The 50 biggest stories of 2014: Part 2

Major developments in the hospitality industry across the region in 2014

Mall of the world is set to feature 20,000 hotel rooms
Mall of the world is set to feature 20,000 hotel rooms
Crowne Plaza Dubai general manager Georges Farhat
Crowne Plaza Dubai general manager Georges Farhat
A.L.O. the robotic butler at Aloft Cupertino
A.L.O. the robotic butler at Aloft Cupertino
Canopy by Hilton is the operator's new lifestyle hotel brand
Canopy by Hilton is the operator's new lifestyle hotel brand
Broadway Hotel, Blackpool, UK (Image: Google Maps)
Broadway Hotel, Blackpool, UK (Image: Google Maps)

From major hotel openings and refurbishments to big moves by key players in the industry, 2014 has once again demonstrated the fast-changing nature of the hospitality industry in the region.

Hotelier Middle East looks back on some of the biggest stories of the year in this two part retrospective. If you haven't already, check out Part 1.

Qatar to end foreign worker sponsorship system (May 15)

The State of Qatar has revealed plans to replace the current sponsorship – or kafala – system for foreign workers and replace it with a system based on employment contracts.

Mixed reaction from Oman hoteliers to visa rules (May 29)

Hoteliers in Oman cautiously welcomed new visa rules for foreign workers and a possible driver for staff retention, although they also indicated that it could hamper recruitment efforts.

Read the Hotelier Salary Survey 2014 in full (June 2)

The results from the Hotelier Middle East Salary Survey were in, with hoteliers asking why positive performance in the industry wasn’t being reflected in pay packets, with 45% reporting they earn under US $3,000 per month.

Marriott takes over original Atlantis resort (July 3)

It was announced that Atlantis, Paradise Island, the resort that was the forerunner to the property of the same name on Palm Jumeirah in Dubai, was to join Marriott International’s Autograph Collection. The 3400-room resort would operate under a franchise agreement with Marriott and would be the first member brand for the independent hotel collection in The Bahamas.

Dubai 'Mall of the World' to add 20000 hotel rooms (July 6)

A new temperature-controlled pedestrian city was announced for Dubai, housing what developers claim will be the world’s largest mall and theme park, is set to add another 20,000 hotel rooms to the emirate.

Jumeirah eyes Mall of the World hotel opportunity (July 8)

Operator Jumeirah Group revealed to Hotelier Middle East that it was set to explore possibilities for hotel developments at the Mall of World in Dubai. Unsurprising, considering its parent company, Dubai Holding, is behind the US $6.8 billion project.

Crowne Plaza Dubai appoints 20-year veteran as GM (July 9)

In one of the feel-good stories of the year, Crowne Plaza Dubai promoted Georges Farhat to the position of general manager. What made the appointment so special was the fact that he had been with the hotel for 20 years, something he discussd at length in an interview with Hotelier Middle East.

The case of the mysterious Facebook hotel rankings (July 13)

For a few days in July, Facebook started ranking hotels in major cities around the world according to ratings and popularity. While this feature was withdrawn for unexplained reasons fairly swiftly, it provided a glimpse into the future for the industry.

Cristal Hotels & Resorts launching budget brand (July 19)

Having established its four- and five-star brands in the Middle East, UAE-founded hotel management company Cristal Hotels & Resorts revealed it was working on the launch of a three-star budget brand, Emerald.

Al Khozama targets 5000 rooms in major KSA cities (July 21)

Al Khozama management company set a target of achieving 5000 hotel rooms within ten years, more than doubling its current inventory of 2044 keys.

UAE's new visa system: the fees in detail (August 3)

A new visa fee structure came into effect, designed to encourage growth in the country's economy. The new measures included the issuing of a new array of entry permits and visas, such as multiple entry permits for visit or work; the activation of study visas, and entry permits for medical care and attending conferences.

FIRST LOOK: The Heart of Europe on The World Dubai (August 5)

With construction work well underway on one of the first major projects on the much-maligned World islands in Dubai, we presented a preview of The Heart of Europe.

Robotic butler to make debut at Starwood hotel (August 13)

One of the quirkier stories of the year saw a Starwood Hotels & Resorts property in California is breaking new ground by employing the services of a robotic butler.

Damac launches second Dubailand mega project (August 20)

Damac Properties revealed details of its second master development in Dubailand, which will have a green theme and cover 55 million square feet, featuring a five-star hotel.

Palazzo Versace gets former Burj Al Arab GM Morio (September 4)

It's not that often a general manager appointment story would be one of the biggest of the year; then again, it's not that often that the man in question leaves the iconic Burj Al Arab for Palazzo Versace, one of the most eagerly-awaited hotels in Dubai.

Jumeirah Group revives lifestyle brand Venu (September 10)

A blast from the past as Jumeirah Group relaunched its lifestyle brand Venu, three years after plans for its rollout were abandoned. The new brand was outlined by Jumeirah Group as being aimed at the modern traveller “whose expectations revolve around their own lifestyle – clean, contemporary, cool and effortless”.

Hilton eyes Middle East with new lifestyle brand (October 19)

Major cities across the Middle East, including Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Muscat and Bahrain, were identified as possible homes for Hilton Worldwide’s new lifestyle hotel brand - Canopy by Hilton. The operator had said that the new brand will take the emphasis off capital-intensive design and target leisure and business travellers.

Carlson Rezidor finds partner for 30 KSA hotels (October 21)

Hotel operator Carlson Rezidor signed a long-term development agreement with Al Hokair Group in Saudi Arabia to develop and operate more than 30 properties across the kingdom.

Hard Rock Hotel to open in 2nd tallest Dubai tower (October 27)

Hard Rock International signed a management contract with Abu Dhabi Financial Group and Sheffield Holdings to operate the Hard Rock Hotel Dubai Marina. The 281-room hotel will occupy the first 33 floors of the tower - which will be the second tallest in the UAE - while a club lounge and dining venue will be located on the 101st floor. It is projected to open in mid-2015.

REVEALED: The Hotelier Middle East Awards winners (October 30)

The biggest night of the year for the industry saw 18 individuals and one team crowned the winners at the Hotelier Middle East Awards 2014.

Rotana to create 10,500 hotel jobs over five years (November 2)

Hotel operator Rotana said it was planning to hire more than 10,500 people across the Middle East, Africa, South Asia and Eastern Europe over the next five years as it builds towards its target of 100 hotels by 2020.

New Opening: Four Seasons Resort Dubai (November 7)

Hotelier Middle East paid a visit to Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach to find out the secret that will set this hotel apart from its incredibly tough competition.

Accor eyes 30,000 rooms in Middle East by 2020 (November 4)

Accor Hotelservices Middle East revealed that it is targeting 30,000 rooms in the Middle East by 2020. With 16,000 rooms already open, the new target represents an almost doubling of Accor’s portfolio.

Saudis to get double the minimum wage of expats (November 13)

Saudi Arabia was considering fixing the minimum wage for both Saudis and expats in the private sector in 2015 as the third part of its wage protection programme, according to reports in the local media.

Guests 'fined' for bad hotel review on TripAdvisor (November 19)

A hotel in the UK attracted some unwelcome attention after its decision to ‘fine’ a couple £100 (US $156) caught the attention of the national media. The couple, Tony and Jan Jenkinson, had spent one night at the Broadway Hotel in Blackpool and left distinctly unimpressed. They had paid £35 (US $54) for a double room.

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