x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Luxury Viceroy hotel plans for Abu Dhabi on hold

Viceroy to open property in Maldives, while Abu Dhabi project is put on hold.

Plans to build a luxury Viceroy hotel in Abu Dhabi have been put on hold until property sales pick up, says an executive from the company.

The project, planned for Sowwah Island, Abu Dhabi's new central business district, was announced two years ago and was being undertaken by Mubadala Development, a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government. Mubadala also owns a 50 per cent stake in Viceroy Hotel Group.

"There was an announcement, but it was pending real estate sales," said Michael Lorenz, the vice president of sales and market strategy for Viceroy Hotel Group. "Until the sales escalate, the project's … on hold. That's on the back burner right now."

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Four Seasons and Rosewood hotels have also been announced for Sowwah Island. "There's three hotels in there," Mr Lorenz said. "The other two hotels have been approved.

"The third hotel, which is us, has not been approved yet … The project is going to be built in phases and all the phases haven't been approved yet. We're part of one of the latter phases. So if the economy gets better … then most likely it will happen at some point."

A Viceroy resort that Mubadala is jointly developing in the Maldives is slated to open in September.That project on the island of Vagaru has 61 villas on a 17-acre crescent surrounded by coral reefs. The Maldives development is an important part of the hotel company's plans to expand outside of the Americas. Viceroy Hotels Group has 14 properties in the US, the Caribbean and Latin America.

Hotel performance is improving in the Maldives says Uday Rao, the general manager of the Viceroy Maldives.

"The demand is coming back," Mr Rao said. "It's the right time."

Prices at the property will be between US$1,500 (Dh5,509.43) and $15,000 a night.

Viceroy was weighing expansion into "gateway cities" and studying opportunities to open hotels in Europe, New York and Turkey, Mr Lorenz said. The company was likely to have as many as 25 hotels by 2015, he said.

"The business is picking up," he said. "Most of our hotels have achieved double-digit revpar [revenue per available room] growth year-over-year this year, but it's still down [compared] to 2007."

 

rbundhun@thenational.ae