Having already signed deals for hotels in Diriyah, NEOM, and The Red Sea, Marriott turns its attention to AlUla. The upcoming Autograph Collection bucks the trend of the operator only signing super-luxury hotels at these sites, instead offering something likely to be more affordable.
Marriott continues to be a go-to choice for Saudi Arabia when it comes to operators for hotels within the giga-project portfolio. The U.S. hotel giant will be involved in every government-backed tourism project – the latest is an AlUla hotel.
Marriott’s Autograph Collection brand has been chosen for the venture – a 250-key hotel located in AlUla’s “downtown.” Like many AlUla hotels, it is owned by the government through the development company created specifically for AlUla: The AlUla Development Company (UDC).
UDC also has in its portfolio the Habitas resort and Caravan offshoot in AlUla, Accor’s Banyan Tree, and the Maraya Concert Hall. All of them come under the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, which created UDC.
Set to open in 2025, the Autograph Collection will be expected to add to AlUla’s commitment for sustainable tourism and development, a key pillar of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 as it looks to change its image from a mass exporter of hydrocarbons.
Diversifying AlUla Hotel Price Points
The upcoming Autograph Collection will join a largely luxury and super-luxury set of neighbors. Sitting below Luxury Collection in terms of price point, Autograph from a brand perspective is the most accessible in AlUla.
Rates for the Habitas AlUla and the Banyan Tree can reach as much as 5,000 riyals a night at this time of year. Meanwhile, future supply such as The Chedi Hegra and a Four Seasons will also be capable of commanding high rates.
Marriott’s First-Mover Advantage
In terms of Saudi’s giga-projects, including The Red Sea, NEOM and Diriyah, Marriott will have hotels at all of them.
At NEOM, the group signed a three-property deal in March 2023 for an Autograph Collection and two Luxury Collection hotels on Sindalah island. Set to open next year, they will be among the first hotels guests can book at the island, where a Four Seasons is also in the works.
At The Red Sea, Marriott again has the task to “introduce” travelers to one of the Kingdom’s new-build tourism spots. The company is expected to open both the St. Regis Red Sea Resort and Nujuma, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve, this year, two of the year hotels planned to open in 2023.
In Diriyah Gate, Luxury Collection is the brand of choice once more. Originally planned to open last year, the Luxury Collection at Diriyah serves as the first hotel to open in the project. The group also has a Ritz-Carlton expected to open in 2025 within the same project.
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Photo credit: Rendering of a guestroom in the Autograph Collection Hotel AlUla