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Arabian Hotel Investment Conference

Raise the bar on architectural best-practice, industry urges

Jonathan WorsleyA balance of wills between investors, developers, hoteliers and designers must be struck if the region’s hospitality sector is to continue its lead in raising world-class standards, according to Jonathan Worsley, co-organiser of the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) taking place next month at Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai.

Worsley said that as hospitality projects move swiftly from hotels to full-scale resorts, extra care at the stage of the master plan is a must. He warned that, in resort development ‘one size does not fit all’.

“Resort development is an intricate topic driven by the obvious fact that resort development is multi-faceted and layered.

“At AHIC 2008, we have dedicated a session to the development of resort projects.  Leading architectural consultants will come together to offer relevant ‘do and don’t’ theories for the regional market,” said Worsley.

He said that unlike a traditional stand-alone hotel, defining the actual user profile for a resort product is actually more important than the audience profile, although both must be very clearly identified.

“A resort profile and mix must be clear in its ultimate offer and user experience. It is likely that a high-powered business executive will become a family resort user in his or her guise as a parent. Conversely, not all parents will look to use a business hotel,” he mooted.

“Alternatively, the resort end-use could be steered away from young families and geared towards adults including golf, wellbeing or perhaps adventure and extreme sports. Whatever the mix, experience and delivery must be clear and accurate from the outset,” he stressed.

John Elliott, RIBA, Senior Vice President at WATG agreed. He also urged that cutting corners is a ‘no-no’ where resort development is concerned.

“When thinking about how to develop a resort project, it is always important to remember that cutting corners on design does not pay.

“The owner, the developer, the project manager, the design team and local authorities should all be striving for the same thing – a high-end, profitable, sustainable project that delights the paying guest … the real client at the end of the day.”

Worsley said that some of the region’s first resorts will stand as case studies to demonstrate how resort development in the Middle East has reached a new level. He cited WATG’s Atlantis, The Palm, as an example.

Other WATG projects include Emirates Palace, the One&Only Royal Mirage, as well as Emaar Misr projects in Egypt and the Failaka Island in Kuwait.

Elliott indicated that resort project successes come from good clients.  “Resort development can be the most profitable game in the book, but it has to be played as a team,” he stated.

Elliott is scheduled to join the resort seminar panel at AHIC. He will be joined by Brian Johnson, Managing Director of Godwin Austen Johnson; Alasdair Maclean, partner at the hotel specialist group of David Langdon LLP; Baudilio Ruiz, Chairman of OBM International. Robert Lee, Executive Director of investment projects at Nakheel will moderate the session.

The Arabian Hotel Investment Conference will run from May 3-5, 2008 at Dubai’s Madinat Jumeirah Convention Centre and is jointly organised by The Bench and MEED.According to the organisers, more than 1,000 delegates representing the global hotel industry are expected to attend.

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