Return to the Kingdom

After reflagging two of Dubai’s most iconic hotels and announcing two new branded residence projects in the emirate, Kempinski now looks forward to making a bold statement in Bahrain

René Nijhof

“We’re very excited to be part of this mixed used development with a hotel and residences in Bahrain Harbour and expect to offer a variety of exciting food and beverage concepts on the roof top of the building,” René Nijhof, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Kempinski tells TTN in an interview.

“It’s really going to be a statement for Bahrain.”

Kempinski Hotel and Residences Bahrain Harbour will occupy one of three signature towers. The property will boast 74 guestrooms situated on the upper floors and an additional 186 Kempinski branded residences spread across the rest of the building, which is expected to open its doors by the end of 2025.

Nijhof goes on to speak about the possibility of managing a second Bahraini property, which will comprise villas and will be located in the south of Bahrain.

Kempinski is known for pioneering projects around the globe, such as the Kempinski Floating Palace, which is slated to open in Dubai in 2026. It is now also eyeing a growth strategy in Saudi Arabia and Africa. “Apart from the hotel, we will be opening in the Saudi destination of Yanbu on the Red Sea by the end of the year. We are about to sign a joint venture in this trending country with a huge company that will bring us back to Saudi Arabia in a big way,” he adds.

For Kempinski, business is booming. The challenge is to get the right property and the right location. In Bahrain, we have the right entrance to the market. It looks very promising
– René Nijhof


If this joint venture comes through Kempinski will be looking to open a local office in the Middle East, like it has done in China, explains Nijhof. Kempinski is also working on some creative concepts, among them is an African-style safari product but in Saudi Arabia – this is not for the masses, but purely for very exclusive audiences, Nijhof adds.

Just recently Kempinski has reflagged two hotels next to Burj Khalifa, Kempinski Hotel The Boulevard and Kempinski Central Avenue. Meanwhile, Kempinski Residences Dubai Creek will open in the near future and it has now signed new residences in Dubai Marina some weeks back. Following the rebrand of Kempinski The Boulevard Dubai and Kempinski Central Avenue Dubai, travellers staying with Kempinski can now immerse themselves in unrivalled luxury hotel experiences with direct connectivity to both Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates. Together with Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates, these immaculately presented Kempinski properties boasts almost 820 rooms and suites, 11 dining outlets and three legendary spas where the rigours of retail can be soothed.

While it’s in a coveted position in the region, Nijhof concedes that there are a couple of challenges to growth in the Middle East. The first hurdle is the ability to “find a way to keep your food and beverage options attractive to guests”. He explains: “We need to find ways to innovate. Every day a new restaurant opens and that is very difficult for hotels to compete with.”

“For Kempinski, business is booming. The challenge is to get the right property and the right location. In Bahrain, having the Royals owning our iconic hotel brand, we have the right entrance to the market. It looks very promising.”

In his opinion, another important element, which contributes to the success of a hotel, is its ability to deliver sustainable solutions. “Guests want sustainability and you have to deliver accordingly. That means you need to make sure that you get rid of any sympathy to the plastics of the world. Work on wastewater reduction, avoid food waste and follow the many rules that come with it. Otherwise, you’re going to lose business.”

A hotel’s strategy must encompass the comfort of the guests, give them the service that they want without being too on the nose. “The guests want to be feeling at home and want to be appreciated. And that is where we need to focus on and that is what we do to win their loyalty.”