“A moment rich in art and history awaits you” - so goes the promise from the St Regis Saadiyat Island
Afternoon tea and tickets to Louvre Abu Dhabi: hotels gear up for museum's launch
Abu Dhabi's tourism industry is looking to capitalise on opening of the Arab world's first universal museum, responding to fevered interest from China to the United States in recent days.
'A moment rich in art and history awaits you' - so goes the tagline on the St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort's website.
The hotel has been fielding calls and emails all week: how can I get tickets; when is it open; what time can I go.
This information has gone on the hotel’s website and a digital panel in the lobby. It has begun offering a night's accommodation, afternoon tea and access for about Dh1,600 including taxes.
“We are one of the first hotels to start promoting the Louvre. And we have already seen a pick-up with people booking this package,” said Marwan Fadel, hotel manager at the St Regis.
Mr Fadel said everyone was excited to see such an iconic museum opening next door and there was a feeling of something big happening on the island. “It’s adding … amazing value to Saadiyat. It’s not just beaches and hotels – now we have the cultural district.”
Adjacent is the Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi. It too has already launched museum packages with tour operators and travel agents and will be offering a dedicated art experience for its guests.
“The unique Children’s Museum at Louvre Abu Dhabi will provide full family engagement and is of particular interest to guests travelling here choosing Park Hyatt as a seasonal luxury leisure break,” said Federico Mantoani, general manager.
Louvre Abu Dhabi is an archipelago at sea and visitors can arrive by car and, soon, by boat.
Jalboot Marine will begin operating water taxis between Abu Dhabi's cruise terminal and museum in the coming months.
Etihad has already announced a link-up with Louvre Abu Dhabi to promote the museum there are also firm plans to make it easier for cruise passengers to visit.
The cruise business started in 2006 with 32,000 passengers coming through. Last year a staggering 346,000 passengers visited and a new cruise terminal opened at Mina Zayed two years ago.
On the lively forums of popular cruise website Cruise Critic, would-be passengers are already looking forward to stepping inside architect Jean Nouvel’s creation and viewing the spectacular artworks. “It should be amazing - at least we all hope so after all these years of waiting!!!!” wrote one passenger, who won’t arrive here until April.
“Louvre Abu Dhabi is no more than ten minutes away from here,” said Saif Ghobash, director general of the Department of Culture and Tourism at the launch of the cruise season last month at Mina Zayed.
“It’s perfect for a passenger seeking a cultural escape.”
Abu Dhabi has welcomed about 3.5 million hotel guests so far this year.
Figures released a week ago by the Department of Tourism and Culture - Abu Dhabi showed the emirate maintaining a seven per cent increase on 2016.
This rise is driven partly by a huge increase in Chinese visitors, which rose by 133 per cent in October (28,000 visitors) compared with the same month last year.
With Saturday’s opening, Abu Dhabi is now poised to surpass the 4.4 million guests welcomed in 2016.
But the one-million-dollar question is how much business the museum will bring and crucially, how much longer tourists will stay once they are here.
The Sheikh Zayed Mosque has always been a popular attraction but now with the museum and the imminent Qasr Al Hosn redevelopment, it means there is a greater chance tourists will stay longer.
“The museum is expected to attract cultural tourists and arts aficionados and help increase visitor arrivals to Abu Dhabi, particularly when it hosts special shows, exhibitions and events,” said Rashid Aboobacker, a senior director at TRI Consulting in Dubai.
“We expect strong interest … particularly from the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Far East.”
For Mr Aboobacker, the museum will also have a knock effect in neighbouring emirates.
“The opening of more tourism attractions in Abu Dhabi such as the Louvre will help increase the average length of stay of tourists in the city, boosting accommodation demand in the long term.
At the other end of Abu Dhabi from Saadiyat, Emirates Palace has also welcomed the opening.
The hotel has also been receiving calls from people across the globe who are keen to know more about Louvre Abu Dhabi.
“We hope to provide an array of exclusive experiences available only to our guests involving the museum and its neighbouring Saadiyat Cultural District,” said Holger Schroth, general manager at Emirates Palace.
“In the future, we anticipate we will provide transportation to the Louvre Abu Dhabi by land, sea and perhaps even air, if requested.”