Dubai enters new era of luxury hotel construction

Ritz-Carlton, Raffles and Fairmont all reveal plans for new wave of developments

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By  Sean Cronin Published  April 30, 2005

Dubai is set for a hotel building frenzy after three deals worth over US $500 million were unveiled by some of the biggest names in the industry. This week Raffles, Ritz-Carlton and the Fairmont hotel groups all released plans for luxury hotels developments that are scheduled for completion towards the end of 2007. And even more hotel construction contracts will be signed at next week’s Arabian Travel Mart, where leading hospitality developers will be jostling for position in the burgeoning Dubai tourism sector. Included in these will be a new 1000-room development from IFA which may, albeit briefly, lay claim to being the largest hotel in the Emirate — until the even bigger Atlantis project is completed. Wafi Group is investing more than US $140 million in its first luxury hotel project, which will be managed by the Raffles International chain. Contractor Khansaheb will build the pyramid-shaped hotel and site excavation work is already underway. The project has been designed by architect Arif bin Toak and will have 240 rooms and 22 480 m2 of retail space. Peter Henley, the senior vice- president of business development at Raffles International, explained: “As Dubai’s prominence as the regional hub for commerce and tourism in the Middle East increases, there will be greater demand for accommodation to cater for the growing number of business and leisure visitors.” The Raffles hotel will be competing along with the new 330-room development also announced this week by Ritz-Carlton and Union Properties, set to be built at the Dubai International Financial Centre. The 15-storey building will be the second Ritz-Carlton in Dubai and the fifth location in the Middle East for the group. Fairmont is also investing US $250 million in a new scheme which will form part of the IFA Fairmont Resort on the Palm Jumeirah. It will include two residential buildings flanking the Fairmont hotel building that will be linked by the Palm Monorail. The architectural style of the project has been described as ‘Arabic’ and ‘eclectic’. According to George Khoury, the vice-president of design and development at IFA, “The buildings have been designed to give maximum views and maximum privacy.” Landscaping work will be a major part of the project and will cost up to AED51 million. The main construction contracts will be awarded in October this year, and tenders have already been sent out to interested firms. It is understood that the work will be split into two packages in order to meet the tight construction timetable.

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