People, Travel

Louvre Hotels Interested in Iran Market

Louvre Hotels Interested in Iran MarketLouvre Hotels Interested in Iran Market

The Middle East and North Africa branch of Louvre Hotels Group is close to signing agreements to open three hotels in Iran – its first foray into the market since international sanctions were lifted this year.

The French group is in advanced talks with an Iranian investor to open a 300-room Royal Tulip-branded hotel in Tehran, the group’s president for the MENA region, Amine Moukarzel, told Arabian Business.

The deal is expected to conclude in the next fortnight and the same investor - a “multipurpose Iranian company”, he said – wants a second hotel with Louvre, but likely outside of Tehran. The deals would represent the investor’s first foray into the hotel sector.

The group is also in talks to open a third hotel in Iran with a different investor, but those discussions are understood to be in the earlier stages.

“We have identified Iran as a strong, promising market that requires international [hotel] brands to build its reputation,” Moukarzel said.

The group is targeting 20-40 new budget hotels over the next 3-5 years, with a focus on the UAE and Oman, he said. “The midscale, midmarket sector is the golden class in MENA at present, which is good news for Louvre group.”

Spanish group Melia Hotels International announced in March that it plans to open Gran Melia Ghoo, a five-star hotel in Mazandaran Province on the Caspian Sea, as early as next year. The hotel will become the first foreign-branded seaside hotel in Iran in nearly 40 years.

Iran’s first foreign-branded hotel in decades opened last October, when French operator AccorHotels opened a Novotel and an Ibis near Imam Khomeini International Airport, 30 kilometers south of the capital.

Furthermore, the UAE-based Rotana Hotel Group, whose Rayhaan brand is aimed at Muslim travelers, is preparing four properties to open in Tehran and the shrine city of Mashhad by 2018.

Mashhad, in northeast Khorassan Razavi Province, is home to the mausoleum of Imam Reza (PBUH), the eight imam of Shia Muslims.

The second most populous city, it is Iran’s top destination for religious tourists and attracts 25 million domestic and foreign tourists throughout the year.

Furthermore, Crista Hotels and Jumeirah Group, both based in the UAE, are reportedly preparing to invest in Iran.