Emirates Palace focuses on events

As the Emirates Palace moves into its second year the hotel has begun its next phase of business development with more events, marketing and promotions.The hotel is already attracting world class performers, with the visiting Rostov State Opera performing Puccini’s Madame Butterfly in the auditorium on September 20th and 21st.

Potentially the most expensive hotel ever built, the Emirates Palace is also attracting other forms of art.

The Guggenheim Foundation plans to bring a collection of Russian modernist paintings to a temporary exhibition space in the hotel in November.

This comes as the foundation plans for a Frank Gehry-designed art museum in Abu Dhabi, a coup for the small Gulf nation and the latest international franchise for the ambitious foundation.

The Emirates Palace also recently capitalised on the 2006 FIFA World Cup, broadcasting matches, with food and beverages, as part of its Golden Goals promotion.

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“The public’s response has been absolutely overwhelming, making this promotion a wonderful success…[and] we are very happy with the results,” general manager, Noel Massoud told Al-Bawaba News.

In the same month the hotel hosted the first Arab Broadcast Forum, which was attended by the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari and a line-up of prominent media figures from, Al Hurra TV, BBC, Reuters and Associated Press.

And in May, the Emirates Palace saw a performance by the Red Arrows, Britain’s crack aerobatic team. An event co-organised by Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and the British Embassy.

During the same month the 394-room property hosted the first annual Masters of Excellence event, an orgy of 80 luxury brands and their products, including lifestyle brands in haute couture fashion, fine jewellery, unique watches, luxury tableware, and yachts.

The hotel, which is owned by the government of Abu Dhabi, took more than three years to build and cost an estimated $3.5 billion is still being developed.

Yet the architectural landmark has already put Abu Dhabi on the tourist map. It is already being used by the emirate and its airline to market the destination itself.

Like its neighbouring GCC counterparts, Abu Dhabi has also been working hard to raise the international profile of the destination and its properties. It has set up an airline - Etihad Airways, founded a tourist board to entice visitors and opened up its first offices overseas offices in London and Frankfurt. It has also opened tax-free development zones in a bid to attract overseas investment.

In keeping with the Kempinski group’s reputation of “luxury, elegance, exclusivity and style,” the Emirates Palace has succeeded in cementing Abu Dhabi’s image as a top notch destination. With room rates ranging from $570 to $15,000 a night it is no wonder that royalty and celebrities from all over the globe have graced its marble and gold corridors in its first year of operation.

Its amenities include two helicopter pads, 140 elevators, 61-inch plasma television screens in its suites, 114 domes, 1,002 Swarovski crystal chandeliers, 12 restaurants and 3.9 million cubic feet of imported marble. Bath butlers are on standby to prepare guests one of seven items on the bath menu, including a champagne bath. The hotel is situated on a beach that can hold up to 15,000 people, stretching 1.3 kilometres along the Persian Gulf with a fleet of bikes on standby to take guests along the coast.

The Emirates Palace, general manager, Noel Massoud, expects to surpass the hotel’s turnover and occupancy rates since it first began operating last year. “We are targeting a 25 percent increase in business this year, and we hope to consolidate our gains in the next few years,” he explains.

“We are very confident that we will meet our targets, given the overwhelming response we have received from local and regional tourists last year.”

The fact that the group claims to house “the most magnificent and technologically advanced conference and meeting facilities in the Middle East” may have contributed to its victory at the World Travel Awards 2005, where it picked up “World’s Leading Conference Hotel”, which Massoud describes as: “an honour, stating: “I think we deserve it”.

The hotel is rolling out a significant promotional campaign to boost its presence overseas. “We are now prepared to commence the next phase of our business development strategy which will involve opening new markets, including Britain, Italy, Spain, Holland and France,” says Massoud. “We are also targeting the GCC countries.”

He added that the property is in negotiations with a number of tour operators from the Far East and that the hotel is aggressively targeting tourists from Japan, China and Taiwan.

As the event tourism market continues to thrive, the Emirates Palace plans to tap into this sector and is looking to introduce more cultural elements to its offering. It has already hosted the Italian Orchestra and the Moscow Ballet. In other new developments, The Palace has opened Lebanese and Iranian restaurants and is set to open its spa later in the year.

The group is opening five new Kempinski hotels in the Middle East and Africa before the end of 2007.

“Our mission has always been to translate our unique traditions of highest quality and service in the context of the contemporary Middle East, which is in the process of dramatic transformation,” says Ulrich Eckhardt, senior vice president for the Middle East at Kempinski.

The Emirates Palace and the Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates hotel are landmark properties for the group, which is also renovating the Ajman Kempinski Hotel.

“The new properties opening across the region will be unique, each in its own right, offering travellers a series of luxurious and distinctive hospitality alternatives,” explains Eckhardt.

  “There will be hotels on offer that are distinctly conceived, designed and operated specifically for the region’s travellers but also for culturally aware international travellers looking for an authentic regional experience,” he said.

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