Accor to run expanded Saudi Arabian luxury resort [Construction Report]
French hotel group Accor has struck a deal with The Royal Commission for AlUla to operate a significantly expanded Ashar Resort under the Banyan Tree brand.
As a part of its strategy to develop the 22,561 sq km AlUla area as a sustainable tourist destination, The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) has partnered with Accor on a truly extraordinary hospitality scheme. We look ahead to the creation of Banyan Tree’s newest property.
Drawing tourists to the desert of Saudi Arabia
The partnership, agreed ahead of AlUla’s official launch as a year-round destination in October 2020, highlights the area’s investment potential and reflects Saudi Arabia’s economic diversification as part of the country’s ambitious Vision 2030 programme.
Amr AlMadani, CEO of the Royal Commission for AlUla, said: “This new partnership demonstrated how AlUla’s unique appeal as a cultural, heritage and nature destination fits into Accor’s Banyan Tree brand, which is synonymous with authentically unique experiences. We’re working with the world’s best developers and hotel operators to deliver projects that complement our cultural oasis, as well as benefiting our local community.”
“The partnership agreement with Accor is part of a major series of capital projects and multiple investments made by RCU into 15 plans in AlUla, many of which will be announced in the coming months,” AlMadani continued. “This is a clear sign of our confidence in the future strength of the hospitality sector in Saudi Arabia.”
Sebastien Bazin, chairman and CEO of Accor, added: “In line with our commitment to grow Accor’s unique portfolio in Saudi Arabia, and as one of the first hospitality groups to set foot in the Kingdom, we are extremely proud to take part in the development of the historic county of AlUla, thus celebrating the Kingdom’s vast heritage and culture. We are very excited to be working on bringing our partner brand Banyan Tree’s unique sanctuary offering to the Ashar Resort.”
The sustainable development of AlUla
The expansion of Ashar Resort will see the creation of 47 new units, bringing the total number of villas up to 82, along with a luxury spa and collection of gourmet restaurants. This development will be guided by a sensitive design allowing each villa to sit harmoniously within the striking natural scenery of the Ashar Valley, which is within easy reach of Saudi Arabia’s first Unesco World Heritage Site, Hegra.
This dramatic valley is also the location of the multi-purpose exhibition, conference and entertainment venue Maraya Hall, billed as the world’s largest mirrored structure, and a key hub for cultural events, business gatherings and conferences. Past functions have drawn Nobel Laureates and global figures such as Andrea Bocelli to the desert.
With its focus on sustainable expansion, Ashar Resort’s development fits in with The Royal Commission for AlUla’s overall sustainable development strategy and drive to integrate luxury tourism into the environment. This strategy seeks to safeguard natural assets while also placing the local community at the heart of AlUla’s development.
Overall, the agreement with Accor helps advance the vision of AlUla, which was launched by His Royal Highness the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman AlSaud, chairman of the board of directors of The Royal Commission for AlUla, in 2019. The project’s partners include Nesma & Partners Contracting Co, AECOM Arabia Limited Company, AW2 Architecture Workshop, Gulf Co-Operations Symbols Contracting, GAJ and Assustem & Ali AlHarbi Engineering Consultancy Company.