Danat leads Abu Dhabi’s hotel sector
DANAT Hotels & Resorts has emerged as a dominant player in the UAE’s hospitality sector, holding the largest hotel portfolio in the emirate of Abu Dhabi and literally taking ownership of the west coast of the UAE, with the majority of upscale properties there flying the Danat flag.
The company follows a carefully-constructed strategy to capitalise on the Abu Dhabi government’s plan to increase visitor numbers four-fold within the next ten years and ultimately taking the growing hotel collection to the forefront of hospitality in 2006. Part of this strategy is a tie-up with Preferred Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, boasting a collection of more than 130 independently owned and operated properties in 21 countries.
Says the company’s Kate Beaven, “Danat’s five-star portfolio is a selection of luxury city and resort properties, whose individuality and distinctive style reflects aspects of the tradition, customs and culture of their location. All properties provide the high service standards that are expected by today’s international travellers.”
The emirate of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, was recently nominated by the UK’s Sunday Times as a Hot Spot for the year to come. According to Kamel Zayati, general manager at Abu Dhabi’s first deluxe boutique hotel, the Al Raha Beach Hotel, the UAE capital is set for a boom in 2006, according to the general manager of its newest five-star hotel, the Al Raha Beach Hotel. “Abu Dhabi is hitting the headlines for all the right reasons. We have all the sun, sea and sand of other regional destinations, but with a new twist. Abu Dhabi can offer value for money, a relaxed atmosphere and real getaway environment, with golf and deep-sea fishing to spas, desert sands and every ‘shop until you drop’ opportunity.”
While the capital’s hospitality sector has traditionally focused on government and corporate bookings, new and planned resorts are bringing an additional element of leisure in to the business mix, one that has coincided with the demand for new destinations from overseas travel operators.
“Abu Dhabi has been one of Arabia’s secrets, certainly in terms of tourism, but now we will begin to see the emirate catching up with its neighbours as the travel trade learns of its capabilities… and already the reaction of tourists has been very positive,” says Zayati.
The first deluxe boutique resort in the region, Al Raha Beach has 110 oversized rooms plus 24 beachside chalets and enjoys a prime location on the Al Raha corniche, close by the Abu Dhabi Golf Club and the international airport. Facilities include a health club and spa, indoor and outdoor pools, gym, squash and tennis courts, water sports, kids club and restaurant, plus a marina and adjacent shopping mall.
“With the increase in flights to Abu Dhabi on the national carrier, Etihad Airways, travelling to the Emirates is even easier, and this year we anticipate a jump in tourist numbers to the area,” says Zayti.
The brand’s other properties include its flagship five-star 109-room Danat Resort Jebel Dhanna, a deluxe resort located 240 km west of Abu Dhabi city opposite the Sir Bani Yas island nature reserve. As the first five-star hotel on the emirate’s west coast, it boasts exceptional facilities aimed at attracting regional visitors on short breaks, overseas tourists, plus corporations seeking a new venue for either meetings, incentive travel events, or team-building trips.
Danat Hotels & Resorts was created from the National Corporation for Tourism & Hotels (NCT&H), a semi-government joint venture with the Abu Dhabi Investment Company, and a shareholder base of UAE Nationals. The corporation owns InterContinental Abu Dhabi, InterContinental Al Ain, and has targeted the Moroccan hospitality sector for its first overseas investment, acquiring a 15 per cent stake in the Hilton Rabat in Morocco. It has also been appointed as owner’s representative by Daewoo Rabat SA (the listed name for the property), and oversees the management of the hotel by Hilton International.
“Danat also meets the needs of the rapidly expanding four-star market by offering first class accommodation and facilities,” says Beaven, citing the group’s Mirfa and Mafraq hotels, the Dhafra Beach Hotel and the Liwa Hotel.
The Liwa Hotel, set amid the region’s highest sand dunes, offers a unique perspective of the desert as a true oasis. Opened in 2001, the property has 66 rooms and suites plus three luxury villas with private pools and extensive recreation facilities including tennis and volleyball courts, gym, pool, sauna and steam rooms, Internet café, children’s playground and a range of food and beverage options – from international cuisine and terrace dining to Arabian fantasy tents for authentic regional banquets.
The 50-room Mirfa Hotel is situated on the Abu Dhabi-Sila highway, while the 120-room Mafraq Hotel, near Abu Dhabi International Airport on the edge of the desert, has state-of-the-art business facilities, but also features a wealth of attractions for the weekend leisure market.
The Dhafra Beach Hotel is located in extensive gardens, with an on-site 9-hole, par 68, golf course. All 196 rooms are spacious and air-conditioned and include six suites and a royal suite. The property is located in the western region of the emirate of Abu Dhabi, on the Abu Dhabi-Sila highway.