The French hotel management company Accor plans to almost double its presence in the UAE within three years. Much of its development is concentrated in Abu Dhabi, with five hotels to open the emirate.
The hotel group, whose brands include Ibis, Novotel and Sofitel, said yesterday it is aiming to open an additional 11 hotels by 2014, with about 3,500 rooms. It already runs 14 hotels in the UAE, with about 4,000 rooms.
Accor has five properties under development in the UAE - two Novotel properties, an Adagio hotel apartment building, a Sofitel on the Corniche, expected to open this year, and a hotel under its Ibis budget hotel brand.
Accor this month rebranded its 32-year-old Novotel hotel in Abu Dhabi to its Mercure brand.
"We will open two new Novotels next year, and we felt at this stage it would be better positioning," said Christophe Landais, the managing director of Accor, Middle East.
The company said that it has enforced strict standards for its modern Novotel hotels and that it would be difficult to alter the property to allow it to meet this standardisation.
The market conditions in the UAE had been challenging. "We've been suffering for the past two years," said Mr Landais. "The trend now is much more now stabilised and upward. What we hope is in September is that we will start to increase prices again."
However, he added: "I don't think we will reach the kind of rates we had before in the UAE."
Revenue per available room in Dubai and Abu Dhabi has declined more than half in the past two years.
In Dubai, Accor plans to open a Pullman hotel in Jumeirah Lake Towers and a Sofitel on the Palm Jumeirah, among other properties in the emirate.
It has three hotels under development in Fujairah.
Accor manages 55 hotels in the Middle East, with a further 21 under construction that are expected to open by 2014.
The company intends to launch a website in Arabic this year.