W Hotels is planning to open one of its trendy lodgings in Abu Dhabi while its long-planned outlet for Dubai is on hold, the chain's operator said yesterday. The W Abu Dhabi is expected to open at Al Bateen Wharf in 2013, said Guido De Wilde, the vice president and regional director for the Middle East at Starwood Hotels and Resorts. Starwood is the US company that runs the W brand.
Belbadi, an Abu Dhabi-based company, will develop the luxury property in the capital. Three years ago it was announced that a 350-room W Hotel would be built in Dubai. The property, planned for Dubai Festival City, was scheduled to open in 2008 but is yet to be built. Al-Futtaim Group is the developer of the project. But Mr De Wilde said the Dubai W would go ahead. "The one in Dubai is alive but it's on hold," he said. "We are just waiting for the developer to get started. It is still planned It's all ready to go. It's a matter of time. It has not been shelved."
Mr De Wilde said the Dubai hotel was unlikely to open by 2013, declining to give reasons for the delay. The Dubai W is not alone. Thirteen per cent of UAE hotel projects have been put on hold, while 5 per cent have been cancelled, according to research by Viability. The W Hotel in Abu Dhabi will be the first under the brand in the UAE, according to Starwood. It will have 350 rooms, including 25 suites and two presidential suites, a spa, three restaurants, a lounge and a rooftop nightclub.
"W Abu Dhabi will be a prime catalyst to enhance the delicate transformation from history to modern lifestyle," said George Papagrigorakis, the board director of Belbadi and the managing director of Bateen Wharf Properties. The Al Bateen Wharf area is being redeveloped by Abu Dhabi's Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC). "Tradition, heritage and prime location within the city make Al Bateen Wharf an important part of our hospitality growth strategy for supporting Abu Dhabi as it becomes an international tourism destination," said Lee Tabler, the chief executive of TDIC.
Starwood operates about 50 hotels in the Middle East under seven brands, with more than 20 hotels in the UAE. "I think W complements other brands we have and other luxury brands that are in Abu Dhabi," Mr De Wilde said. "We do the feasibility and the due diligence. We are analysing the market, so if we didn't see the potential, we would take a different decision." Starwood's planned St Regis hotel in Business Bay in Dubai was also on hold, he said.
In Abu Dhabi, the company has two St Regis hotels and a Westin at the Abu Dhabi golf club under construction. A Four Seasons hotel, also due to be developed at Dubai Festival City by Al-Futtaim, has yet to be built and Four Seasons recently said it was in talks with other developers in Dubai. Al-Futtaim declined to comment. @Email:email@example.com