x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

JAL Hotels keen on returning to Emirates after loss of contracts

JAL Hotels, which lost both its properties in the UAE in July, is eager to return to the country.

JAL Hotels is hopeful of a return to the UAE after it lost its management contracts for luxury hotels in Dubai and Fujairah last month and remains baffled by the "owner's rationale", the company says.

Management of the two properties, both owned by Acico, a company based in Kuwait, was taken over by Rezidor Hotel Group under its Radisson brand.

"We are certainly eager to return to the UAE," said Haruya Kusakabe, JAL Hotels' public relations manager. "The owner … decided to seek for re-branding of both properties. We have no accountability of its decision making. We can't speculate about the owner's rationale."

The JAL hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road, which opened only last November, is now the Radisson Royal Hotel, while the property that was managed by JAL in Fujairah is called the Radisson Blu Resort, Fujairah. JAL had managed the Fujairah resort since May 2007.

Management at Acico was unavailable for comment.

Analysts said there could be a number of reasons behind the decision to change the operator.

"It could be that JAL wasn't giving them the results that were agreed upon," said Harjinder Singh, a hotel consultant at CB Richard Ellis. "It could be a personal dispute. Performance could be one of the major reasons."

Last year, Hotel Okura, based in Tokyo, acquired a majority stake in JAL Hotels. The troubled Japan Airlines (JAL) previously owned the company. Hotel Okura has a 79.6 per cent stake in JAL Hotels, JAL International has an 11.1 per cent stake, and other shareholders have smaller stakes.

Mr Singh said the Japanese hospitality operator would be competing with bigger global names to get another opportunity in the UAE.

JAL Hotels said it would also consider opening hotels in other countries in the Middle East.

"While the whole Japanese hospitality industry has been damaged by the … [recent] earthquake, we are fortunate that many of our hotels are outside Japan and were not affected," said Mr Kusakabe. "In addition, the Japanese hospitality industry began to pick up again in June, which is encouraging."