JA Resorts & Hotels is celebrating 40-years of operation in the United Arab Emirates this year, having first opened both the JA Hatta Fort Hotel in the Hajar Mountains and JA Beach Hotel at Jebel Ali Beach in 1981.
Some four decades later, the homegrown hospitality group has gone from strength to strength, now featuring ten distinct properties across the UAE and Indian Ocean.
That is in addition to a new youth-focused brand in China and a brand-new property opened in March - JA Enchanted Waterfront Villas Seychelles.
In 1981, the chairman of DUTCO Group of Companies, Ahmed Baker, was in discussions with sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum to build hotels and resorts in key locations in the emirate of Dubai, some of the first leisure hotels in the region.
The Dubai ruler personally recommended Jebel Ali Beach near the new Jebel Ali Port as a suitable location, as he foresaw great growth in the Jebel Ali area.
The sheikh also recommended Hatta, as it was one of his favourite places in the emirate, though lacking development at the time.
Sheikh Al Maktoum was interested and involved to the level that he recommended that JA Hatta Fort Hotel be built in a chalet style rather than high-rise, so that it blended aesthetically with the natural surrounds of the Hajar Mountains.
By February 1981, both projects were complete, and both the ruler of Dubai and Ahmad Baker went to Hatta to place a commemorative foundation stone to officially open JA Hatta Fort Hotel in the morning, and then onto lay another foundation stone and open the Jebel Ali Beach Hotel on the same day.
Described as the ‘original heritage hotel in the heart of the action’, the multi award-winning JA Beach Hotel underwent extensive renovation in 2019 including the addition of sleek glass balconies, new restaurant fit outs and brand new spacious and bright bedrooms and suites.
Similarly, the JA Hatta Fort Hotel has recently introduced a new café called Peaks and has developed many new outdoor areas amid the extensive grounds.
With the recent government investment and development into the Hatta area, the addition of an upgraded helipad at the mountain property has ensured that JA Hatta Fort Hotel is a central base for the many dignitaries visiting the region for new projects.
On top of the success of these two founding properties, JA Resorts & Hotels portfolio now features another eight distinct properties across the UAE and Indian Ocean, as well as a new brand in China targeting young travellers, announced in 2019.
The upper midscale lifestyle hotels will be branded as ‘Big Bed by JA’ and the vision is to roll out 30 units by 2024 – spread across various cities in China.