x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Emaar shutters luxury Dubai hotel after fire

The Address Downtown hotel will be shuttered for an undetermined time after suffering extensive damage.

The fire at The Address Downtown Dubai hotel smolders on New Year's Day. Pawan Singh / The National
The fire at The Address Downtown Dubai hotel smolders on New Year's Day. Pawan Singh / The National

DUBAI // The Address Downtown Dubai hotel will be closed indefinitely after suffering extensive damage from the blaze on New Year’s Eve.

Emaar Properties, which owns the 63-storey luxury tower, had to evacuate guests and residents, as well as throngs of customers of the hotel’s seven restaurants, at the height of celebrations at 9.30pm on Thursday.

The adjacent Souk Al Bahar shopping and dining complex, also owned by Emaar Properties, was evacuated as well. But Emaar Properties officials said it was operating almost normally by yesterday afternoon, with safety inspections keeping only the car parking facility closed.

There were conflicting reports about how and where the fire started.

“The fire in the hotel has been contained,” Emaar Properties said. “An investigation is continuing and details will be provided once they are ascertained.”

The Address Downtown Dubai has 193 hotel rooms and 600 serviced residences, although Emaar was not able to say how many people were evacuated in total, nor how many had to be relocated to other hotels.

“Guests have been provided with alternate accommodation in various hotels in Dubai,” Emaar Properties said.

The hotels include two sister establishments run by Emaar Properties’s hospitality division: The Address at Dubai Mall and The Address at Dubai Marina, which have a total of 444 rooms.

After taking the guests from the Address Downtown Dubai, both those hotels were fully booked through January 25, according to officials of the hotels, and other Dubai hotels also had to take guests from the fire-damaged hotel.

Emaar Properties would neither comment on the potential financial costs of having to shut the Address Downtown Dubai for an extended period nor whether it was fully covered by insurance, including for disruption to its business and those of others.

The restaurants at the hotel will also be closed indefinitely, hotel officials said. That includes Cut, the sole Dubai branch of the Wolfgang Puck chain, as well as branches of Fazaris, Zeta, Neos and Calabar. Emaar Properties is the largest single component of the Dubai Financial Market General Index, accounting for about 19 per cent of its weighting.

The company’s shares have suffered a downturn as the oil price slump hit the region’s economy. They were down about 45 per cent from their highs in autumn 2014, ending trade last year at Dh5.69.

As a listed company, Emaar Properties will be required to issue a statement to the stock exchange tomorrow when markets open, stating whether it expects the financial damage resulting from the fire to be material to the company.

The hospitality division of Emaar Properties lost one of its top executives three weeks ago when Philippe Zuber left to join Kerzner International. Chris Newman, who joined Emaar Properties early last year, is the acting chief until a permanent replacement is found.

amcauley@thenational.ae