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Hilton Puts Al Ain On The Map

THE TEN-YEAR-OLD Al Ain Hilton hotel is attempting to promote the area as a regional tourist spot for the Emirates. It is also promoting the area worldwide, and it is about to invite a select number of food writers to the region to spotlight Arab cuisine.

Hotel manager Abdel Hamid Kamhawi said: “We are just trying to let people know what we have here. It is an educational process.

“With more tourists coming through places like Sharjah, we are sure they will make the trip to other regional spots such as Al Ain.”

The Hilton was the first international hotel in the UAE, and its monopoly of the oasis city is to be broken later this year when the Inter-Continental opens there.

Mr Kamhawi said: “There is not enough business now to support two hotels. We have established a good reputation but, obviously, a new hotel will attract some of the business. Continued development in Al Ain could stimulate the hotel industry, but at the moment there would not be enough business to go round.”

The Hilton offers weekend and holiday packages for visiting guests, and its high standards of cuisine and service make it an attractive asset to Al Ain as a tourist spot in the Emirates.

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Franklin’s forte is fine food

THE NEW general manager of the Hilton in Abu Dhabi believes that the way to a guest’s heart is through his stomach, and Franklin Haller’s strong food and beverage background is likely to come to the fore in the development of the Abu Dhabi hotel, for which he sees a bright future.

Mr Haller was previously food and beverage manager of the Kuwait Hilton in the mid 1970s and was instrumental in opening the chain’s hotels at Dubai and Fujeirah.

Despite the healthy situation in which Abu Dhabi hotels find themselves, Mr Haller stressed that he would be striving to develop higher standards of cuisine. “My background is Swiss hotel training with an emphasis on first-class cuisine and personalized service with friendly, well-trained staff.

“At the moment there is lots of business for hotels here, but it is important that standards of service and particularly cuisine be kept very high. The Hilton was one of the first hotels in the Emirate, and with a stream of regular guests coming to stay it has been important to maintain standards.”

Mr Haller added that the continued development of Abu Dhabi would ensure good business for hoteliers.

Rich pickings for Cathay

ABU DHABI could provide Cathay Pacific’s biggest slice of business in the Emirates with the opening of a new service from Hong Kong to the UAE capital this month.

The airline’s Boeing 707s link Abu Dhabi with Hong Kong twice a week via Bangkok, and district sales manager in the Emirate, David Bampfylde, said: “We have large Korean and Filipino communities here, and initially this should provide a lot of business for us.

The airline has just appointed senior sales rep Max Paswal in Abu Dhabi.

Mr Bampfylde added that the airline would eventually operate Tri-Stars or 747s on the route.

“After that we hope to promote our Cathay Pacific Discovery Tours, which include a full range of flexible packages throughout our Far Eastern network. After that we expect an increase in business traffic between Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong.”

THE BOOM in car rental firms in the Gulf has been reflected by the recent expansion of international company Budget Rent-a-Car.

The company now has offices in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Doha and Sharjah, and offices are planned in Dubai, Oman and Kuwait.

At the Abu Dhabi office, which runs a fleet of 250 trucks and cars, manager Peter Blott said that Budget’s operation in the Emirate was comparable with a European set-up. “There is great sophistication in the local market, with our customers demanding as high a standard as they would expect in Europe,” he said.

“That is not to say it is anything less than should be expected, but it means there is a great deal of maturity in what is a young and growing travel industry in the area.”

Vehicle leasing to companies is the major part of Budget operations in Abu Dhabi.

Mr Blott said: “OW forecasts for our development in this area have been exceeded, which shows how fast the travel industry has expanded in Abu Dhabi.

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