Starwood signs Dubai St. Regis, W and Westin
April 26th, 2012
Starwood Hotels and Resorts has signed an agreement with Al Habtoor Group to open three hotels in Dubai, including the emirate’s first St. Regis and W branded properties.
Located within the US $1.4 billion Habtoor Palace complex on the site of the old Metropolitan hotel - currently being demolished – on Sheikh Zayed Road, the 1 million sq ft development will include the 241-key St. Regis Dubai, the 384-key W Dubai – Sheikh Zayed Road, and a 966-key The Westin Dubai Sheikh Zayed Road - all scheduled to open in 2017.
Speaking exclusively to Hotelier Middle East on the sidelines of today’s press conference (April 26), Al Habtoor group vice chairman and CEO Mohammed Al Habtoor said the contractor Al Habtoor Leighton Group would start construction of the hotels by May 1.
“Demolition has already started on the Metropolitan; we started at the back with the area where the Red Lion was. Construction of the new project will start next week with excavation. We have the empty land so we will start digging,” explained Al Habtoor.
He expected the three hotels to open within months of one another in 2017, starting with the St. Regis.
“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 and soft furnishings.
“We will then open the St. Regis first, the W hotel and then move onto the big hotel [Westin] which will take a bit more time,” he said, adding that the "plan" was yet to be finalised with the operator and contractor.
Al Habtoor said Hilton and “a couple of other brands” had bid for the three management agreements.
“Last year we signed the three hotels with Hilton – on The Palm and two in Lebanon – but we wanted to have another partner; not work with one all of the time. Starwood as a partner is very good because they have exactly the brands I want,” he said.
Starwood SVP, regional director, Middle East Guido De Wilde told Hotelier: “There’s a lot of preparation work going on – it’s a gigantic project and takes a lot of coordination and project management.
“What is being built is a destination within the destination of Dubai and we know over the past six or seven years, Dubai has built many destinations within Dubai - be it the Burj Khalifa area or Dubai Marina. This will be a unique destination by itself."
In addition to the three hotels, the Habtoor Palace complex - which was unveiled in January - will include 1100-seat theatre, a shopping arcade, tennis and sports academy and multiple-themed restaurant.
“They’re [Al Habtoor Group] bringing in an entertainment operator which is still to be announced, but knowing the vision of this company and its focus on quality we know it’ll be one of the world’s leading entertainment companies,” said De Wilde.
Starwood currently operates 15 properties in Dubai, representing the second largest concentration of the company’s hotels in a single city outside of New York.
“The UAE is our largest market in the Middle East, which indicates how strongly we believe in the growth of Dubai,” De Wilde said during the conference.
“This [announcement] will further strengthen our long-standing position - this is the beginning of our partnership with Habtoor and we look forward to many future projects,” he added.
Starwood opened the UAE’s first St. Regis on Saadiyat Island in November 2011, with a second soon to launch on Abu Dhabi Corniche.
The Wesin Dubai – Sheikh Zayed Road will be the firm’s second in Dubai, the existing Westin Dubai property forms part of the Mina Seyahi beachfront complex. Meanwhile the first Westin in Abu Dhabi opened last November.
Starwood’s W brand is expected to debut in the UAE in Abu Dhabi in 2015 as the group’s second W in the Middle East following the brand’s regional debut in Doha in 2009.
“I’ve been asked many times why we opened our first W in Doha and not Dubai. The reason is simple, the opportunity was there in Doha before Dubai, and it was a business decision,” De Wilde told Hotelier.
“What we said at that time was the brand would change the hospitality scene in Doha and this is exactly what has happened – W brought a completely new dynamic. And we’ve seen having W in Dubai from day one,” he added. "It’s a brand that fits Dubai and Dubai fits the brand”.
Al Habtoor said he was most excited about bringing the W brand to Dubai: “The lifestyle brand is the most important brand for me because in Dubai we don’t have a lifestyle hotel. We don’t have that young generation, they go to Miami or Vegas or W Hollywood. Maybe this hotel will give them a reason to visit Dubai.”
Click through to the next page for further details and key features of each property...
The St. Regis Dubai
Offering a new standard of luxury in Dubai, The St. Regis Dubai will feature 241 luxuriously-appointed guest rooms, including 49 elegant suites. The hotel will also offer extensive state-of-the-art meeting and event space as well as a wide range of luxury experiences with eight distinctive culinary, lounge and bar venues, a signature spa, swimming pool, a state-of-the-art fitness center and a 8,600 square-foot St. Regis ballroom. Following in the tradition that began in 1904 at The St. Regis New York, The St. Regis Dubai will feature the famed hallmarks of the St. Regis brand including signature St. Regis Butler Service, bespoke guest experiences and luxury accommodations tailored to global travellers.
The addition of The St. Regis Dubai builds on the brand’s portfolio of iconic hotels where the brand recently made its debut in the Middle East with the opening of The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi and will also open The St. Regis Doha in Qatar and The St. Regis Abu Dhabi later this year. The St. Regis Amman Hotel & Residences in Jordan is scheduled to open in 2014.
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W Dubai – Sheikh Zayed Road
The new W Dubai – Sheikh Zayed Road will provide a cutting-edge lifestyle experience, comprising 384 stylish guest rooms including 88 suites, four WOW Suites and one Extreme WOW Suite (W’s take on the Presidential suite). The hotel will offer eight contemporary dining venues, the signature W Lounge (W’s reinterpretation of the traditional hotel lobby), WET pool deck, SWEAT state-of-the-art fitness center, a signature spa and contemporary meeting and event spaces, including the W Great Room. Guests will also enjoy the W brand’s signature Whatever/Whenever service philosophy, providing guests whatever they want whenever they want it.
Along with W Dubai, the W brand has plans to open three more W Hotels in the region in Abu Dhabi, Amman, and Muscat. W Hotels made its debut in the Middle East in 2009 with the opening of the iconic W Doha Hotel & Residences in Qatar.
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The Westin Dubai – Sheikh Zayed Road
Offering a sensory-rich and relaxing atmosphere, The Westin Dubai – Sheikh Zayed Road will feature 1,050 guest rooms and 129 suites. The hotel’s guest rooms and suites will be outfitted with the renowned Westin Heavenly Bed® as well as the Heavenly Bath®, ensuring renewal with the help of the brand’s signature amenities and rainforest shower heads with extra-wide spray radius. Other signature features will include the Westin Heavenly Spa, consisting of six treatment rooms and the WestinWORKOUT® fitness facility offering state-of-the-art equipment. The hotel will also offer six distinct food and beverage outlets and more than 26,000 square-feet of ultra-modern meeting and event space including The Westin Ballroom, 14 meeting rooms and a business center.
The Westin Dubai is the third property for the brand in the UAE and joins the recently opened The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa and The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina in Dubai.
Starwood currently operates close to 50 hotels in the Middle East, which includes 23 hotels in the UAE. The company is set to open more than 30 hotels in the region over the next few years, representing a portfolio growth of more than 50 per cent. By 2015, the Middle East will become the second region, after North America, to operate all nine of Starwood’s world-class brands - St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W, Westin, Le Méridien, Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton, and the recently launched Aloft and Element - further reinforcing the company’s commitment to the region.