Category Archives: Hotels

Swissotel Al Maqam, Makkah to open in September


Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts has signed an agreement with Sarah Towers For Real Estate Investment Company to manage the 1,624-room Swissôtel Al Maqam, Makkah in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Swissôtel’s second property in the Holy City, Swissôtel Al Maqam will be situated in the prestigious Abraj Al Bait complex, part of the King Abdul Aziz Endowment Project, overlooking the Masjid Al Haram. The property is scheduled to open in September this year and will join the existing Swissôtel Makkah. Approximately one hour from King Abdulaziz International Airport, the property is footsteps away from the Masjid Al Haram, the largest mosque in the world, and the Ka’aba, known as the most sacred site in the Muslim faith. Swissôtel Al Maqam will be flanked by other properties already within the FRHI Hotels & Resorts (FRHI) portfolio, Raffles Makkah Palace and Fairmont Makkah Clock Royal Tower, in addition to Swissôtel Makkah, with the entire complex currently housing the largest number of guestrooms within the Abraj Al Bait complex.

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TCA expands to Saudi Arabia


UAE-based Travel Connections Arabia (TCA) is expanding its footprints with a new office in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It is the company’s second office in the GCC. TCA offers a sales and marketing extension to its world-class partner hotels, generating lucrative inbound travel business from the Middle East to properties and destinations located around the world. TCA’s collection of hospitality and tourism clients include some of the most exclusive hotels and resorts around the world, such as Iniala Beach House in Phuket, Thailand; The Mark in New York City, USA; The Lanesborough in London, England; Kulm Hotel St. Moritz in Switzerland; Villa Cora in Florence, Italy; and six exceptional Constance Hotels & Resorts, spread across the Indian Ocean’s top destinations: the Seychelles, the Maldives and Mauritius. Regional Sales Manager Hamada Hefnawy, with more than four years’ experience in the travel and tourism industry, has recently been appointed to cover all of Saudi Arabia.

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304-room Aloft Dubai City Centre Deira to open in 2018

Representatives from Majid Al Futtaim and Starwood Hotels & Resorts at the signing of Aloft City Centre Deira

Majid Al Futtaim and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, announced they have signed an agreement to open an Aloft hotel directly connected to City Centre Deira. Scheduled to open in 2018, Aloft Dubai City Centre Deira will bring a vibrant social scene and tech-forward mindset to hospitality in Dubai. Aloft Dubai City Centre Deira will feature 304 spacious guest rooms, including 29 suites, with plush platform beds, large walk-in showers and complimentary Bliss amenities. The hotel will also feature an outdoor rooftop VOX Cinema and a cinematic themed floor of rooms and suites. Designed with the needs of the savvy next-generation traveller in mind, the hotel includes SPG Keyless, Starwood’s industry-first keyless entry system that enables guests to use their smartphone or Apple watch as a room key, as well as fast and free Wi-Fi throughout the property. Aloft made its debut in the Middle East in 2009 with Aloft Abu Dhabi. The signing of Aloft Dubai City Centre Deira reinforces the momentum behind the brand’s rapid expansion in the Middle East, where there will be 14 Aloft hotels by 2020 in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and the UAE. Simon Barlow, Chief Executive Officer of Hotels at Majid Al Futtaim Properties, said, “We look forward to welcoming Aloft Dubai City Centre Deira to our world-class hotel portfolio. The hotel will offer guests an exceptional experience not only because it will combine Majid Al Futtaim’s development expertise with the operational excellence of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, but because it will be directly linked to the iconic City Centre Deira and feature an outdoor VOX Cinema. It is this integration, which sits at the heart of our business model, that sets our hotels apart …

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SPG Keyless extends access

SPG Keyless Entry

Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), the loyalty program from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., has announced the next generation of SPG Keyless with even wider access to this leading-edge technology. SPG Keyless is now extending this functionality to select Le Méridien, Westin, Sheraton, and Four Points properties worldwide, including Le Méridien Parkhotel Frankfurt, Le Méridien Hamburg, Le Méridien Columbus, The Westin Westminster, Westin Palo Alto, Westin Camino Real Guatemala, Sheraton Bloomington, Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas, and Four Points Cupertino. Many additional properties will be going live with SPG Keyless on a rolling basis in the coming months. These distinct lifestyle brands join Aloft, Element, and W properties already providing access to SPG Keyless, currently available at more than 160 properties in over 30 countries. The wider roll-out of SPG Keyless acknowledges the role mobile is playing as the remote control for travelers’ stays across a broader range of brands. Now even more guests can share in the SPG Keyless experience by unlocking their doors with their smartphone.  Starwood is also expanding SPG Keyless to enable multiple guests sharing the same room to take advantage of keyless entry. All they need is an SPG account and the SPG app. In this upcoming product update, SPG is also expanding mobile check-in capabilities on the SPG app, rolling out over the next few months.

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Millennium & Copthorne to open 12 hotels in next one year

Grand Millennium Hotel Muscat

Millennium & Copthorne, Middle East and Africa has announced plans to substantially expand its operating portfolio in the Middle East region over the next year with 12 hotels set to open in the next 12 months. The hotel openings for the global hotel operator will be in UAE, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and its first property in Georgia. The new properties will add over 4,000 rooms to the Group’s existing operating portfolio of 26 hotels in the region, reinforcing its position as one of the fastest growing hotel operators and ensuring it stays on track to have 100 hotels by 2020. Ali Hamad Lakhraim Alzaabi, President and CEO, Millennium & Copthorne MEA, said that they are entering a very exciting period in the group’s evolution which will see them extend their presence across the Gulf region as well as in new markets such as Georgia. They are building an enviable market share, with a unique portfolio of brands catering towards different audiences, from mid-scale through to luxury. They believe they are in a strong position to meet the needs of the market by offering global expertise alongside an understanding of the local market. These new openings bring them closer to realising their ambitious vision of having 100 hotels by 2020 and solidifying their position as a leading hotel operator in the region.

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FRHI Global Meeting Exchange 2016 begins


FRHI’s annual Global Meeting Exchange commenced with B2B meetings at the Fairmont Ajman. The FRHI Hotels and Resorts’ annual proprietary networking forum from June 22-26, 2016, is organised for Global Key account buyers and FRHI hoteliers from Australia, UK, USA, Poland, CIS, Russia, South America, Turkey, France, Germany, Kenya and India. More than 220 buyers are attending this annual meet from FRHI’s Global Key Accounts and prospects – Professional Conference Organizers / senior executives with decision making responsibilities from agencies and corporations, based in USA, UK, Europe, the Middle East, India, Asia Pacific. The main objective of the event is to educate clients and create business opportunities via pre-arranged meeting schedules with buyers. Last year the event was held in Abu Dhabi. Over a period of four days the partners will be able to gain the correct elements, incentives and knowledge to sell the destinations making it a more efficient programme for FRHI Hotels and Resorts.

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Gen Z discusses Dubai’s new tourism opportunities


Latest TIME-hosted teen-focused round table addressed Dubai’s all-round appeal as a family travel destination; panelists flagged lack of tailored activities for 13 to early 20s-year-olds as gap in the market for tourism industry. UAE-headquartered TIME Hotels, in partnership with BNC, has once again brought together a group of Generation Z teens to get their perspective on key travel and tourism issues at the second in its four-part series of round table events. Its latest roundtable event session brought together 10 students, aged 17-18 years old, from, GEMS Wellington International School, The Winchester School – Jebel Ali and Dubai English Speaking College to discuss the appeal of Dubai as a family holiday centre, and to share their insights on what the emirate can do to secure its place as a world-leading destination for family travel. The emirate has a target of 20 million visitors by 2020, and has already witnessed a year-on-year increase of 7.5% from 2014 to 2015 according to DTCM figures, reaching 14.2 million visitors, which makes it the fourth most visited city in the world. Currently, Dubai’s top three source markets are Saudi Arabia, the UK and India, and international overnight spend in the city last year saw tourism receipts totaling US$11.68 billion, according to the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index 2015.

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Aloft debuts in Saudi Arabia


Aloft Hotels, a Starwood Hotels & Resorts brand, will soon launch its first hotels in Saudi Arabia with the 281-room Aloft Riyadh and 262-room Aloft Dhahran, both located in key city-centre locations. The hotels will also feature the country’s first-ever keyless entry system. Opening in July 2016, Aloft Riyadh will be led by General Manager, Sammy Gani. With over 20 years of hospitality experience, Gani takes on the new role following successful positions at The Westin Boston Waterfront and Sheraton Dubai Mall of the Emirates. Titus Rosier is the General Manager for the upcoming Aloft Dhahran, scheduled to open in August 2016. Rosier has been with Starwood in various Sales roles for over 11 years and was most recently Director of Sales for the two St. Regis properties in Abu Dhabi. The two Aloft hotels will also feature SPG Keyless — Starwood’s industry-first keyless entry system that enables guests to use their smartphone or Apple watch as a room key.

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Marriott debuts in Abu Dhabi


Marriott International, Inc. is launching its flagship brand property in Abu Dhabi, Marriott Downtown Abu Dhabi, as well as Marriott Executive Apartments Downtown Abu Dhabi developed by Bloom Properties. Bloom Central is a 25-storey mixed-use project comprising two blocks. The first consists of the 64-suite Marriott Executive Apartments, 49 Bloom Residences as well as 7,000 square metres of premium office space. The second block is home to the 315-room five-star Marriott Hotel Downtown Abu Dhabi, targeting a mix of business and leisure travellers. While Bloom Residences and offices have already opened their doors to tenants, the Marriott properties are set for completion in summer 2016. From contemporary guestrooms, state-of-the-art meeting rooms, outstanding culinary offerings to well-equipped wellness facilities, the hotel showcases the Marriott Hotels brand innovation by offering sophisticated design, modern services and amenities that enable the next generation of travellers to ‘Travel Brilliantly’, through every aspect of their stay. Marriott Executive Apartments Downtown Abu Dhabi is targeted at the extended stay market, providing upscale residential living including one, two and three bedrooms providing the space, ambience and privacy of a home away from home.

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AVANI Hotels to open in Dubai


Minor Hotels, a hotel owner, operator and investor, currently with a portfolio of 146 hotels and resorts in 22 countries across Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Europe, South America, Africa and the Indian Ocean, has announced that effective 1st July 2016 it will be taking over the operation of the 216-room Mövenpick Hotel Deira in Dubai. The property will operate under the group’s dynamic AVANI Hotels & Resorts brand as the AVANI Deira Dubai Hotel. This represents a milestone for Minor Hotels as the first AVANI hotel in the Middle East. The change comes after the hotel’s parent company, Bin Sulayem Investments, signed a management agreement with Minor Hotels. Located in one of the most diverse and culturally rich parts of the city, the property is ideally situated just four kilometres from Dubai International Airport and the world-famous Gold and Spice Souks. Close to several shopping malls and the Dubai Metro offering ease of access to Downtown Dubai, Jumeirah Beach and Dubai Marina, the hotel is well-placed for guests to explore the city. This upscale hotel offers 216 guest rooms and two unique dining concepts, meeting rooms, an outdoor pool and a fully equipped gym. Robert Kunkler, Chief Operating Officer, Minor Hotels, said, “This key acquisition to our portfolio allows Minor Hotels to take a strategic foothold in the Middle East for our fast expanding AVANI Hotels & Resorts brand in what is a vitally important market. We are thrilled to continue our excellent relationship with Bin Sulayem Investments. AVANI Deira Dubai Hotel will have the freedom to establish and maintain its individuality and distinct character while benefitting from being part of the Minor Hotels portfolio.” Abdulla bin Sulayem, General …

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