Belhoul and Accor to build $100M ‘wellness’ resort

All the talk is of ‘business as usual’ as the companies confirm plans to build a mega resort focused on health and wellbeing on Palm Island.

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By  David Ingham Published  February 19, 2003

UAE-based Belhoul Group and the French hotel group Accor will build and manage a $100 million ‘wellness and thalassotherapy’ resort on The Palm, Jumeirah.

The partners promise a five star resort in a unique location, offering, ‘the most advanced techniques in internal and external health and fitness.’ The 400 room property will be located on the second plot of The Palm’s trunk and will occupy a site of 20,000 square meters.

“We hope to develop a project that will make a major impact,” said Faisal Belhoul, CEO of Belhoul Group. “We are confident it matches any centre in the world in terms of its services.”

“It will be a resort for healthy people,” added Christophe Landais, regional director, Accor. “Certainly, within the Gulf, it will be the first of its kind.”

The exact details of the agreement between Belhoul and Accor remain to be finalised, but Belhoul said that he hoped Accor would take equity in the project. “We would like to have Accor as an expertise partner and a joint venture partner,” he said.

Belhoul said that he had absolutely no qualms about making a $100 million commitment at a time of regional uncertainty. September 11, he said, has had a, “minimal” effect on tourism in Dubai. Despite the possibility of war in Iraq, “Dubai’s plans will remain unaffected,” he added.

Judged by the figures, The Palm, Jumeirah project also appears to be heading for success. Forty of the 49 plots available there for hotel developers have been booked, according to Saif Sultan Al Shamsi, managing director, commercial, The Palm.

The total number of hotel rooms eventually available on The Palm could number around 15,000. Dubai currently has somewhere around 23,000.

“Excellent infrastructure, the clear commitment of the Dubai authorities to create a world-class tourist destination, and a unique environment have provided hotel operators with a highly attractive and persuasive package,” enthused Saif Sultan Al Shamsi, managing director, commercial, The Palm.

“A key additional factor in drawing operators to this new Dubai landmark is the opportunity to own, not simply operate, their property on The Palm.”

Ground breaking for the wellness resort is planned for the third quarter of this year and it is due to open by the end of 2005. Al Shamsi said all work on the Palm Jumeirah, including the construction of hotels, is scheduled to be completed by then.

Work is just underway on a second ‘Palm’ at Jebel Ali, where there will be less emphasis on hotel construction.

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