UAE's Jumeirah looks to double hotels on tourism surge

State-owned luxury hotelier set to open properties in Kuwait, Majorca, and Azerbaijan
UAE's Jumeirah looks to double hotels on tourism surge
State-owned Jumeirah has an extensive portfolio of hotels in Dubai
By Reuters
Mon 24 Oct 2011 02:27 PM

Luxury hotelier Jumeirah Group, owned by the ruler of Dubai,
is looking at doubling its properties under management globally by early 2012
and tapping into growing tourism demand, its executive chairman said on Monday.

"We will open in Kuwait, Majorca, and Azerbaijan. We
will almost double the number of hotels under management for Jumeirah in a 14-month
period," Gerald Lawless told the Middle East Investment Summit in Dubai.

"We have a few other potential projects
"bubbling"... Some of them are in Europe," he said, adding the
Jumeirah Group would count 20 hotels by the end of the first quarter 2012.

Jumeirah, which competes with brands such as Mandarin
Oriental or Four Seasons, recently opened brand-managed hotels in Frankfurt,
the Maldives and Shanghai, and already has an extensive portfolio in Dubai,
such as the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab hotel and the Jumeirah Beach Hotel.

"It is looking very good for the future bookings for
the winter period. Tourism is holding up very well," Lawless said.

He said it was difficult to say whether Dubai is seeing an
additional influx of tourists to Dubai due to regional unrest.

Average room rates currently stand at AED1,700 ($462.8), up
five percent compared with the same period last year.

Occupancy levels at Jumeirah's hotels in Dubai reached 80.5
percent, Lawless said, up six percent from a year earlier.

Lawless said 20 percent of visitors came from the United
Kingdom, 14 percent from Russia, and there were increasing numbers from China.

Since most of the future properties will be managed by
Jumeirah, rather than being directly owned, Lawless said the group saw no need
for substantial financing.

Jumeirah Group, a unit of Dubai Holding , the personal
investment vehicle of the emirate's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid
al-Maktoum, was not currently planning an initial public offering (IPO) or a
bond issue, Lawless said.

"We are very happy with our levels of financing and
debt at the moment," he said. "The funding positions are not
difficult for us, we are in a strong position where we have investors who own
the hotels, they build the hotels and we brand them."

"We are asset-light ... We have been very encouraged by
the success of the acquisition of management contracts and it continues to grow,"
Lawless said.

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