0957 Day two of the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai is about to kick off and the Hotelier Middle East and Arabian Travel News teams are on the ground ready to bring in the headlines.
Many of the big players have been saving up their annoucements for this week which, with Starwood revealing plans to return to Iraq 20 years after it was forced to exit due to the onset of the Gulf War.
IHG has signed a deal to operate the Muscat Hills Golf Resort under its InterContinental brand. The deal will also see the group running the Golf Club.
Industry job seekers will be pleased to hear that Marriott and Jumeirah are both on mass recruitment drives to support their rapid expansion plans. Both are on the hunt for thousands of news staff members.
We expect Fairmont will also be hiring in line with its growth plans it revealed yesterday, as well as Hospitality Management Holdings which has added three new hotels to its portfolio in the UAE and Oman.
1100 Sofitel Abu Dhabi partners with Monte Carlo Beach Club to launch exclusive packages
We've just met the new Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche general manager Jean-Philippe Bittencourt, who revealed one strategy for attracting to more leisure guests to the corniche hotel.
Bittencourt said the hotel had recently partnered with the Monte Carlo Beach Club on Saadiyat Island to offer exclusive beach day and stay packages.
1pm Rotana eyes up to four new hotels in Qatar
Hotelier has just caught up with Rotana's executive vice president and COO Omer Kaddouri to find out more about the group's new Rotana City Centre in Doha, Qatar, which Kaddouri revealed is going to open in December of this year.
The opening will bring the group's portfolio to two hotels in Qatar, but that's only the start of the group's growth in the country, according to Kaddouri.
"By the time the World Cup comes up we’ll probably have five or six hotels in Qatar. That’s a long term plan for 2022, we'll take time to build them," he said.
"Two hotels open by the end of this year will give us about 800 keys in Doha which is already quite a lot to have for one company. The next one will probably be in a couple of years time so we’re building at the right stage, as Doha builds our hotels are opening," he added.
1.30 Travel agencies and hotels need to do more to attract tourists during Ramadan.
Experts said that while traditionally during Ramadan people don’t travel, there are still groups which do, and more efforts to attract families from the GCC could lead to more making holidays during the period.
They said that it is especially important this year, as there is chance for two holidays during the period.
2pm V. Five Continents to open three hotels this year in UAE and Egypt
Homegrown UAE operator V . Five Continents Hotels & Resorts is due to open three hotels this year so we tracked down managing directorTarek Elsherif to get the lowdown:
Hotel name: V Continents Arabian Suites
Opening: Mid-June 2012
Hotel name: V Continents Executive Suites
Abu Dhabi, UAE
120 - 96 studios and 24 one bedroom
Opening: Mid-July 2012
Hotel name: V Continents Emirates Heights
North Coast of Egypt
Opening: Summer 2012
The new hotels will bring V. Five Continents' porfolio to five, but Elsherif said the operator won't stop there:
"We'd like to keep growing and expect to have seven to 10 hotels [in the near future]," he told Hotelier.
3.30pm Rosewood to open hotel near Riyadh
Regional vice president for KSA for Rosewood and managing director of Al Faisaliah Hotel and Hotel Al Khozama has just announced to Hotelier that it will open a new five star deluxe property by the end of the year – Durret Riyadh.
It will be a 239-room resort hotel in the compound development, which will have around 800 units, most of which will be villas.
The hotel will feature a swimming pool, spas for men and women and three restaurants, and will open late 2012 or early 2013.
4pm Shaza's, Sofitel and Ritz-Carlton spill all
Louise Oakley has just returned from a series of back to back interviews, getting the inside scoop on Shaza Hotels property planned for Salalah in Oman — complete with plunge pools on the guest room balconies - and an insight into the new Thalassa spa at Sofitel in Bahrain from GM Bert Plas. Over at the Ritz-Carlton stand, we met with Pep Lozano, GM at the much anticipated Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, opening on September 15 with around 1000 staff, and Bernard Viola, GM at the Al Bustan Palace, which come July will be celebrating its first year as a Ritz-Carlton.
4.45pm Meeting Melia
Melia Dubai is now open in Bur Dubai and GM Gilles Longuet is heading up the brand's debut to the region. As the first Spanish hotel in Dubai, it's expected to meet the demand of a growing Spanish and Latin American corporate market, as well as Spanish holidaymakers on stopovers. Celebrity chef Marco Pierre White's first ever Titanic restaurant is open at the hotel, with the chef himself making an appearance in just a couple of weeks!
11am InterContinental Doha The City GM talks F&B
Hotelier has just caught up with new InterContinental Doha The City GM Renzo Cavagliotti who said the hotel's new strata restaurant and lounge on levels 55 and 56 of the hotel was far better than competitors' offerings in Dubai.
Cavagliotti also revealed that the hotel's grill restaurant Prime would open on May 14, followed by a Lebanese outlet called Mai on May 30.
11:30 Off with Four Seasons
Four Seasons' Simon Casson just visited the Hotelier stand ahead of his interview with Louise Oakley. Watch this space for Four Seasons news from Casson, who has spent the last eight years in Doha.