Marriott to open 5-star beach resort
By investment through ASQ, the private investment vehicle of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, and operated by Marriott International, a new 5-star, 300 key luxury beach front hotel is to be built. The Ras Al Khaimah Marriott Resort, which is the hotelier’s first property in the Emirate, is expected to open in 2019 once the construction project is finished.
Marriott Hotels is the company’s flagship brand, and has been undergoing a complete brand transformation under the global multi-year campaign ‘Travel Brilliantly’. The hotel will have 45 suites, extensive meeting, health and leisure facilities, and six F&B outlets. It will be located in the northern part of the Emirate, with direct access to a private beach, and with the Hajjar Mountains in the backdrop.
The deal was inked by Marriott International’s Global CEO Arne Sorenson and His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saqr Al Qasimi at the Ras Al Khaimah stand at the 2015 Arabian Travel Market in Dubai. This is the first of two new hotel properties set to be built in a compelling sign that Ras Al Khaimah’s ongoing growth plans are thriving in 2015.
In a clear statement of intent to the global aviation industry, new CEO Haitham Mattar, former Vice President Sales for Hilton Worldwide across MEA, Eastern Europe, Turkey and Russia, called for the world’s airline elite to take notice of Ras Al Khaimah.
“Ras Al Khaimah is an ambitious market and is poised for transformational growth with the development of the Al Marjan Island, a 2.7 million sq. m. man-made archipelago, which will ultimately become home to 30 hotels, entertainment, restaurants, shopping, and theme parks. From tourism, investment and trade, we are building a hugely compelling offering, and it is time that the world’s aviation industry took notice.
“We are in talks with global airlines about using RAK International Airport as an operational base, which will ultimately support over 400,000 visitors flying in and out of the airport directly on an annual basis. We expect to be able to make an announcement within the coming weeks.” said Mattar.
Plans for “Destination RAK” take shape
In support of its new strategy that will see all of the Emirates major government and government related entities that are focused on tourism, investment and trade coordinate activity, Ras Al Khaimah will be embarking on a unified “Destination RAK” approach.
“Ras Al Khaimah is more than simply tourism, inward investment or trade on their own. The reality is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. We are embarking on an ambitious strategy that will see us market destination RAK to ensure that Ras Al Khaimah can become a globally ranked centre for all three combined. It is our goal to deliver on the vision of His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, whereby we can create a prosperous society for all those lucky enough to call Ras al Khaimah “home.” Added Mattar.
First quarter tourism data supports the optimism felt by Ras Al Khaimah’s tourism chief
“2014 proved to be a historic year for Ras Al Khaimah tourism, with a number of important landmarks achieved. Ras Al Khaimah achieved 2.14 million guest nights in 2014, a massive 72% increase on 2013 performance with a recorded total revenue growth of 44%, positioning Ras Al Khaimah as one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in the world.
The first quarter of 2015 is continuing to be an extension of the robust growth with a recorded total revenue growth of 26%. Added to this, the average number of visitors increased by 17% with an increase of room revenue by 12%.
With 5000 hotel rooms in RAK at present and over 730,000 visitors in 2014, RAK is looking to add 1,000 rooms by 2017.
Ras Al Khaimah’s top three markets based on number of visitors are performing strongly, with visitors from within the GCC growing at 51%, India at 81%, China at 63% followed by Eastern Europe at 40%
Presiding over his maiden tourism results announcement, Mattar remarked:
“The stage is set for more. I look forward to next year’s ATM where I will be able to tell an even stronger growth story as our plans for our destination story solidify into a unified programme targeting regional and international commerce as well as the increasingly dominant millennial market.
“We recognise that for many tourists, there is a strong emotional connection that they build up with Ras Al Khaimah, and that is why we want to see more people using #loveRAK in order to keep up with our ongoing growth and development.”