The world’s biggest Holiday Inn is set to open the first of its planned 5,000 rooms in Mecca by December.
The new hotel will dwarf the biggest of Dubai’s hotels by room inventory, such as the JW Marriot Marquis and Atlantis the Palm, each having fewer than 2,000 rooms.
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) first revealed plans for its largest Holiday Inn in Mecca in 2013, when it said it would open the 1,238-room Holiday Inn Makkah Al Aziziyah about 3.5 kilometres from the Grand Mosque. The property would open next year.
IHG yesterday said a new development, called Holiday Inn Makkah Abraaj Al Tayseer, would have 5,154 rooms.
The first phase of the hotel – with 1,642 rooms across two towers – will open towards year end and will welcome guests year round.
The remaining 3,512 rooms, spread across three more towers, are expected to open over the next three years and will operate only during Ramadan and the Haj pilgrimage.
The largest existing Holiday Inn is in Macau with 1,224 rooms.
“What is fuelling the growth in the number of hotels in Mecca is that there is, for the foreseeable future, an amazing growth in the number of people wanting to visit Mecca,” said John Podaras, an analyst at Hotel Development Resources. “That is exacerbated by the construction [of the new airport] and expansion of the Grand Mosque.”
IHG plans to open nine more hotels in Saudi Arabia over the next three to five years. Several international hotel groups – including Westin, Sheraton, Hyatt and Marriott – are also targeting the market.
Spread across five towers, Holiday Inn Makkah Abraaj Al Tayseer is being built on the site of Abraaj Al Tayseer pilgrim accommodation.
The property is 900 metres from the Grand Mosque and each tower will house a large all-day dining restaurant.
IHG yesterday said it had struck a management agreement with Al Majd Al Arabiah Company for the world’s largest Holiday Inn hotel.
“With religious travel growing, and the government set to improve infrastructure in line with this, there is a need for more branded accommodation in Mecca and Medina,” said Pascal Gauvin, IHG’s chief operating officer for India, Middle East and Africa.
IHG, which entered the kingdom in 1975, operates 25 hotels with 5,900 rooms. They include the InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn brands.
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