The growing commercial travel market in Qatar represents a “window of opportunity which we simply cannot afford to miss,” according to the chief operations officer of Guoman Hotels, Sanjay Nijhawan, who operate two of the most popular hotels in London.
Representatives from the hotel recently visited Doha to explore the possibilities of either building a property here or taking on a management role for a property which has already begun construction.
Despite the current financial crisis having affected everyone in the travel and tourism industry, Nijhawan outlined an expansion project which includes plans to open numerous hotels throughout the world.
“We have a very aggressive expansion plan,” explained Nijhawan who claimed that the brand is aiming to open some 20-25 hotels over the next three years.
Although he has been exploring the possibility of opening hotels in the Middle East for some time, he explained that for the past year, his attention has been firmly focussed upon China, where Guoman are opening two properties in the next five months.
“But now that the hotels are almost ready for opening there, my focus has switched to here and so has our entire team’s,” he claimed, adding “we are going to be in Doha much more frequently, as will our senior executive team.”
Nijhawan explained that the Guoman hotels in London were particular favourites amongst the Arab visitors, who make up around 55-60% of the hotel’s business which is equal to around £30-40mn a year.
This popularity is down to the hotels’ locations – both bordering Edgeware Road – and the special amenities they provide for their Arabic guests, including Arabic newspapers, menus, Arabic speaking reservations and hotel staff and many other facilities specifically designed to cater to Middle Eastern guests.
Nijhawan argued that Europe has reached saturation point, and explained that his hotel would be looking to expand into other areas such as India, China, the Gulf and the rest of the Middle East.
“I believe this is a window of opportunity that we simply cannot afford to miss,” he said, adding: “We need to be building hotels in this part of the world and we need to be doing it now.”
Nijhawan described the growth and influence of Qatar as “phenomenal” claiming “within the next three years you can expect to be meeting us in a Guoman hotel!”
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