Saturday, February 10, 2007

International hotel brand enters in Maldives in late 2008

Male, the capital island of Maldives, is gearing up to welcome the entry of a long-awaited international hotel brand, to meet a market need among seasoned business travellers, airline crew and stopover visitors seeking high standards of comfort and service.

The new-build Holiday Inn Male marks the entry of InterContinental Hotels Group’s (IHG) first hotel in Maldives. The property will be developed by Male Hotel Associates Sourcing Limited. Following the recent successful procurement of financing by the local partners, construction of the hotel is expected to begin by 2nd quarter of this year, and operations scheduled to commence by late 2008.

IHG which will be managing the hotel as a non-equity partner, has teamed up with partners from Male Hotel Associates Sourcing Limited, led by Abdul Sattar Ali and Lawrence Lee.

Ali, a Maldivian, is the Founding Partner and Director of one of Maldives largest and fastest growing graphic design, advertising and publishing firms. He is also Director and majority shareholder of Aribeach Resort on Ari Atoll. Lee, an industry veteran who has played key roles in a number of successful hospitality property acquisitions, is also the former owner of award-winning White Sands Resort & Spa.

According to the Maldive Tourism Promotion Board, the well-timed entry of the Holiday Inn brand into Male coincides with the robust growth of Maldives’ vibrant tourism industry. The archipelago is experiencing a development boom with 35 new islands released for tourism at an estimated budget of US$600 million.

Deputy Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Mr Abdul Hameed Zakariyya, said, “Maldives’ natural appeal as a beach, diving and honeymoon destination of exceptional beauty, has seen tourism grow into our biggest industry. We are expecting a sustained growth momentum of about 7% annually over the next few years. Demand will clearly exceed the current capacity of 16,000 rooms. We welcome the entry of esteemed global players like InterContinental Hotels Group with its renowned Holiday Inn brand. Companies like IHG play a role as a tourism partner in attracting tourists from new markets. Their presence adds to Maldives’ image as an exotic destination offering world class infrastructure and service.”

Jan Smits, Chief Operating Officer for Southern Asia and Korea, InterContinental Hotels Group, added: “Male stands to benefit from IHG’s Priority Club Rewards’ 31- million-strong global membership base which presents a potential pool of guests from around the world. With one guest checking into a Holiday Inn hotel around the world every four seconds, Maldives looks set to enjoy a boost in visitor arrivals.”

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