Emaar Hospitality Group is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Emaar Properties PJSC, one of the world’s most valuable real estate development companies with competencies in property, shopping malls, and retail as well as hospitality and leisure.
Created in 2007, the group owns and manages a portfolio of hospitality assets and brands including Address Hotels + Resorts, a premium luxury hotel and residences brand, Vida Hotels and Resorts, an upscale lifestyle hotel and residences brand, and Rove Hotels, a contemporary midscale hotel brand.
Currently, Emaar Hospitality Group has 14 operational hotels and three serviced residences in Dubai and Egypt, where the Group operates the newly renovated Al Alamein Hotel in Marassi Emaar. In addition, the group has a number of restaurants under its portfolio including At.mosphere, Burj Khalifa, La Serre Bistro & Boulangerie, Sean Connolly at Dubai Opera, Toko, and Katana, to name a few, along with various leisure assets like the Arabian Ranches Golf Club, Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club, and Dubai Marina Yacht Club.
Emaar Hospitality Group is expanding its portfolio to international markets with about 40 projects already announced in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Turkey, and The Maldives. The group plans to introduce its brands in key gateway cities in Europe, the Middle East, India, and China.
The hospitality group announced its expansion to South Asia with a hotel management contract to operate Address Madivaru Maldives Resort + Spa, a beachfront resort set in a private island in the Indian Ocean. Scheduled to be operational in 2020, Address Madivaru Maldives Resort + Spa will be the first-of-its-kind island hotel project by Address Hotels + Resorts.
A part of the 2.42sqkm Ethere Madivaru Private Island, owned by Adam Abdul Gafoor, chairman of Finolhu Investment Ltd, Address Madivaru Maldives Resort + Spa spans a total area of 75,000sqm, with its design and contours defined by the vast coastline including 80 beach and over-water villas with selected units for sale.
Among the stand-out features of Address Madivaru Maldives Resort + Spa is a dedicated Spa Island and Water Sports Island offering diving, surfing, and a host of leisure pursuits. Amenities such as floating restaurants and lounges, over-water fitness facilities, swimming pools, and children’s play areas are all thoughtfully designed to maximise the oceanfront location.
Emaar Hospitality Group are also launching the new Vida Za’abeel, set centrally in Zabeel, a mega-development by Emaar as a joint venture with Meraas. Za’abeel is a mixed-use development overlooking the Zabeel Park, and will feature residences, commercial offices, hotels, and leisure attractions. Vida Za’abeel will offer views of the Dubai Frame, Burj Khalifa in Downtown Dubai, and the upcoming Dubai Creek Tower in Dubai Creek Harbour.
An elegantly designed twin-tower development of 70 and 68 storeys, Vida Za’abeel will be home to the 220-room Vida Za’abeel Hotel and Vida Residences Za’abeel, a collection of one, two and three-bedroom serviced apartments. Vida Hotels and Resorts will operate the hotel and serviced residences, bringing its brand essence of warmth, simplicity, and creativity in design-led spaces. Vida Za’abeel will stand out for its outdoor terraces on the podium level and observation decks
Emaar Hospitality Group is also expanding the Rove Hotels brand to Saudi Arabia with Rove King Abdullah Economic City, located centrally in the Bay La Sun waterfront district of King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC). Rove King Abdullah Economic City is the first hotel under the contemporary midscale lifestyle hotel brand outside the UAE. It will feature 240 rooms, fitness centres for ladies and men, and a wide range of lifestyle amenities that underpin the brand values of Rove Hotels to deliver reliable, modern, and super-efficient hospitality services.
Like all Rove Hotels, Rove King Abdullah Economic City also takes its contemporary design cues from its surroundings. All rooms will have 48-inch interactive TV screens with smart media hubs and free Wi-Fi.
Another historic first is the reopening of the Alamein resort, built in 1960 by the Sidi Abdelrahman Bay of the Mediterranean Sea and having hosted leaders including Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein, the second President of Egypt, as Al Alamein Hotel. Now welcoming visitors from across the world, Al Alamein Hotel is located centrally in Marassi Emaar. Al Alamein Hotel’s location makes it a preferred hospitality destination for visitors from Egypt, across Europe and other parts of the world. With 189 rooms including luxury chalets, the hotel features outdoor seating overlooking the bay’s waters, a beach outlet, rooftop lounge, fitness centre, swimming pool, tennis court, and spa.
In Conversation with Olivier Harnisch, CEO, Emaar Hospitality Group
What were the hotel group’s key achievements and milestones in the past 12 months?
The past year has been rewarding and robust for Emaar Hospitality Group. The crowning glory, no doubt, has been the group being awarded as the Expo 2020 Dubai Official Hotel & Hospitality Partner laurel, which is truly a path-breaking achievement for us as a homegrown company. In this role, we will provide authentic experiences with a strong local flavour at various locations across the Expo 2020 site, including VIP clubs and lounges, as well as in its hotels and restaurants in Dubai. We will also be responsible for providing exceptional service to Expo 2020’s special ticket holders in addition to operating number of other experiences across the Expo site. In addition, we will showcase trends and innovations in the hospitality industry.
We also continued to focus on strengthening the footprint of our existing three main hotel brands. We doubled the size of our pipeline over the past year and have about 40 projects globally in markets such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Turkey, and Maldives. Of special pride for us is the opening of Address Downtown, an iconic hotel, adding several innovative features. We have new restaurant concepts, additional rooms and suites, The Spa at Address Downtown, and a brand-new interior design.
We are also on track to open new properties in Dubai and other emirates including Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, and Fujairah, where we have signed a host of management agreements. In addition to opening new properties in the UAE, we are looking at expanding to many more markets, 58 in total, signifying our strength in managing mixed-use assets, which has contributed to our footprint growing in the UAE, and in other international markets.
From an operational point of view, we also launched several path-breaking initiatives. We have launched our new leadership development strategy for women, named Hiya, which aims to help achieve gender parity at the workplace. This complements the vision of the UAE government to promote women’s participation across businesses and to achieve a gender-equal work environment. The immediate goal of Hiya is to achieve 30% women in executive leadership positions, 50% women in general manager roles, 40% women in management positions and 32% women in supervisory positions by 2019. The long-run goal is to achieve gender parity across all positions for the group through a clear strategy underpinned by Hiya.
We are also delighted with our hotels clinching TripAdvisor’s top rankings among Dubai hotels across all three categories, 5-star, 4-star, and 3-star. Address Dubai Marina, a 5-star property, has been ranked first among all 582 hotels in Dubai, Manzil Downtown tops in the 4-star category, and Rove Healthcare City leads in the 3-star category.
What have been the key challenges facing your hotel group and the hospitality sector in recent times?
One of the key challenges is identifying and nurturing the right talent, especially young talent who must be groomed to take on leadership roles in our industry. One of our key initiatives in this regard was launching the challenge to identify the World’s Greatest Hospitality Talent. The challenge was open for all young talent below the age of 26 years from anywhere in the world. Young men and women with a passion for the industry applied for the opportunity online through the submission of a personal video. From over 4,000 applicants, eight candidates were short-listed and invited to Dubai for a one-week casting that combined traditional and innovative selection techniques, such as a performance at Dubai Opera and team-based business simulations, before we chose Gabrielle Nicholson, 22, from the United Kingdom, as the winner. She will work across the diverse aspects of hospitality at the corporate level by shadowing the chief executive officer and senior managers.
Another key challenge is to ensure that as a homegrown company, we are at the forefront in highlighting the differentials of Dubai, which makes this city one of the most preferred tourist destinations. As part of our commitment to promoting this, over 1,800 associates of the group completed the Dubai Way training launched by the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM).
To further strengthen operational efficiency and to be environmentally responsible, a key challenge faced by the industry, we partnered with leading tech-firm Winnow, for an initiative to reduce food waste across our hotels. Leveraging advanced data analytics, the new initiative is being rolled out in 12 hotels under our group this year, which will help cut food waste by half.
What are the hotel group’s key goals for the immediate future?
One of our top priorities for the immediate future is to deliver on our mandate as the Expo 2020 Dubai Official Hotel & Hospitality Partner. We have already rallied our teams internally and are working with a concerted plan to ensure we deliver exceptional hospitality services that will realise the vision of the leadership to host the best-ever Expo in Dubai.
Secondly, we will continue to strengthen our footprint in key markets globally. We are quite excited with plans announced by Emaar to expand the Address Hotels + Resorts brand to China with the opening of new hotels in key cities in the country. My vision for Emaar Hospitality Group is to establish it as the Middle East’s most innovative hospitality company. I define this as being the best at combining the power of technology with the warmth of human service.
How is technology dictating the way you run your business and liaise with customers?
Technology is a game changer for our industry and it is important that it catches up on the lost time and we can embrace and deploy advanced technology with the primary goal of enhancing customer service standards. To leverage technology, we have launched three technology projects this year, geared to personalise service and facilities, make services as seamless as possible, and declutter hotel spaces.