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Chelsea Group plans more hotels in Dubai

The group eyes growing demand for serviced apartments in Dubai (SUPPLIED)

By Nina Varghese

The Chelsea Group, which opened its second five-star full-service apartment hotel in Dubai yesterday, has three more hotels in the pipeline, slated to open between the fourth quarter of 2009 and 2010, senior management said.

Karim Kassam, Executive Director, Chelsea Group told Emirates Business: "The Chelsea Group has more than 1,100 rooms under construction in Dubai. This would include a 367-room five-star hotel in the Business Bay, which would be branded Crowne Plaza."

The other two in the four-star category – one near the Mall of the Emirates and the other near Burjuman, would be managed by the Chelsea Group.

Kassam said all the projects are on schedule. "All the projects are financially sustainable," he added.

When asked if it was the right move to open a hotel at time when most companies are credit-starved, Kassam said: "This was probably not the right time to open a hotel but the company is committed to this current projects."

"The project was started in 2007 when no one foresaw the downturn, and when it happened, nobody again predicted that it would be so severe or so quick," he said, adding that "there would be an upturn in six to 12 months".

Kassam said the group was looking at a mix of short and long-term guests to stay at the new property. "The overall occupancy levels had fallen from over 80 per cent and we will be happy if it is around 75 per cent," he said.

He said the market for serviced apartments in Dubai is growing as more people opt for personalised service. The Chelsea Group's flagship property, Chelsea Tower Hotel Apartment, opened in 2005 on Sheikh Zayed Road. The second one is located in Discovery Gardens near Jebel Ali.

The group is a part of the UK-based Crimson Hotels Group, which owns and manages 11 hotels in the UK, Portugal and Dubai. In the UK, the hotels are operated under Intercontinental Hotels and Choice Hotels International.