Top 10 Middle East hotel openings of 2010

Hotelier Middle East chooses its list of the most important new hotels of the past year
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1. Armani Hotel Dubai\nLittle surprise at this hotel's entry into the Top 10 Hotel openings of 2010. There were skeptics who claimed this was a 'fluff' opening, but the noise surrounding the arrival of the world's first Armani hotel couldn't be ignored. All eyes were on Dubai for the right reasons and quite a stunning hotel was the focus. Room categories available include 24 Armani Studios, 44 Armani Classic rooms, 38 Armani Premiere rooms, 36 Armani Suites, six Armani Executive and six Armani Ambassador Suites, and five Armani Signature Suites. Alongside the 160 guest rooms and suites, the hotel features restaurants offering world cuisine ranging from Japanese and Indian to Mediterranean and Italian. Entertainment destinations include the region's first and only Armani/Prive club and the world's first in-hotel Armani/SPA, alongside Armani/Dolci, a chocolate and sweets store, Armani/Fiori, a flower shop, and Armani/Galleria, an Armani accessories store. Complementing the hotel and located on levels nine to 16 of Burj Khalifa are the Armani Residences, 144 luxurious private residences, which like the hotel have all been designed by Giorgio Armani. While there has been a noticeable adjustment in terms of rates to allow for the new economic climate, there has still been a healthy demand for those wanting to test the hype and most leave saying the experience matched if not surpassed it. (Image Courtesy: www.hoteliermiddleeast.com)
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2. Raffles Makkah Palace\nOnce in a while a project comes along that really captures the imagination and Raffles Makkah Palace is one of them. The hotel is situated in the very heart of Makkah and is part of the Mecca Royal Clock Tower development. Occupying 15 floors of the 32-story tower and containing 211 suites, the property offers panoramic views of the Grand Mosque and the Ka'aba below, and is situated just a few steps away from the main entrance to the Grand Mosque, King Abdulaziz Gate. Inside lies the spiritual heart of Islam, the Ka'aba (or House of God) said to have been built by Abraham and his son Ishmael around 2000 BCE. The Abraj Al Bait Complex, which contains Raffles Makkah Palace, also includes a premium four-story shopping mall, a commodious prayer hall that can accommodate up to 10,000 people, a convention centre for 1500 people, a museum and even a lunar observatory. The hotel offers something new at the very top end of the market for the pilgrims entering the Kingdom year after year. FAST FACT: The clock face on the tower is the largest in the world measuring 43m x 43m. (Image Courtesy: www.hoteliermiddleeast.com)
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3. easyHotel Jebel Ali\nMarking the entry of the easyHotel brand to the Middle East, this property is located inside the Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (JAFZA) secure compound with access from Sheikh Zayed Road. It symbolises the trend of budget properties opening in the emirate of Dubai as the city, known for its love of all things five-star, looks to diversify its offering. While the pipeline is still dominated by the upper-scale properties, the emergence of hotels such as easyHotel, CityMax and Premier Inn, as well as ibis, signals the arrival of the much-needed budget sector. This 216-room property boasts air conditioning in all bedrooms alongside wireless internet access and work desk space. Remember though that the business model for these hotels is you pay for any extra; Wi-Fi internet access - AED 30 for 24 hours; flat screen TV - AED 30 for 24 hours; extra towels available - AED 5 per towel; housekeeping service available at AED 60 for a full room clean; luggage storage - AED 1 per locker per hour; and secure car parking available on-site - AED 10 per car per night. You won't see brand creep from these hotels and independents will do well to keep up as the sector diversifies. FAST FACT: Double rooms went on sale at only AED 99 (US $27) per night. (Image Courtesy: www.hoteliermiddleeast.com)
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4. Ritz-Carlton DIFC\nThe development of Ritz-Carlton, Dubai International Financial Centre has been one of those stories that won't go away. After months of rumours of potential sales, possible buyers and various sums of money, Union Properties agreed to sell the Ritz-Carlton hotel development for less than the asking price of AED1.5bn (US $410m). But behind the stories was a Ritz-Carlton hotel standing 14-storeys high begging to be occupied and that is something worth getting excited about. Epitomising understated luxury, the hotel is finally opening this month. Guests benefit from a direct walkway access to The Gate buildings, and with 341 rooms, the hotel is destined to become a Dubai staple for business travellers. Other reasons to be cheerful include Blue Rain, a signature Thai fine-dining restaurant; Can Can, a French brasserie; the Center Cut steakhouse; Lobby Lounge & Terrace and No 5 Cigar Bar. FAST FACT: The name Ritz-Carlton dates back to the Hotel Ritz Paris and the Carlton Hotel in London, both operated by the legendary hotelier Cesar Ritz. (Image Courtesy: www.hoteliermiddleeast.com)
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5. One&Only\nThe Palm One&Only The Palm blends Moorish and Andalusian architecture with contemporary interiors, which makes for a superb hotel in a high-profile location. Consisting of 90 keys, the stylish guest rooms are secluded in a residential environment within the tri-level Manor House, as well as in six low-rise Mansions and four private Beach Villas. The resort's private leisure facilities include an 850m2, temperature controlled pool, 450 metres of beach front and the all-suite One&Only Spa and fitness centre. Guests can also sample local and international cuisine with the resort boasting three restaurants - Zest, Stay by Yannick Alleno and 1O1, all under the culinary guidance of Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alleno. Zest has expansive floor-to-ceiling windows creating an elegant and inviting ambience while 1O1 offers sweeping panoramic views of the Gulf. Stay by Yannick All?no provides a fine-dining experience with signature dishes showcasing traditional cooking methods reinterpreted in contemporary fashion. FAST FACT: In 1984 Yannick Alleno trained in hotel management at the Lycee Santos-Dumont of St. Cloud. (Image Courtesy: www.hoteliermiddleeast.com)
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6. Ibn Battuta Gate\nLarger than Paris' Arc de Triomphe, Ibn Battuta Gate's iconic entrance certainly creates an impression on those entering and leaving the west of Dubai. Swiss-operator Movenpick Hotels & Resorts runs the Seven Tides-owned property. It remains to be seen whether those residing in Jumeirah Lake Towers, Dubai Marina and JBR will make the short Metro hop to partake in the hotel's facilities, but initial impressions suggest the property's outlets could become staples, especially for residents of Discovery Gardens. Guests of the 396-key hotel also have easy access to the mall. FAST FACT: The hotel's namesake was a Moroccan Berber Islamic scholar and traveller known for the account of his travels and excursions called the Rihla. (Image Courtesy: www.hoteliermiddleeast.com)
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7. Four Seasons Beirut\nThe opening of the Four Seasons Hotel Beirut in January this year marked the end of a longwinded construction process that was continuously disrupted by a variety of political turmoil, civil unrest and the short but destructive war with Israel during 2006. It was an opening that highlighted the positivity within the hotel sector in Lebanon and many hope that hospitality will be given chance to flourish. 'The hotel is cleverly inspired by the journeys of the 14th century Arabian explorer, Ibn Battuta’. (Image Courtesy: www.hoteliermiddleeast.com)
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8. Kempinski Nile\nLuxury hotel chain Kempinski opened the first five-star boutique hotel in Egyptian capital Cairo, the Kempinski Nile. Offering 137 rooms and 54 suites, the Kempinski Nile overlooks the banks of the famous river. Designed by French architect Pierre Yves Rochon, guests can choose from four restaurants and four bars, including a rooftop bar and shisha bar. The hotel also offers a spa and health club, private balconies, a pillow concierge and a butler service for residents. Recent figures suggest that Egypt is currently seeing something of a tourism boom - helped by the weakness of the UK pound, British tourism to Egypt was up 20% in 2009 for example. FAST FACT: One of the hotel's restaurants has no menu - chefs are on hand to cook all dishes to order on request. (Image Courtesy: www.hoteliermiddleeast.com)
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9. Grand Millennium Al Wahda\nThe 850-room Grand Millennium Al Wahda has 585 rooms, 265 residences and is the largest hotel in Abu Dhabi. While normally size isn't everything, you have to say in Abu Dhabi it is. The additional rooms had a positive impact on rates (if you are a guest) and will help to secure the long-term ambitions of the UAE capital's tourism strategy. The hotel also boasts the largest health club in the city with a 2700m2 spa, swimming pool and large gym. Guest rooms are high-tech, with features such as multi-line telephones with data ports, wireless internet connection, 37-inch LCD televisions, Bose sound systems, and heated towel racks. Dining venues include the Porterhouse American Bar and Grill; the Asian restaurant Toshi; Portobello Italian eatery; and the Al Wahda for all-day dining. FAST FACT: Central Abu Dhabi is an island, not part of mainland UAE. (Image Courtesy: www.hoteliermiddleeast.com)
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10. Rose Rayhaan by Rotana\nRotana, the UAE-based hotel group, opened the world's tallest hotel at the start of 2010. The Rose Rayhaan by Rotana on Sheikh Zayed Road is 72 storeys and 333 metres high and offers 481 rooms, suites and penthouses? It has also made it into the Guiness Book of Records. The new hotel operates under the group's alcohol-free brand, the second in the group after Al Marwa Rayhaan, KSA. 'This alcohol-free option reflects our respect for the culture and beliefs of our guests and our dedication to fostering a new Arabia in today's world,' said Daniel Mathew, general manager. The Rose Rayhaan was one of the few properties that received anywhere near the amount of coverage that the Armani Hotel garnered. Obviously a very different hotel, but by all accounts it has been doing very well, despite having to spend a lot of time cleaning the significant number of windows in the property. The results are certainly worth it though as the property boastsunspoiled views of The World development and Sheikh Zayed Road. (Image Courtesy: www.hoteliermiddleeast.com)
Thu 09 Dec 2010 06:21 PM GST
Last Updated: Mon 23 Jan 2017 04:38 PM GST