More Turkish Luxury Brands Head to Erbil

Divan Hotels, a Turkish luxury brand, has launched operations in Erbil, northern Iraq, joining leading Turkish retailer Beymen in taking advantage of the expanding market. The Erbil Divan aims to make $50 million in profits in its first year, while Beymen is hoping for $10 million. Sukru Andac reports.

al-monitor Kurdish men work on the construction site of a big hotel in Arbil. Photo by REUTERS/Azad Lashkari.

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Feb 8, 2013

Divan Hotels, a 56-year-old Turkish hotel brand owned by Koc Holding, has launched its first ever foreign operation in Erbil, northern Iraq, with the opening of a hotel that exceeds the 5-star rating. Divan, which has set for itself a target of 26 hotels by 2016, anticipates that it will next invest in Baku and Budapest.

The prime minister of northern Iraqi Kurdistan region, Necirvan Barzani, presided over the opening ceremony of the 228-room hotel.

Tamer Hasimoglu, general manager of Koc Holding's tourism, food and retail operations division, said that in addition to the Divan brand, the firm is planning to open a chain of Divan Express business hotels in leading global cities and in Turkey. The primary targets are Turkey's regional neighbors, said Hasimoglu.

When asked why the brand is making such a big investment in Erbil, Hasimoglu said: “It has a population of two million and it is becoming an important commercial center. Three Turkish airlines have 20 flights a week to Erbil, and 16 other airlines serve the city as well.”

International hotel chains like Kempinski, Marriott, Swiss Hotels and Sheraton are also currently investing in Erbil. While two have already started construction, it will take them five years to complete operations.

Rooms at Divan Hotel start at $255, and the Erbil hotel hopes for $50 million in revenues over the first year. General Manager of the Divan Hotels Chain Marcos Bekhit said that, at the moment, room prices are lower than they are in Istanbul but will rise in time. The hotel’s sushi restaurant is the first of its kind in Erbil and is already very popular, noted Hasimoglu.

The hotel also houses a duty-free shop for foreigners. Leading Turkish retailer Beymen, which markets leading global brands, opened an outlet in the hotel ballroom. In 10 days, it ran out of its $7,000 handbags and $5,000 gowns. Beymen is hoping for $10 million in revenue for its first year of operations. 

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