Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, Chairman of the Al Habtoor Group welcomed a delegation from Starwoord Hotels & Resorts Worldwide headed by Frits van Paasschen, President and Chief Executive Officer of the American hotel and leisure company. The meeting took place at the Al Habtoor Group head office on Al Wasl Road on Tuesday, 6th May, 2014.
The delegation included Guido E. De Wilde, Senior Vice President, Regional Director – Middle East and Neil George - Vice President Acquisitions & Development. Present from the Al Habtoor Group was Mohammed Al Habtoor, CEO and Vice-Chairman; Paul Rayner, Advisor to the Chairman; Maan Halabi, Executive Director, and Henning Fries, Managing Director-Hospitality.
They discussed the rapid progress of Al Habtoor City, the multi-use development on Sheikh Zayed Road, which will include three Starwood branded hotels (St. Regis, Westin and W hotel). The development will also feature three high-rise residential towers for exclusive living, a European-style boulevard, a marina alongside the Dubai Water Canal and an exclusive Franco Dragone Entertainment Group water-themed production exclusively choreographed for the development. The project which was due to open in 2016 is ahead of schedule. It is now expected to receive its first guests mid 2015.
Frits said, once complete, it will be the only place in the world to have three Starwood hotels on one plot. He added that the United Arab Emirates is one of the top destinations that is home to the most Starwood hotels. He pointed out that Dubai has more Starwood hotels than New York.
The group discussed the potential challenges ahead, including recruiting and retaining the best talent. Al Habtoor said, “Our economy is booming but there is a shortage of skills, we therefore need to act early to ensure we get the right people for the job. We are developing new strategies to attract talented people to our organization. This is a very unique project, you won’t find it anywhere else. So that is a big selling point for us. However, we want to ensure we have the right talent mix.”