Dubai's Crystal Group plans Morocco, London expansion

Founder Mazen El Zein says branded boutique hotels also on the long-term agenda
40 Kong, one of the Crystal Group's brands.

40 Kong, one of the Crystal Group's brands.

Dubai-based The Crystal Group is to expand into Morocco and is also keen to restart operations in London and eventually open branded boutique hotels, the company's founder told Arabian Business.

Mazen El Zein, who founded the company in 2003, said it was aiming to double its operations within three years with expansions planned under its popular brands People club and Sake No Hana as well as 40 Kong, EDEN (Every Day, Every Night) beach club and Em Sherif oriental restaurant.

He said a new complex in Casablanca, Morocco, to open this month, will host most of its brands, starting with the opening of EDEN, then 40 Kong and a People Club Casablanca next year around October/November.

El Zein  the company would also like to get back into London after previously running Crystal in London between 2006-2010. “I’m looking to go back to that market and the brands I would looking at for London will be Em Sherif and People,” he said.

“Also on our radar we would be very much interested in being in Turkey and most probably a second city in Morocco like Marrakesh in the medium term.”

He said the company was also aiming to open 40 Kong and Em Sherif in Abu Dhabi as well as 40 Kong and People club in Beirut in addition to its two other outlets in the Lebanese capital.

“We would like to duplicate everything we have in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, so that’s two more openings for next year,” he said. “I’m working very hard on finalising the deal.”

He said once it had expanded regionally it would look into accommodation – a five to 10-year proposition.

“Then we will go for the next step, which will be having a brand of boutique hotels in which we will have our brands within the hotel premises,” he said.

It would aim to establish hotels in Beirut, Dubai and also Istanbul in Turkey, though conceded that in Dubai “you can’t do anything small”.

In February El Zein told Arabian Business that this year alone it was opening four new venues in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, with openings of 40 Kong in the H hotel in February, Crystal in Sadiyaat Island’s St Regis in May as well as the first of its Lebanese Em Sherif restaurants at The Address Downtown in September.

He said EDEN, which will be located at the Rixos hotel on the Palm Jumeirah was on track to open at the end of September.

An independent beach club, with a unique design, El Zein said the club would be open seven days a week, transforming from a daytime beach lounge to open-air club at night.

On Fridays it  host beach parties after 6pm with international  DJ guests.

“The way we conceived the beach EDEN is we’re really offering the full spectrum of what you expect to have and finding part of it only at other beaches,” he said.

“I can fully say there isn’t one that is independent that has a party element, a family element and a dining element that has an outstanding design.”

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