Carlson Rezidor is the latest major operator set to enter Iraq after announcing the Radisson Blu Erbil will open in 2017.
The 260-room hotel will be located in the Western suburbs, 3kms from the airport, and contain an all-day dining restaurant, speciality restaurant, lobby bar, meeting rooms and ballroom, gym and spa.
Speaking at the signing at the Radisson Blu Dubai Media City on Sunday evening, Mark Willis, Area Vice President for the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa, said it has explored many opportunities in the semi-autonomous, oil-rich state of Kurdistan and this deal took nearly “a year off the table”.
“We see opportunities in a country which has had a difficult last few years,” he said. “It’s quite a surprise from an infrastructure perspective – it’s got an airport like Terminal 3 here in Dubai, there’s an excellent road infrastructure and lot of building and development going on which gives you good heart for a positive future.”
Ibrahim Saady, CEO of Coral for Hotels & Tourism Consultancy & Supply, acknowledged on the border “there is some fighting” but was confident it will end and it doesn’t affect the Kurdistan region.
The precarious security situation hasn’t deterred other multinational operators either with the Sheraton Erbil Hotel marking the re-entry of Starwood in the country after 20 years this year, and Marriott International and Hilton having projects in the city.