Hotel Refurbishment Market in the Middle East

Simon Perkins
In the run-up to Expo 2020, many hotels are refurbishing, in order to maintain competitiveness in a demanding market. Hoteliers need these renovations to be expertly planned, co-ordinated and managed, mitigating delivery risks.

Alongside our parent company Atkins, Faithful+Gould completed work on the iconic Burj Al Arab in 1999, during a period of unrivalled hotel development in Dubai which had a major influence throughout the UAE and the Gulf region. Back then, there existed only a handful of international hotels in Dubai but nearly 20 years later we have over 600 hotels and resorts. This increase in new hotels, resorts and recreational facilities has been bolstered by government initiatives to diversify the economy, with a similar strategy reflected across the GCC.

The rate of development of these high-end hotels was slightly dented by the downturn in 2008 but subsequent constant market growth will result in a further 28,000 new hotel rooms in Dubai by end of 2018. And by the time Expo 2020 opens, it’s estimated that the number of hotel rooms in Dubai will reach over 150,000.

This unprecedented growth in new-build hotel rooms means that many of the established hotels owned by local companies operating under internationally recognisable brands are seeking major refurbishments of their portfolios to compete successfully. Research shows that between 10,000 and 15,000 of Dubai’s existing hotel rooms will need to be upgraded by 2020 to allow operators to maximise the draw of the Expo.

Many such refurbishments are overdue, with around a third of existing hotel assets now requiring work. The frequency of hotel refurbishments will depend on the type and nature of the individual asset, whilst factors such as budgets (life cycle funds), brand refresh, portfolio management strategy and business performance would also be key considerations. Soft refurbishments are the most frequent, commonly seen every couple of years with the focus on decoration, floor coverings and soft furnishings. However, full refurbishment of electrical fittings, bathroom furniture and hard finishings should normally be considered anywhere after seven years, to avoid signs of wear and tear or a dated appearance that affects brand expectations.

This increase in new hotels, resorts and recreational facilities has been bolstered by government initiatives to diversify the economy...

The design, construction and operational requirements during any renovation need to be planned, co-ordinated and managed, to mitigate delivery risks. Inevitably refurbishment creates scheduling issues, and operators are understandably reluctant to decommission rooms and lose revenue. Expert cost, project and programme management, performed independently, takes this into account.

Our team prioritises the following critical actions at project outset – these are major contributors to success:

  • Develop a detailed project brief, giving the design team clear guidance
  • Conduct a Building Condition Survey, to identify factors that may impact programme and cost.
  • Establish the budget, ensuring this is properly managed and utilised to maximum effect.
  • Optimise the schedule, to minimise operational disruption to all rooms, floors and common areas, thus maximizing revenue opportunities.
  • Align programme/sequence of works with the drop in GCC summer occupancy rates
  • Prepare stakeholder management plan, to understand the needs of all stakeholders and the best communications strategy.
  • Develop a procurement strategy, identifying the most appropriate mix of contractors.
  • Engage suitably experienced design consultants
  • Mock-up room construction

Our regional hospitality experts have provided a broad range of cost and project management services, from initial concept through to completion, operation and subsequent refurbishment, on some of the region’s most prestigious hospitality and leisure projects. We understand the key value drivers behind any hotel redevelopment and appreciate the operational pressures and pinch points of managing hotel assets.

Our role in any hotel refurbishment is to optimise revenue performance and to minimise impact on hotel operations, Ultimately, it’s about protecting both the guest experience and the hotel’s reputation.

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