Marriott International and Al Habtoor Group say they have agreed to end a contract to manage three ultra-luxury hotels in the heart of Dubai.
After months of rumoured unrest, Marriott International, the largest hotel group in the world, will “no longer manage or otherwise be associated with” The St. Regis Dubai, W Dubai Habtoor City, and The Westin Dubai Al Habtoor City, with effect from July 31, 2018.
Offering over 1,600 rooms between the three hotels, owner Al Habtoor Group will now be tasked with finding a new hotel operator to manage the properties and provide them with new brands.
The hotels have only been open for around two years. Most hotel management deals, struck by the owner and the hotel brand who agree to operate the property under their name, are set for 30 years or more.
Al Habtoor Group and Marriott International said that they had reached a mutual decision “amicably.”
“The parties are working closely together to ensure a smooth and seamless transition for associates, clients and partners,” the statement from Marriott International said.
It was unclear on Tuesday if this meant that the majority of staff would be staying on to work for the new hotel operator, or if they would be made redundant.
Khalaf Al Habtoor, chairman of Al Habtoor Group, said: “We maintain a strong and friendly relationship with Marriott International. This decision marks the start of a new era for Habtoor Hospitality as we focus more on strengthening our own brands and expanding our hotel-management portfolio.”
In their own remarks on the split, Marriott International said that Al Habtoor Group would continue to be an important partner, adding that it valued the relationship, and thanked them for their partnership.
“[We wish] them all the very best in their future endeavours,” said Alex Kyriakidis, president and managing director for the Middle East and Africa, Marriott International.
A replacement for Marriott International has yet to be named, and there has been no official indication of why the pair have decided to end their agreement early. Since the company’s $13 billion acquisition of Starwood in 2016, Marriott International now operates 5,700 properties and 1.1 million rooms, representing 30 hotel brands.