Dubai-based and MEA-focused hospitality management company Aleph Hospitality plans to grow its portfolio to 35 properties by 2025 as demand for alternative management models gains momentum.
Following growth in Africa, four-year-old Aleph Hospitality has turned its focus to the Middle East to meet these demands and manage hotels directly, either on a franchise basis for branded properties or as a white-label operator for independently branded hotels.
“While white-label and third-party hotel management models dominate the market in the U.S. and Europe...they simply didn’t exist in a professional manner in the Middle East and Africa,” said Bani Haddad, founder/managing director of Aleph Hospitality. “With owners increasingly looking for alternative ways to maximize the value of their assets during times of increased supply, the opportunity is ripe for our management models to take hold in the region.”
A boom in supply, coupled with challenging trading conditions, is driving hotel owners to look at new ways to streamline overhead and ensure lean, profitable operations. The Middle East hotel pipeline currently stands at 740 hotels, according to the latest data from STR, which also reported a decline in key performance metrics across the region for 2018 compared with the previous year.
At last year's Africa Hotel Investment Forum, Haddad noted owners in the Middle East and Africa are increasingly looking for the security international brands can bring to a hotel investment. At the same time, the major brands are looking to grow their footprints through franchising.
Aleph Hospitality has nine hotels open and in development in its portfolio, including the Getfam Hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and the Best Western Plus Nairobi Westlands in Nairobi, Kenya. The company also is in talks with hotel owners in the Middle East to operate both conversions and new-builds, as well as with hotel brands seeking to partner with a third-party management company.
In February, Aleph signed a franchise agreement with Marriott International for the first Four Points by Sheraton in Liberia, which is expected to be the first internationally branded hotel in the country when it opens in 2020. The property will be owned by Sea Suites Hotel LLC.
“We have been approached by various hotel owners in the Middle East to explore options that allow them to have an international brand but with more control over the management of their hotels,” said Neil George, executive director, Aleph Hospitality. “We see significant opportunity for conversions in markets such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia.”