Owner's den with Saad Audeh of Camp­bell Gray Ho­tels

Hospitality News Middle East - - CONTENTS -

Saad Audeh, chair­man of Camp­bell Gray Ho­tels and a found­ing mem­ber and direc­tor of Audeh Group of Com­pa­nies, traces his jour­ney into the ho­tel busi­ness and of­fers his thoughts on which re­gional mar­kets show po­ten­tial

What are the sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween Camp­bell Gray Ho­tels and the fam­ily busi­ness, Audeh Group of Com­pa­nies?

The Audeh Group has been pro­vid­ing qual­ity prod­ucts and ser­vices within a global trad­ing busi­ness for over 20 years, so we have a strong un­der­stand­ing of how to build re­ward­ing, well-founded part­ner­ships. Camp­bell Gray Ho­tels is com­mit­ted to cre­at­ing and op­er­at­ing in­di­vid­ual and unique lux­ury ho­tels and de­vel­op­ments, so we both share the same pas­sion to cre­ate the best, whilst pro­vid­ing the high­est pos­si­ble stan­dards of ser­vice and com­mit­ment to our cus­tomers and clients.

Can you tell us how you came to be in the hos­pi­tal­ity busi­ness and in the Jor­da­nian mar­ket in par­tic­u­lar?

Hav­ing trav­eled ex­ten­sively across the world and stayed at nu­mer­ous ho­tels, I was tired of the cor­po­rate chains of ‘cookie-cut­ter’ ho­tels. I re­al­ized that many of to­day's trav­el­ers, whether busi­ness or leisure, wanted a ho­tel that sim­ply made them feel spe­cial and de­liv­ered great ser­vice and ac­com­mo­da­tion. This in­spired me to look fur­ther into the hos­pi­tal­ity busi­ness. The Jor­da­nian prop­erty mar­ket has been booming dur­ing the past few years, dis­play­ing in­ter­na­tional stan­dards of lux­ury liv­ing. When I saw the pace at which Ab­dali, the new down­town lo­ca­tion, was de­vel­op­ing, I could im­me­di­ately sense its tremen­dous am­bi­tion and po­ten­tial. We, as a fam­ily, knew straight­away that we wanted to be part of this new story in Am­man and, at the same time, pro­mote and en­hance our home­land. The over­all busi­ness at­mos­phere is very pos­i­tive, mak­ing it the ideal time for any con­sumer to be part of this op­por­tu­nity, which is how Camp­bell Gray Liv­ing Am­man came to be born.

What de­tails can you share about the USD 5 bil­lion Ab­dali real es­tate de­vel­op­ment project in Am­man?

The Ab­dali project was in­au­gu­rated in 2014 by King Ab­dul­lah II of Jor­dan and is the largest na­tional mixed-use de­vel­op­ment project, in the heart of the Jor­da­nian cap­i­tal. It cov­ers 384,000 square me­ters of land and com­prises a to­tal area of over 1.8 mil­lion square me­ters. The project prom­ises to at­tract in­vestors from many re­gional and in­ter­na­tional busi­nesses. To sum­ma­rize, Camp­bell Gray Liv­ing Am­man is a mixed-use de­vel­op­ment for the 21st cen­tury. It of­fers 78 de­signer res­i­dences, with a choice of one, two or three be­d­rooms, as well as 24 ser­viced ho­tel apart­ments, premium

Grow­ing num­bers of de­vel­op­ers are tap­ping into branded res­i­dences; man­aged, ser­viced and branded is the way for­ward for the re­gion

of­fice space, ser­viced of­fices, and din­ing and bou­tique re­tail space. This area will be fur­ther com­ple­mented by the ar­rival of Camp­bell Gray Am­man Ho­tel, which is sched­uled to open in 2020.It will be a des­ti­na­tion in it­self, pro­vid­ing res­i­dents, ten­ants and vis­i­tors with the op­por­tu­nity to live a life of lux­ury in one of the most his­toric cities in the world.

How did you con­nect with Camp­bell Gray Ho­tels and how did it be­come part of the Audeh Group?

Our foray into ho­tels was by chance! We started off with the res­i­den­tial build­ing in Am­man – the four plots – of res­i­dences and of­fices, and then the sec­ond plot be­came avail­able two years into the de­vel­op­ment. That’s when we de­cided to in­clude the ho­tel. We rec­og­nized that we would need to work with a big ho­tel op­er­a­tor be­cause at this stage, we didn’t know enough about the ho­tel busi­ness, but we also knew that we wanted to be treated like part­ners, and not just another client. Dur­ing this time, I was trav­el­ing to Beirut and a friend of mine told me about a great ho­tel - Le Gray, Beirut – with a re­ally good col­lec­tion of wine, where we could have a ci­gar on the roof ter­race af­ter­ward. I thought, ‘This sounds great, I’ll stay there next time.’a cou­ple of weeks later, that’s what I did and

I was re­ally im­pressed. So, I did a Google search to find out who was be­hind the ho­tel and came across Gor­don Camp­bell Gray. Then, as I was check­ing out, I thanked the per­son at the front desk, telling them that I’d had a great stay, and ask­ing if they could give my com­pli­ments to Gor­don Camp­bell Gray. I added that if he was around, I’d love to say a few words and to my sur­prise, I was told he was ac­tu­ally there. And that’s how Gor­don and I met up to dis­cuss the pos­si­bil­ity of Camp­bell Gray Ho­tels brand­ing and op­er­at­ing the Am­man de­vel­op­ment. Sev­eral trips later, Camp­bell Gray Liv­ing Am­man was born and, shortly af­ter, I saw the po­ten­tial to ex­pand our port­fo­lio into the ser­vice and hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try. Camp­bell Gray Ho­tels is now part of the Audeh Group of com­pa­nies. We now have six ho­tels, af­ter start­ing out with one, three years ago. I think Gor­don and I are very much ‘ying’ and ‘yang’; we com­ple­ment each other very well!

What are the dis­tinc­tive fea­tures of Camp­bell Gray Liv­ing?

The res­i­dences at Camp­bell Gray Liv­ing Am­man have been de­signed by the renowned, London-based Martin Brud­nizki De­sign Stu­dio and are amongst the most stylish in the re­gion. Gor­don Camp­bell Gray has also over­seen the de­sign to add the in­stantly rec­og­niz­able stylish flair found in their prop­er­ties world­wide. The apart­ments are de­signed to de­liver com­fort, con­tem­po­rary liv­ing and con­ve­nience, with an ac­cent on el­e­gance, whilst pro­vid­ing ex­clu­sive and unique ad­di­tional life­style ser­vices for res­i­dents. When walk­ing into each apart­ment, the open-plan kitchen, din­ing and sit­ting ar­eas blend seam­lessly into the ter­race, pro­vid­ing own­ers with the abil­ity to en­joy the res­i­dences year-round. We are also very proud that the prop­erty won three awards at the In­ter­na­tional Prop­erty Award Africa & Ara­bia in three cat­e­gories last year: In­te­rior De­sign, Ar­chi­tec­ture and Mixed-use.

You are known to have an in­ter­est in eco­log­i­cal prod­ucts. What are your lat­est ini­tia­tives in this area?

We be­lieve in us­ing eco­log­i­cal prod­ucts and eco-friendly tech­nol­ogy in our pro­jects. When it comes to re­new­able en­ergy or adopt­ing eco en­ergy, there is al­ways a premium to pay; how­ever, over time, th­ese nat­u­ral re­sources are prov­ing to be in­creas­ingly ef­fi­cient, with the re­sult that com­po­nents such as so­lar pan­els and bat­tery stor­ers are be­com­ing more af­ford­able. I’m very keen to build green ho­tels. Con­struc­tion-wise and ma­te­rial-wise, we work with many nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als al­ready, so it won’t be long be­fore we go com­pletely green.

How do you as­sess the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try in the MENA re­gion and which mar­kets do you re­gard as the most at­trac­tive?

Grow­ing num­bers of de­vel­op­ers are tap­ping into branded res­i­dences; man­aged, ser­viced and branded is the way for­ward for the re­gion. We have been study­ing the GCC mar­ket for a while now and re­cently an­nounced the launch of the ho­tel prop­erty: ‘The Mer­chant House’ in Manama, Bahrain. With an ideal lo­ca­tion and beau­ti­ful tra­di­tional build­ing, The Mer­chant House is go­ing to be a real gem. We are keen to have a pres­ence in the re­gion, es­pe­cially in the UAE and Saudi Ara­bia, and al­ready have pro­jects in the pipeline.

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