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    UAE

    W Hotels Arrives In Abu Dhabi

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    W Hotels Arrives In Abu Dhabi

    Rev up your engines, W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island is the only hotel in the world to be located on a Grand Prix racetrack…

    Buckle up… W Hotels Worldwide has announced the highly anticipated debut of the W brand in the UAE capital with the opening of W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island. Located in the heart of Abu Dhabi’s bustling entertainment epicentre, the hotel is the brand’s second W Hotel to open this year in the United Arab Emirates after W Dubai – The Palm, and has the bragging rights to be the only hotel in the world located atop a Grand Prix racetrack.

    W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island is surrounded by iconic landmarks, located just 15-minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport at the doorstep of the famed Yas Marina Circuit and Yas Marina. The hotel is also in close proximity to Ferrari World, Warner Brothers Studios and Abu Dhabi’s biggest shopping center, the Yas Mall. W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island is set to provide front row seats to the glitz and glamour of the vibrant metropolis, be it on or off the track.

    YAS Island's iconic building and racetrack

    Image credit: W Hotels

    “W Hotels seeks dynamic destinations that are multi-dimensional and ever-evolving, and Abu Dhabi, with its cultural DNA that honors a millennium of tradition while boldly embracing what’s new and next, is an ideal fit for the brand,” said Anthony Ingham, Global Brand Leader, W Hotels Worldwide. “The arrival of W in Abu Dhabi marks a new chapter for both the brand and the capital. While paying tribute to the essence and spirit of the city, the hotel creates a modern, energetic and stylish escape unlike anything else.”

    “The design draws inspiration from traditional and artistic surroundings complementing the natural landscape of the Emirate.”

    W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island reveals the best of the destination’s history, heritage and culture while infusing elements of its modern future. From the barren desert to the burgeoning concrete metropolis, Abu Dhabi boasts one of the most unique and diverse landscapes, all celebrated by the hotel’s tone-setting vibe. The design draws inspiration from traditional and artistic surroundings complementing the natural landscape of the Emirate. All architectural elements are influenced by symmetry, intricate detail, parallel beams and optical illusions, creating silhouettes and shades inspired by the region’s natural lakes, wetlands, salt flats and fossilized sands and dunes – the hidden natural gems of the UAE.

    Guests are greeted by Bedouin-inspired tents, large columns and seating inspired by local mangroves. Custom-designed Welcome Desks mimic the form of oil droplets and jewel tone furnishings, depicting the colors of liquid gold, a distinctive historic trade in Abu Dhabi. Show-stopping Whatever/Whenever desks are canoe-shaped, a visual reference to the Abu Dhabi waterways and once the mode of movement across the city.

    The hotel’s vibrant 499 guestrooms and suites offer plush amenities and floor-to-ceiling windows with spectacular views of the Grand Prix racetrack or the Yas Marina. The EWOW Suite (the brand’s over-the-top take on the traditional Presidential Suite), boasts 409 square meters (about 1,342 square feet) of ultimate luxury spread over two floors. Guests can soak it up in the suite’s private lap pool, sauna and enjoy jaw-dropping, 180-degree views of Yas Island.

    Image credit: W Hotels

    The W brand’s iconic poolside experience features the stunning scenery of the Yas Marina Circuit as guests swim, sun and enjoy signature beverages while listening to live DJ performances. WET is sure to become the hottest place to cool off, take a dip and make a splash in the city. W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island will embody the brand’s signature work hard, play hard philosophy, with FUEL-focused activities (fitness and wellness programming) including weekly workouts, healthy cuisine and amazing adventures.

    Main image credit: W Hotels

    Al Faya Lodge: A boutique hotel made from stone and steel

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Al Faya Lodge: A boutique hotel made from stone and steel

    Architecture firm Anarchitect was inspired by the desert location and opted to use raw materials to design the five-key boutique hotel…

    Located in Sharjah, the third largest emeritus that make up the UAE, Al Faya Lodge is a striking architectural gem that was developed by SHEROOT. The lodge-like boutique hotel sits on undisturbed desert, of which architecture firm Anarchitect used as inspiration when crafting it out of raw materials and earthy colours, resulting in a camouflaged hotel within the red sands and baron landscape.

    Embracing its heritage, the location of the lodge was formerly occupied by a clinic and grocery store in the 1960s, which were located next to one of the UAE’s first petroleum pumps.

    Now the three single-story stone constructions have been transformed, including the addition of a luxury spa and salt-water swimming pool. Featuring just five guestrooms, its contemporary feel combines aspects of its original features, blended together with luxe, minimalist modernity.

    image of seats by pool

    Image credit: Sharjah Collection

    Featuring a dining room, reception room, library and viewing deck, every aspect of the design looks to emphasise its surroundings. The guestrooms feature a skylight for star-gazing at night with a fire pit primed for recapping adventures.

    The boutique hotel, steeped in authenticity, becomes one of of the main components of the Sharjah Collection, a unique group of luxury lodges and boutique hotels.

    Main image credit: Sharjah Collection

    Meliá Hotels International confirms new resorts for Dubai and Marrakesh

    1024 683 Katy Phillips

    Spanish hotelier pushes its brands into more markets.

    Meliá Hotels International has confirmed it will be opening new resorts in the United Arab Emirates and Morocco during 2018.

    The first, currently known as the Desert Palm Dubai hotel (main image above), is an exclusive urban site 20 minutes from the city centre that will be re-opened in Q3 2018 as the Desert Palm Polo Club & Resort by Meliá.

    The hotel offers 38 rooms, suites and villas as well as a dining and wellness facilities and a horse riding school with a first-class polo field.

    In terms of design, Meliá says the resort will combine classic Spanish influence with an ‘uncompromising’ luxury experience.

    The hotel is the result of a partnership between Meliá Hotels International and the hotel owner, Albwardy Investment Group, with whom the Spanish company already operates three other hotels across Tanzania and Argentina.

    The second new hotel (pictured, below) will be part of the Sol by Meliá brand, with the addition of Sol Marrakesh – the Company’s fifth hotel in Morocco, which will operate under the family-friendly holiday resort brand.

    Located in the popular area of Palmaraie, the Sol Marrakesh is 18 kilometres from the airport and nine kilometres from the centre of the city. The resort, which first opened its doors in 1988, is currently closed for full refurbishment and will re-open in late 2018.

    Sol Marrakesh will offer 211 rooms (including 25 family units) as well as 6 hectares of indoor and outdoor space. Upon completion, services will include a spa with hammam, fitness facilities, four tennis courts, volleyball court, football pitch, golf driving range and swimming pool with sundeck.

    Gabriel Escarrer, Executive Vice President and CEO of Meliá Hotels International, said: “Taking over operations at this exclusive Dubai resort makes Meliá Hotels International very proud and also gives us a chance to demonstrate our proven excellence in the management of luxury urban resorts in a market to which the Company is already firmly committed.”

     

    Jumeirah to launch new lifestyle brand in 2018

    800 507 Daniel Fountain

    The new year hasn’t yet arrived, but it’s already stacking up to be a consequential one for the hospitality industry, with a number of large hotel companies dedicating resources to the launch of new lifestyle brands and other initiatives.

    One such example of this is Jumeirah Group, which is launching a new brand that it hopes can stand out to consumers as a lifestyle option that appeals to the “millennial minded,” the companies interim CEO Marc Dardenne has said. This new brand is slated to launch in early 2018, and when it does it will have smaller rooms but locations in key desirable areas, while also retaining a strong focus on food and beverage services. Dardenne has also said that the new brand, which has not yet been named or fully revealed, currently has three to five new projects that have already signed on to be a part of it.

    Jumeirah Hotels has been around for two decades, and this recent decision to launch what will become just its second brand was inspired in part by a desire to access markets where the company already has existing properties that are under the Jumeirah name. This is far and away one of the most common motivations that large hotel companies have cited for launching additional brands, with recent examples of companies that have done this including Trump Hotels and its new Scion brand, Langham with its Langham Place brand, and Capella Hotels with Solis.

    Although the lifestyle segment is becoming somewhat crowded within the global hospitality space, Jumeirah is confident that its new creation will stand out a bit from the pack, which contains many lifestyle brands that have been in this arena for 15 to 20 years old now, making them seem a bit dated to guests. Jumeirah leadership has painted its late arrival to the lifestyle segment as a great opportunity to ensure that it is able to provide some of the most modern and up to date offerings of any hotel in the space.

    No star rating or category has yet been assigned to the brand, but Jumeirah Hotels and Resorts are likely above its price range, and the new brand will not be associated with Jumeirah’s loyalty program, Sirius. Leadership does, however, hope to have a little bit of association between it and the Jumeirah brand so that savvy travelers will draw a connection between the two.

    www.jumeirah.com

    Raffles Palm Jumeirah

    Nakheel, AccorHotels to debut Raffles Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah

    850 566 Daniel Fountain

    AccorHotels has signed a management agreement with leading Dubai-based master developer Nakheel for the expansion of AccorHotels’ globally-renowned luxury brand, Raffles Hotels & Resorts.

    The agreement, recognised by Nakheel Chairman Ali Rashid Lootah and Sébastien Bazin, Chairman and CEO of AccorHotels at a signing ceremony at the International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) in Cannes (France) will lead to the opening of PALM360, a spectacular two tower development on the world famous Palm Jumeirah comprising of the Raffles The Palm Dubai Hotel and Raffles Residences PALM360.

    Set to open in 2021, PALM 360 will be the first beachside resort for Raffles in Dubai and the tallest structure on Palm Jumeirah. At almost 260 meters high, PALM360 will offer unobstructed views of Palm Jumeirah, the spectacular Arabian Gulf coastline and Dubai skyline. Its centrepiece will be a 155 metre long sky pool, connecting the towers 170 metres above the ground, from where guests can also enjoy these stunning, uninterrupted views from a unique vantage point.

    The hotel component will offer 125 hotel rooms and suites, whilst the 359 branded residences – including 16 branded penthouses that will each have their own private infinity pool, gym and cinema – will be available for purchase.

    Raffles Palm JumeirahLocated on Palm Jumeirah’s 11km crescent Boardwalk, PALM360 is close to upcoming attractions such as The Palm Promenade, The Pointe and Nakheel Mall, with Dubai’s key business and leisure hubs within easy reach. The luxury property will offer guests a distinct resort feel with direct private beach access, a specialised private beach club along with thoughtful, personal and discreet service synonymous with the Raffles brand.

    PALM360 joins 16 other hotels that form part of Nakheel’s $1.3 billion (£971 million) hospitality expansion programme that is set to deliver close to 6,000 rooms and hotel apartments across Dubai. The first two hotels, at Dragon Mart and Ibn Battuta Mall, opened last year, with the rest under construction or development.

    Raffles The Palm Dubai and Raffles Residences PALM360 joins 11 Raffles Hotels & Resorts around the world, including Raffles Dubai. The remarkable collection of charming luxury hotels and resorts is located in many of the world’s largest cities and holiday destinations such as Paris, Istanbul and the Seychelles. Raffles properties feature distinct amenities including the Raffles Butler Service, Raffles Spa, Raffles Long Bar and Raffles Writers Bar.

    www.raffles.com

    Meet the Top 5-Star Hotel Brands in the Middle East

    Meet the top 5-star hotel brands in the Middle East

    1000 500 Daniel Fountain

    Forbes Middle East recently named its list of the top 5-star hotel brands in the Middle East, a group of 20 that was determined based on the status of their hotels in the region.

    At the top of the list is the Swiss hospitality company, Mövenpick, which has 47 five star hotels spread throughout 10 countries in The Middle East, adding up to a total of 12,592 rooms. Mövenpick is followed by Hilton Hotels and Resorts, which has 29 hotels and 9,631 rooms spread throughout eight countries in the Middle East. In third place was Sheraton, which has a hospitality presence in 10 of the region’s countries.

    Meet the Top 5-Star Hotel Brands in the Middle EastForbes reports that to formulate its list, associated researchers screened more than 800 five star hotels from 190 total brands, gathering their information primarily from those hotels’ websites as well as from some of the other major travel websites within the industry. They also determined three benchmarks to use in the ranking: the number of countries that a brand is represented in, the total number of estimated hotels and rooms, and equal weights. This list, however, did not take into account the revenue numbers that were generated by each brand, and it did not calculate the average price of the rooms there. Neither of those financial concerns were factored into this study, meaning that sheer quantity of properties and their spread were the backbone of this ranking.

    Of the top 20 brands that landed on Forbes’ list, there were 375 hotels and resorts that added up to a grand total of 116,454 rooms in 17 total countries, those countries being: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar, Lebanon, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Tunisia, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Palestine, and Algeria.

    The three most dominant countries were no surprise, with those being Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, which is home to the red hot tourism market of Dubai, one of — if not the most — popular markets in the entire world. Hotels and resorts in those three countries take up 66.4 percent of the list, adding up to 349 total properties and 71.9 percent of total rooms, with 83,711 rooms. These are numbers that are nothing to scoff at.

    The other brands represented on the list include: InterContinental Hotels and Resorts, Rotana Hotels and Resorts, Radisson Blu, Le Meridien, Sofitel Hotels and Resorts, Marriott Hotels and Resorts, and Four Seasons, among others.

    www.forbesmiddleeast.com

    Duravit at the Louvre Abu Dhabi

    Project Spotlight: Duravit at Louvre Abu Dhabi

    1000 666 Daniel Fountain

    Jean Nouvel has created an architectural wonder in the desert. It includes products by Duravit, designed by Philippe Starck.

    A commission that was unusual even for the French star architect and Pritzker prize winner Jean Nouvel – the creation of the first all-purpose museum in the Arab world – and the first in the twenty-first century, a building that is intended to stand as a symbol for Abu Dhabi.

    The Louvre Abu Dhabi was officially opened on 11 November 2017. The spectacular building on Saadiyat Island will show 300 objects on loan from thirteen leading museums in France. However, the greatest attraction is the building itself.

    Duravit at Louvre Abu DhabiBetween modernity and tradition
    The architecture is modern but timeless, incorporating elements from Abu Dhabi’s architectural tradition. Jean Nouvel took inspiration from an Arab medina (old town) to create a building whose domed metal roof weighs as much as the Eiffel Tower in Paris but is supported by just four columns – a technical feat that is also an aesthetic experience.

    A total of fifty-five different buildings form a museum city on the island in the Gulf, covered by a huge steel roof with a diameter of 180 metres.

    Passages and corridors wind their way through this cool white labyrinth, with steps up to the flat roofs of some of the building blocks to enable visitors to see the spectacular domed roof from close up. This unique design consists of almost 8,000 stars of different sizes and angles, superimposed in seven layers.

    Like a roof made of overlapping palm leaves, this structure provides shade and protection from the hot desert sun. The effect is breathtaking: “It produces a poetic, almost magical rain of light,” says architect Jean Nouvel. At night the effect is reversed when the internally lit building shines like a miniature night sky.

    In the white bathrooms the works of another French architect and designer are on show: Starck 1 toilets by Philippe Starck.
    Copyright: © Danica O. Kus

    Nouvel, Starck and Picasso
    In the white bathrooms the works of another French architect and designer are on show: toilets by Philippe Starck, designed for Duravit. Starck was also inspired by tradition in his design of the toilet. The Starck 1 toilet recalls its historical predecessor, a bucket – interpreted in a completely new way, of course.

    Jean Nouvel’s building occupies a site of almost 100,000 square metres, with 8,600 square metres of exhibition space, including 6,400 for the permanent exhibition and 2,000 for temporary exhibitions. The first exhibition will feature Leonardo da Vinci’s “La Belle Ferronnière”, a self-portrait by Vincent van Gogh and works by Pablo Picasso.

    Images: ©Danica O. Kus

    Renaissance Hotels opens doors in Dubai

    1024 683 Daniel Fountain

    Located in the thriving Business Bay district, which was recently listed in Lonely Planet’s ‘10 of the World’s coolest neighborhoods to visit right now,’ the new Renaissance Downtown Hotel, Dubai boasts 298 guestrooms, including 65 sprawling suites. Inspiring a sense of spontaneous discovery at every turn, the latest in the brand’s portfolio set the stage for inspiring stories that are worth retelling.

    “The spectacular new Renaissance Downtown Hotel in Dubai is a highly anticipated addition to our rapidly growing portfolio in the region,” said Alex Kyriakidis, President and Managing Director Middle East and Africa, Marriott International. “With its artful design, vibrant and eclectic dining scene and engaging experiences, the hotel embraces the spirit of Dubai as a one-of-a-kind destination and Renaissance as a global lifestyle brand that inspires guests to discover something wonderfully new every time they travel. We are confident it will soon emerge as the newest lifestyle destination for global travelers as well as local residents.”

    Raw yet Refined: Renaissance’s Dramatic Design Shows a Different Side of Dubai
    Led by the renowned interior firm WA International, the hotel’s design thrives from stark contrasts created through materiality, different textures and a dynamic color palette. Inspired by the fluidity of Dubai’s iconic sand dunes, matte hues of black and gold are woven throughout the public spaces and guestrooms – seemingly in motion when seen through pebbled glass and unfinished mirrored surfaces.

    Upon arrival, a metallic art installation depicting the dynamic cityscape of Dubai takes center-stage. Overhead, an impressive hand-blown glass chandelier spans the length of the lobby, enticing guests to explore further. Floor to ceiling golden chains frame unpolished concrete at check-in, while a walk through the lobby reveals natural wood finishes, exposed ironwork beams, and an unexpected warmth fueled by the open fireplace.

    Inspired Accommodations Provide a License to Play
    Every moment thoughtfully-designed to tell a story: installations above each corridor appear as golden waves connoting the desert as wind passes through, juxtapose the wall coverings that have a dry and cracked effect. Each of the 298 spectacular guestrooms and suites boast floor to ceiling windows, allowing natural light and creating playful shadows against hues of deep blue and pale greys. The sumptuous fabrics, sandy color leather accents and natural wood finishes complement the matte gold and metal hardware that theatrically changes throughout the day with the movement of natural light.

    Guests are greeted by a close-up black and white photograph of a camel smirking; and above the bed, Pablo Picasso’s famed camel sketch is reimagined into a cheeky, 3D iron rod sculpture – both playful jests to reframe your stay.

    World-Acclaimed Chefs Set the Stage for Culinary Excellence
    Culinary outlets at Renaissance Downtown Hotel, Dubai – BHAR, Grounded, BASTA!, Bleu Blanc and Morimoto Dubai – are set to become highlights of the city’s prominent and bustling food scene.

    • A contemporary dining experience offering indigenous Middle Eastern cuisine and shared dining atmosphere, BHAR, the Arabic word for spice, is designed to awaken the senses and will debut as the hotel opens its doors. Alongside the opening of BHAR, Grounded will serve as the hotel’s premiere coffee shop with unique brewing methods from a variety of international beans.
    • Launching in November, BASTA! and Bleu Blanc are two new contemporary concepts by David Myers. Bleu Blanc is a Southern French farmhouse-inspired restaurant where a large, wood-fired grill area takes centre stage, offering guests the chance of an up-close and personal chef’s table experience. BASTA! transports diners to an urban interpretation of a Roman trattoria, Florentine steakhouse and Neapolitan pizzeria, reflecting David’s personal travel memories from these regions. Both venues will showcase beverage programs designed by world-renowned mixologist Sam Ross.
    • Opening in December, Morimoto Dubai will display internationally acclaimed celebrity chef Masaharu Morimoto’s contemporary Japanese cuisine, infusing traditional dishes with Western ingredients and preparation methods. The restaurant’s expansive space will include three private dining rooms and terraces with undisturbed views of the Burj Khalifa.

    In December, the hotel will also open the first of its kind, all-suite spa concept from renowned Six Senses. With a design rooted heritage of balancing all of the senses, Six Senses Spa will feature six treatment suites that are each dedicated to a different sense – sight, sound, touch, taste, smell and intuition – to offer the perfect balance of calm and sensory experiences in the bustling downtown area.

    Renaissance Downtown Hotel, Dubai will feature all of the brand’s unique experiences, including Evenings at Renaissance where guests can connect, socialize, and experience the locale through nightly programming. For the true social discoverer, the hotel’s Navigators will help guests experience the neighborhood’s soul by highlighting hidden gems and handpicked local discoveries.

    For more information about Renaissance Downtown Hotel, Dubai, visit www.renhotels.com/dubai and for more about the brand’s upcoming events visit www.renhotels.com/events.

    Bulgari Dubai resort

    Bulgari Hotels & Resorts announces Dubai resort

    800 425 Daniel Fountain

    Bulgari Hotels & Resorts will open its Dubai Resort on Thursday 7th December 2017; an urban oasis on Jumeirah Bay.

    This newest addition to the Bulgari Hotels & Resorts collection is the fifth in the group, following on from the most recently launched Bulgari Hotel Beijing, which opened in September 2017. It joins a growing portfolio of properties around the world, which began with the inaugural Bulgari Hotel Milan in 2004, Bulgari Resort Bali in 2006 and Bulgari Hotel London in 2012, and will be followed by Shanghai in early 2018, and then Moscow in 2020.

    As with all Bulgari Hotels & Resorts, the hotel was designed by renowned Italian architectural firm Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel. Both the interiors and exteriors have been created with the same detail and precision of a Bulgari jewel: pairing rare, raw materials according to colour, texture and feel, and sculpting them into objects of enduring beauty. Styled with European inspired boulevards, illuminated gardens and pools, it blends Mediterranean landscaping with the natural surroundings of the shores of the Arabian Gulf.

    Embracing a maritime theme, customising the resort to echo its unique island home, luscious Italian marble has been used along with coral inspired exteriors to truly epitomise the ocean surroundings. Meanwhile, in the spirit of integral designs dating back to the 1930s, the architects hand-selected or custom-designed every element for consistency, comfort and purity, allowing the hotel’s design to maintain an uncompromisingly Italian style, while simultaneously incorporating the uniqueness of its destination, exuding timeless glamour. Each piece, from the marble bathtubs to the sculpted door handles, hail from the finest quality materials and is incorporated in a unified, seamless fashion.

    The resort includes 101 hotel rooms and suites and 20 hotel villas, all exquisitely furnished with the highest quality Italian luxury furniture brands such as Maxalto, Flos, Fexform and others, in an expression of the quality of ‘Made in Italy’. All rooms and suites have expansive views over the breathtaking Dubai skyline or the Arabian Gulf, with large balconies to truly soak up the magnificent scenery.

    Kleindienst Group Launches The Floating Venice underwater resort in The World Islands, Dubai

    World’s first underwater luxury resort to launch in Dubai

    1000 562 Daniel Fountain

    Kleindienst Group has launched The Floating Venice, the world’s first underwater luxury vessel resort at Cityscape Global. Valued at £512 million, The Floating Venice will be located in The World islands, 4km offshore from Dubai and will bring an authentic Venetian experience to the Middle East.

    This unique floating resort has a capacity of up to 3,000 guests daily, with accommodation, restaurants and recreation split over 4 decks, one of which is underwater. Guests will arrive by boat, seaplane or helicopter to the main Piazza San Marco where they can check-in at the underwater lobby. Gondola’s imported from Venice will transport guests to their cabins through the winding canals, or alternatively a short stroll through canal side walkways and bridges will take them to their awaiting cabins.

    There will be a range of 414 bespoke cabins arranged over 4 decks, one of which is underwater giving spectacular views of the coral reefs below and passing gondola above. A plethora of elegant boutique hospitality spots and traditional artisanal shops will bring the Venetian experience to life.

    Throughout the year The Floating Venice will be a celebration of culture and the arts, where traditional festivals such as Carnivale di Venezia, Binnale di Venezia and Festa del Rendentore will bring the resort alive with the flair and heritage of Venice.

    The Floating Venice offers an unrivalled experience for guests where they can relax in one of 24 pools, some of which will have acrylic bases giving amazing views of the coral reefs below. Over 400,000 sq ft of corals will be planted around The Floating Venice from our own on-site coral nursery which will encourage an abundance of sea life. 12 unique floating beaches set against the stunning backdrop of the Dubai skyline are scattered throughout The Floating Venice.

    A collection of 12 restaurants and bars offer a variety of entertainment, 3 of which are underwater giving spectacular vistas of the dazzling marine life. Alternatively, the world’s first floating underwater spa awaits to pamper.

    DoubleTree by Hilton - Business Bay - Dubai

    DoubleTree by Hilton opens latest Dubai property

    750 443 Daniel Fountain

    DoubleTree by Hilton, one of Hilton’s 14 market-leading brands, has announced the opening of DoubleTree by Hilton Dubai – Business Bay. The modern hotel features 238 spacious guest rooms and suites, all with floor-to-ceiling windows and panoramic views of the Burj Khalifa, Downtown Dubai or Bay Square.

    It joins two other DoubleTree by Hilton properties already open in the city and eight DoubleTree by Hilton properties open across the Middle East.

    DoubleTree by Hilton Dubai – Business Bay is located in Bay Square, a low rise community square surrounded by shops, cafes and local businesses. The hotel is ideally located between ‘old’ and ‘new’ parts of the city, allowing guests to experience all the city has to offer.

    “Dubai is a fast-growing, cosmopolitan city that offers visitors a range of activities, from shopping in the modern malls, to watching a performance at the opera, to abra rides on the creek,” said Dianna Vaughan, senior vice president and global head, DoubleTree by Hilton. “As the first and only hotel in Bay Square, DoubleTree by Hilton Dubai – Business Bay is ideal for travellers seeking accomodation in this popular new destination. We look forward to welcoming guests with something special at every stage of their stay, starting with our signature, warm DoubleTree cookie upon arrival.”

    HGI Ras Al Khaimah Entrance

    Hilton Garden Inn opens in Ras Al Khaimah

    850 569 Daniel Fountain

    Hilton Garden Inn and RAK National Hotels have announced the opening of Hilton Garden Inn Ras Al Khaimah, marking the brand’s entry into the northernmost emirate of the United Arab Emirates. The hotel joins five other Hilton properties operating in the Emirate and 22 across the UAE.

    Located in the heart of the Al Nakheel area, just steps from two major shopping malls and minutes from the souks and historical sites of the old city, Hilton Garden Inn Ras Al Khaimah features 240 modern and comfortable guest rooms, including 10 family rooms and eight suites, with sweeping city, creek and garden views.

    Hilton Garden Inn Ras Al Khaimah guests will be treated to numerous amenities and services, including complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the property, a 24-hour business centre, two tennis courts and a state-of-the-art fitness centre open all day. The property also offers an outdoor pool, a separate shaded pool for children, and access to the beach facilities at Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa via complimentary shuttle.

    For conferences and other events, Hilton Garden Inn Ras Al Khaimah can accommodate up to 400 guests in more than 500 square meters of flexible meeting space, including a 380 square meter pillar-less ballroom that can be separated into three meeting rooms, along with two large pre-function areas and three outdoor garden venues. The hotel’s meeting space also features four small and medium sized meeting rooms.

    Each guest room and suite boasts the brand’s signature bedding featuring fresh, white duvets and crisp linens; a spacious and clutter-free work desk with an ergonomic desk chair; and an in-room “hospitality center” with a mini fridge.

    Photos credit: Arabian Hotel Investment Conference

    Opinion: Demographics and digitisation driving hotel industry change

    1000 602 Daniel Fountain

    Catalysts of change including the shift in global economic powers, demographics and ageing populations, and the impact of digitisation were some of the hot topics discussed live on stage during the opening sessions of the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference 2017 (AHIC), being held at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai from 25-27 April, 2017 and organised by Bench Events and MEED.

    Now in its 13th year, the annual knowledge and networking platform for the global hospitality investment community, AHIC, attracted more than 700 delegates eager to learn more about the Catalysts of Change influencing the evolving persona of the hotel guest and driving innovation among hotel owners and operators alike.

    Jonathan Worsley, Chairman, Bench Events, Board Director, STR and Co-Founder of AHIC, introduced AHIC with the assistance of a robot co-host created by Isukashi, setting the scene for discussions on Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and other technological breakthroughs.

    Commenting on the trends, Worsley said: “In the lead-up to AHIC during many conversations with our speakers, sponsors and the AHIC Advisory Board, it became clear that technology in its many and varied forms would be one of the major Catalysts of Change for the hospitality industry in the coming years. We wanted to give our delegates a demonstration of this with our AHIC robot and set the scene for three days of dynamic conversations.”

    Worsley addressed these issues in the opening keynote session with Chris Nassetta, President and CEO, Hilton, which this week announced it has the largest active pipeline in the GCC in terms of both rooms and properties, with more than 16,000 keys under construction and scheduled to open before 2020, according to STR.

    Chris Nassetta said that while AI and robotics would be a part of Hilton’s future, at its core Hilton is a “business of people serving people”.

    “Our Team Members differentiate Hilton by delivering an exceptional experience, something that is different from what people can get in another place, something that’s special, something that’s memorable, something that makes them want to come back,” commented Nassetta. “The way I think of innovation, is how do we take the core of what we do and make it even better?”

    The topic of technological breakthroughs, such as AI, was identified as one of the top five megatrends by PwC Middle East’s Partner and Deals Real Estate Leader Dr. Martin Berlin, who unveiled the new PwC Report Global Megatrends and their impact on Hospitality in the Middle East at AHIC.

    The trends presented by PwC were: Demographic and Social Change, with a polarising demand shift from the Silver Tourist to the Millennials and Generation Z; Shift in Global Economic Powers, as emerging economies are expected to surpass advanced economies in terms of international tourism arrivals by 2020; Accelerating Urbanisation, with 40 global megacities forecast by 2025; Climate Change and Resource Scarcity, predicted to impact the attractiveness of the Middle East as a destination; and Technological Breakthroughs, with connectivity as a key component of this.

    As Dr. Berlin explained: “The travel and tourism industry has witnessed rapid and fundamental infiltration of digitisation across the entire value chain. Combined with the demographic and social change the digitisation will lead to a change of the ‘delivery’ of hospitality products and services.”

    These game-changing trends, or Catalysts of Change, shaped much of the conversation in the opening CEOs’ panel session, featuring Stefan Leser, Group Chief Executive Officer, Jumeirah Group; Olivier Harnisch, Chief Executive Officer, Emaar Hospitality Group; Steven Daines, CEO New Businesses and CEO HotelServices Africa and Middle East, AccorHotels; Alex Kyriakidis, President and MD, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International; and Robert Welanetz, CEO, Majid Al Futtaim Properties & Acting CEO Majid Al Futtaim Hotels, moderated by Dr Berlin.

    Photos credit: Arabian Hotel Investment Conference

    Photos credit: Arabian Hotel Investment Conference

    Referring to the five PwC trends, Alex Kyriakidis said: “To take a couple and put them on the top, unquestionably there would be technology and not just its impact on the guest and the consumer but also on the way we operate. The second trend [to highlight] would be demographics – the changing demographics and what does that mean for technology and everything else that we do”.

    The panelists were in agreement and emphasised the fact that technology impacted both the front- and back-of-house functions of their business. At Emaar Hospitality Group, Olivier Harnisch, who took up his role on March 1, 2017, said he was interested in the potential of IoT and near-field communications to “really change the nature of our guests’ stay”.

    Harnisch commented: “If you think about it, a guest’s stay is still full of friction, right? All of us travel a lot and just think about how many tasks are repetitive…you have to programme your safe, reset the shower, set up the gym equipment…all this uses data that is available and could be automated with the two functions [IoT and near-field communication] that I mentioned.”

    Stefan Leser said he was focused on using IoT and digitisation, which he referred to as Industry 4.0, to enable Jumeirah Group “to run hotels in a very different manner”, using predictive maintenance in favour of preventative maintenance as an example.

    Accor’s Steven Daines said he believed there is a “disruption going on that is much wider and much deeper” regarding the way that consumers look at travel and hospitality as a whole.

    “Technology and intelligence and data are going to be the major disrupters in the coming years and that’s in two ways,” said Daines.

    Firstly, he said they would impact the way hoteliers both extract data and feed databases in a worthwhile way to personalise services and secondly, Daines predicted that the consumer would have access to better data as they researched travel and accommodation.

    “It’s so time consuming and tiring today to look for a holiday and I’m sure the intelligence will improve for the customer as well, and that’s something I’m not sure we are quite prepared for,” observed Daines.

    On the subject of planning and preparation, speaking from the investor’s perspective, Robert Welanetz, CEO, Majid Al Futtaim Properties, said he believed owners and operators faced a big challenge considering the vast investment technology required versus the risk of its “shelf-life until the next best idea”. Here, Stefan Leser urged the industry to focus predominately on the impact of the technology, not the timing of it.

    “In my role as CEO I need to make the calls about where the true impact lies. I need to be right on the impact, I don’t need to be right on the timing. If there is one conclusion out of the last 10 years of technology, a lot of times you have underestimated the impact and you have overestimated the time of arrival and I think that is one of the conclusions that we need to be right on”.

    The conversation at AHIC will continue over the next two days, with future discussions centred around topics including the mid-market, asset management, overseas investment, F&B, brands, third-party management and alternative investment models.

    Viceroy Palm Jumeirah Dubai opening end of March

    1000 562 Daniel Fountain

    Opening on 31st March 2017, Viceroy Palm Jumeirah Dubai will bring a touch of the playful Viceroy LA vibe to the region and will mark the brand’s second property in the UAE.

    Designed by the innovative Yabu Pushelberg and NAO Taniyama and Associates, the 477-room beachfront resort is located at the base of the trunk of the Palm Jumeirah, overlooking the Arabian Gulf and the Dubai Marina Skyline.

    Viceroy Palm Jumeirah Dubai’s pioneering design and trailblazing architecture was inspired by ancient Roman amphitheatres with its glass-clad structure, creating a real sense of space and light, allowing views of the pool and sea to filter through. A striking, one-of-a-kind, 15 metre-by-15 metre glass cube will take centre stage in the lobby. A show stopping 60-metre statement swimming pool will run through the heart of the hotel, flanked with palm trees, shaded sunbeds and a sleek bar, complete with sunken bar seating and tables.

    Viceroy Palm Jumeirah Dubai opening March 31st 2017

    The glamourous interiors have been designed to capture the heat, energy and vibe of this fun-loving city with a calming colour palette of teal and bronze mixed with touches of light and dark wood, brushed bronze and marble creating balance and refinement. All 477 of the elegant guestrooms give a subtle nod to the art deco era, boasting their own balconies, spacious Greek and Italian marbled bathrooms and rain showers stocked with Natura Bissé and Roil amenities as well as interactive 42” LCD televisions, refreshment centres with cocktail making facilities and coffee machines. The standout four bedroom villas feature their own private plunge pools and Jacuzzis as well as exclusive access to the hotel’s very own yacht.

    Viceroy Palm Jumeirah Dubai opening March 31st 2017

    A luxurious 1,675sqm spa will provide a cutting-edge wellness experience, blending the latest aesthetic medical-based treatments from LA with a programme of holistic locally-inspired massages and hammam treatments. The spa will comprise 14 standalone treatment rooms, including four open air cabanas, hammam, spa pool, relaxation lounge, spa café and fully-equipped TechnoGym fitness centre with personal training upon request and complimentary daily classes including bootcamp, beach buddy workouts and yoga A carefully curated selection of premium spa brands will be offered including body and face treatments from Natura Bisse, QMS and Guinot and cleansing hammam rituals with local brand Terres D’Afrique.

    Viceroy Palm Jumeirah Dubai opening March 31st 2017

    Viceroy Palm Jumeirah Dubai will provide a spectacular backdrop to any event or special celebration, boasting a 600sqm Vista Ballroom suspended on the 14th floor with panoramic views across the Arabian Gulf, accommodating up to 350 guests. There will also be three fully-equipped meeting rooms, with a combined capacity of 245sqm with views towards the Burj Khalifa.

    Commenting on the forthcoming opening, General Manager, Mikael Svensson said, “I am extremely proud to be involved in such a landmark launch which will inject a new and refreshing LA vibe into the Dubai hotel scene.”

    “We have exceptional stat-of-the-art facilities but it is our dedicated, fun-loving and passionate team that is the core essence of Viceroy Palm Jumeirah Dubai. We actually ripped up the rule book in terms of pre-opening staff training and engaged a theatrical company to run a number of workshops, resulting in the creation this outstanding team and we cannot wait welcome our first guests on March 31st.”

    viceroyhotelsandresorts.com

    Mori Sushi Dubai - Viero

    Project Spotlight: Viero at Mori Sushi, Dubai

    730 438 Daniel Fountain

    Viero is proud of its status as a truly global brand. A recently completed Marmorin Hydro project has seen our luxury surface finishes arrive in Dubai.

    The first Mori Sushi restaurant in the UAE’s city is styled superbly with the movement and textures offered by the product.

    Accompanied by some excellent other interior touches based on the ancient philosophical idea of feng shui, this is a project the company is extremely proud of.

    Customers can visit to enjoy the traditional Japanese dishes surrounded by the ambience created with a touch of Viero.

    Mori Sushi Dubai - Viero

    Mori Sushi Dubai - Viero

    Mori Sushi Dubai - Viero

    www.viero.co.uk
    enquiries@viero.co.uk
    0870 609 2827

    Address Boulevard

    Emaar unveils Address Boulevard in Downtown Dubai

    719 480 Daniel Fountain

    Address Hotels + Resorts, the premium luxury hotel brand of Emaar Hospitality Group, has unveiled its new city lifestyle resort, Address Boulevard.

    Chris Newman, Chief Operating Officer of Emaar Hospitality Group, said: “Address Boulevard is another statement of our ambition to set new industry standards. It is uniquely positioned as a city lifestyle resort – which integrates all the romantic charm of a resort with the convenience, amenities and appeal of a city hotel.”

    Address Boulevard has 196 spacious rooms including 116 Deluxe Rooms, 44 Deluxe Club Rooms, 28 One-Bedroom Suites, seven Two-Bedroom Suites and a luxurious Presidential Suite – all offering spectacular views of Burj Khalifa. There are also 532 serviced apartments including duplexes and two penthouses; short-term guests at the residences have guaranteed access to the hotel’s facilities.

    With its inspiring art-deco architecture, design and décor, Address Boulevard is inspired by classic European finesse. Appealing to leisure and business travellers, the hotel is perfect for overseas visitors with easy proximity to retail and leisure attractions including The Dubai Mall, the world’s largest shopping and entertainment destination. It is also in close to Dubai Opera, the multi-format performing arts venue. Business guests have the convenience of being located near Dubai International Financial Centre and Dubai International Convention Centre.

    Address Boulevard

    A distinguishing feature is the incredible art installations that define the hotel’s interiors by 48 artists. The signature dining space, The Restaurant at Address, simulates the experience of a luxurious European apartment of a well-travelled family in the 1920s, providing classic dishes in sublime surroundings. From a multi-function room that seats 80 to intimate meeting rooms and a state-of-the-art Boardroom, Address Boulevard offers diverse choices that meet the requirements of event planners.

    Through its three hotel brands – Address Hotels + Resorts, Vida Hotels and Resorts and Rove Hotels – Emaar Hospitality Group today operates ten hotels and three serviced residences in Dubai. For more details: addresshotels.com

    Central Hotels - Dubai 2017

    Central Hotels reveals 3 new hotels in Dubai for 2017

    1024 623 Daniel Fountain

    Growing its footprint rapidly, Central Hotels, has announced aggressive expansion plans with three new hotels lined up for opening in Dubai in 2017.

    Unveiling the group’s upcoming projects in The Palm and Business Bay, Mr Ahmad Ali Al Abdulla Alansaari, Chairman of Central Hotels, stated: “2017 is a very exciting year for us with three exceptional properties opening in quick succession. This massive expansion will double our existing inventory of rooms from 524 to 1,220 keys and reflects our commitment to serve the needs of our guests with great value in iconic locations such as The Palm and Business Bay.”

    Central Hotels - Dubai 2017

    Giving details about the new projects opening in 2017, Mr Ammar Kanaan, General Manager of Central Hotels, said: “Bay Central located at The Burj Khalifa district features 284 keys and is expected to welcome its first guests in the third quarter of 2017 followed by two other hotels of 208 and 204 keys each in The Palm. All three properties are in the 4-star category and progressing well towards completion.”

    Mr Alansaari, said: “In addition to the existing development, our aim is to add another five hotels to our outstanding portfolio of properties by 2018 creating greater choice and opportunities for our guests, associates and stakeholders. We are in the midst of advanced negotiations for three fabulous projects in KSA as well as two hotels in the UAE. These accomplishments are designed to position Central Hotels for continued success in the years ahead.”

    Nakheel, Minor Hotels - AVANI Ibn Battuta Dubai

    Minor Hotels, Nakheel join for new-build AVANI in Dubai

    600 400 Daniel Fountain

    Minor Hotels, currently with a portfolio of 156 hotels and resorts in 24 countries across Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Europe, South America, Africa and the Indian Ocean, has signed a management agreement with UAE master developer Nakheel for a new AVANI hotel in Dubai.

    The 372-key AVANI Ibn Battuta Dubai Hotel will be developed by Nakheel and will be located adjacent to the recently-opened Ibn Battuta Metro Link, which is directly connected to Ibn Battuta Mall. The new-build 18-storey hotel will feature a pool, a spa, a gym, an all-day dining restaurant, a coffee shop and car parking.

    Nakheel, Minor Hotels - AVANI Ibn Battuta Dubai

    Launched by Minor Hotels in 2011, AVANI Hotels & Resorts is an upscale, contemporary brand appealing to millennial minded travellers who appreciate quality and value. AVANI currently has 17 properties in operation in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Seychelles, Mozambique, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zambia and the UAE and MH has plans to grow the brand across its global footprint.

    Minor Hotels currently operates 14 properties in the Middle East across four of its brands – Anantara, AVANI, Oaks and PER AQUUM and has a further strong pipeline in the region with new properties under development in the United Arab Emirates (in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah), Bahrain, Morocco and Tunisia.

    Centara - Nakheel

    Nakheel and Centara sign joint venture for UAE resort

    850 566 Daniel Fountain

    UAE developer Nakheel and leading Thai hotel group Centara Hotels and Resorts has signed a joined venture agreement to create a 550-room, beachfront resort with waterpark at Deira Islands in Dubai.

    Under the agreement, cemented in Bangkok, the two companies will deliver an upscale resort on a prime stretch of beach on Deira Islands – Nakheel’s new, 15.3 sq-km, tourism, leisure, retail and entertainment hub that will contribute significantly to the Government of Dubai’s tourism vision.

    Nakheel’s joint venture with Centara is the latest development in the company’s aggressive expansion into Dubai’s hospitality sector and its second international joint venture for Deira Islands. The first, an 800-room, AED900 million (£203 million) all-inclusive resort and waterpark with Spain’s RIU Hotels & Resorts, was confirmed in February last year.

    As the first Centara establishment in the UAE, the new resort will cover an area of 295,900 sq-ft. Features include a waterpark, dining facilities, business centre, kids’ club, spa and fitness centre. The resort is anticipated to have soft opening in 2019 and grand opening in 2020.

    Centara Hotels & Resorts is part of Central Group, one of Thailand’s most prominent family-owned conglomerate holding companies that is involved in merchandising, real estate, retailing, hospitality and restaurants. Centara’ s portfolio currently includes around 14,000 room keys across 65 hotels and resorts under six distinctive brands in Asia, Indian Ocean, and the Middle East.

    Nakheel currently has over 5,300 rooms across 16 hotels, resorts and serviced apartments in operation or under development, with the first two – at Dragon Mart and Ibn Battuta Mall – delivered in 2016.

    Deira Islands, where Nakheel has already invested more than AED3 billion (£677 million) in infrastructure work, coastal works and design services for a range of new projects, will add 40km, including 21km of beach, to Dubai’s coastline. Nakheel recently completed an AED150 million (£33.8 million) access bridge to the islands, and has just released a tender for the construction of six marinas. The development is expected to have around 250,000, create more than 80,000 new jobs, and offer hundreds of new hotels, serviced apartments and mixed-use buildings, and extensive retail and leisure attractions. Nakheel itself is building 16 residential towers, five hotels, two serviced apartment complexes, Deira Mall, Deira Islands Night Souk and several marinas at the islands.

    Zenith Holiday Homes

    Bespoke Residences partners with Zenith across Dubai

    987 535 Daniel Fountain

    Bespoke Hotels Middle East and Africa is pleased to announce it has reached agreement to operate 74 residential units across Dubai, from the Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Marina, to Dubai International Financial Centre and Sports City, in partnership with Zenith Holiday Homes.

    The residential units, which will be operated under the ‘Bespoke Residences’ banner, will fall within Zenith’s expanding portfolio of rental apartments and villas across the region where they have been established since 2009.

    Zenith Holiday Homes

    The unique model of Bespoke Residences, which combines the benefits of a franchise model with the managerial and operational expertise of a flagship boutique hotel group, is designed to affiliate property owners alongside the international presence of Bespoke Hotels, and in turn elevate the standards of service within the holiday homes sector. One of the first such solutions to arrive on the market, it has been devised to support the needs of owners of leisure real estate by providing the quality of service and professionalism associated with the leading players in the hospitality industry.

    Zenith Holiday Homes

    “Bespoke Residences was created with the aim of maintaining individual units to the home owner’s benefit, through both employing the operational expertise of Bespoke Hotels, as well as our robust sales and marketing channels”, commented Nick Turner, Managing Director of Bespoke Hotels International. “We are therefore delighted to have agreed this deal with Zenith Holiday Homes, who boast one of the most impressive portfolios in the region.”

    “We have been extremely impressed with the expertise and professionalism displayed by Bespoke Hotels”, added Anton Elizarov, CEO of Zenith Holiday Homes. “We believe they are ideally positioned to enhance both the profile and performance of our rapidly-expanding selection of properties, and to establish a key position within the local market.”

    Ritz-Carlton, RAK

    Ritz-Carlton signs agreement for RAK properties

    900 450 Daniel Fountain

    The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company has signed a management agreement with RAK National Hotels, an owner of hotels and resorts in Ras Al Khaimah, a subsidiary of RAK Hospitality Holding, and Al Hamra Real Estate Development, marking its entry into the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah.

    The brand will manage The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Hamra Beach and The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert, growing the brand’s footprint in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to five by 2017.

    The management agreement, which goes into effect on December 15th, will see the beach property close for comprehensive renovations, whilst the desert property will remain open and operate as a partner hotel – Al Wadi Desert, Ras Al Khaimah, a Ritz-Carlton Partner Hotel. Both properties following the renovations are scheduled to be re-launched in 2017 under The Ritz-Carlton stewardship.

    The renovations include total refurbishment of the Al Hamra beach property a 32 all-villa luxury resort, and upgrading the Al Wadi property, a 101 all-villa desert escape. The two new additions to The Ritz-Carlton portfolio are enclaves of bespoke Arabian-style villas that stretch along a private shore of white sand and the vast undulating expanse of the desert respectively.

    DUKES Dubai

    DUKES Dubai – a quintessentially British hotel in UAE

    1000 590 Daniel Fountain

    Luxury hotel group, DUKES COLLECTION, is thrilled to announce the much anticipated opening of DUKES DUBAI in December 2016, situated at the beginning of the famous Palm Jumeirah, a highly-coveted location for this five-star hotel.

    DUKES DUBAI will encompass a quintessentially British feel inspired by its famous London counterpart, DUKES LONDON. The hotel is delighted to be working with a range of the best of British suppliers, bringing these to the UAE for the first time.

    ======
    RELATED: DUKES LONDON to undergo multi-million pound refurbishment
    ======

    Of the exciting new venture, Managing Director of DUKES COLLECTION Debrah Dhugga said: “DUKES DUBAI will be a true British gem in Dubai, offering both corporate travellers and holidaymakers an oasis of luxury and old-English charm, and espousing everything that makes us proud to be British.”

    DUKES Dubai

    Spread over 15 floors, DUKES DUBAI will consist of 506 gorgeous rooms in total. This includes 279 bedrooms, of which 64 will be luxury suites, and 20 will make up part of the women-only Duchess floor, plus 227 fully furnished hotel apartments. The hotel will also boast an outdoor infinity pool with dramatic views over the ocean and the hotel’s private beach as well as an atmospheric indoor pool and cocktail bar on the 15th floor.

    DUKES Dubai

    DUKES DUBAI will open two first-class dining options to suit every guest’s palette: The Great British Restaurant (GBR) and Khyber, both headed up by award winning Executive Head Chef, Martin Cahill, and serving up delectable cuisines from around the world.

    DUKES Dubai

    Fans of DUKES LONDON will recognise the famous DUKES Bar, replicated in the Dubai hotel, and of course serving up the renowned DUKES Martinis by one of the hotel’s own expert bar managers. DUKES’ much-loved afternoon tea will also be making the move to Dubai, with a dedicated Tea Lounge available to guests to enjoy a delicious and indulgent treat. Those looking for a refined evening will find peace and privacy in the Gentleman’s Cigar Lounge, where guests can indulge in this truly British tradition.

    A quintessentially British gem in the heart of Dubai, DUKES DUBAI will bring traditional values and old-fashioned glamour to Palm Jumeriah, standing out from other hotels across Dubai.

    W Hotels UAE

    W Hotels Worldwide debuts in United Arab Emirates

    999 608 Daniel Fountain

    W Hotels Worldwide, part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, today announced the debut of W Dubai – Al Habtoor City, the brand’s first hotel in the emirate.

    Owned by the Al Habtoor Group, the design-led lifestyle brand is set to shake up the destination with its rooftop W Lounge, pulsating WET pool deck and innovative fashion and music happenings. The opening marks the W brand’s second outpost in the Middle East, following the debut of W Doha in 2009.

    Set within the ambitious Al Habtoor City project, the Emirate’s first fully-integrated urban resort, W Dubai – Al Habtoor City rises 33 stories above the vibrant Sheikh Zayed Road, overlooking the newly built Dubai Water Canal. Upon arrival, guests are whisked up 30 floors to the W Lounge (the W brand’s reinterpretation of the staid hotel lobby) where a jaw-dropping, panoramic view of the shimmering city awaits.

    Destination restaurant Namu, located above the W Lounge, bathes diners in golden light from the setting sun, offering an original fusion of Japanese and Korean flavors served in a futuristic setting with asymmetrical furnishings. Level Seven, a causal and sociable hotspot, serves fresh Mediterranean cuisine from a theatrical open kitchen and features a chef’s table, and crudo bar.

    The menu is inspired by the chef’s daily market finds and seasonal produce, including small, shareable plates. Adorned with wood, steel and vintage art, the natural Mediterranean-inspired décor sets the tone for a relaxing and delectable meal.

    Igniting the pulsing heart of Dubai’s social scene is the hotel’s WET Deck. Boldly landscaped, the WET pool deck transforms from a glamorous place to lounge by day, with outdoor pools, private cabanas, light bites and refreshing drinks, to an evening hotspot to see and be seen. DJs play hypnotic sets while guests sip on W signature cocktails and soak in the sultry, vibrant atmosphere.

    Nakheel partnering with Hilton for new Dubai hotel

    Nakheel to partner with Hilton for new hotel at Dubai’s Jumeirah Village

    600 362 Daniel Fountain

    Dubai master developer Nakheel today signed a Letter of Intent with Hilton Worldwide to manage a new, 256-room hotel at Jumeirah Village Triangle.

    Under the proposed agreement, the 18-storey hotel will be managed under the DoubleTree by Hiltonbrand, known for its warm, friendly service that provides upscale comfort for business and leisure travellers.

    Announced three weeks ago as a major new feature of Nakheel’s upcoming Al Khail Avenue retail, dining and leisure hub, DoubleTree by Hilton will be directly linked to the mall’s 350 shops, restaurants and entertainment outlets.

    The hotel will have 256 rooms (including four suites), an all-day restaurant, coffee shop, lounge, outdoor terrace, pool deck, gymnasium and car park, as well as a leisure club with preferential membership rates for residents of the Jumeirah Village Triangle community.

    Nakheel awarded the AED1.5 billion contract to build the mall and hotel complex earlier this month. Construction will begin in October this year, with completion in 2019.

    Nakheel’s growing hospitality portfolio includes nearly 5,200 rooms across 14 hotels and serviced apartment complexes at various locations in Dubai, while its retail project portfolio – the biggest in the Middle East – has more than 16 million square feet of lease space in operation or under development.

    Rezidor to open three hotels in UAE

    Rezidor signs three new hotels in UAE

    1000 551 Daniel Fountain

    Rezidor announces the signing of three new properties in the UAE: the Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Waterfront and the Park Inn by Radisson Resort Ras Al Khaimah Marjan Island will already welcome the first guests in Q2 of 2017. The Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Canal View will open its doors in Q1 of 2018.

    “The UAE is a key strategic market for us. Dubai, the world’s fourth most visited city in 2015 with 14.2 million overnight visitors has been on an unprecedented growth journey for the last decade. The emirate’s ambition is to hit 20 million visitors by 2020 and position the country as both a world-class business and leisure destination. We want to contribute to the on-going journey and support this fast-growing sector together with our experienced regional partners”, said Wolfgang Neumann, President & CEO of Rezidor.

    The Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Waterfront is located in the largest and most impressive waterfront development in the world within Business Bay known as Dubai Water Canal, the new business district of Dubai. The property will comprise 432 rooms including designer suites. It will offer several dining experiences, including one all-day dining restaurant and bar with stunning views of the Burj Khalifa – currently the tallest skyscraper in the world – a Makar Scottish bar and the brand’s signature FireLake Grill House and Cocktail Bar. Guests will also appreciate the pool and the spa. The property will also address local and international business guests with meeting and conferencing facilities on a surface of over 1,000sqm.

    Rezidor to open three hotels in UAE

    Also located on the Dubai Water Canal in the city’s new hub of Business Bay, the Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Canal View has an ideal central location. It comprises 188 stylish rooms and 16 suites, a meeting and conference area on a surface of 131 sqm, a business center and a 341sqm banquet hall. Guest will also enjoy one of Radisson Blu’s signature Food & Drink concepts in its four restaurants, one coffee shop, a selection of shops, a gymnasium on a total surface of 181sqm, and exceptional views of the Burj Khalifa.

    In the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, Rezidor is adding its first the Park Inn by Radisson Resort on Ras Al Khaimah Marjan Island. Meaning “headland of the small huts”, Ras Al Khaimah is a growing destination for leisure and business travel. On Marjan Island, Ras Al Khaimah’s first man-made archipelago, guests will enjoy impressive views of the Arabian Gulf. The beach resort, comprising of two buildings, will offer 408 rooms including 24 superior rooms, family rooms and suites, one all dining restaurant, 2 restaurants, one lobby café and one lobby bar. Extensive meeting and event spaces are planned, such as other facilities including a swimming pool and a spa.

    Distinction Group join forces with Tecnodeck for Hotel Show Dubai

    Distinction Group and Tecnodeck join forces for Hotel Show, Dubai

    999 562 Daniel Fountain

    London-based Distinction Group have partnered with Portuguese decking company Tecnodeck and the two will be exhibiting together at the forthcoming Hotel Show in Dubai.

    Distinction have been designing and manufacturing high quality furniture for over 30 years, working with both boutique and world-renowned hotel and development groups to create luxurious hotel bedrooms, bars and restaurants furnished and finished to the very highest standards. Distinction are proud of their British base but are gaining an enviable reputation in the Middle East, with a number of projects already underway or approaching completion in the region.

    Tecnodeck, a manufacturer of innovative wood-plastic composite decking, recognised the importance of the Middle East market some time ago and has been looking to grow its commercial presence in the region.

    Distinction Group join forces with Tecnodeck for Hotel Show Dubai

    “We know that Distinction is a well-recognised UK company and very well placed in this booming region of the world, with all the skills to promote and develop an interesting market for both companies” says Tecnodeck CEO Pedro Machado. “We decided the timing was right to establish a distribution co-operation. We already have projects running and the decision of both companies to exhibit together at the Hotel Show Dubai reflects our ongoing collaboration.”

    Distinction Sales and Marketing Director, Thomas Elliott agrees: “We’re very proud to be partnering with Tecnodeck for this year’s exhibition. Their innovative decking saw great interest at the Hotel Show Jeddah and we look to gain them more business here – their products are perfectly suited to the growing Saudi market and it only makes sense for us to partner at the show together.”

    “This is our third year attending the Hotel Show Dubai. The previous two shows have proved it to be the best platform for meeting new clients in the UAE, leading us to develop some of our biggest business deals in the region.”

    Distinction Group join forces with Tecnodeck for Hotel Show Dubai

    Distinction will be showing a selection of new furniture designs at the Show, including the striking Cubo Armchair and the EHL Chair. The EHL hotel chair has been designed specifically for the UAE climate, featuring a wood-effect metal frame to ensure durability.

    In Dubai, Distinction are working with luxury hotel brands such as The Langham hospitality Group and Viceroy, both to debut in 2017. Meeting this increasing demand for their sleek design and high quality finish, Distinction are planning a new showroom in Immam Shaffi Street, Jeddah. The showroom will allow for even smoother client liaison and project management, building on the company’s expertise and experience in the region.

    Distinction can be found at stand 3D121 at the Hotel Show Dubai, 17-19 September at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

    Rosemont Hotel - Artificial Rainforest

    Dubai’s Rosemont Hotel to feature artificial rainforest

    1000 531 Daniel Fountain

    Dubai is known for its outlandish and ambitious projects.

    And now, the upcoming Rosemont Hotel & Residences will feature the Middle East’s first rainforest. Designed by ZAS Architects, the hotel will house 450 rooms and 280 suites, offering amenities only Dubai could offer including a man-made beach, aquarium, infinity pool and trampoline park.

    Rosemont Hotel - Artificial Rainforest

    “When you’re being dropped off at the hotel, you’ll have 4D animations on the ceilings which change theme every week or every night,” ZAS Dubai managing partner DJ Armin told the Huffington Post. “Then you go into the lobbies, and you’ll be greeted by a robotic host.”

    As if a fake rainforest wasn’t enough, guests will be seen to by robotic hosts. “Of course, there will be a human host as well,” Armin added, but the march of hospitality technology appears not to be abating.

    Rosemont Hotel - Artificial Rainforest

    The hotel’s rainforest will be open air and will be open to hotel guests as well as outside visitors. “You’ll have dense trees, canopies, some sun coming through, and during the summertime we will use the recycled condensation from the towers to have the mist coming down from the trees to cool down the air,” Armin said.

    The Rosemont is already under construction and scheduled to be finished by the end of 2018.

    Images by Plompmozes

    W Hotel Dubai

    Silverfox Studios’ work on show at W Hotel Dubai

    770 520 Daniel Fountain

    W Hotels Worldwide, part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, opened W Hotel Dubai – Al Habtoor City on Sheikh Zayed Road in the UAE.

    Singapore-based firm Silverfox Studios were responsible for the design of the property. The hotel stands at 33 storeys high. Guests checking into the hotel are sent up 30 floors to the W Lounge, W Hotels’ reinterpretation of the traditional hotel lobby. Here, there are various lounge and entertainment areas set within a multi-tiered floor space.

    W Hotel Dubai – Al Habtoor City has 365 rooms and 76 suites, all with a contemporary design. Inspired by the hotel’s location, adjacent to Dubai’s Sheikh Zayed Road, the interiors have linear patterns. Future forward technology and custom furnishings double as abstract art to complement the color palette in the guestrooms.

    For dining, the property has Namu, Level Seven, W Lounge and the poolside venue WET Deck. There are six meeting rooms, with the largest meeting space measuring 7,804 square feet (725 square metres). Other amenities at the property include the WET indoor pool and FIT fitness centre.

    Paramount Hotel - one project in the pipeline for UAE hotel industry

    UAE hotel industry to open 54,000 new rooms

    700 450 Daniel Fountain

    A new report has revealed that there are 183 hotel projects and 54,000 hotel rooms in the UAE hotel industry pipeline.

    The hotel construction report by TopHotelProjects, exclusively written for Hotel Show Dubai 2016, says the majority of the new hotels are expected to open before 2020 and the busiest years are forecast to be 2017 (56 project openings) and 2018 (58 project openings).

    Hotels opening in this time include the Paramount Hotel Dubai (2017); Hard Rock Hotel Abu Dhabi (2017); Citymax Hotel Ras Al Khaimah (2017); and Marriott Dubai Jumeirah (2018).

    Dubai and Abu Dhabi continue to lead in hotel construction across the UAE with a combined 155 hotel projects and 47,619 rooms in the pipeline. Other emirates with hotel construction underway include: Sharjah with six projects (959 rooms) and Ras Al-Khaimah with five projects (1,847 rooms).

    Thomas van Vliet, CEO of Paramount Hotels & Resorts, said: “Paramount Hotel Dubai, expected to open by the end of 2017, will be the first ever Paramount Hotels & Resorts property as well as the operator’s UAE flagship hotel.

    “The hotel, part of a mixed use complex also housing 1,197 serviced residences, offers a luxurious experience with a Californian edge and Hollywood vibe, housing 823 guest rooms and suites, some of which are themed after Paramount Pictures movies. We have three more projects underway in Dubai, with a total of 1,383 keys,” he added.

    Dubai hotel projects

    Guest Blog: Bayut.com on Dubai’s most anticipated hotel projects

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    The reputation of oil as a sure-shot revenue generating product is currently on the wane as global economies try to shake off the impact of global recession of 2008. But the United Arab Emirates, which initially built its fortunes on oil, has known better.

    The nation understood the value as well as limitations of natural resources and took on the challenge of diversifying its sources of revenue. It has been on a roller coaster ride for the last two decades, putting strong emphasis on developing its real estate, financial services, logistics and especially its hospitality sectors, the result being that UAE has become one of the fastest growing and resilient economies in the world.

    It is the definitive tourism capital of the region and constant innovation in the sector means it could be the global tourism hub in the coming years. The abundant entertainment options that cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi have on offer attract millions of visitors each year, casting a positive shadow on their hospitality and real estate sectors.

    Dubai mega-tower

    The growing economy and developments in the all sectors mean Dubai and Abu Dhabi are never short on influx of expats, leading to a strong rental market in both cities. According to UAE realty portal Bayut.com, apartment rents in Dubai rose by a marginal 0.5% in February, following a 3% hike in January 2016.

    Potential
    As resilient as the country’s realty sector may be, the sector at the core of investors’ attention is none other than the hospitality sector. With theme parks lined up one after the other and Expo 2020 promising great turnout, the need for hotels is rising. Fortunately, the real estate developers in Dubai are not blind to the fact and have doubled their efforts in developing world-class hotels and recreational spots to act as a hinge for the emirate’s tourism sector. The hotel projects that the emirate is currently developing can most likely anchor Dubai’s hospitality and tourism industry to put it on the path of becoming the emirate’s number one revenue generating sector. In 2016, Dubai is ready to inaugurate some of the most luxurious hotels, which are also some of the most eagerly awaited.

    Viceroy Palm Jumeirah
    The Viceroy Palm Jumeirah, as the name indicates, is located in the emirate’s man-made palm shaped island, famously known as Palm Jumeirah. Slated to be opened in September 2016, the luxurious hotel offers 477 deluxe rooms and suites, coupled with 40 hotel apartments. In addition, it would also have 222 signature Viceroy Residences for those wanting to immerse themselves in the luxuries of high-end living.
    Viceroy Palm Jumeirah
    Time Royal Hotel
    Time Royal Hotel provides the perfect setting for visitors who are interested in spending quality time in a brand new hotel in Dubai. Being developed in Dubai Healthcare City and awaiting inauguration in December 2016, the hotel will feature 277 rooms, three restaurants, a self-indulgent spa, an outdoor Jacuzzi and an indoor kids club. Moreover, the hotel is expected to become a medical tourism destination by offering 22 specially equipped suites to fulfil the needs of travelers belonging to the field of medicine. It goes without saying that hotels in Dubai are world-renowned for offering exceptional hospitality services to visitors and these two hotel projects don’t seem like ones to backtrack on their promise of providing opulent lifestyle choices to guests.

    Time Royal Hotel Dubai
    Apart from these two main developments, other hotel projects are currently undergoing construction work. Nakheel Properties recently struck a deal with Thailand’s renowned Minor Hotel Group to manage its new hotel at the Ibn Battuta Mall. The mall, which is undergoing expansion will see the opening of Avani Hotels and Resorts-branded 373-room property along with a 372-room Premier Inn hotel. Though, the former is expected to open in 2018, the latter is expected to open this year.

    Nakheel Properties has also signed a deal with a Spanish hospitality company RIU Hotels to also open another hotel in Dubai, while announcing plans to launch 10 new hotels across the emirate to make the most of a growing tourist base that can ensure a healthy revenue stream for the emirate.

    With new buildings springing up around Dubai on a frequent basis, it seems that the tourism and hospitality sector will carry the emirate’s real estate sector forward and usher in a lucrative era for Dubai’s realty sector that can very well prove to be pennies from heaven…

    With thanks to www.bayut.com

    Deira Dubai property to become AVANI hotel

    Minor Hotels announces AVANI take-over of Dubai property

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    Minor Hotels has announced that from 1st July 2016 it will be taking over the operation of the 216-room Mövenpick Hotel Deira in Dubai. The property will operate under the group’s AVANI Hotels & Resorts brand as the AVANI Deira Dubai Hotel.

    This represents a milestone for Minor Hotels as the first AVANI hotel in the Middle East. The change comes after the hotel’s parent company, Bin Sulayem Investments, signed a management agreement with Minor Hotels.

    Located in one of the most diverse and culturally rich parts of the city, this upscale hotel offers 216 guest rooms and two unique dining concepts, meeting rooms, an outdoor pool and a fully equipped gym.

    Robert Kunkler, Chief Operating Officer of Minor Hotels, said “This key acquisition to our portfolio allows Minor Hotels to take a strategic foothold in the Middle East for our fast expanding AVANI Hotels & Resorts brand in what is a vitally important market. We are thrilled to continue our excellent relationship with Bin Sulayem Investments. AVANI Deira Dubai Hotel will have the freedom to establish and maintain its individuality and distinct character while benefitting from being part of the Minor Hotels portfolio.”

    AVANI Hotels & Resorts was launched in 2011 to complement Minor Hotels’ five star Anantara brand. AVANI offers relaxed comfort and contemporary style in city and resort destinations to guests who value the details that matter. The brand currently has 13 properties in operation in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Seychelles, Mozambique, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Zambia, with a pipeline of further openings in Asia, the Indian Ocean and the Middle East. MH has plans to grow the brand across its global footprint.

    Waldorf Astoria DIFC

    Waldorf Astoria to open in Dubai’s financial district

    1000 562 Daniel Fountain

    Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts will open a property in the Middle East’s leading gateway for capital and investment, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

    Waldorf Astoria DIFC is expected to begin welcoming guests in autumn 2017, and will offer travellers timeless luxury and exceptional experiences in this bustling area of Dubai. The hotel will join a prestigious portfolio of 25 Waldorf Astoria properties operating in diverse global destinations such as Amsterdam, Beijing and New York.

    “Sound fundamentals underpin our luxury story in the Middle East, where we have seen exceptional growth in locations tailored for both leisure and business travellers,” said Carlos Khneisser, Vice President of Development, Middle East and North Africa for Hilton Worldwide. “I have long admired the role DIFC plays in the world of international investment, benefitting from its east meets west location and world-class trading framework. As an iconic luxury brand originating from New York, another centre of global finance, I am delighted that we will welcome Waldorf Astoria to this international hub.”

    Forming part of a mixed-use residential, retail and office-space development, Waldorf Astoria DIFC will feature 247 guest rooms, as well as a range of upscale dining options, spa and wellness facilities. Significant events space will include a grand ballroom and a further four meeting rooms, designed for social occasions and corporate events.

    Dubai enjoys a prestigious reputation as a destination of choice for business and leisure travellers – with its array of upscale tourist attractions, attractive climate as well as being a hub for business and commerce in the region. The upcoming Dubai Expo 2020 will shine a year-long spotlight on the Emirate as more than 25 million visitors are expected to attend.

    Across the Middle East, Hilton Worldwide is rapidly expanding its portfolio of mid-market, upscale and luxury properties within its distinct portfolio of brands. In 2015, notable milestones included the opening of three Hilton Garden Inn hotels in Dubai; the signing of an agreement for the the first Hampton by Hilton in the Middle East; as well as confirmation of the first Curio, a Collection by Hilton for Dubai with The Rosemont Hotel & Residences.

    Waldorf Astoria Dubai International Financial Centre will be located on Al Saada Street, opposite DIFC and approximately 10 kilometres from Dubai International Airport (DXB).

    Dusit Hotels to bring hotel apartment project to Dubai

    Dusit to break ground on new Dubai project

    474 343 Daniel Fountain

    Dusit Hotels and Resorts has announced the signing of a technical design agreement with ACES Property Development to bring a new hotel apartment project under the DusitPrincess brand to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

    The agreement was formalised at a signing ceremony recently held at the Dusit Thani Bangkok presided over by executives from both companies, including Dusit’s Group Chief Executive Officer Ms Suphajee Suthumpun and Founding Director of ACES, Mr Kashif Shahzad.

    The DusitPrincess ACES Dubai will be located in the Jumeirah Village Circle, in close proximity to the new Al Makhtoum International Airport, the Palm Jumeirah, and other exciting shopping and entertainment venues. Full details will be released at the project’s ground-breaking ceremony to be held soon.

    www.dusit.com

    Burj Al Arab Terrace

    Burj Al Arab Terrace project officially opens

    1000 444 Daniel Fountain

    Last month marked the unveiling and official launch of the highly anticipated Burj Al Arab Terrace. Located at Dubai’s most iconic hotel, the terrace is a remarkable, one-of-a-kind restaurant, pool, beach and cabana space, offering hotel guests and Burj Al Arab members the finest Arabian hospitality.

    Burj Al Arab Terrace is a world-first in marine and off-site construction, having been developed by marine construction experts ADMARES at a shipyard site in Finland. It was then transported by ship to Dubai in eight pieces, ensuring minimal distruption to guests, as well as the seabed and marine life.

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    RELATED: VIDEO – Jumeirah’s Burj Al Arab adding innovative ‘North Deck’ project
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    Now in place, the private 10,000-metre-squared outdoor luxury leisure facility seamlessly stretches 100m out into the sea and is home to Scape Restaurant & Bar, two stunning pools, dedicated butler-serviced cabanas, and a beach area with luxury day and sunbeds. As such, Burj Al Arab Terrace is not only pushing the boundaries of construction, but also of design, architecture and hospitality.

    Anthony McHale, General Manager, Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, commented: “As the world’s most luxurious hotel, Burj Al Arab continuously evolves and re-invents our guest experience through state-of-the-art facilities. Burj Al Arab Terrace is the ultimate destination for indulgence, socialising and relaxing and is another initiative in our endeavour to delight our guests.”

    Burj Al Arab Terrace

    Commenting further on the design and scale, he said: “Burj Al Arab Terrace is our most ambitious project since the hotel was created; it’s a global first in hotel construction with a breakthough combination of creative marine design, ingenious engineering and guest-friendly planning. In January, we announced its arrival on a ship from Finland and, since then, our construction and design teams have brought our vision to life and the result is simply spectacular.”

    Stefan Leser, Group Chief Executive Officer, Jumeirah Group, added: “The Burj Al Arab Terrace is a new Dubai landmark and a symbol of innovation and engineering excellence. A masterpiece in design and architecture, it reinforces Dubai as an outstanding destination and leader in global hospitality. We are immensely proud to offer such a distinctive experience, which will considerably enhance the enjoyment of our Burj Al Arab guests.”

    The Design
    The architectural form of the terrace has been designed to reflect the shape of Burj Al Arab, creating a fusion of sophisticated, contemporary structures and tranquil stretches of water. Linked by a central walkway, flanked on either side by crystalline beaches and private cabanas, it gives an effect of a stylised tropical forest canopy, with contrasting areas of dappled light and shade.

    Burj Al Arab Terrace

    A palette of earth tones and clean, sharp whites, highlight the contrasting colours of nature, while the highest quality glass has been used extensively and creatively, from the panels throughout the interior spaces, to the specially commissioned handmade light installations in Scape Restaurant & Bar.

    The design also incorporates a 612m2 freshwater pool and an 828m2 saltwater infinity pool, which melts into the horizon to create the mirage of a continuous ebb of water. 10 million mosaic tiles in shades of azure and gold line the pools, while 1,000 tonnes of white sand creates the dazzling beach. Set within the pools are four Jacuzzis and a swim-up bar.

    www.jumeirah.com
    Photos: Burj Al Arab website, Jumeirah

    St. Regis Dubai Bentley Suite

    St. Regis Hotel Dubai debuts custom-made Bentley Suite

    998 636 Daniel Fountain

    St. Regis Hotels & Resorts and Bentley Motors are delighted to introduce a new level of luxury to the Middle East with the debut of region’s first Bentley Suite at The St. Regis Dubai in Al Habtoor City. The Bentley Suite is inspired by the bespoke craftsmanship of the pinnacle Bentley Mulsanne. This is the third Bentley Suite in the world, following the launch of suites at The St. Regis New York in 2012 and The St. Regis Istanbul last year.

    “We are proud to extend our global partnership with Bentley to the Middle East where we recently unveiled the first of three St. Regis hotels to open in Dubai,” says Jim Petrus, Global Brand Leader, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts. “The Bentley Suite at The St. Regis Dubai in Al Habtoor City is designed for the modern aficionado of luxury and performance, exemplifying the heritage and commitment to excellence of both brands.”

    St. Regis Dubai Bentley Suite

    The Bentley Suite, designed by Wimberly Interiors, features hand-crafted finishes and one-of-a-kind furnishings throughout, combining the refined style associated with the experience of a Bentley with the impeccable elegance of the St. Regis brand. Located on the fourth floor of The St. Regis Dubai, the custom-designed one-bedroom Bentley Suite features a spacious entry foyer, generous living room and dining area with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the hotel’s manicured gardens, as well as a lavish marble bathroom, walk-in wardrobe and dedicated dressing area. “We are honoured to continue our design partnership with St. Regis with the debut of the Bentley Suite in Dubai, and look forward to collaborating with St. Regis and Bentley Motors on innovations in the future,” comments Liana Hawes, Creative Director, Wimberly Interiors.

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    RELATED: St. Regis Dubai unveils Sir Winston Churchill Suite
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    Upon entering the 195 square metre (2,098 square feet) suite through bespoke Bentley-painted double doors, guests are greeted by the defining characteristics of the luxury automobile brand: a blend of cream and neutral tones, set against the rich wood finishes, elegant marble floors and leather accents on handcrafted furnishings. The entrance to the suite features polished steel detailing and a sleek walnut veneer ceiling.

    In the living room, an exquisite LED chandelier inspired by the headlights of the Mulsanne takes center stage above the 12-seat, smoked fiddleback veneer dining table. Adding to the room’s mix of rich textures is a carved rug reminiscent of the matrix grille on the Mulsanne. Consistent with Bentley’s ‘hidden delights’ concept, the main wall slides back to expose a TV screen and five Breitling clocks keeping time across major gateway cities.

    St. Regis Dubai Bentley Suite
    The adjacent study echoes Bentley’s signature Mulliner room with veneer walls, a silk carpet and a luxurious porpoise sofa adorned with cushions featuring Bentley seat belt detailing. Offering residential serenity, this study interprets the signature concept of concealing to reveal a custom made multi-compartment coffee table and Bentley ice lacquer and porpoise hide tray detail.

    The master bedroom features stitched leather walls and bedside tables inspired by the Mulsanne Speed wing emblem in Burr walnut. In the dressing room, Bentley’s signature diamond detailing is etched into the frame of the mirror.

    The St. Regis Dubai marked the debut of the St. Regis brand in Dubai when it opened in November last year. The hotel is part of the Al Habtoor City development on Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai’s first fully integrated urban resort which features two other Starwood hotels under the distinct W Hotels and Westin brands as well as The Hotel Collection, The Leisure Collection and The Residence Collection. Featuring beaux-arts architecture and neo-classical interiors, the 234-room hotel features 52 suites with impeccable detailing and luxurious touches. This is complemented by eight distinctive culinary venues, an Iridium Spa, a fitness center and two rooftop outdoor swimming pools.

    www.stregisdubai.com

    Dusit Thani - dusitD2 Dubai

    Dusit International bringing dusitD2 hotel to UAE

    750 430 Daniel Fountain

    Thai hotel group Dusit International is continuing its strong Middle Eastern expansion with its first dusitD2 hotel in the United Arab Emirates.

    The new dusitD2 Kenz Dubai by Dusit will be located in the TECOM district of Dubai, facing the main thoroughfare Sheikh Zayed Road, and is scheduled to open in July 2016.

    The property is described as an “upscale hotel that caters to business and leisure travellers”, and will feature 237 rooms and suites, all with free Wi-Fi access, digital media hubs with universal power outlets, and LED TV screens. Hotel facilities will include Thai and Mediterranean restaurants, a rooftop pool, spa, fitness centre, three meeting rooms and a boardroom.

    The DusitD2 Kenz Dubai, as it will be known, becomes the company’s fifth property in UAE, following the Dusit Thani Dubai, Dusit Residence Dubai Marina, Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi and Pearl Coast Apartments in Dubai.

    The company also plans to bring its dusitD2 brand to Abu Dhabi in the near future.

    Wyndham Dubai Marina

    First Group marks hotel debut in UAE with Wyndham Dubai Marina

    533 250 Daniel Fountain

    Wyndham Dubai Marina, the first dedicated hotel development from leading Dubai-based property developer, The First Group, celebrated its grand opening late last month.

    The four-star deluxe Wyndham Dubai Marina, which is managed by Wyndham Hotels & Resorts – the world’s largest hotel management firm – marks a major milestone for The First Group as well as it marking a significant addition to the thriving Marina district.

    The 32-storey, 486-room property is situated near Bluewater Island, which will soon be home to the world’s largest Ferris wheel, the Dubai Eye.

    “The grand opening of Wyndham Dubai Marina marks a major milestone for The First Group and is a significant development for the Marina district,” said Danny Lubert, the company’s co-founder and joint chairman.

    “In partnership with Wyndham Hotel Group, we will set new standards for affordable luxury, catering to business and leisure guests alike. Given Wyndham Hotel Group’s vast global experience in hotel management, we are supremely confident Wyndham Dubai Marina will set a new benchmark for hospitality service in Dubai.”

    The grand opening of the property marks the debut of the Wyndham brand in the United Arab Emirates. Its parent, Wyndham Hotel Group, which manages more than 7,800 properties in 72 countries worldwide, is one of the hospitality industry’s most respected operators.

    Desert Palm PER AQUUM introduces Dubai’s newest luxury villa experience

    1000 608 Daniel Fountain

    The recently unveiled Desert Palm PER AQUUM‘s Villa LAYALI is ready to welcome guests.

    The three-bedroom 845-sqm villa hides amongst tall palm trees in a location of the hotel’s original royal villa. The property’s original award-winning designer Isabelle Miaja brings her artistry to the new Villa LAYALI, evoking the Arabian avant-garde aesthetic that has set Desert Palm PER AQUUM apart since its opening in 2008.

    Just 15 minutes from the spires of Downtown Dubai, Desert Palm PER AQUUM is one of the UAE’s better-kept secrets. The verdant resort hotel feels a world away from the urban energy and bustle. Set in a 160-acre polo estate, nature prevails and sophisticated design attracts the discerning.

    Villa LAYALI takes the hotel’s intimate experience to an even more refined level. Guests arrive via a private entrance, strolling a Jordanian stone pathway adorned by water features and manicured hedges. Entering through high gates to the villa gardens and beyond to the inner luxuries, you are greeted by fountains, waterfalls and a 60-sqm swimming pool adorned in cool blue mosaic tiles.PER AQUUM Dubai

    Across the courtyard, the glass-enclosed Great Room entreats with its solid oak floor, private palm enclave, elevated terrace and impressive views of the championship polo field. The long oval marble table of the dining area sets a chic tableau, perfect for dinners created by a private chef. The adjacent kitchen comes extravagantly equipped, from its own wine fridge to a breakfast bar complete with leather bucket seats.

    Other fittings include a timber and brass writing desk, the globe candle lanterns of the courtyard and high-tech enhancements throughout. Ceiling-mounted BOSE speakers can be found in every corner of the villa, and personal remotes control mood lighting and sound to tailor the experience.

    Natural light illuminates all three bedrooms, which overlook gardens of bougainvillea. Plush beds, fine linens and a menu of pillows beckon the deepest sleeps. Bedrooms connect to spa-like bathrooms with freestanding Bagnotec stone bathtubs, separate indoor and outdoor rain showers, twin stone basins and fog-free mirrors. REN and Eminence organic amenities add seductive aromas and soothing elixirs, while the bath salt menu offers an array of choices for sumptuous evening soaks. Tile patterns and bathroom textures add artistic touches, from minimalist Arabian patterns to bold, modern radial geometrics to classic marble.

    During Dubai’s October to April polo season, the equestrian action takes place just metres from the villa. Its guests enjoy a VIP viewing platform from the Great Room’s balcony.

    Renaissance Hotel Dubai

    Marriott reveals details of UAE’s first Renaissance Hotel

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    The first Renaissance Hotel in the United Arab Emirates is set to open at the end of the year, according to a statement released by Marriott International. The Renaissance Downtown Hotel, Dubai will be a 298-room luxury property. The firm has also announced it plans to open four additional hotels in the country throughout 2016.

    Amongst the 2016 openings is Abu Dhabi’s first Marriott Hotel, the 315-room five-star Marriott Hotel Downtown Abu Dhabi as well as the 64-suite Marriott Executive Apartments Downtown Abu Dhabi.

    Further strengthening Marriott International’s luxury lifestyle offering, scheduled 2016 openings also include the 86-room La Ville Hotel City Walk Dubai, Autograph Collection, the 68-suite La Ville Apartments City Walk, Dubai and the 500-room Lapita Hotel, Autograph Collection, all set to open by the fourth quarter of this year.

    Speaking ahead of this week’s Arabian Travel Market 2016 (ATM), Alex Kyriakidis, President and Managing Director, Middle East & Africa of Marriott International, said: “The Renaissance Hotel Downtown Dubai will be a truly unique offer within the UAE hospitality sector as it is a highly appealing lifestyle option for both business and leisure travellers. The debut, alongside the opening of our flagship Marriott Hotels brand and two other Autograph Collection properties make for a very attractive luxury lifestyle proposition in the UAE.”

    The 5 property openings planned for this year will be amongst nine Marriott International properties, representing over 2000 rooms, scheduled to open in the UAE by 2018. Among the much-anticipated Marriott International openings will be the region’s first EDITION and Bulgari Hotels – both set to open in 2017.

    At present, Marriott International operates nearly 150 properties across the Middle East and Africa region, representing 9 brands in 19 countries. By 2020 the hotel company will add a further 93 properties and approximately 19,000 rooms within the region for a total of 240 properties and 40,000 rooms.

    Starwood Middle East 100 hotels by 2020

    Starwood targets 100 hotels in Middle East by 2020

    1000 534 Daniel Fountain

    From the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) in Dubai, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has announced that it is on track to grow its portfolio in the Middle East to 100 hotels by 2020.

    This follows five new deal signings that will add over 1,200 rooms in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Starwood will also open five hotels in 2016 across the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

    “The Middle East continues to be one of Starwood’s fastest growing markets and we are immensely committed to the trust that owners have in our world-class brands,” said Michael Wale, President of Starwood, Europe, Africa and Middle East. “Our long-established presence in the region, and the value we deliver, has set us ahead to further expand our footprint and strengthen our guest loyalty.”

    “We continue to strengthen Starwood’s leadership position in the Middle East through an aggressive growth strategy that will increase our footprint by 75% in the next five years,” says Simon Turner, President of Global Development for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. Our flexible development approach, differentiated brands, loyal customer base and proven ability to drive asset value has made Starwood the ideal partner for developers in the region.”

    Starwood’s newest hotel signings in the region include a Luxury Collection Hotel and Le Méridien in Lusail, Qatar; Four Points by Sheraton Jeddah Tahlia, Saudi Arabia; Four Points by Sheraton Unaizah, Saudi Arabia and Four Points by Sheraton Ras Al Khaimah, UAE.

    Sir Winston Churchill Suite - Generous size dining room for 12 persons

    St. Regis Dubai unveils Sir Winston Churchill Suite

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    The St. Regis Dubai at Al Habtoor City in Dubai has announced the official launch of the hotel’s Sir Winston Churchill Suite. The spacious two-storey suite was formally debuted in the presence of Mr. Randolph Churchill, the great grandson of the inspirational statesman, writer, orator and Prime Minister who led Britain to victory in the Second World War and Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, Chairman of Al Habtoor Group.

    Fittingly designed to meet the discerning eye of Sir Winston Churchill, the three-bedroom suite holds a meticulous attention to quality and detail, housing a collection of 15 paintings and art pieces from the Churchill archives that include portraits and photographs of the legendary statesman, paintings he mastered himself, and a well-maintained Cuban cigar that once belonged to him from the private collection of Chairman Khalaf Al Habtoor.

    Sir Winston Churchill Suite - Reception room Majlis

    Spread across 913-square-metres, the sprawling suite is the largest of the hotel’s 52 luxurious suites and even bigger than the 800-square-metre Astor Ballroom. The suite features a vast living room, a formal 12-seater dining room, elegant study, relaxing lounge area and a spacious majlis that is ideal for meetings.

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    RELATED: PICTURES – St. Regis’ Langkawi Resort – rainforest meets the riviera
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    The Sir Winston Churchill Suite includes a master bedroom connected to a generously sized bathroom with an exquisite free-standing bathtub in the centre and adjoining separate male and female walk-in dressing rooms. Two additional bedrooms – one king bed and one twin bed – feature their own double vanity bathrooms. The suite’s pièce de résistance is a majestic in-room spiral staircase that leads into the central dome of the hotel, where a rooftop plunge pool reveal panoramic views of the landscaped gardens and surrounds.

    Sir Winston Churchill Sculpture located in hallway.

    The suite also exhibits a La Corona Cubano cigar, dated April 1949, personally donated from the private collection of Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, Chairman of UAE conglomerate Al Habtoor Group and creator of Al Habtoor City. Once owned by Churchill, Al Habtoor acquired the priceless piece late last year. The cigar, housed in a La Espana box, has a Colorado claro wrapper with a special label bearing Churchill’s name.

    Winston S. Churchill View of Chartwell. Oil on canvas C. 1938. Reproduced by permission of Churchill Heritage Ltd. Located above fireplace in sitting room on right of staircase

    The Al Habtoor Group Chairman said: “I have always been a great admirer of Sir Winston Churchill. He was known as the greatest statesman of the 20th century. He was a great and effective leader with a strong personality.” He added: “I purchased one of Sir Winston Churchill’s cigars for my private collection last year. He was very rarely seen without a cigar in his hand. It was his signature piece. Once the decision was taken to name this spectacular suite after the wartime prime minister then it seemed fitting to share this piece of history with the future guests of the Sir Winston Churchill Suite.”

    Sir Winston Churchill Suite - Large Master Bedroom

    Sir Winston Churchill Suite - Rooftop Plunge Pool
    Churchill was an accomplished artist who produced more than 500 canvases across 50 years despite being 40 years old when he discovered the pleasure of painting. His art quickly became his greatest hobby, and he even, exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Holding a strong connection with the Middle East, Sir Winston Churchill was responsible for the creation of a Middle East Department at the Foreign Office. It was also while he was in Cairo, that he rode a camel to the pyramids to paint them in the sunset.
    Sir Winston Churchill Suite - Majestic In-Room Grand Staircase
    Ignace Bauwens, General Manager of The St. Regis Dubai, said: “The St. Regis Dubai is honoured to display this collection of Sir Winston Churchill’s work and name our signature suite after him. We are proud to present our guests with this rare and refined opportunity to enjoy his art.”

    www.stregisdubai.com

    Dubai mega-tower

    Hotel slated to be included in new Dubai mega-tower

    910 455 Daniel Fountain

    A Spanish-Swiss architectural firm has come out on top to design a new mega-tower in Dubai – which will surpass the world’s current tallest building Burj Khalifa in height – after the emirate’s ruler chose its design from a field of international suitors.

    Architect Santiago Calatrava will join forces with Emaar – the firm behind the Burj Khalifa – to create what they say will become ‘an icon of a nation’ in a similar vein to the Eiffel Tower.

    Speaking at the weekend, Calatrava said: “There’s no doubt that the Eiffel Tower has inspired over 100 years, it represents a city, a whole nation. It is still today a monument. I feel so proud to be part of a team that aims to obtain a similar achievement.”

    While the building in Dubai Creek will serve more as an architectural achievement than a working building, there will be floors dedicated to a hotel, restaurant, meeting space, an interior garden and an observation deck.

    Both this new Dubai mega-tower and the Burj Khalifa will be surpassed by the 3,280 ft-high Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia, which is also slated for completion in 2020.

    Rendering courtesy of emaar.com

    Minor Hotel Group - Jebel Dhanna project

    Minor Hotel Group continues expansion in the UAE

    719 363 Daniel Fountain

    Minor Hotel Groups has announced it will be adding to its 145-property portfolio with the addition of two new hotels in the UAE; Anantara Jebel Dhanna and AVANI Jebel Dhanna in Abu Dhbai. Development is set to begin shortly and both are scheduled to open in 2018. Aecom has been appointed as the lead architecture and interior design consultant for the project.

    Jebel Dhanna is located along the coastal area of the Al Gharbia region in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, close to the ferry departure point for Sir Bani Yas Island. Anantara Jebel Dhanna Villas will have a total of 60 keys across three villa types: 20 One-Bedroom Villas, 38 Two-Bedroom Villas and two impressive Three-Bedroom Villas. The new Anantara will offer two restaurants and a pool bar, a gym, a swimming pool and an Anantara Spa.

    The neighbouring AVANI Jebel Dhanna Hotel will have 230 keys across two different room types: 170 Deluxe Rooms and 60 Superior Rooms including a kitchenette. Facilities at the AVANI will include multiple dining options, a gym and a swimming pool. Shared facilities will include flexible meeting and banqueting space, a kid’s club and outdoor recreation areas.

    Dillip Rajakarier, CEO Minor Hotel Group, commented, “Minor Hotel Group is already well established in Abu Dhabi through our existing Anantara portfolio in the city, desert and on Sir Bani Yas Island and we are excited to today announce the first AVANI in Abu Dhabi, to be developed alongside what will be our sixth Anantara. We are looking forward to partnering with Dhabi Contracting in this exciting new project.”

    Aloft Dubai Palm Jumeirah

    Starwood announces Aloft hotel for Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah

    952 413 Daniel Fountain

    Starwood has announced its plans to open a 192-room Aloft hotel on Dubai’s iconic man-made island – the Palm Jumeirah.

    Scheduled to open in 2017, Aloft Dubai, The Palm will be the brand’s first resort in the Middle East, complete with beach access, when it opens its doors as the first mid-market hotel brand on the island.

    Featuring an urban-influenced design, Aloft Dubai, The Palm will have 192 guest rooms, including 10 suites, with plush platform beds, large walk-in showers and complimentary Bliss amenities.

    The Palm Jumeirah is the world’s largest man-made island and one of the most ambitious developments in the world, and the Aloft resort will be located on the right side of the Palm’s crescent. Dynamic lifestyle programming being part of the brand’s DNA, the hotel will set a buzzing social scene within The Palm, offering guests and locals live, free access to the hottest emerging musicians.

    “Aloft hotels continues to gain momentum around the world and is expected to quadruple its portfolio in the Middle East by 2019,” says Neil George, Senior Vice President Acquisitions & Development, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Africa & Middle East.

    “The signing of Aloft Dubai, The Palm marks a milestone for the brand as its first resort-style property in the Middle East in one of the world’s most iconic destinations, The Palm Jumeirah.”

    Burj Al Arab

    VIDEO: Jumeirah’s Burj Al Arab adding innovative ‘North Deck’ project

    1000 515 Daniel Fountain

    Jumeirah’s Burj Al Arab is bringing an innovative design project to the UAE in the second quarter of the 2016, as the ‘North Deck’ gets set to officially open to guests.

    It has been developed using state-of-the-art environmental technology, design, manufacturing expertise and marine installation mastery, a combination which has never before been attempted. The 10,000-square-metre private luxury deck will fan 100 metres out into the Arabian Gulf and accommodate 32 cabanas, 400 sun loungers, one fresh water pool measuring 612 square metres and one salt water pool measuring 828-square-metres, one restaurant and a bar.

    In a bid to deliver the most exclusive guest experience with minimal disruption, the deck has been developed in six sections off-site in Finland by marine construction experts, ADMARES. The structure has been built in a controlled cruise ship and yacht production facility which guarantees the highest standards in both construction and luxury finish.

    Made from steel and weighing around 5,000 tonnes, the North Deck is currently being lifted by crane and lowered onto a grid of 90 steel piles, 914 millimetres in diameter, facing north into the Arabian Gulf.

    The deck will sit north of Burj Al Arab’s island, therefore the work around it will be visible from Bab Al Yam’s terrace and the marina garden will be closed off during the installation period. The installation and welding of North Deck is expected to take six weeks to complete, weather permitting.

    More information here…

    Anantara Eastern Mangroves Spa & Hotel, Abu Dhabi

    Anantara Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa, Abu Dhabi

    700 463 Daniel Fountain

    When I first moved to the UAE back in mid-2011, I had come to the conclusion after several previous holidays that Dubai was the centre of it all as far as the country was concerned. I knew Abu Dhabi was the nation’s capital, but I viewed it much like I do American state capitals — smaller and less important than some of the bigger metropoles like Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.

    So, it was little wonder it took me more than 6 months to venture the hour-and-a-half on the Sheikh Zayed Road highway through the desert to visit the ‘little cousin’ of the emirate I then called home. Of course, in wealth terms, Abu Dhabi is very much the ‘Granddaddy’ of the UAE; its investment fund surpasses the other emirates’ combined.

    But in tourism terms, Dubai has been forging a very successful path for several decades now, which had left Abu Dhabi considerably further behind. And on my first visit to the capital, I didn’t see anything that would change my perception. But by 2013, when I went to stay at the Anantara Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa for the first time, the landscape had changed considerably.

    By then, Abu Dhabi’s rulers were pumping money into all sorts of projects — most famously Ferrari World and the city’s Grand Prix – in a bid to catch up with Dubai. On the whole, they’re doing well. And this Anantara property — the third in the emirate — is a shining example of the ‘no-holds-barred luxury’ Abu Dhabi is now regularly attaining.

    The enormous and expansive arrival lobby and reception area of this new-build property, complete with impressive, ornate bowls of the ubiquitous dates and over-attentive staff with welcome drinks, certainly set the tone for this property. Much like the rest of this hotel, there is a clever Asia-meets-Arabia balance in the interior design, mixing the Thailand-based Anantara name and Abu Dhabi’s penchant for being the more authentically Arab city compared to Dubai.

    You are hit with views of the 1.2 kilometre nature reserve set among the mangroves as soon as you step into the lobby and it’s hard to avoid them wherever you go throughout the hotel. But with meandering creeks, birds and wildlife abounding and the Abu Dhabi city skyline shimmering in the distance — it’s more a question of why you would want to avoid them. One does get the feeling that the functionality of the hotel has been slightly tipped in the favour of business guests, something that comes through in the design of the 222 rooms. The two I stayed in had a somewhat business-like feel, but certainly didn’t lack for luxury or size (rooms start at 57m2). They still retain an ornate finish, with dark timbers, beautiful swirl-patterned carpets, lush upholstery in bronzes, greens and golds and intricate woodwork above and around the beds in the suites.

    Anantara Eastern Mangroves Spa & Hotel, Abu Dhabi

    If possible, an upgrade to one of the Kasara Mangroves suites on the ground floor is a recommended one as they are three times larger than the standard rooms and offer their own private pool area. If not, another tip would be to choose a mangrove-facing room as the alternative gives a less than savoury view of the busy Salam Street — and while triple-glazing puts paid to any noise pollution — it’s worth requesting the former for the views alone. The bathrooms, while minimalist in shape are a definition of luxury with a stunning marble finish throughout.

    *On a side note, I was also informed that the Royal Mangroves Residence is the largest suite of its kind in the UAE — and so it should be at a staggering 1,320m2 with a capacity for 10 people*

    The ostentatious Arabian elegance (is there any other kind?) of the hotel continues in the public areas. Walls are lined with 18-carat gold leaf and glittering mosaics, timber trellises all set against domed ceiling insets and arched windows. Outside, a centralised infinity pool offers perfect views of the surrounding natural beauty and watching the sun set behind the city skyline is a quite spectacular way to spend an evening. One flaw I will point out in the design of the pool area, however, is the expanse of the stone flooring means walking from a further lounger to the pool in the searing summer heat without suitable footwear isn’t an option.

    As a destination hotel — there was very little else around the hotel when I visited — the food and beverage outlets are of a higher standard than perhaps expected in Abu Dhabi. The highlights include the very impressive Impressions rooftop terrace bar and we dined in the excellent Pachalyen signature Thai restaurant, with the almost-stereotypical bamboo cage screens, Buddha-inspired decorative items and ‘economical’ lighting.

    Anantara Eastern Mangroves Spa & Hotel, Abu Dhabi

    But this being a spa hotel, this is where the property shines. In terms of design and interior, this is one of the better I’ve had the pleasure of visiting — dripping in opulence, the sheer attention to detail in everything from the Turkish hammam to the individual treatment rooms is difficult to find fault with.

    Anantara Eastern Mangroves Spa & Hotel, Abu Dhabi

    The beautiful Turkish hammam of the spa

    Anantara Eastern Mangroves Spa & Hotel, Abu Dhabi

    The fantastic use of light in the spa’s salon

    The occupancy numbers were low when I stayed in the off-season, so the hotel appeared empty at times, but it’s probably more due to the sheer scale of this property that I imagine it wouldn’t feel overcrowded even at full capacity. And with Abu Dhabi’s tourism trade improving and increasing year-on-year, you can expect this property to be closer to full than empty on a regular basis.

    Words by Daniel Fountain. Based on visits in 2013 and 2015
    www.abu-dhabi.anantara.com

    Centro Al Manhal, Abu Dhabi UAE

    Centro Al Manhal, Abu Dhabi UAE (Patrick Goff)

    1000 666 Daniel Fountain

    When I stayed at the Shangri-La in Dubai I had no doubts about what I would be looking at. The review was specifically so that I could have a look at an example of a Shangri-La hotel in advance of the Shard opening in London. The Rotana Centro Al Manhal Abu Dhabi, was, besides being quite a mouthful as a name, quite an unknown quantity, as well as an unknown quality. It fitted within my current concern about the poor standards of many hotels in the UK in comparison with what is being developed abroad. Here is a new group setting its standards for me to look at, and to see that this, a three star operation, is at a level that fully justifies my observations in my article about the challenges faced by UK hotel standards.

    Many designers will say, as will many hoteliers, “so what, this is no threat to UK hotels”. This is not a belief I share. In the 1960’s we queued in UK hotels to share a bathroom, and seemingly saw nothing wrong with it. Right into the 1990’s my design practice made its bread and butter creating en-suite bathrooms in British hotels that had not previously had them. That’s right, that work continued into the mid 1990’s, as the UK hotel market sought to recover from the impact of British holidays makers preferring to go abroad rather than suffer poor hotel standards at home.

    Centro Al Manhal, Abu Dhabi UAE

    Now the accountants who control so much of UK hotel development and refurbishment are pushing hotels room sizes smaller, ignoring the standards that Brits experience abroad, and the experience foreign tourists have in their home markets. Once more UK hotels are falling slowly and inexorably behind their foreign counterparts, relying on the continued growth of UK tourism to fill rooms – London average occupancy rated in excess of 92% and regional rates over 70% almost guarantee the returns for investors, with little future vision required.

    How long will the tourist market be sustained if UK is seen to be old fashioned and behind the times in the standard of its hotel accommodation? With 10% of the economy now relying on tourism, we need to look hard at what we are doing here, or see a hotel and tourism decline as marked as the decline of the seaside resorts of the 1960’s and 1970’s, with similar economic impact.

    Centro Al Manhal, Abu Dhabi UAE

    When a new 5 star can be created in London with rooms 27m2 whilst overseas counterparts go to 44m2, and the London hotels charges some of the highest global rates too, should we then expect the guests will surely eventually vote with their feet? If so then we all lose. There is nothing wrong with small rooms per se, as Citizen M and others have shown, but it depends on client profiling and for 4 and 5 star size does matter. However here it is the size of three star rooms that throws down the challenge, moulding expectations for travellers may be returning to the UK.

    This three star shows how definitions are changing. For a start it has valet parking, which is apparently a legal requirement in Abu Dhabi hotels. Given that access to the car park is under the hotel via a car lift this provides an additional level of security for those arriving by car.
    Rotana is a fasts growing operator with over 70 properties in 11 countries, although most properties are through the UAE. As Marriott are finding with their African portfolio of 108 Protea, hotels standard are good and the quality and size of provision, particularly at 3 star level challenges the conception of 3 star service and operation, paralleling the developments in the UK. Here in Abu Dhabi though the change is even more marked, with a large lobby, and high quality services.

    Centro Al Manhal, Abu Dhabi UAE

    Other facilities not usually found in European 3 star hotels include 24 food service through the hotel’s bistro, room service, a bar, a choice of dining options including a high quality restaurant operation, a roof top swimming pool, manned and with waiter service, meeting rooms and a small gym. Throughout this modern building finishes are of high quality, and the spaces, including the 229 32m2 bedrooms, are well designed, contemporary and beautifully detailed. Bedrooms include the usual mix of twins and doubles with zip-link beds used throughout to maximise flexibility. Some rooms interconnect, and there is a balance between shower only and bath rooms, giving choice to the incoming guest.

    A good sized work desk is enhanced by the addition of some free WiFi, which is hi speed too. This is a focussed business hotel but it was evident that it was popular with tourists wanting to be based in central Abu Dhabi. Adjacent is the Al Wadha mall and behind is the national football stadium, so this friendly hotels also has an attraction for other than the business person.

    Centro Al Manhal, Abu Dhabi UAE

    A new build, as are most of Rotana’s hotels, the hotel is functionally well designed, elegant and stylish. Staff are very well trained, friendly and efficient. The groups is locally owned and financed and has had rapid expansion. Their intent is to continue to expand as a management group and they are launching a campaign to increase awareness amongst British travellers, as currently only 19% of their guests are from the UK.

    From 2 properties in 1993 to over 85 by 2012 in 26 countries the group continues to expand the properties under management through its four brands. The stated intention is to achieve growth through Eastern Europe, the Mid-East and Africa. Offering design and concept planning the group sets a standard that unfortunately is well above many of their equivalents in the UK, where complacency and cost are deciding factors frequently overruling design and guest comfort as considerations.

    All words and pictures © Patrick Goff. From a stay in March 2014

    Shangri-La, Dubai

    Shangri-La, Dubai UAE (Patrick Goff)

    1000 666 Daniel Fountain

    In February 2005 I reported that Shangri-La had signed a lease on the space in then planned Shard, and had already started design work in their Singapore design office. The Shard represented an opportunity for the operator to develop the interiors of the hotel without the constraints had it gone down the route of looking for a conversion of a building or existing hotel to meet Shangri-La standards. The large deluxe guestrooms would be each 42m² and bring a European interpretation of Shangri-La’s Asian style to the city, according to executives.

    The building was already being described by Giovanni Angelini, Shangri-La’s then Managing Director, as “iconic”, and provides a dramatic 2nd entry for Shangri-La hotels into the European market, after their recently opened Paris property. The Paris property, I was informed by a Shangri-La executive, had already shaken the Parisian hotel market with its standards , and the expectation was that London’s newest entrant would have a similar impact.

    Given that for over 7 years London hotel groups have known that Shangri-La was coming, the expectation was surely that they would start positioning themselves to compete with the fast-growing Asian group. Shangri-La room sizes are regularly matched in European cities only by Rocco Forte Hotels at 42m², and many of London’s latest hotels have used the excuse of high property prices to foist onto the luxury market rooms of 27 or 28m². Is space a luxury? If so if there is no space is your room truly describable as a 5-star room?

    Shangri-La, Dubai

    If it were only room size that counted than London hotels could rest easy, but it is the quality of design, the quality of fit-out and above all the superb quality of service that will set nerves on edge of existing London operators. Many European hotel operators are about to experience the same impact on their operations that the superior design and service levels of Singapore Airlines or Emirates have had on the operation of European airlines (and the growth of Emirates in particular has been little short of remarkable with Dubai already commissioning a second airport hub to cope whilst London dithers).

    Shangri-La are the first of a wave of Asian hoteliers that are moving into the mature Western markets. At the budget end we have seen Malaysian chain Tune moving into compete with Premier Inn, and recent announcements show that much as Intercontinental is developing fast in the Chinese market, so Asian operators are invading its home ground with their own 5 star operations, with more new luxury hotels now under development in 9 Elms, Battersea and in Park Lane.

    The hotel in Dubai is one of several in the UAE (staff kept telling me I should go to Shangri-La Abu Dhabi which was “much nicer”) but as an hotel in the Financial Zone of Dubai and with a primarily business audience it seemed appropriate to take a good look at this, one of the first Shangri-La’s outside their home ground. The Shangri-La Dubai is now ten years old and due a major refurbishment in 2014/5, I was told. The design may be slightly dated,but this is only stylistically apparent especially as marble bathrooms with white ceramic and chrome metals never seem to date.

    Shangri-La, Dubai

    Obviously soft refurbs have taken place over the intervening years but the strength of the original design shows through, and the cosmetic doesn’t impact on the basics such as the size of the rooms (average of 44m²) and the services provided, both physical and human.The original designers also had the sense to use plenty of timber finishes in the design and they have worn well and been well maintained. It is often overlooked how good housekeeping can extend the life of an interior and so contribute to the hotel bottom line.

    Olga Polizzi of Forte fame used to tell me she despaired of people in hospitality who never smiled at the guest. “If they don’t like people why be in hospitality” she would say. Shangri-La must use Ken Dodds tickling stick in training as the staff are all smiles in dealing with guests, and at ease talking to them. Their confidence comes not only from training but from a design and build that supports them. This is an hotel on a scale where space enables a relaxed level of service and interaction with the building and guests. Cramped spaces can psychologically raise tensions within guests, working against true relaxation. Space to swing your cat is an essential to any sensible definition of luxury.

    Not only is there space within individual bedrooms but also within areas such as the business lounge, the pools (yes pools plural), spa, meeting areas and through to the choice of four food and bar operations. The attitude to serving alcohol in Dubai is an interesting contrast to the experience Hilton inherited at Cape Town’s Hilton. There may be strict laws enforced about drinking alcohol in public (how could anyone prefer it to the delicious camel-milk milkshakes?) but the attitude in the hotel did not appear to be any different to anywhere in Europe.

    Shangri-La, Dubai
    Maybe this relaxed attitude in this Muslim state reflects the fact that the population of Dubai is apparently nearly 80% ex-pat, and that the operator is an Asian company with their own cultural approach to hospitality. I’m told that only about 5% of the population of Dubai are Emirati.

    Quite possibly the overwhelming international architectural styling of Dubai and the nature of business as the major trading post in the Middle East influences this multi-cultural identity – it certainly shows little inheritance of Arab architectural cultural traditions. The operator also offers interesting combinations of international cuisine with restaurants offering Chinese, Vietnamese, Moroccan and an ‘international’ buffet operation. Space for these is created in the mezzanine areas of the reception floors.

    Shangri-La, Dubai

    Catering training here seems to be well thought out with the ethnic chefs training in the homelands of the cuisine offered. Unless it be an operation like Youngs or Shire Hotels I can’t think of a chain that operates an Anglo-centric design and food operation equivalent. Again like the Shard, the building occupied by Shangri-La Dubai is a multi occupancy building. The hotel has the first 4 floors for its public areas, floors 5 to 8 being offices. There are 62 residential apartments, and 126 serviced apartments (serviced by the hotel) before floor 29 sees the start of the hotel’s 302 bedrooms, which include 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments. The upper floors are the the business floors (the Horizon rooms and club) with above them the pool, gym and presidential suite of over 430 square metres.

    Good staff training, plentiful staff (and with mostly ex-pats, not cheaply staffed I would think, either)combine with a building selected to fit with Shangri-La’s operational philosophy. The parallels with the intentions stated in press releases for the Shard operation bode well for success in London.

    Shangri-La, Dubai

    The interior design of the hotel has lasted well, and was quality to start with. London has had an influx of new hotels at this level (the latest Intercontinental Westminster, the ME in the Aldwych for example, but none would seem to match the gerosity of size, nor the guest facilities provided by the Shangri-La. This is old style 5 star luxury – and this is the end of the hospitality market where profit growth is most marked and which has weathered recent economic stroms most effectively.
    Space, the last frontier…

    From a stay in May 2013. © Words and Pictures Patrick Goff 2013