Abu Dhabi opens costliest Holiday Inn room

Abu Dhabi's first Holiday Inn should be able to charge Dh1,750 (US$476) a room during the Formula One Grand Prix, its general manager says.

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Abu Dhabi's first Holiday Inn should be able to charge Dh1,750 (US$476) a room during the Formula One Grand Prix, its general manager says, making the rooms among the chain's most expensive in the world. Sid Sattanathan, the general manager of the new 203-room Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi, said the opening date for the hotel had yet to be confirmed, with up to 30 labourers still working on the finishing touches. The hotel will open about half of its rooms in the first phase.

Mr Sattanathan said he was confident everything would be ready, although the hotel had not started taking bookings for the grand prix. "In a pre-opening phase you don't want to take that big risk, especially as all the hotels are going to be full," he said. The Dh1,750 rate, which is substantially higher than the rates being charged by many of Dubai's luxury hotels, is the maximum room rate that the four-star hotel is able to charge under the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority's rate-capping policy, introduced to stop hotels from overcharging during major events.

"The five-star market [in Abu Dhabi] is crowded but in the four-star market there are not many players," Mr Sattanathan said. Analysts and hoteliers say that mid-market hotels, with their lower building and running costs, are often more profitable than luxury hotels. "It's a very good Holiday Inn product - and they are opening at a very strong time of the year," said Max Cooper, the executive vice president of Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels MENA.

"It's a very well fitted-out modern hotel that is very central. I would think by normal brand standards, this would stand up very well." The hotel's location, across the road from the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), would be a major selling point. The Holiday Inn brand, which is part of InterContinental Hotels Group and was created in 1952, has been revamped and modernised. After the grand prix, the hotel will offer promotional rates of Dh699 for corporate guests and Dh799 for others. Mr Sattanathan expects the room rates to increase afterwards.

The globally recognised brand and its loyalty programme gave the hotel a distinct advantage over its competitors, he said. One competitor will be Starwood's 408-room Aloft hotel, due to open on October 25, which is part of ADNEC and will become the second-largest hotel in the capital after Beach Rotana. With a supply of only about 13,000 rooms in the capital, rates in Abu Dhabi are the highest of any major city in the world, according to Hotels.com.

Another 3,000 rooms are set to open by the end of the year, including more than 2,000 on Yas Island, the site of the grand prix. Mr Sattanathan said he expected the hotel to thrive through business tourism and the increase in sporting events in the capital. "There is room for newcomers like us," he said. @Email:rbundhun@thenational.ae