New hotels to open before Grand Prix

The Yas Island Formula One racetrack complex will include five-star, four-star and three-star accommodations and 20 restaurants.

Yas Island, UAE - July 24, 2008 -  A worker on the Formula One track. Laborers work around the clock to finish Aldar's $40 million Yas Island project, which will be the home of the Ferrari World Abu Dhabi theme park as well as a Formula One Race Track. (Nicole Hill / The National)  *** Local Caption ***  NH Yas356.jpgNH Yas356.jpg
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ABU DHABI // There will be seven hotels on Yas Island before the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix takes place in 10 months, the island's developer says. Aldar, which is building the circuit and all the facilities for the Formula One race, yesterday said the hotels would be completed before the race is held on Nov 1. That, said WAM, the state news agency, would put almost 2,300 hotel rooms within walking distance of the track, substantially easing pressure on hotels on the mainland.

The new agency added that there would be 20 restaurants on the island by the race date. More than 50,000 people are expected to attend each of the three days of Grand Prix qualifying and racing. "Abu Dhabi will have the most magnificent facilities in the Middle East in the coming years, as we are planning some of the most spectacular facilities and restaurants," Ahmed al Sayegh, the chairman of Aldar, was quoted as saying at a promotional event for next month's Gourmet Abu Dhabi festival.

There are currently about 14,000 hotel rooms in the capital, although the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) has said it expects this figure to rise to more than 16,660 by the time the Grand Prix comes to town. Most of the high-end hotels in the city centre are already fully, or near fully, booked for the race weekend. Of the seven hotels on Yas Island under construction, the jewel in the crown will be the five-star Yas Marina Hotel, through which part of the circuit will travel.

Built in two parts divided by the track, it will be covered with a shell that can change colour to suit whatever event is taking place at the time. Guests will be able to enjoy some of the best views of the race from their rooms. The operator of the Yas Marina Hotel has not yet been announced. Yas Island will boast three other five-star hotels: the Crowne Plaza, Rotana and the first Radisson SAS hotel in Abu Dhabi. Another Crowne Plaza is expected to have an early, temporary opening on Reem Island for the race.

One four-star hotel will also be open in time: the Staybridge Suites, a chain run by the InterContinental Group. The Park Inn chain will open a three-star hotel, its first in the UAE, as will Centro by Rotana, a new budget chain for the Middle East. Tickets for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix are expected to go on sale in the coming weeks, although it is not known how soon visitors will be able to make reservations for the new Yas Island hotels.

In September, Khaldoon al Mubarak, the chairman of the Grand Prix organiser, Abu Dhabi Motorsport Management, said it was important that hotel prices for the weekend not spiral out of control. ADTA said it was ready to cap hotel prices if they were deemed unreasonable.