By Sam Bridge
Accor has signed a landmark agreement to debut MGallery, its boutique brand, in Saudi Arabia's premier heritage destination, Al Ula
Hotel giant Accor has signed a landmark agreement to debut MGallery, its boutique brand, in Saudi Arabia’s premier heritage destination, Al Ula.
The group has partnered with Jeddah-based firm Skonmas Trading Company to take over and manage an existing resort in the kingdom’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, with Shaden Resort Al Ula, an MGallery Experience, set to become the first property operated by an international hotel company.
The tent-like resort will offer a range of eco-tourism, adventure, wellness and cultural activities.
The existing Al Ula resort offers 79 keys in 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 400 sq m of flexible meeting space.
The revamp will be completed by November 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.
Accor said further enhancements will be made over the next 12 months with a view to re-launching the property as Shaden Resort Al Ula, an MGallery Experience, in November 2020. Additional restaurants and swimming pools will be added over the next few years to keep pace with demand growth.
“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, CEO, 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 (RCU) to make history as the first international hospitality group to operate a property in Al Ula.”
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.”
Al Ula is situated in north-west Saudi Arabia and is a 2,000-year-old archaeological site being transformed into a cultural tourism hub.