Skift Take

So-called "hotel circuits" help shuttle guests from place to place seamlessly, expanding how much they can explore in a destination. No wonder Saudi investors want to create a hotel circuit with Habitas, which runs glamping-like lodging appropriate for dramatic landscapes.

Habitas, a luxury travel lodging and experiences company, may add up to six properties in Saudi Arabia through a planned $400 million (1.5 billion riyals) fund with financial support from the kingdom’s investment community.

The goal would be to create a “hotel circuit” for guests to hop among locations in “a journey of discovery through Saudi Arabia” — with guest transfers handled by the brand.

Habitas told Bloomberg on Friday that the fund would be “anchored” in an unspecified way by the Saudi Tourism Development Fund, which aims to boost tourism’s share of the economy from about 3% to 10% by 2030.

Saudi Arabia first opened to international tourists in 2019 and wants to embrace a post-fossil-fuel era. The Tourism Development Fund, which has committed $4 billion to investments since 2020, has backstopped similar investment funds for companies such as Ennismore (an Accor joint-venture) and Hilton.

Habitas already has two Saudi locations at the cultural tourism site of AlUla (Al-‘Ula), including a 96-room resort and a caravan experience. The brand’s future outposts will likely be placed near the Red Sea, Jeddah, and Riyadh, said founder Oliver Ripley in a Bloomberg interview.

Habitas has outposts in Mexico, Chile, Namibia, Morocco, and New York state, which it has developed and currently manages. It has concepts for Ibiza, Costa Rica, and Bhutan.

Habitas Alula swimming pool
A swimming pool at the Habitas location in AlUla. Source: Habitas

Habitas’s website’s opening message is “Welcome Home,” which is the traditional Burning Man greeting. The company got its start around 2017 by setting up camps at that festival in Nevada for free spirits and wanna-be free spirits.

Ripley has said the goal of Habitas is “to create escapes that foster community,” with guests who “define themselves by mindset and shared values.”

Saudi Arabia has 42,033 hotel rooms under construction, according to hotel benchmarking firm STR.

Representatives from Habitas and the Tourism Development Fund didn’t respond to Skift’s requests for comment by publication time.


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Tags: future of lodging, glamping, habitas, middle east, resorts, saudi arabia, tourism

Photo credit: A Habitas creation at Alula, a cultural tourism site in Saudi Arabia. Source: Habitas.

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