Travel may have taken a knock in 2020 thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, but the upside has been that domestic tourism has flourished as people flock to local hotels in search of a change of scenery.
A recent survey by Dnata Travel, part of the Emirates Group, found that 91 per cent of respondents planned to travel around the country or “experience more of the UAE” in 2020 and 2021.
If you're in that majority, you might be interested to learn that despite the Covid-19 crisis, many new hotels are set to open here in the next 12 months. In Dubai alone, 79 hotels with a total of 26,168 rooms are on track to launch before the end of the year, according to a report from TopHotel.
From long-awaited megaprojects such as Atlantis, The Royal on Palm Jumeirah to the first Mama Shelter in Dubai, Vida's foray into Umm Al Quwain and the Address Fujairah finally opening its doors, here are 11 hotels that you'll want to put on your 2021 staycation radar.
1. The St Regis Dubai, The Palm
Located on the trunk of Dubai's Palm Jumeirah, the long-awaited St Regis Dubai, The Palm, will open in May this year.
The hotel is connected to Nakheel Mall and will be home to one of world's highest infinity pools, located on the 50th floor, about 210 metres above ground. The hotel also has a rooftop viewing deck with vistas over the Arabian Gulf, Dubai Marina and the city skyline.
Set to open with 289 rooms and suites, plus 504 luxury apartments, all visitors to the hotel will get the signature St Regis butler service. The St Regis Beach Club, an extension of the hotel, will also feature an infinity pool along with a state-of-the-art gym and fitness centre.
Opening May 2021, rates to be confirmed. The St Regis Dubai, The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai; marriott.com
2. Atlantis, The Royal, Dubai
After postponing its original opening date from 2020, Atlantis, The Royal is one of Dubai’s biggest hotel openings for this year. Located right next to its sister hotel Atlantis, The Palm, the new twin-tower hotel is 43 storeys tall and has no fewer than 90 swimming pools.
It's also set to be home to a wealth of celebrity chef-backed restaurants, including Ling Ling by Hakkasan and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. The elevated Sky Pool on level 22 is a 90-metre-high infinity pool, complete with a DJ booth, private cabanas and water fountains.
Guests checking in will also have access to Aquaventure, The Lost Chambers, Dolphin Bay and other facilities at Atlantis, The Palm.
Opening late 2021, rates to be confirmed; Atlantis, The Royal, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai; atlantis.com
3. Vida Beach Resort Umm Al Quwain
Umm Al Quwain, the least populated emirate in the UAE, is stretched across a narrow peninsula and is best known for its rich coastal mangroves. From February, there will be a new go-to destination in the emirate as Emaar is opening Vida Beach Resort Umm Al Quwain.
Located on the shoreline, the hotel has private beach access, watersports and a swimming pool overlooking the Arabian Gulf. The Spa by Vida makes relaxing easy, and the rooftop lounge looks like a great sundowners spot. Children can enjoy playtime at Qix by Vida, and four-legged friends are also welcome in this dog-friendly hotel.
Opening February 2021, Rates from Dh288; Vida Beach Resort, Al Khor Sheikh Ahmed Bin Rashid Al Moalla, Umm Al Quwain; vidahotels.com
4. Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island
Having opened its doors to some lucky VIP guests in town for the UFC in January this year, Hilton's newest hotel in Abu Dhabi will officially open to travellers from March.
Located in Yas Bay, the five-star Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island is a waterfront, family-friendly resort with gorgeous views over the Arabian Gulf. It has 545 rooms, including 59 suites, and a huge outdoor pool complex that includes a children's splash pad. There's also a grand ballroom, beach club, Hilton Fitness gym and an Eforea spa.
When it comes to dining, the hotel will open several new food and drinks outlets including Osmo Lounge and Bar, Graphos Social Kitchen and the Capila pool bar. All visitors checking in also get free Yas Island Theme Park tickets.
Opening March 2021, rates from Dh594. Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island, Yas Bay, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi; hilton.com
5. Radisson Resort Ras Al Khaimah, Marjan Island
The first Radisson in Ras Al Khaimah will open on Marjan Island, the emirate's first man-made archipelago, in Q3 this year. The beach resort comprises two towers, with 408 hotel rooms in total, including 24 superior rooms, family rooms and suites.
It's situated right on the shoreline and guests will have access to a private beach and a huge infinity pool. For dining, there will be three restaurants to choose from, as well as a lobby cafe and bar.
Guests checking in to the newest Radisson Resort can enjoy impressive views of the Arabian Gulf from every room in the hotel.
Opening Q3, rates to be confirmed. Radisson Resort Ras Al Khaimah, Marjan Island, Ras Al Khaimah; radissonhotels.com
6. Mama Shelter Dubai
The quirky Mama Shelter brand is in seven countries and 13 cities, including Los Angeles, London, Paris and Rio de Janeiro. By Q3 2021, Dubai is set to be included in the line-up.
The boho-style glass-fronted hotel will combine design-led bedrooms with rooftop views, home-cooked meals and an "anyone is welcome" vibe. Located in Business Bay, the sleek hotel is 25 storeys high and has 197 colourful guest rooms. Each comes with luxury bedding, free films and smart TVs, organic toiletries and the occasional photo booth.
It will also be home to an all-day diner, rooftop bar, volleyball court and swimming pool.
Opening Q3, rates to be confirmed. Mama Shelter Dubai, Business Bay, Dubai; mamashelter.com
7. SLS Dubai Hotel & Residences
The first SLS hotel in the Middle East, the loft-style SLS Dubai Hotel & Residences will be one of the tallest hotels in the emirate when it opens its doors later this year. No exact date has been revealed for the hotel's launch, but construction on the seventh SLS hotel in the world is complete and guests are expected to be welcomed during the second quarter of the year.
The 75-storey tower in Downtown Dubai has 245 rooms, all with unobstructed views of the city and Dubai Creek. On the hotel's highest floors is "The Crown". Encompassing levels 69 to 75, it will be home to several new dining and leisure outlets including Carna steakhouse, Mediterranean restaurant Fi'lia and the Sky Lobby & Mixology Lounge Bar.
It's also where the Ciel Spa and gym are located and where guests can enjoy two rooftop infinity pools, which are some of the highest in the world.
Opening Q2, rates to be confirmed. SLS Dubai, Marasi Drive, Business Bay, Dubai; slsdubai.com
8. 25hours Hotel Dubai One Central
The first 25hours hotel to open in the Middle East will do so in Dubai in early 2021. This boutique-style property hails from Europe and has a laid-back, nomadic vibe that draws inspiration from the heritage of its destination.
The 25hours brand is all about telling stories and celebrating culture, so guests checking into the Dubai outpost can expect a luxury stay interspersed with Bedouin traditions, desert colour schemes and Arabian touches. The Hakawati Suite on the eighth floor spans 230 square metres and has some of Dubai's best city views.
Directly opposite Dubai World Trade Centre, the hotel has 434 guest rooms, creative communal and co-working spaces, a vinyl player and Walkman area, and four restaurants and bars, including a traditional Bavarian hops garden. The brand's first Stop the Water Spa will also open at 25hours Dubai, and there is also set to be an open-air cinema.
Opening Q2, room rates to be conformed. 25Hours Dubai One Central, Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai; 25hours-hotels.com
9. Address Fujairah Beach Resort
Located on the east coast of the Emirates, the Address Fujairah Beach Resort will open in March, giving travellers one more spot to escape to when seeking a staycation.
Located in a small town called Sharm, the 196-room hotel commands breathtaking views of the mountains and the sea. There's a luxury spa, two sea-facing swimming pools, fitness club and children's play area, plus a dive centre for those looking to make the most of Fujairah's amazing marine life.
The nearby beachfront promenade will be lined with restaurants and cafes, perfect for an evening stroll.
Opening Wednesday, March 31, rates to be confirmed. Address Fujairah Beach Resort, Sharm, Fujairah; addresshotels.com
10. InterContinental Mina Al Arab, Ras al Khaimah
The first InterContinental hotel to open in Ras Al Khaimah will be ready to welcome visitors in Q2. Located on the waterfront, the InterContinental Mina Al Arab will have 350 guest rooms and suites, a health club and spa, two swimming pools and several restaurants.
Covering an area of 43,770 square metres, the hotel is located on a headland surrounded by protected coastal wetlands with a sweeping beach on one side and a manmade waterway on the other. All of the guest rooms, suites and chalets offer views over the water.
There's also set to be extensive food and beverage options including a 150-seat, all-day dining restaurant, three more restaurants, two bars, a lobby lounge and an outdoor pool bar.
Opening Q2, rates to be confirmed. Intercontinental Mina Al Arab, Mina Al Arab Road, Ras Al Khaimah; ihg.com
11. WB Abu Dhabi
One of the most anticipated openings for 2021 is Hilton's new WB Abu Dhabi Hotel on Yas Island. It's the world's first Warner Bros-branded hotel and is geared towards those that can't get enough of Bugs Bunny, Batman, Tom & Jerry or Scooby Doo.
The hotel will have more than 250 rooms, spread across eight storeys and with uniquely decorated interiors celebrating Warner Bros' extensive film and television library. There will be signature WB restaurants, a spa, fitness facilities, a large ballroom and meeting rooms, as well as a family-friendly pool and Kids Club, and a shaded rooftop pool.
Opening Q4, rates to be confirmed. Warner Bros Abu Dhabi, Warner Bros World, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi; wbworldabudhabi.com