Banyan Tree still keen for Middle East expansion

Guest Writer

Banyan Tree Hotel and Resort Holding’s (BTHR) has said it is still interested in rolling out new projects in the Middle East despite the difficulties it has faced with three Gulf-based properties.
Group Managing Director Ariel Vera told TDME said despite issues with its ventures in Bahrain and Dubai, the company intended to be “quite bullish” in the Middle East as far as its expansionist intentions were concerned.
“There will probably not be many new projects coming up in the next couple of years while the financial crisis is ongoing because there could be over-supply [of hotels] in the market,” he said.
“But there will still be projects we will talk about with owners and in the medium-term, there will lots of development opportunities. Of course, we will look at every opportunity and would assess criteria such as the owners and the location.”
Vera was speaking to TDME as legal disputes with two owners were underway.
BTHR has filed legal action against Al Areen Holding Company (AAHC), the owner of the former Banyan Tree Al Areen Resort, Bahrain, for breach of the hotel management contract.
The firm has also initiated arbitration proceedings against Meydan “for various breaches” of the management contracts for two hotels at the Meydan racecourse in Dubai.
Banyan Tree also had an “amicable split” from the owners of the Angsana-managed property on Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, last year.
“But that was different,” said Vera. “The owners had to see the property and we agreed to the settlement.”
Vera said despite issues with owners in the Middle East, Banyan Tree believed its reputation would not be harmed.
“Wherever possible we are explaining ourselves fully and making sure the public knows what is going on [regarding legal action,” he said.
“We want to make sure that our reputation is not tarnished because of the situation with Al Areen Holding.”
He said Banyan Tree had been patient with Al Areen and had tried to talk through issues but taking legal action had been the only way to solve problems in the end.
“And we cannot hold off taking legal action just because of our reputation - we had an agreement that they signed and they (AAHC) are in breach of that,” Vera added.


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