With more than 32 years of experience in the hospitality industry, since assuming the role of regional vice president, Middle East and Africa for Wyndham Hotel Group 10 months ago, Ignace Bauwens has dramatically increased Wyndham’s presence in the region.
Wyndham has 27 hotels and 6,167 rooms in the MENA pipeline, while already operating 49 hotels and 8,528 rooms in the region. Bauwens, with 15 years of experience in the region, is focused on new brands and new openings.
He says: “We are very excited to open the largest Tryp by Wyndham in the world, with 650 rooms, in Dubai in August 2017. Tryp by Wyndham in Abu Dhabi is already operational [and] we also plan to bring another of our brands, Wyndham Garden, to the region in 2017 with the opening of hotels in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, and Ajman, UAE.” He adds that the largest Wyndham Garden in the world will also be introduced in this region, in Manama, Bahrain.
In the past year, Wyndham has expanded its presence in the region with many signings, including the 179-room Wyndham Garden in Ajman and the 126-room Ramada Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia.
“In the first six months of 2017, we signed deals on an impressive number of new hotels across the Middle East, including one hotel in Kuwait, one in Saudi Arabia, and four in the UAE, which combined will add 1,055 rooms to our count across the region,” Bauwens says.
“In the past 10 months, I have been evaluating new geographies for potential growth.”
He explains that he has identified key destinations in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain for expansion, adding: “We also plan to double our presence in Africa in the coming years, with strong potential identified in Ghana, Kigali in Rwanda, and Lagos in Nigeria.”
Bauwens’ vision is to “build strong long-term partnerships with owners in the Middle East and Africa”. He believes that “the business of hospitality is not just about hotels and the physical infrastructure. It is about the people and the dedication and commitment of every professional in your team to work with passion and a genuine desire to make a difference to guests”.