Mandarin Oriental was expected to debut in the Middle East with the opening of its Abu Dhabi hotel on Saadiyat Island next year, but the project has been postponed.
Construction works are yet to commence on the the property, which is being developed by Abu Dhabi-based Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), with no indication of a start date.
Christoph Mares, director of operations for EMEA, told Hotelier Middle East that the company’s first foray in the Middle East would instead “most likely” be Mandarin Oriental Doha, expected to open in “late 2014 or early 2015”.
He explained that the progress of Saadiyat Island, where the hotel will be located, is slower than expected.
“We’re still waiting for an exact date of commencement of construction and, subsequently, a target opening date,” he said.
Mares added: “Normally once construction commences – since we have done a lot of pre-work already – design, architectural requirements etc, the mass plan of the project has been decided, I would think we would be able to get an opening around 26 months after commencement of construction.”
“We are managers and partners in the project – we’re not the investor or developer either – we support, of course, and give our expectations in terms of design, interior, architecture etc. but we’re not the developers, so it’s out of our hands,” he said.
The property, which was announced in February 2010, will have 160 rooms, as well as 35 serviced apartments and 50 residential units.
Mandarin Oriental has signed a management contract of “several decades,” Mares said. “It’s a long-term commitment to the region.”