x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Ritz-Carlton, which has 10 properties in the region including two in Dubai and one in Abu Dhabi, is interested in expanding further in the Emirates, according to a senior executive with the company.

The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal. Ritz-Carlton is interested in opening more hotels in the UAE. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National
The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal. Ritz-Carlton is interested in opening more hotels in the UAE. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National

Ritz-Carlton is interested in expanding further in the Emirates, according to a senior executive with the company.

The chain currently has 10 properties in the region, including two in Dubai and one in Abu Dhabi, which it opened in March.

The new Abu Dhabi property has done “extremely well” since opening in March, said Pascal Duchauffour. It is expected to achieve occupancy of 60 to 65 per cent, which is average for the capital, by the fourth quarter.

“It was a good entry into the market and we see now demand growing for the rest of the year and a very big interest for next year in terms of clients who would like to organise larger events. We are very happy with what we have achieved so far in this new destination for us,” said Mr Duchauffour.

The brand is not actively looking for new projects in Dubai, but if anything interesting came up it would look at it, while Abu Dhabi could become home to a second Ritz-Carlton. However, he ruled out entering any other emirates in the foreseeable future.

“The area we would be looking at in the UAE would definitely be Dubai opportunistically and Abu Dhabi a resort, a purely on the water project we think would be very interesting,” said Mr Duchauffour.

“We wouldn’t be necessarily looking at other emirates today, only because our clients are not asking for us to be in those destinations.”

Elsewhere in the region, Ritz-Carlton will add another five properties in North Africa over the next 18 to 24 months, with three new- build properties in Morocco, one in Tunisia and a conversion in Cairo.

Ongoing violence in Cairo may delay the opening of its property there, the takeover of the Nile Hilton. But it has done nothing to dent the chain’s confidence in the country’s future, said Pascal Duchauffour, area vice president for Europe and the Middle East.

“When we build hotels we build them for a 30 or 40 years period and we understand that within that time frame there will be ups and downs and there will be some challenges,” he said.

“In Cairo we have slowed down the construction but this hotel could potentially be delayed by six months because of what has happened. But in the long term we believe that Tunisia is a great destination. We believe that Egypt, once recovered, will be as it used to be, a great tourist destination, a great business location.”

Ritz-Carlton plans to add 20 hotels through to 2016, bringing the total number of properties in its portfolio to 100.

Five new Ritz-Carlton hotels are scheduled to open in the last quarter of this year, including The Ritz-Carlton Chengdu and The Ritz-Carlton Tianjin in China, The Ritz-Carlton Aruba, The Ritz-Carlton Almaty in Kazakhstan and The Ritz-Carlton Bangalore in India.

“The robust pipeline of hotel projects indicates a continued strong demand for Ritz-Carlton products and services,” said Herve Humler, the president and chief operations officer.

“Across the globe, and especially in Asia and the Middle East, we will be the undisputed top-tier luxury hospitality brand by 2016,” he added.

gduncan@thenational.ae