Hospitality hotspot Bahrain has turned up a notch in its quest to attract more tourists to the kingdom with the recent announcement of further newcomers into the market.
The move comes as the global hospitality sector witnessed further consolidation which will see five star properties at both ends of the island coming under the same umbrella.
The Merchant House in Manama, Bahrain, an all-suite boutique hotel, is set to open its doors in September, courtesy of international hotelier Gordon Campbell Gray - the first of 15 new four- and five-star hotels and resorts to open across Bahrain in the next two years, joining a wide range of existing luxury brands.
Located next to the Bab al Bahrain entrance to the souq, it will be a boutique hotel with 47 suites, each featuring an open plan kitchen and dining area, as well as open plan sitting rooms which have been designed for both business and leisure visitors.
The ‘green garden’ rooftop, described as a Campbell Gray speciality, is where the main restaurant will be located with options to eat indoors or outdoors. Its developers describe it as a ‘small gem of a hotel created for interesting and individually-minded cosmopolitan guests’.
Founder Gordon Campbell Gray said: “We are so looking forward to bringing our special brand of hospitality to Bahrain. We are confident that with its central location, beautiful facilities and comfortable all-suite accommodation it will be rather special, and we are eager to welcome our first guests through the door.”
Fresh from opening the 174-room Jumeirah Royal Saray in Bahrain in Seef, Jumeirah Group, the global hospitality company and a member of Dubai Holding, has signed a hotel management agreement to operate another luxury hotel and spa within the first phase of a new project.
The Al Sahel development, to be complete within two years and a destination boasting 1.25km of pristine coastline, aims to help drive tourism to the southwest coastal region of the kingdom.
José Silva, Jumeirah’s CEO, said: “With a distinct secluded beachfront ambiance, the Jumeirah Al Sahel Resort will offer 207 keys between the luxury hotel and villas, where guests will be able to enjoy our state-of-the-art spa, as well as a range of dining, retail and sporting amenities all set within a stunningly designed resort.”
Khalid Al Rumaihi, chairman of Al Sahel Resorts, believes it will add something new to the market. “Being the first of its kind in Bahrain, coupled with the high quality and variety of services and amenities on offer, it will allow us to capture the ‘longer-stay’ segment of visitors,” he added.
Plans are also progressing to open a Shangri-La Hotel in Bahrain Marina in four years’ time. It will include 250 hotel rooms, 150 one to three bedroom suites, eight beach chalets and 21 waterfront villas. In addition, it will feature extensive recreational facilities and meeting facilities including five restaurants, a rooftop lounge, private beach, two outdoor pools, health club, kid’s club and a ballroom.
The first phase of the Bahrain Marina project, which runs on the eastern coastline of Manama, is expected to be completed by 2020. As well as the coming five-star luxury hotel, the mixed-use development will include freehold apartments and villas, a shopping district, fully-integrated family entertainment and educational centre and a recreational waterfront, along with a yacht club.
Abdulrahman Yusuf bin Yusuf Fakhro, chairman of Bahrain Marina Development Company, said: “The Shangri-La name will undoubtingly attract tourists from all across the world, and more importantly provide job opportunities for promising Bahrainis.”
Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts have been eyeing up the kingdom for some time. Its president & COO Oliver Bonke said: “Bahrain is a strategically important destination for Shangri-La Hotels and we are delighted to partner in this opportunity with Bahrain Marina Development Company.
“Bringing the iconic Shangri-La Hotel brand to Bahrain will strengthen the destination as well as further enhance brand recognition in the region.”
The Bilaj Al Jazayer development will have a flagship Fairmont Hotel along Al Jazayer Beach, another unchartered new tourism destination in the south west.
Bahrain’s tourism sector witnessed rapid growth in 2017, with the total number of tourists visiting increasing by 11.9 per cent.
Meanwhile, the award-winning Mövenpick Hotel Bahrain, near the airport in Muharraq, which recently won a 2018 Best Business Hotel accolade and is about to undergo major renovation, as reported in GulfWeekly, will soon become linked to the Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa, amongst other hotels in the kingdom.
France’s AccorHotels, has agreed to buy Movenpick Hotels & Resorts for around BD211m as CEO Sebastien Bazin pushes his expansion drive.
He said: “Its European-Swiss heritage is a perfect fit. By joining the group, it will benefit from AccorHotels’ power, particularly in terms of distribution, loyalty-building and development. This transaction illustrates the strategy we intend to pursue … to seize tactical opportunities to strengthen our positions and consolidate our leaderships, as well as leverage our growth.”
As well as the Sofitel, AccorHotels currently has the Mercure Grand Hotel Seef, Hotel Novotel Bahrain Al Dana, Hotel ibis Seef Manama and the Hotel ibis Styles Manama Diplomatic Area under its umbrella.
Stanley Louis Szecowka
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