Jumeirah is probably the most ambitious hotel chain is the world, and plans to expand its portfolio of hotels from 10 to around 40 properties over the next four years.
The re-branding of the Jumeirah Essex House follows in the wake of a $500 million purchase last September by the Dubai Investment Group, which is owned by the Dubai Government. Jumeirah is in turned owned by Dubai Holdings, another Dubai Government entity. As Chief Executive Officer Gerald Lawless comments:
‘North America is a very important market for future growth and we will continue to work with our partners in expanding on this continent. We are looking at between four to five hotels in North America, including a resort in the Carribbeans and our next expansion could come this year.’
The Jumeirah portfolio of properties is already an impressive one. Aside from the magnificent Burj Al Arab in Dubai, the group operates the neighboring Jumeirah Beach Hotel and the Madinat Jumeirah with its two large hotels; the Jumeirah Emirates Towers in downtown Dubai, and the Jumeirah Beach Club Resort; plus the Bab Al Shams Desert Resort. In London there is the Jumeirah Carlton Tower and Jumeirah Lowndes Hotel, both in Belgravia.
The latest addition, the Jumeirah Essex House was formerly managed by Starwood under two brands: a 501-room Westin and 104-room St Regis hotel. Jumeirah is to keep all the existing 600 staff to run the 605-room hotel which will start a $50 million refurbishment later this year.
‘All the employees will undergo a training programme to get acquainted with our unique luxury hospitality culture,’ says Mr. Lawless. ‘Our senior management has already moved here as a part of the takeover process.’
Middle East travelers staying at the Jumeirah Essex House are unlikely to be disappointed. This splendid example of Art Deco architecture was completed in 1931, and has a prime location at 160 Central Park South between Sixth and Seventh Avenues.
Its signature restaurant features the celebrated French chef Alain Ducasse, and in the Zagat Survey 2005 its service was described as ‘meticulous but unpretentious’ and rated No1 in New York City, no mean achievement in a city where the restaurant scene could be characterized as competitive to say the least.
Over the past decade the success of the Dubai hospitality industry has been the talk of the global industry, and Jumeirah has been a driver of this phenomenon. The arrival of Jumeirah in New York City thus marks a new stage in the expansion of the sector.
But with the Burj Al Arab, arguably the world’s most luxurious hotel, already heading its portfolio, the Jumeirah Essex House looks just another step towards establishing a much larger chain over the next few years.