The landmark Sheraton Abu Dhabi Resort and Towers reopened 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.
The project will be completely finished next July revealing the final 172 refurbished guest-rooms. A new nightclub Zenith, certain to be a trendsetter in the Middle East, will open at roughly the same time.
The architects 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 centre piece 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.
"Currently, the clientele here is from the business and government sector, but tourism is growing at a rapid rate, mainly families from around the GCC states," adds van Meerendonk.
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
Published monthly by Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group, the region’s foremost trade publisher, TTN is aimed at professionals in the industry, from travel agents to airline and hotel personnel.
TTN provides in-depth and extensive coverage of relevant issues in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in other parts of the world. Travel related news, analysis, and new appointments together with information on up-coming exhibitions, marketing and promotional campaigns are presented in an innovative and striking colour tabloid.
Every issue also contains a collation of international and regional news and topical features of interest to readers.