Millennium Hotels & Resorts is a hotel company that treats the guest as family, with a unique range of global properties. Here, RLI spends some time with Kevork Deldelian, CEO of Middle East & Africa (MEA) as he talks to us about its operations in this area of the world and what the future holds for the business and the hospitality sector.
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (M&C) is a London-based global hotel company, which owns, manages and operates over 145 hotels across some 80 locations worldwide. Its properties are in key gateway cities such as London, New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Dubai, Doha, Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul, Singapore and Hong Kong. M&C is the hotel arm of Singapore-listed global real estate company City Developments Limited (CDL). M&C’s global brand – Millennium Hotels and Resorts (MHR) has four distinct hotel collections— Leng’s Collection, M Collection, Millennium Collection and Copthorne Collection—throughout Asia, Europe, the Middle East, New Zealand and the US. Occupying the best locations around the world, MHR has the perfect address for business and leisure travellers. Listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1996, M&C was delisted on 11 October 2019 following a successful privatisation exercise launched by CDL.
Millennium Hotels & Resorts Middle East & Africa currently operates 45 hotels with almost 15,000 keys in addition to 34 hotels in the pipeline across the region. From a single property in Abu Dhabi, Millennium Hotels & Resorts, Middle East & Africa has expanded into various neighbouring destinations and is now recognised as one of the fastest-growing regional hotel management companies in the Middle East & Africa. Along the way, the company has cultivated partnerships with reputable and respected owners.
“I would say the last 12 months have seen a continuation of the last four to five years which has seen a decline in performance for the hotel industry,” explains Kevork Deldelian, CEO of Middle East & Africa. “It was leading to a good 2020 and in fact we had an excellent start to the year and we exceeded the performance of 2019, then Covid-19 happened.”
Currently, despite the effects of the coronavirus the group has not altered its company strategy and growth plans. There are 34 hotels in the pipeline over the next two years and to date, all the developers and partners are steadily going ahead with the projects and are aiming to finish on time.
Millennium Hotels & Resorts in the MEA are one of the companies who kept the majority of their locations open, with only two in Makkah and two in Madinah in the KSA being closed. “One of the reasons we could manage to do this was that, at a very early stage in the development of Covid-19 globally, we announced as a company that we were ready to extend and provide all our hotels to the local authorities to help and support with accommodating medical teams where it was required,” explains Deldelian. This gesture brought in a lot of occupants and at some sites, even ensured the locations were running at 100 per cent occupancy and to break-even. A few sites even made minor profits which helped ease the impact of Covid-19 compared to the rest of the companies operating in the market.“We had a milder hit and this allowed us to not have to terminate a lot of staff so we were able to retain a considerable number of our staff and the team. We did have to incorporate some unpaid measures but the most important thing was that we were able to protect our people and our cash flows that has got us to today in a position where we can sustain the impact for another few months,” says Deldelian.
“We had a milder hit and this allowed us to not have to terminate a lot of staff so we were able to retain a considerable number of our staff and the team. We did have to incorporate some unpaid measures but the most important thing was that we were able to protect our people and our cash flows that has got us to today in a position where we can sustain the impact for another few months,” says Deldelian.
Millennium is unique because they are and they preach that they are an owner-centric company. Deldelian also feels they are unique because this idea of being an owner-centric company makes its way down to the teams in its hotels, so as a company they are very focused on what is the owners return rather than what they do as a gross operating profit. They are also very close to owners, they engage their owners and they listen to their owners and they don’t compromise on standards.
The ethos that has driven the business forward is ‘More than Meets the Eye’ and it means that Millennium Hotels & Resorts is a hotel company that treats both the guest and associates as a family within its global property collection. Its hotels are never cookie-cutter, but are always fresh, surprising and tailored to its location and seamlessly blend Asian hospitality with western comfort.
When talking about challenges that face the company and the business sector, Deldelian feels that business in its totality is a challenge, revenue is a challenge, and that the MEA region has been aggressively increasing supply over the past few years which has contributed declines in response and occupancies.
“So now, the supply is there, but the demand is obviously not because of Covid-19 and we will see a significant drop. This is going to cause a serious challenge for the hospitality industry for the foreseeable future,” Deldelian explains.