It has been a year of highlights and firsts for Blackburn, who developed the Cristal brand and opened its first propertty in the UAE capital in 2009.
Four years on, not only did the company become the first hotel operator to penetrate Baghdad in more than 20 years, in the form of Cristal Grand Ishtar, but Cristal Hotels & Resorts was awarded the first ‘Historic Hotel’ licence from the Lebanese Tourism Department for Cristal Grand Kadri Hotel.
The icing on the cake for Blackburn was Cristal Hotel Abu Dhabi and Cristal Salam Hotel being listed amongst TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Awards 2013’s Top 25 hotels in UAE in two categories — Best Hotels and Best in Service.
Not one to rest on his laurels, he is preparing for the opening of six pipeline hotels; Cristal Grand Kadri Hotel, Cristal Siyaha Hotel, Cristal Hotel Erbil, Cristal Amaken Hotel, Cristal Grand Hotel Erbil and Cristal Himmah Hotel.
Two of these will be opening in the last quarter of this year, another two in 2014 and one in early 2015, with every opening personally overseen by Blackburn, formerly of the Rotana stable.