Ritz-Carlton poised to announce KSA property details
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company is poised to announce full details of its first property in Saudi Arabia, TDME can reveal.The hotel management company’s Area Vice President for the Middle East, Pascal Duchauffour (pictured), said last week that an announcement about the Riyadh hotel would be made “in the next 30 days”.”It’s a phenomenal project in a building that’s ready now - a brand new hotel that could be open by October,” he revealed.In terms of the mix of business the property would attract, Duchauffour added: “Around 50% will be intra-Saudi, 35-40% will be intra-regional and the remainder, international. It’s going to be a corporate hotel and for conferences and government business.”The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, which has four new hotels opening in the Middle East over the next 12 months, has earmarked Saudi Arabia as a key growth market. “It’s one of our key feeder markets, particularly for Bahrain and for corporate business in Doha. The KSA market represents 30-40% of business for the Bahrain hotel market in general and around 25% for the Doha market and business at our properties are on par with those percentages,” explained Duchauffour.”We need to be based in Saudi Arabia to build the brand. The standard of our new property there will raise awareness [of the brand] and it’s a stepping stone for us to build incredible outbound business for our hotels. “We see some very good business from the Saudi market – they (Saudis) enjoy the service we offer and the market generates some very large bookings, so we are trying to develop that outbound business further and believe a full-time presence in the country is necessary.”He added that Ritz-Carlton had already appointed a permanent a sales person in KSA and that the “second step” was to extend the firm’s global sales office presence in the Kingdom. “Right now we have an office based in Dubai but we will expand that into Riyadh,” he said. “We would like five or six people across sales, marketing and PR roles dealing with inbound and outbound business.”Duchauffour, who is also the General Manager of upcoming property The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai International Financial Centre, said the hotel would open by the end of the year.”It’s going to be a stunning property linked to DIFC,” he said.”Then it’s up to us to build up the excitement through our service.”He also stressed that occupancies at the firm’s Dubai beach property had been “very good” since January, coming in, on average, at around 85-88%. “We are looking at expansion work [at the property] starting in July, with 152 extra rooms to be built, several restaurants, a massive spa, and a mid-sized ballroom,” he said.