The new, super luxurious Waldorf Astoria in Ras Al Khaimah will take over from New York as the brand's flagship hotel when it opens in August, Arabian Business has been told.
Waldorf Astoria, one of the premium hotel brands globally, signed an agreement with RAK developer Al Hamra Group in 2011 to manage the hotel, which was already under construction along the emirate's developing coastline.
Mohab Ghali, RAK country manager for Hilton Worldwide, which owns the Waldorf Astoria brand, told Arabian Business the hotel would rival the best in the world and attract the elite of the elite.
"We're looking at the Ras Al Khaimah Waldorf to be the flagship, that's why it has a lot of focus from the brand," he said.
"The Waldorf has a very strong name generally for luxury, even the richer part of the high class of Europe would know what is a Waldorf. This is our target (guest)."
The historical New York hotel was the pioneer Waldorf Astoria and for a long time the only one.
RAK's takeover is evidence of the emirate's rising reputation as a luxury holiday destination. Visitor numbers to the northern emirate are expected to grow from 1.2 million this year to 1.5m in 2016.
The Waldorf Astoria RAK, large enough to house 1000 rooms but containing only 346, boasts some of the largest hotel rooms in the UAE, between 72 square metres and 422 sq m.
It also will have 10 restaurants and bars and a mammoth spa at 1,650 sq m.
There is also the Waldorf signature gold-plated clock. The RAK clock, believed to have been bought from the UK for 400,000 pounds, is the first of the Waldorf clocks to incorporate five rings indicating the Islamic prayer times.
The wealthiest and most prestigious guests will stay in a 22-storeys tower, where they can drive into the hotel car park and take a private lift directly to their suite.
Guests also can arrive via seaplane, private jet, helicopter or limousine direct from the Dubai international Airport, 45 minutes away.
Ghali said the company was keen to open in RAK because of its growing reputation as a luxury holiday destination.
"Ras Al Khaimah is a holiday destination, it's purely a holiday destination," he said.
The hotel also recently featured on the reality TV show The Apprentice in the UK.
The first guests, who will exclusively be Hilton Worldwide loyalty customers and important clients, will arrive on August 1. The hotel will open to the public in October.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.
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