Indian Hotels Company Limited, which includes the Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces chain, hopes to eventually expand its offerings to other cities in Saudi Arabia following the recent announcement of its first foray into the kingdom, according to IHCL CEO Puneet Chhatwal.
In April, IHCL announced an approximately 340-key Taj hotel in Makkah developed in partnership with the Umm Al Qura Development and Construction Company.
In an interview with Arabian Business, Chhatwal said that the “there are a couple of markets [in Saudi Arabia] that are important for any brand.”
“One is obviously Riyadh, and a second one is Jeddah. Al Khobar is also important,” he said. “There are many such markets. Saudi has a lot of cities which are important destinations.”
Chhatwal said that “in an ideal world, we would like to see ourselves present in this order. Either Riyadh then Jeddah, or Jeddah then Riyadh, and the rest can come later.”
“Now that we’re in Makkah, if we can also get Madinah, that would also be good,” he added.
IHCL’s Makkah property, which will be situated within walking distance of the Grand Mosque (Masjid Al-Haram), is within the city's King Abdul Aziz Road (KAAR) project, one of the largest urban rejuvenation projects in Makkah.
The hotel will be IHCL’s fourth venture in the MENA region.
In Dubai, the company manages the Taj Dubai in Downtown Dubai. The company also has plans to operate two other hotels – one in Jumeirah Lake Towers and one on the Palm Jumeirah – in late 2018 and late 2019, respectively.
IHCL currently operates 170 hotels in over 12 countries and over 80 locations around the world. Its expansion plans call for a 50 percent increase in the number of hotels in the company’s portfolio in operation or in the pipeline over the next five years.