Construction has commenced for the Cristal Grand Erbil Hotel, the second hotel to be operated by the group in the Kurdistan city, and its third in Iraq.
The five-star flagship property will feature 160 rooms and suites when it opens in 2017, as well as several restaurants, a gym, spa and business centre, according to Mr Peter Blackburn, President and CEO of the Cristal Group.
“We now have all government approvals to proceed and a contractor has been appointed for this US$49million project,” he said. “There is a tremendous influx of interest in Erbil from the major international hotel groups, but we were among the first global names to launch in the city.”
With two- and three-star hotels dominating the Erbil market and Kurdistan in general, demand for quality accommodation that meets international standards is high in the province which receives a large amount of international business traffic.
“The market is subject to fluctuation due to the security situation, but more than 20 airlines are registered to fly in to the international airport, which saw a 31 per cent increase in passenger numbers in 2014, reaching 1.56 million,” said Mr Blackburn, adding as an example that 108 passenger flights departed Erbil International Airport in January 2015, serving 23 cities in 14 different countries.
While domestic and local demand is underpinning current business, he said that, looking to the future, there was also scope to boost international leisure traffic in to what was an unknown destination as Erbil cements its position as a gateway for Kurdistan and the region.
“As hoteliers, we have to take the long view, and with our experience in operating the five-star, 100-room Cristal Erbil Hotel, we know the market and its potential – and look forward to growing with the city when the new Cristal Grand Erbil Hotel opens in two years’ time,” concluded Mr Blackburn.
The Cristal Group was established in the UAE in 2007 followed by the British Virgin Islands in 2012 to deliver world class hospitality consultancy, technical services, asset management and brand management. Its vision is to be the premier business and leisure hotel operator in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.