Sofitel, the French luxury hotel company, plans to open three properties in the UAE by the end of next year.
The first of these, the Sofitel Abu Dhabi Capital Plaza, is expected to open in the fourth quarter of this year on the Corniche.
"It was delayed," said Sami Nasser, the vice president of Sofitel Middle East, Africa and Indian Ocean. "It's coming before the end of the year - that's for sure."
Sofitel is part of the Accor group, whose other brands include Ibis and Novotel. The company relaunched itself as a luxury brand in 2007, which resulted in its name being removed from some hotels that did not meet its luxury standards, while others were renovated.
Sofitel opened the five-star Dubai Jumeirah Beach hotel on the Palm Jumeirah last year. It plans to follow this with a resort on the Crescent and a hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road near the Burj Khalifa towards the end of next year.
Many properties planned for the Palm, and throughout Dubai, by various operators and developers have been delayed or scrapped amid the broader financial downturn. However, there has been a revival of activity on the man-made island, with the One&Only The Palm and the Jumeirah Zabeel Sarayopening in the past six months.
Sofitel is expanding rapidly across the Middle East. The company opened a property in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, last year, and is scheduled to open the historic Legend Cataract hotel in Aswan, Egypt, this year following its renovation. In February, Sofitel opened a hotel in Bahrain in the midst of widespread protests.
"Bahrain is a challenge," Mr Nasser said, adding that occupancy levels across Bahrain were about 20 per cent.
Many new hotels are scheduled to open in Abu Dhabi towards the end of the year, including the Jumeirah Etihad Towers, a Rocco Forte property and the Hyatt Capital Gate. Mr Nasser said he was confident the Capital Plaza would be successful.
"There's still a market there," he said, adding that the hotel would largely attract corporate business.
Data from STR Global show that hotel occupancy levels in Abu Dhabi increased by 13 per cent to 71.2 per cent in March compared with the same month last year. However, room rates fell 21.3 per cent to US$176.72 (Dh649).
Mr Nasser said Sofitel was also in discussions to manage a property on Saadiyat Island.