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Hotel happenings

Hotel happenings

With the Arabian Travel Market in town, the local hospitality sector is buzzing with major announcements. Kipp takes you through some of the top stories from the industry this week.

April 30, 2012 3:44 by

Increased occupancy rates:

According to STR Global data, hotels in Dubai and Abu Dhabi have enjoyed an increased occupancy rate this quarter. Hotels in Dubai saw an average occupancy rate rise of 8.2 percent in the first quarter of 2012, meaning average daily rates were raised to nearly AED1,000 )
( Dh964.86). The STR Global data also showed Saudi Arabia performed well throughout the first quarter of this year, with Jeddah and Al Khobar in Saudi Arabia both enjoying continued revenue per available room improvements during the first quarter of 2012.

We’re hiring

With increased occupancy rates and ambitious expansion plans, major recruitment drives in the industry should come as no surprise. Marriott International has announced it would recruit more than 12,000 staff over the next five years in order to meet the group’s growing needs. At the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) 2012 Alex Kyriakides, president and MD of Marriott International, Middle East and Africa said the group was expecting a 100 percent increase in jobs in a matter of five years—that’s a jump from 11,800 jobs to 24,000 jobs by 2017.

It’s a similar situation over at luxury hotel chain Jumeirah, which has projected a doubling of staff from 15,000 to 30,000 in five years. Jumeirah chairman Gerald Lawless said: “We’re a labour-intensive industry but we keep saying; tourism travel and hospitality is a great provider of jobs and jobs is what its all about at the moment on a global basis. There are 235 million people working in the industry right now, expected to go to 300 million in five years”.

New Beginnings

Come 2017, Dubai will be home to three more high-end hotels, including Dubai’s first ever St. Regis and W branded property. Starwood Hotels and Resorts has signed an agreement with Al Habtoor Group to develop St.Regis Dubai, W Dubai and The Westin Dubai Sheikh Zayed Road within the Habtoor Palace complex on the site of the old Metropolitan hotel, which is currently being demolished. Al Habtoor Group vice chairman and CEO Mohammed Al Habtoor said contractor Al Habtoor Leighton Group expects construction on the hotels to begin on the 1st of May this year, to be completed within months of each other in 2017: “We don’t want to open the first hotel while there is still construction of another. We will finish first all the dirty work, the cladding and start the interiors and soft furnishings.

Kipp must make a mention of a new Paramount Pictures “branded hospitality concept”, rumored to be looking at sites in the Gulf— including the UAE, Qatar and Oman. Thomas van Vliet, CEO of Paramount Pictures said: “The Paramount brand is known the world over, from its iconic gates to its impressive cinematic history. Our goal is to deliver on the expectations of the brand with experiences that are ‘Unmissable, Unforgettable, and Unmistakeable.’ We are thrilled to be sharing this exciting news today.”

Selling out

And finally, earlier this week it emerged Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal’s Kingdom Holding Company (KHC) has sold its Four Seasons hotel in Toronto for Dh531 million. “These transactions mark yet another step for KHC towards the realisation of the value of its investments,” said Alwaleed in a statement released by the investment vehicle.

Last, but not the least, Dubai’s Istithmar World has bought a 50 percent stake of the Atlantis on the Palm from Bahamas-based Kerzner International Holdings for Dh918 million ($250 million). The move comes after Kerzner International held talks with creditors to restructure $2.6 billion in mortgage debt.

Phew – that is the hospitality round up for today. And it’s only Day 1 of the ATM…

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