April 2007

Istithmar Hotels and easyHotelconfirm launch plans for completely new hotels concept India to be one of the largest global markets for easyHotel.com properties.

Mumbai, India: Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the serial entrepreneur who revolutionised air travel in Europe with low-cost carrier easyJet, brought a splash of orange to Mumbai today, as he outlined plans for India to become one of the largest single markets in the world for easyHotel.com properties.

Speaking at a press conference held jointly with Joe Sita, the chief executive of Istithmar Hotels, which will construct and operate easyHotel.com properties in the Middle East, the Levant, North Africa, India and Pakistan, Stelios gave the first details of the chain’s expansion plans for India

easyHotel.com is a completely new concept for hotels in the sub-continent. Based on a model already launched in Europe, easyHotel.com provides safe, clean, private rooms, with en suite facilities at the best possible price and at a fraction of the cost of competitors.

Istithmar Hotels is investing more than US$ 400 million over the next five years, to build 38 easyHotel.com properties in 17 countries, with six properties planned for India alone.

Joe Sita, chief executive of Istithmar Hotels, said:

"We are delighted to be working with Stelios to expand the easyHotel.com brand. The man who brought low-cost air travel to millions is now bringing low-cost hotel accommodation to the world."

"Last month, we broke ground on the first of our easyHotel.com properties, in Dubai, and we are now accelerating our development plans across the region."

"India will be an important market for easyHotel.com properties, with six hotels currently planned over the next five years."

Stelios added: "It is clear that India is awash with opportunity and we have big plans for the easyHotel.com brand here. It’s great to have the chance to see, on the ground, the scale of the opportunity here."

"We will expect to confirm timings and sites over the coming months, as we develop our plans."

The pair were speaking at a press briefing in advance of the HICSA 2007 conference, at which both were appearing.

They also unveiled details of the unique design for easyHotel.com rooms. In a world first, rooms will be pre-fabricated at a single manufacturing site as self-contained units, which are then constructed into a hotel using a 'stack, connect and stick' building concept.

This sees units stacked on top of each other, connected with pre-fabricated corridor and lift units, and stuck onto a concrete platform. A 200-room hotel will be able to open within 20 weeks of the concrete platform being completed.

Each room follows a common design which ensures optimum use of space, while providing guests with what they want most.

Joe Sita said: "Over the past 10 months, we have invested more than US$ 2.5 million in researching, designing and refining the core room concept. In approximately 15 square metres, each room provides everything that the guest will want - a well-sprung bed, a high pressure shower unit, a work cubicle, and an activity wall that includes flat screen television and broadband internet."

"The core concept is to deliver an absolutely first class 'sleep and shower' experience at an affordable price. Our research showed that this, ahead of anything else, is what our guests want from a budget hotel room."

"From there, it is all about choice. We're not going to force guests to pay for things they don't want. Instead, we're going to charge the lowest possible room rates, and then let guests choose which additional extras they want - and want to pay for - whether that is television, internet connection or so on."

"We won't announce pricing until we're ready to open for business. But if I was opening this easyHotel.com property tomorrow, I'd expect rooms to start around US per night."

The rooms, designed by leading international architects Harper Downie, are to be assembled at a single manufacturing plant, described as "the world's first hotel room assembly line". Each room is delivered to the hotel site fully assembled, with all internal elements included - even down to sheets and towels. In total, more than 3,800 rooms will be constructed for the 38 easyHotel.com properties being built across the region.

Unveiling the new room designs, Stelios said: "It was important to us to find a partner who would add to the easyHotel.com concept. With these new rooms, Istithmar Hotels has done that. I'm looking forward to seeing them roll out around the world."

The first easyHotel.com developed by Istithmar Hotels, the easyHotel.com Dubai Al Karama, is expected to open in early 2008, following a construction period of only eight months, and will have 195 rooms in a six-storey structure.

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