Dubai: InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), owner of Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn chains, unveiled the first Dubai property bearing its new brand Voco.

The company will reflag the Nassima Royal Hotel on Shaikh Zayed Road, giving it a full refurbishment ahead of the opening by March next.

Despite concerns about the oversupply of hotel rooms in Dubai, IHG executives said they were confident Voco’s approach would prove popular. The brand is targeting existing, primarily independent hotels and offer them a new identity, a facelift, and integration with a global hotel group, all for minimal capital investment.

“Value for money and return on investment in becoming more and more of a focus in the UAE, perhaps more than ever,” said Matthew Tripolone, IHG’s vice-president of development for the Middle East and Africa. “We’ve been really strategic in thinking about what we really require our owners to do to a property to get the best value for money.”

The company believes it has identified a few areas where hotel owners can target capital and see the biggest changes to the guest’s experience. These include the beds, showers and communal areas, with light refurbishment throughout the hotel to “give it some life”.

Tripolone said that for $5,000-$10,000 (Dh18,362-Dh36,725) per room, an owner could completely change the look and feel of a hotel. This, tied with the integration into IHG’s loyalty systems and supply chain, would make it a “very attractive proposition”.

Room to grow

The new brand was expected to drive significant growth for IHG in the coming years, according to Kenneth MacPherson, the company’s chief executive for Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.

He added that IHG was targeting over 200 Voco hotels in his territory over the next 10 years, and was in “live discussions” with a number of investors throughout this region, about opening new Voco hotels.

Declining to say how much rooms in the new Voco Dubai would cost when it opens next year, Tripolone said it would be in roughly the same range as sister brand Crowne Plaza. A night at the Crowne Plaza on Shaikh Zayed Road currently costs around Dh400, according to the company’s website.

Shrugging off widespread worries of depressed room rates and lower occupancies, especially at Dubai’s inner city hotels, Tripolone said that the upscale segment, which roughly sits between the three- and five-star segments, still had plenty of room to grow. “The market is moving towards upscale product, away from luxury. That’s where we’ve seen the most decline,” he said.

“As this market matures, we see lots of headroom in the UAE for [the growth of upscale]. The same is true for Saudi Arabia, which is moving towards midscale and upscale.”