By Claire Ferris-Lay
US hotel chain says no current talks but keen to expand presence in UAE capital
Hilton Worldwide would ‘love’ to open a hotel under its Waldorf Astoria brand in Abu Dhabi as it looks to increase its footprint in the emirate, its president and CEO said.
The hotel operator, whose brands include Waldorf Astoria, Embassy Suites and Hampton Inn & Suites, said it plans to nearly double its presence in the Middle East as the region becomes increasingly important to its overall operations.
“Yes, we would love to have a Waldorf Astoria in Abu Dhabi,” Christopher Nassetta said.
The US-based operator is not currently in any talks but confirmed it is “always talking” about expansion, he added.
Hilton on Monday said it would open its first Waldorf Astoria in Dubai following a deal with local conglomerate Al Habtoor Group. The AED1bn ($272m) Palm Jumeirah resort is expected to open to guests by 2013.
The hotel will be the second Waldorf Astoria in the UAE, following the opening of Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah at the end of 2012.
Hilton, which runs more than 3,600 hotels across the world, is ramping up its expansion in fast growing markets in Europe, Asia and Latin America.
The firm has signed 18 new hotels in the Middle East and Africa this year, taking its total number of hotels in the development pipeline in the region to 40.
The firm - founded by Conrad Hilton, the great-grandfather of US celebrity socialite Paris Hilton - said it expects to confirm more deals before the year end.
“We’re not done; we’ll do more signings. So really over the next few years we’re going to double our presence in the Middle East and Africa,” said Nassetta.
Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia will be core markets for growth, he added.
“We’re not as well represented as I would like us to be in Abu Dhabi. We’re there….but I think we have growth opportunities
“We’re working on deals in all the major areas but it’s a lot of UAE and Saudi,” he added.
Hilton, acquired by the Blackstone Group in 2007, currently operates 53 properties across the Middle East and Africa. The operator in September announced plans to open its first hotel, under its DoubleTree Suites brand, in Erbil, the capital city of Iraqi Kurdistan.For all the latest travel news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.