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Accor and Al Hamra sign partnership to bring first Sofitel resort to Ras Al Khaimah

Accor is expanding its luxury portfolio in the UAE with the introduction of the Sofitel brand into the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. Set to open in 2023, the property will become a landmark resort for the group in the region. The group is collaborating with Al Hamra, the leading real estate development and investment company in Ras Al Khaimah, with plans to expand its hospitality portfolio. The group is focused on developing premier lifestyle destinations, including luxury hospitality and leisure developments. Benoy Kurien, Group CEO of Al Hamra, said: “We are committed to supporting Ras Al Khaimah’s transformational growth to make it the topmost liveable destination through its urban developments of the future. As the first destination to be certified safe and to record significant growth in tourism and hospitality following the pandemic, the Emirate is focused on strengthening its tourism infrastructure and we will contribute to this by bringing exceptional hospitality experiences. Through our partnership with Accor to bring the Sofitel brand to the Emirate, we strengthen our portfolio of hospitality and leisure assets, in addition to revolutionizing the hospitality landscape in Ras Al Khaimah Nestled between the Arabian Gulf and Hajar Mountains, the resort is set alongside a private beach, surrounded by landscaped gardens and an 18-hole golf course. Set on the pristine coastline of Ras Al Khaimah, the destination offers visitors an unparalleled experience with a unique topography. The landscapes vary from the highest mountain in the UAE, terracotta deserts to lush mangroves, white sandy beaches and the longest stretch of coastline in the UAE. The property is located less than one hour drive from Dubai International Airport. “We have been witnessing an accelerated economic growth …

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Staybridge Suites Dubai Financial Centre is now open

IHG Hotels & Resorts (IHG®) and SRG Holding have opened the third Staybridge Suites hotel in the UAE in the heart of Dubai, on the picturesque Sheikh Zayed Road in the middle of all the city action. This 48-story tower sets a familiar and eye-catching feature to Dubai’s iconic skyline and is located opposite the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), a few steps away from the metro station. The property is surrounded by variety of leisure, dining, shopping and entertainment destinations like City Walk, Coca Cola Arena, La Mer and Dubai Downtown, which includes the city’s most Instagram-able and popular landmarks such as The Dubai Mall, Dubai Fountains and Burj Khalifa. Staybridge Suites Dubai Financial Center is designed to meet the needs of extended-stay travelers looking for a break from the travel norm. When travelling for days, weeks or months at a time, guests want something more than the standard hotel experience and Staybridge Suites offers additional space, home-like comforts and public areas that facilitate a real sense of community. Each of the 360 studios, 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom suites comes equipped with a fully fitted kitchen and living space including top-of-the-line Siemens and Smeg appliances, smart TVs and your very own washer/dryer. Guests will even find all the cooking utensils, crockery and cutlery you’ll need to make them feel right at home. The generously sized suites create a sense of an all-day freedom that you’ll simply never get in a typical hotel room. Many of the 360 apartments feature their own balcony from which to enjoy spectacular views of the city or the sea. Several interconnecting units offer greater flexibility for families or small groups traveling together. Guests can also expect …

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Kuwait to reveal its new strategy to usher in the new Golden Age of Tourism

Chief Executive Officer of the Touristic Enterprises Company, Mr. Abdulwahab Ahmed Al-Marzouq and members of the leadership team revealed the company’s new strategy to become a world-class provider of leisure and entertainment experiences in Kuwait. Speaking at the press conference at Kuwait Towers, Mr. Al-Marzouq outlined the company’s path forward to revive the golden era of tourism in Kuwait and become one of the leading developers and operators of family entertainment experiences in the region. This is the most ambitious transformation in the company’s 40+ year history, which laid out concrete plans for the redevelopment of 11 anchor projects. Addressing the media, Mr. Al-Marzouq said: ‘Today, we are setting the course for a new era for the recreational and leisure sector in Kuwait. As part of the new strategy, we will pursue calculated growth and expansion, modernize, redevelop and reposition existing facilities and diversify our assets to offer new world-class experiences to everyone in Kuwait.’ He further elaborated: ‘The new strategy is both ambitious and achievable, backed by concrete plans and an approved capital increase of 250 Million KWD by the Kuwait Investment Authority. Through the provision of immersive experiences, fit for the new age, TEC aims to play a leading role in enabling the tourism ecosystem in Kuwait and serve as a role model for the country’s public sector transformation. This is also in line with the 2035 vision with a focus on human capital development and economic diversification.’ The new strategy is centered around a new approach to people and customer-centricity as the company seeks to strengthen collaboration and stakeholder engagement to foster win-win partnerships, change perceptions and rebuild trust. Guided by a performance-driven culture, TEC unveiled its new values …

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Oman Air debuts brand discovery Pop-Up Store in Mall of Oman

Oman Air unveiled its brand discovery pop-up store in the recently opened Mall of Oman. Located on the third floor, the combined pop-up store and visitor centre offers the public an opportunity to ‘Get to Know Oman Air’ with a sampling of on-board products including amenity kits, kids’ soft toys, Wings of Oman in-flight magazine, among others, and features a dedicated Oman Air Holidays counter with the option to book a getaway package in store. Weekly activities are also planned to introduce the public to Oman Air pilots and cabin crew, showcase new add-on products, and highlight the variety of in-flight dining options available on board. The official unveiling was led by Oman Air Chief Operating Officer Captain Nasser Al Salmi accompanied by several key members from the airline’s senior management. In an official ribbon cutting ceremony, Captain Al Salmi commented on the importance of creating a venue where visitors can learn more about the airline: “Our purpose in opening this store is to provide a space where locals and tourists alike can learn more about our multi-award-winning products and services and discover some of the authentic Omani hospitality we’re so proud to fly around the world. We’ve also created a dedicated space to book customized getaway packages through Oman Air Holidays. I invite everyone in Oman to visit this exciting, interactive store to learn more about what makes Oman Air such a premium flying experience.” Fully customizable Fly & Stay packages are a leading focus of the airline’s growing products, and the store offers residents in Oman an opportunity to create personalized holiday itineraries on the spot. The walk-in location complements Oman Air Holidays’ recently revamped travel platform with …

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Prioritising the safety of travellers

The Department of Tourism in Philippines has hosted a series of three virtual dinners this year. The first Middle East CEOs Virtual Dinner was held on June 23, 2021 for trade partners from the Gulf while the second Middle East Virtual Dinner took place on Aug 18, 2021. This virtual dinner was for trade partners from UAE & Oman.  The third Middle East Virtual Dinner held on Aug 25, 2021 had leading travel agents from Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain attending the event. It was discussed how GCC is way ahead of most of the world in terms of the vaccination drive. SanJeet, Director, Durga Das Publications – a market representative for the Middle East, opened the session by sharing the current realities in the Middle East market. The small get together was organised to provide a from the ground update on what is happening in the Philippines and its different islands and to stay in touch with trade partners. Daks Gonzales, Head – Product and Market Development, Philippine Department of Tourism – Middle East, said, “The good news is that we are definitely on our way with the goal of full vaccination of the citizens. As of now, 15 million people eligible for vaccination have been vaccinated with the two doses and another 15 million of the population have been vaccinated with a single dose. Our current supply is enough to provide all those who have had their first vaccination. They will receive their second vaccination in the next month or within this month. An additional 60 million vaccines are going to be arriving from September 1, 2021 which means that an additional 60 million or …

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Oman Air Confirms 3 Weekly Flights between Muscat and London (Heathrow)

Oman Air will resume flights between Muscat and London (Heathrow) starting 22 September, 2021. The flights will operate three times weekly on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, departing Muscat at 14:25 local time and arriving in London at 19:10 local time. Flights from London will depart at 20:50 local time and arrive in Muscat at 07:15 local time on Monday, Thursday and Saturday. All flights are scheduled to operate with Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Oman Air will maintain its comprehensive safety program throughout all elements of the travel journey to ensure that guests fly confidently. Masks are required when guests are on board the aircraft and in Oman’s airports. Distancing is maintained while guests board and exit the aircraft, which are carefully cleaned after each flight and at the end of every day. Cabin crew all wear a full set of personal protective equipment, meal service has been modified to further ensure safety, and a number of other measures have been implemented to ensure that the airline’s guests and crew are safe at all times. Guests who are planning to travel to Muscat should visit the Civil Aviation Authority website, caa.gov.om, to ensure they are prepared to comply with requirements to enter the Sultanate. Guests travelling to the UK should ensure they are aware of official requirements to enter or transit through the country. Guests departing from Oman should also ensure that they are aware of all pre-departure requirements and requirements during their flights, which are provided at omanair.com.

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Farnek Hotel Management launches Flexi-Guest

Farnek Hotel Management has developed a ground-breaking hospitality app that digitalises a hotel guest’s journey from the initial reservation through to check out. The app which was developed in-house by Farnek’s award-winning technology and innovation division, interfaces with the hotel’s property management system (PMS) affording guests a whole suite of services from uploading travel documents, such as vaccination certificates, ordering a car on arrival, room service and laundry. The hotel app can also send automated electronic updates and alerts to the guest, as well as e-registration documents, e-invoices and e-receipts, all in one convenient space. Walter Knight, Director of Hospitality at Farnek said, “Flexi-Guest achieves three main hotel objectives. First of all, it offers the guest an enhanced experience, providing a seamless pre-arrival and check-in procedure. “Secondly, during the stay, guests can order room service in advance, have laundry picked up or delivered, request early or late check outs, invoices or order a car to go to the airport. Because the app manages secure online payments, the guest doesn’t even need to physically visit the reception. “Finally, the hotel benefits too. If the experience is good, the guest is more likely to return and also recommend the hotel to friends and colleagues. The hotel operates more efficiently, saving staff time and expense and has the added advantage of driving revenue through F&B and e-concierge services,” added Knight. Farnek has just completed a successful trial of the app, having secured a contract for the Expo Village, situated on the Expo 2020 site. Farnek is currently responsible for managing the reservation services, concierge, front office services and housekeeping, for the 2,273 apartments. “Feedback from the initial guest reviews, has been very positive,” …

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Wyndham Debuts Days Hotel by Wyndham Brand in UAE

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts is further expanding its international footprint with the opening of the newly built 131-room Days Hotel by Wyndham Dubai Deira, its first property in the UAE under the renowned economy brand. Ideally located close to Dubai’s popular landmarks with a direct access to the Dubai Metro, the launch of the Days Hotel by Wyndham Dubai Deira joins the recent openings of the Super 8 by Wyndham Dubai Deira and Wyndham Dubai Deira as part of the Deira Enrichment Project and as a continuation of Wyndham’s rapid growth across the region. Days Inn by Wyndham is one of the largest and most recognised economy hotel brands in the world, with a global portfolio of 1,600 properties. The launch of Days Hotel by Wyndham Dubai Deira follows the brand’s debut in Turkey in June 2021 and marks the eighth hotel brand Wyndham has launched in the UAE, following the recent debut of the La Quinta by Wyndham brand in Bur Dubai. Michel Augier, Regional Director, Middle East and Africa, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, said: “Dubai is one of the most sought out destinations for travellers from all corners of the globe, looking for a variety of accommodation options, making it the ideal location to launch our Days Inn by Wyndham brand. The launch of the Days Hotel by Wyndham Dubai Deira perfectly complements the recently opened Wyndham Dubai Deira and the Super 8 by Wyndham Dubai Deira, which are already situated within the spectacular Deira Enrichment Project and our portfolio of over 60 hotels in the Middle East and Africa. We look forward to continuing to expand our brands and offerings in destinations we know our travellers want to be, …

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First Novotel in Madinah to open in 2025

Accor is growing its portfolio in Saudi Arabia partnering with Taiba Investments and opening the first Novotel Brand in the Holy city of Madinah. Once open the property will include 394 keys, 3 Food & Beverage outlets as well meeting rooms and retail space. Since the launch of the vision 2030 for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2016, Accor has continuously been involved in the development of the hospitality landscape including, but not limited to, the introduction of unique development projects across the Kingdom, now adding a greenfield project with the first Novotel in Madinah. The group is partnering with Taiba Investments, considered to be one of the largest real estate companies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which provides various services such as real estate property investment, development and management. ‘We are delighted to be partnering with Accor to develop our new hotel in the Holy City of Madinah, says Eng. Saleh Habdan Al-Habdan, Chief Executive Officer from Taiba Investments Real Estate Company”. We are confident that this new property will benefit greatly the hospitality landscape of the city and Kingdom overall, offering travelers a new and convenient accommodation option”. Novotel Madinah will be in close proximity to the Holy Mosque, and directly on King Faisal Road at its intersection with Amr Bin Al Aas Street, offering guests easy access to every main road of the city. Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz Airport is only 23 minutes away from the hotel while Madinah Train Station is located at 13 minutes from the property. “This is a great opportunity to introduce the first Novotel property to the Holy City and increase further Novotel’s footprint in the Kingdom” says Mark Willis, …

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Inmarsat launches Onefi: game changing platform

Inmarsat announced the launch of its innovative new OneFi customer experience platform (CXP) for airlines. The first-of-its-kind solution will serve as a catalyst to monetise inflight connectivity by bringing a host of onboard services together within a single portal interface, which passengers can easily access using their own personal devices. OneFi delivers a rich airline-branded digital platform to enhance the passenger experience onboard flights. It allows passengers to order food and beverages, purchase seat upgrades, receive the latest flight and destination information, and sign-up to the airline’s frequent flyer programmes, all in real-time from the comfort of their seat. In addition, passengers can browse the internet, stream videos and audio, shop online and enjoy other ecommerce offerings, using high-speed inflight broadband that airlines could choose to offer free-of-charge, funded through OneFi’s sponsorship and advertising features. The launch of OneFi comes at a critical time for airlines, with the global pandemic having accelerated passenger demand for digital inflight experiences. Philip Balaam, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “For many years, Inmarsat has advocated the vast commercial opportunities of inflight connectivity. However, until now, airlines have struggled to realise the full potential of the business model. OneFi is a step change for those looking to monetise their Wi-Fi services and ensure they keep pace with evolving passenger needs. It will empower a digital transformation in the cabin, which is especially important at this critical time for the aviation industry. “OneFi allows airlines to improve their brand experience and secure passenger loyalty, with the flexibility to incorporate their own services and use existing and new partners, such as content providers, advertisers and retailers. We are in advanced discussions with leading airlines about adopting this innovative …

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