Exclusive Travel & Hospitality Sydney-based StayWell looks to add up to 15 Mideast hotels By Andy Sambidge October 7, 2022 Supplied StayWell plans to add more hotels to its UAE portfolio which already includes Park Regis Business Bay, Dubai Asia Pacific hotel group eyes Dubai and Riyadh for its luxury brandsAlso opening in Egypt’s Sharm Al Sheikh in early 2024Group chief Simon Wan praises growth in UAE and Saudi tourism StayWell Holdings, one of the largest hotel management groups in Asia Pacific, is looking to add up to 15 new properties in the Middle East, with its luxury brand targeting debuts in Dubai and Riyadh. Simon Wan, president and director of StayWell Holdings, told AGBI that the expansion plan comes on the back of advances made by governments in the ease of doing business in the region over the past decade. “I am confident that the various governments in this region will continue their good work,” said Wan. “They have made this region more investment friendly, efficient and competitive.” UAE’s hotel pipeline hits $32bn as tourism recovery continuesDubai Expo 2020 and Saudi Vision 2030 fuel hotel growthMarriott to add 20 hotels across Middle East, including conversions Globally, the medium to long-term expansion plan for StayWell will include opening 250 hotels over the next decade in key destinations in critical regions. These include countries in the GCC and Egypt. Sydney-headquartered StayWell currently has four operational hotels in Dubai and Bahrain but Wan is looking to increase the portfolio quickly and believes the group’s Prince Akatoki brand could compete well in Middle East markets. “We would like to add our luxury brand The Prince Akatoki to Dubai and Riyadh as well as introducing our new Park Proxi brand to this region,” he said. “While Japanese and Asian investments are increasing in the Middle East over the years, we have not seen significant growth of hotel brands from this part of the world.” “We strongly believe that the Prince Akatoki can bring a point of difference in both product offering and unique Japanese fusion hospitality services that will be appreciated by customers over in the Middle East and creating a demand for it.” In addition, StayWell is opening an upscale Park Regis by Prince on Deira Island in Dubai in the next six months. Wan says he is keen to “build on this momentum” to take this brand into a number of countries in the GCC. Outside of the Gulf region, the company has recently signed a Park Proxi brand in Sharm Al Sheikh in Egypt which is expected to open in early 2024. “The recent entry to Egypt would definitely improve our brand awareness and presence in this region and we are expecting to capitalise on this to grow a number of brands through GCC and the wider Middle East region,” he added. Other key regions that have been identified for the hospitality chain’s expansion include Europe, the US and South East Asia. The expansion project, which is expected to be completed by 2032, will primarily focus on an asset-light model with a major portion of the portfolio managed directly by the group. Park Regis Lotus hotel in Bahrain But it’s the potential of the Middle East that is exciting Wan, who said: “We have seen a tremendous growth in UAE and Dubai tourism and commerce. “The recent announcement by the Saudi government, its aggressive tourism growth plan would also present a lot more opportunities for us to expand our hotel network within this region. “We would ideally like to add at least 10 to 15 hotels in the Middle East region over the next 10 years with a number of our existing hotel brands ranging from luxury five star, upscale, lifestyle and mid-scale.” Wan said he is impressed with the region’s emergence as a global tourism destination. “I have witnessed remarkable economic growth in the Middle East region particularly in UAE, Qatar and Saudi over the past 10 to 15 years,” said Wan. “These countries have built significant infrastructure including new cities, road, utilities support, airports, airlines, hotels, shopping malls, tourism and culture attractions. “It is so much easier doing business now in the region compared to what we used to experience 10 years ago.” Park Regis Kris Kin hotel in Dubai He also praised the recovery of the region from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. “Based on our experience, Dubai was one of the few cities in the world that bounced back quickly in mid-to-late 2021,” he said. “Our hotels in Dubai have enjoyed strong occupancy and rate growth during this period and both the top-line revenue and bottom-line profit were better than same period in 2019. “With the lifting of travel restrictions in most countries, and anticipated opening of China,Japan and Hong Kong later this year and next year, I believe we will see a strong recovery of hotel demand over the next 12 to 18 months.” Wan added: “I also think that airlines such as Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad will increase their capacity in the coming high-season months, which will in turn generate more demand for hotel rooms.” StayWell Holdings and its Japanese parent company Seibu Prince Hotels Worldwide Inc currently offer a portfolio of 128 hotels, both operating and under development, worldwide.