Creating a New Hospitality Industry Brand
In searching for new ideas and opportunities during our earliest days, we observed that major luxury hotel brands tended to replicate their hotel models regardless of the markets they were entering. Perhaps, we thought, there might be good prospects for a new luxury hotel brand in the Middle East and North Africa? We focused on the concept of creating a new hotel group that provided guests from the region and beyond with an authentic experience of classical Arabic hospitality and ambiance. The idea involved real estate, one of our three targeted asset classes.
After extensive market research and analysis, Guidance proceeded to invest its own funds to develop “Shaza Hotels,” a new luxury hotel brand that reflected “the spirit of the East.”
We worked with high level architects, designers, market researchers, and hotel investment advisors to create hotel designs and the distinctive character of the logo and brand. We reinstituted the classic Arabic Hammam (spa), added modern wellness centers, classic Arabic gardens, calligraphy and modern and ancient art. We incorporated the most modern luxury and technology amenities and the highest standards of service.
In addition, we eliminated the serving of alcohol or pork products in Shaza Hotels so as to welcome observant Muslims as well as travelers from the region and beyond seeking quiet beauty and traditional Arabic hospitality.
Guidance proceeded to acquire hotel sites in six locations in the region and brought in Kempinski Hotels as the operating partner and the Barwa Real Estate Company as the capital partner. Two Shaza hotels are now in service and six more are planned to open by 2016.
In mid-2012, Shaza Hotels was voted “The Middle East’s Leading New Hotel Concept” by the World Travel Awards, a prestigious organization of hotel industry professionals. The Shaza Al Madina in Saudi Arabia won the MENA Gold Award for the “Best New 5-Star Hotel for 2011” at the Middle East-North Africa Travel Awards, an event hosted by the CHA (Consultants of Hospitality Administrators) in Dubai.
These prestigious acclamations by fellow industry professionals were especially noteworthy in that Shaza’s two operating hotels had been in existence for less than 18 months at the time of the awards.