How many units does The Ascott have within the Middle East?
The Ascott Limited has a global portfolio of over 900 properties across 40 countries. Within the Middle East, Africa, Türkiye and Central Asia, we currently manage 23 properties across our three premium brands – Ascott The Residence, Somerset Serviced Residence and Citadines Apart’hotel in 11 cities, spanning seven countries.

Ascott signed over 7,500 units in H1 2022. How much did the Middle East contribute to that figure?
In H1 2022, we launched five properties across five different countries on three continents under our Somerset and Citadines brands. These include Ascott’s growing presence in Saudi Arabia, and our new launches in Oman, Kazakhstan and Kenya. MEAT is a key market that continues to be an important expansion region for us. Our growth in Türkiye continues to gather momentum with the new signing of Citadines Lara Antalya. Following our keen focus on growing in Africa, we have also signed our second property in Ethiopia – the Citadines Bole Addis Ababa.

Are serviced apartments your biggest vertical of growth?
Ascott’s three core brands – Ascott The Residence, Somerset Serviced Residence and Citadines Apart’hotel – continue to stay as the prime growth vehicle in the MEAT region. The recent launch of our Citadines revamp introduced new brand signatures that would encapsulate the versatility of a Citadines property anywhere in the world. There is also a considerable peak in the demand for co-living spaces within the urbanised, first-tier cities of the region, and we are introducing our co-brand ‘Lyf’ to cater to this next generation of travellers. We are currently in talks to introduce this brand to our region in the very near future.

Citadines Abha
Citadines Abha

Ascott recently acquired Oakwood. What are the plans with it for the Middle East?
Oakwood currently has no presence within the Middle East, but shares a long history in managing and operating serviced spaces in distant geographies where Ascott has a modest footprint such as the Americas. We are therefore grateful for the synergy driven by our acquisition as we aim to introduce Oakwood brands in the Middle East.

Are there any current impediments to your regional expansion plan?
The onset of Covid and its impact on the economy made us cost-conscious of our spends, whether at our operational properties or new openings. As such, we are ready to mitigate any crisis to support an uninterrupted business environment. On the workforce front, our serviced residences business model enables us to work with a comparatively lower workforce ratio than the typical hotel model. In addition, we have a vigorous global training programme at Ascott that focuses on developing and retaining local talent which allows us to witness a higher employee-satisfaction rate and a lower attrition rate.

Which are some of the key emerging source markets for Ascott’s residences within the Middle East?
While Europe continues to be a high-yielding market over the years for Ascott, our key emerging source markets in the Middle East currently are Egypt and Morocco, with our biggest source market being the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.