Fairmont Raffles Hotels International reaffirmed its commitment to its Fairmont Palm Jumeirah project, which could finally open by Q4 2011.

The group, which earlier announced plans to operate 14 new properties across three brands in the Middle East by 2014, could also see that number increase as it examines six new hotel projects for its regional portfolio.

The group’s Executive Vice-President for Operations, Middle East, North Africa and Asia Pacific, David Roberts, said The Fairmont Palm Jumeirah could be operational by Q4 2011. The first phase of the entire Kingdom of Sheba residence and hotel project was originally scheduled to open for business in 2010.

Roberts said: “We are still very bullish on this region. We have already announced a number of properties for this market, including the iconic Fairmont The Wave in Muscat and the Makkah Clock Royal Tower in Makkah, Saudi Arabia. In the UAE, we have announced our new project in Abu Dhabi Marina City, which is still in its design phase that should open by Q4 2012. This is aside from the Fairmont Fujairah that opens next year.

“Moving away from the defined projects, we are in negotiations for five to six other projects that are being examined for their viability in the Middle East. No specific markets within this region can be mentioned at this point.”

Roberts explained: “The signature Fairmont brand, Raffles and Swissôtel, all have scope to grow here. If you take Raffles alone, we see extraordinary growth for the brand in the UAE, Middle East and Europe. It is safe to say we can double the Raffles brand in this region in a few years.

“The Swissôtel development would find a better fit in India. However, we are looking at projects that would allow us to fit all three hotel brands in one mega complex to cater to each market segment, just like the Makkah complex.”

The three-hotel Saudi Arabian complex has cost $3 billion (Dh11bn), according to Mohammed Arkobi, Vice-President and General Manager of the Makkah Clock Royal Tower hotel.

Future projects in Saudi Arabia and Qatar seem the obvious choice considering the Fairmont group is co-owned by billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s Kingdom Hotels and the Los Angeles based Colony Capital. Last month, news also broke about Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, Qatari Diar, paying $847 million for a stake in Fairmont.

Roberts said: “The Middle East market is bouncing back post recession and looking forward, Q4 2010 is not only looking a lot promising than earlier estimates for the region, but the firm globally.”
Source: Emirates Business 24/7