Dubai: Such is the attention to detail of Armenian businessman Nver M. Mkhitaryan, that during the construction of his new hotel on the Palm, he went 200 metres underground to hand-pick marble in Portugal — not once, but twice.
The Emerald Palace Kempinski is a testament to this precision, and at a cost of over Dh2.5 billion, stands as one of the most expensive hotels in the world.
It arrives at a time of increased downward pressure on hotel rates throughout Dubai, although Mkhitaryan is confident of the resort’s success. “The future of Dubai is going to be brilliant, it’s going to be amazing,” he said in a recent interview with Gulf News.
Laying out his case for Dubai’s strong fundamentals, the businessman argued that the safety and stability of the emirate was an increasingly important factor in attracting both tourists and long-term residents.
Right now in Moscow, it’s -15 degrees Celsius. In four hours, they can enjoy 28 degrees Celsius here in Dubai, in December. Dubai is, at least to me, the place to be.
According to Mkhitaryan, havens such as Dubai would always appeal to the world’s ultra-wealthy. “If you look all over the world, there aren’t that many peaceful harbours” that appeal to tourists from colder climates, he said.
Dubai, the Seychelles and the Maldives, he noted, were among the few truly global destinations that attract a broad demographic of rich travellers.
With Dubai’s status as an international crossroads, Mkhitaryan said that being in a similar timezone to much of Europe would cement its popularity among tourists and winter residents for the foreseeable future.
“Right now in Moscow, it’s -15 degrees Celsius. In four hours, they can enjoy 28 degrees Celsius here in Dubai, in December. Dubai is, at least to me, the place to be in winter, late fall and early spring.”
Gem of a project
The Emerald Palace has all the trappings one would expect from a hotel targeting the world’s top 1 per cent.
Expansive lawns, ornate chandeliers, pink Portuguese marble, and beaches consisting of imported sand from the Maldives all feature at the 391-room property. The Imperial Villas start at around Dh70,000.
Financed in part by a Dh515 million Islamic loan from banking group Emirates NBD, the hotel imported much of its furnishings from specialist European manufacturers; Murano glass from Venice, Blüthner grand pianos from Germany, and handmade carpets from France.
Another reason for Dubai’s appeal as a destination, according to Mkhitaryan, is the abundance of global brands.
There are very few that have yet to establish themselves in the emirate.
“It’s impossible to find a brand that doesn’t exist in Dubai. There was only one name which wasn’t present in Dubai, and that was Alain Ducasse [the French super chef]. So we brought him here,” said Mkhitaryan.
The Michelin-starred chef opened a 400-seat restaurant called miX by Alain Ducasseat the hotel this month, adding to the already broad range of international names that litter the Palm’s food and beverage offering.
The addition of nine other restaurants and bars are an attempt by the Emerald Palace Kempinski to become an entertainment destination for the residents of Dubai, as much as a tourist resort, its owner said. “This is one of the best hotels in the world, not just in the UAE, and it will be ranked accordingly.”
Despite the dimmed outlook for tourism due to a strong dollar and domestic issues in key source markets, Mkhitaryan said he was “quite confident that the future of the hotel will be a success from a business standpoint.”
The developer’s next venture will be a Kempinski hotel in Business Bay, which he said should be ready sometime in 2020.