Skift Take

Local development giant Emaar loses five hotels. Marriott gets three as it continues to swell its portfolio and Kempinski gets two, doubling its footprint in the city.

Five hotels under Dubai’s home-grown company Emaar Hospitality have been rebranded in one swoop this week. Properties in prestige locations such as The Dubai Mall (the world’s biggest mall) and Dubai Marina have been rebranded as Kempinski and Marriott respectively. Abu Dhabi National Hotels (ADNH) owns the properties and says the move to strip Emaar branding was a “strategic business decision.”

The New Hotel Brands Are:

  • JW Marriott Hotel Marina, formerly known as The Address Dubai Marina
  • Hotel Boulevard, Autograph Collection, formerly known as Vida Downtown Dubai Hotel
  • The Heritage Hotel, Autograph Collection, formerly known as Manzil Downtown Hotel
  • Kempinski The Boulevard Dubai, formerly known as Address Boulevard
  • Kempinski Central Avenue Dubai, formerly known as The Address Dubai Mall

The above hotels are now on a franchise model, meaning they are operated by ADNH but use Marriott and Kempinski branding. Marriott typically deploys the Autograph Collection for such deals – its go-to soft brand for converting premium properties.

Emaar’s Hotel Business

The switch means a loss of about 1,000 hotel rooms for the Emaar portfolio, and it’s unclear what led to the changes. When the move was announced on the Abu Dhabi Stock Exchange in December, Emaar’s input was brief: “Our collaboration with Abu Dhabi National Hotels has been marked by mutual respect and shared achievements,” read a statement.

Emaar declined to comment for this article.

Emaar is a giant in the Middle East when it comes to retail and real estate. It is the owner of the Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest building. But its hotel business has always been a smaller chunk of the business.

Emaar is yet to release its full 2023 financials, but through the third quarter, its hotel business made a profit before taxes of just under $107 million (395 million Dirhams). The retail and real estate businesses both made 10 times that amount.

The company’s remaining trophy assets in Dubai include the Armani Hotel, the Palace Downtown hotel and Address Beach Resort. At the end of last year, Emaar had 37 hotels in the UAE, GCC and overseas.

Emaar Hotels Outside of Dubai

For most of its local portfolio, Emaar acts as both the owner and operator but it had sold these five hotels to ADNH in 2018. At the time, Emaar Properties’ chairman Mohamed Alabbar said the sale to ADNH for an undisclosed amount marked his new focus on asset-light business.

“We have to focus on the issue of management and hotel management contracts like other global brands such as Hilton and Marriott,” he told CNBC Arabia at the time.

At the end of last year, Emaar Hospitality COO Mark Kirby said the company is planning to spread “Dubai success” overseas.

At the Skift Global Forum East 2023 he said: “We look at where our (existing) guests are traveling to and looking at those places. We’ve built all our relationships based on the success in Dubai. Dubai started with international brands, then it began to build its own.”

Kirby revealed Emaar is in early-stage talks for hotels in the likes of China, Japan and the Maldives.

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Tags: Dubai Hotels, Emaar, Emaar Hospitality, hospitality news, hotel news

Photo credit: A shot of The Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa and two former Address Hotels. Unsplash.

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