JUMEIRAH suspends planned hotels in Dubai and puts on hold VENU

Jumeirah Group, the hotel-management company that operates Dubai’s Burj Al Arab, said Monday it has shelved plans to launch a new hotel brand. The state-backed company plans to have 60 properties signed or under management by close of 2012, but will not be pressing ahead with its Venu line of hotels, executive chairman Gerald Lawless said.

“By the end of 2012 we should have about 22 hotels in operation. But, we will have another 38 signed up,” Lawless said on the sidelines of a travel event in Dubai. “We have decided to park the Venu brand for the time being. We might look at it again in a year or two…”

The company said occupancy at its Dubai hotels averaged 85 percent in the first four months of 2011 while revenue per available room rose seven percent, compared to the same period a year earlier.

“We really feel that Dubai is back as far as the tourism industry, more the hotel industry I would say, is concerned. We’re seeing improvements across the board,” Lawless said. However, he confirmed Jumeirah had suspended planned hotels on The Palm Jumeirah and in Dubai Healthcare City for the immediate future.

Jumeirah, which is part of Dubai Holding, reported that full-year profit for 2010 rose 58 percent on the year-earlier period. The group is now eyeing expansion in the UAE capital, with Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island earmarked as a potential location. The company is scheduled to open its first property in the emirate, the Jumeirah Etihad Hotel, in September.