The Sheraton Abu Dhabi Resort and Towers reopened in April of this year after a three-year, $40 million refurbishment.
"The project was ambitious, but it has been a massive success. This is a special day for the owning company, for Starwood and the UAE. The property is an integral part of the local community," says Robert van Meerendonk, general manager of the hotel.
Van Meerendonk paid tribute to the "vision" of the property's owning company, Abu Dhabi National Hotels.
Van Meerendonk says the revamped Sheraton Abu Dhabi Resort and Towers "goes beyond a renovation - it's a work of art" and is testimony to the owning company's "total commitment to quality hospitality in the UAE capital."
The general manager stressed that the work was carried out in phases, guaranteeing minimum disruption to guests.
The first stage of the project saw the completion of Palms Resort in the hotel complex. One hundred guest-rooms were refurbished in the second phase while stage three saw the reopening of the magnificent lobby, the Conference and banquet area and the restaurants.
Although it has officially reopened, the project will be completely finished next July revealing the final 172 refurbished guest-rooms.
A new nightclub Zenith will open at roughly the same time.
The architects, Wilson Associates and main contractors Arabtec who oversaw the renovation since the project's inception have a wealth of experience in the Middle East. Hence, they were keen to maintain the exterior's overall look of an Arabic fort as well as the distinguished Middle Eastern interior.
"We've certainly kept with tradition - it is a renovation after all," says Michael Fiebrich of US architects Wilson Associates, who created the majority of the hotel's facelift.
"The Sheraton Abu Dhabi Resort and Towers is a famous hotel and the Arabic fort appearance is most definitely a major part of it. Abu Dhabi is such a cosmopolitan city these days so we needed to incorporate that aspect, but we definitely needed to maintain the Arabian culture."
The lobby with its grand staircase is the centerpiece of the new-look hotel.
Says Fiebrich: "The imposing new lobby makes for a much grander arrival. First impressions are vital. We actually added to the existing structure and the result is dramatic.
"We even flew in an artist from California who hand-painted and gilded the ceiling of the lobby. Italian marble has been used in the mosaics in the lobby. There is also a spectacular Arabic feature behind the reception.
"There's a bit of everything in the lobby - traditional, contemporary and international."
An extraordinary dome highlights the main entrance and another nestles above the award-winning restaurant, La Mamma. Local architects Khatib & Alami were recruited to add their expertise and ensure Middle Eastern authenticity.
Guestrooms are very contemporary in style although there is an Arabic mood from the lighting and the photographs on the walls.
Suites are also contemporary, according to the architects, but with a more prominent Arabic leaning, particular in the furniture. Suites boast dining room, two bedrooms and each suite has its own individual decor.
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