The largest expansion plans came from French hotel group Accor, which said it planned to take its total portfolio in the GCC, Levant and Yemen to 58 properties from 18 by 2009, offering in total about 16,500 rooms.

Of the total, 16 properties are under final negotiations. The new deals announced were: the 280-room Ibis, the 209-room Novotel Al-Marsa and the 263-room Sofitel Zallaq Beach & Thalassa spa, all in Bahrain; and the Ibis Medina in Saudi Arabia.

Accor is also upping its presence in Dubai. New properties include: the 244-room Sofitel Old Town Island in the Burj Dubai development; the 480-room Ibis Al-Barsha; the 466-room Novotel Al-Barsha; the 185-room Suitehotel at Mall of the Emirates; a new Novotel and Ibis complex opposite Deira City Centre; and an 876-room Novotel at City of Arabia. The hotels are scheduled to open by 2008/09.

As part of its expansion, Accor is looking to provide equity in certain projects. ‘In Dubai, we have a joint venture partner, Majid al-Futtaim Investments [MAF], to develop properties and we are willing to participate 20-25 per cent,’ Christophe Landais, managing director of Accor Middle East, told MEED on the sidelines of ATM.

Accor’s attention has also turned to Saudi Arabia. With four properties under construction including the 1,240-room ZamZam Grand Suites in Mecca, the company is in negotiations for new properties in Riyadh, Dammam, Taif, Medina and Jeddah. It has agreed to develop three hospitality schools in Khobar, Jeddah and Riyadh.

Other announcements at ATMThe US’ Mariott International will increase the number of rooms it operates in the Middle East by 250 per cent from 6,557. New projects include: the 171-room Marriott Executive Apartments Cairo Nile Dolphin in Egypt; the 245-room Aqaba Marriott Hotel & Resort in Jordan; the 323-room renaissance hotel on Bahrain’s Amwaj island; and a 274-room JW Mariott in Algiers.

Angsana Resorts & Spa, a subsidiary of Singapore-based Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts, will operate an estimated $110 million, five-star resort and spa in Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC) will develop the resort.

Rezidor SAS has also unveiled new plans. It will operate a 142-apartment building in Dubai Marina, a 323-room hotel at the Tala Bay resort in Aqaba and a four-star Park Inn with 200 rooms in Muscat, Oman. In total it plans to add 14 properties in the region by 2008.

Switzerland’s Moevenpick Hotels & Resorts will manage a 262-room property in Ajman. It has also signed an agreement with real estate firm Seven Tides to manage four properties in Dubai: Moevenpick Hotel Deira; Moevenpick Resort Oceana Palm Jumeirah; Moevenpick Resort & Spa Palm Jumeirah located on the outer crescent of Palm Island; and the Ibn Battuta Hotel Dubai, located in Ibn Battuta shopping mall. It is in negotiations for 10 new hotels, targeting Amman, Cairo, Abu Dhabi and Oman. Announcements for Oman and Abu Dhabi are expected in the coming months.

Kuwait’s Refad Hotels & Resorts will operate a 240-room Monarch hotel on Dubai’s Sheikh Zayed highway.

Dubai-based operator Jumeirah will manage the 312-room Jumeirah Business Bay hotelAbu Dhabi-based ALDAR Properties will build 32 new hotels in the emirate over the next seven yearsThe US’ Hilton will operate its first Scandic-branded hotel in the region with a 426-room property in Cairo’s Heliopolis district