RECOGNISING the immense potential of a market of 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide, the new 242-room Al Meroz Hotel, which soft-opened in Bangkok’s predominantly Muslim enclave of Ramkhamhaeng last November, has initiated efforts to establish its presence at this year’s ITB Berlin to get travel agents in Europe acquainted with Thailand’s first halal property.
“Our target markets are Muslims living in France, Germany and Scandinavia – European countries with significant Muslim communities – as well as Austria and Eastern European countries like Serbia,” said Sanya Saengboon, managing director & general manager of Al Meroz Hotel.
Al Meroz Hotel Bangkok
He said that despite the impressive growth figures involved with the lucrative Muslim travel market, European travel agents had yet to show an eagerness for this niche sector. “I expect Europe’s Muslim outbound market to grow, especially to South-east Asia, as the region is still perceived as an exotic destination,” he added.
The attention on Europe’s Islamic population is also part of the four-star property’s strategy to diversify its current Muslim market sources of Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and domestic travellers from Southern Thailand, Sanya told TTG Asia. Muslim guests currently make up 50 per cent of the hotel’s clientele.
Apart from ITB Berlin, Al Meroz Hotel will also be attending global travel trade shows such as the Arabian Travel Market and World Travel Market this year. Plans to conduct roadshows to the Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan are in the pipeline as well.
The hotel is certified as a Muslim-friendly hospitality provider by the UAE’s Gulf Halal Center. It offers halal restaurants, a women-only floor, separate prayer rooms and a rooftop swimming pool open at different timings for male and female guests. A copy of the Quran, qibla (direction to Mecca), prayer times and mat are also available in the rooms and suites.
Owned by the Thai-Muslim TS Family Group, the halal-friendly environment is part of Al Meroz Hotel’s values and not simply a business decision, said Sanya. A dry hotel is as lively as any other, he insisted, when questioned on the hotel’s alcohol-free policy.
And despite its halal-friendly label, Al Meroz Hotel is able to cater to non-Muslims as well. “We have a good mix of corporate and leisure tourists from Thailand and overseas. Our first few guests are from the non-Muslim Western world and we had many non-Muslim groups from China during the (recent) Lunar New Year period (in February),” commented Sanya.
A grand opening for Al Meroz Hotel has been scheduled for July 2016.
Read more stories from our ITB Berlin TTG Asia Show Daily here.