Laurent A. Voivenel Laurent A. Voivenel

French hotelier Laurent A. Voivenel has recently taken over as senior vice president, operations and development for the Middle East, Africa, and India at Swiss-Belhotel International. Voivenel, with more than 32 years of experience, including 17 in the region, is focused on accelerating the growth of Swiss-Belhotel in the region.

The group has seven hotels in the region, including one in Turkey, with plans to operate another 26 properties. Voivenel tells Hotelier that of the 26 hotels, 16 are under construction and 10 are under negotiation.

The operator is currently in charge of 1,546 rooms, with a further 2,131 under construction and 2,000 in talks with owners. Swiss-Belhotel signed a management agreement for Swiss-Belresidences Juffair in Bahrain in June 2017, and Swiss-Belresidences Al Sharq in Kuwait in May 2017, which marked the debut of the Swiss-Belresidences brand in the region.

In addition, the group introduced the Swiss-Belboutique brand in the GCC in May with the announcement of Swiss-Belboutique Bneid Al Gar in Kuwait. It also plans to bring its other brands to the region.

Voivenel says: “We expect to introduce Zest Hotels to the Middle East, which is a fun and fresh budget hotel brand. We believe that savvy travellers shouldn’t have to sacrifice comfort, convenience, or style even when sticking to a budget [hotel] and, therefore, [we] created the Zest Hotels concept in 2015 to fit that important gap in the market.

“These developments are aimed at diversifying our offering in the region while meeting the growing demand for mid-market hotels and serviced apartments.”

Since Voivenel took charge of the company in April of this year, Swiss-Belhotel has introduced Grand Swiss-Belresort Seef in Bahrain; Swiss-Belresidences Juffair, also in Bahrain; Swiss-Belresort Marseilia Beach 4 in Egypt; Swiss-Belboutique Bneid Al Gar and Swiss-Belresidences Al Sharq, both in Kuwait; and Grand Swiss-Belresort Tala Bay Aqaba in Jordan.

He says: “We currently have seven hotels in operation but in the next five years we expect to reach 25 to 30 hotels. This is mainly because we have a very strong development pipeline of more than 3,500 rooms.”

The operator aims to take on five new hotels next year as it prepares for Expo 2020 Dubai. Voivenel says: “In addition to the 16 hotels in development, our target is to sign five hotels in the UAE, including two hotels in Dubai, by 2020.”

Andrew Shaw

Assistant vice president — development EMEA, Dusit International
Dusit International operates six hotels in the region and more than 1,731 rooms

Laurent A. Voivenel

Senior vice president, operations, and development for the Middle East, Africa, and India, Swiss-Belhotel International
Since Voivenel took charge of the company in April of this year, Swiss-Belhotel has introduced a number of new properties

Sumair Tariq

Managing director, R Hotels
Tariq and his team understand that in placing an emphasis on guest service excellence for the hotels within its group, the company’s key resource is its staff

Baran Turkel

Managing director, Turkey, Middle East, and Central Asia, Best Western Hotels & Resorts
Best Western plans to expand with nine more hotels — with 1,238 more rooms — in the region

Hatem Gasmi

Founder and managing director, Auris Group of Hotels
The Auris Group of Hotels has already mapped out new development projects in Jordan, Sudan, and Tunisia

Aboudi Asali

Chief executive officer, HMH – Hospitality Management Holding
Under the HMH umbrella, Asali plans to operate 20 hotels by 2020 and an additional 30 by 2026

Gabriel Escarrer Jaume

Vice chairman and CEO, Meliá Hotels International
In the last 12 months, the operator has also decided to pull out of operating one property in the GCC

Jamal Serhan

CEO and senior vice president, Warwick Hotels and Resorts
Jamal Serhan has spent six years with Warwick Hotels and Resorts as its CEO

Hussein Ali Hatata

Vice president, hospitality division, Al Khozama Management Company
Al Khozama Management Company is intent on its quest to be Saudi Arabia’s leading hospitality brand

Marc Dardenne

Group chief operating officer and interim CEO, Jumeirah Group
Jumeirah has released a statement revealing that “a search for Stefan’s replacement has been initiated and, in the meantime, Marc Dardenne, will run the business

By THE NUMBERS

  • Number of months in the role 4 
  • Number of months with the company 4
  • Number of operating hotels in the region as of July 2017 7
  • Number of pipeline hotels in the region as of July 2017 26
 

Andrew Shaw

Assistant vice president — development EMEA, Dusit International
Dusit International operates six hotels in the region and more than 1,731 rooms

Laurent A. Voivenel

Senior vice president, operations, and development for the Middle East, Africa, and India, Swiss-Belhotel International
Since Voivenel took charge of the company in April of this year, Swiss-Belhotel has introduced a number of new properties

Sumair Tariq

Managing director, R Hotels
Tariq and his team understand that in placing an emphasis on guest service excellence for the hotels within its group, the company’s key resource is its staff

Baran Turkel

Managing director, Turkey, Middle East, and Central Asia, Best Western Hotels & Resorts
Best Western plans to expand with nine more hotels — with 1,238 more rooms — in the region

Hatem Gasmi

Founder and managing director, Auris Group of Hotels
The Auris Group of Hotels has already mapped out new development projects in Jordan, Sudan, and Tunisia

Aboudi Asali

Chief executive officer, HMH – Hospitality Management Holding
Under the HMH umbrella, Asali plans to operate 20 hotels by 2020 and an additional 30 by 2026

Gabriel Escarrer Jaume

Vice chairman and CEO, Meliá Hotels International
In the last 12 months, the operator has also decided to pull out of operating one property in the GCC

Jamal Serhan

CEO and senior vice president, Warwick Hotels and Resorts
Jamal Serhan has spent six years with Warwick Hotels and Resorts as its CEO

Hussein Ali Hatata

Vice president, hospitality division, Al Khozama Management Company
Al Khozama Management Company is intent on its quest to be Saudi Arabia’s leading hospitality brand

Marc Dardenne

Group chief operating officer and interim CEO, Jumeirah Group
Jumeirah has released a statement revealing that “a search for Stefan’s replacement has been initiated and, in the meantime, Marc Dardenne, will run the business