London, November 5, 2012 – Participating at the World Travel Market London, 2012 for the first time as an independent exhibitor, Katara Hospitality, the Qatar based hospitality giant, chose the leading global event for the travel industry to reveal its international expansion strategy and its daring aspirations.
Katara Hospitality approaches its expansion from two different perspectives that define its strategy. In Qatar, the company has shaped the hospitality landscape for over four decades and today it is part of the country’s infrastructure that grows alongside the country’s development. When investing aboard, the organisation is the hospitality flagship of the country, this industry field being perceived as an essential sector in Qatar’s economic diversification.
“During the past year, we doubled our portfolio by acquiring iconic hotels in key markets in Europe, Africa and Asia”, says Hamad Abdulla Al-Mulla, Chief Executive Officer of Katara Hospitality. “As we are aiming to become one of the leading hospitality organisations in the world, our strategic plans for international expansion will lead Katara Hospitality to achieving its goals”, he added.
As an experienced asset manager, developer and operator, Katara Hospitality international expansion strategy is articulated around three clearly defined pillars.
Investments in iconic properties
Keen on preserving the industry heritage, Katara Hospitality is acquiring iconic properties that once set the standards in the field and today represent a hospitality legacy, while committing to further invest to bringing them back to their former glory and turn them into thriving businesses.
Operational hotels like Raffles Singapore, Le Royal Monceau – Raffles Paris, Schweizerhof Bern and upcoming hotels like Excelsior Gallia Milan, Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne, Royal Savoy Lausanne or The Peninsula Paris are hospitality jewels that are now part of Katara Hospitality portfolio. “With decades of glorious history, these hotels have undertaken significant renovation works and have opened or due to open in the near future as true hospitality gems that testify for our commitment to preserving their heritage”, says Al-Mulla.
In quest for creating exceptional legacies and aligned to their commitment to preserving heritage, Katara Hospitality enjoys taking the challenge of converting buildings that carry history into splendid hospitality complexes that would surprise through the unexpected universe nestled within the historical shell. Tazi Palace in Tangier, Morocco – designed as a royal residence – is now set to become a luxurious palace hotel, while a boutique hotel is being developed within an 18th century building in the heart of Paris.
“When acquiring a property or engaging into a project, we always look for something extraordinary that sets the project apart”, clarifies Al Mulla.
Recognizing the relevance of contemporary dynamics and the increasing demand in international business tourism, Katara Hospitality focuses on developing a network of first class business hotels. “Katara Hospitality considers hotels that are located in key destinations as viable business opportunities. They should ensure a presence in premium areas, offering services tailored to the needs of discerning business travelers and enticing recreational facilities”, clarifies Al Mulla.
Currently, the properties owned and managed by Katara Hospitality in Qatar form an eclectic portfolio of hotels that can cover a large area of demand, from high end business travelers to more cost conscious ones, while catering successfully to the MICE segment and offering outstanding recreational facilities.
“Back in 2006, Renaissance Sharm El Sheikh Golden View Beach Resort was our first international venture. Within the time span of a few years, the profitability of the property attained the leverage of the initial investment”, stated Al Mulla.
The company’s diversification strategy of introducing four star business hotels and leisure resorts located in potential markets is meant to penetrate the corporate market segment, enhance the cash flow projections to support the company’s development and ensure a balance is met across assets of short and long term profitability.
Katara Hospitality is currently evaluating investment opportunities in business and leisure hotels in Western Europe, North Africa and Arab Peninsula, as well as South-East Asia and North America.
Pioneers in emerging markets
As an entity owned by the government of the State of Qatar, Katara Hospitality constantly evaluates investment opportunities in emerging markets, following the directions generated by the country’s foreign policy in supporting economies under development.
Consequently, through its investment, Katara Hospitality is committed to support the local communities by creating employment opportunities and sourcing supplies within the local markets, thus contributing to the community prosperity.
“In a nutshell, Katara Hospitality mixed portfolio ranges from historical palace properties in to business and resort hotels – there is no prototype that we look for in an asset before investing in it. Our diversification and expansion strategy involves investing in properties suited to our ethos and style, aligned with the Katara Hospitality brand values, while considering the return the hotel is likely to yield”, concluded Al Mulla.
Katara Hospitality portfolio currently includes 26 properties operational or under construction located in key destinations in Middle East, Europe, Africa and Asia with more than 5000 rooms operational or under development. In point of current room supply, in a recent benchmarking exercise conducted by Ernst & Young, Katara Hospitality, the market leader in Qatar, has been ranked as the second biggest player in the region and number 17 internationally among similar hospitality companies. Although not a public listed company, Katara Hospitality current worth exceeds USD 47 billion.