Emirates Australia-bound with new hotel

Emirates is to invest Dhs. 142 million (US $38.8 million) to build a luxury conservation resort in Australia’s Blue Mountains — its first such hospitality development outside of the UAE.

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By  Sarah Campbell Published  August 10, 2005

Emirates is to invest Dhs. 142 million (US $38.8 million) to build a luxury conservation resort in Australia’s Blue Mountains — its first such hospitality development outside of the UAE. Using the same philosophy as Emirates’ Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa in Dubai, the new conservation project is located in the Wolgan Valley of the Blue Mountains, where 3,600 acres of freehold land will be incorporated into a conservancy reserve. The site is currently farmland that borders the Gardens of Stone National Park, in an area where there are many threats to wildlife and conservation. Guest facilities will occupy less than 2% of the total land. “We want to take this beautiful, but sadly distressed rural farming site and turn it into a sanctuary to further showcase Australia to the world,” said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, chairman of Emirates. “Emirates’ plan is to protect this site and enhance its environmental values, starting with the removal of invasive plants and feral fauna that has placed pressure on indigenous wildlife. Working closely with environmental and government agencies, we even hope to reintroduce some threatened species to this conservancy. We want this project to gain the same recognition for Australia that we have received for Al Maha and the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve in Dubai,” Sheikh Ahmed added. The resort is expected to have all final government approvals in place in the next few months with opening set for 2007. Sandra Nori, New South Wales’ minister for tourism, said the Blue Mountains resort would be a welcome addition to nature-based tourism and a major draw card for international visitors. “The resort will also generate jobs —from environmental guides to hotel staff. And of course, local businesses in the region also stand to benefit,” she said. Emirates will become a corporate member of The Australian Wildlife Conservancy. Along with National Parks & Wildlife Service and local conservation groups, their knowledge and experience will be invaluable during the creation of the Wolgan Valley project. Local Wolgan Valley species already identified as under pressure, and that will be encouraged to expand within the sanctuary, include koalas, spotted-tailed quolls, yellow-bellied gliders and brush-tailed rock wallabies. The Wolgan Valley resort will be Emirates’ fourth venture into hotel ownership and management. The airlines owns, manages and operates the Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa; owns the 218-room Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort, situated in Fujairah; and, in May, announced that it will build a new five-star, 70-storey hotel in Dubai.

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