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The archipelago in the shape of a map of the world is about to get its first development, at a time when many companies have put their projects on hold.
The archipelago in the shape of a map of the world is about to get its first development, at a time when many companies have put their projects on hold.

Seven Tides plans resort on The World

The archipelago in the shape of a map of the world is about to get its first development, at a time when many companies have put their projects on hold.

The World might soon be showing signs of life. The Dubai developer Seven Tides plans to be the first company to start developing its holdings on the man-made archipelago near the Palm Jumeirah. The company owns 10 islands that make up the South America section of The World and plans to start building in the next six months.

If Seven Tides can pull it off, it would be a rare success story for The World project, which has seen many proposed developments falter, and their developers go under, during the global economic meltdown. Seven Tides intends to build chalets on the islands that would be linked logistically to the Royal Amwaj resort that the company is developing on the Palm. "We're hoping to be the first group of islands to commercially start developing," said Michael Scully, the managing director of the hospitality division of Seven Tides. "We have got a number of investors who are looking at partnering us on The World islands."

The Thai-themed Royal Amwaj resort will open in the first quarter of next year, Mr Scully said, after a postponement from its scheduled opening in the last quarter of this year. The World islands are an eight-minute boat ride away from the Royal Amwaj resort, which would serve as a base for logistics for the islands. "It makes it a very, very attractive return on investment," Mr Scully said. He declined to reveal how much had been invested in the islands. "Certainly the value of the islands now is different to what it was six months or a year ago," he said.

"However, we believe that if you develop them in the right way, making them simple and attractive and island-like, our model shows a very positive return on investment. The way we can do that is by not having to invest in very expensive infrastructure, because we have that at the Royal Amwaj." Each island will have between 45 and 55 chalets built on stilts over the water. The islands will be connected via walkways and will have swimming pools and tennis courts. They will be self-sufficient for water and energy, with their own power and water sources on one of the islands, Mr Scully said.

Development would take place in different stages, starting with three of the islands, he said. "As they become profitable and work, we will develop further islands." The Royal Amwaj resort, which will be operated by Movenpick, claims to offer guests the first fully inclusive packages in Dubai, including flights, accommodation, meals, drinks and even some spa treatments in the price of a stay, as it competes with an ever-growing number of five-star hotels in the emirate.

"What we are finding through our research is that under the present economic climate more and more people want to understand what the cost of the holiday is going to be before they start," Mr Scully said. The resort, which was comparable in quality to the likes of the Royal Mirage and Al Qasr in Dubai, was still aiming to attract the high-end tourist, he said. "Fully inclusive used to be perceived in the old days to be more of a downmarket aspect of tourism. However, the likes of destinations such as top five-stars in the Maldives and cruise liners have really promoted the all-inclusive packages, so high-end travellers are far more keen to have fully inclusive packages," Mr Scully said. "The high-end market now is becoming more aware of costs and looking for value as well."

Seven Tides plans to open three other hotels in Dubai with Movenpick next year: at Ibn Battuta and a Movenpick Deira due to open in the first quarter, and Oceana, due to open on the Palm Jumeirah in the second or third quarter. rbundhun@thenational.ae

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