Business Strategy

Reflecting on a busy first quarter and Wyndham goes to France

Written by: Dimitris Manikis, President, Europe, Middle East, Eurasia, and Africa (EMEA), Wyndham Hotels & Resorts 

At the end of 2023 I joined so many industry professionals and colleagues in our optimism about the prospect of our industry and the great future ahead of us all.

Despite any challenges, and the fact that the world in many ways feels like a volatile, uncertain place, we all felt the impact of a sizeable injection of positivity when looking at the travel trends, the rebound of the industry and the realization that travel is one of the most critical components of our lives.

Through Q1 of 2024, I want to double-down on that message. We must, as an industry, continue to exude positivity and unite people through the sharing of culture and happy, joyful experiences.

From a Wyndham perspective, we have certainly taken the bull by the horns and are making things happen.

France is a major focus for the EMEA business this year. We have just agreed to co-brand the H4 Hotel Wyndham Paris with our German partner H-Hotels. Located in the northern Greater Paris city of Saint-Denis, in the Paris Pleyel Business District, it is close to the Stade de France and just a one-minute walk from the new and very well-connected Saint-Denis Pleyel metro station and when it opens in a couple of months it will constitute one of the most exciting new hotel openings in France and possibly across central Europe.

Spread over 40 floors, the hotel houses almost 697 rooms, including 11 suites and a magnificent Presidential Suite. The rooms have all the mod-cons you would expect, and in terms of design, we have sought to blend industrial, classic, and urban aesthetics, combining raw industrial design elements, timeless classical touches, and a dynamic urban atmosphere. And all done in the most sustainable and cost-effective manner.

The hotel’s five food and beverage outlets are also designed to wow both French and international guests, The Stage sky bar being a particularly breathtaking setting with panoramic views of the City of Light. Across all the restaurants and bars, the idea is find the best way to celebrate French heritage and pay homage to local, seasonal, and sustainable cuisine, which forms a crucial part of the culinary manifesto our operating partners are looking to develop.

On the corporate and events side, the hotel also contains a 4,500-square-metre convention center. The plenary room is one of the largest of its kind in the greater Paris area at 1,175 square meters with a ceiling height of eight meters – from car launches to trade congresses, it is the ideal hosting space for grand events. In addition to the plenary room, H4 Hotel Wyndham provides 15 conference rooms.

The H4 Hotel Wyndham Paris is the first opening of a hotel this size in Paris for 50 years. The building, Pleyel Tower, is the tallest in Seine-Saint-Denis and is a key symbol for the district, both in terms of the Grand Paris project and upcoming Olympic Games.

Staying near Paris, and located just minutes away from the beautiful Palace of Versailles, is the Dolce by Wyndham Versailles – Domaine du Montcel, which is due to open its doors end of May.

The historic property has been carefully renovated to remain in keeping with its roots, while the 35 acres of gardens surrounding the estate provide a charming outdoor setting for guests to enjoy. The hotel also serves as a state-of-the-art MICE venue, featuring 18 meeting and reception rooms that can accommodate up to 350 people.

These two properties are the perfect foundation for our launch into France, a journey which I cannot wait to see unfold over the rest of 2024 and beyond. We have extremely high hopes and expectations for this market, and the bar has been set high with the energy and attention to detail which has gone into our first two hotels here.

Alongside looking at the French market, we have been busy with openings elsewhere in the EMEA region at the start of this year. In Germany, we have opened the 366-room Ramada Encore Munich Messe. In the UAE, meanwhile, the La Quinta by Wyndham Abu Dhabi Al Wahda is open for business. 

New year, exciting new partnerships

Another exciting development has seen Wyndham announcing an exciting strategic partnership and alliance with sbe, the highly regarded international lifestyle hospitality group set up by visionary hotelier and developer, Sam Nazarian.

This new alliance saw the introduction of a fresh, new ‘smart lifestyle’ brand.

Named Project HQ Hotels & Residences, it will be affiliated with Wyndham’s Registry Collection Hotels brand to offer hotel owners searching for a differentiated, yet approachable lifestyle brand, the benefits of unprecedented expertise, experience and resources.

The idea behind the brand name Project HQ is that the venues will be in the heart of the cities they launch in, serving as the “headquarters” for exceptional dining, nightlife, and wellness.

Our vision is that, together with sbe, we want to build communities and create memories through unforgettable experiences.

Project HQ plans to open 50 hotels by 2030, designed uniquely for the savvy Millennial and Gen Z traveler. While much of the focus will be in the United States, the new brand will also target opportunities across the EMEA region, especially in the UK, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Central Europe.

Branded residences are another interesting segment that Project HQ will venture into. We have already enjoyed success with our other brands in this space, and Project HQ will be a unique proposition that targets underserved markets such as integrated student housing. 

Strengthening our team

As well as new partners, investors, and new exciting industry alliances, we have also welcomed several new senior team members to the Wyndham EMEA family.

The newest addition is Murat Yilmaz, who brings several decades of experience to his role as Market Managing Director for Central and Eastern Europe. Murat joined us in February and will be based in Germany, his remit being to drive our growth across the region. 

In December 2023, Govind Mundra became our new Head of Development for the Middle East and Africa, moving across from our Eurasia business. The appointment aligns with our strategy to further grow our footprint in the Middle East and within key commercial hubs and leisure destinations on the African continent. 

Also settling in well is Mohamed Haj Hassan, who joined us as the Country Director for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in October 2023. Saudi Arabia is a market of huge potential for Wyndham, not least because the country is investing more than ever in tourism infrastructure in a bid to diversify its economy and open to the world.

From Saudi Arabia to France, and many other EMEA destinations in between, Wyndham is gathering momentum as 2024 gets off to a rapid start. With new openings, brands, alliances, and talent already making their mark in the business, I am glad to have been proven right by saying there is cause for optimism at the end of 2023.

At Wyndham Hotels & Resorts EMEA we will certainly work very hard together with our partners across the 45 countries we are currently present across the region, making sure that the rest of the year progresses in a similar fashion and 2024 becomes another great year for the best industry in the world.

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