Exclusive Travel & Hospitality ‘Constantly evolving’ Mena key to Hyatt growth plan, says new VP By Andy Sambidge February 1, 2023 Supplied Stuart Deeson is the new VP of operations for the Middle East and Africa at Hyatt Hotels Hyatt opening hotels in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and MoroccoResponsible tourism plus wellness and mindful travel are set to grow Loyalty programmes key to encouraging repeat bookings Hyatt Hotels, the US-based hospitality giant, is placing emphasis on the Middle East and Africa for its global growth strategy. Stuart Deeson, newly appointed vice president of operations for the region at Hyatt, told AGBI that Saudi Arabia in particular was witnessing a “significant point in history”. He also believes Qatar, Kuwait and Morocco offer expansion opportunities. Hyatt, headquartered in Chicago, anticipates room increases of more than 80 percent in Saudi Arabia by late 2025. Key openings in the next few years include Grand Hyatt The Red Sea, Miraval The Red Sea and Park Hyatt Riyadh Diriyah. Saudi outpaces neighbours as prime tourist destinationPrivate sector innovation will save our natural environmentFour Seasons reveals new hotel as Morocco’s tourism sector recovers Deeson said: “Our plans align with the kingdom’s Vision 2030 strategy, which is designed to harness the nation’s greatest strengths and help create a more sustainable economy by forging new connections with the world – of which the hospitality sector will play a pivotal role.” He added that Hyatt, which operates more than 1,200 hotels and all-inclusive properties in 72 countries, is also establishing a foothold in Qatar and Kuwait. The opening of Andaz Doha, scheduled for this quarter, marks the debut of the luxury lifestyle brand in Qatar and the fourth Hyatt-branded hotel in the market. The first Grand Hyatt opened in Kuwait in August. “North Africa, including Morocco, is another exciting market for Hyatt,” said Deeson. “With such a diversity of landscapes, rich culture and heritage, the region has a lot to offer the modern traveller in search of unique experiences. “Park Hyatt Marrakech will be the fourth Hyatt-branded hotel in Morocco and the sixth in North Africa when it makes its debut later this year.” Deeson began his hospitality career at the age of 16 in the family country house hotel business, before joining Hyatt in 1995. The Hyatt Regency in Taghazout is one of the group’s hotels in Morocco. Picture: Hyatt He moved to the UAE in 2010 to become general manager of the Park Hyatt Dubai and also held GM positions at Park Hyatt and Grand Hyatt properties in Abu Dhabi. Tourism in the region is “constantly evolving” to keep pace with the changing preferences of travellers, he said. “In cities like Dubai, there’s a demand for different categories of hotels including select service, lifestyle and luxury hotels… We meet the needs of all travellers with a diverse portfolio of hotels, catering to all price points and consumer needs.” Eight Hyatt brands are available in the Middle East: Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Alila, Andaz, Hyatt Regency, Hyatt Centric, Hyatt Place and Hyatt House. “Each of these brands holds potential for the region and we look forward to building on the success of these hotels with new brand entries in the coming years,” he said. Having experienced the rapid growth in the hospitality sector in the region over the past decade, Deeson predicted that the rate of change would continue and be accelerated by development projects in Saudi Arabia and other tourism strategies adopted by Gulf states. Hyatt Regency in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (left), and Grand Hyatt Kuwait. Pictures: Supplied He added that loyalty programmes would play a increasingly important role in encouraging repeat bookings, while responsible tourism, multi-generational family travel, once-in-a-lifetime trips, and wellness and mindful travel are likely to rise in popularity. Deeson, who is responsible for more than 30 properties in the region, said: “Hyatt’s commitment to sustainability in the Mena region can be seen in the innovative sustainable practices in place in our existing hotels, as well as those that will underpin future developments.” Hyatt opened Alila Hinu Bay, a sustainable, luxury wellness resort in Oman, in 2021. Its two hotel openings in Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea tourism project will be powered solely by renewable energy, avoiding at least half a million tonnes of carbon emissions each year.