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The former Rocco Forte hotel in Abu Dhabi will rise again as a Hilton hotel.
The former Rocco Forte hotel in Abu Dhabi will rise again as a Hilton hotel.

Abu Dhabi's former Rocco Forte to reopen as a Hilton hotel

Hilton Worldwide is to take over the management of the former Rocco Forte Hotel after the luxury European brand walked away from the capital earlier this year.

Hilton Worldwide is to take over the management of the former Rocco Forte Hotel in the capital.

The luxury European operator Rocco Forte exited the Abu Dhabi hotel earlier this year because the location was not right for the brand, a senior executive with the company told The Nationalthis month.

The distinctive wavy, green glass building on Airport Road has been known as the Abu Dhabi Al Maqta hotel since, but will reopen as Hilton Abu Dhabi Capital Grand this summer.

The news will come as a surprise to some as Starwood Hotels and Resorts had been rumoured to take over the property and run it under the Sheraton brand.

"We are delighted to have signed such a prestigious deal for this unique, quality hotel in Abu Dhabi and in an emerging business community," said Rudi Jagersbacher, the president of Hilton Worldwide Middle East and Africa.

The hotel will undergo a series of brand changes before joining the Hilton portfolio, the company said.

Sheikh Hamed bin Ahmed, the group managing director of owner Al Farida Investment Company, said the company was "delighted to bring the enviable reputation and quality service standards enjoyed by Hilton Worldwide to this outstanding hotel".

The 281-room hotel was originally scheduled to be up and running in 2009, but it did not open its doors until 2011.

It was expected to have a 10,000 square metre shopping area featuring retail brands, restaurants and entertainment venues.

Rocco Forte understood that it would also be located in an area zoned for banks and embassies, according to the brand managing director Richard Power.

"It looked, from all we were seeing at the time, and to others too, that it was a good location," Mr Power said.

"The reality was that none of those developments have materialised and none of them can be seen on the horizon. So those areas which are very much seen as our core markets for our high-end luxury travellers just didn't exist in enough volume."

The property was Rocco Forte's first foray into the Middle East but it is currently building a hotel in Jeddah, which is due to open in a year's time.

 

gduncan@thenational.ae

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