Accor has signed a landmark agreement to debut MGallery, its boutique experience-led hotel brand, in Saudi Arabia’s premier heritage destination, Al Ula.
The group has partnered with prominent Jeddah-based firm, Skonmas Trading Company, to take over and manage an existing resort in the kingdom’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Shaden Resort Al Ula, an MGallery Experience, is thus set to make history as the first property operated by an international hotel company in this remarkable location when it opens its doors.
Accor’s takeover of the resort not only marks a major milestone in the group’s Saudi Arabia expansion strategy, but showcases the diversity of hospitality and lifestyle experiences it has to offer the kingdom in support of Vision 2030, which aims to develop areas of outstanding heritage, culture and natural beauty such as Al Ula.
As a brand defined by its unique guest experiences with local essence and an authentic story, MGallery is the perfect fit for the heritage destination.
The tent-like resort, which will offer a range of eco-tourism, adventure, wellness and cultural activities, will enrich, inspire and delight guests in an atmospheric location.
“This represents a one-of-a-kind takeover opportunity for Accor and signals our commitment to the responsible and sustainable development of Al Ula in line with Vision 2030 and its ambitions for transforming this spectacular UNESCO-listed site into a global tourism destination of distinction,” said Mark Willis, chief executive, Accor Middle East & Africa.
“It is an honour to partner with Skonmas Trading Company and strengthen our relationship with the Royal Commission for Al Ula to make history as the first international hospitality group to operate a property in Al Ula, and MGallery, a curator of singular experiences, is the perfect brand to immerse guests in the raw beauty and wonder of this astonishing site in Saudi Arabia’s heritage heartland.”
The existing Al Ula resort offers 79 keys in solid tent-like structures inspired by local architecture, as well as an all-day dining restaurant, coffee lounge, boardroom, swimming pool, fitness centre and spa.
It is currently undergoing expansion, adding 60 new rooms, a larger dining area and 400sqm of flexible meeting space, while adjustments adhering to requirements are also being made.
This transformation will be completed by November this year when Accor takes over the property’s operations in the lead up to the popular Winter at Tantora Festival, a musical extravaganza deemed a major highlight on the kingdom’s annual events calendar.
Abdullah Saleh Alsorayai, owner of Skonmas Trading Company, added: “The development and promotion of Al Ula as a leading cultural and heritage destination for global travellers is a strategic priority for the government and our group, and requires the provision of world-class accommodation and tourism experiences.
“As a key stakeholder that shares the kingdom’s vision and has proven local and global hospitality expertise, Accor is the right partner to help move Al Ula onto its next exciting chapter.”