Gaza Palestinian Accor Hotel
The memorandum of understanding signed after several rounds of talks includes the agreement to develop the hotel, renovate the existing HOMA at the highest level and promote the newly renamed HOM ahotels worldwide. The agreement for the Hegtaintehranhoma Hotel was signed by the President of the Palestinian Authority, President Mahmoud Abbas, and the Prime Minister of Gaza, Sheikh Hamad Al-Khalifa.
We expect this latest agreement to open up potentially huge opportunities for rapid growth for the hospitality and tourism industries in Iran and beyond. AccorHotels is proud to play a leading role in the development of a new hotel in this important region of the Middle East and North Africa, with a focus on hospitality, tourism and business development. Alain Bouchard, Managing Director of the Middle East Office, told the hotelier: "I expect the recent agreements to open up a huge opportunity for rapid growth for both Iran's hospitality and tourism industries.
Accor North America operates more than 1,100 hotels in the United States and Canada, including hotels in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Toronto, as well as a number of hotels and resorts in Europe. The hotel has separate days, men and women are not allowed to swim together, and the pool, which could be a major attraction, remains taboo until the management finds a way to avoid violating Gaza's conservative social mores. Of the 70 employees, only five are women, so management is committed to changing patterns of respect for women's needs. She has found a solution to the problem of female swimmers being shielded from the public: she has a separate day and night pool.
In the absence of tourists, Balletbo hopes that visiting delegations from the United Nations, the European Union and other international organizations will stay at the hotel.
It takes time, but hopefully in the next few weeks we should be ready, "Landais told the Middle East hotelier exclusively. Balletbo is realistic about the hotel's prospects, despite the blockade of Gaza. The office block was originally to be financed by a grant from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), but the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada brought the work to a standstill. The Israeli military recently bombed Gaza City, which has a population of more than 1.5 million and the world's second largest population of Palestinians. If you look away at the setting sun, you will see that it was recently bombed by the Israeli military.
Finally, in 2006, the building was completed and rededicated to the operation of the upmarket chain Movenpick. The hotel was furnished, equipped and cleaned up and finally opened in 2009 after being damaged during the war in Gaza in 2008-9. Since then it has been renovated and rebuilt - but it has not yet opened its doors.
Accor is now on the verge of taking advantage of the opening of the new hotel, the first of its kind in the Middle East and one of only a handful of hotels to open its doors.
There are already a number of bookings for weddings and conferences and there are signs that wealthy Gazans are interested in the hotel's restaurants and cafes. There are rumors that other French groups are negotiating with Iran on the construction and management of hotels. Bazin said that talks are also underway to open two hotels in Tehran under the Novotel Ibis brand. The first of two hotels in Iran managed by Accor, the world's second largest hotel group, will go into operation at the end of 2015 and will be run under the leadership of Christophe Lanthus, the development manager of Acc orHotels Iran.
Carpinell, who previously managed hotels in Majorca and the Dominican Republic, became aware of the dire situation in Gaza after spending eight months there. At that time, there was no way to get imported goods through the tightly controlled border crossings between Israel and Gaza.
When hotel manager Rafel Carpinell wanted to put ducks on the menu, he noticed that Gazans found the concept of eating birds incomprehensible. Then a year ago, another Spanish group, ArcMed, agreed to take over the management and open the hotel. He hired 70 local employees, working under three Spanish managers, and began training them to international standards.
Construction began in the optimistic days after the signing of the Oslo Accords, when many believed that a lasting peace for a Palestinian state was a realistic prospect. But after a bloody battle between Hamas and rival Fatah, Movenpick withdrew and Hamas took control of Gaza.
Despite this turbulent history, the hotel is in the process of gradual opening, but early indications suggest that it faces a difficult future. It is still unclear how a treaty will be reached in view of the ongoing sanctions and lack of UN funding.