By Shane McGinley
The resort’s official opening on the Pearl-Qatar has been delayed until July
Nikki Beach Resort & Spa The Pearl Qatar will serve alcohol when it opens in July, despite Qatar authorities issuing a ban on alcohol sales on the manmade island development last year, officials from the US beach club brand told Arabian Business.
The Miami-based resort chain, which is famous for its exclusive White parties, said in September it would open its latest resort in Doha, following a $68m fit out, in February. The official launch has been delayed until July, but officials told Arabian Business the resort plans to serve alcohol to guests, despite the ban issued by authorities on Dec 12.
“No, it is not related to the alcohol [ban],” confirmed Claudio Roscigno, regional director of sales and marketing at the Nikki Beach Hotels & Resorts on the Pearl-Qatar. “We are not impacted and actually could be an opportunity for us,” he added.
“Nikki is known for their white parties and there will be a white party most certainly… I would expect [well-known guests to attend]. The celebrity element is a very big part of who they are and it is perfect for us on the Pearl with our fashion brands,” Darrell Sheaffer, general manager of hotels and resorts at HDC, the hospitality arm of Pearl-Qatar developer United Development Company (UDC), told Arabian Business last year.
Analysts said the negative publicity the Pearl has suffered in recent weeks was likely to have an impact on the development unless authorities could offer some clarity in the short-term.
“[Pearl-Qatar] still has a significant tourism focus so it is important that at some point there is some sort of clarification provided whether this ruling is going to stand long-term as the potential impact for any new hotel there is massive, especially for something like Nikki Beach,” said Matthew Green, head of research and consultancy at real estate consultancy firm CBRE.
The ban has already had an immediate impact on restaurants and bars in the project. Staff at Maze, the restaurant owned by British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay that opened on the island in 2010, said business has tumbled in the wake of the alcohol ban.
“I would say [the decline] is even more than 50 percent,” a spokesperson said. “It is not only Maze… all the restaurants have stopped serving. There are a lot of rumours, we are waiting in great anticipation that [the ban will be lifted].”
Retail sources told Arabian Business last week they were still in the dark over whether the ban would be long-term and revenue had continued to suffer.
Despite this, demand has remained high for apartments on the manmade island development as supply remains low, said Mark Proudley, associate director at real estate consultancy firm DTZ in Doha.
“There is still strong demand for apartments, despite current events. It hasn’t had any impact on occupancy or demand… There is still a shortage at the moment,” he said.
While demand for residential units has not faltered, Proudley said this could change when new supply is handed over later this year.
“At present, demand is still outstripping supply… The general environment and the Cornish area are major attractions, as is new retail outlets, such as the new Spinneys… But that could change as new supply comes on stream,” he added.
While developer UDC posted net profit of more than $1bn for 2011, more than six times its 2010 figure, its share price was hit recently by news that plans by Qatar's General Retirement and Social Insurance Authority to invest 1.6bn riyals had fallen through.
The financial stumbling block also comes just weeks after it was announced UDC CEO Khalil Sholy had handed in his resignation.
Nikki Beach will be classed as a Hotel so it will be exempt from any ban as it's alcohol selling outlets will be covered under it's license. The same as when the Four Seasons and Pearl Sheraton open .
The Pearl has no high demeand for apartments , thats just talking the market up and A.B should know better . There's hundreds of empty properties on this development and construction has been staged and halted many many times as the demand is just not there , there is a massive oversupply .
The Pearl is a very good development but i'm of the opinion that alcohol licenses should have been regulated and the same constraints put in place as if it was a hotel bar . At the Pearl anyone can gain access to alcohol or see people drinking it on the terraces . Just use the I.D system to verify cutomers and only serve alcohol inside the premises .
Of course a real estate consultancy firm is going to say that there is huge demand at the Pearl, but that is not the reality.
I was just at the Pearl last weekend looking for a 2 bedroom and there are a number of units available in a number of buildings. The Pearl is delaying releasing more buildings because there already is an oversupply.