The 632-room resort Rixos Bab Al Bahr.
Ras Al Khaimah will be one to watch in 2013 as it opens nearly 1,000 rooms in two key properties.
The 632-room resort Rixos Bab Al Bahr, the Turkish operator’s second UAE property after Rixos The Palm Dubai on the eastern tip of Palm Jumeirah, will be joined by the 349-room Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah, marking the Hilton luxury brand’s UAE debut.
While the focus is predominantly on leisure travel, corporate business will be a key driver in both hotels. The Rixos Bab Al Bahr Vega Convention center will have capacity for 6,000 delegates, while the Waldorf will have Convention Centre that can seat 1,000 people alongside a 450sqm ballroom, multiple pre-function spaces and VIP arrival hall.
The northern emirate hopes the new inventory, the first stage of a series of launches that will see its overall inventory increase to 10,000 rooms by 2016, will grow its visitor numbers to 1.2 million visitors next year. This year, Ras Al Khaimah welcomed over one million visitors until the end of November 2012, according to the RAK Tourism Development Authority. Total hotel revenue between January and November rose to around Dhs582.7 million ($144 million), an increase of 45.7 per cent compared to 2011.
Upcoming properties include the 340- key DoubleTree by Hilton Resort, Marjan Island, scheduled to open in 2014 and the 442-room Crowne Plaza Ras Al Khaimah, scheduled to open on Al Marjan Islands in 2015.
Traditionally Ras Al Khaimah has attracted tourism via Dubai and across the UAE, but in line with the new focus, is seeking to attract more direct business through charter flights from Europe and Russia.
High-profile developments such as Real Madrid Resort Island will also help keep the destination in the spotlight.
The sporting showcase is due to open by January 2015, riding on the football club’s global appeal, and particularly tap into its Middle East and Asian fan base.