x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Banyan Tree at odds with Meydan over racecourse hotel

A Dubai property developer is in dispute over an agreement to manage a luxury hotel and resort at the new Dh10bn Meydan Racecourse in Dubai.

The Singapore-based hotel operator Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts is locked in a dispute with Meydan, a Dubai property developer, over an agreement to manage a luxury hotel and resort at the new Dh10 billion (US$2.72bn) Meydan Racecourse in Dubai. Details of the dispute have not yet been revealed but Jumeirah Group, the hotel operator that manages the Burj Al Arab and is a subsidiary of Dubai Holding, yesterday said it had taken over "the set-up and the initial operation of The Meydan".

The Jumeirah Group said: "This involves sharing our expertise to assist the hotel with its pre-opening plans in advance of the official launch." Meydan declined to comment. In October 2007, the developer announced that it had appointed Banyan Tree to manage a 230-room hotel, The Meydan, and a 77-villa resort, known as Banyan Tree Meydan, as part of the racecourse development. The racecourse opened two weeks ago, with the hotel scheduled to open next month.

Banyan Tree said it had "initiated arbitration proceedings against Meydan LLC, Meydan Group LLC and Meydan City Corporation for various breaches of the hotel management agreement for The Meydan and the Villa management agreement for Banyan Tree Meydan". This comes just months after Banyan Tree's Angsana Dubai hotel closed as the owner, Damas, whose former chief executive admitted to a number of unapproved deals, decided to the sell the building.

Banyan Tree said last September that it agreed to "amicably terminate the management contract" with Damas. At the time, a spokeswoman for the hotel operator said it remained "confident of the long-term prospects of the GCC region and its potential to attract business and leisure travellers. We will continue to explore options to re-establish ourselves here where opportunities avail themselves." Back then, Banyan Tree still expected The Meydan hotel to open under Banyan Tree this year.

The Meydan Racecourse has a capacity of 60,000 people for horse races. The grandstand has a rooftop pool overlooking the racecourse. The complex also has a museum. @Email:rbundhun@thenational.ae