Paul Bridger, COO of Rove Hotels
"The Middle East has been the fastest growing region in the world, according to STR, which is obviously great news for us being here in the UAE," said Paul Bridger, COO, Rove Hotel. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/ Gulf News

Dubai: The UAE hotel brand Rove has set its targets - and ambitious ones at that. In the next 5 years, Rove - which operates in some of Dubai’s most coveted locations such as the Downtown and Expo site - will look to have 10,000 rooms in its network.

And along with the expansion, double staff levels 1,500 plus. These numbers, the mid-tier hospitality brand’s COO feels are well within reach.

We are essentially going to double our pipeline in the next five years. We've seen lots of lots of interest in Saudi particularly, but other markets as well. Virendra Saklani/ Gulf News

“Looking ahead, the GCC’s focus is primarily on luxury hotels in the pipeline, with less than 5 per cent designated for the mid-scale category where we operate,” said Paul Bridger, Chief Operating Officer of Rove Hotels. “We believe there is significant potential not only for our brand but also for others. Dubai and the UAE have a track record of embracing new concepts, leaving room for fresh brands.

“In Saudi Arabia, most announcements have centred on ultra-luxury and luxury segments. However, over 85 per cent of travelers to this region opt for budget accommodations. They prefer allocating more of their budget to experiences outside the hotel, given the abundance of attractions in destinations like the UAE.”

Going for 90%+

Rove Hotels, – a joint venture between Emaar Properties and Meraas - had its best year ever in 2022, said Bridger. With occupancy levels averaging 90 per cent during peak seasons, the group also forecasts double-digit growth year-on-year. “We now have 3,500 rooms open, and we have about 2,000 under development,” the COO said.

UAE's Rove Hotels have ambitious expansion plans with 10,000 rooms, more branded residences, double its employee numbers. Image Credit: Supplied

While the group is hyper-focused on openings in UAE and Saudi Arabia, Rove is also considering projects in Oman and elsewhere in the GCC (details of which will be announced soon).

“We think we can do more hotels in Saudi Arabia, across the main cities, but also the secondary cities that really couldn’t support some of the luxury hotels we’ve seen being announced,” said Bridger. “I think a Rove would work well in these new secondary cities.”

In the UAE, Rove has a hotel opening planned for Marjan Island in Ras Al Khaimah in March 2024 and 300 hotel rooms and 177 residences are under development in Sharjah.

The Middle East hotel market has emerged as the strongest in the world this year based on hospitality industry performance metrics such as occupancy, revenue per available room (RevPar) and average room rate, according to the data analytics firm STR.

Branded residences

In September, the hotel entity made its foray into Dubai’s residential real estate market with Rove Home Downtown. The initial batch of branded residences sold out within six days, and a second offering has been unveiled in Sharjah’s Aljada master-development.

Rove Home in Downtown Dubai scheduled to open in 2026
Rove Home in Downtown Dubai scheduled to open in 2026 Image Credit: Supplied

“To date, between 700 and 800 residences have been sold, and there are plans for 1,500 units,” said Bridger.

“The real estate and branded residences markets (in Dubai) cater to the luxury and ultra-luxury segments. Recognizing a gap in the market for individuals who desire an excellent location, top-notch facilities, and quality service without the need for a luxury product, Rove Hotels stepped in.”

Mixed-use projects are all the rage

The group foresees substantial expansion, driven by a growing number of leisure and business travellers, including those who would describe themselves as ‘digital nomads’.

“We’ve transformed our hotels into more than just places to sleep but vibrant community hubs that foster work, social interaction, and leisure,” said Bridger.

This was best exemplified through the launch of Rove’s podcast studio – a collaboration with Nikon for a photo and video studio and the creation of the Rove Gamer Caves, the first hotel rooms in the Middle East specifically for gamers.

“We foresee a continuation of this trend, with an increased integration of living, working, and leisure experiences within mixed-use projects,” said Bridger.

From 700 to 1,500- strong workforce
In line with its ambitious expansion, Rove aims to double its direct employee numbers from around 700 to over 1,500.

“Most of our future growth will primarily be tied to expanding our new hotels and heavily involve operational roles,” said Paul Bridger. “However, we are also placing significant emphasis on supporting local employees, especially in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, where there is a strong emphasis on national employment.”