Traditionally, leisure attractions, such as waterparks, have been developed to support existing hotel resorts in the region. However, with a number of major theme parks under construction in the region, the report identifies an untapped opportunity for developers and investors looking to build hotels in and around these large-scale theme parks to support the destination and capitalise on the constant flow of tourists.

Based on global research, theme park hotels located within the theme park (inner-circle theme park hotels) trade at an average occupancy level of 2 to 10 percentage points higher than city hotels.  Predominantly orientated towards leisure and family guests, these hotels can also attract large MICE groups if their offer is segmented effectively.

Filippo Sona, Head of Hotels at Colliers International MENA said: “Having visitors stay within the vicinity can extend visitors’ length of stay and increase the tendency of repeat visits, which generates significantly larger returns than from theme parks alone.”

The report highlights four guiding principles that underpin the success of world renowned destinations such as Disneyland in the United States and Asia, and Resorts World Sentosa, in Singapore.

  • Proximity  and access are key: As well as proximity to the theme park, accessibility to the city centre will also have a direct effect on the overall destination appeal
  • Avoid over-theming when unnecessary: It is important to be flexible and use ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ theming to manage costs while creating a destination’s signature experience
  • Don’t forget the MICE: Diversifying the segment mix  broadens the destination’s appeal and can soften  the impact of seasonality
  • Target  regional  tourists: Theme park demand is driven by domestic and regional tourists, and it is crucial  to align the design, facilities and theme with Middle Eastern preferences

“Globally theme park hotels demand is primarily driven by leisure guests, especially families from domestic and regional markets. It is crucial to target them effectively. This means larger rooms and more of them, mid and upscale hotels rather than luxury, the right mix of food and beverage outlets and facilities that cater to domestic tastes and preferences and of course, the right brand,” said Sona.

Given the higher  costs associated with developing themed hotels, the report emphasises  the importance of developing a theme which has the maximum  impact on guest experience, and  a minimal impact on construction costs.  

“There is a genuinely untapped opportunity in the region. By observing global theme park hotels, and their success factors, we are confident that these developments can thrive in this region. However, the real winners will be those that pick the right location, broaden their appeal beyond just leisure guests, and control costs by taking a flexible approach to theming. It is only a matter of time before we see a truly world class destination in this segment in the Middle East.”