Last month, shareholders of the Gulf Hotels Group and the Bahrain Tourism Company (BTC), which owns the kingdom's Crowne Plaza and Bahrain Conference Centre, approved a proposal for a BD35 million ($92.2 million) merger deal.
Meanwhile, Gulf Residence Amwaj, a new $80-million serviced apartment project managed by Gulf Hotels group officially opened its doors to receive guests. Developed by Lona Real Estate, owners of the Amwaj Waves Development, the property offers travellers luxury accommodation for both long and short stays. The new development comprises two luxury four star hotel apartment buildings featuring 173 spacious suites and apartments, which include one studio residence, 43 one-bedroom residence, 107 two-bedroom residence and 18 three-bedroom suites, in addition to four luxurious four-bedroom and six-bedroom penthouse suites.
Also, the group is progressing on its Dubai expansion with building scheduled to start at the end of the year with a target opening date of end 2018, instead of the earlier projection of 2017. Gulf Hotels Group chief executive officer Aqueel Raees tells TTN, 'Some issues with the name have been resolved, and the architects are working on the last touches – soon we will go to tender. It will be a five-star property with 240 rooms starting from 40 sq m, three restaurants, banqueting and meeting rooms and a spa. The location will be unique, with two of the restaurants and most of the rooms overlooking the Dubai Canal.'
With its location right alongside the Dubai Canal, the property is expected to get a good mix of leisure and corporate business. 'Like in Bahrain, we will have Italian, Lebanese and Asian cuisines in the Dubai property too. The rooftop restaurant I feel will really do well, not only for the food and beverage, but because of the view. Most of the rooms will also face the Dubai Canal and even the pool is infinity, with a view.'
Raees also confirmed that the group has been looking for opportunities for a four-star hotel in Jeddah. 'This is still in the early stages where we are talking to investors. As for other locations, if we find the right investors, we would definitely look at adding equity to get management opportunities.'
Back in Bahrain, the group’s flagship Gulf Hotel has launched its spa last month, on the back of a healthy first quarter performance. 'If we compare our first quarter results to last year, our hotel business is up. We had the service charge dropped from 15 per cent to 10 per cent and some other investments where the shares went down (in other companies), this has affected some of our figures, but our hotel business is up and The Gulf Hotel is taking the lion’s share of the five-star market, The K Hotel is doing really well in the four-star category,' concludes the chief executive officer.
By Kim Thomson
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