Eager to transform Saudi Arabia’s AlUla into a nature, culture and heritage tourism hotspot, The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) has formed a game-changing alliance with Accor.
This new partnership, signed ahead of AlUla’s official opening as a year-round destination this October, will result in Accor operating an expanded Ashar Resort under the world-respected Banyan Tree brand. A total of 47 new units will be added to the existing property, bringing the resort’s total to 82 high-end villas, complemented by a luxury spa and gourmet F&B options.
The new units will follow a sensitive design in order for them to seamlessly blend into the natural scenery of the Ashar valley, located 15km from the Kingdom’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hegra.
Head of hotels and resorts, Royal Commission for AlUla, Bander M. Alharbi said: “The Ashar Resort forms part of our strategy to create an immersive boutique destination that offers transformative experiences around the year and sets the standard for authentic hospitality.”
The announcement underscores AlUla’s investment potential as Saudi Arabia continues its economic diversification mission, which is part of its Vision 2030 programme. By 2035, RCU expects to welcome two-million visitors annually, creating 38,000 new jobs.
CEO, Royal Commission for AlUla, Amr AlMadani remarked on the development: “This new partnership demonstrates how AlUla’s unique appeal as a cultural, heritage and nature destination fits with Accor’s Banyan Tree brand, which is synonymous with authentically unique experiences. We’re working with the world’s best developers and hotel operators to deliver projects that complement our cultural oasis, as well as benefitting our local community.”
“The partnership agreement with Accor is part of a major series of capital projects and multiple investments made by RCU into 15 plans in AlUla, many of which will be announced in the coming months. This is a clear sign of our confidence in the future strength of the hospitality sector in Saudi Arabia,” AlMadani added.
Meanwhile, chairman and CEO, Accor, Sebastien Bazin declared: “In line with our commitment to grow Accor’s unique portfolio in Saudi Arabia, and as one of the first global hospitality groups to set foot in the Kingdom, we are extremely proud to take part in the development of the historic county of AlUla, thus celebrating the Kingdom’s vast heritage and culture. We are very excited to be working on bringing our partner brand Banyan Tree’s unique sanctuary offering to the Ashar Resort.”
Ashar valley, where Ashar Resort is located, is home to the Maraya Hall. This is a multi-purpose exhibition, conference and entertainment venue, and the largest mirrored structure in the world, which hosts cultural events, business gatherings and conferences, some of which have included the Hegra Conference for Nobel Laureates and global figures such as Andrea Bocelli, Majida Al Roumi and Lionel Richie.