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Damac to open next four Aykon Hotels in 'gateway cities' in Europe and Middle East

October 4, 2018

Damac is planning to expand the Roberto Cavalli-designed Aykon Hotels to 'gateway cities' in Europe and the Middle East, according to senior vice president for international development Wael Al-Lawati.

Roberto Cavalli is slated to develop interiors for at least five luxury Damac hotels under the ‘Aykon Hotels with interior design by Roberto Cavalli’ brand. The first of these will be a 220-room, five-star hotel in Dubai Marina’s Al Sufouh area, which is scheduled for completion by 2023. This is the first of five hotels expected to open in the next decade around the world.

'We've been very successful at looking at partnerships with international brands like Fendi, Versace, Paramount, Donald Trump, so it's been quite a journey,' Al-Lawati told Hotelier Middle East at the sidelines of Cityscape in Dubai.

'Our partnerships with international brands first started as a way to test the market,' he ad

ded.

Al-Lawati also gave some insight into the company's decision making process and said that 'the partnerships were first signed to test the market and see if the products would be successful.'

'It later continued to be a part of the conversation on whether we should launch our own branded products or tie up with international brands,' he continued.

Damac's partnership with Cavalli began year ago with the launch of the world's first 'Just Cavalli' villas - which featured interiors designed by the Italian fashion house - and marked the Roberto Cavalli Group's entry into the real estate industry.

Al-Lawati revealed that the two companies started discussing the possibility of exploring the partnership within the hospitality industry rather than a purely residential product.

'For a few years now, there have been various fashion-centric hotel brands opening up around the world and what was interesting for us was to not just open a single hotel but have worldwide exclusivity for the product and launch it [the brand] in multiple cities,' he said.

According to him, Dubai, being their home turf, was the obvious launching pad.

'When you look at the area around JBR, Marina, the beach, its quite a buzzing place with the issue of traffic on weekends and Dubai Media City, situated right next to it, is the centre of creativity in Dubai so it makes sense for us to be there,' he added.

While the brand will be millennial focused, he added that it's 'not to say that people in their 40s and 50s would not appreciate it.'

On further expansion plans he added: 'we are as Damac extensively looking at external markets all over the world. We are being very selective as obviously the brand has been built up over time. For the four other Roberto Cavalli-branded interiors we do have an idea of where we would like to open but we're not in a position to discuss it.'

However he revealed it will definitely be a gateway city in Europe or the Middle East that will fit in with the brand and will be accepted by the city's inhabitants immediately.

'We are currently at a location selection phase for the next hotels. We have a few options that we're exploring but until we get the right location we're not in a rush to announce anything,' he said.

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