x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Long-delayed Palm Jumeirah resort is finally back on track

Fairmont expects its long-awaited hotel on the Palm Jumeirah to open in the third quarter of next year.

The Fairmont resort on the Palm Jumeirah in Dubai is now on track to open in the third quarter of next year after a six-year delay as the company's other projects in the UAE have also suffered severe setbacks.

The luxury operator's long-delayed hotel in Fujairah is likely to open next year, Fairmont said.

"We're very bullish in terms of the pipeline and the openings we have coming up," said Rami Moukarzel,the director of development for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Fairmont.

IFA Hotels and Resorts,the Palm Jumeirah hotel's Kuwaiti developer, a year ago announced it had received US$115 million (Dh422.4m) of financing to finish the resort. The property, announced in 2004, was originally slated for a late-2006 opening.

The management company has another Fairmont hotel planned for Abu Dhabi, but the developer has deferred that project several times. Fairmont this week announced its first hotel in Jordan, which is expected to open in Amman in 2014. Jordan's tourism has been hurt by the uprisings in neighbouring Syria.

"It's been tough," said Mr Moukarzel. "But the owner's very positive. We don't see any delays. Financing is in place."

The property is to have 300 rooms and construction work is likely to start next year, Fairmont said.

It is studying other expansion opportunities in the region.

"There's another few that we're working on in key gateway cities," said Mr Moukarzel. "In Saudi Arabia, we're looking at Riyadh, where we've got one [hotel] coming up. We're looking at Jeddah, we're looking at key cities in the Levant. Beirut is a very important city. Qatar, Doha. We're in the process of discussing projects now."

Fairmont's two hotels in Egypt were hit hard by that country's unrest.

But Kent Cooper,Fairmont's vice president of regional hotel sales for the Middle East and Africa, said occupancy levels were "slowly" starting to come back. "But we're still half of where we need to be. It's going to take a long time."

Fairmont's first hotel in India is scheduled to open in Jaipur in March.

rbundhun@thenational.ae