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IHG’s luxury brand Hotel Indigo set to debut in Al Khobar, expanding Saudi footprint

RIYADH: The Saudi hospitality landscape is poised to welcome a new luxury hotel brand following a management agreement between UK-based IHG Hotels & Resorts and REFAD Real Estate Co.  

Signed on the sidelines of the Future Hospitality Summit in Riyadh, the deal will bring the lifestyle brand Hotel Indigo & Residences, featuring 200 keys, to Al Khobar by September 2027.  

Supported by the Kingdom’s Tourism Development Fund, the hotel will also include serviced apartments. 

Speaking to Arab News, Haitham Mattar, managing director at IHG Hotels & Resorts in India, Middle East and Africa, said: “It’s on the corniche of Al Khobar. It brings authentic, cultural experiences into the hotel, and this is where we found this unique partnership with Refad. Their interest in the brand, also the brand positioning in Saudi Arabia.”  

He revealed that the company has so far signed five Hotel Indigo hotels in Saudi Arabia. 

The executive also noted that the luxury brand is expanding in the Middle East, following the success of an existing Hotel Indigo in Dubai. 

Commenting on the agreement, Mattar said: “This strategic addition not only fuels our growth in Saudi but also reaffirms our commitment to providing exceptional hospitality experiences in key markets.” 

He continued: “With the Kingdom having increased its 2030 visitor target from 100 to 150 million, there is a need to bring in lifestyle hotels offering compelling guest experiences that will only further strengthen its robust hospitality sector in line with the goals of Vision 2030.” 

Mattar further elaborated on the significant investment and expansion plans for the hotel industry in Saudi Arabia over the next three to five years, including SR2.5 billion ($667 million) to renovate and upgrade existing facilities.

“His Excellency, Ahmed Al-Khateeb, the minister of tourism, has given us a very specific mandate to ensure that we uplift and elevate our hotel product,” he said. 

This is to “to ensure that these hotels are well-positioned to receive international travelers, that the ministry and the government are seeking. We have a commitment from our owners to staff that are waiting, especially our Intercontinental brand,” Mattar added. 

The managing director said the focus is on the Intercontinental brand, which currently has 10 to 11 hotels in Saudi Arabia and is part of a broader pipeline of 39 new hotels set to open across the region. 

“We have a huge concentration of hotels coming up in the Makkah Medinah area, but also we are going into the secondary market. So, for example, Hotel Indigo is also going to Abha, in the Asir region, a very special location as well, in the mountains of Saudi Arabia, and we are also covering new opportunities in Riyadh, Jeddah, as well as Eastern Province,” Mattar explained. 

As part of Saudi Arabia’s tourism strategy, which involves developing ten key destinations focusing on a mix of major cities and lesser-known regions, the list of destinations includes Madinah, Riyadh, and several secondary and tertiary markets like the Asir region, Qasim, and Al-Jouf, as well as Jazan, Abha, and Baha. 

“This is where, you know, the natural assets of Saudi Arabia are. This is where the future of tourism is going to be. This is where the cultural and historical sites are also placed, and some of the places, as I see it,” Mattar emphasized. 

He added that the Ministry of Tourism focuses on exploiting those assets and showcasing them to the world, emphasizing that it’s not just about city escapes in Riyadh and Jeddah, but also about the historical and spiritual offerings in Makkah and Madinah. 

Hotel Indigo and Residence will provide guests with a range of dining options, including the Neighborhood Café and Lobby Lounge, as well as an Executive Lounge for a diverse culinary experience. 

Business travelers will have access to facilities, including five meeting rooms and a ballroom spanning 290 sq. m., all equipped with the latest technology. 

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