'Encouraging' start for Al Dana resort

The new Novotel Al Dana Resort in Bahrain says it is encouraged by the interest since its soft-opening at the beginning of the month.

The BD10 million four-star resort has been developed by Al Jazeera Tourism Company along the Shaikh Hamad Causeway.

It is located at the southern side of the Manama-Muharraq lagoon and has 174 rooms.

General manager Philippe Montaubin says room occupancy rose above 10 per cent in the first week, and some guests have even checked out of other hotels to take a room there.

He is now anticipating a steady increase of visitors to Bahrain as the war in Iraq draws to a close.

"We expect it to get better and better. Especially now the situation in Iraq has calmed down a little bit.

"Airlines are starting to put Bahrain back on their route and everything is going to pick up. We will really start seeing the effect of that from next month.

"But we still consider this to be a pre-opening for our hotel."

Novotel comes under the umbrella of parent company Accor Hotels, which operates 3,800 hotels worldwide.

"We have opened our doors, but without making a big bang," said Montaubin.

"We are preparing an advertising campaign which will start soon to promote the fact that we are open.

"But most of our rooms are now ready and the swimming pool and fitness facilities are open."

The hotel has a 500-cubic metre swimming pool, three gyms, a private beach, water sports, shops, boutiques and a business centre.

It also has squash courts, tennis courts and a diving centre, which were added to the original plans.

There are also three restaurants, but two of them are not scheduled to open until next month.