Inside Makarem: The brand for religious tourism

Inside Makarem: The brand for religious tourism
Published: 11 July 2019 - 6:30 a.m.
By: Mahak Manan

In line with Saudi Vision 2030, Dur Hospitality plans to strengthen the Makarem brand in Makkah and Madina to 5000 rooms in 2023 and 10,000 rooms in 2028.

Makarem’s current portfolio under operation consists of 1,415 rooms, with another 1,176 in the pipeline, following the recent signings of Makarem Sagryah and Makarem Jabal Al-Kaaba.

The thought behind relaunching Makarem was to create a brand that is solely dedicated to religious tourism, according to the president of hotel operations at Dur Hospitality, Hassan Ahdab.

Speaking with Hotelier Middle East, Ahdab said: “No other hotel was personalising the pilgrim’s journey and we found the opportunity to capitalise on that.

“It is our duty to cater to this market. The current supply lacks the care and attention our industry can dedicate to an individual’s pilgrimage.”

Dur Hospitality appointed Landor, an American branding consultant to lead the relaunch of Makarem. Along with SID, a Bahraini design company and Landor, Dur revamped the look, feel and brand standards of Makarem.

The one thought that led the conceptualisation of Makarem’s guidelines was the journey of a pilgrim, according to Ahdab.

Hajj and Umrah is a religious obligation that every Muslim has to complete once in their lifetime, this is a special moment, Ahdab points out. Dur Hospitality’s aim was to make that journey hassle-free.

As such, the rooms at Makarem properties are designed to host large groups of people with up to five beds in one room.

“Pilgrims usually travel in groups and we have designed the room in a way that gives each of them semi-privacy. We redesigned the bathroom to be used by more than one person at the same time because every pilgrim needs to perform Wudu [ablution] before prayers,” Ahdab explained.

“We did not want the room to be crowded so we created spaces under the bed to keep suitcases and personal belongings. Each pilgrim also gets their own separate wardrobe.”

Similar to a traditional concierge, every Makarem property houses a ‘spiritual concierge’, with the aim to guide people how to perform the pilgrimage, when to visit the mosques, religious obligations that need to be fulfilled before going and prayers to be performed.

Every staff member, both front of house and back of house is trained under ‘My Journey’ a detailed program developed by Dur on the pilgrimage, in order to guide guests whenever required. The housekeeping staff are also trained to turn around the room in a short span of time in order to respect the privacy of strangers who may be living in the same room.

Furthermore, the laundry department is trained to complete the cleaning process of a white thobe, the common attire for men during pilgrimage, in a short span of time.

The Makarem brand is rated between four to five-star and is categorised in the upper upscale segment, according to Ahdab.

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