A third five-star hotel will open its doors on Abu Dhabi's Saadiyat Island as chain operator Rotana says its flagship resort project is now "back on track".
Sitting between the St Regis and the Park Hyatt hotels on a nine-kilometre stretch of beach, the Saadiyat Rotana Resort will have 354 rooms, 13 private beach villas, and is scheduled to open by 2015.
That is the year the Dh2.4 billion Louvre Abu Dhabi is also scheduled to be completed.
The timeline for the luxury island and its museums has faced delays because of the global economic downturn.
But it has picked up momentum this year, especially since the construction contract for the Louvre was awarded to Arabtec and building work began.
Rotana's plans were two years behind schedule, said the co-founder and chief executive Selim El Zyr. But the design team was now in place, final touches were being made to the plans and construction would start in the next three to four months.
The property is Rotana's first full-scale resort in Abu Dhabi catering to tourists. The chain has other hotels in the capital's city centre but they are aimed more at a corporate clientele.
"The Saadiyat resort is pure holiday for bona-fide tourists," Mr El Zyr said. "We are very confident about Rotana Saadiyat's future. The beach is tremendous and it offers the only open sea in Abu Dhabi.
"The location as well as the way the whole island is being developed with the Louvre and the other museums and the shops is fantastic. The project is very high-end and Saadiyat has tremendous potential. It really is the future of tourism in Abu Dhabi."
The hotel is another piece in the jigsaw that is taking shape on Saadiyat Island. A new public beach next to the Park Hyatt has opened and the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) recently put plots of land up for sale to create a new marina district next to the planned New York University Abu Dhabi campus, slated to open next year.
Construction on an upscale mall - The District - is also due to begin next year with more than 550 stores planned.
The ambitious Saadiyat Island project includes the Louvre, Guggenheim and Zayed National Museum and The District will form a triangle of shops, restaurants and entertainment between the three.
"The vision of Saadiyat is coming to life as new projects are being realised," said Ali Al Hammadi, TDIC's deputy managing director. "Saadiyat is en route to becoming a world-class tourism destination which will support the emirate's hospitality sector."
Today the first tenant to set up shop at the St Regis hotel's retail development, dubbed The Collection, also opened with Spinneys now serving residents living in the villas and apartments on the island.
A 2007 survey carried out by The Wall Street Journal showed that the international travel industry envisions Saadiyat becoming one of the world's 10 trendiest destinations.