Dubai: In line with its ambition to have a Rotana brand in every major city in the Middle East, the hotel operator is investing over $800 million (Dh2.93 billion) in its expansion plan.
"The vision was always to have a hotel in every major Middle Eastern city — we're very close to that. By 2014, we should be there," Omer Kaddouri, chief operating officer of Rotana, told Gulf News.
Rotana will open six new hotels in the UAE this year, bringing the total to 33. These include a Centro near Sharjah airport, a Centro on Abu Dhabi Airport Road and a Rayhaan and Arjaan complex in Deira.
"The last few months have seen the hospitality industry in the Middle East and Africa registering positive growth. We see that momentum being sustained as general business conditions improve across the board," said Selim Al Zyr, president and CEO of Rotana.
Rotana is also looking to open a new hotel in Qatar in time for the World Cup 2022 and has hotels currently under construction in Lebanon, Jordan and Libya.
With its additional new properties, the hotel operator is expecting its average occupancy rate to increase by nine per cent in 2011.
By 2014, Rotana is looking to have another 30 hotels in the pipeline and grow at an average of eight hotels a year.
"All our properties across all destinations performed well, with some meeting their targets and other surpassing theirs. However, Lebanon was the best performing country considering the tourism boom that the country has experienced due to its current stability and commitment to renovation and progression," said Al Zyr.
Recent events have however hampered some expansion plans.
"We have hotels in Syria and Amman that are still going on.
"How long they are building them for we don't know, but so far they're on schedule.
"In Libya we have a hotel which was just starting to be built from the ground up and has ground to a halt. We don't think we'll be seeing anything in Libya for a while," said Kaddouri.
In Damascus, where it is peak season, their hotel which would normally be running at 95 per cent occupancy is running at 40 per cent. Their resort in the north of Syria should be running at full occupancy but is running at nine per cent.