Following the rebranding of Le Meridien Kuwait this year, the luxury hotel group is to introduce the second phase of its four-project expansion in the country with the opening of the 70-room Le Meridien Tower Kuwait at the end of June. The hotel marks the debut of Le Meridien’s innovative Art+Tech design in the region, and forms part of an aggressive development strategy in the country - which will create almost 420 new rooms across four projects by 2006.
Le Meridien’s development in Kuwait is the result of a newly established owning relationship with A’Amal Holding Company.Ê
Ahmed Al Abdaly, chairman of A’Amal Holding Company, said: “These four projects - which include the refurbishment and rebranding of the former Ritz Hotel - will change the face of Kuwait’s hospitality structure.
“In a small but competitive marketplace such as Kuwait, hotel operators have to nimble enough to identify opportunities and developing districts, while be flexible enough to follow through and service them properly.”
Sami Zoghbi, regional managing director of Le Meridien Middle East and West Asia, pointed out that the pace of development in Kuwait has accelerated after the end of the conflict in Iraq.
He said: “The hotel sector in Kuwait has been somewhat static for years. It is reassuring to see new names coming in to the market now, but we feel that Le Meridien, in conjunction with our owners, will be the first group to inject a dynamic edge to the hospitality industry here - a move that reflects the revival of the state as a regional powerhouse.
“Kuwait has quietly been establishing itself as a regional tourism centre, pouring money in to landscaping the seafront, new family entertainment centres, shopping malls that are as competitive as any in the area, plus extensive resort facilities.”
Zoghbi pointed to the four malls expected to open in the next few months, as well as the massive redevelopment project at Kuwait International Airport as further concrete signs of the expected boom in visitor numbers to the state.
He added that the commitment by authorities to the conference market is another signal that Kuwait is determined to make its mark on the global events scene.
Meanwhile, the group will continue to follow its competitive rate policy, as launched at its existing property in the city. The former Ritz Kuwait will be reflagged on completion of the extensive refurbishment and renovation by the end of this year.
Zoghbi added: “We opened with an aggressive price strategy, which has paid off; as a result, we will maintain it through each stage of our development.
“We can offer every facility for the business traveller, and the superior standards of service for which Le Meridien is renowned, but set a target of realistic pricing in accordance with international practices.”
On new product, the upcoming, 70-room, city boutique hotel, Le Meridien Tower is located just minutes from key business, banking and shopping districts. Facilities include a multi-dining outlet, café with outdoor terrace, a compact meeting & banqueting room, business centre, health club, sauna and swimming pool.
A second, 70-unit Art+Tech hotel will follow in 2005 in the Mubarakia district.
According to country general manager Hannes Yaghi, the contemporary boutique style will be a first for the Middle East, offering customers’ cutting-edge technology and innovative room design that brings a new dimension to the hospitality sector in the emirate.
He said that in destinations as diverse as Hong Kong and Frankfurt, the Art+Tech design by Le Meridien had been chosen as the concept of the future for prestigious hotel projects such as the Asian Cyberport and the German Airrail Centre.
“Now, in conjunction with the A’amal Holding Company, we will launch this innovative look in to the Middle East for the first time in what is probably the most exciting hospitality development scheme in Kuwait.”
Art+Tech was designed to be different from the standard hotel room, while focusing on the three main elements of bed, bathroom and technology.
The concept is also extended in to public areas of Art+Tech properties, from restaurants to meeting rooms, to create a contemporary, clutter-free environment while emphasising all functions of service demanded by the frequent traveller.
“This is a revolution in hotel terms, and one that will give our customers in Kuwait a real choice in terms of their accommodation criteria,” said Yaghi. “Simply put, there is nothing similar in the market, but we are convinced that the design concept will be an instant success - as it has in other markets worldwide.”
He confirmed that the introduction of Art+Tech rooms in cities such as London had served to raise average room yields as customers chose to pay more for the new look rooms.
“By giving the customer the essentials he or she requires, such as an adjustable bed featuring exquisite linens and duvets, free-standing shower unit with body jets, and a 42-inch plasma television screen plus high-speed ISDN and modem connections, we can charge an appropriate rate which still represents good value for money.”