Hotel set for expansion
Sheraton Heliopolis is set for a multi-million dollar expansion, it was announced recently.The property will soon have an extra 300-room, free-standing hotel plus international conference centre and spa. The owners of the hotel, The Gulf Egypt Company for Hotels and Tourism, is investing $35-$40 million on the new facilities. The 588-room Cairo property will have 900 rooms after the expansion programme is completed, according to Valentino Bertolini, the general manager. Construction will begin in October-November this year and is expected to be completed in 20 months. The Sheraton Heliopolis complex will employ a 1,600 strong workforce and the new conference centre will be able to cater for at least 2,000 people. "The new, free-standing building will be a deluxe property and a new, state-of-the-art conference centre is needed in Cairo, as there is great demand for conferences in Egypt nowadays", said Bertolini. Conferences that the Sheraton Heliopolis has hosted in the last three years include the G15 summit, African Development Bank conference, Arab Regional Conference for Education, African European Conference, G8 conference, Arab Conference 2000, first Arab Ladies Summit and African Child Forum. "Demand is there for the facilities we are adding here at the Heliopolis. Cairo is a magnet - it received 4.5 million visitors last year and arrivals increase 6-7 per cent year," said Bertolini. Opened in 1979, Sheraton Heliopolis was the second Sheraton hotel built in Egypt. Former US presidents Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon stayed at the hotel in 1981, when they were in Cairo for the funeral of President Sadat. The hotel was closed for several years and reopened in 1997 after major renovations. Sheraton Heliopolis Hotel & Towers is one of the top properties on the Middle East portfolio of Starwood Hotels & Resorts worldwide Inc.