Dubai casts its net farther


Jumeirah Group, the Dubai-based luxury hospitality company and a member of Dubai Holding, has been appointed by Grupo Mall, developer of residential and mixed-use projects throughout Spain and Mexico, to manage a luxury hotel in Panama City. Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, also the vice president of the United Arab Emirates, owns Dubai Holding which owns the world-famous Jumeirah group of hotels lining the highest-premium resort real estate/coastal area of Jumeirah Beach.

The management agreement was signed by Mr. Julio Noval-García, president of Grupo Mall, and Mr Gerald Lawless, executive chairman of Jumeirah Group, at a private signing ceremony held in Burj Al Arab, Dubai.

Designed by architectural firm Chapman Taylor and Humberto Echeverria and Associates, Los Faros de Panama complex will ultimately consist of three towers. The central tower will be 361 meters tall and 85 floors (Phase 1), making it one of the tallest towers in Latin America. The two lateral towers (Phase 2) will reach 266 meters in height with 75 floors.

In addition to luxury residences and Class A office space, the main tower will include Jumeirah Los Faros de Panama, comprising 400 luxurious hotel rooms and suites, Jumeirah’s signature Talise spa, fitness and leisure amenities, and 3,000 m2 of conference and meeting facilities. Hotel guests, residents and visitors to the tower will also have access to exclusive restaurants, lounges and retail outlets.

Los Faros de Panama is located in the central district of San Francisco, adjacent to the emerging and dynamic neighborhoods of Punta Pacifica, Punta Paitilla, Marbella and Avenida Balboa. The complex is in close proximity to the Pacific Ocean and faces Panama’s upscale shopping centre, Multiplaza Mall; it is also adjacent to the Hospital Punta Pacifica, affiliated with the Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System. Tocumen International Airport is located 17 kilometers away, with daily flights to major cities in North and South America.

With a property in the US, and now in Panama, Jumeirah is not flinching in the face of recession, economic slowdown and the increased debate on global warming.

By 2011, the Jumeirah Group – before the downturn – expected to operate or to have under construction some 60 hotels and resorts worldwide with 65-75 percent of the growth markets in Asia. Dubai Holding subsidiaries also expected to open at least two additional hotels in Dubai in Healthcare City and Business Bay in 2008. However, things have markedly slowdown since the financial crisis. Despite it, Jumeirah’s forging ahead.

Executive chairman Gerard Lawless said: “Certainly, we do not come away with a feeling of great pessimism. We have strong focus in places in the Gulf and new destinations particularly India and China, both of which are sources of funds to keep the world economies going. Though there are a lot of talks on sovereign REIT funds, the latest, popular and fashionable targets, people have remained pragmatic in the Gulf, in Abu Dhabi and in Kuwait were very mature and well-known investment funds have been around for about 30-45 years. People here are investing money wisely for their future generations. I think, it is unfair to target some of this REIT funds and I felt there was an underlying trend to worry about what China is going to do in the long-term with their commodity buying around the world.”

Located in the tiny yet most progressive Gulf Cooperating Council emirate of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, the Jumeirah Group must be the fastest-growing operator of luxury hotels and resorts in the world. It has won numerous international travel and tourism awards, including top accolades, the most recent recognition of which is the World’s Leading Luxury Hotel Brand at the World Travel Awards last December.

Its flagship property and the world’s most luxurious and perhaps the most featured Dubai hotel, the Burj Al Arab was awarded the much-coveted title of World’s Leading Hotel.

In addition, Jumeirah operates the award-winning and iconic Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Madinat Jumeirah and Jumeirah Bab al Shams Desert Resort & Spa in Dubai, the Jumeirah Carlton Tower and Jumeirah Lowndes Hotel in London and the Jumeirah Essex House in New York City.

The group’s portfolio also includes Wild Wadi, regarded as one of the premier water parks outside of North America and the Emirates Academy, the region’s only third-level academic institution specializing in hospitality and tourism.