The Dusit Residence and Suites at Doha’s West Bay.
Bangkok-based Dusit International, one of the largest and most renowned luxury hotel operators in Southeast Asia, has embarked on an expansion drive in the Middle East and said it wants to operate more than 10 hotels and residences in the near future in the region by grasping luxury hotel and serviced residence management opportunities.
Currently, the group operates five properties in the region, three in Dubai, one in Abu Dhabi (the newest addition, opened in 2013) and one in Egypt. One property in Qatar – the 194-room Dusit Residence and Suites at West Bay – is the next to be added to the portfolio, and future plans include Saudi Arabia (Jeddah), Bahrain and Oman, according to Chanin Donavanik, managing director and chief executive officer of Dusit International.
“The Middle East is a strategically important market for Dusit as the region remains one of the world’s leaders in travel and tourism,” Chanin said, adding that “our distinct brand of Thai hospitality is captivating thousands of travellers in and from the Middle East.”
He said that the presence of Dusit’s hotels in the UAE, where the group began operations more than a decade ago, has been “very successful” and “provides the impetus to pursue new growth opportunities” in the region, where especially Qatar is a significant new market for Dusit. The new Qatar property is situated in Doha’s diplomatic district overlooking the Corniche close to malls and the Doha Exhibition Center.
In Saudi Arabia, where a 287-room urban resort is being planned in Abhor close to the centre of Jeddah city, Dusit is partnering with local firm United Company for Hotels & Tourism Regions. The hotel will be set near Obhur creek in close proximity to King Abdulaziz International Airport, a place considered one of the most sought-after locations in Jeddah. In Bahrain, the 250-room Dusit Thani Dilmunia resort and spa will be opened on Bahrain Health Island in the Arabian Gulf, while concrete plans for the property planned in Oman have not been revealed yet.
Dusit’s origin dates back to 1949 when aspiring hotelier Thanpuying Chanut Piyaoui opened her first hotel, the “Princess” in Bangkok, at that time the only hotel in the entire country with its own swimming pool. It took 21 more years until she opened the iconic 510-room Dusit Thani Hotel in Bangkok, at that time the tallest building in the city, which opened in 1970 and became the flagship business for the Dusit Group and a Bangkok landmark. Meanwhile, the group expanded within Thailand and to the Philippines, opened its first property in the Middle East in 2001 in Dubai, and entered India, China and the Maldives and is also expanding with hospitality colleges in Southeast Asia.
While Chanut Piyaoui, 90, still acts as a honorary chairperson of the group, her son Chanin just announced plans to open a number of new hotels in China, namely in Shanghai, Kunming, Chengdu, Chongqing and Hainan, one in Nairobi, Kenya, as well a beachside resort on Guam Island, a US territory in the Western Pacific Ocean.
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