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The Doha boom The St. Regis Doha, Qatar’s newest hotel, has officially opened. Officials said over 240 hotels will be built in the country from 2011 to 2022. Monthly Edition

June/July 2012

No.02

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Mr. Omar Hussain Alfardan, president of Resorts Development Company and Alfardan Group, and Mr. Frits van Paasschen, president and CEO of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. at the recent unveiling of St. Regis Doha’s commemorative plaque. (Story on page18)

On track

Qatar visitor arrivals post 22% Q1 growth for 2012 Story on page 16

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2 OUR WORD

CONTENTS

This year’s edition of Arabian Travel Market is, by far, the userfriendliest in terms of navigability—for media and visitors. Back then, one has to walk far corners end to end of the venue to get to an ongoing press conference for instance and back to the stands for a scheduled interview and then back again to the press con area. Indeed, a naughty mind would even suspect the press center was placed at a far-flung area to save on coffee and munchies. TAN actually saw a neat visitor in his tuxedoes and all, carrying rollerblades just in case; now that’s for the books! This time, on its 19th year—no, we’re not saying it took 19 years before the organizers could finally muster enough senses to realize they had all along been doing it wrong, the ground lay-out, i.e.—everything seemed to just fall into place. Still on ATM 2012, it’s encouraging to note from the organizers—kudos by the way, Mr. Mark Walsh of Reed Travel Exhibitions for another successful event—that this year’s edition had a seven-percent increase in participants, hosted over 2,400 exhibitors and 82 new companies, with 54 national pavilions and 87 countries represented overall. At the press center on Day 1, TAN chanced upon a media practitioner from another side of the planet talking to one of the organizers about schedules and all, “The whole world is here,” he exclaimed. “I need to get the schedules for my stories.” Yes. The world stood still for ATM, like it always does.

EXCLUSIVES

02

ONE ON ONE

12

GOING GREEN

14

COVER STORY

16

NEW HOTELS

18

FLIGHTS PLUS

20

BUSINESS TALKS

21

WINNERS’ CORNER

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AT A GLANCE

24

Exclusives ‘UAE pipeline projects in Egypt doing well’

NUMBERS SPEAK

Top destinations in the Middle East. There were over 60 million tourists to the Middle East in 2010.

2.17 million

1.52 million

1.66 million

Fakhry Abd ElNour

14.05 million Egypt Saudi Arabia

7.43 million

UAE Lebanon Qatar 10.85 million

Oman

INDUSTRY QUIZ 1) Name at least two hotels that have recently opened in Doha. 2) How many years has Etihad been flying Beirut? 3) Hotel Al Khozama, a regular fixture along Olaya Road in Riyadh, KSA is how many years old? CLUE: The answers are all in this edition of TAN. Email your best guess at dass@kalimatgroup.com

Egypt’s Tourism Minister Mounir Fakhry Abd ElNour told TAN his country has been receiving sizeable investments from the United Arab Emirates, assuring that these projects “are going fairly well.” “We get a lot of investments from the UAE. We appreciate it very, very much,” Abd ElNour said. The minister hinted that more fresh investments are underway as the political situation in the country eases down. He did not elaborate. Meantime Abd ElNour said he aims to raise the rates of tourism in Egypt to 2010 levels. “During the coming months, the Ministry of Tourism of Egypt

New Hotel Al Khozama to be built

CONTACTS www.travel-arabia.com Publisher-CEO Hekmat el Zein

Address Travel Arabia Head Office Office G4, Building No.1 Phase One, P.O.Box 502408 Dubai Media City, UAE Tel +971 4 391 0410/1/2/3 Fax +971 4 391 6619 E-mail editor@travel-arabia.com Media House KGI

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will seek through its strategic plans to bring tourism rates to previous levels in 2010. We will focus our efforts on various global markets, particularly the Arab ones, where the rate of Arab tourists during the first three months of this year has witnessed a growth of about 62.9 percent compared to the overall rate of increase in visitors during the first quarter, which only amounted to 32 percent.” Records show that the number of Arab tourists who visited Egypt during the three months of this year was 483,834 compared to 296,980 during the same period in 2011. In addition, the number of Emirati tourists during the first quarter of 2012 was 4,883 as compared to 4,232 tourists during the same period in 2011—an increase of 15.4 percent. The number of Saudi tourists who visited Egypt during the first quarter of this year was 46,734 tourists compared to 32,718 during the same period in 2011, which shows an increase of about 42.8 percent. There were 17,256 Kuwaitis who visited Egypt during the first quarter of this year compared to 14,251 during the same period in 2011, which shows an increase of about 21.1 percent.

Erich Steinbock

Hotel Al Khozama, a regular fixture along Olaya Road in Riyadh, KSA for the past 35 years will be closed and replaced with a new one having the same name, according to Erich Steinbock, Rosewood Hotels regional vice president and managing director overseeing Al Khozama’s operations.

“We will be building a whole new hotel to replace Al Khozama,” Steinbock told TAN. He said it makes more sense constructing a new hotel than renovating the old one. Al Khozama which means “sweet desert flower,” has 187 accommodations. Steinbock said the new building, the construction of which will start towards the end of this year, will have a contemporary appeal when it opens around the first half of 2014. He said the old building will be levelled once the new building has been completed which will be right next door in the Al Khozama Center. No definite cost estimate was provided. Hotel Al Khozama is adjacent to the 267-meter high Al Faisaliah Tower, another Rosewood Hotel that Steinbock also oversees.


3 India needs 430,000 more hotel rooms to meet target

Sheikh Muhammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai (3rd, left) at the pavilion of the Indian delegation during the 2012 Arabian Travel Market.

Anantara opens first hotel in China

Michael Marshall

‘We are pleased to be expanding there.’ —Michael Marshall, Anantara senior vice president for commercial operations. Anantara, a high-end hotel brand also known for its themed resorts, recently opened its first hotel in China—the Anantara Sanya Resort & Spa. Located on the southernmost island-city of China, Sanya is fast emerging as a popular tourist destination because of its unspoiled serene beauty. Several major international hotel chains

have started looking to the island to open resorts. “We are pleased to be expanding in China. Sanya island is a very rapidly expanding destination,” said Michael Marshall, Anantara senior vice president for commercial operations. The new resort has 19 Premier rooms, 19 Premier Ocean View rooms, 51 Deluxe Ocean View rooms, 8 suites, a royal suite, 21 different pool villas and three spa suites. In the Middle East, Marshall said nine hotel projects are currently in the pipeline. He also said Anantara is scheduled to open a hotel in Mauritius this year, one in Schezwan China and another one in Bali, Indonesia. Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas is a luxury resort and spa operator based in Bangkok, Thailand with a current portfolio of 14 resorts across Asia Pacific and the Middle East. The company is part of Minor international which for itself has a portfolio of high-end hotel brands like Four Seasons and Marriot Resort & Spa. Anantara is unique in that pioneered experience-based travel as opposed opulent travel. www.travel-arabia.com

India’s tourism ministry has set a goal to increase the country’s share in international tourism arrivals from .6 percent to one percent by 2016 and would need approximately 430,000 new rooms to meet this, the Indian delegation to the just-concluded 2012 Arabian Travel Market said. The team, which was composed of top officials led by Tourism Minister of State Sultan Ahmed, noted that foreign tourist arrivals to India have witnessed a steady increase over the years, reaching 6.29 million in 2011, a spurt of a whopping 8.9% increase over 5.78 million tourist arrivals in 2010. Till March 2012, the Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India stands at 1.98 million. The Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEE) till March 2012 stands at US$ 4,969 million Meantime, the delegation also said there has been a consistent and positive growth of FTA figures from the Middle East region to India over the last two to three years with the 2010 having registered an overall growth of around 17 percent over the previous year. Some of the countries, particularly, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen and Turkey have registered positive growth and are emerging as major tourism generating markets for India from this region.


4

Exclusives

Eastern Mangroves official tells it as it is:

‘We are not coming up with buy-one-getone- free deals. It’s very not Abu Dhabicorrect.’

100 operational hotels by 2015 Millennium & Copthorne’s MENA president bares plan

Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara, which opened on June 19, 2012, is a unique destination, Michel Koopman, Anantara operations director for Middle East, matter-of-factly told Travel Arabia News. And how might that be? “We are not people who try to run a hotel full of policies and procedures. We want to let the people tell the story,” Koopman said. “We are not coming up with buy-oneget-one- free deals. It’s very not Abu Dhabi-correct.” The five-level hotel comprises 222 rooms and features unique

Arabian design elements in its archways, mosaics and timber as well as subtle touches of 18-carat gold. Rooms are spacious, from the entry-level Deluxe Balcony rooms to the Royal Mangroves Residence – the largest suite in the UAE with up to ten en-suite bedrooms. The most opulent accommodation at the hotel is the Royal Mangroves Residence, which is ideal for dignitaries and VIPs. Offering a lavish but residential feel, the size of the Royal Mangroves Residence can be adapted depending on guest requirements with options for three, seven or ten

Michel Koopman

en-suite bedrooms and balconies featured throughout. The suite also comes equipped with its own 10-metre rooftop swimming pool with swim-up pool bar, private gym and its own dedicated entrance. Guests at the Royal Mangroves Residence will also have access to a limousine service, private chef, butler and a massage and beauty therapist during their stay.

Planet Group launches online one-stop instant booking system

George Moussa

‘We are on track.’ – Ali Hamad Lakhraim Alzaabi Millennium & Copthorne MENA is on track with its target to have 100 hotels operating by 2015, Ali Hamad Lakhraim Alzaabi, president and CEO, told Travel Arabia News. “We are on track in our 100-hotel target for 2015—operational and signed. We see our growth coming from Saudi Arabia and UAE. We also see growth coming from a very important market for us which we have initiated: Turkey,” Alzaabi said. Likewise Alzaabi said Millennium & Copthorne MENA is going to sub-Saharan Africa as well as India. He said the company has managed to also add more hotels to its expansion. “We are focusing on Saudi Arabia in a big way. We already have 10 hotels up and coming there. We are expanding also in South Africa to start our African move. We are going now to Libya for a massive number of hotels under discussion,” Alzaabi said. Moreover, Alzaabi said focus is

also on the Commonwealth of Independent States (former USSR) where projects have been signed in Tajikistan and Azerbaijan. “We have more hotels coming in CIS, which we are very excited about. We are due to announce soon,” he said. “We are in the right direction. We are expanding as we go.” Meantime, Alzaabi said interGulf tourism has been playing a key role in keeping UAE’s visitor industry abreast, noting that the country which has “everything from beaches to shopping malls” is also a safe destination. “Families in GCC prefer to be in Dubai than in London, Paris, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand or the U.S. because first of all, it is next door, secondly it is safe and secure—people can leave their families and go back to finish a meeting or something without being worried. There are also more activities to do here for their kids and families than in any other places,” he said.

In apparent efforts to stay abreast of the information technology age, Planet Group,

a leading travel management company, has started to further improve on its online registration system for tour operators and as well come up with a version that consumers can find to be user-friendly. Planet Group’s Planet Travels & Tours, recently launched its upgraded business-to-business (B2B) online reservation, offering XML connectivity for key customers. Before the bookings for 2012-2012 start coming, Planet will also offer a secure payment gateway for credit card transactions which will allow

agents to book online with an instant confirmation. “The B2B online reservation system will give individuals and companies convenient and immediate access to the latest rate and availability with login and password access,” said George Moussa, chairman. He added that since all rates and availability can be viewed at any time anywhere by a travel agent or by corporate clients, “they can make bookings on real time basis with instant email information.” “The system is time and cost-efficient.”

Westin Abu Dhabi hopeful on golf

Klaus Niefer

The recent acquisition of Air Berlin by Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways has resulted to increased flights to Abu Dhabi from Germany, which makes the city’s hotels happy for obvious reasons. And with golf fast becoming popular in Germany, none could www.travel-arabia.com

be happier than Klaus Niefer, general manager of Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa, a fivestar, 176-room hotel operating a 27-hole championship golf course managed by the global Troon Golf. “In the European market, Abu Dhabi is recognized as the number one leisure destination. It has three championship golf courses and good weather,” Niefer told Travel Arabia News. “Golf is very important in bringing business.” Germany has over 500 golf courses with some 300,000 members. Golf courses in the country have increased by 70 percent during the 1990s. In 2008 Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC) appointed Westin Hotels & Resorts, part of Starwood Ho-

tels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., to manage the property, which was planned to become a golf course, hotel, residences and spa destination at US $354 million (AED 1.3 billion). Troon Golf manages 187 golf clubs worldwide. Late last year, Etihad Airways increased its stake in Air Berlin to 29 percent in what was seen as a bailout by the UAE’s flag carrier of the airline which was then reportedly struggling to become profitable again. The move made Etihad the largest single shareholder in Europe’s sixth largest airline. Under the agreement, Etihad will invest up to $255 million in Air Berlin over five years to support its fleet development and future network growth.


5 The InterContinental Doha The City Dusit International undergoes major growth Dusit International has taken ing major growth,” McNabb told banks on FIFA for long stayers steps to further develop its brand, Travel Arabia News, adding that

Renzo Cavagliotti

With an estimated US$100 billion to be spent on various mega-projects in line with Qatar’s scheduled hosting of the FIFA 2022 World Cup, several hotels in the country’s capital, Doha, have started banking on a new market this undertaking has spawned— professionals, skilled workers and specialists who would be sent there by their home offices across the

globe to oversee these projects and thus would be needing places to stay for the long haul. One such hotel is the InterContinental Hotel Doha The City, a business hotel which opened on Feb. 19, 2012 with 525 rooms and a 44-percent occupancy projection for the year. “We are expecting these projects to start in the coming months,” Renzo Cavagliotti, general manager, told Travel Arabia News. “We should be seeing the managers, consultants, architects to start coming in,” he added. Aside from the expatriate market, the hotel is also banking on weekend holiday makers from Saudi Arabia and UAE with 170 of its one- to four-bedroom apartments readied. The FIFA Executive Committee voted in a secret ballot on Dec. 2, 2010 in Zurich to have Qatar host the 2022 World Cup.

Catherine McNabb

expanding its sales and development offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Middle East, UK and Germany, and launching hotel projects across the globe, a number of which are under negotiation in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, India and China, according to Catherine McNabb, vice president for sales and marketing. “The company is undertak-

Dusit International has embarked on a “new direction” as it focuses on development in the Middle East and India. “Projects are under negotiation in Saudi Arabia, India and China. The new Dusit Devarana, New Delhi, India will open in Q4, as will Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi, and two properties will open in Hainan, China in early 2013.”

New kid no more Park Regis Kris Kin Hotel is not anymore the new kid on the block. The hotel, which opened on Nov. 2, 2010, has become a popular place owing largely to its location at the heart of the city. “During the 2010 New Year’s Eve, the hotel filled for the first time. We’ve gradually done a penetration of the market. The acceptance so far has been very good. It

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takes time to establish relationship. We take several approaches,” Scott Butcher, general manager, told Travel Arabia News. The hotel has opened sales offices in Frankfurt and London, noting that occupancy has been coming from UK and Germany, as well as China and India. “The presence everywhere of the product has greatly improved,” Butcher said.

Scott Butcher


6 Bin Majid Group starts Slovakia charter flights

Dr. Ali Kasapbashi

Bin Majid Group has started its first charter flight from Slovakia, with subsequent services expected in the coming months. In a TAN interview, Dr. Ali Kasapbashi, Bin Majid Group’s Group General Manager, said the flight, which brought close to 200 visitors to Dubai early last month, was part of Bin Majid Group’s continuing expansion of opera-

tions in that region where it already has regular weekly charter flights from the Czech Republic over the last six years. “The Slovakia charter flights will run during summer,” said Kasapbashi. “We’ll see how it goes,” he added. Bin Majid Group, which runs its own charter flights, operates Bin Majid Beach Hotel, Bin Majid Beach Resort, Acacia, and Mangrove. Kasapbashi said occupancy rate was at 95 percent in the first quarter of the year. The conglomerate will open a new hotel in Abu Dhabi this year, and Dubai early next year. He said the hotel group’s market are mostly holidaymakers from Germany and other European countries. Other companies under the Bin Majid Group are Bin Majid Tours, Impala Rent A Car, and Gulf Hotel Supplies.

Paramount UAE?

Thomas Van Vliet

The chief executive officer of a global consortium, which has recently signed an agreement with Paramount Pictures in Los Angeles, USA to open theme resorts across the world, said they are entertaining the possibility of opening a Paramount Hotel in the UAE. “We are interested of course in the UAE. It’s a greenfield develop-

ment,” Thomas Van Vliet who is at the helm of Paramount Hotels & Resorts, told TAN. Paramount Hotels & Resorts, a hotel management company and official licensee of Paramount Pictures, is planning to develop hotels with casinos or theme parks in gateway capital cities like Dubai, Abu Dhabi in the UAE or New York and San Francisco in the US. Van Vliet said his company have been in talks with investors in Brazil, the Caribbean, the UK, Russia, Oman, Qatar, South Africa and Indonesia as well. “They have shown interest in dealing with us,” he said. Van Vliet said they have been working closely with Paramount Pictures for corporate identity as each Paramount Hotels & Resorts property will be different from the other but with the same DNA, which is entertainment.

Fraser Suite Bahrain’s guests mostly from KSA Fraser Suite Bahrain’s guests are usually from the GCC, a sizeable bulk of which is from Saudi Arabia, according to Olivier Briand, general manager. At the same time, Briand said he is “very optimistic” about the current situation in the country. “I am confident about the future,” he said, citing recent major events like the Bahrain Air Show, held in January this year, and the F1 Bah-

rain Grand Prix held in April. Briand said Fraser Suite Bahrain’s occupancy has been averaging 70 percent in the past several months, with around 40 percent of guests staying for a month or more. “We would like to have 75 percent,” he said. The general manager said his property “relies a lot on the Saudi Arabian market.” Bahrain has been rocked by civil unrests that started last year.

Exclusives

The RitzCarlton Abu Dhabi eyes 65% Ritz-Carlton Riyadh courts weddings occupancy in first year

Jean Francois Laurent

The Ritz-Carlton Riyadh, a palace converted into a 493-room hotel with two ballrooms fit for 600 people each and royal suites bigger than a tennis court, booked nine weddings in May and is currently preparing for a grand royal nuptial in October this year. “It’s a palace. Where else would you want to get married?”

said Jean-Francois Laurent, general manager, adding that aside from weddings, The Ritz-Carlton Riyadh is also where most events are held in Riyadh. “They want to impress; they do it in our hotel.” He did not elaborate on the royal wedding. Forty-eight of the hotel’s rooms are royal suites measuring 450 square meters each—a standard regulation tennis court is 261-square meters. Meantime Laurent said the hotel’s main markets are the oil and gas corporations, pharmaceuticals and automotive companies. He said several Dubai-based companies have started opening offices in Riyadh in line with the Saudi Arabian government’s infrastructure development plan meant to diversify the economy into other industries including tourism.

Anjum Makkah Hotel sees over 50% occupancy also in first year Anjum Makkah Hotel, the 1,795-room Sharia-compliant flagship project of the Abdul Latif Jameel Real Estate Investment Co.’s (ALJREIC) US$2.67 billion project in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, will have over 50 percent occupancy in its first year of operation following a planned soft opening in 2013, said Mahmoud Mokhtar, Anjum Hotels chief operating officer. In a TAN interview, Mokhtar said the hotel’s market would primarily be Hajj and Ummrah pilgrims from member countries of the Gulf Cooperating Council, and the pre-dominantly Muslim

countries in Asia like Malaysia and Indonesia. “We are going to have a soft opening. We see occupancy to be in the mid-50 percent in the first year which will be achieved through our introductory rates,” Mokhtar said. The Anjum Makkah Hotel, the first phase of ALJREIC’s Jabal Al Ka’aba project, will add up to 8,500 hotel rooms in a cluster of hotels over the next few years. Among the hotel’s main features are its 26 air-conditioned lifts with each able to accommodate 16 people—this to address heavy traffic during prayer time.

Fully booked Royal Caribbean Royal Caribbean International, a luxury cruise liner, brought approximately 40,000 guests from Europe, South Africa and China during its various recent port calls in the region, according to Helen Beck, regional director. “The sailings attracted large numbers of group bookings,” Beck said. “With nearly every sailing booked, we brought around 40,000 guests to the region…,” She added. After the last 12-night voyage to India, which left on April 7, 2012 and visited Cochin, New Mangalore, Goa, Bombay and Muscat, the cruise liner’s Brilliance of the Seas started a 15-night repositioning cruise through the Suez Canal back to Rome on April 19, 2012. Along the way, Brilliance of the Seas called port at Muscat, Aqaba, Safaga, Sharm el Sheikh and Alexandria.

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Pep Lozano

The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, which is set to open three months from now, has projected a 65-percent occupancy rate for its first year of operation, Pep Lozano, the hotel’s general manager told TAN. “We have very clear strategic plans. We have developed sales offices in different countries. We have a very ambitious plan,” Lozano said. He said The Ritz-Carlton, which features luxury hotels across the globe, is also “working closely with key markets like the UK and Germany. Broken down to segments, Lozano said 30 percent of their market will be coming from the emirate’s public sector; another 30 percent from private corporations and 20 percent from leisure holidaymakers. He said they are also looking at having at least 20 percent of their guests from the wedding market.

Bullish with Petra Jordan’s tourism sector is bullish with the upcoming celebrations on the 200th anniversary of Petra’s rediscovery by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt as inbound visitor traffic is expected to go back to 2010 levels when a total of 860,000 tourists spent time in this UNESCO World Heritage site. “We will be celebrating the 200th year of the event,” said Sa’ed S. Zawaideh of the Jordan Tourism Board. The anniversary falls on Aug. 22, 2012. Figures made available to TAN showed that Petra had 860,000 visitors in 2010 though this dropped to 630,000 last year due to the unrest in the region.


7 Auris expands to Sharjah The company which recently opened its first five-star hotel —Auris Plaza— sets goal for more ‘It will be a landmark hotel and suite.’ Hatem Gasmi, managing director, on the Sharjah project.

Apparently buoyed by the success of their new five-star hotel’s recent opening behind Mall of the Emirates, Auris Hotels, which already has six properties in operation across UAE, has signed for a seventh one—this time, in Sharjah—with goals to go overseas and set up in Morocco, Oman, Tunisia, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, according to Hatem Gasmi, managing director. “It will be on the Khalid Lagoon. It will be a landmark hotel and suite,” Gasmi told Travel Arabia News, referring to the new Auris project, which, he said is a 34-storey, 330-room hotel scheduled to open next year. Khalid Lagoon is Sharjah’s hotel and amusement row highlighted by a five-kilometer cornice and a spectacular 100-meter high water fountain. Auris has a property in Deira, three in Al Barsha, Dubai including the five-star hotel that officially opened on April 11, 2012 next to MOE —Auris Plaza— and two in the Tecom area also in Al Barsha. Meantime, Gasmi also disclosed plans for the company to operate abroad with a number of countries lined-up—Morocco, Tunisia, Oman. Qatar and Saudi Arabia. “Being in Dubai gives us international appeal,” said Gasmi. “We are getting somewhere,” he added, referring to status of the ongoing efforts for new Auris hotels abroad. Auris Hotels has an average occupancy of 85 percent.

Jumeirah Group looks to Saudi Arabia for new hotels Apparently capitalizing on the Saudi Arabia’s push to develop the country’s tourism industry, a top official of Jumeirah Group, a Dubai-based international hotel chain owned by the Dubai government, told Travel Arabia News the hospitality company is looking at opening hotels there. “Saudi Arabia is an important market to us. We’ve seen huge growth in incoming tourists from Saudi Arabia to Dubai in 2011 and 2012. We are exploring possibilities of opening across all (major) cities in Saudi Arabia,” Marwan Al Ali, Jumeirah Group senior vice president for Middle East, Africa and South Asia operations said. Al Ali at the same time said Jumeirah Group will open a hotel in Kuwait later this year even as the company looks to China and India. “We are very much concentrating on the China and India markets. We have signed for another hotel in Guangzhou, China. India, we are exploring possibili-

ties. We are very close to signing a deal. India is a growing market. It is also a source market for Dubai,” he said. Speaking on the occasion of the four-day 2012 Saudi Travel and Tourism Investment, Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) said the private sector can contribute in the government’s tourism boost by providing consultancy for the projects. The SCTA-organized event was held March 26 – 29, 2012 at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center. SCTA has updated its comprehensive overall strategy for the development of national tourism and approved an operational plan for the next three years. Part of the master plan is the ongoing construction of the kilometerhigh Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, the centrepiece attraction which is set to become the world’s tallest building upon completion in 2017. The structure, built at an

Marwan Al Ali

initial cost of US$1.23 billion, is the highlight of a US$20-billion development project entitled, “Kingdom City” along the Red Sea. Jumeirah Group’s portfolio includes the Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Madinat Jumeirah, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray in Dubai and Jumeirah at Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi.

Jumeriah hotels abroad include Jumeirah Dhevanafushi and Jumeirah Vittaveli in Maldives, Jumeirah Himalayas Hotel in Shanghai, Jumeirah Frankfurt in Germany, Jumeirah Grand Hotel Via Veneto in Rome, Pera Palace Hotel, Jumeirah in Istanbul, Jumeirah Carlton Tower and Jumeirah Lowndes Hotel in London and Jumeirah Essex House in New York.

Russians, Germans at Ramada Ajman Ramada Hotel & Suites Ajman had a “very big growth” in visits by tourists from Germany and the Commonwealth of Independent States, comprising 69 percent of the 336-room hotel’s occupancy in the first quarter of the year, according to Iftikhar Hamdani, general

manager. “It’s a very big growth,” Hamdani told Travel Arabia News, attributing this to an “aggressive sales” campaign that the hotel has embarked on. Hamdani said Ramada Hotel & Suites Ajman had a 95-percent occupancy in the

first quarter of which 49 percent were from Germany and 20 percent from CIS. In line with its marketing campaign, Hamdani said the hotel has added 60 more rooms and will be opening an Indian restaurant in September this year—this on top of a new spa project.

Iftikhar Hamdani

Newly opened Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche attracts MICE GM eyes 50% occupancy by yearend

Jean-Philippe Bittencourt

Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche, which opened on March 18, 2012, had a 20 percent occupancy in its first month and sees 50 percent by yearend, banking on its identity as a business hotel, its location in the city, 48 suites, 800-square-meter ballroom that sits 900 people, 2,600-squaremeter conference centre fit for up to 1,000 people, and French brand name. “How are we different? The www.travel-arabia.com

experience with the hotel. That’s the difference. We are Sofitel. Hotels have different personalities. We offer the best of French blended with the local culture,” Jean-Philippe Bittencourt, general manager told Travel Arabia News. He said the 20-percent occupancy for the first month after opening was on target. Top months for the hotel, according to him, are September, October

and December. Bittencourt described Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche as an individualized business executive hotel. The hotel’s 2,600-squaremeter conference centre has independent access—from the ballroom to board meeting rooms and business centre, a variety of configurations that can accommodate from 15 to 1000 people thus make any event possible.


8

Exclusives

Fraser Suites expands

Ritz-Carlton to open 25 hotels ‘Majority of them will be in Asia while a good number will be in the Middle East.’

Bob Kharazmi

The Ritz-Carlton, a luxury hotel and resort chain which already has 77 properties across major cities in 25 countries, will open 25 more in the next three years, Bob Kharazmi, global officer for operations, told Travel Arabia News. “Majority of them will be in

Asia while a good number will be in the Middle East,” he said, adding that in the last two years, 10 Ritz-Carlton hotels have also been opened. The 25 new hotels are seen to create some 10,000 new jobs to be added to Ritz-Carlton’s cur-

rent 40,000 employees, Kharazmi said. Among the hotels that have just recently opened is the RitzCarlton Riyadh in the AlHada area along Mekkah Road—a sprawling 52 hectares of palatial accommodation for royalties, visiting dignitaries and heads of state. The Ritz-Carlton Riyadh was inline with the company’s thrust towards localization, said Kharazmi. “We listen to our guests and so…the hotel was built to reflect the local design,” he said. Ritz-Carlton Riyadh has 49 lavish and exquisitely appointed two-bedroom Royal Suites and 50 one-bedroom, opulent Executive Suites. It also has over 5,800 square meters (62,000 square feet) of conference space combined, including two colossal ballrooms in a separate wing. Meantime, Kharazmi said Ritz-Carlton has also considerably invested in providing the latest IT technology in its hotels to befit today’s digital-savvy travelers. “We are using the digital world to communicate with our customers. There will be a time when our guests will dining and using their mobile devices to order,” he said, adding that Asia by far has the most digital-savvy customers. Globally, around 20 percent of Ritz-Carlton bookings are done online, Kharazmi said.

David Brown

Two years after it opened on Sheikh Zayed Road, Fraser Suites is now in the thick of expansion projects, two of which are slated to open late next year, with other proposals currently under review elsewhere in the region, according to David Brown, general manager. “We have been very active in working with project developers with a view to identifying more sites in the UAE as well,” Brown told Travel Arabia News. Fraser Suites Dubai on Sheikh Zayed Road was the company’s first and only branch in the UAE. Fraser Suites is part of Frasers Hospitality, which operates serviced apartments and luxury residences worldwide from Singapore to London and Istanbul. It’s portfolio in the Middle East includes Bahrain and Doha which have also just opened in the past few years. Meantime Brown said Fraser Suites Dubai, doing a 91-percent occupancy in the first quarter of the year which, according to him, was about 16 percent increase over the same period last year. Twenty percent of Fraser Suites Dubai’s market were from Saudi Arabia. Other strong markets, Brown said, include U.K., U.S.A., western European coun-

Dubai gets the Spanish flair Melia plans to have 5 GCC hotels in 3 years Melia Hotels & Resorts, market leader in Spain’s resort and urban hotels which operates some 300 hotels in 27 countries, has landed in Dubai, opening its first hotel in the region and eyeing five more across GCC, according to Susanna Mander, vice president for marketing and brand development. “Ties between Spain and the Arabians go back hundreds of years. We feel very much connected to the local culture,” said Mander when asked why Melia has decided to expand to the Middle East. Also asked why Dubai and not

elsewhere, Mander replied: “We have to be here. Dubai is the centre of everything. The tallest, the grandest, the biggest. Dubai is very international. It’s the hub. “We are looking also to expand to Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait. Right now, we think Dubai is the place. If you’re already here, it is easier (to expand elsewhere in the region).” Melia Hotel in Bur Dubai opened on April 29, 2012. “We plan to have five hotels in the GCC in the next three years,” Mander said, adding that the company moved to open its first Middle East hotel in

Bur Dubai because the place is “already accepted in the region historically. “It’s really where Dubai was born.” Mander said the company expects “very high” occupancy, around 80 percent by yearend, she said. “We put the Spanish flair.” Spain was part of the Iberian Peninsula, which was also composed of Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar. In 711 AD, North African Muslims invaded the peninsula and placed it under Islamic rule from the 8th to the 15th centuries.

www.travel-arabia.com

Susanna Mander

tries and southeast Asia. Longstayers—mostly business executives and highly-skilled professionals sent by their homebase to oversee projects in the region—account for 50 percent of Fraser Suites Dubai’s market, the rest coming from transients or those who stay for from one to seven nights, not to mention those staying from seven to 28 nights—mostly people needing temporary accommodations till they get permanent lodging. Brown said in some cases “people prefer to stay with us because of the lifestyle solutions that we provide.” Brown explained that such is the case for Fraser Suites because “we work with multinational corporations. “Frasers is a provider of 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies around the world so we got very, very strong global corporate presence. We are able to leverage on that relationship in other countries.” He said this is “one of the strengths of the Frasers brand. “Globally, we have that reach. We have that relationship in place. So, instead of bidding on one property, we bid on multiple properties to provide solutions to many, many top companies.” Meantime Brown said India “is a growing market for us,” adding that the country “is a market with enormous potential.” In China, Brown said Frasers Hospitality is “certainly exploring opportunities” having “a very, very strong brand presence” there. “However,” he said, “it is identifying the right customers. You have a massive market, a lot of it is either extremely high-end or budget-conscious and we are neither so we are trying to identify.”


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10

Exclusives

Abu Dhabi gets Al Rais Travel & Shipping butler service eyes services of a German firm

Five presidential villas at Banyan Tree to be built

Stefan Buchs

Buoyed by what was described as the resort’s success story, Banyan Tree Al Wadi in Ras Al Khaimah will be building five presidential villas for visiting heads of state. “It’s really a success story so far, a remarkable performance,” Stefan Buchs, Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts vice president for Europe, Middle East and Africa, told Travel Arabia News. Buchs at the same time said Banyan Tree has projects currently in the pipeline for the Middle East, including two in Muscat that involves around 140 villas. Another project in the region is the Banyan Tree Tamouda Bay in Tetouan, Morocco. Anders Dimblad, Banyan Tree Al Wadi general manager, meantime said five presidential villas

will be constructed linked separately to the resort by a private road. “This will be for the tip of the top,” he said, adding that the new villas are scheduled to open early next year. “The presidential villas will be larger. We are doing it one step further. It would be so unique that everybody would want to be there,” he said. The project is still in its design phase, and would befit royal families as well as heads of state. Dimblad said Banyan Tree Al

Oliver J. Key

Abu Dhabi will soon have another world class—this time, private butler service by St. Regis Hotel which is scheduled to have a soft opening in September this year. “St. Regis, as a brand, is renowned for its butler service. We offer our guests a private butler. The service level is among the best in the world,” said Oliver J. Key, general manager. Envisioned to be the new business and social hub of the city, St. Regis features 283 rooms and suites from its 33rd to 49th floors. The St. Regis Butler Service has been the hotel’s hallmark for over 100 years.

So your boss needs to travel pronto? Anders Dimblad

Wadi, which had its soft opening on Jan. 1, 2010, is very popular among locals and GCC tourists because said “it has “a lot of privacy.”

Fraser Doha fits up for FIFA

Mustapha Henin

Preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup has been keeping the 138-apartment Fraser Suite Doha busy, posting and overall 85-percent occupancy, mostly long-stayers from Europe and the GCC, since opening in September last year, according to Mustapha Henini, general manager. Situated on the Corniche Road, Doha’s business centre, Fraser Suite also registered a 90-percent

occupancy in the first quarter of this year, Henini said. “We have been operating with great results,” Henini said. “There is a big demand at the moment and the supply is low,” he added, referring to rooms to which professionals involved in the various FIFA-related undertakings can stay for the duration of the projects. Fifty percent of Fraser Suite Doha’s guests are Europeans mostly engaged in these projects; the other half are from GCC, according to Henini, who also said that 60 percent are long-stayers. “Some of them come for a two months’ or three months’ stay with us,” he said. Moreover, Henini said that around 85 percent of Fraser Suite Doha’s clients are from private corporations. The FIFA Executive Committee voted in a secret ballot on Dec. 2, 2010 in Zurich to have Qatar host the 2022 World Cup.

Kulwant Singh

And you have to make hotel arrangements ASAP. It pays to know that there is a quick and easy booking system now available in the market prepared by Lama Desert Tourism— the Lama Connect. “It’s a global reservation network with 70,000 hotels,” said Kulwant Singh, Lama Desert Tourism managing director. “I think this could be the busiest online reservation available on desktop for secretaries to book their managers or executives for any online services, like airline tickets, anywhere around the world,” he added. The online booking engine is also connected directly to the backend systems of individual hotels, enabling users to receive live availability.

www.travel-arabia.com

Mohammed Jassim Al Rais

Al Rais Travel & Shipping Agencies plans to sign up with a German company that will represent it in Germany, Holland and Scandinavia to boost traffic by 25 percent, according to Mohammed

Jassim Al Rais, director. “It will be our representative company that will bring clients to Dubai,” Al Rais said. Al Rais Travel recently held a travel and tours exhibition at Dubai Mall participated in by 12 tourism boards. This year’s event was joined by representatives from the Philippines, Jordan and Oman. “This year, we made it bigger. We have a total of 12 participating tourism boards. Eighteen had actually requested but space would not allow. Tourism boards at the event were from Germany, Malaysia, Cyprus, Queensland, Korea, Austria, Thailand, and Ireland. Hong Kong also participated.

74% occupancy for 2012 at Miramar Al Aqah Beach Resort Miramar Al Aqah Beach Resort, a Moroccan-style property in the heart of Fujairah, is looking at a 74-percent occupancy for the year, according to Ashraf Helmy, general manager who also is the company’s area business development manager. “Occupancy for the first quarter was 85 percent. We believe that it’s going to be a little bit higher in the summer. In 2011, we closed at 68 percent. For 2012, we are looking at 74 percent,” Helmy told Travel Arabia News. Helmy said the resort has been undergoing upgrades to keep up with occupancy, the most recent of which was that on the watersport center. Helmy said a diving

Ashraf Helmy

center has as well been built to be operated by Divers Down. Bahari Bar, the resort’s food and beverage outlet, has been renovated too and converted into a restaurant fit for up to 80 people.

The Address Dubai Mall averaging 90% occupancy

Stefan Viard

The Address Dubai Mall has been averaging 90-percent occupancy in the early part of this year with 70 percent of the guests coming from GCC and the remaining 30 percent from

the U.S., Europe and Australia, according to Stefan Viard, hotel manager. In an interview, Viard said GCC visitors were mostly from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and “a little bit of Bahrain.” He said China “has started doing good.” Viard meantime said the hotel has been working on a loyalty program. A summer promotional offer, he said, will also be released including a Six Nights Seven Days Package. The Address Dubai Mall is a five-star, 37-floor hotel directly connected to the Dubai Mall. It opened on Sept. 9, 2009 and has since been having a yearly average occupancy of 85 percent, according to Viard.


11 ‘ME market doing well in India’

Vikas Rustagi

The Middle East market is “performing well in India for the last two years,” Vikas Rustagi, India Tourism regional director for Asia and Africa told Travel Arabia News. “Last year, there was a growth of 17 percent compared to 2010,” Rustagi said. According to him, there were 258,000 visitors from the Middle East to India last year with UAE ranking first in terms of volume at 60,000 followed by Saudi Arabia.

Rustagi said growth projections for 2012 is at 20 percent. Reasons why Middle East holidaymakers go to India include wellness and leisure. India is popular for its luxury trains, dubbed “Palace on Wheels.” India has 18 official languages and 252 dialects. Each place in India is a destination of its own so much so that one Indian official had been quoted as saying a lifetime of travel is not enough to experience the whole of India.

More UAE travelers going to Thailand

There was a five-percent in-

Wisoot Buachoom

crease in the number of UAE tourists who went to Thailand last year compared to 2010, said Wisoot Buachoom, Tourism Authority of Thailand’s director for its Dubai and Middle East office. In an interview, Buachoom said there were 526,763 visitors to Thailand from the Middle East in 2011 of which 149,873 were from UAE. Three main reasons for traveling to Thailand, he said, were leisure, medical purposes and business. “The number one place in Thailand that UAE guests want to see is Bangkok because of the shopping centers, amusement parks and temples,” Buachoom said. Second to Bangkok is Phuket, he said, because of the beaches and related activities; third is Chiang Mai which is north of country—the area, according to Buachoom is preferred by UAE tourists for its verdant environment and sceneries. “UAE tourists go to Thailand because there they feel relaxed and at-home,” he said. Meantime, Buachoom said TAT will be focusing on promoting three niché markets: medi-

cal tourism; honeymooners to Koh Samui Island where Etihad and Bangkok Airways, a Thai regional airline, has flight arrangements for; and golf through a Thai Airways promotion offering attractive rates.

GCC tourist arrivals to Korea increases

Hwang Seunghyun

Tourist arrivals from GCC to Korea in 2011 have increased by 49 percent from 2010, according to Hwang Seunghyun Korea Tourism Organization regional director. At the same time, KTO said

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visitor arrivals from UAE to Korea also went up by 21.5 in 2011 compared to 2010 figures. The total tourism arrivals in Korea touched 9.79 million in 2011, up from 8.79 million in 2010. KTO has set three visions for 2020; taking the top spot as the most competitive tourism industry in Asia, attracting 20-million tourists and increasing the period of domestic travel to 30 days per person. To achieve these goals, the KTO has not only improved travel infrastructure to accommodate foreign tourists but has also performed overseas promotional activities to attract the attention of people around the world. In addition, the KTO has formed various plans to boost domestic trips like the refreshing vacation campaign. Korea will hold the 2012 Yeosu Expo, 2014 Incheon Asian Games and the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. We expect the Korean tourism industry to make a considerable growth along with such mega events as well as an improvement in infrastructures.


12

One on One

Visa Updates

Have visa, will travel Down under

How is The Address Dubai Marina different from other hotels ? Dubai that have been able to balance its outlook as a leisure-cumbusiness hotel, and The Address Dubai Marina has successfully carved its niche in both. TAN: What are the challenges? How are you addressing them? AFT: All hotels in Dubai face the challenge of staying competitive given the strong growth in the number of hotel projects. We address this through our three-

art meeting and event facilities, the hotel ensures that guests are constantly refreshed and inspired. The hotel has also demonstrated its excellence, winning a number of industry awards including “Dubai’s Leading Meetings & Conference Hotel” at World Travel Awards 2011, and the hotel’s spa being adjudged as the first runner-up for “Best Spa Design” at the Middle East Spa Awards 2011.

Veteran hotelier Antony Francis Treston, who also is the property’s general manager, says his piece. Travel Arabia News: Twentyfive years you’ve worked as an hotelier starting out as rooms manager in a career that has so far spanned half your life to cover five countries and eight hotels. How do you find your current post as general manager of The Address Dubai Marina? What is the appeal? Antony Francis Treston: The Address Dubai Marina is a key hospitality asset in The Address Hotels + Resorts portfolio of Emaar Hospitality Group. Like all The Address hotels, the property is distinguished by three key characteristics – a unique location, superior service standards and our commitment to deliver tangible guest benefits. I find the responsibility of managing the hotel a true honour. TAN: Is the property any different from the other hotels you’ve touched? If so, how? AFT: I believe the key differential of The Address Dubai Marina are the values and operational ethos it upholds. “Where Life Happens” defines the hotel’s philosophy—and a commitment to deliver tangible guest benefits means our valued clients are assured of a truly rewarding lifestyle experience. The hotel’s unique location in Dubai Marina is another added attraction. There are very few hotels in

pronged approach: One, offering our guests the advantage of being part of a vibrant neighbourhood in close proximity to a lifestyle mall—Dubai Marina Mall; two, the service standards we uphold; and three, ensuring that our guests receive tangible benefits instead of being provided standard hotel features that add little to the overall guest experience. TAN: The Address Dubai Marina is at the heart of what is now being hyped as the “New Dubai.” What’s in the hotel that’s not in other properties thereabouts? AFT: With 200 luxurious rooms, five superb restaurants and lounges, a relaxing spa, spectacular infinity pool and state-of-the-

TAN: The hotel’s local appeal. Other properties have something they are popular for. What would it be for The Address Dubai Marina? AFT: In addition to its credentials as a five-star premium hotel, The Address Dubai Marina has two aspects that are extremely popular. The first is its award-winning Spa, offering an assortment of treatments to ensure total relaxation of the body and mind. The other is the extensive conference facilities at the hotel. The 900-square-metre Constellation Ballroom with floor-to-ceiling windows benefits from extensive natural light and can accommodate up to 1,000 guests in reception style, and is the largest ballroom in Dubai Marina. www.travel-arabia.com

Australian multiple-visit visas are granted online within two days without need for Biometrics and create a convenient income stream – yet few agents are using the facility

Lincoln Edwin

It has been three years since Australia started providing online visas to GCC nationals. No trips to embassies, no fear of losing passports, no hassle of taking time off to cart the family for finger-prints, almost no waiting time, perfect for impromptu vacations. Much to the envy of all other nationalities who reside in the Middle East, GCC nationals get an e676 visa, a two-year, multiple-entry visa that allows up to one year of constant stay – all for the very reasonable sum of AU$110 (Dh 410) per applicant. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) also has an eVisa Agent Gateway that allows registered travel agents to apply on behalf of their clients, do a bulk lodgement, make a single-transaction payment and also be able to get updates and help from the immigration desk. “We start by applying for visas,” says Lincoln Edwin, Travel Manager for New RAK Leisure Travel. “When local families travel, they are usually large groups and it is a big advantage when we can assure our clients of visas usually being granted within two days. In case there is a delay, we know we can follow up with the immigration desk and always stay updated on changes. Once we get the visas done, the rest of the trip automatically follows,” Wildlife Park Port Douglas

says Edwin. All an agency needs to do to get registered is write to immigration.dubai@dfat.gov.au and express interest in doing so. For some reason, however, agency uptake at the portal has been slow. “I believe agents are simply not aware of the special advantages of registering at the Agent Gateway,” says Andrew Oldfield of OMG! a specialist destination marketing agency that handles marketing for Tourism Queensland in the GCC. “In the current

Andrew Oldfield

market environment, a tool like this is perfect for offering a valuable extra to our customers and should be used to an advantage,” adds Oldfield. How to register • Write to the immigration desk at immigration.dubai@dfat.gov. au expressing interest in registering for the Agent Gateway • You will get two forms back: One for the agency to fill up and one for every employee who will be accessing the system • Once the application has been authenticated, portal access will be given • All registered users receive regular updates of procedures, can check progress of their applications and can also communicate with the immigration desk in case they need assistance


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14

G o i ng

green

Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara awarded Green Globe Certification

Coral Boutique Hotel Apartments – Al Barsha -Dubai Adopts ‘Go Green’ Strategy Coral Boutique Hotel Apartments – Al Barsha – Dubai has announced a “Go Green” strategy, which includes a series of environmentally friendly practices that it plans to implement in stages to promote sustainable hospitality. The hotel has implemented waste segregation and has already installed recycling bins for the purpose. It will also urge its guests to support its water and energy saving policy by simple practices like reusing towels, turning off taps and switching off lights when not needed. “Dubai is a tourism hotspot with a growing energy and carbon footprint, so it is for the hospitality sector, which is an important stakeholder in the tourism industry, to collectively look for

ways to encourage sustainability and green initiatives,” said SalimTouma, general manager. According to Salim, the hotel’s programme supports the “Green Tourism” initiatives of the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), which include encouraging the hotel sector to be conscious about the use of natural resources and energy conservation. Coral Boutique Hotel Apartments is a business-friendly hotel located in central Dubai in close proximity to major shopping and entertainment destinations with a business centre and a range of dining, health & fitness, and entertainment options. About the boutique hotel on http://www.coral-boutiquehotel. com

Plant your tree at Iberotel Miramar Al Aqah Beach Resort

A typical tree-planting day for the kids at Iberotel Miramar Al Aqah Beach Resort

Iberotel Miramar Al Aqah Beach Resort has kick-started two new environmental initiatives called “Tree Planting for Regular Guests” and “Kids Gardening Program.” The first to plant a tree was Dr. Ralf Corsten, VIP guest who was at the resort last February for his birthday. The tree-planting activity for guests was initiated to attract hotel guests to return to the property and see how their tree grows, enabling them to contribute to the natu-

ral beauty of the resort. The Kids Gardening Program, for its part, is being held every Saturday at 5pm. Children of hotel guests are invited to a dedicated area called Kids Green Corner to engage in several gardening activities. Ashraf Helmy, general manager and area business development manager, said the new environmental programs were put in place as part of continuing efforts to keep Iberotel Miramar Al Aqah a green resort.

Grant Ruddiman, General Manager and Area General Manager, Jumeirah Emirates Towers (left) being awarded the Green Globe Certification by Markus Oberlin, General Manager, Farnek Avireal.

Jumeirah Emirates Towers, part of Jumeirah Group, the Dubaibased luxury hospitality company and a member of Dubai Holding, has been awarded the internationally renowned Green Globe Certification (GGC) following a recent sustainability audit. The five-star Jumeirah Emirates Towers has been consistently developing its green policies in line with its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme and is the first of the Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts to be accredited with Green Globe Certification. GGC is the premier worldwide sustainability stamp for the tourism industry and more than 800 businesses in 50 countries have so far met the 349 exacting standards. Under the supervision of Farnek Avireal, which currently has the exclusive rights to utilize the Green Globe brand covering hotels in 20 different countries throughout the Middle East, Jumeirah Emirates Towers achieved a compliance score of 85 percent against the Green Globe Standard for Sustainable Travel & Tourism. Actions taken to improve sustainability performance already resulted in substantial cost savings for the hotel. The hotel now has an ambitious goal for 2012: to reduce energy use by five percent through initiatives such as LED light implementation and energy-efficient coolers. In addition to the recent GGC certification, Jumeirah Emirates

www.travel-arabia.com

Towers is also recognised for its broad CSR programme which includes an extensive list of green initiatives, such as energy and water reductions throughout the hotel. Meantime, Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara has also become one of only a few hotels in the GCC to gain Green Globe accreditation—an environmental sustainability standard specially developed for the travel and tour-

‘This recognition highlights Anantara’s sincere commitment to operating in an environmentally, socially and culturally responsible manner.’ —Christian Zunk, General Manager, Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara. ism industry. Of the 39 criteria the resort was required to meet, it well-exceeded its score in areas such as employee training, communications strategy, community development, conserving water/energy resources and protecting surrounding ecosystems. The resort is located on Abu Dhabi’s Sir Bani Yas Island and has been developed by the Tour-

ism Development and Investment Company (TDIC). “We are actively engaged in our adherence to the Green Globe Certification standards. This recognition highlights Anantara’s sincere commitment to operating in an environmentally, socially and culturally responsible manner.’’ says Christian Zunk, General Manager, Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara. The Resort conducts regular awareness trainings on activities that increase its environmental impact, and on its own responsibilities towards environmental conservation and sustainability. It also supports local environmental campaigns. Zunk said that without restricting their comfort in any way, Anantara’s environmental culture also extends to communication on sustainability issues with the guests. First originated in 1992 at the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit, the Green Globe standard now operates across 83 countries. Green Globe Summits are conducted in different locations throughout the year to share the latest best practices, training and development initiatives. “The fact that Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara is one of very few hotels in the region to achieve this accolade is testament to the wider scale of ecological initiatives that Abu Dhabi has developed over recent years,” said Zunk.


15 Accor aims for 15% reduction in energy use

Christophe Landais

Accor, a global hotel company that has under its wings iconic brands like Sofitel, Pullman, Mercure and Ibis among others with a total workforce of about 145,000 in 90 countries, has come up with a nononsense approach to sustainable development, embarking on a program that by itself was a result of two unprecedented international surveys all encapsulated into one strategy called Planet 21. “We started abut 20 years ago. We had a program called earth guest which finished in December of 2010. The new program, Planet 21 has taken on board all the…that we have with earth guest to move further,” said Christophe Landais managing director, Accor Middle East.

“The commitment we have in Planet 21 within the next five years is to reduce utilities and energy consumption by 15 percent across all Accor hotels in the region.” PLANET 21 consists of 21 commitments and the same number of quantified goals adopted by Accor. For these reasons, the new PLANET 21 strategy includes a program for informing customers and encouraging them to contribute to the hotels’ actions and achievements. From booking to room stay and restaurant service, customers will discover a rich and diverse array of educational messages encouraging them to contribute actively to the hotel’s action by means of a few simple gestures. The tone of the messages will be friendly and thoughtful, aimed at encouraging customers to participate without ever making them feel guilty. To guarantee the credibility of this program, hotels can only use the PLANET 21 messages if they comply with a certain level of performance in terms of sustainable development, assessed according to a list of 65 check points or recognized external certification.

The 24-storey Pullman Dubai Mall, an Accor hotel.

www.travel-arabia.com


16

cover

story

On track

‘The strong showing for our hotel sector shows it is maturing ahead of the challenges we face in the next decade.’ —Mr. Ahmed Al Nuaimi, chairman, Qatar Tourism Authority Centre NCC, an ambitious $1.2 billion project developed by the Qatar Foundation, which opened in December last year. The 40,000-square metre QNCC, which is 20 minutes away from the city’s business district, has been described as an unparalleled convention facility for the Meetings, Incentives, Conference and Exhibitions (MICE) market. It has an unprecedented design and cutting edge facilities in a world-first green-technology venue with a conference hall for 4,000 people, a 2,300 seat lyric-style, three additional tiered auditoriums, theatre-style seating, banquet space for up to 10,000 people in exhibition halls, and 52 meeting rooms, among other features.

Landmark Landmark projects include The Qatar National Convention

Master plan Qatar’s tourism master plan calls for the construction of over 60,000 new rooms in 240 hotels by the time the country hosts the FIFA World Cup in 2022. This means constructing 174 new hotels in 11 years from 2011 when the total number of hotels was at a mere 66. This means opening 16 new hotels each year during the period. Travel experts said this has not been done in other countries before. Keeping up with the pace, Qatar government officials said 19 hotels and 5,544 hotel rooms are now either under construction or in different planning stages, making the country a huge, steaming pipeline of hotel projects in the region.

Comparative data on GCC Visitors to Qatar

Hotel Occupancy Rates During the First Quarter 2011-2012

(January-March) UAE BAHRAIN SAUDI ARABIA KUWAIT

Month Jan Feb Mar Average

File photo of the emerging Doha skyline

Q

atar’s travel industry is showing stronger pulse rates, posting a 22-percent visitor arrival growth in the first quarter of the year, according to a tourism report, as a five-year investment totalling almost US$17 billion begins to infuse vibrancy into a business sector seen as the crowning glory of an oil-and-gas-rich country where estimated gross domestic product per capita is $88,222. Mr. Ahmed Al Nuaimi, chairman of the Qatar Tourism Authority, said the report, released by his office, confirmed that the sector was growing to meet the demands

Revenues of Four Star Hotels 2011 Jan 5,240,374.60

2012

placed on it. The strategy, as it now becomes clearer, is that on developing at full speed a business and lifestyle destination that will make Qatar perfect for international conven-

Officials said half of Qatar’s GDP is derived from its oil and natural gas industry. According to economists, the country has enough oil reserves for the next 37 years.

Revenues of Five Star Hotels 2011

2012

60,736,678.59

Jan 204,873,990.35 166,383,525.65

Feb 48,252,119.15 60,478,905.38

Feb 181,994,679.65 190,179,309.42

Mar 51,901,605.29 61,615,211.58

Mar 192,086,798.60 227,436,194.86

Total 155,394,099.04 182,830,795.55

Total 578,955,468.60 583,999,029.93

tions and exhibitions as well as sporting events, among other high profile activities. “These statistics show that Qatar’s tourism and hospitality sector is going from strength to strength,” Mr. Al. Nuaimi said. “Qatar has established itself as a unique tourism destination…playing to our strengths as a business and sports tourism. The strong showing for our hotel sector shows how it is maturing ahead of the challenges we face in the next decade.”

2011 30,787 22,959 117,894 18,249

2012 29,017 25,273 161,549 16,200

Source: Qatar Tourism Authority www.travel-arabia.com

2011 74% 67% 63% 68%

2012 61% 66% 64% 64%

In Brief The Qatari government has embarked on a plan to diversify the economy and transform the country into a major hub for MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) tourism. In line with this, investments have been made to develop infrastructure including new hotels and the state-of-the-art Qatar National Convention Centre. Abroad, the Qatari government has embarked on an aggressive marketing strategy to encourage inbound tourism, having opened an impressive office in Cannes, France for instance, and emblazoned London cabs with Qatari colours to showcase Qatar’s landmarks, officials said.

A typical day at Souq Waqif in Doha Qatar


17 Sri Lankan president visits The Pearl-Qatar Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa recently led a delegation of senior officials and business leaders to Pearl-Qatar, a multibillion dollar offshore island by United Development Company (UDC) and one of the largest real estate developments in the country, to see the ongoing project for himself, officials said. UDC Chief Executive Officer Ebrahim Al-Sulaiti, who wel-

comed the delegation, said the visit highlights The Pearl-Qatar’s positioning as a first-class international urban development and provides a golden opportunity for Sri Lankan entrepreneurs to venture into the Qatari market in general.” President Rajapaksa expressed pleasure with the visit, which included a yacht tour around the island. “It was important to get a

real hands-on perspective of this spectacular development. The boardwalk and yacht tours were particularly impressive, providing an opportunity for us to view some of the wonderful areas of this Island.” Spanning over four million square meters of land, The PearlQatar is an upscale residential community and a secure island retreat located 350 meters offshore

Qatar Tourism hits the road Six stops across key GCC cities to promote the country Apparently buoyed by a satisfactory showing on visitor arrivals, Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) has embarked on a promotional road show spanning six cities across the Gulf to endorse Qatar as the ideal destination for Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Road Show 2012 started in the eastern province of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Al Khobar on May 26, 2012, before moving on to Riyadh, Kuwait, Muscat, Abu Dhabi and concluding in Dubai on 31 May 31, 2012. The plan is to capitalize on Qatar’s authentic heritage and rich past while highlighting future thrusts—meetings, sports, culture, leisure and education tourism. QTA plans to grow the tourism industry by 20 percent in the next five years. “This Roadshow was an initiative we launched by specifically targeting professionals in the MICE (meetings, incentive, convention, exhibitions) industry,” said Abdulla Malalla Al Bader, Director of Tourism at Qatar Tourism Authority. “The tour was very successful- we built new relationships and strengthened existing ones in these cities, which are all important markets for Qatar,”Al Bader said. Qatar has made significant strides domestically and internationally to develop its tourism industry, investing on a major infrastructure program that includes the construction of new hotels, resorts and other tourism facilities, and hosting international sporting championships. www.travel-arabia.com

of Doha’s West Bay district. It is Qatar’s first international real estate venture offering true freehold investment opportunities to international buyers. Officials said that upon completion, there will be a total of 13 islands the biggest of which will feature a range of luxury villas, apartments, three 5-star hotels and over two million square meters of international retail, restaurants, cafes and entertainment.

Mahinda Rajapaksa


18

new

hotels The St. Regis Doha officially inaugurates

Thailand’s Amari Hua Hin unveils new look

Omar Hussain Alfardan and Frits van Paasschen

The St. Regis Doha has been officially inaugurated with the recent unveiling of a commemorative plaque by Mr. Omar Hussain Alfardan, President of Resorts Development Company and Alfardan Group and Mr. Frits van Paasschen, President and Chief Executive Officer of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. The luxury hotel opened its doors to its first guests on March 31 and has since hosted leading diplomats and government officials, sporting luminaries, business executives and fans of luxury from around the world. As one of the first St. Regis Hotels to open in the Middle East, it has already sparked local interest with the premiere of two new restaurants associated with world-renowned chef and restaurateur Gordon Ramsay, along

with the upcoming opening of Jazz at Lincoln Centre, the firstever venue associated with the New York City-based jazz centre outside of America. Guests who wish to experience the hotel and sample some of the enticing flavours can benefit from the ongoing opening offer, which is valid until June 30, 2012. Rates start at 1,900 QR per night for a superior room, including a 30-minute spa treatment, a St. Regis afternoon tea in Sarab Lounge, Wi-Fi internet access and a Jazz at Lincoln Center welcome gift. For more information about The St. Regis Doha or to make a reservation, guests can contact the hotel directly at telephone (974) 4446 0000, via email at reservations.doha@stregis.com or online at www.stregisdoha. com.

Kingsgate Hotel Doha Amari Hua Hin, the latest addition to Amari’s portfolio of properties in Thailand will open in June 2012. Guests visiting the resort will be the first to experience the new look and feel of Amari since it introduced its new brand concept. Ideally located just two and a half hours from Bangkok and next to Khao Takiab, a popular stretch of beach, the resort offers easy access to the city’s shopping and entertainment venues. The 223-room Amari Hua Hin will offer refined comfort and elegant

resort-style accommodation combined with exclusive services and facilities that will define the new Amari guest experience. The wide selection of restaurants and eateries will indulge every taste bud. Choose from family-sized sharing baguettes at Reef Deli, a modern twist on Thai street food and international favourites at Aqua Pool Bar, or share signature XL cocktails or a personal BBQ grill station at Shoreline Beach Club. In addition to the extensive

dining options, the resort also boasts; conference facilities, including a 450sqm ballroom, fitness centre, kids club and kids pool, an oversized 38 metre outdoor pool surrounded by landscaped tropical gardens, a vast sundeck, and a Breeze Spa and Salon. The Breeze Spa and Salon will also be the first for Amari since the concept was introduced in 2011. At Breeze, the treatments will be both smart and fun, focusing on boosting energy, allowing guests to simply enjoy the spa experience. www.travel-arabia.com

Millennium & Copthorne Hotels has announced opening of the new Kingsgate Hotel Doha in Al Ghanim old city. This is the group’s first Kingsgate hotel in Qatar, and only the second in the Middle East. The new three-star property, a sister hotel to the fivestar Millennium Hotel Doha, offers quality hassle free accommodation and great value in the ideal location close to the city’s key administrative, business and leisure attractions, including Souk

Wakif and the National Islamic Museum. Kingsgate Hotel Doha offers 140 guest rooms and suites along with a wide range of amenities and services to make the stay an unforgettable experience The hotel also has an all-day dining restaurant, corporate and leisure facilities for guests, including an indoor pool, a fitness room with state of the art machines for workout, a sauna, a steam room and a massage and treatment room.


19

Anantara opens first city-based Middle East hotel Abu Dhabi finally has an Anantara in the city. Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara, developed by Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), which officially opened recently, is Anantara’s first city-based hotel in the Middle East. Situated along a 1.2-km. stretch of protected mangrove reserves, Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa will appeal to corporate and leisure travellers, as well as UAE residents, serving as an urban sanctuary in the heart of the city. Combining stylish comfort with natural beauty, the property blends renowned Anantara Thai hospitality with traditional Arabic culture and warmth, to offer each guest a memorable destination experience. The five-star luxury hotel is situated 20 minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport, seven minutes from Al Bateen Executive

Airport and 10 minutes from key business centres such as downtown Abu Dhabi and the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Company (ADNEC). The resort is Anantara’s third property in the UAE, alongside the award-winning Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara, which is located in the legendary Liwa Desert in the Empty Quarter, and Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara on Sir Bani Yas Island. In keeping with Anantara’s brand ethos of incorporating the indigenous local culture, hospitality expertise, grounded service and a discovery experience for every guest, Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa calls upon Emirati influences throughout the hotel from the traditional coffee culture to the Emirati staff. A new landmark in Abu Dhabi offering a destination experience for the corporate and leisure market, guests can discover the ancient rituals of a traditional

Turkish Hammam at the Anantara Spa or relax by the pool soaking up the unique views and tranquillity. The five-level luxury hotel comprises 222 spacious rooms all triple glazed- from the entrylevel Deluxe Balcony rooms, to the Royal Mangroves Residence – the largest suite in the UAE with up to ten bedrooms. Opening /summer rates start from AED 1,200++ per night where guests who enjoy a night’s stay will receive credit worth the same value, which can be redeemed for dining or spa experiences. The Royal Mangroves Residence is the most opulent of the hotel’s accommodation, and is ideally suited to dignitaries and VIPs seeking the ultimate in luxury and exclusivity. Offering a lavish but residential feel, the suite comes equipped with its own 10 metre rooftop swimming pool with a swim-up pool bar, plus dedicated entrance. (R) J02523 ihg ic doha tcty launch ad 28x22.ai

Sofitel Agadir Thalassa Sea & Spa launches with 125 rooms, 49 suites Sofitel Luxury Hotels has opened Sofitel Agadir Thalassa Sea & Spa, reputedly the new location for thalassotherapy and well-being in Morocco. The hotel is a three-hour’s flight away from the main European capitals and is the ideal place for a relaxing and revitalising break. The hotel has 125 rooms and 49 suites (37 Prestige suites, 10 Junior suites and 2 Opera suites) are an invitation to relax. Each one

has its own private patio overlooking the sea, offering a superb view of the bay of Agadir and the remains of its ancient Kasbah. On the edge of the Atlantic, separated only by a stretch of fine sandy beach, the thalassotherapy institute is an integral part of the hotel. With its elegant, pure white decor, this area is devoted to resting and replenishing both mind and body in a healthy detox atmosphere.

Sofitel debuts with first property in Abu Dhabi Sofitel Luxury Hotels has opened its first property in Abu Dhabi and the group’s second property in the United Arab Emirates. Located on the eastern tip of Abu Dhabi’s Corniche, the hotel, which is part of the new Capital Plaza Complex, is situated within walking distance of the seafront and close to the business and financial centre. All of the hotel’s 282 rooms and suites elegantly blend modern design with authentic French “art de recevoir” combined with Arabic hospitality. Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche debuts with six bars and restaurants

and features 10 conference and meeting rooms, which have nearly 2,600square meters of conference facilities. From the ballroom to board meeting rooms and business centre, a variety of configurations can host up to 1,000 people. Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche is also the first property within the GCC to host Sofitel’s signature So SPA and will be accompanied by Sofitel’s So FIT concept, both of which feature a full range of the latest equipment and facilities. Sofitel is the only French luxury hotel brand with a presence on five continents with 120 addresses, in almost 40 countries (more than 30,000 rooms). www.travel-arabia.com

1

Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara. For bookings and further information contact: 4/23/12 971 4:54(2) PM 656 1000 or email: easternmangroves@anantara.com


20

FLIGHTS

PLUS

With an eye on international growth, Fairmont is working on a number of exciting developments as well.

Fairmont guests can now earn miles with Jet Airways east Asia, such as the soon-to-open Fairmont Jaipur, a 199-room city center hotel, located in Rajasthan in the northwest of India. Other hotel openings in Asia include Fairmont Makati, Manila, Philippines (2012), Fairmont Nanjing,

China (2013), Fairmont Taiyuan, China (2014) and Fairmont Chengdu, China (2014). Based in Mumbai, Jet Airways operates flights to 24 international and 52 domestic destinations and the carrier’s commitment to de-

livering exceptional service has garnered the airline many awards and accolades, making it a natural partner for Fairmont. The airline also services a number of internationalmarkets which Fairmont calls home including London, where The Savoy has reopened following one of the most ambitious restorations in British history, and New York City, which lays claim to one of the world’s most legendary hotels, The Plaza. Jet Airways becomes the latest addition to Fairmont’s collection of airline partners, a group that includes other top carriers such as United Airlines, American Airlines, Air Canada, Lufthansa, Etihad Airways, Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Air China, Qatar Airways and Alaska Airlines.

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts has entered into a new marketing alliance with Jet Airways, India’s premier international airline wherein guests and members of the luxury hotel brand’s guest recognition program, Fairmont President’s

Club, can have the option of earning airline miles in Jet Airways’ frequent flyer program, JetPrivilege. With an eye on international growth, Fairmont is working on a number of exciting developments, including many in Asia and South-

Etihad marks 8 years of Beirut commercial flights

Emirates Airlines keen on Madrid triple daily

Etihad Airways has marked eight years of flights to Beirut, the airline’s first commercial destination. Etihad Airways President and Chief Executive Officer, James Hogan, said Beirut holds a very special place in the history of Etihad Airways “and I am delighted to be able to celebrate this important milestone today.” The UAE flag carrier has carried more than 820,000 passengers and 700,000 tons of cargo between the Lebanese and UAE capitals since the historic first flight on November 12, 2003. Etihad now operates 18 flights a week with a two-class Airbus A320 aircraft in Beirut. Meantime, Etihad Airways will add the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, to its network in November 2012. The airline will also start flying to the Indian city of Ahmedabad in the same month. The two new cities will expand the airline’s reach to 86 passenger and cargo destinations around the world.

Opens direct Lisbon to boost inbound tourist traffic from UAE

NEW ROUTE. From left, Portuguese Ambassador Jaime Leitao, Cecilia Meireles Portuguese Secretary of State for Tourism and Salem Obaidalla, Emirates Airlines senior vice president for commercial operations in Europe and the Russian Federation, pose for posterity following announcement of the new flight service.

Emirates Airlines will open a direct flight to Lisbon and increase flights to Madrid as a complimentary measure with plans to add one more flight to the Spanish capital should the need arise. Barcelona direct will also be implemented. The Lisbon direct, which was scheduled to start on July 9, 2012, is seen to increase inbound tourist traffic to the UAE significantly with estimates pegging the num-

ber at 100,000, officials said. The twice daily Madrid flight will start on July 1, 2012, according to Salem Obaidalla, Emirates Airlines senior vice president for commercial operations in Europe and the Russian Federation. He said the airline will also open direct Barcelona flights starting July 3, 2012 “We decided to do it because of the good business we saw as coming by Madrid. There’s a www.travel-arabia.com

good demand from the network,” Obaidalla told Travel Arabia News in an interview during a press conference held with Cecilia Meireles Portuguese Secretary of State for Tourism June 13, 2012. The event was specifically held to announce the new route. “There is inbound from Lisbon to Dubai via Madrid. Our study showed that if we have a direct flight we can triple our business to Dubai. We started the

Madrid route two years ago. Now on the first of July, we are going to double daily to Madrid. If this succeeds we are going to triple the daily Madrid flights,” Obaidalla said. “It depends on the market, on how the market is going to respond.” For her part Meireles said the direct Lisbon flight is an opportunity for UAE residents to experience Portugal. “There are lots of things in Lisbon. It is a European city. It is a good place for shopping. We are all friendly people so despite the cultural differences. We have a lot in common. I believe people from here will find that the place has a unique service, a very exclusive customized service that I think matches well with what they want,” Meireles said. “The next step actually would depend on the flight. I think the flight is going to be a huge success. I think that’s a hope we both share. With the increase in the number of tourists (resulting from this), we can figure out what we want to do next,” she added.


‘It’s important for us to be in Dubai’

—Kathleen Taylor, president and CEO, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

Kathleen Taylor, president and CEO, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts (left) and Talha Al Hashimi, CEO, Bright Start L.L.C. (right) signed a formal agreement announcing plans for a new resort property set to be developed in the heart of Jumeirah Beach. The new Four Seasons Resort at Jumeirah Beach is expected to open in 2014.

If you’re in the hotel business and you don’t have a hotel in Dubai, you’re not in business at all. Apparently with this rule of thumb in mind, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has embarked on a project to open one on a 4.45 hectare natural waterfront at the northern end of Jumeirah

Starwood to open 40 new MENA hotels Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. which already has an existing portfolio of nearly 70 hotels in the region and a pipeline of 40 new hotels, has debuted six new hotels throughout the Middle East and North Africa in the past 18 months and has recently inked deals for 10 additional hotels, a company statement stated. This growth, primarily in the luxury and upper-upscale segments, represents an increase of nearly 60% over the next five years. Frits van Paasschen, President and CEO, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, said MENA is key to Starwood’s global expansion strategy, representing the company’s second largest growth market after China. “When you consider that the region has 35 metropolitan areas with a population of over one million, and many with a wealthy middle class, there’s huge long-term potential for internationally-branded luxury and upper-upscale hotels,” he said With the openings of six new hotels under five of the company’s brands, Starwood has marked a number of key milestones in MENA over the past 18 months.

Beach Road which will have 237 rooms, including 49 suites; three restaurants, poolside dining, a 600-square-metre ballroom and five meeting rooms. In keeping with its resort positioning, the property will also be home to a world class spa, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts

and private beach club. This will be the luxury hotel chain’s first in Dubai.

Park Regis Kris Kin Hotel Dubai serves as pilot hotel for Quality Management Programme Scott Butcher, General Manager of the Park Regis Kris Kin Hotel Dubai, a brand of the Australian StayWell Hospitality Group, will be heading off to Sydney to make a special presentation on the successful implementation of the Quality Management Programme in the hotel at a group conference being held on June 21-22, 2012. The Park Regis Kris Kin Hotel Dubai served as the pilot hotel for the programme that StayWell Hospitality Group is now looking to roll out across its other hotels. “Being chosen to pilot a Quality Management Programme for the entire group is an enormous achievement for our hotel,” said Butcher. “It isn’t easy to run a quality management programme in a multi-cultural society like Dubai since it is quite subjective and judgmental based on different guest expectations and assessments. For more information about the hotel visit: http://www. parkregisdubai.com. www.travel-arabia.com

Business

21

TALKS

“Being the Middle East’s biggest tourism hub with a highly mature hospitality industry, it was important for us to be in Dubai with a strong product that can serve as one of the company flagships in this region,” said Kathleen Taylor, president and CEO, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. “As with all markets across the globe in which Four Seasons operates, it was important for us to take the time to find our niche here as well as identify a partner that first and foremost shares our service and business values. We are confident that we not only have an unparalleled location, but also an excellent development partner – two key factors that will allow us

to offer what guests travelling to Dubai on business or pleasure desire and have come to expect from Four Seasons.” Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach has been designed by world renowned architect WATG, with interior design by San Fransisco based BAMO. The resort project, which is expected to open mid-2014, was made in collaboration with UAEbased holding company Bright Start L.L.C. which will be developing the new property and has appointed H&H Investment and Development as the development manager. No specific amount has been disclosed about the cost.


22

winners’

‘Team work makes for a winner’

c orner

Etihad Airways ‘fastest growing airlines in the Middle East’ Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has won the award for “Fastest Growing Airline in the Middle East” at the 2012 Athens International Airport (AIA) Airline Marketing Workshop. In its 12th year, the annual AIA workshop presents awards to airlines that have demonstrated rapid and successful development over the past 12 months. More than 150 travel managers, human resource directors, facility managers, and travel buyers of medium and large companies involved in the

and the positioning of Athens and Greece given the country’s recent economic difficulties. Accepting the award on behalf of the airline, Etihad Airways Country Manager for Greece, Dimitrios Karagkioules, said: “The airline is growing rapidly, and we are delighted to see our major investment in Greece paying off, as we link this historic and ancient city with the rest of our global network.” He said Etihad Airways will continue to set new benchmarks in the months ahead “as we inaugurate routes and roll

(From right to left) Etihad Airways Country Manager for Greece, Dimitrios Karagkioules receiving the award from Loakeim Tsimpidis, Senior Specialist Press Office, Athens International Airport and Loannis Metsovitis, Director Aviation Unit, Athens International Airport.

Greek travel management field voted for the award, which was presented at a gala event held in the Athens Music Hall. The workshop has become an important point of reference for all the sectors of the Greek transport and travel industry, including airlines, hotel chains, car rental companies and global distribution systems. The main topics of this year’s workshop were the challenging 2011 market conditions

Park Inn by Radisson Al Khobar is “Best 4-Star Hotel”

out more and more innovative ways to further improve our offering in Greece and elsewhere on our network.” The award comes on top of other accolades recently bestowed on the airline, including: World’s Best First Class, as judged by over 18 million air travellers worldwide in the annual Skytrax survey, and World’s Leading Airline for the third consecutive year at the World Travel Awards.

Park Inn by Radisson Al Khobar was recently awarded “Best 4-Star Hotel” at the second Saudi Excellence in Tourism Awards gala ceremony. Nearly 100,000 votes were cast in the 2012 Saudi Excellence in Tourism Awards, with the nominees with the most number of votes deciding the initial shortlist. It then became the responsibility of the panel of nine international judges to review and choose the final winners. Mohammed Benamar, District Director of the Rezidor Hospitality Group which manages Radisson Blu, Park Inn by

Radisson and Missoni Hotels, said the award will “substantiate our presence in the Kingdom and will further position Park Inn by Radisson as a pioneer in midmarket hotel brands in Saudi Arabia.” The Saudi Excellence in Tourism Awards recognises organisations and individuals within the travel trade that have made a significant contribution to the Kingdom’s growing tourism industry. Park Inn currently has almost 140 hotels in operation and under development with more than 26,000 rooms across Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Madinat Jumeirah advocates arts Madinat Jumeirah has received the “Distinguished Patron of the Arts” accolade for 2012. For the third year in a row, Jumeirah Group was recognised for its continuous support of arts and culture in Dubai and around the world, this time by receiving www.travel-arabia.com

the highest level of the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Patrons of the Arts Awards 2012. This prestigious prize, launched in 2010, honours organisations and individuals who have contributed towards the growth of the cultural scene in Dubai.

Coral Beach Resort -- Sharjah won the Best HMH Hotel Award 2011 at a recent ceremony held during the just-concluded 2012 Arabian Travel Market. Jean-Pierre Simon, Regional General Manager, Northern Emirates, Coral Hotels & Resorts, said this would not have been so had it not for the hotel’s dedicated staff. “Quality and delivery of the finest resort service is a hallmark of the Coral Beach Resort - Sharjah, and I must extend my thanks to the team there who consistently performed over and above the parametres of their job descriptions, ensuring every guest enjoys their stay and frequently returns again and again,” he said. “While we enjoy an excellent location on one of Sharjah’s finest beaches, it is the warmth of welcome and genuine enjoyment of their work displayed by our team that is often noted in guest reviews, as well as their commitment to guest satisfaction whether it is in the restaurants, at the kids’ club or at one of our regular cultural activities and festivals.” People from over 40 countries work at the Coral Beach Hotel – Sharjah, Other Contenders for the coveted Best HMH Hotel award included Corp Executive Hotel Apartments Al Barsha Dubai, Coral Al Khoory Hotel Apartments Al Barsha – Dubai and Coral Boutique Hotel Apartments, Al Barsha – Dubai. Coral Beach Hotel – Sharjah won alongside Corp Executive Hotel Apartments Al Barsha Dubai. A hotel’s performance is judged based on a range of criteria including financial results, operational standards, guest satisfaction surveys, consistency in marketing, staff training and development, and quality management and service.” A detailed business review and audit is carried out by HMH every quarter across all its properties to evaluate each hotel’s performance. The Coral Beach Resort – Sharjah features 156 spacious rooms as well as a range of leisure activities for all ages, including two Rimal Club outdoor swimming pools, children’s pool, indoor playroom and complimentary Kid’s Club as well as tennis, badminton and volleyball.


23 Iberotel Miramar Al Aqah Beach Resort bags multiple culinary awards The Address Dubai Marina officials pose for posterity. From left, Carl Stockenstrom, Director of F & B, Aamir Khan, Hotel Manager, Antony Treston, General Manager, Ms. Brinda Hora, Marketing & Communications Manager, Mr. Taha Selim, Director of Front Office Operations, and Michael Monsod, Cluster Spa & Recreation Manager.

The Address Dubai Marina scoops laurels at ME awards The Address Dubai Marina, the five-star premium hotel adjoining Dubai Marina Mall and located in one of Dubai’s most popular lifestyle districts, scooped up multiple awards at the Middle East Hotel Awards and the Middle East Spa Awards 2012 recently. The Address Dubai Marina bagged the “Best Outdoor Area” Award for Shades, the outdoor dining restaurant with a terrace, at the Middle East Hotel Awards. The property’s fitness centre, hotel

reception, and lobby, were runners’ up in their respective categories. The hotel also won the “Best Spa Marketing Award” at the Middle East Spa Awards 2012. In addition to Shades, the hotel features three restaurants and lounges: Mazina, the all-day dining restaurant; Kambaa, the chic lobby lounge and Blends which has a cocktail area and a cosy lounge. The Spa features a collection of treatments to ensure total relaxation of the body and mind.

Iberotel Miramar Al Aqah Beach Resort, a Moroccan-style property in the heart of Fujairah, has been recognised with multiple awards at the prestigious Emirates Salon Culinaire recently held at the World Trade Center as part of this year’s Gulf Food and Equipment Exhibition. The culinary team led by Chef K.A.C. Prasad succeeded in bringing home two gold medals, four silver medals, three bronze medals, a trophy and a certificate and 10 merits. The highlight of the competition included winning the gold medals in the Wedding Cakes Three Tier and Bread Loaves & Showpiece classes by Chef Alwis Weerasinghe. He also received a trophy in the Bread Loaves & Showpiece class with a tour for training to Germany sponsored by Master Baker and a bronze medal

www.travel-arabia.com

The winning team.

for live pastry cake and a certificate of merit for the Four Plates of Dessert – Practical class. The recipients of the silver medals were Chef Galuge F. Samantha for the Open Showpiece, Chef Harshana K. Vithana for Fruit & Vegetable Carving Showpiece and Chef Ahmad Al Fakier for the Arabic Mezzeh Practical Cookery. The bronze medals were received by Chef Sakhtivel Kumar

for the Lamb Practical and Chef Alwis for the Cake Practical classes Chef Chamara Segera for the Dressed Lamb Practical Butchery Ashraf Helmy, General Manager & Area Business Development Manager, said the awards “reflect the expertise of our culinary team so guests can be assured that dining at our outlets will give them an enjoyable dining experience.”


24 The 2012 Arabian Travel Market, held April 30, 2012 to May 3, 2012 at Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Center, was four busy days of networking, media coverage and, of course, a reunion of sort among professionals in the local and international hospitality industry who got a chance to catch up after a year of email correspondence and all.

www.travel-arabia.com

at a glance


TAN-Travel Arabia News June-July 2012  

The B2B Travel News of the Middle East

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