Do we need a hotel, an apartment, or both?

What makes an egg an egg? It is oval, white, and delicious, when cooked of course. What makes an orange an orange? It is round, orange, and full of vitamin C. What makes a hotel apartment a hotel apartment? It is a combination of a hotel room and an apartment; well it is a bit more complicated than that. Apartment hotels are apartments with hotel services that are commonly used for short term accommodation with facilities that are absent from hotel rooms such as kitchen, dishwasher, living room, and even a balcony. In the following lines I will be talking about different parts that play into the hotel apartment market in our region, so get your eggs and oranges ready because you will need them. Continue reading “Do we need a hotel, an apartment, or both?”

Is it time for focused hotel developments?

Up until 10 years ago we shared very similar environments in the Gulf, our food is the same, our culture is the same, and our oil is the same. Then the Dubai project happened and opened our eyes to new sectors such as health care, education, sports, entertainment and more. People who target special locations for their facilities and services would always need a decent room to house them for a night or may be ten nights. Three players must coordinate to make such specialized hotel development success; the developer, the operator, and the location.

All real estate developers have one global goal they thrive to achieve which is making more money. Developers should invest more in market researches to better satisfy focused demand. Dubai for example is filled with resort and business hotels but have very few health care oriented hotels that cater for visiting patients and their families in Dubai Healthcare City. Hotel Developers have taken many steps to target focused customer groups by signing strategic management agreements with hotel operators to provide certain brands to the right markets. Al Hokair Group has signed an agreement with Hilton International to introduce the Hilton Garden Inn brand in the Kingdom to mainly target mall shoppers. Another focused hotel developer is Bu Khamseen Holding Group which owns the only branded hotel in Al-Sayeda Zainab City in Syria, The Safir Sayeda Zainab. The hotel mainly targets religious travelers seeking Al Sayeda Zainab shrine. The group is also the first international group to build a hotel in the holy city of Karbala which is most likely to be a Safir.

Customer are always looking for something familiar to relate to, and being in the Middle East customers would related strongly to a brand that respects the believes and culture of its guests. The majority of brands present in our countries are imported brands which lacks the identity to us, Muslims. On the other hand, local brands and local hotel developers have taken the initative to shape the local hotel industry by introducing Shaza Hotels and Rayhaan Hotels and Resorts by Rotana (alcohol free). Both brands can expand in uncharted markets especially Rayhaan which is a dry concept to the bone.

Saudi Arabia is a religious Destination, Doha is a sports destination, Dubai is a business destination, and Beirut is a holiday destination. Each destination has different hotel branding requirements. Each location has its different set of traveler profiles. Taking the holy city Mecca as an example, the city receives an average of two to three million Muslims during Al Hajj season only. Hotel developers can utilize the fact that there is a guaranteed minimum occupancy rates in the city therefore more hotels can be accommodated. Moreover, there are other destinations that can attract new hotels and developers but are still undiscovered. The holy city of Karabala and Al Najaf which both witness all year long massive religious traffic but they still lack the developers attention due to Iraq’s security issue. There is always room to expand successfully if brand and developer agree on the right piece of land.

Many destinations were mentioned in the above lines but not Kuwait. Kuwait lacks an identity that would motivate hotel developer to innovate. Kuwait has major hotel development companies that are introducing more and more new ideas to the regional market. IFA, NREC, United, and Tijaria are all companies that had tailored hotel projects for locations and visitors but have minimum participation in the local market. Companies and government should put their heads together to create a better Kuwait destination that can attract local investments first and then international.

Market Research Recipe for Success

My mother is my market research inspiration. Being responsible for all the needs for us at home, my mother set a good example to when to provide food, love, and care to us. She knows what each one of us likes to eat for lunch and based on that, lunch is prepared and the same applies to breakfast and dinner. Chicken would always make us happy but not tomatoes. The same basics apply to market study, an hotelier should know what hotel to build to make his pockets bigger and bring in more customers. Continue reading “Market Research Recipe for Success”

How to jump start your hotel development

Jump starting a car is fairly easy, but jump starting a hotel development is a bit more complicated. More things need to be put together than just another car battery and few wires to get a hotel project rolling. In principle, initiating a hotel development is no different from other property developments but some few tweaks here and there. Many developers in Kuwait were exposed due to their lack of understanding to the property development concept which made them misuse their resources. Financial, technical, and managerial skills are some key qualifications a developer would need to properly start a hotel development. Continue reading “How to jump start your hotel development”

The rising star of hotels in mixed-use developments

Al Salhia Mall, Al Muthanna complex, Al Rayya Mall, Al Manshar Mall, and Marina Mall all have something in common. They are all mixed-use developments that have hotels integrated in them. Kuwait witnessed a big step forward in real estate development in 1978 with the introduction of Al Salhia mixed-use development by Al Salhia Real Estate Company. The property is not a hotel, office, or a mall, but it is a combination of all. Hotels are considered within the mixed-use development equation and are major players in the overall mix. What makes such hotel developments special and how can they be more profitable than a stand alone a hotel property? Continue reading “The rising star of hotels in mixed-use developments”

The Business of Business Hotels

A shift in the category of hotels being developed in Kuwait was noticed in recent years. A Four Points by Sheraton, an Ibis Hotel, and a Courtyard Hotels started to show since 2003. Developers have noticed a niche market that has a potential of attracting the business type of demand. Two questions to be answered are; Why are these so called business and budget hotels categorized differently? and why have we not seen them before? Continue reading “The Business of Business Hotels”