The InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), the world’s most global hotel company, is set to fly the UAE flag for the country’s rapidly evolving tourism industry with the recent opening of InterContinental Abu Dhabi and the impending launch of three properties at Dubai Festival City (DFC) later this year.
The Dubai properties are part of a strategic plan to have 11 hotels and 5000 rooms in Dubai alone within the next three years, according to a company statement.
“The new properties in Abu Dhabi and at Dubai Festival City are all expected to be fully operational by the end of the year, with InterContinental Abu Dhabi already receiving guests from all over the world following the major renovations,” said Tom Rowntree, vice-president, sales and marketing, IHG, Middle East and Africa, citing World Travel and Tourism Council predictions that the UAE will be able to accommodate 14 million visitors annually by 2015. “Having prestigious properties in both markets give us an unrivalled opportunity to offer both regional and international guests the highest levels of service and ‘in the know’ destination experiences.”
With opening of the DFC properties expected late summer 2007, a successful recruitment drive across the hotels means that, on opening, more than 1200 employees from 45 countries will welcome guests.
On the interiors, London-based GA Design International is responsible for the stunning room designs, which balance luxury with practicality and modern designs. Hospitality specialists David B Tokiwa & Associates contributed sleek designs to F&B outlets and Asian interiors firm Super Potato is lending its talents to the creation of a contemporary coffee shop and the multi-station authentic Japanese restaurant.
A coup for the InterContinental DFC was the announcement that three-star Michelin chef Pierre Gagnaire will be based at the hotel, where he will run a signature restaurant called Reflets, serving Modern French.
Outside the hotel, the state-of-the-art conference centre that links the InterContinental and Crowne Plaza properties is almost complete and is set across an impressive 3,800sqm. It will offer a capacity of 1800 guests.
“The hotels already look like new landmarks of Dubai and are set to reaffirm our commitment to the development of the hospitality sector in the UAE and further consolidate our position as a leading hotel operator in the Middle East,” said Tom Meyer, general manager, InterContinental Hotels Group Dubai Festival City.
Meanwhile, with Abu Dhabi’s escalating growth in the hospitality sector – the capital’s hotel occupation rates during the first quarter of 2007 hit 90 per cent – the group is re-opening of InterContinental Abu Dhabi. While the hotel has enjoyed four major renovations in the past 25 years, the city’s dynamic growth meant a radical overhaul was required to cater for an increasingly discerning market.
Following the multi-million dirham programme initiated by owning company National Coporation for Tourism & Hotels, the majority of the hotel’s 390 rooms and suites are now available to guests as the management team are putting the final touches to the extensive choice of lavish food and beverage options and state-of-the-art facilities.
Ricardo Manriquez, area director of sales and marketing, IHG, UAE and Qatar, said, “InterContinental Abu Dhabi has been a landmark property in the UAE for over a quarter of a century and has played a major role in the development of the country’s capital. The stunning renovation has taken the hotel’s facilities to a new level and we are extremely proud of the new design concept and results have exceeded our expectations.”
Among the renovations are an extended Club InterContinental Lounge and restaurants including the elegant Piano Lounge and Selections, which offers a diverse mix of international cuisine.