Over the first three quarters of 2022, Bahrain’s Economic Development Board attracted US$291 million in direct investments in the tourism sector. The investments, it added, was by way of eight companies which are either expanding or entering Bahrain for the very first time. Those investments in turn are expected to generate 1,090 jobs over the next three years.
That determined push in tourism is explained when you consider that the kingdom’s 2022-2026 tourism strategy aims to attract 14.1 million tourists by 2026. The country’s stated goals to increase the contribution of tourism to GDP are centred around four objectives: to increase the contribution of tourism to GDP to reach 11.4 per cent in 2026; increase the number of targeted countries to attract more tourists; highlight Bahrain’s position as a global tourist hub; and diversify its tourism products.
While Bahrain is reported to be investing over US$10 billion into infrastructure projects to support its tourism industry, large hotel groups are turning their attention to the kingdom.
Among them is the UAE-headquartered Jumeirah Group, a member of Dubai Holding, and a company that has a portfolio of over 6,500 keys in 26 luxury properties across the Middle East, Europe and Asia.
In November, it opened the stunning new Jumeirah Gulf of Bahrain Resort and Spa located along the kingdom’s west coast.
The property boasts 196 rooms and suites across several categories. The 44 sqm Deluxe Room is available with either a king-size bed or twin beds and can accommodate two adults and two children. An Ocean Deluxe Room allows views of the azure waters along the horizon from its private balcony. For larger families, there’s the 55 sqm Family Room that can accommodate up to three adults and has a walk-in wardrobe, sitting area and two TV screens.
The suites meanwhile are a step up in the resort’s accommodation offerings. The 93 sqm Resort Suite has a large private balcony, a separate living area, a chaise lounge and dining area, a bathroom with a separate bath and rain shower and a bedroom with a sitting area too. The Ocean Suite offers all of that, with the additional benefit of views looking out over the sea. The Ocean Terrace Suite trades in the balcony for a terrace where guests can order in-room breakfasts. Staying at any suite in this resort allows you to gain a host of benefits including coffee machines in the room, a minibar and a pillow menu too for a restful night’s sleep. Importantly, staying at any suite also allows guests to avail of complimentary airport transfers, buffet breakfasts and sundowners, as well as the option of an early check-in and a late check-out. For the ultimate accommodation option at the property, you could opt for the 11-bedroom Gulf Summer House, located on the beach.
Curated culinary experiences
Beyond luxury accommodation, the culinary offerings at Jumeirah properties worldwide are noteworthy. The Jumeirah Group has more than 85 restaurants across its portfolio, including homegrown concepts such as Sal, Kayto, Shimmers, Al Mare, Pierchic and French Riviera. There’s external validation for the group’s culinary bastions too – ten of its restaurants are featured in the Gault&Millau UAE 2022 guide, while three – Shang High, L’Olivo and Al Muntaha – were awarded Michelin stars as well.
In Bahrain, Jumeirah has maintained an eclectic mix of food and beverage options to cater to its diverse international guests. Obab Al Bahar has an à la carte menu as well as a daily buffet. Its creations span Europe, the Middle East, East Asia and India. The restaurant also features a beverage menu that it says is “infused with local ingredients, fragrances and spices to deliver a unique Bahraini experience.”
Open for lunch and dinner is the Sicilian restaurant Due Mari which serves homemade pasta, pizzas, salads and, of course, gelatos, on the alfresco private terrace located alongside the pool.
For great views of the sun going down over the sea, head to Al Sama which is open from 5pm until 1am daily. It not only has an extensive beverage menu, but also has a shisha menu. Meanwhile, the resort’s lobby lounge, Majlis Al Fijiri, allows guests to sample handcrafted chocolates and local pastries created by the hotel’s resident pastry chef.
The resort will soon be opening the uniquely named 25 | 50 bar whose design is inspired by Bahraini boats and will serve tapas and seafood options, alongside a mixologist who will tend to all the beverage requests. Ousoul, also opening soon, will be located along the beachfront and serve cocktails and juices. For those searching for an authentic Middle Eastern experience, Maison Fayruz delivering Lebanese and Levantine preparations, is also expected to open soon.
Wellness and amenities
Wellness is a major focus of the new resort and one that the general manager at the property has focussed on extensively. “We are passionate about wellness, and I am confident that with Jumeirah’s renowned hospitality expertise and the luxurious experiences on offer – and, of course, the resort’s unique beachside location – our guests will walk away feeling revived and refreshed from their stay with us,” said Marco Den Ouden, general manager of Jumeirah Gulf of Bahrain Resort and Spa. Ouden is a veteran in the hospitality industry having worked at several properties around the world including in London, China, the Netherlands, Singapore, Indonesia and Maldives. He has been instrumental in overseeing operations for five-star luxury resorts and city hotels. Prior to joining Jumeirah Group, he held the role of cluster general manager at Patina and Capella.
This new property in Bahrain has wide-ranging wellness offerings. Talise Spa includes 13 treatment rooms – including six female-only and six male-only treatment rooms – as well as a couple’s treatment room with its private hammam, bubble bath and relaxation area. “We are working towards making 90 per cent of our spa filled with our handmade offerings including the oils, scrubs, mignardises, detox drinks and hot tea. There are four key ingredients that you will find in the drinks, oils, mignardises and scrubs,” says Celine Fontenay, Spa and Recreation director at the resort.
The treatments offered here vary from prenatal massages to a four-hands massage where two therapists simultaneously provide a synchronised massage. Another option is the Talise Treatment which lasts for nearly three hours and is perhaps the most extravagant one. Two individuals are covered under this treatment and it includes a body scrub, followed by a 60-minute body massage and capped with a facial treatment. The indulgent massage isn’t complete without complimentary glasses of champagne.
“We are also building some well-being and sports programmes that combine meal plans, sports, spa, yoga, sophrology and naturopathy,” adds Fontenay.
Personal trainers are on-hand at the property to offer their services at Society 989’s Technogym-equipped gym and offer packages for 5-20 sessions. “By bringing in the InBody 270 body composition machine which has an accuracy of 95 per cent, it can not only measure weight, but also body fat, muscle mass, water weight and fat-free mass. We work with Technogym to use their online platform to help guests stay on top of their fitness goals through its Mywellness App. This means, regardless if they are frequent travellers or our regular guests, they’ll be able to track their workouts as long as they scan the QR code on the Technogym machines that they are using. They’ll be able to store and track their body composition results via the app to see how much progress they have made. I’ll also be able to plan and assign tailored workout programmes for our guests and clients to help keep them on top of their workout goals,” says Daniel Badu, Membership and Fitness manager at the Jumeirah property.
For those who want an extended personal training package, the trainers also deliver a 16-week package that includes a total of 48 sessions, offered thrice weekly. “The 16-week transformation package is more designed for locals. This will be a tailored package to help clients change their views about training and nutrition, and transform their bodies. Whether it is to lose fat, build muscle, or just to help them live a healthier lifestyle, the focus here will be to build sustainable eating and physical activity habits for individuals while also educating them on their journey,” notes Badu.
Other sports amenities at the resort include a squash and multi-purpose tennis court. Sports will also be a big focus area for the resort. “We are building a water sports area to bring exciting, non-motorised sports to the resort. We will also be bringing in a football academy that focuses on kids and teens. Soon, we will be starting yoga and Pilates classes to help individuals improve their mobility and increase flexibility too. We will also be hosting football sessions for visiting kids and teens who want to develop their skills with top UEFA coaches who have experience training professional football clubs. We will also offer a three-in-one experience that includes tailored workouts or sports activities such as tennis, basketball or squash, personalised meal plans developed by our head chef depending on the client’s goals of either weight loss or improving their skin or raising their energy levels, and all of this will be coupled with a personalised spa treatment to help with recovery and mobility,” adds Badu.
There are multiple pool options at the property including a temperature-controlled indoor pool and an outdoor adult’s-only pool. This being a family-centric resort, there’s a kid’s club featuring a pool, play area and nap room, Teen’s Club and a family pool too with a slide. There’s a 36-seater cinema on the property as well.
The resort’s events facilities include a conference and events centre, board meeting rooms and two ballrooms that can accommodate up to 160 people. The outdoor space at the resort can also be used for larger gatherings and can accommodate up to 500 people.
Jumeirah on the rise
Change is underway at Jumeirah. Dubai Holding announced that as of December 2022, Katerina Giannouka was appointed as the chief executive officer of Jumeirah Group. Giannouka brings to the table more than two decades of experience across multiple aspects of the hospitality industry including operations, hotel development as well as asset management.
According to research commissioned by Arabian Travel Market (ATM), and conducted at the end of September 2022 by hotel market intelligence company STR, the GCC region now has over 170,000 hotel rooms under active development. The report added that this is equivalent to 40 per cent of the GCC’s existing hotel room inventory, almost four times more than the rest of the world which currently stands at an average of 11 per cent under active development compared with its existing supply.
This makes Giannouka’s role in the Jumeirah Group and her focus on the region all the more vital. In July last year, Jumeirah opened its first hotel in Oman in the country’s capital of Muscat. Another major upcoming regional opening for the group is the Jumeirah Marsa Al Arab in Dubai which is expected to open this year.
In the interim period, those who want to sample what to expect from upcoming luxury Jumeirah properties globally would do well to check in to the Bahrain resort immediately.