The W Hotel at Abu Dhabi's Al Bateen Wharf, which had announced it would open its doors this year, is still four years away, its parent group Starwood said yesterday.
"It is a complex project with residential, office, retail and family spaces," said Guido de Wilde, the senior vice president and regional director of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Middle East in Dubai.
The Abu Dhabi-based Belbadi Enterprises would develop the luxury property.
"Over 95 per cent of our hotels worldwide are owned by investors," said Frits van Paasschen, the chief executive of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide. Those include sovereign wealth funds, ultra high net worth individuals and financial institutions.
While Mr de Wilde acknowledged that while there were some market pressures from oversupply, especially in the luxury segment, occupancy rates were holding up in the capital.
The rate was close to 70 per cent, while in Dubai it was 84 per cent. There was an effort from the Government to drive new events into Abu Dhabi along with new conferences, he said. The St Regis Hotel in Abu Dhabi, close to Jumeirah Etihad Towers, would open in August, adding 280 rooms.
W Hotel in Abu Dhabi was now scheduled to open four years down the line, instead of 2013, he said.
There are currently 12 hotels planned for the Emirates, with six in Dubai adding 2,880 rooms. That includes two W Hotels in Dubai - one on Palm Jumeirah, scheduled to open in 2016, and the other on Sheikh Zayed Road in 2017. A Le Méridien would open near Dubai airport in the first quarter of 2014.
"The dynamics of this region is extremely strong," said Mr de Wilde. Even in 2009 and 2010 during the economic downturn, he said, the hotel chain registered 82 per cent occupancy in Dubai.
As a country, the UAE is ranked 28th globally when it comes to competitiveness in the travel and tourism industry in the region, according to the 2013 World Economic Forum Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report.
But there had been some other delays for Starwood, apart from W Hotel in Abu Dhabi. The hotel chain announced in 2007 that a 350-room W Hotel would be built in Dubai. The property, planned for Dubai Festival City was scheduled for 2008.
Listed on the New York Stock Exchange, Starwood announced that it would open 50 hotels in the next five years in Middle East and Africa (MEA) region. Of this number, 20 were expected to open by the end of 2015. Starwood currently has 82 hotels in MEA, including 21 in the UAE and 14 in Dubai. The majority are operated under Starwood's Sheraton and Le Méridien brands.
While the hotel chain is increasing its portfolio, two of its luxury-end brands W and Element, are not yet operating in the UAE. Element would debut in the Arabian Gulf with a hotel in Muscat in 2016.
"In the last five years we have doubled our luxury footprint with the Luxury Collection, St Regis and W Hotels," said Mr van Paasschen, referring to the Middle East region. "There is an increasing demand for luxury."
Each of their Middle East guests spends on average US$521 (Dh1,913) per stay, "which is well above our global average", Mr de Wilde said. Starwood has nine brands: St Regis, The Luxury Collection, W, Westin, Le Méridien, Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft, and Element.
Belbadi Enterprises has interests in development, construction, project management, joinery, carpentry, information technology, health, environment, energy, oil and gas, fashion, trading and education.