Rotana CEO Omer Kaddouri has announced the opening of 12 new hotels by the end of 2015. Talking to BBT at World Travel Market, he also revealed that his trip to London included “several meetings to discuss opportunities” for opening a London property. Rotana also plans to open in other key European cities within the next six years, he said.
In the meantime, new destinations for Rotana include a hotel due to open in Jordan capital Amman by the end of this year, and two properties in Istanbul in 2015. “The pipeline for Turkey is looking very strong,” said Kadoori. “We are very excited about it.” He added that factors such as Turkish Airlines’ growth strategy are helping drive demand in the region.
The group is opening two five-star properties in Bahrain, including the Art Rotana (pictured below), with private beach and extensive MICE facilities. “Business travel is starting to ramp up in Bahrain – STR results show occupancy and rates are up year-on-year,” he said. “There’s been a little bit of a resurgence.”
But he also refers to “lot of challenges” for leisure traffic in the destination. Bahrain is seeing ongoing political unrest, but this is far from the toughest situation for the Rotana group: the Abu Dhabi-headquartered brand has properties in some of the world’s most troubled hot-spots including Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Kaddouri said Islamic State (IS) activities in the Middle East have “definitely had repercusssions” on Rotana's operations, including a 30 per cent year-on-year drop in business in Erbil in northern Iraq. But he was optimistic about the ongoing construction of a new hotel and apartment complex in Erbil and believes the current crises will be resolved. “You learn to manage these situations,” he said.
He added that as well as in Syria and Kabul, political turmoil has impacted on business in Lebanon, and delayed the opening of a new property in Sudan. But he also cited the planned opening of a hotel in Kinchasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “A few months ago rebels were trying to take over the airport. But these things pass, and then it’s business as usual,” Kaddouri said. “It’s learning how to do business in difficult places. We don’t shy away but if it gets too dangerous then we pull back.”