In a recent interview to Arabian Business, entrepreneur and hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal spoke about his ambitions to expand his hotels globally as well as about Dubai where his DREAM Hotel is set to open late 2014 at Marina 101. The 720 rooms and hotel apartments Dream Dubai Marina will feature six restaurants as well as a signature nightclub on the tower’s 101st floor.
The skyscraper has been developed by Hampshire Hotel’s joint venture partner, Sheffield Holdings, and its height of 425 metres will make it the planet’s tallest residential building when it is topped out at some point towards the end of this year. When asked about the potential of Dubai, Chatwal said “There’s no lifestyle here, apart from the Armani Hotel, and this city needs more lifestyle brands. There’s no competition -Dubai can take hotels like New York can. I have hotels on 16th [Street, in Manhattan], 44th, 45th, 47th, 48th, 49th, 50th, 52nd, 55th and 59th, plus the Plaza — and I’m still not suffering from the competition.
“I’m not bringing a Tom, Dick and Harry hotel like a Marriott or a Sheraton — I’m bringing something new, and a lifestyle hotel draws a crowd. At one of our hotels in New York we created a beach by bringing in sand from Florida; we have beach cabanas there and a rooftop bar with the best view in the world.”
Chatwal’s plan is clearly to leverage his New York lifestyle model and transplant it wholesale into Dubai. He’s in talks with a number of third parties to bring various food and beverage brands over to the emirate, which will include Bombay Palace, the popular Indian brand that he first founded in the US back in the 1970s. Back in New York, the lifestyle section of the Hampshire Hotels portfolio is run by Chatwal’s son Vikram.
Chatwal also sees other opportunities in the Middle East, including in Abu Dhabi and Doha, as well as Beirut and Cairo, should geopolitical concerns abate. If those plans go ahead, they will be in the same vein as the Dubai venture, however. “I’m looking at Sao Paulo, looking at Hong Kong, we’re very close to finalising a deal in London, and we’re looking at Bombay and Shanghai. We will not jump on it, so we’ll take every deal as it comes.”
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