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Accor eyes more luxury hotels in UAE

French hotel group plans to add more properties in the Sofitel brand in the near future

Image Credit: Supplied
Yann Caillere
Gulf News

Dubai: Accor, which has been fuelling the Middle East's growth of midscale and budget hotels — Ibis and Novotel — for years, will now open more luxury and upscale hotels in Dubai and the rest of the region in the coming years, according to the group's top executive.

The French hotel group, which is represented globally by its Sofitel brand in the high-end luxury segment of the market, has just one Sofitel property in the UAE — Dubai's Sofitel Jumeirah Beach Residence — a market otherwise dominated by the overwhelming presence of luxury hotel brands.

It plans to add more properties for the brand in the UAE and the region.

Accor, which has 15 properties in the region, started its Sofitel network with 206 hotels globally, which was then slashed to 100 hotels, said Yann Caillere, president and chief operating officer, adding that three more Sofitels are coming up in the UAE.

These are the Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche, due to open next year; the Sofitel Dubai Palm Jumeirah Resort & Spa in December 2012; and the Sofitel Dubai Shaikh Zayed Road, in early 2013.

"These projects are currently under construction," Caillere said.

Asked if Accor was losing out on the top-end hotels segment in Dubai, Caillere told Gulf News: "It's fair to say we are concentrating on every segment. In fact, we are known to be the best in [the] class for economy and midscale segments.

"So it might look like we are paying more attention [to the luxury segment] but we are working on every segment. So we can't neglect one segment as we want to be strong in all segments."

Meanwhile, in the upscale/upper segment, Accor is working towards expanding the network for its Pullman hotels in the region.

While the region's only Pullman hotel is present in Dubai — the Pullman Mall of the Emirates, which opened in September 2010 — Accor is gearing to open the second Pullman in Dubai's Jumeirah Lake Towers area in the second quarter of 2012, followed by Pullman Doha in 2014.

"We have very high potential with Pullman. The brand perfectly matches with first-tier business cities such as Abu Dhabi and Cairo, being oriented towards corporate markets and [the meetings, incentives, conferencing and exhibitions] MICE market," Caillere said.

He added that having launched the Pullman brand only three years ago, Accor should have a network of 50-plus Pullman hotels across the world by the end of this year.

"And hopefully, we will be a 100-hotel network soon."

Currently represented in the region by brands such Ibis, Novotel, Mercure, Pullman and Sofitel, Accor is planning to bring other brands from its global portfolio to this market in the future.

These include M Gallery in the boutique hotel segment; and Adagio in the midscale serviced apartment category.

According to Caillere, the first Adagio will open in Abu Dhabi in 2012, followed by Fujairah and Saudi Arabia in the future.

"We may also have a few M Gallery properties in this region but not in big numbers. The first one is coming up in Doha," he said.