Renowned Dubai developer Ajay Bhatia has expressed unwavering confidence in Dubai’s hospitality industry as he prepares to open two hotels in the emirate in the next 12 months.

The founder and CEO of SOL Properties is better known for his residential and commercial developments, including the Hillside Mansions in Jumeirah Golf Estate, mixed use SOL Bay & SOL Avenue towers in Business Bay, Bloomingdale Villas in Sports City, IRIS Amber in Culture Village and various projects throughout Jumeirah Village Circle.

The company’s portfolio will be strengthened further this year, with the addition of Edition Hotel in Downtown Dubai, which was scheduled to open in September last year but had to be pushed to October 2021 as a result of the coronavirus crisis. And the Radisson Beach Resort, on Palm Jumeirah, is pencilled in to launch in the first quarter of next year.

Bhatia told Arabian Business: “I’m very confident in Dubai’s hospitality industry, despite setbacks we have encountered in the face of the pandemic, which has presented challenges. Challenge is not without opportunity and I believe we are looking at a very strong bounce back. The UAE’s esteemed leadership took prompt action, which meant that while the rest of the world was locked down, Dubai continued to implement safety protocols to keep trade flowing and tourists welcome. They were able to enjoy the city and the unique experiences it offers while following strict safety procedures. I think that was a key advantage for the city and I believe with EXPO 2020 on the horizon, there will be more people visiting the city.”

The five-star, 275-key Edition Hotel, next to Dubai Mall, will have four F&B outlets, will be managed by global giant Marriott International and has been designed by world-renowned hotelier Ian Schrager Company.

“Ian Schrager is the godfather of boutique hotels in the world,” said Bhatia. He added: “It’s a very design-centric hotel. We���re very excited about the opening.”

Ajay Bhatia, founder and CEO of SOL Properties

The hotel includes 42 suites, half of them with uninterrupted views of the Burj Khalifa, as well as a ballroom, meeting studios, a spa, gym and infinity swimming pool.

Meanwhile, the first Radisson Beach Resort in Dubai is set to open in 2022 on the West Beach area of the Palm Jumeirah trunk. The four-star property will encompass 400 rooms as well as a range of restaurants and bars, temperature-controlled outdoor swimming pools, a health club and spa.

“Once these two hotels are open, we will look at two more projects that are related to hospitality and the residential market,” said Bhatia. “We want to just keep ourselves to the prime locations, and that means a continued focus on Dubai. I have been in Dubai all of my life and seen the city thrive in the face of comic adversity, coming back stronger every time. For Sol Properties, this is the only market and the only city for us to think about,” he added.

The UAE tourism sector recorded the second highest hotel occupancy in the world in the face of the coronavirus crisis last year, according to figures released by the Ministry of Economy.

The country recorded a 54.7 percent hotel occupancy rate in 2020 – beaten only by China – while the global rate dropped to 37 percent under the weight of the ongoing pandemic and hotels in the Middle East region recorded just 43 percent occupancy on average.

This is in parallel to the decline in tourist activity, which fell by 74 percent around the world and 76 percent in the region.

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