Four Seasons shakes up Damascus

The new Four Seasons Hotel Damascus has filled a gap in the market for luxury accommodation in Syria and is proving a lucrative venture for the hotel’s owner and agents alike. Although the hotel closed at 60% occupancy for May, RevPar was double at an average rate of US $165.

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By  Gemma Hornett Published  July 4, 2006

The new Four Seasons Hotel Damascus has filled a gap in the market for luxury accommodation in Syria and is proving a lucrative venture for the hotel’s owner and agents alike. Although the hotel closed at 60% occupancy for May, RevPar was double at an average rate of US $165. These high prices, and lower occupancies, present a lucrative option for travel agents, who are virtually guaranteed a booking and will benefit from commissionable rates. “We are not going for volume, we are going for quality,” said Markus Iseli, the hotel’s general manager. “The calibre of guests has changed, but we will only see the real impact after the summer, when the GCC visitors come.” The 231-room Four Seasons Hotel Damascus, which is 30% owned by the government, has brought a number of firsts to the market. They include Syria’s first concierge service, first full service spa, first BMW airport transfers, and the first in-room internet connections and in-room DVD players, since soft opening in December. The March opening has already sent ripples across the market: tourist habits are changing, and other five-star hotels are taking note, with hotels such as Le Meridien Damascus now under renovation. “The GCC visitor used to stay in villas in the countryside, because they didn’t find quality accommodation in the city. What’s more, those going to Beirut are now also considering coming to Damascus. We are also seeing dignitaries coming through, and we are able to attract them with our facilities,” said Iseli. “The market was surprised. We have had requests from locals wanting to use the spa or wanting to hire our BMWs, but you have to stay with us in order to use our facilities.”

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