Posted on May 06, 2011

Accor, Europe’s largest hotel company, plans to open at least one of each of its brands in Qatar and grow its Mercure brand through refurbishment of existing hotels in the region. The owner of Pullman and Novotel said it was currently under-represented in the gas-rich Gulf state opening lucrative opportunities for its Ibis, Novotel and Sofitel brands.

“If we can have each brand represented with one property that would be a good start. After that it all depends on location and size,” Charlie Langlais, Accor’s CEO for Middle East, Indian Ocean and Caribbean Islands, told Arabian Business. Accor has fifteen hotel brands across the world but only plans to open hotels in Qatar that already have a presence in this region, said Langlais. “We would love to have an Ibis, Novotel and a Sofitel in Qatar,” he said.

Qatar is spending billions of dollars on infrastructure as it gears up to host the World Cup 2022. The Gulf state currently has about 50,000 hotel rooms but bid leaders have promised 95,000 rooms will be available by 2022. “Qatar is certainly one of the countries where we are underrepresented so it is for us a priority,” he added. “I would say it’s not just linked to the lead up to the World Cup - which is of course important – but also taking everything into consideration including the overall growth of the economy in Qatar and what it is becoming in terms of leisure and business..”

Accor last week announced it would open its first Pullman hotel in Qatar, bringing its global portfolio to 59 properties. The France-based firm is also eying opportunity for its mid-range Mercure hotels through refurbishments in the region, said Langlais. “There are a number of hotel operators in the marketplace, who have been operating for a number of years without a brand or with a brand which, let’s say, is less known, who are [operating] at a time when the supply in the market is greater than it used to be. “The market is becoming more competitive. Not to be associated with a brand makes it far more difficult to reach out the market. I would see opportunities in the near future for a number of operators to be thinking about that,” he said.

source: Arabian Business