Like its climate, the Middle East's hospitality industry is hot -- and blooming like a desert flower thanks to an influx of new hotels across the Arabian Peninsula. The latest among them: Voco Dubai in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, which will open its doors in the first quarter of 2019 as the first Voco hotel in the region, parent company InterContinental Hotels Group announced on Thursday.
Located on Shaikh Zayed Road, which is home to most of Dubai's signature skyscrapers, Voco Dubai will be set in what is currently the Nassima Royal Hotel. Designed for both business and leisure travelers, the rebranded property will have 471 guest rooms that overlook either Sheikh Zayed Road or the beach. Amenities will include a business center, an outdoor swimming pool, a gymnasium, a spa, three restaurants and more than 10,000 square feet of meeting space.
"IHG has identified significant growth opportunities in upscale hospitality, and the signing of Voco Dubai is a significant step in this direction," said Pascal Gauvin, the hotel chain's managing director of India, the Middle East and Africa. "The Dubai market is ever-changing and maturing. In the UAE alone, the unbranded accommodation market makes up 60 percent of the total hospitality sector. As such, we believe that the emirate now requires a unique offering like Voco to cater to mindful and self-determined audiences."
IHG launched the upscale Voco brand in June, saying it will "combine the informality and charm of an individual hotel with the quality and reassurance of a global and respected brand." Properties will showcase "a bold, distinctive identity, informal service style and thoughtful touches," with three specific features in each Voco hotel: a "Come On In" welcome experience that includes fast check-in with a locally inspired welcome treat; "Me Time" guest rooms that encourage guests to take a moment for themselves with amenities like plush bedding, rejuvenating aerated showers and Internet-connected smart TVs; and "Voco Life" bar and lounge spaces that infuse Voco hotels with a sociable vibe.
"Voco combines the best of individual high-quality upscale hotels, with the best of IHG," Gauvin continued. "It's a brand that forms the heart of a newly built hotel or celebrates what already makes an existing hotel successful. Most importantly, guests can enjoy the freshness of unique hotels under a name they can trust."
Four More Hot Openings in the Middle East
Voco Dubai joins a long list of new arrivals in the Middle East. Here are four others that promise to be magnets for meetings, the first three in cities within the United Arab Emirates.
• Caesars Bluewaters Dubai. IHG isn't the only hotelier making a big splash in this booming emirate. Another is Caesars Entertainment, which last month launched Caesars Bluewaters Dubai, which encompasses both Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai and Caesars Resort Bluewaters Dubai on private, man-made Bluewaters Island, overlooking Jumeirah Beach. Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai has 194 guest rooms while Caesars Resort Bluewaters Dubai has 301. Occupying the same site, the properties share a spa, a fitness center, three bars and three restaurants, including an experiential restaurant from celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay themed around his popular "Hell's Kitchen" TV show. There also are two outdoor pools, and meeting and event space for groups of up to 800, including three meeting rooms and a 9,100-square-foot ballroom.
• The Abu Dhabi Edition. Boutique hotelier Ian Schrager and Marriott International expanded their joint venture, Edition Hotels, into the Middle East in October with the opening of the Abu Dhabi Edition. Located on the Al Bateen peninsula, where it overlooks the Arabian Gulf, the waterfront hotel is recognizable from its distinct exterior, which resembles the lateen sails of the traditional Dhow boats that the region was once famous for building. The hotel has 198 guest rooms and suites; a large-scale kinetic art installation; a social lobby that's populated by group meeting tables, a golden pool table, a bar and a barista station; three signature restaurants; a three-story nightclub; a spa with seven treatment rooms; two swimming pools; two purpose-built gyms, and nearly 10,000 square feet of meeting space.
• Andaz Capital Gate Abu Dhabi. Hyatt's first Andaz-branded property in the Middle East, the Andaz Capital Gate Abu Dhabi opened last month inside the iconic Capital Gate skyscraper, known as the "Leaning Tower of Abu Dhabi." The property -- previously the Hyatt Capital Gate, which opened in 2011 -- claims to be the world's furthest-leaning hotel thanks to its 18-degree incline. Along with 189 guest rooms and suites, there's an on-site restaurant and lounge; a spa, which includes a suspended outdoor pool, a whirlpool and a fitness center; 2,200 square feet of meeting space, and a 5,000-square-foot art gallery that doubles as an extra space for private events. Of note to large convention groups, the hotel is next to the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre [https://adnec.ae/], whose 785,000 square feet of interconnected exhibition space makes it the largest trade show venue in the Middle East.
• Four Seasons Hotel Kuwait at Burj Alshaya (Kuwait City). Although the UAE is the nucleus of business and hospitality in the Middle East, it doesn't hold a monopoly on hotel development in the region. Case in point: Four Seasons Hotel Kuwait at Burj Alshaya in Kuwait City, Kuwait. The hotel opened in November 2017 with 284 guest rooms and suites, five restaurants and lounges, a two-level spa and fitness center, both indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and 31,349 square feet of meeting and event space -- including two divisible ballrooms -- for groups of up to 2,000 people.