x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Moevenpick to open four hotels in Dubai

Chain prepares to open five-star property; the first to open in September is a hotel whose design is inspired by the travels of Ibn Battuta.

Moevenpick Hotels and Resorts says it will launch four properties over the next 10 months, adding more than 1,200 rooms to Dubai's market. The first of the hotels expected to open is the five-star Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel, which is part of the vast salmon pink development next to the Ibn Battuta Mall. The hotel is scheduled to open in September.

The Ibn Battuta Gate project also includes apartments and offices. Its developer boasts that its archway is larger than that of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The hotel's launch comes at a time when hotel revenues in Dubai are down about 30 per cent compared with the peaks of 2008. But because of its proximity to the mall, Jebel Ali and the new Al Maktoum International Airport, Moevenpick is confident that the Moroccan-influenced, 396-room hotel, which is themed on the travels of the 14th century explorer Ibn Battuta, will be a success. "It's a hotel with a difference," said Guy Epsom, the director of business development at Moevenpick, adding that the property's historical theme and location next to the mall would appeal to GCC travellers, as well tourists from Europe looking for a hotel that reflected the culture of the destination. "We think it fits the GCC market well and the special interest market." The Swiss-based Moevenpick, which is 33.3 per cent owned by Saudi Arabia's Kingdom Holding, also plans to open its luxury Royal Amwaj resort on the Palm Jumeirah late this year. The resort includes water villas built on stilts in the Gulf. A mid-scale hotel is to open in Deira in the third quarter. Then next year, another hotel on the Palm Jumeirah, called Oceana, will open, Mr Epsom said, explaining that it would be funded by income from the other hotels. All four hotels are being developed by Seven Tides, which is based in Dubai. Confidence in Dubai's market has picked up among hoteliers after robust demand from travellers in the first four months of the year. Passenger traffic at Dubai International Airport in March increased by 21.8 per cent from the same month last year to 3.9 million, Dubai Airports reported. Meanwhile, occupancy rates at hotels in Dubai also increased, although average rates declined. With a number of projects put on hold or cancelled during the financial crisis, the pace of luxury openings now seems to be starting to return with the opening of the Armani hotel in the Burj Khalifa last month, and three properties opening at Jumeirah Beach Residence, including a Sofitel property. Although there are signs of growth in demand, the rise in supply could have an impact on performance. "Dubai may experience further adjustments in hotel performance," said Alex Kyriakidis, the global managing partner of tourism, hospitality and leisure at the consultancy Deloitte. "The balance of supply and demand remains a factor for the region." Other luxury hotels that are due to open in the fourth quarter of the year in Dubai include the JAL Hotel on the Sheikh Zayed Road, the One & Only Resort on the Palm Jumeirah and the Zabeel Saray resort. There are 64,143 rooms in Dubai's hotels and hotel apartments. Lodging Econometrics, the US-based research company, said 8,650 rooms were due to open in Dubai this year. rbundhun@thenational.ae