The Coral International Cape Town. The demand for accommodation in South Africa far exceeds the supply, making the country the most attractive place in the world for hotels, especially with the approach of the World Cup games. Image Credit: Supplied Picture

Dubai: Coral Hotels and Resorts on Saturday opened its first hotel in Cape Town, marking the entry of the UAE's home-grown hotel chain into South Africa.

The move comes well ahead of the FIFA World Cup to be held this summer.

The hotel's opening ceremony was attended by South African Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel; Shaikh Faisal Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, chairman of Hospitality Management Holdings and chairman of Coral Hotels and Resorts; Shaikh Abdullah Bin Saqr Al Nahyan, a leading UAE businessman, and Esmail Obaid Al Ali, UAE Ambassador to South Africa. The city's prominent businessmen also attended.

Owned by Cii Hotel & Resorts Cape Town (Pty) Ltd, a subsidiary of Cii Holdings (Pty) Ltd, Coral International Cape Town is a luxury hotel offering an upscale experience. Serving as the centrepiece of the city on the border of Bo-Kaap, 20 minutes drive from Cape Town International Airport, the hotel makes a beautiful architectural statement.

The property had been under construction since the first quarter of 2007 and has been built at a cost of $40 million (Dh146 million).

Addressing the gathering, Group CEO for Cii Holdings, Hamza Farooqui, said: "We are very excited to open Coral International Cape Town in time for the FIFA World Cup 2010. It is a historic moment for all of us as all eyes turn to South Africa. The coming months will see an enormous surge in tourism as the nation gears up to host the biggest event of its kind ever held in Africa and we are ready for the challenge."

The demand for accommodation far exceeds supply in South Africa and hence swamped with business, it is currently the most attractive place in the world for hotels. The country is spending 40 billion rand (Dh18 billion) on projects related to the World Cup including new hotels, safari lodges and stadiums.

A record 450,000 international visitors are expected during the month-long tournament which kicks off in June.

With Table Mountain just in front of it the view from some rooms in the hotel is spectacular.

Coral Hotels & Resorts is the first Gulf hotel brand to make the journey to South Africa and is looking to expand its presence in the country.

Authentic Arabian

Michel Noblet, CEO of Hospitality Management Holdings that owns Coral, said: "With Coral International Cape Town we are happy to bring for the first time to South Africa a truly authentic experience of Arabian hospitality combined with world-class modern facilities.

"Too many hotels are built without adequate forethought or fore-consideration of a community's needs. Our aim with Coral International Cape Town is to offer a prestigious new address with a distinctive experience.

The hotel is a beautiful addition to our portfolio and offers a safe haven for travellers in an alcohol-free environment."

African tourism was, in the last quarter of 2009, among the best performers, recording a growth rate of over 5 per cent with a total of 812,652 visitors.

"Against the backdrop of both the upturn in international tourism figures and overall economic indicators in recent months, UNWTO forecasts a growth in international tourist arrivals of between 3 per cent and 4 per cent in 2010 for Africa," the United Nations World Tourism Organisation said.

Noblet said, "In the foreseeable future, the engine of growth will be here in Africa. We are delighted to be present in this key market and look forward to further expansion."

Expansion strategy

Despite the global economic downturn, HMH (Hospitality Management Holdings), which owns Coral chain of hotels, is forging ahead with aggressive plans to expand its strong network of 33 hotels making it one of the fastest growing hospitality groups in the Middle East. Girding the globe with new hotels practically every few weeks, HMH continues to add rooms at a furious pace across its brands. The group's expansion strategy is mainly focused on Africa and Asia aside from its home turf in the Middle East. HMH plans to open 20 hotels by the end of 2010, taking its portfolio of 33 to 53, thus increasing the group's total number of rooms by more than 40 per cent. HMH has already signed 55 hotels and has a target of 100 hotels by 2012.

Key Facts about HMH

  • Number of Rooms: 2,300
  • Number of hotels: 33
  • Number of employees: 1,900
  • Number of hotels in the pipeline: 20