Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Tourism

Neom’s Giga-project Gulf of Aqaba: A Collection of Space-age Destinations

3 months ago

Saudi Arabia’s Belgium-sized city of Neom has unveiled another giga-project. It’s called the Gulf of Aqaba and will contain many of the futuristic hotels the $500 billion project has announced in recent months.

The Gulf of Aqaba project will be along the coast with the same name, at the northern tip of the Red Sea. It will house upmarket boutique hotels like the Epicon project, Siranna and Leyja. Neom also announced an ambitious events and entertainment space called Utamo, promising to fly in celebrities.

Tucked into in a mountain located along the Gulf of Aqaba coastline, Utamo will be used for music events, exhibitions, and art activations. It will also have a string of high-end restaurants dotted around.

The Gulf of Aqaba Grand Plan

In November, Skift reported that Neom had trademarked a dozen terms under the “hotel services” category, suggesting a big push into hospitality by the Saudi giga-project. These trademarks included Epicon and Leyja, as well as Siranna and Utamo.

You can see all the other trademarks here.

Saudi’s Leyja project comprises three hotels with 40 keys each in the mountain area near the Gulf of Aqaba. Habitas has been confirmed as the operator, and its founder and CEO has promised he will create something people will flock to.

Leyja Saudi Arabia NEOM unveiled
A rendering of the three Leyja hotels. Supplied.

“Human connection is at the core of our brand and ethos,” said Habitas CEO Oliver Ripley, during a virtual press conference in the metaverse. “We want to send guests on a transformative journey and they are invited to attend a welcome ceremony. Really, the essence is about reconnecting with themselves, their loved ones and with new friends and people. It’s all about human connection.”

The plan for Epicon comprises a select few hotels and restaurants, including two towers – one standing at 225 meters and the other soaring to 275 meters. These towers will host an “ultra-premium” 41-key hotel and 14 suites and apartments constituting luxury residences. Near the hotel, the Epicon resort offers 120 rooms and 45 residential beach villas. Neom has not disclosed the opening date or development cost. In addition to the accommodations, Epicon will encompass beach clubs, lounges, restaurants, and boutique shops.

A rendering of Epicon.
A rendering of Epicon. Supplied.

Celebrities at Neom

Earlier this month, Will Smith was at Neom, invited by the project’s media team, Neom told Skift.

Smith posted a video on Instagram morning his recent visit to Neom.

The post went out to Smith’s 64 million followers and came during his trip to the Kingdom where he also stopped at the Red Sea Film Festival in Jeddah to plug his upcoming movie.

Hotels

Siranna: Saudi Arabia’s Idea of a Boutique Hotel

3 months ago

Saudi Arabia’s ambitious mega-development Neom continues to announce small boutique hotels. With more than half a trillion dollars at its disposal, Neom could build the biggest hotels in the world, but, for now, is opting to unveil properties no more than 100 keys in size.

Siranna is the latest. A 65-room hotel with 35 residences attached as well. It will also have a beach club, a “sunset terrace,” and a string of high-end restaurants. It joins two other futuristic hotel projects within the surrounding Gulf of Aqaba region, including Epicon and Leyja. All three projects maintain a focus on integrating themselves with nature and disconnecting guests from the noise of modern life.

To this end, architects involved in Siranna say they have drawn inspiration from the architecture of the ancient world.

No opening date, operator or price tag was announced with Siranna, as is the norm with Neom. Thus far, we know that Leyja will be operated by barefoot luxury brand Habitas, which received a $400 million investment from the Saudi government earlier this year.

Neom’s Potential Boutique Hotel Collection

Earlier this month, Skift reported that Neom had trademarked a dozen terms under the “hotel services” category, suggesting a big push into hospitality by the Saudi giga-project. These trademarks included Epicon and Leyja, as well as Siranna, which is now confirmed this week.

You can see all the other trademarks here.

Leyja Hotels At Neom

Saudi’s Leyja project announced last month comprises three hotels with 40 keys each in the mountain area near the Gulf of Aqaba. Habitas has been confirmed as the operator, and its founder and CEO has promised he will create something people will flock to.

Leyja Saudi Arabia NEOM unveiled
A rendering of the three Leyja hotels. Supplied.

“Human connection is at the core of our brand and ethos,” said Habitas CEO Oliver Ripley, during a virtual press conference in the metaverse. “We want to send guests on a transformative journey and they are invited to attend a welcome ceremony. Really, the essence is about reconnecting with themselves, their loved ones and with new friends and people. It’s all about human connection.”

Epicon Hotels At Neom


The plan for Epicon, situated along the Gulf of Aqaba coastline, comprises a select few hotels and restaurants, including two towers – one standing at 225 meters and the other soaring to 275 meters. These towers will host an “ultra-premium” 41-key hotel and 14 suites and apartments constituting luxury residences. Near the hotel, the Epicon resort offers 120 rooms and 45 residential beach villas. Neom has not disclosed the opening date or development cost. In addition to the accommodations, Epicon will encompass beach clubs, lounges, restaurants, and boutique shops.

A rendering of Epicon.
A rendering of Epicon. Supplied.