x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Luxury hotelier pushes hard to regain lost ground in Cairo

Arab Spring economies: Fairmont, a luxury hotel management company, has restarted talks to open a resort in the seaside city of Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt as part of a US$1.2 billion (Dh4.4bn) development.

Fairmont, a luxury hotel management company, has restarted talks to open a resort in the seaside city of Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt as part of a US$1.2 billion (Dh4.4bn) development.

"We're moving forwards," says Frank Naboulsi, a vice president and the general manager of Fairmont Nile City Hotel in Cairo.

"The deal was signed and then the licences and things stopped and now we're applying for it again. We no longer can hold off. Life has to continue." He declines to say who is developing the project but the owner "has the funding in place".

Business has picked up faster in the resort destinations along the Red Sea than in Cairo, with an influx of visitors from eastern Europe, hoteliers say.

Meanwhile, the Fairmont is adding more restaurants to generate more revenue and appeal to the locals at a time when bookings are down throughout the city, Mr Naboulsi says. Occupancy levels across Cairo fell to 10 per cent immediately after the revolution began last year. But the Fairmont now has occupancy levels in the mid-50 per cent range, Mr Naboulsi says.

"There's a lot of hotels that are still struggling. As hotels in the city are closing restaurants, we are opening more.

"We're creating a venue and a destination. Our number one in terms of the food and beverage offerings is the local market," he says.

We want to make sure that the local market feel that this hotel is for them - not just that it belongs to foreigners. We are part of the social community. That's very important for us as part our strategies that we developed for 2012."

Room rates at the hotel are down by almost 20 per cent compared with before the revolution.

Fairmont is part of Fairmont Raffles Holdings International, in which Qatari Diar and Kingdom Holding have stakes.

rbundhun@thenational.ae

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