It’s been a milestone year for The Ascott Limited (Ascott) driven by new property openings across the MEA region.
In October the company’s award-winning hospitality made its African debut with the launch of Kwarleyz Residence in Accra, the capital of Ghana. Boasting one of the world’s fastest-growing economies driven by record levels of foreign direct investment, Ghana is a key emerging market with nascent tourism and hospitality sectors. Kwarleyz Residence is Ghana’s first international-class serviced residence and offers sophisticated living in the capital’s upscale Airport residential area. Ascott plans to extend its footprint in the West African nation next year, having secured a contract to manage Ascott 1 Oxford Street, a 220-unit serviced apartment in Accra’s Osu district known as the ‘West End’ of Accra.
“Africa is a lucrative market with huge potential and, after Asia, is the world’s second fastest-growing economy,” says Vincent Miccolis, Ascott’s Regional GM for Middle East, Africa and Turkey. Alongside Ghana, Ascott has identified future potential for serviced residences in other West African countries including Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal, and is poised to explore opportunities in key East African capital cities such as Nairobi, Kigali and Addis Ababa.
In the Middle East, Ascott has extended its positive presence and market leadership this year via a number of expansion deals, taking its total number of serviced residence units in the region to 21 (operational & pipeline). The company continues to forge ahead with ambitious expansion plans in KSA, accomplishing 10% revenue growth across its overall property portfolio in the Kingdom, alongside a 10 - 15% average increase growth in occupancy. Total bookings in the kingdom this year reached 26,729 compared to 24,334 last year; while the total room nights sold this year hit 104,209, up from 91,531 in 2017.
“KSA remains a dynamic market within the Middle East and as the Kingdom diversifies its economy, we’re seeing strong demand for Ascott’s serviced residences driven by domestic and regional travellers from business and leisure sectors,” continues Miccolis. “Ascott has set the benchmark for serviced apartments across the region and as testimony to this, we’re honoured to have been voted ‘Saudi Arabia’s Leading Serviced Apartment Brand’ at this year’s prestigious World Travel Awards.”
Ascott currently has five operating serviced residence properties in KSA, with three new properties scheduled to open in 2019 in Jeddah, Al Khobar and Makkah; meanwhile a trio of properties is in the pipeline for 2020 in Al Khobar, Abha and the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
Elsewhere in the GCC nations, Bahrain proved to be another strong performer for the owner-operator, with a 15% increase in occupancy and 5% revenue growth for 2018; while Ascott’s total room nights sold in Oman reached 56,794 compared to 50,419 in 2017. A 96-unit property is also scheduled to open in the Omani capital next year.
With its unique geographical position straddling Europe and Asia, Turkey is a key expansion destination for Ascott. Turkey’s largest city and economic powerhouse, Istanbul, is a regional tourism and commercial hub; in addition to the recently-opened Somerset Maslak Istanbul a further two properties are set to open in the city in 2019, boosting Ascott’s presence in Turkey to three properties.
Meanwhile Ascott’s fast-growing, mid-market Citadines brand rounds off a particularly strong 12 months including a rebranding of Dubai’s Citadines Metro Central Dubai. Next year sees the opening of Dubai’s Citadines Culture Village along with Citadines Nivo Istanbul and Citadines Maslak Istanbul in Turkey, as well as Citadines Al Ghubrah Muscat in Oman.
“The mid-tier hospitality market shows great growth potential,” comments Miccolis. “Once again, we’ve proven that Ascott’s award-winning portfolio offers business and leisure travellers the right mix of prime property location and international operating standards, combined with first-rate facilities and a highly personalised style of accommodation.
“Looking ahead to 2019 and beyond, it promises to be an exciting period for Ascott with expansion through strategic alliances, management contracts and franchisee agreements. We’re well on our way to becoming the leading serviced apartment provider in the Middle East with a target of 5,000 units across MEA and Turkey by 2020.”
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