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World's tallest hotel in Dubai is only the start for JW Marriott

JW Marriott is set to double the number of hotels it operates in the Middle East and Africa over the next five years as the hotelier embarks on a major expansion around the globe.

JW Marriott is set to double the number of hotels it operates in the Middle East and Africa over the next five years as the hotelier embarks on a major expansion around the globe.

Opening 24 hotels in the next three years, JW Marriott will increase its properties from 55 to 79 in 28 countries and will open four additional properties in the Middle East in addition to the three it already operates.

The JW Marriott Marquis in Dubai is set to open as the world's tallest hotel in the final quarter of this year.

"We have several hotels in the pipeline," said Mitzi Gaskins, a global brand manager for JW Marriott, part of Marriott International.

"We have 23 to 25 hotels that are in the [development] process … We are very excited about our growth."

The new two-tower Dubai Marriott Marquis, owned by Emirates Airline and located on Sheikh Zayed Road, will be 355 metres in height and eventually have more than 1,600 rooms.

The first tower will be opened this year, with the second scheduled to launch at the end of 2014 or in 2015. The hotel is currently in the process of hiring 1,000 staff.

"The Middle East and Africa has a fairly aggressive growth profile," said Rupprecht Queitsch, the general manger of the hotel.

"We will double inventory in the Middle East and Africa." Along with its Dubai properties, JW Marriott currently operates hotels in Cairo and Kuwait City and has plans to open further venues in Libya, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia over the next four years.

Mr Queitsch said he hoped to see occupancy in the Dubai Marriott Marquis at about 80 per cent within two years as the hotel sought to attract business and convention travellers. "This is a good market," he said. "We are obviously striving to that. We are opening up with 800 rooms. Filling them on day one is not reasonable." About 4,500 guest rooms are expected to be completed this year in Dubai, according to Jones Lang LaSalle, a property brokers.

Major projects include the Al Khor Rayhaan in Al Ghurair City, the Fairmont The Palm and the Conrad Sheikh Zayed Road.

Jones Lang LaSalle estimates occupancy rates in the first five months of the year increased by 4 per cent over the same period a year ago, hitting 83 per cent throughout Dubai. Mr Queitsch added the growth forecast in Dubai's economy and the expansion of the international airport would ensure the hospitality industry in the emirate remained buoyant. "I think there's still more to come," he said.

At 333 metres in height, Rotana's Rose Rayhaan, also located along Sheikh Zayed Road, is currently the world's tallest building used purely as a hotel.

As well as being the tallest hotel, the JW Marriott Marquis will also become Dubai's biggest hotel by number of rooms.

rjones@thenational.ae

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