Far from being threatened by the massive development of Abu Dhabi’s Al Raha Beach area, Kamel Zayati, general manager of the well established Al Raha Beach Hotel in the heart of the building zone is confident the hotel will on the contrary, thrive.
“I think we are lucky as we are the pioneers in this area – the hotel is well established and well positioned, and the hotel will benefit from the location of the whole Al Raha beach development, which is going to be a destination. As long as we continue to provide the good service we have already, we will benefit from this development,” he said.
The Al Raha beach area is a district of the capital city being developed by Aldar, the Abu Dhabi based property developer, which has started an 11 kilometre long mixed use development programme.
Al Raha Beach Hotel opened in January 2005 and is managed by Danat Hotels and Resorts, a division of the National Corporation for Tourism and Hotels.
Expansion plans are due to be announced at this ITB in Berlin says Zayati, once the extension design have been finalised by the owning company. “”We hope to double the capacity of the hotel, adding more restaurants, a new spa and other facilities. We have not always been able to provide enough rooms – the demand is sometimes so high from the leisure market - which is why we are going for an extension.”
The work may start in March and is hoped to be ready for June 2009 in time for the Formula One to be held for the first time in Abu Dhabi.
The biggest challenges facing the hotel this year is that of manpower. “The staff turnover is extremely high and it is not going to improve over the next few years because of the many hotels that are going to open in Dubai just next to us,” Zayati said. “This is going to make it more of a challenge to retain staff.”
The hotel loses staff to Dubai hotels because the emirate offers higher salaries and a more exciting lifestyle which lures many of the younger generation. “Of course, they don’t realise the high cost of living in Dubai until it is too late.”
Abu Dhabi hotels are going to start to open too within the next 12 to 18 months bringing maybe another 45,000 rooms to the area. However, the hotel is not losing to Abu Dhabi hotels as yet, due to the hotel offering motivation programmes, career development paths, promotions and a good living standard for the staff.
Al Raha Beach Hotel is a 10 minute drive from Abu Dhabi Airport and 20 minutes from the Abu Dhabi city centre and 45 minutes drive from Dubai. It is a member of the Preferred Hotels and Resorts offering at present 110 spacious rooms plus 24 two, three or four bedroom luxury villas.
Azur is a new restaurant due to open by the end of the month, and will offer Mediterranean fare. Hotel amenities include a 900 metre beach, two indoor and two outdoor swimming pools, a Body and Soul health club and spa including steam and sauna rooms, jacuzzi’s and a range of massages and treatments.
MICE facilities include a selection of meeting rooms and the Abu Dhabi grand ballroom that caters for up to 500 people. Outside, the landscaped terraces can accommodate up to 1000 guests.
VIP guests can also be hosted in one of the five royal suites or the resorts luxury villas with private security entrances and parking for each villa plus their own private beach, pool and clubhouse.