Work on a billion-dollar destination on the banks of Dubai’s famous creek is well under way with the first phase of the project on course to open by August next year.
Called Roda Jewel of the Creek Dubai, the Dh4-billion ($1.08 billion) mixed-use development comprises hotels, restaurants, shops, offices, residences, a beach, marina and a massive domed venue for events.
Located in the old Deira area of the UAE city, it will be operated by Roda Hotels, which is a subsidiary of Dubai International Real Estate.
The flagship development is being built over an impressive 8 million sq feet between Floating Bridge and Al Maktoum Bridge and will open in three phases, Imad Elias, chief executive officer of Roda Hotels tells TTN.
'The most difficult phase was the island itself,' he tells us. 'We have built an inner creek in partnership with Crystal Lagoons which will be closed off and converted into the largest swimming pool in the Middle East. We are going to call it the Roda Lagoon; guests will be able to swim in it – it will be filtered and there’ll be a whole beachfront. Just imagine a beach in the middle of the creek, the region’s largest pool and a 65-berth marina!'
'Having an imagination is imperative in my job,' says the hospitality veteran, who boasts more than 40 years of invaluable industry experience. His long-standing career includes being general manager, regional director, vice president and chief operating officer for Hilton Hotels and Resorts and Rotana Hotels and Resorts in the Middle East.
The first phase of the mixed-use creekside development comprises a 438-room, five-star hotel, four residential towers with 756 apartments, and three levels of waterfront restaurants, bars and retail outlets, as well as one of the largest multi-purpose domes in the area – again with retail, events and functions capabilities. There will be about 22 restaurants in the complex, across a mix of international brands. This first phase will be completed by August 2017.
A year later, phase two will be ready with a four-star hotel with 403 rooms, also operated by Roda, with beautiful and fashionable Andalusian interiors. What is most interesting is the plan for a three-star, 405-room, ‘plug and play concept’, which will be a self-service lifestyle brand.
The final phase of the project comprises offices and residential towers of 389 apartments, a small shopping centre, a non-alcoholic hotel and a multi-purpose exhibition space.
'This location will help to revive the entire Deira area – it will be linked by bridges to Deira City Centre, Dubai Creek Golf Club and to the monorail. There will be 6,000 free car-parking spaces,' says Elias.
'The architecture is very modern from the outside but from the inside the four star-hotel will show the true picture of old Arabia. When guests approach us in the daytime, they will first see the beach, the lagoon, the landscaping, and the marina but when they enter the hotel, they will feel they are part of an authentic Arabian hotel that evokes the history of the creek through its lighting, interiors, and furnishings.
At night, the experience will be totally different: there will be sound-and-light spectacles, dancing fountains, and a host of food and beverage experiences.
Roda Hotels’ first operation was the transformation of four towers (also owned by Dubai International Real Estate) into deluxe hotel suites which it is currently operating at Jumeirah Beach Residence in Dubai. It also transformed a site of 60 villas into boutique villas where it also has a clubhouse. There are also plans for a resort in Jumeirah, and opposite the Al Bustan Rotana there will be a three- or four-star hotel complex. The brand also has its sights on Jebel Ai.
Outside of the UAE, Elias says that Iran is the next domain of choice for Roda Hotels.
'We have already signed agreements to manage two properties in Tehran, one is a hotel suite and one is a three-star hotel. They are under construction and will take about a year to build. With the sanctions now lifted, there will scope for more hotels in the country and we want to be part of that growth.
'Our next aim is to target the city of Mashhad in Iran, and we are also looking at opportunities in Saudi Arabia,' he concludes.
By Rashi Sen
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