Armani Hotel to open in Burj Khalifa

The world's first Armani Hotel, one of the most eagerly anticipated features of the Burj Dubai, is set to open.

The world's first Armani Hotel, one of the most eagerly anticipated features of the Burj Dubai, is set to open on March 18 in a challenging operating environment for even the most established hotel companies. Armani Hotels and Resorts was launched under an agreement between the Italian fashion house Giorgio Armani and the developer Emaar Properties in 2005. They now have plans to open at least 10 Armani hotels and resorts internationally within the next decade.

The first Armani luxury hotel, which was delayed along with the opening of the world's tallest tower, will occupy the levels between the concourse and the eighth floor, and levels 38 and 39 of the tower. Its 160 rooms were personally designed by Mr Armani. The tower will also include the Armani Residences, nearly 150 suites to be sold as private homes. "The Armani Hotel is expected to act as an anchor to the Burj Dubai," said Chiheb ben Mahmoud, the senior vice president at Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels Middle East and North Africa.

"The Armani Hotel cannot be completely shielded from the global economy, but it is expected to give a boost to Dubai hospitality. It will be interesting to see how the new brand will establish itself and set its standards in a challenging environment." Hotels in Dubai were forced to cut prices last year as global tourism slowed and a number of new hotels entered the market. But Mr ben Mahmoud said rates have now reached a more "normal" level, having soared unsustainably high in 2007 and 2008, when there was a more limited supply of rooms and nearly all hotel development was at the luxury end of the market.

Analysts have said the fact that Armani is a popular brand worldwide and that Emaar has already established itself as a hotel operator through its Address hotels will stand the Burj Dubai hotel in good stead. The hotel will have a nightclub called the Armani Privé, a spa, an Armani Dolci confectionery store and an Armani Galleria.The opening of the Armani Hotel in Dubai will be followed by the launch of the Armani Hotel Milano later this year.

Other properties under development include the first Armani Resort, planned for Marrakech, and the first Armani Residences villas, for Marassi in Egypt, Armani Hotels and Resorts said. Other Armani hotels, resorts and residences are being planned for New York, Tokyo, Shanghai and London. The Armani Residences - 144 one and two-bedroom suites - are between levels nine and 16 of the Burj. "There are indeed luxury hotels in Dubai, but there will only be one Armani Hotel," Emaar has said, shrugging off the fact that several five-star hotels are expected to open in Dubai this year.

The Burj Dubai will receive its first residents as early as next month. They will be the first of more than 12,000 people to live and work in the tower. The phased handover of 1,044 residences will start with the Armani Residences and will be followed by The Residences.