DUBAI: If you’re looking to visit the Middle East, a tempting array of options are vying for the attention of global travellers.
The world’s tallest hotel. Two hotels in one, sweeping together like crossed swords. One with the world’s largest jellyfish tank. Another aimed at athletes.
Rather than going for subtlety and blending into their surroundings, these hotels are bursting onto the scene and demanding a visit.
Here’s a look at some of the most interesting scheduled to open in the Middle East in 2023.
When you’re opening in the Middle East’s biggest tourism market, in a city already known for making the fantastical a reality, you have to keep finding new ways to stand out.
That’s what an array of dynamic new hotels are doing this year in Dubai.
Hotels are busy, with occupancy rates for the first 10 months of 2022 above 70%, according to Dubai’s tourism department.
That’s not going to bring down room rates any time soon, even with cranes and construction workers quickly adding to the supply.
At the end of June, Dubai had 773 hotels with 140,778 rooms, up from 714 hotels and 118,345 rooms in 2019, according to design and architecture firm Gensler Middle East. More are coming in the new year.
Atlantis the Royal was previewed last year, and it left some wondering whether it would be Dubai’s most luxurious hotel yet.
The nearly 800-room property is set to welcome guests in February along 2km of beachfront on the manmade Palm Jumeirah.
It’ll have dozens and dozens of pools, including 44 private infinity pools attached to suites and penthouses, and two adults-only pools.
As for special Dubai touches, the resort will boast a helipad, “fire breathing” fountains and a tank with 4,000 jellyfish, described as the largest in the world.
The Ciel Hotel said it will be the planet’s tallest hotel, at 365m. The skyscraper’s 82 floors will have more than 1,000 rooms.
It’s being built at the north end of Dubai’s manmade Marina district, a lovely place to spend an afternoon walking around the promenade, looking at yachts, eating and shopping.
Other than that, not much is known about the property, because the developer is still shopping for a brand to run the place. It’s opening in the fourth quarter of 2023.
The Five Luxe is brand that instantly became popular with locals and tourists, known for partying, when it opened its first hotel in Dubai, in 2019.
Now the company is opening its third property in the emirate, promising to “embody the authentic and unique vibe that global millennials love”.
The beachfront resort will have an outdoor gym, an indoor pool, a paddle tennis court and more. Opening in the fourth quarter of 2023, rooms are expected to start at 1,600 dirhams (US$436 or RM1,928) per night.
First there was a sail. Then a wave. Now comes the super yacht — the Jumeirah Marsa Al Arab.
The Jumeirah Group is finishing a 386-room hotel on the Dubai coast that it’s calling the final part of its trilogy. (The “sail” hotel is the Burj Al Arab, an emblem of Dubai.)
Beyond the normal rooms and suites, there will be 83 luxury apartment-style suites, all surrounded by landscaped gardens.
A dining concept will combine four different restaurants into one venue. It is due to open in the third quarter of 2023.
From the company behind the Atlantis resorts in Dubai and the One and Only brand, the Siro and One and Only One Za’abeel is aimed at those of us who are fit and loving it.
There will be a two-storey gym and fitness programmes shaped by Olympic athletes. The first will open in Dubai late in 2023 in the same tower complex as a new One and Only luxury hotel.
They’ll share restaurants and other cafe spaces in a horizontal, cantilevered section of the building called the Link.
Opening in the fourth quarter of 2023, it will have rooms that are expected to start at US$400 (RM1,770) per night.
The Peninsula is opening two hotels, one in London closely followed by one in Istanbul, In Turkiye – its first openings in nearly a decade.
The Istanbul hotel along the Bosphorus will have 177 rooms, including a 5,490-square-foot suite with its own hammam (Turkyish steam bath), gym and swimming pool right next to the river.
Three of the property’s four buildings are protected landmarks. It’s due to open on Feb 14 and cost from £975 (US$1,034 or RM4,572) per night.
It was only in 2019 that Saudi Arabia, the Middle East’s largest country, began offering tourist visas.
Now, whole luxury islands are opening up, along with dozens of hotels, as Saudi Arabia aims to hit 100 million visitors by 2030.
The nation is planning to spend a trillion US dollars to get there. And despite lots of chatter about the future of alcohol service in the kingdom, nothing has been announced, and officials continue to say they have no plans to change their current bans.
The St Regis Red Sea Resort will be one of two St Regis openings in Saudi Arabia in 2023, the other being in the capital, Riyadh.
What do we know about it so far? The St Regis Red Sea will have 90 villas on a private island, a pool, gym, spa and kids’ club.
It is due to open in the second quarter of 2023.
The Red Sea’s Six Senses Southern Dunes is at one of two inland sites at the Red Sea development.
The luxury brand’s first property in Saudi Arabia will be a desert retreat and spa with 76 rooms and an “artisan village” with arts, crafts, dance and music.
Opening in early 2023, the rates range from US$899 (RM3,975) upwards per night, including breakfast for two.
The Nujuma, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, is the fifth Ritz-Carlton Reserve in the world and first in the Middle East. It will be part of the Red Sea project.
Sixty-three villas will be spread across a chain of private islands and guests can enjoy the amenities you’d expect – a spa, swimming pool and restaurants.
It is due to open in the third quarter of 2023.
The tiny Gulf state of Qatar is just coming down from the biggest event in its history, the 2022 men’s FIFA World Cup.
In the scramble to get rooms ready for all of the expected visitors, some hotels missed the tournament completely, while others partially opened for only VIP guests, waiting to welcome the general public until after the games or even in 2023.
Driving past the Katara Towers containing the Fairmont Hotel and Raffles Doha, one might wonder if they’d fallen asleep and woken up in a CGI Marvel universe.
The building’s sweeping arches are fashioned to look like the Qatari national emblem of two crossed scimitars, or curved swords. One half is the Raffles, an all-suite property, and the other is the Fairmont.
The rates are from US$1,300 (RM5,748) for the Raffles and US$521 (RM2,303) for the Fairmont per night. — Bloomberg