By Ed Attwood
Hotel operator considering key cities in Saudi; says it also aspires to launch in Doha
Fairmont Raffles is in talks to launch new properties in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, a senior official said on Monday.
The luxury hotel operator opened its first Saudi property in the Makkah Royal Clock Tower in November last year, and is set to launch in Riyadh’s Business Gate district in 2012.
“In terms of the rest of Saudi Arabia, we have discussions with developer in two or three other key cities – it’s a very buoyant market,” David Roberts, executive vice president operations for Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa at Fairmont Raffles told Arabian Business.
When questioned as to whether one of those cities included Jeddah, Roberts replied: “It’s obviously a gateway, and we definitely want to be in Jeddah, as we do in other cities.”
The Makkah Royal Clock Tower property includes a Raffles hotel, a Fairmont and a Swissotel. The official said that occupancy at the Raffles was running at around 60 percent, with about 70 percent at the Fairmont, although around 400 rooms are still to be opened.
However, Roberts said there were no plans for any further properties in Makkah.
In terms of Qatar, where there is no existing Fairmont or Raffles hotels, the official said: “We are definitely talking and in terms of looking around the region, Qatar is as strategic as the next of the GCC community - we aspire to be there.”
Last year, Qatari Diar, the real estate affiliate of the Qatari sovereign wealth fund, bought an $877m stake in Fairmont Raffles International from Prince Alwaleed’s Kingdom Holding.For all the latest travel news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.