What is the concept behind Paramount Hotels & Resorts?

ARIDI: We believe that hotels of the future need to offer more than just a place for lodging and dining. So our concept is based on creating a certain lifestyle experience. This lifestyle will introduce the Hollywood experience to our guests, giving them a taste of the glamor of the movie industry. The hotels will have a library of Paramount movies in addition to screening rooms. The hotels could host special Hollywood- related events such as the Oscars and other international film festivals. In some cases, certain films may be released to the hotels prior to being released to the public. Our company plans to invite celebrities to the grand openings of the hotels. So the whole ambiance is Hollywood-related without overburdening the customer with too much theming. This is not a theme hotel and it is very important to emphasize this. The experience is very subtle in that it is available should you wish to enjoy it, but if someone just wants a place that’s comfortable and luxurious, a place to relax and conduct business, that’s also available. As for restaurants, we do plan to team up with celebrity chefs, globally, to ensure that the hotel itself will serve not only as a destination for travelers but as a gastronomical attraction for the local market as well. That’s the idea of the Paramount Hotel, experiencing the glamor of Hollywood, the uniquely creative cuisines and the star treatment.

How many locations are planned for potential openings?

ARIDI: We have at least ten locations in the pipeline, and we will be announcing a few over the next few weeks. We hope to announce a location in Dubai and another one in Qatar. We are currently in serious discussions with hotel developers in many cities around the world. It is a new company and the response has exceeded our expectations; it’s been phenomenal. People were able to relate to what we are trying to do. It’s something unique and luxurious. We will not compromise at any level to ensure that our guests receive the quality they need and to always have their expectations exceeded.

What is your timeline for a first planned opening?

ARIDI: We expect that most hotels will be built from the ground up. Hotels aren’t something you can build in a day or two. Some will take two years and some will take three. Others will be Paramount branded by converting existing hotels. Obviously rebranding will take less time than those that need to be built from scratch.

What geographic locations are being considered?

ARIDI: We would like to be in every major city that is suited for our concept and for what we have in mind. We are considering major hotel destinations and major resort cities. Some hotels would be gateway hotels, other would be resorts, while others could be a combination of both. A good example of this is Dubai hotels, where the hotel itself is not just used for business, but is also a destination for tourism. So it depends on the nature of the hotel and the city. We don’t plan to overcrowd the market because we have to maintain selectivity and exclusivity. We have to protect the identity. Each hotel would be unique, as each film is unique. We would have what defines our look, feel and culture, but at the end of the day we have to take into consideration the local culture and environment. We have to consider the city we’re in and what the market needs. We have to try to creatively incorporate the local identity with what we’re trying to create.

What is Paramount’s involvement in the venture?

ARIDI: We are an official licensee of Paramount Pictures. We work very closely with Paramount Pictures on several fronts, including the usage of the brand, logos, and intellectual property. We must work very closely with them in order for us both to be consistent in our branding. It has been a great working relationship.

What is your general outlook for the tourism market worldwide?

ARIDI: We believe it is starting to pick up again, certain sectors more than others. We have noted that the quickest recovery has been within the luxury segment. There has been a noticeable improvement, from a financial perspective, within luxury hotels and high-end hotels in general. This is most encouraging especially that this phenomenon is being experienced globally. We are very excited about this opportunity and the unique space it will create in the hospitality industry and tourism at large.