Category Archives: Middle East

The Abraj Kudai Hotel in Mecca, Saudi-Arabia

Hotels are becoming ever larger – The world’s biggest hotel with 10,000 rooms is built in Mecca

Hamburg, Germany – 17th of August, 2016 – The next record-breaking hotel is built in Mecca: The Abraj Kudai in the Saudi Arabian capital will have about 10,000 rooms, 70 restaurants, 5 landing sites for helicopters in 12 towers with 45 levels. The opening is planned next year. According there are currently 252 new large-scale hotels under construction with more than 500 rooms each.

Abraj Kudai Towers in Mekka

Those are currently the biggest hotels under construction:
Abraj Kudai – Mecca/Saudi-Arabia – 10,000 rooms – opening 2017
Aquis Great Barrier Reef Resort – Australia – 7,500 rooms – opening 2019
Resort World – Las Vegas/USA – 6,583 rooms – opening 2019
Bawadi Project – Dubai/UAE – 6,500 rooms – Baufortschritt unklar
Pearl Hotels – Dubrovnik/Croatia – 5.,00 rooms – opening 2020

Previous record holder in the hotel industry (measured in number of rooms):
First World Hotel, Genting Highlands/Malaysia – 7,351 rooms
The Venetian/The Palazzo, Las Vegas/USA – 7,117 rooms
MGM Grand/The Signature, Las Vegas/USA – 6,852 rooms
CityCenter, Las Vegas/USA – 6,790 rooms
Sands Cotai Central, Macau/China – 6,000 rooms

New superlative in Dubai – 125 new hotel projects in the pipeline – Mega tower for Expo 2020

Dubai, United Arab Emirates – 13 April 2016 – Dubai aspires after more attention: Until the World Exhibition Expo 2020 another record tower is about to be build next to the 800 meter high Burj Khalifa. According to, currently 119 top hotels with 37,000 rooms are being built in Dubai.

The Tower at Dubai Creek Harbour (Photo: Emaar)

The Tower at Dubai Creek Harbour (Photo: Emaar)

The new, even higher, skyscraper will be built by Emmar Properties in the old “Dubai Creek” quarter and will feature a boutique hotel, rotating balconies, a viewing platform and hanging gardens like the legend of Babylon. The new property is expected to be finished in just four years.

The height on the new, so far unnamed tower in Dubai is not yet set. Meanwhile in the neighbouring country Saudi Arabia the worldwide highest skyscraper is being built in Jeddah – the “Jeddah Tower” formerly called “Kindgom Tower”. The tower will be 1,007 meters high and will include a luxury hotel by Four Seasons and apartments.

Gold rush in Iran: boom in tourism expected – Strong increase of business travels and culture trips predicted

Iran TeheranTeheran, Iran – 22 July 2015 – The nuclear agreement and the loosening of the sanctions cause expectations of a touristic gold rush: As travel destination Iran offers lots of cultural experience and is about to reveal this to more and more international tourists. The hotel market requires significant extensions and new buildings. The capital Tehran currently supplies only 96 hotels, in comparison: Dubai offers 657 properties. According to TOPHOTELPROJECTS, the worldwide leading provider for global b2b hotel data, only five new hotels are in the pipeline, all by the Rotana hotel chain. However, this might change soon.

Watch now on HOTELIER TV:
The end of Iran’s isolation? Boost for tourism

Last year, only 4.8 million tourists travelled to Iran. According to surveys by TRI Consulting the occupancy rate of top hotels in Tehran was at 79 percent with an average room rate of 108 US-Dollars and a Revpar (revenue per available room) of 85 US-Dollars. Hotel experts are now predicting an increase of business travel, led by delegations of company representatives accompanied by Western world’s Ministers of economics. Modern hotel concepts are in great demand, especially in the higher segments. Nowadays half of all overnight stays in Tehran are generated by business travels.

The majority of inbound overnight stays in Iran were motivated by religious reasons. But these days more and more Western, cultural interested tourists are visiting the country with its 17 Unesco world heritage sites. The international hospitality and tourism consulting company Horwath HTL is predicting a tourism boom in Iran as the “next big thing”.

A new passenger train, which will shuttle between Budapest and Tehran starting this autumn, promises a truly luxurious journey to the jewels of Persia. The “Golden Eagle Luxury Trains” will show the panoramas of the Orient and Occident in 15 days for about 13,000 Euros per person.

Four Seasons to open second property in Dubai – Downtown hotel will complement the just-opened resort on Jumeirah Beach

Dubai, UAE – 08 May 2015 – Within months of the successful opening of its first hotel in Dubai on Jumeirah Beach Road, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts announces the development of a second, complementary location in the heart of the city’s International Financial Centre. Four Seasons Hotel Dubai International Financial Centre, expected to open in 2016, is conceived as a sophisticated oasis where international business travellers in particular will find their every need anticipated and where local executives will find a favoured place for informal meetings, entertaining colleagues and celebrating the day’s achievements.

“Our entry into Dubai has been extremely well received by locals and global travellers alike, and we are very pleased to be able to offer them a second Four Seasons experience in the city,” says Allen Smith, President and CEO, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. “Together with our partner Bright Start, we introduced Four Seasons to the Dubai market last year and raised the standard for luxury hospitality in this incredibly competitive market. We look forward to building on our reputation with our second hotel, at the epicentre of the financial district.”

“In line with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai’s vision for Dubai, we believe our latest investment in the hospitality sector will further open up opportunities for continued growth and contribute to Dubai’s status as a major luxury tourist destination. The strategic location within DIFC was carefully chosen to cater to high end business travellers and will be of the highest quality,” states Shahab Lutfi, CEO of Bright Start which also owns Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach.

“Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has set the benchmark in luxury hospitality over the past 50 years and has proven to be the right partner for our Jumeirah Beach resort, of which we are very proud. We are delighted to further this partnership for the DIFC hotel and believe the strength of the brand, which is synonymous with luxurious travel, will allow us to take a strong leadership position. The synergies of the two properties, beach and city, under one brand were very compelling.”

Carlo Stragiotto Appointed General Manager
Four Seasons also announces the appointment of veteran hotelier Carlo Stragiotto as General Manager of the new hotel. Most recently Hotel Manager at Four Seasons Hotel Milano, the tri-lingual Italian counts Four Seasons hotels and resorts in Paris, Istanbul, Las Vegas and at the Red Sea among the assignments during his 22-year history with Four Seasons.

“Carlo is the ideal choice to lead the team at our second location in Dubai, and we look forward to his unique insights as we create this luxurious hotel in the heart of one of the world’s most exciting cities,” says Christian Clerc, President Hotel Operations – Europe, Middle East and Africa.

New York-based Tihany Design, which also designed several of the restaurants at Four Seasons at Jumeirah Beach, is creating the new hotel’s modern interiors.

With entrances at the ground level reception area and from the upper level retail concourse, Four Seasons will blend seamlessly with the surrounding 110 acre (45 hectare) International Financial Centre while providing a welcoming retreat within. Its 106 rooms will be characterised by impeccable craftsmanship, bespoke details and high tech efficiency. With Dubai now the world’s number one air travel hub, a 24-hour restaurant is one of many thoughtful features and amenities designed for the international business traveller. A lobby level tea lounge and terrace will provide a relaxed setting for casual meetings or shopping breaks, while the 8th floor sky bar and cigar room on the mezzanine will be the perfect places for after work cocktails with breathtaking views of the Burj Khalifa. An intimate spa and fitness centre will offer a haven of relaxation and rejuvenation, and a rooftop garden will feature an above-ground glassed-in pool surrounded by private cabanas as well as a juice bar.

Al Habtoor City to introduce St.Regis and W Hotels brands to Dubai along with a new Westin

Starwood Hotels & Resorts to Double Middle East Portfolio in the Next Five Years

Company announces five new projects catering to regions growing mid-market segment

Dubai, UAE – 06 May 2015 – From the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) in Dubai, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide today announced it will double its portfolio in the Middle East, aggressively expanding its luxury, upper upscale and mid-market brands with plans to open 50 hotels by 2019. Reaffirming its growth commitment to the region, the company has signed five new projects under its Aloft and Element brands in Dubai (UAE), Doha (Qatar) and Muscat (Oman), adding up to a total of seven signed deals to date.

Al Habtoor City to introduce St.Regis and W Hotels brands to Dubai along with a new Westin

Al Habtoor City to introduce St.Regis and W Hotels brands to Dubai along with a new Westin

“Our growth in the region is a result of consistently delivering value to our owners through our distinct lifestyle brands, backed by our loyal guests and the strength of our global platform,” said Michael Wale, President for Starwood, Europe, Africa and Middle East. “2015 has already started on a strong note with seven signed deals announced in the region in less than five months, reflecting the high demand for mid-market brands in the Middle East but also the trust ownership groups have in Starwood.”

Mid-Market Brands Fuel Growth in the Middle East
Starwood’s mid-market brands – Aloft, Four Points by Sheraton and Element – are experiencing unprecedented growth momentum, representing nearly 50% of the company’s pipeline in the region. Spearheaded by Aloft, the company’s mid-market portfolio will more than quadruple by 2019.

Starwood announced five new properties for its rapidly growing Aloft and Element brands, set to open in the next five years:

Aloft Dubai Airport and Element Dubai Airport
Both hotels signed with wasl hospitality and leisure, a subsidiary of wasl Asset Management Group will add over 400 rooms, meeting space and multiple food and beverage outlets near one of the world’s busiest airports, Dubai International Airport.

Aloft Dubai World Central
Located at the entrance of Al Maktoum International Airport and adjacent to the key logistics and aviation districts, Aloft Dubai World Central will feature 150 rooms and over 1,000 square feet in meeting space. Signed with Radar DWC LLC, the hotel will be one of the first to open in Dubai World Central – a purpose-built, master-planned city spanning approximately 145 square kilometers.

Aloft Doha
Aloft Doha marks the Aloft brand entry to Qatar. The hotel will feature 240 rooms and suites, a ballroom and meeting venues. It will be within easy reach of the Museum of Islamic Art, Education City and the Al Mushreib rejuvenation project in Doha’s downtown area.

Aloft Muscat
In agreement with New Rotana Enterprises, a sister concern of Al Adrak LLC, the signing of Aloft Muscat will introduce the Aloft brand to Oman and help meet the demand for infrastructure development in the country. The hotel will offer 204 rooms and will be located in close proximity to the new Muscat International Airport and the upcoming Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre

Strong Momentum Continues for Upper-Upscale and Luxury Brands
“While our mid-market brands represent half of our development growth in the region, we continue to see strong opportunities to widen the portfolio of our upper-upscale and luxury brands”, said Neil George, Senior Vice President, Development & Acquisitions, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Middle East and Africa. “We remain focused on working with the right partners, on the right properties, in established as well as fast-growing destinations such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon.”

Making up 70% of the company’s current portfolio in the Middle East, Starwood’s upper-upscale brands – Sheraton, Le Méridien and Westin – continue to grow steadily with 13 new projects scheduled to open in the next five years.

Starwood’s luxury footprint will more than double with 10 new hotel openings set to open across the St. Regis, Luxury Collection and W brands by 2019. Representing half of the luxury pipeline, W Hotels will make its entry in key cities across the region including Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Muscat and Amman.

2015/2016 opening highlights:

  • Three new hotels in Dubai with Al Habtoor City, one of the Middle East’s largest developments. The project will introduce the St. Regis and W Hotels brands to the city along with a new Westin, further strengthening the company’s footprint.
  • Expansion across other parts of the UAE with Starwood’s first property in Sharjah this year, Sheraton Sharjah Beach Resort & Spa. Further, Abu Dhabi will welcome its second Aloft with the opening of Aloft Al Ain in 2016.
  • The introduction of the Westin brand in Qatar with the opening of The Westin Doha Hotel & Spa in September.
  • The launch of The Luxury Collection brand in Lebanon with Grand Hills resort in Broumana, set to open in Q3 of this year.
  • The company’s return to Iraq after 20 years and introduction of the Sheraton brand with Sheraton Dohuk.
  • Growth momentum in Saudi Arabia with the introduction of Aloft in Riyadh and Dhahran and the opening of Le Méridien Riyadh.
  • Two new hotels in Jordan with the openings of The St. Regis Amman and W Amman in 2016, doubling the portfolio and marking the entry for both brands in the country.

Following the recent announcement of its 10th brand, Tribute Portfolio, the company sees many opportunities to introduce the brand in the Middle East. Starwood expects to open 100 Tribute Portfolio hotels globally by 2020.

“There are many independent hotels out there in the four-star category that just don’t fit into one of our other nine brands and we are already seeing great opportunities for Tribute Portfolio in the Middle East,” said Bart Carnahan, Senior Vice President Acquisition & Development, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Europe, Africa & Middle East. “Tribute Portfolio allows us to offer our loyal SPG members more options and, on the flip side, the developer community access to Starwood’s powerful distribution, loyalty and sales platforms while maintaining their independent spirit.”

Steigenberger Hotel Doha - Opening in early 2016

Qatar bets on several new top hotels until the FIFA World Cup in 2022

41 new hotel construction projects with 11,600 rooms in the pipeline

Doha, Qatar – April 29, 2015 – The Emirate of Qatar is investing billions in infrastructure and tourism – not just for the FIFA World Cup in November/December 2022. With the master plan “Vision 2030”, among other, the extension of the airport and a whole new city at the gates of the capital Doha are planned. According to TOPHOTELPROJECTS, the worldwide leading provider of global b2b hotel data, currently 41 new top hotels with 11,600 rooms are in the pipeline.

Steigenberger Hotel Doha - Opening in early 2016

Steigenberger Hotel Doha – Opening in early 2016

In total, an investment amount of about 200 billion US dollars is planned in Qatar. Thereof about 5.7 billion dollars will be invested in new hotels and restaurants. Until the FIFA World Cup 2022 eight stadiums still need to arise.

Selected hotel construction projects in Qatar
Steigenberger Hotel Doha – Doha – 200 rooms
Centara Grand West Bay Hotel – Doha – 360 rooms
Zalal Wellness Destination Spa – Doha – 125 rooms
The Amphibious 1000 – Doha – 80 rooms
Le Meridien – Doha- 350 rooms
Park Hyatt Msheireb Downtown – Doha – 187 rooms
Mondrian Hotel – Doha – 270 rooms
Shaza Doha – 180 rooms
Sillks Hotel & Spa – Doha – 100 rooms
Nikki Beach Resort & Spa, The Pearl Qatar – Doha, 47 suites
Planet Hollywood Hotel – Doha – 300 rooms
Wyndham Garden – Doha – 153 rooms
Silver Pearl Hotel – Doha – 1,000 rooms

The quantity of contracts for the coming years is so great that Qatar already proclaimed, that not necessarily required projects need to postpone on a date after the World Cup. Priority is given to sports stadiums and the necessary transport infrastructure, such as streets and the metro.

Most international companies are expecting delays at their project implementation, among others, because based on experience decisions in Qatar could take longer. In addition, people fear a shortage of material, which could intensify the delays, because right before the World Cup’s start significantly more projects will be under construction than currently planned. Bottlenecks are expected in particular with filling material and concrete. The procurement of materials is already a problem, as the infrastructure, especially the port and the streets, is not set up for such large quantities of tourists visiting the country. In addition to the logistics, also the risk of cost pressure is a consequent to worry about.

If the oil prices remain low, it will carry new challenges for the gas exporter Qatar in 2016 and 2017. Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani, confirmed in mid-March, they would retain in the planned infrastructure spending for the “Vision 2030” despite weak energy prices. Qatar has a generous financial cushion to absorb losses in export earnings; therefore also most experts do not expect deterioration in the investment climate. The Investment Authority will have a surplus of 160 billion US dollars, plus currency reserves of more than 40 billion US dollars. But every project would be coming to the test, as the examples of already cancelled or adjourned projects.

Starwood Strengthens Footprint in UAE with the Launch of Sheraton Grand Hotel, Dubai

Prime property on Sheikh Zayed Road draws on the 36 year legacy of the Sheraton brand in the UAE

Dubai, UAE – 28 April 2015 – Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has opened the Sheraton Grand Hotel, Dubai. Developed in conjunction with the Abdulsalam Alrafi Group, this hotel signifies the first new-build for Sheraton in Dubai in more than 30 years. Located at forefront of Dubai’s most prominent thoroughfare, the hotel connects guests to the heart of the booming business district and the city’s main tourist attractions—ensuring that the property will become a local landmark.

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A towering beacon of 54 stories, the Sheraton Grand Hotel launches as part of a three-tower, mixed-use development that features a comprehensive business centre, a rooftop swimming pool, three restaurant and lounge concepts, and signature offerings like the Shine Spa for Sheraton™, the state-of-the-art Sheraton Fitness®, and a Sheraton Club.

“We are thrilled to build on the brand’s proud heritage in the region as we open the sixth Sheraton in the Emirates and the first new build in Dubai in more than 30 years” said Michael Wale President, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Europe, Africa, and Middle East. “The Sheraton Grand Dubai highlights our commitment to the region and to our development pipeline as we strive to grow our portfolio by 75% in the Middle East by 2017.”

Strategically situated on Sheikh Zayed Road, the property is conveniently located within walking distance of the Dubai Metro station, a central railway terminus which offers travellers easy connections to a variety of destinations—including Dubai International Airport, the Dubai International Financial Centre, Dubai World Trade Center, as well as the iconic Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa leisure attractions.

“Drawing on its expertise in bringing people together, Sheraton provides an opportunity for guests to experience the best of their destination with a like-minded community of travelers” said Elena Mendez, Vice President, Sheraton, Westin and SSB brands in Europe, Africa and Middle East. “The Sheraton Grand Hotel aims to deliver dedicated authentic experiences to the Dubai’s bustling business and social scene for global explorers and UAE residents alike.”

The Sheraton Grand Hotel boasts a range of accommodation options with 416 luxurious guest rooms and 58 suites—including two Presidential Suites – as well as 180 premium serviced apartments, which range from one to three bedrooms, and offer a separate entrance to the main hotel lobby.

On the 52nd floor, the 1,000 m2 Shine Spa offers nine spacious and separate-gender treatment rooms, and one couples suite – for the ultimate in relaxation and rejuvenation. The Shine Spa also features a sauna and steam room, an ice fountain, an indoor vitality pool, as well as a relaxation area overlooking Dubai’s landmarks.