x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Abu Dhabi Holiday Inn looks for double-digit growth

While trends in the UAE hospitality sector are weak, the four-star Holiday Inn in the capital believes it is set to do much better than its more upmarket rivals after a big brand overhaul.

The Holiday Inn in Abu Dhabi believes it could achieve double-digit growth this year.
The Holiday Inn in Abu Dhabi believes it could achieve double-digit growth this year.

A new look for the Holiday Inn brand and its mid-market status should help the company's Abu Dhabi property achieve double-digit revenue growth this year, the hotel's general manager says.

The upbeat prediction runs contrary to trends in the wider UAE hospitality sector, which has suffered from weak revenue growth and declining profitability over the past year as thousands of rooms have come into the market.

The four-star Abu Dhabi hotel, which opened in the fourth quarter of 2009, is targeting a still relatively under-supplied "affordable" market segment.

"We are happy to be in the mid-market," general manager Sid Sattanathan said. "We are budgeting double-digit growth in total revenues."

Most of the properties that have opened in Abu Dhabi recently are five-star hotels. Among the 5,000 rooms expected to launch in the emirate this year are high-end brands such as Jumeirah, Park Hyatt and Rocco Forte.

Data from STR Global, which provides benchmarking reports to the industry, show sharp drops in occupancy levels and rates in the capital as more hotels opened their doors, with the number of rooms coming into the market outpacing the increase in tourists visiting the emirate.

In December, occupancy at the Abu Dhabi Holiday Inn was 76.5 per cent and the average daily rate was Dh574.46, data from the company show.

Holiday Inn is part of the InterContinental Hotels Group, the world's largest hotel company, which is based in the UK. InterContinental also owns brands such as Crowne Plaza.

There are 3,400 properties worldwide under the Holiday Inn name, which was founded by Kemmons Wilson in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1952 and now accommodates 100 million people in its hotels each year.

The US$1 billion (Dh3.67bn) global revamp to the historic brand was met with some criticism, particularly when the new logo, which had not been changed since the brand's beginning, was launched.

"Most of the Holiday Inns have been refreshed with new brand hallmarks," Mr Sattanathan said. Many aspects were overhauled, he said from the logo and room amenities to the music played in the lobby and the introduction of a special scent now used at all Holiday Inn hotels.

"Our hotel, being a new hotel, was opened with all these new hallmarks in place. It gives the hotel a more vibrant, young, modern look."

Mr Sattanathan said the expansion of Etihad Airways, infrastructure projects and the increase in sports, entertainment and exhibitions in the capital would help to bring more hotel guests into Abu Dhabi.

Another reason for the hotel's relative success is the fact that it looks after its employees, he said, pointing to a basketball court for employees and a lively staff restaurant with an extensive menu.

One of the growth areas this year will be in the numbers of guests from South Korea, Mr Sattanathan said.

The hotel has employed Korean staff to cater for Korean business guests involved in projects in Abu Dhabi.