New year, new beginning

Kuwait is ready to make its mark in the world tourism map, writes SARA AL HAJI

KUWAIT is waiting to bounce back. And, by all accounts the country will end up exceeding all expectations.

With the dawn of the new year, it is full of hope and, if all goes well, 2005 is most likely to go down as the year when Kuwait is placed firmly on the world tourism map – what with a whopping 20 hotels receiving licenses to start operations.
In fact, hotels are springing up everywhere and many well-known chains are expanding to include two to five different brands under their umbrella. Among others, Le Meridien has just seen the opening of their new Le Meridien Tower (Art + Tech) Hotel and has plans to open more properties in the country while Safir International is due to open Safir Marina Hotel.
But that’s not all. More shopping malls are ready to open its doors while the existing ones are preparing to get bigger and better with a choice of more brands such as the French supermarket chain Carrefour. 
Clearly, Kuwait is pulling out all stops as it aims to becoming one of the most attractive destinations in the Gulf. Here’s a quick look at some highlights in the hospitality industry:

Refad Hotel & Resorts
The year 2004 saw the launch of the local inspiration behind Refad Hotels & Resorts. The introduction of a totally unique living concept does well to reflect and answer the growing global trend towards the specialisation of hospitality products – one that makes guests feel secure, relaxed and at home in any of Refad Hotels and Resorts’ properties. To achieve this, a very original chain of hotels and resorts has been established with the aim to elevate the concept of hospitality to new levels and to establish new precedents within the hospitality field.
Refad Hotels and Resorts provide and manage a range of hospitality solutions both internationally and regionally encompassing four innovative hotel concepts: The Monarch, The Square, Refad Resorts and Four Stars.

The Palms Beach Hotel & Spa
Another unique boutique hotel with spa facilities, The Palms Beach Hotel & Spa is located on the Arabian Gulf Street overlooking a spectacular beach strip with soft golden sands. The grounds are carefully manicured with exotic flowers and trees and beautifully designed gardens. A perfect getaway from it all, it is also strategically situated not too far from the major shopping district of Salmiya.
The Palms experience includes a variety of outdoor and indoor sports activities with professional trainers and, to relieve the stress of daily life, there’s the Orchid Spa with its international therapists offering paralleled a wide variety of massages. Guests and visitors can also enjoy a range of dining experiences and culinary delights from the Far East to Europe and almost anywhere in between in any of the resorts five restaurants.

Eating out
Kuwait now has many new restaurants with innovative concepts feeding one one’s epicurean demands. Among them is Café Blanc, a new concept café/restaurant with a unique twist on Lebanese cuisine at Marina Crescent. The charm of familiar dishes served with heart-warming traditional hospitality has helped create a unique experience. The name Café Blanc is a reference to a cherished tradition loved by generations old and new. A name derived from a drink that holds a special place in the heart of every Lebanese as the perfect ending to a perfect meal.  Likewise at Café Blanc, they aim to bring their customers an unforgettable culinary experience that can leave you satisfied in so many ways. This new food entertainment concept offers a creative unique design, and inviting and comfortable interior in addition to a unique menu and merchandising idea.
Another restaurant prized for its innovative menu is the Blue Fig which is a casual, culturally-themed café targeting both young and old. Its concept involves rich facets from diverse universal cultures and it leisurely introduces its guest to art, books, food and music that correspond with culture, festivals and countries celebrated at the café. What’s more, attractive digital projections allow the guests to enjoy the rich world cultures.
The Blue Fig introduces new artists using its walls as galleries for them to exhibit and sell their artwork at the café. The artistic agenda is combined with live musical performances by a number of amateur local and Arab talents.