x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Jumeirah weighs hotel on Saadiyat

Jumeirah is gearing up for its first hotel opening in Abu Dhabi, called Jumeirah Etihad Towers.

The Jumeirah Etihad Towers are due to open by September. The Jumeirah Group is planning to open more hotels in the capital.
The Jumeirah Etihad Towers are due to open by September. The Jumeirah Group is planning to open more hotels in the capital.

Jumeirah Group is eyeing Saadiyat Island as the location for its second hotel in the capital.

The Dubai hospitality giant has been scouting the island and other locations in the emirate ahead of the opening of its first property in Abu Dhabi, the Jumeirah Etihad Towers, which is scheduled to open by September.

"We are discussing some other projects in Abu Dhabi as well," said Gerald Lawless, Jumeirah's executive chairman. "We are looking at Saadiyat Island so we're hoping something might come there … but we haven't finalised agreements.

"To us Abu Dhabi is very important. [It] definitely is growing very strongly and we feel that Jumeirah should be adequately represented within Abu Dhabi."

The luxury operator, which manages hotels including the Burj Al Arab and is part of Dubai Holding, reported that net profitlast year rose 58 per cent from 2009.

This year, Jumeirah has opened properties in Shanghai, as well as a resort last week in the Maldives, and the Zabeel Saray hotel on Dubai's Palm Jumeirah. The group is also hoping to open properties in Frankfurt, Kuwait, Baku and Azerbaijan, and another property in Dubai this year.

Jumeirah said occupancy at its hotels in Dubai averaged 85 per cent in the first four months of this year, with revenue per available room, a key industry indicator, growing more than 7 per cent compared with the same period last year.

Burj Al Arab's occupancy rose 5 per cent. Revenue per available room increased 12 per cent at the Madinat Jumeirah resort, boosted by a 10 per cent increase in its average room rate.

The group plans to have 60 hotels globally either signed or under management by the end of next year. It expects about 22 of these to be open by the end of next year. Jumeirah said it has shelved plans for a new brand that it announced last year.

"We've decided to park the Venu brand for the time being," said Mr Lawless. "We decided that we'd ask the management to concentrate their focus on the evolution and development of the Jumeirah, Stay Different luxury brand. We might look at it again in a year or two." Mr Lawless said he thought Dubai would continue to benefit from more people coming to the emirate because of regional political unrest.

"I think the GCC market will be very inclined to come to Dubai during the coming summer period because they might not have choice as they would normally have."

Meanwhile, Nasser al Nowais, the chairman of Rotana Hotels, speaking on the sidelines of the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, said the company was looking at opportunities to take the Abu Dhabi chain outside the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) and to open hotels in nearby destinations including Turkey, India, and Africa.

The operator plans to have 100 hotel deals signed or properties under management by 2015. "There are a lot of applications that we have received from some owners who are interested in us being in these areas," said Mr al Nowais.

The company was in the early stages of considering the opportunities outside the Mena region and it was hoped an announcement would be made by next year. Mr al Nowais added the hotel chain was likely to meet its targets for this year, despite its hotels in locations including Egypt and Syria experiencing a decline in business.

"We compensated from other places, like in Dubai, like in Abu Dhabi, like in Qatar. So we lost in some areas, but we gained in other areas. In the end we think we can get to easily reach our objective and our budget for this year."