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Abu Dhabi: Rising star of the Middle East

Abu Dhabi: Rising star of the Middle East Yas Viceroy is an icon of Middle Eastern tourism

Abu Dhabi’s 142 hotels and hotel apartments had their best April on record earlier this year, with increases in most key performance indicators, according to figures just released by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority.

The UK remains the emirate’s largest overseas source market for hotel guests, with 54,050 Britons staying in Abu Dhabi’s hotels in the first four months of 2013, a ten per cent rise on the same period in 2012.

They stayed on average, 4.71 nights, up 11 per cent on the corresponding period last year – and accounted for 254,768 guest nights, up 22 per cent.

During April 2013 some 236,704 guests checked into Abu Dhabi accommodation - a 20 per cent rise against the same period in 2012 – with guest nights jumping by almost a third to 738,797.

The average-length-of-stay of hotel guests during April 2013 was 3.12 nights, a growth of eight per cent on the same month last year.

Abu Dhabi has emerged as a powerhouse of Middle East tourism

TCA Abu Dhabi, which was named Middle East’s Leading Meetings & Conference Destination and Middle East’s Leading Tourist Board by the World Travel Awards in 2013, and World’s Leading Tourist Board in 2012, also reported a growth in guest numbers, guest nights, average length of stay and revenues for the first quarter of 2013.

Some 631,417 guests checked into accommodation throughout the emirate during this period – a six per cent rise on quarter one of 2012.

Guest nights rose 23 per cent to 2,119,016, the average length of stay was up 16 per cent to 3.36 nights and total revenues climbed 15 per cent on 2012.

The UK maintained its position as the emirate’s leading overseas guest source market delivering in quarter one, some 39,841 arrivals, up seven per cent on quarter one of 2012, a total of 186,882 guest nights, an increase of 17 per cent and an average length of stay of 4.69 nights, up nine per cent on the comparative period.

Recent hotel openings in Abu Dhabi

As hotel occupancy climbs, Abu Dhabi has been booming with new developments to cater to these guests.

Hotel openings in 2012 included Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara, while this year saw the opening of the Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal and the Rosewood Abu Dhabi.

Rosewood Abu Dhabi, the ultra-luxury five-star hotel ideally located on the waterfront of Sowwah Square in the heart of Abu Dhabi on Al Maryah Island opened its doors on May 1st 2013, marking the first presence of the Rosewood Hotels & Resorts brand in the UAE.

The hotel offers a comforting retreat from the day, but also a vibrant energy and variety of amenities. 

Rosewood Abu Dhabi provides a luxury lifestyle experience currently unmatched in the capital.

The 189-room hotel is located at the core of the new Central Business District between the prestigious Sowwah Square development and Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. 

The Galleria, a new retail and dining destination with direct access to the hotel is set to open on the Island in August.

Downtown Abu Dhabi, leisure facilities and the airport are also easily accessible from Al Maryah Island.

Rosewood Abu Dhabi features nine signature restaurants and lounges; eight fully equipped conference and event spaces including a ballroom which will accommodate up to 1,000 guests; pool and gym facilities and Sense, A Rosewood Spa.

Rosewood Abu Dhabi

The interiors have an air of understated elegance, with exquisite materials such as Italian marble, a bespoke four-meter American walnut table and custom and hand-blown chandeliers from the Czech Republic featured throughout the hotel.

Under the helm of executive chef Wolfgang Eberle, Rosewood Abu Dhabi caters to every palate in the hotel’s nine restaurants and lounges, including Catalan, a sophisticated restaurant offering cuisine from the authentic Barcelona and north-eastern region of Spain; Sambusek, a delightfully modern Lebanese restaurant; Smoke, a vibrant shisha terrace, Aqua, which will offer Italian and Mediterranean delicious dishes in a refined yet informal setting; Spice Mela, a contemporary restaurant serving Pan-Indian cuisine; La Cava, a grape cellar with a walk-in cigar room; Glo, the glamorous bar lounge, the intimate Hidden Bar; and the Majlis lobby lounge.

Other stunning hotels in Abu Dhabi that have been recognised by the World Travel Awards include: Emirates Palace, Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche, St Regis Saadiyat Island, Park Rotana, Beach Rotana and Grand Millenium Al Wahda.

The Fairmont Bab Al Bahr has been nominated in several categories of this coveted award scheme.

One of the most spectacular hotels is the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers which was named Middle East’s Leading Hotel, Abu Dhabi’s Leading Conference Hotel and Abu Dhabi’s Leading Hotel by the World Travel Awards this year.

Consisting of 382 guestrooms and suites, 199 fully-serviced residences, 12 restaurants, bars and lounges, Talise Spa and one of the largest conference centres in Abu Dhabi, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers stands 280 metres tall and is furnished throughout in a modern contemporary design using rich materials including highly prized Italian marble, custom-designed hand-tufted carpets and photographic art works.

Jumeirah at Etihad Towers stands 280 metres tall

Hotels coming online in 2014

As visitors continue to flock to Abu Dhabi, looking to experience its luxurious hospitality, unique attractions, world class events and sunny climate, international hotel operators continue to announce plans to tap into the destination’s potential.

Marriott has revealed plans to open two properties in Abu Dhabi which will be operated by Real Estate Group – a subsidiary of Bloom Properties.

This involves a 315-room Marriott hotel and a 64-unit Marriott executive apartment property which are both to open in the mixed-use Bloom Central development

Marina Mall Arjaan by Rotana has also been confirmed for the destination, meanwhile the Grand Ayla, is expected to open in the third quarter, opposite Al Ain Mall with 222 rooms.

New developments for 2013

Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi - the largest waterpark in the UAE opened recently on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.

This futuristic waterpark spans an area of around 15 football pitches, with 43 rides, slides and attractions – five of which are one-of-a-kind.

Yas Waterworld is the UAE’s largest waterpark

Yas Waterworld visitors can try the 238-metre long, world’s first and largest hydromagnetic-powered, six-person tornado waterslide.

For adrenaline seekers there are three-metre high waves on Bubble’s Barrel, which has the world’s largest surfable sheet wave for flowboards and bodyboards.

The Bandit Bomber, a 550–metre coaster, is the first with onboard water and laser effects. Riders can shoot jets of water at targets, drop water bombs and trigger special effects, while people below can spray them with water as they pass.

Sitting atop Jebel Dana, the towering core of the park’s altitude-defying summit and measuring eight metres in diameter, the park’s gigantic pearl is Yas Island’s newest landmark.

The park draws on Abu Dhabi’s heritage and has ‘The Lost Pearl’ as its theme.

Visitors follow the story of a young Emirati girl on a quest to find a legendary pearl as they make their way around the attractions, which include a souk and pearl-diving exhibits.

Yas Island

Yas Island is home to some of the UAE’s most exciting attractions, including Ferrari World – home of the world’s largest roller coast – events, as well as concerts and much much more.

A style icon - Yas Viceroy Hotel

The flagship project of the $36 billion Yas Island development, the Yas Viceroy Hotel is a breath-taking fusion of architecture, design and technology, set half on land and half on water.

It is also the first hotel in the world built directly over a Formula One race track and in 2010 was voted “World’s Leading New Hotel” by World Travel Awards.

Home of the world’s leading airline

The UAE flag carrier Etihad Airways also continues to blaze a trail in aviation. Established just eight years old, the Abu Dhabi based airline has grown into a global superbrand.

Its growth has never fallen below 40 per cent a year in that time. Last year it reached the milestone stage of moving into profit.

This year it was voted Middle East’s Leading Airline, Middle East’s Leading Airline First Class and Middle East’s Leading Cabin Crew by the World Travel Awards.

A total of 8.3 million passengers flew with the flag carrier in 2011, up 17 per cent on 2010.

James Hogan, chief executive of Etihad Airways, said: “Despite the global financial crisis, continued high oil prices, regional instability and natural disasters, we have delivered.”

Meanwhile, attracting the luxury traveller forms an integral part of Abu Dhabi’s growth strategy.

Royal Jet, the private jet charter company, has just come off its most success year yet in its eight-year history.

Royal Jet offers unrivalled luxury service

The company, voted World’s Leading Private Jet Charter by the World Travel Awards, reported a 226 per cent increase in net profits year-on-year in 2012.

Cruise facilities

A new terminal, designed to accommodate 1,300 passengers has been built at Mina Zayed as Abu Dhabi continues to develop as a cruise destination.

A joint project from Abu Dhabi Ports Company and Abu Dhabi Terminals, the facility has been designed to cater for the 2012/2013 cruise seasons.

MSC Lirica became the first vessel to homeport in the emirate following the opening of the terminal in late 2011.

Abu Dhabi International Airport has ambitious plans for the future.

In the coming five years, the airport will be focusing on achieving new competitive milestones with the completion of the new Midfield Terminal Building, scheduled to open in 2017.

Abu Dhabi International Airport

The 700,000 square meter building is a landmark project being undertaken in Abu Dhabi and the UAE, and will be able to handle 27-30 million passengers per year when it opens.

Reasons to Celebrate

One of the highlights of the coming year is sure to be the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, scheduled to take place at the spectacular Yas Marina circuit on November 1st-3rd 2013.

Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is now an integral part of the F1 calendar

With United Arab Emirates flag-carrier Etihad Airways recently signing a deal with the Formula 1 group to extend its title sponsorship of the Grand Prix for a further four years, the event look sets to grow yet further.

The deal will see the airline sponsor the event through to the 2015 with two F1-liveried aircraft flying to destinations across its network.

Saadiyat Island’s cultural district is where the Louvre Abu Dhabi will open in 2015, followed by the Zayed National Museum a year later and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi in 2017.