Fairmont Hotels sets up HQ in Dubai even as it adds to its presence in the UAE. And there are more coming. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: One of the biggest hotel operators in the world, Fairmont is relocating its global headquarters to Dubai at a time when the hospitality industry in the UAE and Saudi Arabia are heading into their next big growth leap. Apart from Fairmont, the group also owns and operates the Raffles and Swissotel brands.

Fairmont’s current HQ is in Paris, which came about after the hotel chain was acquired by France’s Accor Group in 2016. And now comes the move to Dubai. (The original headquarters of Fairmont was in Canada.)

“When it became official that I would be leading the Fairmont brand, we began discussing the location for the headquarters,” said Mark Willis, CEO. “While cities like New York and London naturally came to mind, I kept coming back to Dubai, which has continued to strengthen its position as a global hub, and is currently a major center of attention, attracting some of the best talent and top global brands, companies and investors.

“The region is booming, and the quality of life the city offers, along with the ease of doing business, security and attractions, make it extremely appealing as a home for both individuals and companies.”

The other obvious reason for the choice of Dubai was the geographical connectivity to Europe, Asia and Africa, where the Fairmont footprint is expanding.

More so, ‘with flights between these regions often taking less than six hours and with small time difference between markets,” Willis added.

“Most importantly, nearly 40 per cent of the current development projects for Fairmont sit in IMEAT (India, Middle East, Africa, Turkey), so based in Dubai, we will be poised to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities throughout the region.”

Back in new-build phase

Whether in the UAE or Saudi Arabia, new hotel projects being launched with increasing frequency. Dubai by itself has shaken off the impression that its hotel sector is carrying excess capacity – the period immediately after the reopening after the initial Covid burst made sure of that. Now, developers are in the midst of major new project launches, with branded hotels and residences part of that profile.

These days, the more luxe you could bring to your hotels and branded residences, the faster the RoI – or so developers and analysts say.

“We have an active plan in place to expand our managed hotel presence in the UAE,” said Willis. “Fairmont’s very first property in the Middle East was opened in the UAE, and we currently operate five properties across the Emirates.

“We have no intention of slowing down and plan to continue adding to our portfolio. In fact, we have another property - the Fairmont Dubai Skyline - currently under development and slated to open within the next couple of years.

Mark Willis
“The UAE is a crucial market for luxury brands, and we recognize the potential for growth in this market. We will remain strategic in keeping our brand promise and exceeding the expectations of our guests while upholding the high standards of the Fairmont brand.” - Mark Willis Image Credit: Supplied
Fairmont's got 30 new projects in the pipeline
Fairmont operates more than 90 hotels worldwide, and the pipeline will continue to provide more as travel makes a full-fledged return. There are another 30 of these being lined up.

There are ‘exciting openings extending from the Red Sea to Bangkok, La Paz Mexico to Prague over the coming years’, said Mark Willis.

“There are many beautiful and attractive destinations around the world where we currently do not have a presence, including Miami, Jeddah, Bali or Paris, and this presents an opportunity for us to expand our portfolio.

“However, when considering expanding into a new market, it is essential to be mindful of several factors such as location, our presence in that market, and whether a new property will enable us to deliver an exceptional experience for our guests.”