Rocco Forte to open first Middle East hotel in Abu Dhabi

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By Gavin Davids  www.arabianbusiness.com

Rocco Forte, the European luxury hotel brand, said Thursday that its delayed $163m property in Abu Dhabi will open its doors in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Sir Rocco ForteThe 281-room hotel, Rocco Forte’s first in the MENA region, will kickstart an expansion plan that will see the firm launch three properties across the region over the next three years.

“Abu Dhabi is fast emerging as a hub for the Middle East,” said chairman Rocco Forte in a statement. “We’re confident that our flagship hotel in the emirate will set the tone for our planned expansion in the Middle East.”

The launch date will put the Rocco Forte Hotel Abu Dhabi in direct competition with other resorts set to launch in the quarter, including Saadiyat Island’s St Regis Hotel and Park Hyatt.

Tourism figures for the emirate, however, suggest demand is keeping pace with supply. The city saw a 24 percent surge in hotel revenues to $120.5m in February, according to Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority data, with 175,309 guests staying in the UAE capital during the month.

Rocco Forte operates 13 properties in Europe and its planned pipeline includes hotels in Marrakech and Jeddah.

Despite the recent political unrest in Egypt, the group is to press ahead with plans to develop two properties in the Arab World’s most populous country. A 275-room property in Cairo and a 82-room property in Luxor are both scheduled to launch in 2014.

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