Top 10 hospitality stories in the Middle East in 2018

We bring you a round up of the top ten biggest stories that shook the hotel industry both in the Middle East and in international markets

Operators

It's been a busy year for both the regional and international hospitality market in 2018. We bring you a round up of the top ten biggest stories that shook the hotel industry both in the Middle East and in international markets. 

1. Viceroy out, Marriott in: Abu Dhabi property set to become a W Hotel

Aldar Properties PJSC has appointed Marriott International to manage its hotel on Yas Island, which is currently flagged as the Viceroy Abu Dhabi.

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Effective July 1, 2018, Marriott International will assume operations of the Yas Island hotel, which will go through a refurbishment period before opening under W Hotels. This will mark the debut of the brand in Abu Dhabi; it already has one operational in Dubai, with a second due to open this year.

Areas across the hotel will be refreshed and redesigned as per W Hotels’ brand standards, with an upgrade to its lobby and pool facilities, whilst remaining open to guests. 

2. Marriott to no longer operate Al Habtoor City hotels, handover to be completed soon

Earlier this month, Marriott revealed that it would no longer operate Al Habtoor's Polo Resort and Club. The global operator has now said it will be handing over the operations of three hotels -The St Regis Dubai, W Dubai Habtoor City and The Westin Dubai Al Habtoor City- back to the Habtoor Group by July 31.  Marriott International and Al Habtoor Group said they have agreed these hotels will no longer be part of the St Regis, W Hotels and Westin Hotels global brand portfolios. When the hotels first opened, it was Dubai’s first St. Regis, the UAE’s first W hotel and the largest Westin in the Middle East. The hotels collectively offer nearly 1,600 rooms, 18 restaurants and lounges, two spas, 34 meeting and banqueting spaces and three ballrooms.

3. Kempinski Ajman reflagged to Ajman Hotel, under Blazon Hotels brand

Previously flagged as the Kempinski Hotel Ajman, the building has now been reflagged as the Ajman Hotel, under the Blazon Hotels brand.

The Blazon Hotels brand is part of the newly established hotel management company Smart Hospitality Solutions (SHS), founded by hospitality veterans Reto Wittwer and Ulrich Eckhardt - both with Kempinski experience to their name. The SHS portfolio encompasses three distinct brands: Blazon, Contempera, and a wellness brand Softouch Hotels.

4. The Middle East's top 10 most anticipated hotel openings of 2018

A lit of the ten most anticipated hotel openings in the Middle East in 2018.

5. CONFIRMED: Accorhotels closes deal, acquires Movenpick for $559m

France’s AccorHotels has confirmed that the company has officially acquired Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts for 480 million Euros ($559 million). The transaction was subject to regulatory approvals.

The transaction involves purchase of 100% share capital of Mövenpick, ownership of the brand and activities related to the hospitality business, the company revealed at a press conference at Dubai's Fairmont the Palm hotel. The acquisition integrates Mövenpick's 84 operating hotels into Accor's existing global portfolio of more than 4,500 hotels. 

6. Movenpick to open two new properties in Dubai in 2018

Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts is gearing up to open 11 new properties in nine countries by the end of 2018. The next 10 months will see Mövenpick raise a flag in several commercially-strategic destinations, from two of Dubai’s most prestigious districts to The Maldives, where the company will make its Indian Ocean foray.

7. Breaking new ground: GM Interview with Emaar's first female Emirati GM

Emaar Hospitality Group broke new ground a couple of months ago when it appointed the first female Emirati general manager to lead its four-star Arabesque property, Manzil Downtown in Dubai, a boutique hotel under the Vida Hotels & Resorts brand.

Sharihan Al Mashary will be taking the helm of the 197-key property from her predecessor Ahmed Elnawawy who was in the role for only a span of six months. Mashary was previously serving in an operational role at Manzil and knew that she was being primed to take on the general manager role.

8. Marriott to no longer manage Al Habtoor Polo resort in Dubai

Marriott International will no longer manage The St. Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club. The management has been transferred to Al Habtoor Group.  

9. Dubai's Zero Gravity beach club issues apology after lewd incident

Dubai beach club Zero Gravity has apologised after an explicit video of a man performing a lewd act went viral on social media. A man at the popular Dubai venue was caught on video being reprimanded by a security guard after being caught in the pool with his shorts down.  

10. Dubai-based Jumeirah Group CEO says plans underway to restructure hotel portfolio

Dubai-based Jumeirah Group's newly appointed CEO Jose Silva said that plans are afoot to restructure the hotels within its hospitality brand into different tiers based on the experience each hotel offers. Silva hinted at having three different segments for hotels within the Jumeirah Group.

Along with the restructuring of the brand, Silva said Jumeirah will unfold its plans for the new, ultra-luxury brand in the fall of 2018.

"We will further define what exists in the brand before the end of the year. Once you have landmarks like Al Qasr, then you can't redefine it. That is the identity of the space but as you further renovate and evolve the iconic hotels you need to attempt to position them with more clarity for the consumer so they know which segment it is," Silva added in an interview with Hotelier Middle East at the Jumeirah headquarters in Dubai.

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