Hotels gear up for second F1 race

Hotels are already revving up for this year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and will move into overdrive in the next few weeks.

Hotels are already revving up for this year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and will move into overdrive in the next few weeks. The Yas Hotel, the curvilinear building that straddles the race track on Yas Island and hosts VIPs for the Formula One, is upgrading its interiors. Other hotels in the city are already filling up for the November 14 race and its preparatory events, just over two months away.

"We opened for the Grand Prix last year and we were ready in time, but there were various things that we wanted to do, so we waited for the quiet time in August to do them," said Stephen Banks, the director of sales and marketing at Aldar Hotels and Hospitality. Aldar owns and manages the Yas hotel. "Obviously the Grand Prix is coming up, and we're fully booked, so we want to make sure it's all beautiful and shipshape for then."

The improvements, which involve closing off parts of the hotel in stages, have included flooring and carpeting and changes in the restaurants, Mr Banks said. The 408-room Aloft hotel in Abu Dhabi says it is almost fully booked for the Grand Prix. The rooms have been renting at up to Dh1,600 (US$436) a night, said Rene Camilleri, the director of sales and marketing at Aloft Abu Dhabi. But F1 fans were not the main customers, he said.

"We don't have many leisure people who have actually booked for F1," Mr Camilleri said, explaining that most of Aloft's rooms were booked by specialist agencies organising accommodation for F1 participants such as race crews and sponsors' representatives. Sid Sattanathan, the general manager at the Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi, said the hotel had already booked about half its rooms for the Grand Prix weekend, which will begin with practice sessions on November 12 and conclude with the race on November 14.

"We have more than two months to go, so we will fill up for sure," said Mr Sattanathan. rbundhun@thenational.ae