Easyhotel to open in Dubai; where next for the Palm?

8 May 2008 by Mark Caswell

Easyhotel DubaiThe first Easyhotel in the Middle East will open in Dubai in 2009, under development by Nakheel, the real-estate developer responsible for reclamation projects including the Palm Jumeirah and the World.

The 216-room property will be located in the Jebel Ali Free Zone, which is currently home to around 6,000 companies. Construction is due to start at the end of May with a completion date slated for June 2009.

The hotel will be built according to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards, which address criteria including water efficiency, materials, resources, and innovation and design process.

Nakheel Hotels, the hotel development, investment and asset-management branch of Nakheel, has the exclusive rights to the Easyhotel franchise in the Middle East and North Africa.

Originally known as Istithmar Hotels, Nakheel Hotels has invested over US$3 billion in its hotel portfolio over the last two years. It has a majority ownership of properties including the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and W Hotel Union Square in New York, as well as a 33 per cent stake in the Metropole Hotel in London, and hotel investments in Malta, Lisbon, St Petersburg, Budapest and Prague.

Speaking to Business Traveller in Dubai, Joe Sita, CEO of Nakheel Hotels, said: “Our focus is now on China, India and South and Central America, places like Brazil and Panama. We also need to find a property in Paris.”

Sita also ruled out the possibility of a “Nakheel Hotels” branded property, saying that the business was “not an operating company”.

In other news, Nakheel’s CEO Chris O’Donnell said he expected the company to be partnering on an international coastal land-reclamation project “within the next two to three years”.

With the Palm Jumeirah nearing completion, and pretty much the rest of Dubai’s coastline under development with enormous projects such as the World and the recently announced “Universe” and “Waterfront”, it seems only natural for Nakheel to look further afield for future projects.

O’Donnell said: “A number of organisations and governments from around the world are marvelling [at what Nakheel has achieved]. They are interested in the reclamation technology – it’s not new technology, but it’s never been done on this scale. Perhaps it won’t be another Palm, but other coastal reclamation projects are likely.”

O’Donnell would not be drawn on where such projects might take place, but said that possible locations were “limited”, requiring shallow coastal waters and a “government that is supportive”.

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Report by Mark Caswell

Where would you like to see the next “Palm” being built? Should it take an entirely different shape? Should these reclamation projects be built at all? Click here to access our forum and tell us your thoughts.

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