x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Hotel companies going big in Dubai in the years ahead

Dubai’s Emaar, Abu Dhabi’s Rotana and New York-listed Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide all announced new properties for Dubai at the Arabian Travel Market yesterday.

Hotel operators and developers are going big on Dubai’s growth from now to 2020.

Dubai’s Emaar, Abu Dhabi’s Rotana and New York-listed Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide all announced new properties for Dubai at the Arabian Travel Market yesterday.

Emaar Hospitality announced the launch of an affordable luxury brand called Manzil, similar to Vida Hotels and Resorts, and geared towards young Arab entrepreneurs from the Gulf region.

It is converting an existing four-star Al Manzil hotel, which is managed by Vida Hotels and Resorts, in the Downtown area. The current property would be closed down on July 1 and reopen on November 1 with 197 renovated rooms. Room rates would start at around Dh1,000.

“Boutique hotels have no competition in this market,” said Philippe Zuber, the chief operating officer at Emaar Hospitality. “There is a huge demand from the new generation for more intimate hotels, different from big hotels with an expansive lobby and several rooms.”

Abu Dhabi’s Rotana will manage five more properties, including two hotel apartments in Dubai, taking its total number of properties in the emirate to 20.

In 2017 it aims to open 280 rooms in two hotels in the Creek area, a 163-room hotel apartment in Al Barsha in 2018, and a 528-room hotel along with a 100-room hotel apartment in the Wafi area expected by 2018.

“Between now and 2020, Rotana will have 10 new hotels in Dubai,” said Omer Kaddouri, the president and chief executive at Rotana. These will include the five already announced.

It is also looking to increase its footprint in the budget hotel segment.

“We want to increase the number of three and four-star hotels in the UAE to 40 per cent from 35 per cent in the next two to three years,” he said. “It is a lack of budget hotels in Dubai that is making [this segment] successful.”

Rotana is also on track to be the first international hotel operator in Iran. Its two five-star hotels will open in the religious city of Mashhad and two in Tehran by 2018.

“But Africa is our big focus area,” Mr Kaddouri said.

Its second property in Sudan is expected by 2019 with 221 rooms in the capital, Khartoum. A 249-room hotel in the Tanzanian capital, Dar es Salaam, is also on track.

“We are in talks to enter Mozambique, Angola and Congo –both Kinshasa and Brazzaville,” Mr Kaddouri said. “These markets are underserved, and they are mineral- rich, which would attract Gulf and regional investors and need new [players].”

Rotana’s first and much-delayed fully-fledged resort on Saadiyat Island is still 30 months away.

International operators such as Starwood also expect to ramp up their portfolio in the UAE.

In the next three years Starwood would add seven more, taking its hotel count in the UAE to 30. Of that, six would be in Dubai, said Neil George, the senior vice president of acquisitions and development for Africa and the Middle East at Starwood.

“We are looking at newer areas such as Dubai World Central airport area, something we were not doing a couple of years ago, as well as at Dubai Design District area,” he said.

The Dubai operator Landmark Hotels and Suites plans to open three properties in Dubai and one in Fujairah by 2018.

The Abu Dhabi hotel owner and operator Bin Ham Group, which opened its Dh700 million French-style Royal Rose Hotel in the capital in March, expects to double its portfolio by 2020 from six properties, with a focus on the budget category.

It is opening a City Seasons property near BurJuman by the end of this year.

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