'Promising start to year'

The Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi is the place the relax in the UAE capital.

The Crowne Plaza Hotel Abu Dhabi says it has started the year "very well" with high occupancy rates recorded during the first two months.

The hotel, located in the heart of the UAE capital and just 30 minutes drive from the emirate's international airport, says its operations are back to normal and it is optimistic about the outlook for this year.

"So far, we are performing right on target and the year has started very well for us. We hope that the situation will stay like this," said general manager Najib Bensouda.

The Abu Dhabi Crowne Plaza caters largely to business visitors to the UAE capital, a fact that shielded it from the worst effects of the downturn in business following the September 11 events.

Bensouda said 90 per cent of the guests at the hotel which also focused heavily on the MICE market, were business visitors with only 10 per cent being leisure guests.

"As a business hotel we haven't been affected that heavily as some of the hotels just focusing on the leisure market, especially in Dubai," said Bensouda.

He said travel in the region had picked up after the setbacks of September and the future of the industry in the looked "very promising, especially for the business travel sector".

"Due to expanding business projects in the energy and oil sector as well as in the IT industry there is plenty of potential for business travellers, conferences and exhibitions in future," said Bensouda.

"The leisure segment may have suffered heavily but it is also picking up and sooner or later people will consider the UAE again as a safe haven for relaxing holidays."

Bensouda said the hotel's focus on business travellers had been an advantage in the post-September 11 period.

"The Crowne Plaza Hotel Abu Dhabi concentrated mainly on the local market and GCC countries because companies of this region hadn't decreased their business trips by such a dramatic extent as the Europeans and Americans had," he said.

He said as part of the hotel's promotional programme for the year, the Abu Dhabi Crowne Plaza along with the Crowne Plaza in Dubai will launch a bookers program before summer.

The Crowne Plaza Hotel Abu Dhabi has 236 luxuriously appointed rooms including 49 suites.

Each room offers extensive facilities including air conditioning, satellite TV, a mini fridge, trouser press, safe deposit box, international direct dialing telephone and fax/modem outlets. Non-smoking rooms and rooms for disabled are also available.

The hotel has four Crowne Plaza Club floors, specifically designed with the business traveller in mind. The Club floors feature their own Club Lounge and a state-of-the-art business centre with secretarial and support services.

For conferences and seminars, there are 11 dedicated locations in the hotel which can cater for meetings from 2 to 400 persons.

Each meeting room has natural lighting and is provided with the latest audio-visual equipment.

With six restaurants and outlets, the hotel offers a varied dining and entertainment choice. The Nine, a contemporary restaurant, offers a delicious array of Mediterranean appetizers and main dishes as well as a wide selection of grills. The Wok serves a blend of Far-Eastern food and exotic meals while the Garden restaurant with its glass rooftop atrium plays host to a selection of regular theme nights.

The Vincent's Cocktail Bar is the perfect place to relax; Heroes Diner offers an extensive menu and a variety of live entertainment while the Cappuccinos Lobby CafŽ is the place to meet over coffee and cake or to linger over a light lunch.

For the more energetic, Powerfit Executive Health Centre is fully equipped to provide workout and massage. Whirlpool and saunas are also available.

The Crowne Plaza Beach Club is the perfect place to relax either on the beach or by the poolside and for the sports enthusiast, the Beach Club offers tennis, squash, beach volleyball, basketball and a gym.

The hotel has won several awards testifying to its outstanding services including the best hotel of the year award in 2000 and the best fundraiser for raising $16,776 on one evening for the charity organisation of the hotel chain, Give Kids The World.