Viceroy Hotel Group eyes new GCC properties

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Viceroy Hotel Group, operator of the Yas Viceroy hotel in Abu Dhabi, is looking to expand its operations across the GCC with hotels in Dubai, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, its CEO said.

The Los Angeles-based firm, which is part-owned by Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala, is in early talks for several locations across the Gulf, said Bill Walsh.

“At any given time in the region we are evaluating anything up to a dozen opportunities across the GCC… Are there hotels in Dubai? Yes. And in Qatar and Saudi Arabia that we are looking at right now,” he told Arabian Business.

“We are obviously very proud of our presence in Abu Dhabi, and with having such a strong and successful hotel there, to complement that with a presence in Dubai would make a lot of sense commercially and strategically for us,” he added.

Viceroy operates hotels throughout the US, Turkey, Abu Dhabi and the Caribbean, including the iconic five-star hotel that sits atop Abu Dhabi’s Formula One track. The firm is 50 percent owned by Mubadala following the investment group’s 50 percent acquisition of Kor Hotel Management in July 2008.

Viceroy is one of several international hotel operators looking at ramping up its expansion across the Middle East. The MENA region saw 68 hotels open in 2012, according to the December 2012 STR Global Construction Pipeline Report.

Dubai, which reported more than five million visitors in the first half of 2012, is one of the most sought-after destinations for operators.

Viceroy has benefited from a rise in tourists from the region, particularly Saudi Arabia, said Walsh. “As we look across the GCC there are markets that we benefit from greatly from an outbound basis at the moment.

“Saudi Arabia is a very strong market for many of our hotels in North America and it would be fantastic to have a presence in that market. Not only would it make sense for our standalone business to be in the kingdom but it would also help accelerate business from that market to other properties,” he added.

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