x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Plans for W Hotel project on the Palm Jumeirah are revived

Plans to open a W Hotel on the Palm Jumeirah in Dubai have been revived as Starwood Hotels and Resorts outlines its expansion strategy for the Mena region.

Plans to open a W Hotel on the Palm Jumeirah in Dubai have been revived.

The luxury hotel project was first announced in 2006 and subsequently put on hold, but the project was relaunched yesterday and the property is now scheduled to open in 2016.

The announcement came as the operator Starwood Hotels and Resorts, which owns brands including W and Le Meridien, outlined plans to open 40 hotels with a total of more than 13,000 rooms in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) over the next five years.

"Mena is key to Starwood's global expansion strategy, representing our second-largest growth market after China," said Frits van Paasschen, the president and chief executive of Starwood Hotels and Resorts.

"When you consider that the region has 35 metropolitan areas with a population of over 1 million, and many with a wealthy middle class, there's huge long-term potential for international branded luxury and upper-upscale hotels," Mr van Paasschen said.

"With the number of tourists travelling to the region expected to double from nearly 80 million last year to 195 million by 2030, [it] is one of the most attractive growth markets in the world."

The W Hotel is being developed by Al Sharq Investment, a property company based in Dubai.

Last October another Dubai developer, Al Habtoor Group, announced plans to restart work on a Dh1 billion (US$272.2 million) resort that was put on hold when the global economic downturn hit the emirate. That hotel is to be managed under Hilton's Waldorf Astoria brand.

Last month, Starwood announced that it planned to open three luxury hotels planned as part of a $1.33bn project being built on Sheikh Zayed Road.

Those properties, a St Regis, a W Hotel and a Westin, are to be built on the site of the Metropolitan Hotel.

Dubai has experienced a significant improvement in its hotel performance in recent months after declines in profitability during the economic downturn, a period in which a number of Dubai hotel projects were put on hold or cancelled.

The number of hotel guests in Dubai increased by 9 per cent in the first quarter of the year over the same period last year, while hotel revenue surged by 24 per cent compared with the same quarter last year, according to data from the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.

Al Habtoor yesterday acquired a historic Le Meridien hotel in Budapest, Hungary, it announced on Twitter.

rbundhun@thenational.ae

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