Dubai: Global luxury hotel management group Jumeirah is pursuing its plan to sign up 60 hotels despite the hurdles that the Middle East market is facing, according to the group's top official.
"Under development and/or in operation by the end of 2012 would be 60 hotels in Jumeirah Group's portfolio. Already, we should achieve that. We have 42 management agreements signed," Gerald Lawless, Executive Chairman of the Jumeirah Group, told Gulf News in an exclusive interview. The hotels group is expected to announce its performance results for the first quarter of the year today.
"You always have to budget for a certain amount of non-openings as certain projects just don't happen. We will still expect that with whatever we might lose we take on another two or three. Once we start opening these hotels people become much more aware of the brand and demand goes up again," he added.
With regard to the pipeline for 2011, Lawless said that Jumeirah aims to open up to "nine hotels" now, "somewhere between seven and nine hotels".
Commenting on the group's overall performance, he said that since November 2010, Jumeirah has had a "huge uptake in business. 2010 wasn't bad too. The good news is that we are getting a lot of new markets."
He added that the traditional markets such as the UK and Germany are holding up well too.
"Russia has been very strong and is now Jumeirah's second best market after the UK. We have also noticed a big increase in the GCC markets and one of our star performers has been China," he said.
Last January the number of rooms let by Jumeirah was about 44 per cent higher than in the same month of last year, according to Lawless.
He said: "We are certainly looking for an ongoing increase. Our total increase in rooms let for the first quarter this year should be in the region of about 25 per cent."
Commenting on the occupancy projections for the summer, Lawless told Gulf News: "I would predict that, Ramadan aside, up until August we will be in the occupancy levels of 80-85 per cent on an average, particularly beach hotels."
He added: "We are expecting the summer period to be very strong. We are working along with the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing [DTCM], Emirates airline and other hotels in Dubai. The summer offers will certainly help to underpin our occupancy."
When asked about the status of Jumeirah Group's lifestyle contemporary brand of hotels — VENU Hotels — Lawless told Gulf News: "We decided to park it for a while."
But he added: "We are still very committed to VENU in the longer term."