Aldar, IHG Agree to Abu Dhabi Hotel Development Deal

Major Abu Dhabi real estate developer Aldar Properties has signed an agreement with Intercontinental Hotels Group to build hotels in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Aldar Properties will build a 430-room Crowne Plaza, and a 165-suite Staybridge Suites Hotel. Both are scheduled to begin construction shortly and to be completed by 2009. Aldar has also agreed to build an Intercontinental Hotel, scheduled for a 2011 opening. “Abu Dhabi offers huge growth potential for IHG,” said John Bamsey, (pictured), COO, Middle East and Africa, for IHG. “Abu Dhabi is investing $136 billion in developing business and tourism assets, and intends to increase visitor numbers from 1.35 million in 2006 to 3 million by 2015. Aldar Hotels and Hospitality is poised to play a major role in the development of Abu Dhabi’s hotel and hospitality sector.” “The hotels [Staybridge Suites, Crowne Plaza] both have components that are anticipated to appeal to both corporate and leisure travelers,” said Bamsey. The properties will be close to such leisure attractions such as the Formula One racetrack, the Ferrari Theme Park, and the Warner Brothers Theme Park. Robust conference facilities at the hotels will be an attraction to business travelers, he said. The Intercontinental, to be built at the Al Dan precinct at Aldar’s Al Raha beach development, will feature “cutting edge design,” he said. This is the second major hotel development agreement that Aldar has announced in recent months. In November, 2007, the firm signed agreements to develop four hotels that will be managed by Rotana, a leading hotel management company in the Middle East. The collaboration will deliver nearly 1,000 hotels rooms and serviced apartments at Aldar’s developments in Abu Dhabi. A wave of hotel and mixed-use development is planned for Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. In December, 2007, Otak International and Belbadi Enterprises was chosen by Abu Dhabi’s tourism development authority to design and develop the $435 million Al Bateen Wharf Hotel. The 580,000-square-foot hotel will feature a 15-story, 400-key hotel tower and a 14-story, 200-unit apartment tower with waterfront townhomes. The development will also include restaurants, retail, and a business/conference facility, a public marina, and a waterfront market and promenade. But an even bigger development was announced last November, as MGM Mirage announced it had partnered with Abu Dhabi Mubadala Development Co. on a $3 billion mixed-use project. Located on Abu Dhabi’s waterfront, MGM Grand Abu Dhabi will be constructed in phases, with the first segment occupying 50 acres and encompassing an MGM Grand Hotel and two MGM-branded hotels, offering an aggregate 1,200 guestrooms.There is sort of a friendly development rivalry between Abu Dhabi, which possesses great oil wealth, and Dubai, which has much less oil reserves, and thus is investing much money into fixed real estate assets, said Anwar Elgonemy, senior vice president of Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels. While characterizing Dubai as “Shanghai on steroids,” development in Abu Dhabi has taken a more elegant and understated direction, Elgonemy said. The IHG brands should find a home in Abu Dhabi, he predicted, and noted that Hyatt and Ritz Carlton Hotels there have been well-accepted.