US giant Hyatt takes over former Sheraton Tirana management

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times December 6, 2018 17:32

US giant Hyatt takes over former Sheraton Tirana management

TIRANA, Dec. 6 – US-based giant Hyatt has entered Albania where it will manage a former Sheraton hotel that in early 2018 was purchased and rebranded by an Albanian investor, filling a void in international brands managing five-star hotels in the country following Sheraton’s departure.

The deal was signed on Thursday with Kastrati Group, the second-largest Albanian-owned company with main operations in the oil trade industry, but which in early 2018 diversified its investment in the hotel industry by purchasing former Sheraton Tirana for around €30 million, and later rebranding it Mak Tirana Hotel following the departure of Sheraton from its management.

Kastrati’s January 2018 deal with Mak Albania, a subsidiary of Kuwait-based Kharafi Group Investments which has been active in the country since the collapse of the communist regime in the early 1990s with several investments in the tourism industry, led to the departure of Sheraton Albania following 15 years of operation in the country under a previous deal with the Kuwaiti investors.

With more than 700 properties in 50 countries around the World, US-based Hyatt is one of the leading luxury brands globally and currently operates a hotel only in Serbia among Western Balkan countries.

Albanian owners of the upcoming Hyatt hotel say they plan to extend the capacity of the 150-room luxury hotel with villas next to the hotel building, situated in a prime downtown Tirana area next to key state institutions and Tirana’s lake park.

Prime Minister Edi Rama says the arrival of Hyatt and other luxury brands will fill the gap of quality service in Albania’s emerging tourism sector where the number of tourists and income has been on a constant upward trend.

Rama says high-end four and five-star hotels which have been offered tax incentives will increase income and employment in the tourism sector and turn tourism in the key driver of Albania's economic growth in a decade.

In a bid to promote elite tourism investment, Albania has been recently offering tax incentives for a 10-year period   on luxury accommodation units for investments ranging from €8 million to €15 million for four and five-star units that will have to be carried out by internationally renowned chained-brand hotels or local companies under management or franchise contracts with them.

Hyatt will next year compete with Marriott, another U.S. giant that will be situated only few hundreds of meters away from the new Marriott Tirana.

Marriott will manage a 24-storey tower under construction at the new national stadium that is being built under a public private partnership with an Albanian-owned company.

Marriott International will cooperate through a franchise deal with Albanian-owned Albstar company which is building the “National Arena” stadium, the new home of the national football side, which will be ready by next year as a stadium, a commercial center and hotel.

The arrival of Marriott International is however not new in Albania. The American hospitality giant was indirectly present in Albania throughout 2017 through Sheraton hotel in Tirana, a global Starwood brand which it acquired in late 2016.

Last September, Hilton Garden Inn, a mid-priced brand owned by Hilton Worldwide, launched its first hotel in Tirana, an Albanian investment of €19 million in partnership with the prestigious US-based hospitality chain through a franchise deal.

Luxury hotel competition in Tirana has now become much tougher in Tirana in the past couple of years following the late 2016 opening of the Albanian-owned Plaza Hotel, a 24-storey tower in Tirana city center and the recent launch of Hilton Garden Inn.

Austrian-owned Rogner Hotel and the landmark 15-storey Albanian-owned Tirana International Hotel, also operate a close distance of around 1 km in the city center.

While the Albanian government supports the idea of the need for luxury investment, some local experts say demand for accommodation in Tirana, which has seen a significant rise in the past few years, is mostly for medium-priced 3 or 4-star hotels and see the new luxury investments with skepticism.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times December 6, 2018 17:32