Hospitality Management Holding (HMH) CEO Aboudi Asali explains how the company has big plans for the UAE and the wider GCC region…
Can you provide a brief overview of where HMH fits into the UAE market at this moment.
HMH has demonstrated tremendous growth since its formation in 2003 and has established itself as one of the pioneers specialized in the dry segment among local hospitality groups from the region. We are operating hotels in top destinations across the MENA region under our various brands namely Bahi Hotels & Resorts, Coral Hotels & Resorts, Corp Hotels, EWA Hotel Apartments and ECOS Hotels, HMH caters to diverse segments from luxury to budget.
Currently we have some exceptional landmark properties in three Emirates, the Bahi Ajman Palace Hotel, Coral Beach Resort Sharjah, Coral Deira Dubai and the latest addition to our portfolio the 337-room Coral Dubai Al Barsha Hotel. It supports our expansion goals for the UAE where we aim to operate 10 hotels by 2020.
What are the key opportunities that are available for hotels in the market at the moment?
Guests are increasingly well-travelled with a large variety of choices and types of accommodation. It is very important that hotels meet and exceed the expectations of their guests. That’s why HMH gets involved from the drawing stage to ensure that our hotels have innovative and creative designs, attractive ancillary facilities, technology that works and operational efficiency. Once the hotel is operational, HMH ensures that its team provides excellent service and high-quality products in F&B, Rooms, Gym, Spa and all other facilities to compete efficiently and achieve market share premiums.
What are the major challenges that the market faces in the region? The entire region is being challenged by the various geo-political situations which have been ongoing for over a decade now. The global economic slowdown and the increase in supply in key markets have affected hotel performances in 2017. However, there are many indicators that 2017 was a transitional year, and performances in the region will improve from this year onwards.
How do you see the next 12-18 months panning out for both HMH and the wider market in the region? On a macro level we believe that 2018 will be a strong year and many markets will see an uplift compared to 2017. In addition, HMH is undergoing major changes which we are planning to announce by Q2 this year. We are also preparing for the opening of four new hotels this year, including the Coral Al Madinah, a landmark 400-room 5-star property in a top location facing the Haram.
Can you provide a breakdown of the pipeline for HMH in the region?
Below listed are the projects which are opening this year.
- Coral Al Madinah Hotel – KSA – 400 rooms
- Corp Muscat Al Muzn Hotel – Oman – 132 rooms
- Coral Port Sudan – Sudan – 84 rooms
- Townhouse project in Jeddah (brand not yet announced) – KSA – 46 Villas
In addition, we are in discussion with several owners of existing hotels which might require immediate take-over. These are not included in the above list.
Do you have plans for further expansion in the region and, if so, can you provide a breakdown? We are predominantly focused on expansion in the Middle East and Africa region with currently 32 hotels projects under discussion at various stages. Although none can be announced at this stage, we anticipate operating hotels in all GCC capitals by 2020, and continuing expanding in our main markets, UAE and Saudi Arabia.
We are the largest hotel operator in Sudan where we will continue to emphasize our position, especially with the new opening of Ewa Port Sudan.
In addition, we are exploring new markets where we believe we can establish ourselves as leading pioneers with strong returns for hotel owners due to the current lack of quality hotels. These include new areas in key markets such as Al Furjan and Jumeirah Village Circle in Dubai and Obhur in Jeddah.