Great opportunities for 4-star hotels to thrive in Saudi Arabia

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Guy Hutchinson



Saudi Gazette

RIYADH - Hotel market has witnessed a great improvement recently. That's due to many factors including: frequent visits by business pioneers, investors and tourists. That is surly coming as part of the Kingdom's Vision 2030 to diversify economy and open up for foreign investment and tourism. Most of the hotels in the Saudi market are 5 stars. That creates a high potential for 4 star hotels to enter the market with high quality and affordable prices. In this regard, Saudi Gazette has met with Guy Hutchinson who is the Chief Operating Officer at Rotana Company which owns Rotana Centro and Rotana Rayhaan hotels to talk about the investment opportunities for the 4 stars in the market.

“If you look at the overall numbers in the Kingdom's market. Saudi Arabia has today around 44,000 hotel rooms. And in 2018; there will be an increase by 11,000 rooms to reach 55,000 rooms. This is almost a 26% increase which is a big increase. However, the underlined numbers are quite small. 55,000 rooms for a market in the Kingdom tells us that there is a high potential,” he said.

Hutchinson added that he believes that there are a lot of opportunities in the Kingdom. “The number of hotel rooms are not sufficient for the demand today and certainly for the demand in the future. We are seeing infinite number of infrastructure projects, procedures are taken to ease business. The Kingdom is changing. There are a lot of positive dynamics around the economy, diversification and transformation.”

Centro brand is evolving rapidly in the Kingdom, “Centro hotels are “affordable luxury”. It is a very appealing to achieve such hard balance between high quality delivery of services and a very affordable price. It is not a typical 4 star hotel. There are big suite rooms, nice delicious sushi restaurants.

The travelers understand a lot about the international trends. Centro hotels have a character. We offer a genuine experience that can reflect our identity as Centro Rotana.”

Rotanan is carrying 5 projects in process across the Kingdom. Some more are advanced than the others. “We will open our second Centro in Jeddah in May this year. We will also open our second Centro in Riyadh in August. There will opening of our first Centro in Al-Khobar by the end of the year. One Centro will be also opened in Al-Madinah. And last but not least one Rayhaan in Dammam. After all these projects opened, we will have 9 hotels in total in the Kingdom.”

This is going to help in job creation across the Kingdom in all departments from the front desk, finance, marketing, operation. “There is a legal requirement of Saudization rate, but to us this is the minimum. We want exceed this; we want our staff to be all Saudis. We do not look at the legal rate as a target. We should have 90%. We have acceleration program, which targets young Saudi nationals to provide them with the skills and training needed for management and administration roles. We have seen the female population in the Kingdom has emerged as well. We just appointed our first female department head in Makkah. This is part our DNA,” he stressed.

Hotels are very human business. It is about giving the traveler and the resident a genuine experience about the place they are visiting. For us the local and cultural aspects of the Kingdom, the integration is part of what makes an outstanding hotel , because you provide the guests with a genuine experience about the place or the country they are visiting,” he added. — SG


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