United Arab Emirates-based luxury hotel chain Jumeirah may only have one China hotel right now, but it’s about to ramp up its China presence big-time as part of its $2 billion Asia expansion plan. With an eye on the Gulf, China, and other developed Asian markets, five of 19 planned new hotels will be added in China, giving a major boost to Jumeirah’s recent efforts in the country’s tourism and real estate sectors.
Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid approved the plan last weekend, and emphasized the importance of the group’s presence in China and Asia. “Our national companies in the sectors of aviation, hospitality, ports, property development and others tell the UAE’s success story to peoples worldwide,” said Sheikh Mohammed to Dubai news media Khaleej Times. “These companies bear greater responsibility compared to the government when it comes to representation of our national economy and boosting confidence in UAE investments in all sectors.”
Jumeirah opened its first and only China location in 2011, the 401-room Jumeirah Himalayas Hotel in Shanghai, and plans to build its next five in Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Sanya, Macau, and Qindaohu. By the end of 2017, it expects to increase its current number of 21 hotels in 11 countries to 40, which will increase its inventory to about 10,000 rooms from the current 6,000. In addition to its planned hotel expansion, Jumeirah has already been actively involved in China’s luxury real estate sector. The group signed a contract to manage 169 luxury-serviced apartments in Guangzhou that are scheduled to open in 2015.
“A 60 per cent increase in room count is quite an aggressive expansion drive, but it is not the first time Jumeirah is doing so,” said John Podaras, a partner at Hotel Development Resources to UAE media outlet The National. “Whereas traditionally they did so in tier one European cities, they are now trying to turn towards the East.”
This China expansion plan follows Jumeirah’s growing efforts to attract Chinese tourists to its hotels in the UAE. The company recently signed a direct partnership with Chinese online travel company Ctrip.com, allowing Chinese travelers to book rooms directly with them. Other efforts include decorating the exterior of the Burj al Arab with a horse calligraphy projection, lion dances, and a fireworks display during the Chinese New Year.