Complex Made Simple

Hilton to open Waldorf Astoria in Dubai on Palm Jumeirah

UAE-based Al Habtoor Group has announced that it is teaming up with Hilton Worldwide to develop the first Waldorf Astoria hotel in Dubai on the Palm Jumeirah. The company has also selected Hilton to manage its two hotels in Lebanon, which marks the first time that Hilton will be entering the Lebanese market.

Work on Al Habtoor’s Dhs1bn ($272m) hotel project on Palm Jumeirah began in 2007 but was put on hold the following year due to the global economic crisis. However, the developer announced last month it would restart construction work on the 324-room hotel and this week said the property would be managed under Hilton’s Waldorf Astoria brand.

The hotel, which was originally intended to be managed by Al Habtoor, has now been redesigned since and is scheduled to open at the end of 2013. “Waldorf Astoria’s heritage and prestige is a perfect fit for Dubai and it is exactly the right time for this luxury brand to join the expanding number of properties we have planned in the UAE,” said Christopher Nassetta, president and chief executive officer, Hilton Worldwide.

The first luxury hotel from the Waldorf Astoria & Resorts brand in Dubai will feature four signature restaurants, two bars, a private beach, health club and spa and a 600-capacity ballroom. It will be the second Waldorf Astoria in the UAE, following the opening of Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah at the end of 2012.

Competition rising on Palm Jumeirah

The hotel will be the latest addition to a growing number of hotels on the man-made island. Over 30 hotels were initially planned for Palm Jumeirah when it was first unveiled, but many projects were delayed or scrapped altogether due to the global financial crisis.

In 2008, the much-hyped Atlantis, The Palm, became the first hotel to open on the development, but the 1,500 room behemoth remained the only hotel on the island until the 90-room One&Only The Palm opened in November last year.

Since then, the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray (405 rooms) has opened, in January, and last month the Kempinski Hotel & Residences Palm Jumeirah became the fourth luxury hotel to open on the island.

In addition, Rixos Hotels recently announced that Rixos Residences Palm Jumeirah, a combined hotel and residence project, will open in December. Also slated to open its doors in the near future is Movenpick’s 293-room Royal Amwaj.

Expansion into Lebanese market

Hilton also signed agreements to manage two existing hotels owned by Al Habtoor in Lebanon. The Beirut Habtoor Grand and Beirut Metropolitan Palace will be converted to the Hilton Hotels and Resorts brand, and will be the operator’s first hotels in that country. The hotels previously had been managed by Al Habtoor Group through its in-house brand.

“Beirut is one of the liveliest cities in the world and a leading gateway destination between the east and west. We have been looking forward to entering Lebanon and are very pleased that we are able to do so with this calibre of properties,” Nasetta said.

Al Habtoor said that the company’s other existing hotels in Dubai – the Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa, Metropolitan Palace Hotel, Metropolitan Hotel and Metropolitan Hotel Deira -would continue to be managed by the Habtoor Hotels and Resorts brand.