The charm of The Palm

As people start moving in on the first of Dubai’s palm-shaped islands, TTN’s SHALU CHANDRAN sits down with Johann Schumacher, managing director, The Palm Jumeirah, to look at how the new project is impacting tourism
Occupancies are on the rise at The Palm Jumeirah

How different is the Palm Jumeirah?
We are the smallest and the first. It’s very exciting and very challenging. These sorts of projects have never been done before. Five years ago, we only had the ocean here. Now, we have about 1000 people actually living on the Palm

How are the new mega-projects on The Palm Jumeirah going to change the face tourism in Dubai?
It’s actually quite exciting. The Palm is actually a mixed environment. There are about 30 hotels with private beach frontages. Where else in Dubai can you find so many to choose from? Think of all the choice – you can stay in one hotel, enjoy the facilities they offer and then walk down to the next one and enjoy what the others have to offer. It’s really going to be an exciting place for tourists to come and visit.

When can we expect to see some of these projects?
Atlantis will be the first one and will be ready towards the end of next year. Over 1500 rooms in the big water park there, which is very exciting for us.

And you are clearly targeting the luxury sector? Or does the budget element creep in?
I think there are a lot of different sort of hotels there. For eg, the Trump hotel, it is not a beach hotel, but is more on the business hotel category. Yes, a lot of hotels are around the leisure and resort category but that’s because of the location with the beach amenities there.

What is the kind of investment in this project?
A lot of the investment is third party investments, so I don’t have those figures. Nakheel is the master developer, and have created The Palm as a community environment where they have actually sold land to hotel developers who have made big investments in creating their own brand name. Developers like the One&Only, Kerzner Group, IFA, Moevenpick and a lot of other individual hotels have come and invested for hotel properties on the Palm.

So what’s the latest of the new developments?
What we have on the Palm Jumeirah currently is very exciting. We have all the Shoreline buildings, 20 residential buildings are now complete, 2400 apartments, with about 600-700 residences occupied about 850 villas now complete and occupancy of about 300 people. With the summer months just over, a lot of people are moving into their villas now and that number is going to accelerate as we approach the end of the year.
Then we also have some more developments that Nakheel is putting together like the Marina apartments overlooking the crescent marina; the Trump tower, where we are about to place tenders and work will start on site towards the end of the year; the berthing of the QE2 – we are working on available locations at the moment and how that will fit in. And these are just the Nakheel developments.
We then have all the third-party developments that are happening on the crescent, and a number of those hotels have started construction. Almost 60 per cent of the land area there is currently under construction.

What about the Trump Hotel?
The Trump Tower is a Nakheel development. It is a mixed development project with a hotel and high-end apartments. Since it’s a Nakheel project, it’s a Nakheel investment as well going into billions. This is the only hotel that we are developing with Nakheel. We haven’t launched the project yet, so we haven’t sold it yet. We are confident about the brand and the development, so and The Palm is being built, its there for people to see. So we will stand by the quality and standard of the product that we are going to deliver.