Accor opens Raffles the Palm Dubai

Ahead of World Travel Market (WTM) London 2021, TTN speaks to Mark Willis, CEO of Accor India, Middle East, Africa & Turkey, as he opens doors to the Middle East region’s first Raffles-branded resort, Raffles The Palm Dubai.

“Make no mistake – there has always been a focus on luxury in this part of the world – and that continues to be so, not least in a city like Dubai, which is teeming with these beautiful luxury properties.” Accor, a world-leading augmented hospitality group with over 400 hotels across India, Middle East, Africa and Turkey, opened the palatial luxury beachfront resort on the Palm Jumeirah’s West Crescent last month.

Representing the very best of the iconic Raffles brand, the destination resort will offer sophisticated accommodation, spectacular dining experiences and lavish amenities, including a stunning 500-metre private beach and the award-winning Parisian Cinq Mondes Spa, which features 23 treatment rooms, two private spa suites and an indoor swimming pool. A sanctuary of well-being and bliss, the spa offers a yoga studio, two traditional hammams and fully equipped gym during their stay.

“Another key trend for us is that we see a huge intake in the luxury all-inclusive market - people who want all-inclusive stays but not necessairily mass buffets, they want luxury. They have found that perfect mix in Rixos - this brand is being celebrated globally, and much to our surprise, even in Saudi Arabia.

“We also see a very strong positive trend for lifestyle brands – we have seen this coming for many years but in the last five years, lifestyle hotels have really picked up pace. In Accor, we have 12 lifestyle brands out of our 40 brands. 25hours, Mama Shelter, the recently opened SLS Dubai, Modrian Doha and Banyan Tree, these are some of the popular lifestyle projects of Accor.

“We are very strong on sustainability too,” says Willis. "We are noticing that travellers are now more than ever looking for authentic experiences when travelling, while remaining conscious of the environment. In fact, they are becoming even more aware of the impact that an increase in tourism has on the environment and heritages sites, which puts sustainability at the centre of seasoned traveller’s decision making, Mantis is the ideal brand to address these concerns.”

Since joining forces in 2018, Accor and Mantis have worked together to take on new opportunities to welcome guests in authentic curated hotels, eco-lodges and waterways while prioritizing the cause of sustainability and to promote further appreciation of the natural environment across every unique destination.

“Because of where the lodges are, people immediately think of Mantis as glamping – that’s not what we are about. Some of the locations that Mantis is in, it’s very, very luxury.”

Accor has signed a deal with Edamah, the real estate arm of Bahrain's sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat Holding Company, to open a new Mantis property on Bahrain’s Hawar Island, merging luxury with eco-tourism, while redefining adventure. Once open, the hotel and resort will feature 72 keys, along with 5 dining concepts and extensive sports and leisure facilities, such as an Adventure Park, a tennis court, a bike track, and a waterpark. Additionally, the property will have its own helipad.

“Speaking of eco-tourism and sustainability, The Banyan Tree in Al Ula is a class apart – I have never seen anything like Al Ula in all my travels, and the site is just excellent.” Located in the Ashar Valley near the city of AlUla in the Madinah Province, Banyan Tree AlUla is inspired by more than 200,000 years of human heritage and unique landscapes that have created the world's largest living museum. This beautiful luxury tented resort is situated in an eco-tourism region just a short flight from either Jeddah or Riyadh.

Accor also announced adding a new flagship property to its portfolio in Africa with Fairmont Djibouti. Set to open in 2024, the hotel will feature 155 rooms and 10 serviced apartments, with five food and beverage outlets combined with 1,398 sqm of meetings & events facilities.

“Accor has always been a key player in the tourism industry across Africa and Djibouti is no exception. We are confident that this project will greatly benefit the hospitality landscape of Djibouti with the introduction of one of Accor’s flagship luxury brands, Fairmont, while supporting government efforts for its Djibouti vision 2035.”

Closer to home, Accor and Al Hamra have recently signed a partnership to bring first Sofitel resort to Ras Al Khaimah. Set to open in 2023, Sofitel Al Hamra Beach Resort, Ras Al Khaimah, will be the group’s flagship sofitel resort in the Northern Emirates.

Accor-owned Hyde Hotels has also announced that it would open its first international property in Dubai by the end of this year. The first Hyde hotel outside of the United States, Hyde Dubai Business Bay, will open in close proximity to the iconic Burj Khalifa directly fronting the Business Bay canal and promenade. The project is being developed in collaboration with owner, Emerald Palace Group, who have been successfully developing and constructing residential projects in Ukraine, UAE and Russia since 1996, including the newly announced Raffles the Palm Dubai.