By Rebecca Bundhun  www.thenational.ae

Emaar Hospitality is going global with plans to open more Armani hotels. It will also open Address hotels in Istanbul and Budapest, its chief executive says.

The Address Hotels and Resorts was launched two years ago and has five properties in Dubai, including The Address Downtown Dubai and The Address Montgomerie Dubai.

Marc Dardenne, the chief executive of Emaar Hospitality, a Dubai-based subsidiary of Emaar Properties, said: “The last two years were about building our brand and the existing hotels, and now it’s really about moving the brand internationally.”

As well as the agreements it is about to sign in Turkey and Hungary, The Address has announced management contracts for properties in the south of France and Marrakech. The company is also considering an expansion across the Middle East and more hotels on its home turf.

“Ideally we’d like to have a beach property [in Dubai],” Mr Dardenne said. “It would be great to have a beach property on the Palm, but there’s nothing confirmed there. Other choices would be Abu Dhabi and the other Gulf states. We are looking at Saudi and Egypt.”

The company also operates Armani Hotels and Resorts, which launched its first property last week, in the Burj Khalifa. It aims to have 10 hotels.

“It is the perfect time to open because it adds one more attraction to the Downtown area,” Mr Dardenne said. “We have bookings from guests who have really chosen to come to stay at the Armani hotel and it happens to be in Dubai, so they had no plans previously to come to Dubai.”

Mr Dardenne said that prices at the hotel would remain competitive, even though Dubai’s hotel industry experienced sharp falls in room rates last year.

“The key is that the hotel is positioned so people will feel that they get value for money,” he said. “A lot of people think that Armani is going to be totally out of reach. Exclusive and great quality doesn’t mean that you have to gouge the customers.”

The next Armani hotel is expected to open in April next year in Milan, while its Marrakech resort should open soon after.

“We are in discussions with partners for locations like New York, Paris, London, Tokyo, Shanghai and Beijing,” Mr Dardenne said.

“The opening of the first hotel would really help us to showcase what the brand is all about and this is not only a great fashion brand, it’s a great hotel brand.”

Mr Dardenne believes next month and June are going to be difficult ones in Dubai, despite a strong performance during the first four months of the year.

“July is going to be very busy for us because that is historically a month where the GCC travels a lot,” he said. “August is going to be very quiet for everyone. Then I think the last quarter will be even stronger than the first quarter of this year. I think the recovery will continue.”

rbundhun@thenational.ae

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