Swiss-Belhotel to sustain GCC growth

Laurent A. Voivenel

SWISS-BELHOTEL International is looking to expand and reinforce its position across the GCC market, with an objective to have a hotel in operation in every GCC country by the first quarter of 2020.

Speaking to TTN ahead of the Arabian Travel Market 2019 (ATM), Laurent A. Voivenel, senior vice-president, operations and development for the Middle East, Africa and India for Swiss-Belhotel International, said: "The GCC will continue to be our biggest market, with 60 per cent of our portfolio concentrated there in high-growth business and leisure destinations by 2025."

The meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (Mice) sector is one of the group’s most important segments, as it has witnessed a rapid rise in demand for bleisure travel (business + eisure) among Mice travellers. It is also now focused on offering tailored experiences and added value to its customers, he adds.

According to Voivenel, there is a massive scope for expansion in the midscale space where they are witnessing a significant demand and supply gap.

"Travellers are becoming savvier and increasingly seeking value without compromising on quality. As the market evolves, we believe the midscale segment will be the potential growth engine for the future with tremendous interest from our existing as well as new owners," Voivenel notes.

Globally, Swiss-Belhotel International is among the top 100 hotel management companies and offers the “best alternative” to blue chip hotel management corporations “with superior returns, unbeatable value and unforgettable experiences”.

“One of the most important differentiators of Swiss-Belhotel International is our award-winning service. The essence of our brands revolves around combining Swiss professionalism with Asian passion. Therefore, our philosophy is to work hand-in-hand with our owners and business partners to maximise the financial returns and exceed the expectations of our guests, investors and associates,” he says.

Swiss-Belhotel International currently manages a portfolio of over 145 hotels, resorts and projects in 23 countries across 14 brands, with 17 per cent of its global portfolio of hotels centred in the Middle East and Africa (Mena) region, comprising 3,000 rooms.

In 2018, the group signed new projects in Zanzibar, Muscat and Makkah as well as expanded its presence in existing markets like Bahrain and Qatar.

Further expansion is planned across the Mena region in 2019, both in the upscale as well as in the mid-scale segment, as the group has seven properties lined up for opening in quick succession over the next few months.

“For the first time in the region, we are introducing brands such as Grand Swiss-Belresort, Swiss-Belsuites, Swiss-Belboutique and Swiss-Belinn. Therefore, we are very excited and believe each property is going to be unique in its own way,” Voivenel says.

"Looking ahead, the mix of hotel segments in the Swiss-Belhotel International’s pipeline, as well as the various projects under negotiation, indicate that we will continue to have a well-balanced network in the Mena countries. By 2025, we expect to have 35 per cent of the hotels in luxury and upscale segment, 45 per cent in midscale and 20 per cent in economy."

While the group’s hotel room supply is significantly increasing, it is also seeing an uptick in demand for its award-winning service, especially with Expo 2020 just around the corner.

“With a theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, Expo 2020 will go beyond a local showcase of commerce, technology and infrastructure. ‘Transformative’ and ‘Economic Catalyst’ have been used to describe the potential impact of Expo 2020. The legacy of Expo 2020 will expand well beyond the event and the city. The Expo is just one stop along the way and will serve as a cornerstone for growth and development of the entire Middle East,” Voivenel tells TTN.

“The huge investment in airports and hotels, broadening portfolio of attractions and facilities, diversification of source markets and collaboration between various business sectors are all accelerating the pace of Dubai’s growth into the future and we are eager to capitalise on the opportunity,” he says.

* Swiss-Belhotel International can be found on stand HC0825 in ATM Dubai