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Coral International Hotels, Resorts & Spas, an Oriental Chameleon

That same year, Coral enters a first partnership to occupy a new niche in the business hotel segment. Michel Noblet joined hands with Reef Real Estate Investment Company to develop a new range and a new brand baptized Corp Executive Hotels for a clientele of managers with a tighter budget. “The dynamics of the hotel industry is changing worldwide and smart business hotels are emerging as a compelling business opportunity,” explains the group’s general manager. A program for 4 hotels is underway, combining an affordable price for guaranteed services with uncompromised installations.

Created just five years ago by one of the founders of Le Méridien, Coral International Hotels now has nearly a dozen hotels operating in the Emirates and a portfolio of 40 projects being developed around its four brands: Coral, Executive Corp, Ecos and EWA Apartments. Remaining close to local culture, ready to fill all the niches in hotel accommodations, its new holding HMH opens its horizons to Africa and Asia. Its ambitions are sound and clear: 100 hotels before 2012.Since its creation, Coral International Hotels has allowed itself to go wherever it could show its expertise. Like a clever chameleon, it has adapted itself to the contexts, markets, cultures, local partnerships to always come out like a legitimate partner. The new holding must enable it to take a decisive step to be among the leading hotel operators in the Africa-Middle East region.Michel Noblet was no newcomer to the hotel industry when he, with his son Ralph, created the group Coral International. Pioneer of the chain Le Méridien, he developed his entire career there, rising from hotel manager to manager for entire continents, Asia-Pacific and finally the Middle East and Western Asia. With 35 years of experience in management, he decided to go on his own in September 2003 and signed his first management contract a month later for Coral Beach Resort in Sharjah. History is in the ma-king and the last five years were marked by decisive stages in a course that was programmed with a first goal: 25 properties in the portfolio before the end of the year 2008. Established in Dubai, the company is not trying to compete with the extravagance that reigns in the Emirates. “I am not trying to build the biggest hotel of all times,” affirms Michel Noblet, “but to guarantee the best hospitality service. That is what drives our staff and symbolizes the brand Coral International based on three values: exceptional service, respect for local traditions and pursuit of innovation.”As a result, the group’s growth also takes place through the differentiation of its properties and immersion with local cultures. While the first hotel in Sharjah is a resort, the second one signed in Dubai in 2004 is in the tradition of 5-star palaces. A few months later, construction on Coral Boutique Hotel Apartments began in Dubai and the group signed its 4th contract for the management of a Coral Suites on Corniche Road in the Emirate of Ajman.This diversification and decision to take an original approach resulted in its membership in 2005 to the consortium Boutique Hotels & Resorts International for five properties managed by the chain. The inauguration of the Coral Boutique Hotel Apartments in November this year offers an opportunity for the Noblet family to commit itself to the respect of Middle Eastern culture by becoming the first management company to banish alcohol at all its hotels.The group’s ambitions for development are no longer limited to the Middle East and the group made its first incursion on the African continent in 2006 in a partnership with Cii Holdings, a South African conglomerate that launched the construction of a luxury hotel in the center of Capetown in preparation for the FiFA World Cup 2010. The group’s expansion in its preferred zone continues, adding two properties to the boutique concept in Oman, with the Coral Hotel Muscat, and in Dubai Al Barsha with the Coral Boutique Villas complex that has 30 very upscale units.In 2007, Coral Hotels took the step towards the management of a residence hotel by hanging its banner over the Coral Residence Tower in Fujeirah, a complex of 180 fully equipped apartments, from studios to two-bedrooms near the airport. The group makes a second foray outside the Emirates with the signature of a management contract in Syria for a luxury hotel in Alep, which marks the beginning of a cooperation with the group Julia Dumma for several implantations. This will not be the only innovation in the year as Ralph Noblet, the group’s cofounder, is launching a vast project that is dear to him: the creation of a new Ecos hotels concept, that combines the will to reach economy clientele and be part of a movement for sustainable development while following recommendations of Agenda 21. “Coral Hotels has a vocation to reach all the customer segments through different brands and concepts,” insists Ralph Noblet. “We are also very proud to affirm that we have always been involved with local communities in all our projects so that the impact benefits everyone. We are working in close collaboration with Green Globe to put principals to work and translate this ecological will in the construction and operations of this new chain”.The Ecos Hotels brand is assuming a dimension that will surpass the Emirates. “Of course we will begin in our own backyard, but an economy chain only makes sense if its links can be counted by dozens,” justified Ralph Noblet when he announced the project. Discussions were held in Saudi Arabia, Oman and in the Emirates with investor groups committed to 15 or 20 projects each time. “With Ecos, we wish to provide a new perspective in hotels focusing on creativity, originality and simplicity. Though a no-frills brand, it will offer clients the ultimate in value. When you think budget you often tend to imagine something boring and basic. Ecos is definitely not that. It will be futuristic, trendy (with emphasis on minimalism), artistic and technologically superior while being ecologically responsible.” The first opening is announced in Dubai.A new 5* hotel in Dubai entered a management contract in 2007 while the group is also open to franchising. The first opportunity will be in Oman where the local group Al Bahja has decided to place its 110-room luxury complex in Al Nahda under the brand Coral Boutique Villas. Africa is becoming the new territory for development with the signature of a management contract in Khartoum, Soudan and the reinforcement of relations with Cii Holdings in South Africa for two new hotels in Durban and Johannesburg.The interest in residence hotels is being confirmed with a second property under management in Deira Dubai: 24 luxurious two-bedroom apartments near the Coral Deira hotel whose facilities are available to clients at the residence. In this same month of May 2007, Coral launched its first property in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with a first luxury complex in Al Khobar, East of the country and a 48-apartment hotel residence in Jeddah.In less than five years, Coral International Hotels Resorts & Spas has established itself as a new major player in the Middle East. Its growth relies on a multitude of partnerships and opportunities that naturally ought to have led to the search for stability. This happened recently with the creation of Hotel Management Holdings. This new umbrella company has the same board of directors, and regroups the six entities created since 2004 to fill all the hotel accommodations niches and includes 4 management companies that will each be able to develop its own brand: Coral Hotels, Corp Executive Hotels, Ecos Hotels, EWA Hotel Apartments.“The formation of HMH will help us to align our company's structure better with our subsidiaries while giving us the flexibility to achieve our global development objectives,” explains Michel Noblet. Through these four niches ranging from the high luxury market to responsible low-cost and including affordable business hotels and residence hotels, today the group has fed forty or so projects into its pipeline in the Middle East and Africa. Today, it is looking further ahead and towards Asia in particular where the major emerging markets in China, India and Pakistan do not leave him indifferent. “The move is aimed to maximize HMH's presence beyond the region as well as to open other strategic options for the group. Our objective is to develop 100 hotels in the coming 4 years.”Since its creation, Coral International Hotels has allowed itself to go wherever it could show its expertise. Like a clever chameleon, it has adapted itself to the contexts, markets, cultures, local partnerships to always come out like a legitimate partner. The new holding must enable it to take a decisive step to be among the leading hotel operators in the Africa-Middle East region.

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