He predicted that the number visitors to the UAE this year is expected to top 10.4 million, up from 8.7 million last year and noted that Abu Dhabi has already seen a visitor increase of 19 per cent in the first quarter, compared to 2009. He said that the UAE can expect an average GDP growth of between four and five per cent per annum in next five years.
“We are focussing our development in the UAE and want at least three new hotel projects in the pipeline during the next three years. We are watching the economic indicators and they are heading in the right direction. The region continues to out-perform other key markets,” he said.
Nierhaus confirmed that the Group’s Abu Dhabi development, the 377-room Regent Emirates Pearl hotel is on track for a 2012 opening. The project is a joint venture between Atlas Hospitality and Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC). It will be managed by Regent Hotels & Resorts.
“The hotel has a stunning façade, featuring a 22-metre high, five-storey podium with a unique glass exterior that twists 45 degrees to enable guests to experience a ‘new view’ wherever they are in the building,” Nierhaus said. The beach hotel is positioned as a new coastal landmark for Abu Dhabi when it opens its doors in 2012 on the capital’s cornice.
“The Atlas Hospitality Group is responsible for management of our flagship hotel in Dubai Media City, the Radisson Blu Hotel. Additionally the portfolio includes two restaurant concepts, the widely-acclaimed Certo, the Italian Restaurant and Tanjia, the restaurant with authentic Moroccan-theme,” he said.
Nierhaus said that while his primary focus is on the asset development and management of the group’s own hospitality portfolio, he is also opening up group’s expertise to select partner projects.
“We are also geared to sharing our expertise in hotel and F&B and project development by playing the role of the consultant for niche investors, developers and operators,” he said.
Looking at food & beverage, he predicted that this sector, presently valued at $6.78bn is also set for an upswing.
Nierhaus said that the award-winning Certo Italian Restaurant opened its second outlet in the UAE in Abu Dhabi last year and is already experiencing 100% dining demand, matching the success of the flagship outlet in Dubai.
“The Certo brand is now open for roll-out and we are in dialogue with a number of investors in the region,” Nierhaus shared. He said that the aim is to have ten outlets across GCC in the next five years. In addition, he said that several new F&B concepts are on the drawing board.