IFA Yacht Ownership Club expanded its operations by adding a home port in Phuket, a value addition to Raimon Land’s customers.
In April, Africa’s most talked about golf & safari resort, Legend Golf & Safari Resort, officially opened for business.
(Pictured right: Miss World contestants on the green of Extreme 19th, Legend Lodges)
Peet Cilliers, his wife Mart, directors of Legend Lodges, Hotels & Resorts, along with development partners IFA Hotels & Resorts and their team, had a vision for this stunning piece of Africa which has already created several world firsts.
This includes eighteen of the world’s greatest golfers each designing a hole on the Signature Course. Starting with South African Masters Champion Trevor Immleman, each hole boasts a famous name. World number two Sergio Garcia, world number three Padraig Harrington, Korea’s KJ Choi, Jim Furyk from the USA and European stars Colin Montgomerie, Ian Woosnam and Bernhard Langer have all personally designed a hole. With the backdrop of Hanglip Mountain and some of Africa’s wild animals on the course, it is a truly unique golfing experience on one of the world’s greatest courses.
(Pictured left: Sergio Garcia at the Extreme 19th)
The Extreme 19th is the world’s most extreme par three – with a tee set 400m high on Hanglip Mountain and a massive green the shape of Africa some 400m away, the Extreme 19th is only accessible by helicopter, and is the longest par three in the world.
Last December, in the build-up to the grand opening, the resort hosted the contestants for Miss World for six days. The finals of the beauty pageant are also being hosted in South Africa again this year, and there are planes for a return to Legends.
The past year’s performance was reflected in accolades received from the travel industry. The group picked up “Middle East’s Leading Overseas Development Company” at the 2008 World Travel Awards. And this year Zimbali Lodge & Country Club was voted “Africa’s Leading Sports Resort” at the 2009 World Travel Awards Africa Ceremony. Meanwhile Legend Golf & Safari Resort scooped “Africa’s Leading Tourism Development Project”.
(Pictured above: Legend Lodges CEO, Peet Cilliers collects “Africa’s Leading Tourism Development Project” from Graham Cooke, President & Founder, World Travel Awards)
Talal Jassim Al-Bahar, Vice Chairman and CEO of IFA HR said: “The year ahead is critical as we will open and hand over many residences and resorts in Dubai, Lebanon, Thailand and South Africa. We will also be introducing new investment and lifestyle products to the market and will continue working towards maximising our shareholders’ returns.”