Emirates considers the launch of a hotel brand

Emirates has unveiled ambitious plans to establish itself as a hotel brand capable of going head to head with international chains.

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By  Sarah Campbell Published  December 12, 2005

Emirates has unveiled ambitious plans to establish itself as a hotel brand capable of going head to head with international chains. The airline, which already manages the Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa and owns Le Meridien Al Aqah in Fujairah, has announced its entry into the serviced apartments sector, with the Emirates Marina Serviced Apartments & Spa scheduled to open in September 2006. A second serviced apartments and hotel venture at Dubai’s Green Lakes has also been inked, and the airline is now considering whether or not to establish itself as an international hotel brand. “Somewhere along the line we have to get all these developments under one umbrella. At the moment, we are calling it ‘Emirates Hotels’, but that is not a final name,” Hans Haensel, senior vice president, destination & leisure management division, Emirates, told Hotelier Middle East at the show. “People forget that Emirates is now a diversified company. Our Arabian Adventures tour operator generated 1.5 million room nights for other properties last year alone,” he explained. Such diversification has seen Emirates enter the tour operator, ground handling, cargo, hotel resort & spa business, and, most recently, the serviced apartments sector. “We have seen there is a huge demand in the service apartments sector in Dubai, and had been looking around for a tower that was nearing completion. The Emirates Marina Serviced Apartments & Spa will provide nearly 400 units offering unobstructed sea and marina views,” Haensel said. The tower was originally planned to operate as a residential block. The change to serviced apartments has meant that Emirates is now altering the interiors, in order to create a product targeted at both the short- and long-stay visitor. “We are bringing the interiors up to the standards of Emirates. It is a challenge, but it is a nice challenge, Haensel admits. According to Haensel, the new development is already attracting the interest of UK tour operators, with many enquiries to the Emirates stand during WTM. While the property will target both short- and long-term guests, the optimum length of stay that Haensel is aiming at is three months, and this time frame has been well received with tour operators considering winter sun packages for 2006. In addition to the Emirates Marina property, Emirates also has a second serviced apartments complex under development in Dubai. The Green Lakes project is slated to open in September 2008. Further expansion plans include the construction of two towers in Dubai’s new Business Bay district, on the shores of the Dubai Creek. Currently named ‘Park Towers’, the two 70-storey towers will offer a total of 1400 units. One tower will operate as a five-star hotel, while the second will offer serviced apartments. Conservation boutique resorts are another area in which Emirates is looking to expand. The airline, which already operates Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa and is the sole sponsor of the Dubai Desert Reserve, has announced plans to operate a conservation resort in Australia and is considering a marine resort in the Seychelles. Branding is already underway, with the name ‘Sanctuary Resorts’ being rolled out across its fledgling portfolio of eco resorts.

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