Tilal Liwa expansion seeks five-star rating

Tilal Liwa Hotel is investing Dh200 million on an expansion as it seeks a five-star ranking after adding new rooms, villas and a new restaurant, general manager Ayman Ashor told Khaleej Times during an interview in Dubai at a travel exhibition.

By Abdul Basit

Published: Sat 24 May 2014, 10:35 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 10:36 PM

Owned by Abu Dhabi-based property giant Aldar Properties and managed by Danat Hotels & Resorts, the four-star hotel, in the west of the capital, has 111 rooms.

The property is just four years old and overlooks the scenic Liwa Oasis on one side and the legendary Rub Al Khali (empty quarter) desert on the other.

The expansion work is expected to start in October this year and be completed in a year’s time.

The hotel, which is competing with about six other desert-based hotels across the UAE — a mix of five and four stars — is adding 55 rooms, 15 villas with private pools, another restaurant and a complete spa and fitness centre.

“Once we finish the expansion work, we will apply for an upgrade to five-star [rating], nd hopefully we will get it,” he said. The expansion was prompted by huge demand, he said.

Ashor, who has 20 years’ industry experience, said the hospitality sector was growing fast in the country thanks to the safe and secure environment in the country.

“Actually it’s a challenge for us as the only best service providers will survive. It’s happening now as prices are going up and supply is also increasing. So we have a lot of potential coming up to 2020,” he explained.

He said the hotel was seeing a steady growth in revenue and occupancy despite the challenge of being located in the desert.

The operational cost is much higher compared to a city hotel and or even a beach hotel, he said. The hotel had 78 per cent occupancy last year, with a five per cent increase so far this year, he said.

The hotel expected to reach 86 per cent occupancy for 2014.

Nearby infrastructure projects were adding to corporate business, he said. The Shams solar power project, the second largest in the world, was just four kilometres away from the hotel. The Etihad railway project, which will connect the whole country and eventually other Gulf countries, was just 3 kilometres away.

Another important segment was overseas guests, he said. “Most of the guests we receive from Germany, France, China, England and other Gulf countries.” Meanwhile, camel races, the Liwa Desert Challenge, Extreme Car Racing, Quad Bike Challenge and Liwa Dates Festival in July acctracted visitors.

Ashor participated in the Arabian Travel Market earlier this month. He said: “It is a much-awaited event for us because this meeting is attended by key decision makers in the travel and hospitality industry so we can receive immediate feedback.

“We’ve met with Bon Voyage and signed with them as the biggest French tour operator during the ATM.”

— abdulbasit@khaleejtimes.com

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