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Tue 4 Sep 2007 04:00 AM

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First look at Westin’s Middle East debut

When the 293-room Westin Mina Seyahi opens its doors in December this year, guests will get their first glimpse of the Westin brand in the Middle East.

When the 293-room Westin Mina Seyahi opens its doors in December this year, guests will get their first glimpse of the Westin brand in the Middle East.

Hotel manager Ko van den Hil said the property would include 10 F&B outlets, 11 individual boardrooms and an 850m2 ballroom.

"We are going to be concentrating heavily on the conference and banqueting, and the MICE and incentives market," he said.

"We think we can do a good 20% in the MICE [market] section, and a further 25% in the corporate section, and the rest will be from the leisure market. This is our plan for the first year, but the significance of Dubai as a MICE market is only going to get bigger and bigger, so we expect it to change later on."

The property had already attracted interest, with several groups booking in the first two quarters of next year, van den Hil said.

Food and beverage director Anthony Ware said the property's three restaurants would include a 350-seater all day-dining restaurant, steak restaurant and an international themed restaurant, focussing on the Far East.

"It will rely heavily on spices from around the world, [in terms of] the flavours and the colours," he said.

In addition to a dining bar and vodka concept bar, the hotel would also offer a wine bar concept.

"We are recruiting a sommelier with character who is going to oversee the winebar," Ware added.

"There will be a temperature controlled wine room, with tasting tables and wine available from all around the world, and there will also be an acclimatised cheese room, which will showcase various cheeses. The cheese will be available not only in the wine bar, but also from a retail point of view for people to take home with them."

The hotel was relying on traditional labour feeder markets such as the Phillipines, India and Sri Lanka to recruit staff, but was also visiting new markets such as Moscow and Uzbekistan to source Russian speaking staff, van den Hil said.

"In [Starwood's] portfolio we are positioned just below the Luxury Collection, but above the Sheraton brand, which puts us in the league locally of Ritz-Carlton," he added. "We have positioned ourselves in the range of the five-stars such as the Ritz-Carlton, the One&Only Royal Mirage, Grosvenor House - they are basically going to be the main competitors."

Ware added that the brand had stimulated a high level of anticipation in the region.

"A lot of people have stayed in Westin hotels around the world, so there is an expectation of what we are going to be offering," he said.

"There is a big interest in this hotel coming into the market, especially the concept and the idea behind the brand. Westin as a brand is gathering momentum not only in the Middle East, but also over the whole world - it is a very welcome brand to the Dubai market."

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