By Shane McGinley  www.arabianbusiness.com

Emaar is planning to build a third Armani Hotel, with Paris leading the way to host the branded resort, Arabian Business can reveal.

“It’s only being designed now,” said Mark Dardenne, CEO of Emaar Hotels and Resorts, on the sidelines of the Hotelier Middle East conference.

Dardenne said Paris was in the running as a prime location for the third hotel, along with New York and Marrakesh.

The second hotel, located in Milan, is still on schedule to open in mid-2011. The first Giorgio Armani-designed hotel opened in the Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai last April and Dardenne said he was pleased with the reception it had received.

“We think we are bringing something different to Dubai and the UAE and so far [it has been] very well received. It was very positive and it is in a fantastic location in Burj Khalifa and is a new product. Restaurants have been very well received and the lounge is very busy and the rooms have been very well accepted.

“These hotels you build them up over the years. I think, eventually, some people will come to Dubai just to stay at the hotel. It is bringing something new to Dubai and that has been very positive,” he added.

In 2004, Italian designer Giorgio Armani and Dubai’s Emaar Hotels + Resorts signed a partnership deal to develop a string of Armani-branded hotels around the world.

Dardenne, who was recently ranked second on Hotelier Middle East’s Power 50 2010 list, was also instrumental in launching Emaar’s The Address Hotels + Resorts brand, which he said had experienced a very positive summer period and is aiming for good results in the final quarter.

“Very good, we are very happy with the business so far and the last quarter looks very strong. The summer was excellent for us and we were able to attract a lot of GCC customers. We have done extremely well and we are very happy with the results,” he said.

This sentiment was echoed at the Hotelier Middle East conference by Omer Kaddouri, chief operating officer of the Rotana hotel group, who reported that Dubai hotels had seen good occupancy rates during the summer.

“At the end of the day everyone is complaining about the increase in inventory. But I don’t think there is a hotel in Dubai today, or many, that are unhappy with their forecasts. Everyone is saying there are too many, but hotels are still achieving business and I don’t think [supply] should be stopped,” he added.

In September, the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing reported that the number of guests at Dubai’s hotels rose to 4.2 million in the first half of this year, an increase of nine percent on the year-earlier period, driven by rising demand from Asia and the GCC region.

However, not all hoteliers in the Gulf enjoyed such a good summer. Rochelle Kilgariff, general manager of the luxury Six Senses Hideaway in Zighy Bay in Oman said the recent months had been the most challenging for the resort since it opened two and half a years ago.

“Ramadan and August – the hottest month of the year – were together this year, so that is where we experienced the worst or most challenging [period] out of the last couple of years,” she said.

“[But] we have stuck to our guns and stuck to our rate. We have kept our room rate above our budget, which is very healthy, so when it does recover we won’t have to work so hard to get it back up again.”

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