US-based Carlton chain of hotels is studying expansion possibilities in the UAE through the construction of a five-star hotel and resort in Abu Dhabi this year.
"We are studying the expansion and upgrading of our operations by entering the Abu Dhabi market where business has been growing at a steady pace," said Hosni A Hadi, General Manager of Carlton Tower Hotel in Dubai.
"Abu Dhabi has a shortage of hotels compared to the rate of business growth. No significant decline has been noticed in both visitor numbers and hotel occupancy rates under the influence of the global financial crisis. We should know by the middle of this year how we will proceed with such a project," he said.
Hadi did not disclose any details about the money involved or the location. "The intention is to build a five-star hotel and beach resort", is all he said.
The ongoing study to expand into the Abu Dhabi market comes amid a delay by the company in launching a four-star hotel at Dubai's Marina Walk.
"We had plans to inaugurate a four-star suite hotel in Dubai this April, but following the global financial crisis that we began to feel in November, we have reconsidered the launch date," said Hadi. "Construction is complete but neither the finishing nor all the facilities are ready yet. We expect to put the new hotel into business by early 2010."
Carlton properties have introduced promotional packages and reduced room rates by 30 per cent to attract tourists, Hadi said. "We will be satisfied with an average 70 per cent occupancy rate. We will find new ways to maintain our position in the market, especially with the Dubai Shopping Festival coming up," he added.