Four Seasons president for hotel operations - EMEA, Simon Casson. Four Seasons president for hotel operations - EMEA, Simon Casson.

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts president for hotel operations – Europe, Middle East and Africa Simon Casson shared with Hotelier Middle East that the company is focusing its expansion plans in Saudi Arabia.

In October 2017, Four Seasons revealed an upcoming property with hotel and residences in the Holy City of Makkah in the works. The company partnered with Jabal Omar Development Company (JODC) with an aim to provide luxury hospitality for the Hajj and Umrah pilgrims and tap into the steadily growing inbound religious tourism market in the Kingdom. The property will be located adjacent to Al-Masjid Al-Haram (the Grand Mosque) and with direct access and unobstructed views of the Haram. With 375 guest rooms and approximately 90 Four Seasons residences, the Four Seasons Hotel Makkah project completion date has not yet been revealed.

Saudi billionaire Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal owns 47.5% stake in through his Riyadh-based Kingdom Holding Co. and for Four Seasons, Saudi Arabia will continue to remain a focus.

Without disclosing the exact details, Casson hints that there’s definitely more to expect in terms of expansion in the growing Gulf country.

“[What] I would say about Saudi Arabia, where we have a Riyadh hotel now in the iconic Kingdom Tower, [is that] this is a country that’s undergoing significant change. We, for the past three or four years, have been working with partners in developing opportunities. I think we’ll end up with four or five hotels within the Kingdom,” Casson reveals.

At the moment, Four Seasons operates in five out of the six GCC countries leaving space for the company to expand its footprint in the region.

“We’re in five out of the six GCC countries so don’t be surprised that we would like to be in the sixth, which is Oman as well,” he hints.

In the larger Middle East and North Africa region, Casson also told Hotelier that residential development in Marrakesh, a venue aligned with the hotel in Morrocco, is slated to open in 2020.

To read the in-depth interview, pick up Hotelier Middle East’s October 2018 issue.

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