Even with the difficulties facing Jordan’s important tourism sector, Eastern Holding CEO Majid AlSadi said he plans to build on the success of his award-winning luxury hotel in Amman.
With a company portfolio spanning the aviation, hospitality, and manufacturing sectors, Eastern Holding CEO Majid AlSadi is one of Jordan’s most active investors.
Perhaps his group’s most high profile project so far has been the Grand Millennium Hotel in Amman, which just won the prize for the best hotel in the region at this year’s Seven Stars Luxury Hospitality and Lifestyle Awards, a closely watched event on the global industry calendar.
AlSadi, who is also the president of the Iraqi Business Council, said despite the challenges facing tourism in Jordan, he’s still planning further investments in the sector as the Kingdom still represents a truly unique visitor destination.
The Millennium Hotel recently received an award that acknowledged its services and facilities, what is it and who is it from?
We won the prize for the best hotel in the Middle East at the Seven Stars Luxury Hospitality and Lifestyle Awards, which were held at a spectacular event in Marbella in October. The prestigious awards were attended by representatives from the five regional finalists, as well as travel and lifestyle media and industry influencers from all around the world.
How will this reflect on the hotel’s services and facilities in the future?
Winning such an award and gaining this international recognition will only add further responsibility and commitment on all of the hotel’s staff to live up to expectations. Each client is a priority to us, and we seek to turn their stay into an unforgettable experience from the minute they walk in until the moment they check out and say good-bye. All services shall be personalized and we will go beyond our capabilities just to make them happy, satisfied, and want to come back again.
What are your future plans for the hotel?
We strongly believe in expansion and diversity. Our current plans are to expand the current facilities at the Grand Millennium by adding more rooms, exclusive suits, and new outlets on the roof. We are currently at the last stage of getting all the final designs and official approvals to start the construction in the first quarter of 2017. We are also planning a new Grand Millennium at the Dead Sea. The new boutique resort will certainly be a new landmark for luxury and high-tech at the lowest spot on Earth.
The hotel opened in late 2012, which was a particularly difficult time for tourism in Jordan and the region. How did you manage to overcome these challenges?
Since its inception, the hotel – which was designed by interior designers from Italy, France, and the UK, and which has the most advanced high-tech smart rooms – has attracted many guests and visitors despite the political situation surrounding Jordan and ongoing challenges in the region. We managed to satisfy various needs and different tastes, and we successfully built a wide base of loyal customers.
You have benefited greatly from the hotel’s location at the heart of a commercial district and close to many of the Kingdom’s high-end hospitals. Who are the usual guests visiting the Grand Millennium Hotel?
The hotel receives a mix of nationalities daily as it is ideal for guests due to its location in the busy commercial area of Shmeisani where the major hospitals, banks, coffee shops, and restaurants are within a walking distance.We pride ourselves on receiving almost all nationalities at the hotel, whether they are visiting for business, pleasure, or medical reasons. The hotel is suitable for everyone. It caters for all tastes, and visit purposes.
A number of new high-end hotels are opening up in Amman in 2017, some close by in the Abdali area. Could that have any effect on your Business? And do you think we have reached a saturation point with the number of high end hotel rooms in the capital?
Not really, Amman is a growing capital with a lot to offer.We are delighted to see that many international brands are opening in Jordan and many more to come.That only assures us that business will flourish, as Jordan is becoming the center of the Middle East and the only stable and safe spot in the region. I always compare it to Switzerland during the Second World War, where all sides wish to see a safe haven for them to live and invest in, particularly due its wise and visionary leadership.
What are the lessons you learned over the last four years of operating a hotel in Jordan?
Our experience in Jordan as investors goes back to 25 years and we believe it has been a very fruitful and successful one. Our investments across a host of sectors have given the group ample experience and a sense of stability in this volatile and unstable area. Jordan had been a success story for us and for so many investors. As for the hotel, despite its short presence in the Jordanian market it has achieved the highest standards and received international recognition and awards, and that’s all due to the hard and dedicated work of our Jordanian young staff. They have shown the world that Jordan is a preferred destination for tourists and businessmen and we can offer the same, if not better services and products, as destinations like Dubai and other competing markets.
What are the main challenges facing the tourism sector today and how can the government help in solving them?
Jordan has a unique location in the heart of the Middle East, and is surrounded by huge consumer markets. But unfortunately these markets have been so volatile and inflamed by trouble, which affects the Jordanian economy directly. We in the tourism industry feel the impact of any incident happening next door immediately. As for the internal issues and challenges, we believe that energy prices and variable taxation are the main hurdles. Despite the government’s announcement that they are planning to reduce sales tax to 12 percent, we wish to see a much lower rate for the tourism industry as this will help reduce prices and encourage more tourists to visit the Kingdom.
Do you think the government’s recent move to cut electricity prices for some sectors, including the tourism industry, will help significantly reduce running costs?
Absolutely. We believe this was a very good step by the government, and it has helped us reduce the hotel’s running costs. However, there is a lot more that can be done. For example, reducing licensing fees as well as reducing the taxes on rooms can attract more tourists to the hotel. We are expecting more of such steps from the government.