Beirut hotels are opening at the right time


(eTN) – At a time when many other Middle Eastern hotel markets still are struggling, Beirut is blossoming as it benefits from newfound political stability following the signing of the Doha Agreement in May 2008 and the endeavors of the ongoing Solidere project that promotes the renewal of the city after its wartime destruction.

In the lead up to the current time of prosperity, the city’s hoteliers have demonstrated sound revenue management by maintaining ADR in the face of declining occupancies. In the turbulent times following the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005 and the subsequent Lebanese war of 2006, ADR certainly fluctuated but held remarkably steady in light of weakening demand.

The latest hotels in Beirut could not have timed their entrance to the market much better.

The new properties in the Lebanese capital are benefitting from the recent upswing in revenue per available room as illustrated by data from STR Global, the leading provider of market information to the global hotel industry.
RevPAR for year-to-date June 2010 has averaged US$149.79 compared with US$39.56 for the same period in 2007, the worst performance for a first half of a year since 2005 as seen in the graph below. This RevPAR improvement comes as the result of gains in average room rates. The openings included the Arjaan Raouche Beirut (176, December 2009), the Four Seasons Beirut (230, January guestrooms 2010), and Le Gray (87, November), of which the opening was suppended for 2 years due the war in 2006 and is part of the London Campell Gray Hotels (the One Aldwych and the Dukes Hotel in London, Carlisle Bay, and Antigua). Gordon Campell is now planning another two luxury hotels in Beirut, the city – that never sleeps.

For Nazira El Atrache, general manager of Le Bristol in Beirut, 2009 has been a fantastic year. “Even now we are still very busy during the fasting holy month of Ramadan. Less Arabs at that point because they usually fast in their own country. Looking forward for another busy season by mid-September,” she said.

Beirut is one of the most popular destinations of United Emirates travelers, who, besides great English and French, speak Arabic with most hotels, and restaurants offer food all around the clock; travelers from UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt in early summer this year made for record-hitting statistics.

“Hotel performance in Beirut at that time clearly demonstrates that when there is little demand to stimulate, there is no point in dropping rates,” said Elizabeth Randall, managing director of STR Global.