AccorHotels to be first international chain to open in Iran since 1979

French group in deal with local firm to open two properties in Tehran

PHOTO: The Novotel IKIA and ibis IKIA hotels are scheduled to open next month. Credit: Shutterstock

France’s AccorHotels has signed with Iran’s Aria Ziggurat to open two properties in Tehran, making it the first international hospitality chain to launch its brands in the country since 1979.

The hotels will be within existing properties owned by the Aria Ziggurat Tourism Development Company, a subsidiary of the Iran Cultural Heritage and Tourism Investment Group (SEMEGA). Those properties will be rebranded as the Novotel IKIA and ibis IKIA, and managed by AccorHotels.

The hotels are connected to the main terminal of the Imam Khomeini International Airport, and are scheduled to open next month, AccorHotels said in a statement.

The new agreement will give the hospitality group a foothold in Iran, which is home to almost 80 million people, said Sébastien Bazin, AccorHotels’ Chairman and CEO.

Although international hotel groups like InterContinental, Hyatt and Hilton were operating in Iran prior to 1979, operations ground to a halt after the revolution that ushered in the Islamic republic.

More recently, the tourism industry in Iran has particularly suffered as Iran became more internationally isolated over its nuclear programme and sanctions imposed by the United States and Europe.

Western firms – and automakers in particular – are now eyeing the Iranian market, after a nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers in July raised the prospect of banking and trade sanctions on the country being lifted, likely around the end of 2015.

The upcoming 296-room Novotel IKIA and 196-room ibis IKIA will be a 45-minute drive from downtown Tehran. The hotels will be equipped with meeting rooms and convention venues, as well as wellness facilities including spas, fitness centres and swimming pools.

“We believe the expertise of international hospitality groups will upgrade local standards and existing levels of service in our hotels, and ultimately add value to our business,” said Dr Mehdi Jahangiri, Aria Ziggurat’s Chairman.

“This important agreement with AccorHotels for the management of Novotel and ibis IKIA hotels in Tehran is a prosperous beginning that defines our new offer of hotel service.”

AccorHotels currently manages 71 hotels – with 17,300 rooms – in ten countries in the Middle East, namely the six GCC states, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Yemen.

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