The serviced apartment model has seen double-digit growth, says Radisson exec

Elie Milky, the Radisson Group’s VP of Business Development for the Middle East, Cyprus, Greece and Pakistan, shares hospitality sector trends

Elie Milky says resorts and serviced apartments have fared better than conventional hotel products during the pandemic

Could you please provide a brief outlook of how the UAE hotel market has changed over the past few quarters, in light of the evolving pandemic situation?

Despite the ongoing challenges, the Middle East thrives with opportunities. The region is a key development area and our ambitions across the region have remained the same. The post-coronavirus landscape may be as good or even better than it was pre-pandemic.

One key opportunity as the tourism and hospitality sectors continue looking to innovation is capitalising on emerging consumer trends to cater to changingneeds and demands. As from an investor’s perspective, also true to the UAE, the recovery is more prominent in certain types of hospitality models across various markets, with resorts and serviced apartments leading the way as we recover from the pandemic.

These two types of hospitality real estate have fared better than the conventional hotel product during the coronavirus era and over the past few quarters as we have seen in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah.

You recent told Construction Week, an Arabian Business sister publication, of the rising interest in serviced apartments. Could you give us any information about which serviced apartment properties have been performing particularly well in 2021?

Examples of properties that performed relatively better than hotels within the same market include the Radisson BLUs in Dubai Marina and in Riyadh’sDiplomatic quarter, to name a few in this region. Not one of our serviced apartments operations lost money or closed for business over the course of the pandemic.

Over the past months we have continued to work towards becoming more relevant to changing owner needs and to remaining one of the best conversion-friendly partners in the industry. Radisson Individuals is our response to a market that is becoming relatively mature and as a conversion solution for unique, independent hotels and serviced apartments looking to benefit from a brand affiliation. Radisson Individuals represents an exceptional opportunity for hotels to enhance their visibility, nurture customer confidence, and access a wider audience through multiple distribution channels and a global sales structure.

You’ve said the Radisson Group aims to double its Middle East portfolio over the next five years. What factors will impact regional hospitality growth over this period?

Our focus remains on adjusting our short- and long-term plans to cope with the rapid changes and allow us to find proactive solutions for our owners and investors. Over the past months we have continued to work towards becoming more relevant to changing owner needs and to remaining one of the best conversion-friendly partners in the industry. Agility and flexibility, while still delivering the profitability needed, are going to be critical for everybodyto succeed. We believe the key is the execution and having the right people in place. We have a very proactive and engaging approach with our partners and investors, and we believe in building long-standing relationships with our owners based on trust and responsibility.

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