BEST Western International, the world’s largest and fastest growing hotel chain, was present at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2010 for the third year, as the company plans to expand its portfolio to the Middle East and GCC countries.
Best Western International Asia aims to open 50 hotels and resorts across the Middle East by 2015. It currently has 159 properties in operation, going through rebranding and under construction in such destinations as China, India, Bangladesh, South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain.
Speaking to TTN , Glenn de Souza, vice president of international operations for Asia and the Middle East, said: “In terms of growth for the company across Asia Pacific and the Middle East, 2009 was one of our best years. Last year we were looking at adding 17 new hotels in Asia but added 27. 2010 looks as promising and we expect to add another 20 properties to our portfolio. Our aim is to grow the brand to 300 properties by 2015.”
In the region, the company plans to emphasise its growth in the Saudi market. “We are building properties in Oman, Kuwait and Jeddah, Mekkah and Al Khobar in Saudi Arabia and a Premier property in Bahrain. From an owner’s perspective, there is still more interest in our upscale Premier brand than the four-star brand, even though there is a lot of growth with the mid-scale brands.”
He added that Best Western properties lost about 15 per cent in occupancies in 2009 and chose to drop prices and drive volume. However, the group did not discount on the Premier brand.
“With 159 properties operational, we have reached a point of critical mass and now want to be very specific in terms of standards and consistency of our product,” said de Souza. “We are terminating our contract with some properties in Asia that don’t keep up with the Best Western image and are also signing new ones.
”While we currently realign and rebrand the existing Best Western portfolio we would, in the near future, like to launch a three-star budget brand as we see vast potential for these properties in the bigger cities.”
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