The city and emirate of the same name has a line-up of international and local Gulf hotels, mainly of an upmarket nature. Most of the leading hotel chains of the world have at least one hotel in Abu Dhabi, and in some cases more. Undoubtedly the pre-eminent establishmet is the Emirates Palace, a majestic hotel in a central part of the city. This luxurious establishment rivals Dubai's Burj al Arab. When you first see this landmark it takes your breath away, and a stroll through the magnificent building is truly awe-inspiring. It is accessed through palace gates and is set amidst grounds that are meticulously maintained. The Emirates Palace has 302 Grand (standard) rooms and 92 suites, and a butler service is provided to all of them. Prior to the arrival of this architectural masterpiece, the city's top hotel was The Beach Hotel by Rotana. This beachfront hotel has two wings, the old and the new. The original hotel features standard 3.5 star rooms, while the newer wing offers a range of four and five star hotel rooms and suites. Nearby, also on the beach is the Le Meridien Abu Dhabi which comprises traditional hotel roomsand residence suoites for long-term stays. Closer to the city centre are the Sheraton Hotel, also on the beach, the Le Royal Merididen, the Hilton Baynunah, Al Manzel Hotel Apartments, Shangri-la Hotel Qaryat Al Beri, Hilton Corniche Hotel Apartments, the Hilton Abu Dhabi, the Sheraton Khalidiya Hotel, the Crowne Plaza, Al Diar Dana Hotel, Al Rawda Arjaan, the Novotel Centre Hotel, and the Millennium Hotel. A short drive away is the InterContinental Abu Dhabi (a resort hotel on the beach), Golden Tulip Dalma Suites, Vision Hotel Apartments, Al Maha Arjaan, International Rotana, the Kingsgate Hotel, Mafraq Hotel, the Grand Continental Flamingo, the Eclipse Boutique Suites, Euro Hotel Apartments, the Al Raha Beach Hotel, Sahara Hotel Apartments, and the One to One Hotel The Village.
Business in Abu Dhabi is brisk these days and quite often the hotels are in very high demand, and periodically booked out. Rates at the various hotels vary at different times of the year, depending on the demand. It sometimes pays to shop different dates to locate good rates. The standard of service is good. Most of the staff are recruited from Southeast Asian countries such as India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines in Asia Pacific. Most of the hotels have their own training schools, and the staff are quite skilled in performing their duties, and in guest relations. They are all taught basic English. Staff at the hotels are accommodated in staff quarters, usually off-site, and are transported to and from work by buses. Their salaries are good compared to what they could earn in their own countries, and they receive good benefits including accommodation, meals, transport, healthcare, and air tickets to their home country for annual holidays.
Many of the executives in the industry in Abu Dhami, as elsewhere in the United Arab Emirates, come from European, British, or Australian backgrounds.
Many of the hotels are owned by local Gulf corporations and government-associated entities. As with Dubai, other emirates, and countries in the Gulf, such as Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Oman, there are numerous new hotel projects in the pipeline, with many already under construction.
Five Star Hotel Park Rotana Abu Dhabi opens for business
The Middle East and North African hotel chain Rotana has commenced operating the Park Rotana Abu Dhabi, a luxury five star hotel, as part of a multi-use business and residential development joint ventured by Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), a master Abu Dhabi developer, and Al Mada Tourism Investment Company.
Omer Z. Kaddouri, Senior Vice President of Operations UAE of Rotana told us: “We are very proud to be managing this superb complex, which will be a true landmark in the area and a key component in the exciting development plan that the Government of Abu Dhabi has for this new neighbourhood. The future expansion of Abu Dhabi is simply stunning and Rotana’s plan is to be a key player in supporting the Government’s drive”.
Next to the hotel is Park Arjaan by Rotana a serviced hotel apartments complex which opened in January 2010. It is the first hybrid project for Rotana in Abu Dhabi.
“It is great to see our partnership with Al Mada Tourism Investment Company brought to life through the launch of Park Rotana Complex Abu Dhabi. This accomplishment is a testament to the strength of our relationship with Rotana and we look forward to a long-term partnership. TDIC has undertaken a number of high profile joint ventures with leading institutes and hotel chains from across the globe, all of which support the goal of realising Abu Dhabi’s full tourism potential,” said Lee Tabler, TDIC CEO.
The strategic location of the two properties in the eastern part of the city and proximity to its entrance gate is considered important by the group. Both properties are situated near major landmarks, including Khalifa Park, and are on crossroads to the Abu Dhabi city centre, Dubai and Al Ain. The Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Centre is ten minutes away while Abu Dhabi International Airport is a twenty minutes drive.
Sascha Bartz, General Manager of Park Rotana & Park Arjaan said: “Park Rotana Complex will appeal to business and leisure travelers alike from the local and international markets. With its key location coupled with outstanding facilities and services I am confident that the complex will be well received in Abu Dhabi and the region in general. At Rotana, we pride ourselves on our level of service and quality and we hope the opening of this landmark property will continue building on the group’s already strong reputation in the region”.
Park Rotana Abu Dhabi is targeting business travellers and lesiure travellers looking for city breaks. It comprises of 318 rooms and suites with some of them offering views of Khalifa Park.
The diverse dining venues include Teatro - restaurants & bar; Cooper’s – a traditional gastro pub; Ginger All Day Dining; ParKafe Lobby Lounge and Amador – a restaurant by 3-Michelin stars German Chef Juan Amador.
Conference & events facilities of Park Rotana Abu Dhabi consist of 6 meeting rooms and a ballroom with da light access and outdoor terrace. The property can accommodate various types of functions from small company meetings of 20 people to sit-down dinners of 500 guests.
Park Arjaan by Rotana Abu Dhabi conversely brings a new edge of contemporary living. It comprises172 furnished and serviced hotel apartments including studio, one bedroom, two bedroom and three bedroom suites with living spaces ranging from 45 to 170 square metres. All units are equipped with up-to-date technology and facilities. The residents of Park Arjaan will have access to the dining, meeting, banqueting and recreational facilities of the adjacent hotel.
The properties feature recreational facilities which include FULLY equipped gym; temperature-controlled outdoor swimming pool; six treatment rooms; steam and sauna; and a floodlit tennis court.
Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority now rating hotels
The authority has introduced a new star rating system to categorize the emirate's hotels. All hotels have been inspected and allocated a star rating, which they are obliged to display. The inspections resulted in some hotels being downgraded. From hereon four to ten inspectors will regularly survey the eemirate's hotels.
The hotel and serviced apartments segment have different ratings. The hotels are being rated on a one to five star basis, similar to other hotel categorization systems in place around the world. The apartments sector however carries classifications of deluxe, superior, or standard.
The ratings apply to the overall standard of each establishment, taking into account amenities such as restaurants, bars, meeetings and functions facilities, gymnasiums, spas, resort facilities, and parking facilities. Hours of operation of reception, and whether porters and concierge services are provided are matters of consideration as well, particularly at the higher end.
In commenting on the new system, Nasser al Reyami, Director of Tourism Standards at the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority said, "We have already tested the E-Classification system, which includes live videos and a check-list of each and every single detail in the room and across the whole hotel. Inspection includes details such as dust around frames, and under the beds and or looking for cracks on the walls."
The comprehensiveness of the new scheme is under;lined by the fact that inspectors will book into hotels on an incognito basis and will spend two days there checking facilities.
Starwood to debut Aloft Hotel in Abu Dhabi
The global hotel chain Starwood Hotels & Resorts is scheduled to open a hotel under its new brand in Abu Dhabi. The brand is "Aloft," a lifestyle-themed hotel. The new Aloft Hotel Abu Dhabi will be situated at ADNEC. It will house 408 guest rooms.
New Park Hyatt Resort under construction in Abu Dhabi
Completion expected in early 2011
A Dh1 billion (US$272 million) 5-star Park Hyatt resort, which will be part of the city’s cultural and tourism project on Saadiyat Island is now under construction.
The Saadiyat Park Hyatt Hotel and Villas will be completed in the first quarter of 2011 in the Saadiyat Beach district, which has been earmarked for a total of 9 hotels.
St Regis, Shangri-La and local group Rotana have been selected as the operator for 3 of the new hotels. A Gary Player golf course will also be developed, with the entire project anticipated to be finished by 2020.
Saadiyat Island, is being master-developed by the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), a division of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA). The Louvre and Guggenheim museums will form part of the development. Abu Dhabi National Hotels (ADNH) owns the Park Hyatt hotel,.
“In Abu Dhabi, we have a commitment to just build another five-star hotel at ADNEC, the Park Hyatt and the Marriott,” Richard Riley, the CEO of ADNH said. “Beyond that, we will only be redeveloping the existing properties that we now own, and upgrading them. Our pipeline is full for the size of our company.”
Mr Riley said that the company had to do this with its five-star properties or “they will get left behind as the new products come online”. Alex Kyriakidis, the global managing director at Deloitte Tourism Hospitality and Leisure, said the Government’s investment in tourism projects and the capital’s sound economic fundamentals supported bringing more luxury hotels online. “I would say that Abu Dhabi will be one of the handful of cities around the world where the hospitality industry is continuing to grow,” Kyriakidis said. “It’s defying gravity in terms of performance. Investment in tourism projects is continuing unabated by the economic crisis around the world.”
Financing for the Park Hyatt development is being provided by local and international banks, said Neal Edmonds, the group director of technical services at ADNH.
Mr Riley said ADNH was expecting a soft economy and lower construction costs might help reduce the total price of the project. The hotel was first announced in September 2008, during the UAE’s building boom.
The resort will have 316 rooms, suites and villas, and four restaurants. Al Jaber Engineering and Contracting is the main contractor for the project. The TDIC, Saadiyat’s master developer, said last month that falling construction costs had affected the estimated cost of the entire Saadiyat development, which originally carried a price tag of $27 billion.
Mr Riley said he saw more room for luxury hotels in the capital, as well as mid-range hotels. The company’s properties include Le Meridien and Hilton hotels in Abu Dhabi. “With the cultural Saadiyat project, Abu Dhabi is positioning itself properly and the market hasn’t matured in Abu Dhabi like it has in Dubai,” he said.
Data from STR Global show that hotel rooms in Abu Dhabi have among the highest margins in the world, largely due to a limited supply of quality rooms in the capital.
But the ADTA recently cut its forecast for hotel guests from 2.7 million by 2012 to 2.3 million because of the global economic slowdown. The revised forecast is still more than a 50 per cent rise on last year’s numbers.
Over the next four years, ADNH plans to develop about 2,200 rooms, most of which will be in the UAE. It posted net profits of Dh150.7 million ($41.2 million) for the first quarter of 2009, a 10.40% increase over the same period last year. The company has two new properties in Dubai , the Al Diar hotel in Al Barsha and the Sofitel at Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR)..
Pressure on hotel occupancy rates
Abu Dhabi had hoped to lure 2.7 million guests annually by 2012 with a mixture of sun and sand, and cultural and sporting attractions, but the global financial crisis could now delay reaching that target by up to two years, said Lawrence Franklin, director of strategy and policy at the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA).
“If there is any revision in the targets it will mean ... we may hit where we wanted to be in 2012 a couple of years later down the track,” Franklin told Maktoob Business in a telephone interview.
“In terms of the numbers of people we are expecting, the projected (number) might not be reached until 2013 or 2014.”
Franklin said the ADTA was still on course to achieve its target of doubling the hotel rooms in the emirate to 25,000 by 2012, but with so many rooms coming online and less people than expected staying in hotels occupancy rates were likely to suffer.
“Occupancy rates in 2008 remained good with an average of around 84 percent, but the trendline into 2009 as declined. ... In the future the figure could drop to maybe around 70 percent. But even if that happens we would remain above the global average,” he said.
Analysts have highlighted Abu Dhabi as one of the bright spots in the Middle East’s struggling tourism sector thanks, in part, to its relative undersupply of hotel rooms.
Deloitte said Abu Dhabi took the top spot in the Middle East in terms of occupancy, average room rates and RevPAR during the first quarter.
Tourism is a major part of Abu Dhabi’s efforts to diversify its economy away from oil. The UAE is one of the world’s largest oil exporters, with Abu Dhabi accounting for the bulk of exports.
As part of the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, its economic growth strategy, the government has set a target of attracting 7.9 million tourists per year by 2030 and boost hotel rooms in the emirate to 74,000.
Franklin said he was unable to comment as to whether targets set for 2030 were still achievable.
“The longer term vision and figures are staying as they are. It’s not our role to review the policy behind these targets,” he said.
Part of Abu Dhabi’s efforts to attract tourists include the construction of museums such as the Guggenheim and the Louvre, and a Formula One track.
The global economic downturn has seen billions of dollars worth of projects cancelled or put on hold across the Gulf, but Franklin said all projects were still on track.
“The government is unwavering in its commitment and support to the iconic projects which have been announced and talked about for a long time,” he said.
“There are no plans to change time lines any of those cultural projects.” (Maktoob Business)
The emirate is the largest in the country, geographically. It is also the wealthiest as the vast majority of oil reserves in the UAE are found here. The population is second to Dubai, but is growing fast. The city of Abu Dhabi (carrying the same name as the emirate) is on an island aout 250 metres from the mainland, connected by the Maqta and Mussafah Bridges. Another bridge, designed by Zaha Hadid, is presently being built. Bridges linking to Reem Island and Saadiyat Island are also underway and will be ready by 2011.
Although the core of the city is on the island, certain suburbs, such as the Khalifa Cities, Between Two Bridges, and Mussafah Residential, are situated on the nearby mainland.
The ruler of Abu Dhabi, and President of the country, is Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is the son of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first president of the United Arab Emirates.
The main airport serving the emirate is the Abu Dhabi International Airport, one of the fastest-growing airports in the world in terms of passengers, new airline operators, and expansion (the value of current expansion is estimated at $6.8 billion - U.S. dollars).
The airport is the second largest in the country, serving 6.9 million passengers in 2007, up 30% on the prior year. The Abu Dhabi airline Etihad Airways is one of the fastest-growing airlines in the world, and fly's to an ever-widening list of destinations throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, the U.S., Africa, and of course within the Gulf. Other airlines using the airport as passenger carriers or for cargo include Air Blue (Pakistan), Air India, Air India Express, Biman Bangladesh Airlines, British Airways, Cargoitalia (Italy), Cargolux (Luxembourg), China Airlines, China Airlines Cargo, Egypt Air, Etihad Crytal Cargo, Ethiopian Airlines, GMG Airlines (Bangladesh), Gulf Air (Bahrain), Iran Aseman Airlines, Jet Airways (India), Kam Air (Afghanistan), KLM (Netherlands), Kuwait Airways, Lufthansa (Germany), Lufthansa Cargo, Martinair (Netherlands), Martinair Cargo, Maximus (global), Middle East Airlines (Lebanon), Oman Air, Pakistn International Airlines, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Shaheen Air International (Pakstan), Singapore Airlines, SriLankan Airlines, Sudan Airways, Syrian Arab Airlines, TAROM (Romania, Transaero (Russia), Turkish Airlines, Turkmenistan Airlines, Turkmenistan Airlines Cargo, and Yemenia.
Together with Etihad, the other international carriers link Abu Dhabi to most countries in the world, and a majority of the major global cities. Etihad alone now connects to Almaty, Amman, Bahrain, Bangkok, Beijing, Beirut, Brisbane, Brussels, Cairo, Casablanca, Chennai, Damascus, Dammam, Delhi, Dhaka, Doha, Dublin, Frankfurt, Geneva, Islamabad, Jakarta, Jeddah, Johannesburg, Karachi, Kathmandu, Khartoum, Kochi, Kozhikode, Kuala Lumpur, Kuwait, Lahore, London-Heathrow, Manchester, Manila, Melbourne [from March 2009], Milan, Minsk, Moscow, Mumbai, Munich, Muscat, New York-JFK, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Peshawar, Riyadh, Singapore, Sydney, Tehran-Imam Khomeini, Thiruvananthapuram, and Toronto.
The new (third) terminal at the airport increases the capacity to twelve million passengers a year. Aviation authorities anticipate passenger numbers will reach this level by 2011.
Development work has also started on a major new passenger terminal, to be situated between the two runways and known as the Midfield Terminal. Upon completion in 2012, the Midfield Terminal will take the airport's passenger capacity to more than twenty million a year.
Being one of the world's top oil producers, the emirate has been busily diversifying its economy for the time when oil runs out. The city and emirate are active in developing tourism, hence the investment in new hotels, and the airport. It has also become a haven for real estate devlopers and a number of mega projects are now under development. With the rapidly growing population there is a huge demand for housing and as estates, and apartment towers are completed, those not already bought off the plan are being snapped up by anxious buyers. The rental market in Dubai is so strong the government has imposed a rent cap to limit growt in rental rates.
Abu Dhabi is undoubtedly a city of the future, and with its ever-sprawlign emirate-wide development, it promises to be a beacon for international, Gulf, and local tourists for millennia to come.
Abu Dhabi International Airport records 7.9% increase in passengers in March 2009
Passenger traffic at Abu Dhabi's airport climbed 7.9% in March, from 687,000 to 741,000. Cargo also accelerated, putting in 2% growth.
For the thrtee months to March 31 2009 passenger traffic growth was even higher, up 9.4% percent to 2.188 million.
Much of the increase came on two routes. Traffic to India increased 32.00% while passenger growth to Pakistan rose 12.70%.
"We expect Abu Dhabi’s popularity as a destination for commerce and tourism to continue to increase," Mohammed al-Bulooki, a vice president at Abu Dhabi Airports said. "All of this contributes to our expansion plan to increase capacity and improve our facilities at Abu Dhabi International Airport."
The second edition of Abu Dhabi Yacht Show
The show got underway in late February 2010 at the newly-built Yas Marina, showcasing 30 superyachts and about 140 exhibitors from around the world.
A ceremonial opening of the three-day show, which had been previously cancelled due to the death of Shaikh Mubarak Bin Mohammad Al Nahyan heralded the opening.
There were limited visitors in the first half of the opening day, but arrivals picked up ahead of up over the weekend.
The organisers are expecting around 10,000 visitors during the event, more than the 7,000 visitors who came for the 2009 show.
The 2010 yacht show has on display, and on sale, yachts whose prices, depending on size, could go well above $100 million (Dh367 million). The show is displaying yachts whose sizes range from 24 metres to more than 100 metres.
The exhibitor line-up includes shipbuilders, charterers, brokerage houses, marine support services, yacht registries and interior designers from the US, UK, Monaco, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the Baltic states.
The exhibitors include US shipyard Westport, Dutch heavyweight Feadship and other Superyacht Builders Association (SYBAss) members such as Amels BV of the Netherlands, Fincantieri Yachts of Italy, the USA's Burger Boat Company and Trinity Yachts, alongside Abu Dhabi Marina developer Aldar Properties, regional vessel builders Abu Dhabi MAR Group and Gulf Craft, and yacht managers and distributers Art Marine.
The Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) is the headline sponsor for the yacht show.HOTEL REVIEWS
We have visited a large number of Abu Dhabi's hotels to review their establishments, their amentities, and their services. We feature a selection of these below. Additions will be made to the list as more hotels are studied, some of these of course are still in the construction stage.
One hotel we haven't had a reviewer stay at, but which should be covered of course is the Emirates Palace. In the absence of a review, which is pending, we provide an overview.
The hotel is located about three kilometres from the city centre near major businesshouses, shopping malls and local attractions. It has 302 standard (Grand rooms) and 92 luxurious suites. All rooms are very spacious, even the standard rooms are 55 square metres. We took a walk through the beautifully landscaped grounds, and into the major lobby, lounge, and restaurant aea. There were numerous shops, the ceilings are gigantic, and everything about this sprawling property is grand. The hotel's official Web site is www.emiratespalace.com and sets out all the information you could possibly need about the hotel. It provides a map, virtual tours, past guest comments, details about the restaurants, bars, meeting spaces, and spa; an events calendar, and a list of awards the hotel has won. The hotel is managed by Kempinski, the German hotel chain founded in 1897. The postal address of the hotel is P.O. Box 39999, West End Corniche, Abu Dhabi, UAE, and the hotel can be contacted by telephone at +971 2 690 9000, by facsimile at +971 2 690 9999, or by email: email@example.com
Number of hotels in Abu Dhabi to more than double
The room inventory in the emirate is expected to increase from 12,000 to 26,000 by the year 2012, according to the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority. The focus on expanding the sector underlines the impetus the government is placing on tourism.
"Abu Dhabi's hotel room inventory will be in excess of 26,000 in 2012 and the destination is also rapidly developing international convention expertise to ensure its success as a major global meetings destination," the chairman of the authority Shaikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan has said.
"This tourism sector has higher economic returns, delivering between seven-to-nine times more income to a destination than leisure tourism," he said.
The authority had expected visitors to the emirate to reach 2.7 million by 2012, however this now appears optimistic. It is however in line with a five year strategic plan developed by the government. A number of initiatives and promotions are in place to achievethe objective. Among them is a Dh 25 billion upgrade of the international airport now underway.
Abu Dhabi has numerous attractions and has attracted major events, many of them international to the city and emirate. Following are links to the Web sites of some of the major tourism players in Abu Dhabi:
|Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority||http://www.abudhabitourism.ae/en/|
Emirates Palace Hotel
|Visit Abu Dhabi||http://www.visitabudhabi.ae/|
|Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage||http://www.cultural.org.ae/|
|Abu Dhabi Tourism Champions||http://www.abudhabichampions.com/index.aspx|
|Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company||http://www.adnec.ae/|
|Explore Abu Dhabi||http://www.exploreabudhabi.ae/|
|Explore Al Ain||http://www.alain.ae/|
|Abu Dhabi e-Government||http://www.abudhabi.ae/|
|Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing-Dubai||http://www.dubaitourism.ae/|
|Abu Dhabi National Hotels||http://adnh.com/site/|
|the Gulf Incentive||http://www.gibtm.travel/|
Abu Dhabi National Hotels
Founded more than twenty five years ago to fund the purchase of 3 hotels from the government, Abu Dhabi National Hotels has developed in both size and diversity into a quality, broad based Hotel, Tourism, Transport and Catering group. Today ADNH interests span all sectors of the hospitality industry, and includes the ownership and representation of 5-star hotels in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. The company also has the Al Diar Hotels division, which has nine executive hotels. ADNH in partnership with major Abu Dhabi institutions additionally has investment interests in hotels and resorts internationally.
Soon after the inception of ADNH, a catering division was established to broaden the company’s horizons.
A cleaning business ensued which ahs grown into a major enterprise servicing a range of businesses and infrastructure including offices, airports and hotels.
In January 2001, ADNH created a joint venture with Cornpass, the UK based catering group for its catering interests. Compass Group is the worlds largest catering and services company, operating in over 94 countries.
In 1986, the company took a pioneering step with the establishment of the tourism division, Sunshine Tours.
In the same year, ADNH started a taxi and chauffeur-driven car service to offer services to the growing business and tourism industry. Al Ghazal Transport has now grown to become an integral part of the travel infrastructure within Abu Dhabi and the neighboring emirates. The division is also engaged in fleet leasing and car rental for short, medium and long-term contracts. In addition Al Ghazal operates a large fleet of bus and coach vehicles catering to a wide range of local institutions and public transportation entities.