x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Jobs in doubt with Hilton closure in Abu Dhabi

Staff worried about future with management unable to offer guarantees of new contracts as hotel prepares to shut its doors in December.

The Hilton will shut when its management contract with the building's owner, Mismak Properties LLC, expires at the end of the year.
The Hilton will shut when its management contract with the building's owner, Mismak Properties LLC, expires at the end of the year.

ABU DHABI // Up to 78 staff could lose their jobs when the Hilton Baynunah hotel in the capital closes its doors in December.

The Hilton will shut when its management contract with the building’s owner, Mismak Properties LLC, expires at the end of the year, according to a spokeswoman from Hilton Worldwide, which owns the Hilton hotel chain.

The group’s management had been liaising with staff to “either secure employment elsewhere within the Hilton organisation or with the hotel owners themselves”, she added.

However, there are no jobs yet available, according to one of the hotel’s receptionists.

“The hotel is closing down on December 31 and we don’t have any information about what will happen,” she said.  “We know they will not renew the contract, so now we’re just trying to find another job.”

Hilton did not offer a reason for why it will not renew the contract but Mismak Properties confirmed that the tower will be turned into a luxurious residential development.

An employee in the executive office at the Hilton Abu Dhabi on the Corniche said its sister hotel was closing “due to some issues that I cannot discuss”.

A spokesman for Mismak Properties, which is owned by First Gulf Properties, said: “We would like to confirm that we will no longer be managing the Hilton Baynunah in Baynunah Tower effective as of January 1, 2013.

“First Gulf Properties [FGP] will be the new property management company to operate the building. FGP will redesign the tower into a luxurious residential complex, with a complete refurbishment.

“Mismak’s decision to convert Baynunah Tower to a residential complex is based on the market’s need for luxurious, furnished apartments.”

Baynunah will be the second Hilton hotel to close down in Abu Dhabi in just 12 months.

In December last year, the Hilton Corniche Hotel Apartments was taken over by the Al Fahim Group and transformed into a residential building.

An Al Fahim employee said the handover was because Hilton’s management did not want to renew its contract.

The closing of the Baynunah comes just months after Hilton Worldwide announced plans to expand its presence in the region by nearly 80 per cent over the next three to four years.

The group, which has 56 properties in the Middle East and Africa, said it would add more than 100 hotels to its portfolio in the region.

This includes adding hotels in Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach Residence, Al Barsha, Sharjah and a Waldorf Astoria in Ras Al Khaimah.

The latter, which is scheduled to open in early 2013, will be part of Al Hamra Village and will be the first Waldorf Astoria in the country.

The company is also to open two hotels in Egypt and its first in Doha.

According to the Hilton spokeswoman, the firm is “firmly committed to exploring new opportunities” in the UAE.

The first Hilton hotel in the UAE opened in 1971 in Al Ain, where it still stands. 

molson@thenational.ae