Millennium Hotels set to enter mid-tier market

The latest in a foray of three-star announcements, Asian operator Millennium Hotels and Resorts revealed that it is introducing its three-star Kingsgate brand to the region in late 2007.

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By  Sarah Campbell Published  June 8, 2006

Hotel chains across the region appear to be jumping on the mid-tier bandwagon, following announcements in late April that easyHotel will be launching in the Middle East. The latest in a foray of three-star announcements, Asian operator Millennium Hotels and Resorts revealed that it is introducing its three-star Kingsgate brand to the region in late 2007. The 100-room, three-star Kingsgate Abu Dhabi, the first of its kind in the Middle East, will be located in the Tourist Club Area between Al Salam Street and the Abu Dhabi Mall, in Abu Dhabi. “In the UAE, around 70% of all three-star accommodation is unbranded, so the guest never knows what to expect. Kingsgate offers a service promise and delivery, so the guest knows what to expect from us,” Manfred Simons, regional vice president operations and development of Millennium Hotels, told Hotelier Middle East. While Simons is quick to trumpet the service standards of the Kingsgate brand he is also well aware that with other international chains, such as Express by Holiday Inn, Park Inn and Centro, entering the market, competition will be tough. “There are other companies looking at this market, and they are all good companies so there will be competition, however, we are the best,” he claimed. Kingsgate will focus on the visiting friends and relatives (VFR) market, as well as independent business travellers not on an expense account. “These people are looking for a decent, clean environment that fits their budget. Kingsgate rooms will offer high-speed internet connection, a desk, tea and coffee facilities, a comfortable bed and a bath tub,” he pointed out, stating that other no-frills hotels do not provide all of these services. Millennium plans to introduce Kingsgate properties to other regional hubs as part of ambitious expansion plans that will see the company add 35 more hotels in the Middle East. A lot of the investment being put into the Kingsgate brand will come from Islamic funds, so a number of the properties will be Sharia compliant. “With Islamic investment we have to be Sharia compliant, and you have to recognise that. These properties will have a restaurant and a café. Apart from that, it is a no nonsense product,” Simons said. Other than Abu Dhabi, Simons is also eyeing Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait as all being potential Kingsgate hubs, and is even casting his gaze towards the Levant. “Look at Beirut. There are a lot of unbranded three-star properties there,” he remarked. Millennium is also making inroads into the serviced apartments market, with the announcement that it will open a Millennium Executive Apartments in Abu Dhabi in late 2007. The 200-unit property will be located at Electra and Sheikh Zayed 1st Street. Further Millennium hotel openings are also on the horizon, with the Millennium Hotel Doha opening later this year, and a property scheduled to open in Sharm El Sheikh in 2007; all as part of the 35 hotel target. “We will have six new hotels by the end of the year, and are looking for partnerships [for additional properties],” Simons added, stating that Millennium Hotels would be prepared to make an equity investment in the right project.

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