Langham Hospitality in talks to open hotel in Abu Dhabi as part of regional expansion

HONG KONG // Langham Hospitality Group is in talks to open a property in Abu Dhabi as part of a region-wide push that is also targeting Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Lebanon.

“We’re working on something in Abu Dhabi. We think that’s an attractive market,” said Robert Warman, its chief executive, adding that no timeline had been set for its opening.

“It’s hard to say … We’re in preliminary discussions.”


The Hong Kong-based group this week signed a deal with Omniyat, a UAE developer, to open its second Middle East property in Dubai’s Business Bay.

The 438-unit Langham Place hotel and serviced apartment buildings have been designed by Soma Architects and is due to open in 2018.

Its first property will be a Langham Hotels and Resorts property on Palm Jumeirah in Dubai, which is being developed by Das Holding, an investment holding company backed by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, the Minister of Presidential Affairs.

The property is due for completion in the first quarter of 2017.

“It’s well under construction,” Mr Warman said. “The main structure is finished; the remaining part is landscaping and interiors.”

He said that Langham would typically develop not more than two luxury hotels in one city, but felt it could afford to do this in Dubai because they serve different markets. The Palm property is a beach resort hotel, while Langham Place is a contemporary, city-style hotel.

“Our customers are telling us we need to be in more locations. For years, we’ve been predominantly in the Far East, but we’ve expanded in North America,” said Mr Warman.

Langham Hospitality’s Middle East push has also led it to sign two deals in Qatar for a Langham Hotels and Resorts outpost in Doha and a Langham Place in Lusail.

A deal has also been signed to build a 150-room resort hotel in the hills above Beirut.

“Bahrain is continuing on, and Oman has great potential for not only a city hotel but also a resort. It seems like Egypt is settling down and we think that Cairo will be a great market in the future,” said Mr Warman.

He also expressed his keenness to set up hotels in Riyadh and Jeddah as Saudi Arabia diversifies its economy and more foreign investment pours into the kingdom.

Citing Langham Hospitality’s popularity among a growing band of Chinese travellers and its brand recognition among GCC travellers who use its hotels in London and New York, Mr Warman voiced confidence in his company’s ability to fill the hotel rooms in Saudi Arabia even as competitors step up their presence in the market.

The first Langham hotel was opened in London in 1865, and the hotel operator was acquired by Hong Kong-based Great Eagle Holdings, which has since extended its reach across Asia and the United States. It now operates 16 hotel properties, which generated HK$3.4 billion (Dh1.6bn) of Great Eagle Holding’s HK$5.6bn revenue last year.

Figures from the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority for the first half of the year show a 17 per cent increase in the emirate’s number of hotel guests to 1.98 million.

Chinese visitors made up the fastest-growing group. Their numbers rose 72 per cent to 102,217 from the same period last year.

Other than Emiratis, only Indians and Britons made more visits to the emirate.

mfahy@thenational.ae

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