Arabian Travel Market: Hyatt International is in the midst of a building boom in the Middle East, with several properties under construction in Saudi Arabia.
Hyatt to grow in Saudi Arabia with more hotels
The US-based hotel chain currently has just one property in Saudi, compared with five in the Emirates.
"We have a very ambitious plan to increase our presence in Saudi Arabia," said Tareq Daoud, the regional vice president of global sales in the Middle East at Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, South West Asia.
"Already we have signed for various properties."
The chain plans to open three hotels in Mecca, the first of which, the 600-room Hyatt Regency, is to open in about a year's time. They will be followed by Hyatt Place and Hyatt House properties.
"The first hotel to open in Riyadh will be hopefully within a year's time," said Mr Daoud. "We will be having a 269-room property which is going to be Hyatt Regency. This will be centrally located in the central of the business district of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh. Following that in 2015 there will be another property, which is Park Hyatt Riyadh."
In Jeddah, where Hyatt currently runs one property, it has signed two other projects that are scheduled to open in 2015 to 2016.
"These are a Grand Hyatt and Hyatt Regency, so in Jeddah we will have the three brands - Park which we already have, Grand and Regency."
Several factors are fuelling the expansion in the kingdom, not least the ever-growing popularity of religious tourism. The government is planning to build more than 35 hotels in the Jabal Al Umrah area of Mecca alone to keep up with demand. "There is a huge development for that area and we are very interested in that part of the world," said Mr Daoud.
The UAE also remains interesting to Hyatt, he said, even though the company already has five properties in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
"Dubai has ambitious plans to increase the number of visitors to reach up to 20 million visitors by 2020, and plus of course to bid for the Expo 2020 that creates lots of interest and creates lots of opportunities for the developers to establish new hotels and take advantage of this increase in business," he said.
"We are looking into Dubai and also into Abu Dhabi and we [will] hopefully have some projects to be announced in both, in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. That will be coming soon," he added.
Hyatt is also looking at India, China and Europe. It has opened four new hotels in France: the Grand Hyatt Cannes Hotel Martinez in Cannes; the Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Méditerranée; the Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile; and the Hotel du Louvre in Paris.
"The ones in Paris have a huge demand from the Middle East market. The third nationality staying in the [Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile] are Saudis. Also the Grand Hyatt Martinez in Cannes as well has lots of demand from the Middle East market. The Louvre as well is popular," Mr Daoud said.