Reuters Summit-Elisabetta Gucci plans 40 hotels over 15 years

Wed Jun 2, 2010 9:34pm IST

(For other news from the Reuters Global Luxury Summit, click here)

* First hotel opening in Dubai end-2010

* Eyes second hotel in China next year

By Tamara Walid and Jason Benham

DUBAI, June 2 (Reuters) - Luxury hotelier Elisabetta Gucci is planning 40 hotels over the next 15 years in the Middle East, Far East and South America and aims to open its first hotel in Dubai at the end of 2010, an executive said.

Partner Lorens Ziller at Elisabetta Gucci Hotels & Resorts told the Reuters Global Luxury Summit the construction of the 87-room luxury boutique hotel is completed, with the firm eyeing a second hotel in China next year.

Elisabetta Gucci is daughter of Italian fashion designer Paolo Gucci. "We intend to develop other hotels for the GCC, and outside our focus will be Russia, China, Far East, Africa and South America, particularly Brazil," said Ziller. "We would like to have 40 hotels in 15 years but think this can be over achieved."

Dubai, which suffered the sharpest drops in hotel revenues regionally in 2009, is seeing signs of recovery with improved occupancies, as the Gulf's tourism and trade hub emerges from the impact of the global financial crisis.

The emirate, one of seven comprising the United Arab Emirates, is famous for its opulent hotels.

"If we had a 300-room hotel I would be seriously concerned," said Ziller. "But even in the downturn there's great potential for boutique hotels in Dubai."

In April, Italian designer Giorgio Armani opened his first branded hotel in Dubai in partnership with developer Emaar Properties EMAR.DU at Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest tower.

The Elisabetta Gucci hotel was originally scheduled to open by the end of 2009 but was delayed by a year, said Ziller.

"Because of the global market financing was halted and the overall liquidity of developers was very low we are running a delay of a year," he said. "I hope to see the hotel being finished by the end of the year."

The hotelier partnered with Abu Dhabi developer Baitek International Real Estate to develop the chain of hotels in the Gulf Arab region. The Dubai hotel is funded by Baitek for an undisclosed amount.

Generally, the estimated cost of a luxury hotel could come to 10.4 million euros, said Ziller.

A night at the Elisabetta Gucci Hotel Dubai would cost as little as an estimated 1,500 UAE dirhams ($408.5) to as much as 25,000 dirhams ($6,808), Ziller said.

Guests will have the option to buy anything in the hotel from furniture and bed linen to slippers. Elisabetta Gucci works with Italy's Formitalia Luxury Group to create exclusive interiors, furniture and art.

A large number of future hotels, particularly in Russia and Eastern Europe, would be converted historic properties, he said.

The hotelier plans to form a hotel management company in June to manage its hotels worldwide and ensure quality is preserved, said Ziller. (Editing by Louise Heavens)

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