Wasl Hospitality and Leisure plans to open 14 hotels between now and 2020, and more than double its room capacity to 10,000.
The company will focus on the three and four-star hospitality sector, according to Hesham Al Qassim, the chief executive of its parent, the Wasl Asset Management Group, which manages the Dubai government’s property assets.
Wasl Hospitality expects to have a total of 29 hotels open by 2020. “We’re trying to balance the market,” said Mr Al Qassim. “We need to make Dubai more affordable. Expo 2020 is coming. People coming to Dubai are still complaining about the accommodation cost.
“We need to offer them the right product. I cannot give them a five-star product at three-star rates. I have to offer them the right three-star.”
Wasl Properties opened its first three-star hotel, a Hyatt Place at the Wasl Trio project at Al Rigga in Deira, last year. A second Hyatt Place opened on Friday at Baniyas Square in Deira, bringing its total number of hotels in operation to 15.
Following this, two four-star Hilton Garden Inn properties – at Al Mina near Port Rashid in Bur Dubai and at Al Muraqabat in Deira – are due to open in October.
Wasl Hospitality has deals with the hotel groups Hyatt, Hilton and Starwood, and will continue to develop some five-star hotel sites.
The company is building Dubai’s first Mandarin Oriental hotel in the Jumeirah district, and has another flagship hotel lined up for Wasl Tower – the 60-storey building planned for the Toyota Building site on Sheikh Zayed Road opposite the Downtown Dubai district.
The tower, which Mr Al Qassim described as a “vertical city” with landscaped park areas, will house 100,000 square feet of offices, including Wasl’s new headquarters, an unspecified number of apartments and a five-star hotel.
The tower has been designed by the Dutch architect Ben van Berkel and the German sustainability specialist Werner Sobek.
“We have signed the contract already [with the hotel operator],” said Mr Al Qassim, without revealing the brand.
“It is a hotel which is very popular worldwide, but it is not really well spread out. They don’t do them in many cities in the world and they only do them in famous cities.”
He said Wasl Hospitality would have six new hotels with Hilton in the coming years.
“We’re doing the largest Hampton by Hilton in the world – more than 400 rooms – facing Dubai airport terminal two,” Mr Al Qassim said.
A four-star and a five-star hotel are also planned for its Wasl Park 1 site between Zabeel Park and the Al Jafiliya metro station in Dubai.
Mr Al Qassim said Wasl Asset Management would continue to build its two other business arms – Wasl Properties, which has more than 30,000 residential and retail units under lease, and an industrial zones management arm that holds 5,200 plots of land – alongside its hotels business to balance risks.
“I come from an accounting background, I am a finance guy,” he said. “I always want to see every pot equal the other one.”
According to the hotel consultancy STR Global, hotel occupancy last month fell 15.4 per cent to 63.2 per cent from the same period last year, and revenue per available room dropped 22.9 per cent to Dh365, largely because of Ramadan.
Compared with Ramadan last year, occupancy levels this year remained steady despite a 6.2 per cent increase in the supply of rooms.
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