Elisabetta Gucci chooses Dubai for designer hotel

Another famous Italian designer name is checking into Dubai's hospitality sector, with the world's first Elisabetta Gucci hotel expected to open in Dubai Media City within nine months.

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The designer brand is also considering launching more hotels in the region as part of an ambitious expansion programme of opening about three hotels a year over the next 15 years, starting next year.

Elisabetta Gucci is the daughter of the late fashion designer Paolo Gucci. Elisabetta Gucci Hotels and Resorts is considering Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi as locations in the region for its boutique hotels, said Lorens Ziller, the managing director of the company. Worldwide, it is also looking at China, Brazil and Russia. "I know that there are ongoing negotiations to open one in Abu Dhabi," said Mr Ziller.

The property in Dubai is being developed by the Abu Dhabi-based Baitek International Real Estate Investment. Mr Ziller said the hotel had been delayed after financing fell through, adding the developer had now managed to secure the funds to finish the project. He said room rates would probably start from about Dh1,500 (US$408), with the presidential suite going for about Dh25,000 a night. "Ours is a niche market, really, for boutique hotels," said Mr Ziller. "We don't have a huge number of rooms, so I wouldn't be concerned about any competition, actually. The disadvantage of the big hotels is that they are quite impersonal."

Hotel rates in Dubai have fallen sharply from their peaks but occupancy levels have started to improve despite new rooms coming on to the market, with tourists attracted by the lower prices. Mr Ziller said the structure of the 87-room Gucci hotel had already been built but the interior had yet to be completed. Elisabetta Gucci is not the first Italian brand to choose Dubai. The Armani Hotel opened in the Burj Khalifa in April while a Palazzo Versace hotel is being built in Culture Village and is expected to open by early next year.