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Radisson SAS takes over two hotels in Saudi Arabia

Travel News Asia 14 January 2003

Radisson SAS Hotels & Resorts, which entered the Saudi Arabian market in November with the opening of a 183-roomed hotel in Yanbu, now has its flag flying over two more properties in the Kingdom this time in Jeddah and Riyadh.

The award-winning Scandinavian hotel chain has taken over the management of former Hyatt properties in Jeddah and Riyadh. Both hotels will now undergo extensive renovation and Radisson SAS says Saudisation will be one of its main business priorities.

"We now have a substantial presence in the important Saudi Arabian market and have also recently appointed our first District Manager for Saudi Arabia," explained Jean-Marc Busato, Vice President, Middle East, Radisson SAS Hotels & Resorts.

Dutch national Maarten van den Nieuwenhuysen, who has previous Middle East experience having worked for Radisson SAS Hotels & Resorts within the United Arab Emirates, has taken up the reins as District Manager, Saudi Arabia. He is responsible for the new Radisson SAS properties within the Kingdom and the further development of the brand throughout Saudi Arabia.

"This appointment is a measure of our commitment to the Kingdom, where we anticipate being able to grow business through cross-marketing within our extensive chain which has strong European links. The move into Saudi Arabia greatly assists us in achieving our aim to be among the top hospitality management groups in the Middle East.

"We are also firmly committed to expanding the number of Saudi nationals employed within our hotels in the Kingdom. We hope to increase the number of Saudi nationals working in Radisson SAS hotels in Saudi Arabia, to meet, or even exceed, the government quota."

Currently some 410 staff work in the three Radisson SAS properties in Jeddah, Riyadh and Yanbu. "We expect this figure to grow to around 450 by the end of 2003 largely due to the revitalisation of business for the Yanbu  property following the government award of major gas-related projects and contracts," said Busato.

"The appointment of new General Managers for both the Jeddah and Riyadh properties is imminent."

Refurbishment of both the Radisson SAS Hotel, Jeddah and the Radisson SAS Hotel, Riyadh will begin almost immediately. "Renovation of the Jeddah property is expected to take a year to complete, that of the Riyadh hotel will take around 18 months," said Busato.

The former Al-Hayat hotel in Yanbu, now the Radisson SAS Hotel, Yanbu, began flying the companys corporate flag last November. The property is one of the first hotels in Yanbu.

"This property has been totally renovated and can now be categorised as the best hotel in Yanbu," explained Busato. "It has a beautiful beach and offers ample leisure facilities in addition to newly-created meeting rooms."

The Radisson SAS Hotel, Riyadh, which is in the centre of the Saudi Arabian capital close to government offices and the business district, boasts 317 rooms and suites and 1,330 square metres of meeting and banquet facilities.

The Radisson SAS Hotel, Jeddah, which boasts 292 guest rooms, including 38 suites, is a modern, deluxe business hotel featuring distinctive machrabia windows and an elegant, spacious lobby. Centrally located, the property is close to the international airport, the International Exhibition Centre and Jeddah Chamber of Commerce.

"We see tremendous business opportunities for these properties emanating from the local and overseas markets," said Busato. "Saudi Arabia is determined to build its tourism base both by encouraging nationals to holiday within its borders and to promote select inbound business. Radisson SAS Hotels & Resorts will support these initiatives."

Earlier last year, Radisson SAS Hotels & Resorts further boosted its sales presence in the country with the appointment of a District Sales Manager for Saudi Arabia.

"Every year, according to research from the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, around three million Saudis spend their summer vacations abroad. This is an expansive market and one which our international network is keen to tap into," said Busato.

The contracts to manage these two properties in Saudi Arabia now takes the Radisson SAS Hotels & Resorts Middle East and African network to 14, with properties in Amman, Aqaba, Bahrain, Beirut, Cape Town, Istanbul, Jeddah, Kuwait, Muscat, Riyadh, Sharjah, Sharm El Sheikh, Taba and Yanbu. Two more Egyptian properties in Hurghada and Al Quesir are in the pipeline, while Turkey will see two more Radisson SAS hotels in Ankara and Istanbul.

"Regional demand for the Radisson SAS brand is substantial and the fact that we were awarded the management of these hotels in Saudi Arabia is clear proof of the markets confidence in our capabilities," said Busato.

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