Dubai – MENA Herald: Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, Chairman, Al Habtoor Group welcomed Richard Bandera, Austrian Trade Commissioner to the UAE at the Austrian Embassy’s Commercial Section at the Al Habtoor Group Head Office on Sunday 20 March, 2016. Bandera, who is based in Abu Dhabi, was accompanied by Talik Chalabi, Managing Director, Chalabi Architekten & Partners, a Vienna-based international architectural firm that has a presence in the UAE capital.
Bandera congratulated Al Habtoor on his recent acquisition of Vienna’s Hotel Imperial, a Luxury Collection Hotel from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide earlier this year.
Al Habtoor said he is very happy with the addition of the historic hotel, “I have bought part of European history. I didn’t buy the Hotel Imperial to make money, I bought it to preserve history. It is very important to keep tradition and history alive.”
“History is what attracts people from all over the world to the Hotel Imperial. It is one of Europe’s most spectacular luxury properties,” he said. “People visit Vienna from all corners of the world, and they want to stay somewhere that is historical.”
“People invest in art when they know and understand it. I buy architecture for the same reason. Nineteenth century Vienna is reflected throughout the Hotel Imperial. You can still see remnants of the past in the architecture and the magnificent frescoes and crystal chandeliers,” he said.
The hotel was built in 1863 as Prince Philipp of Württemberg’s Viennese residence. It was transformed into a hotel to accommodate visitors of the 1873 World’s Fair. The hotel, situated on the iconic Ringstrasse in the city’s center, occupies a prime location at Kärntner Ring 16. It is next to the legendary Musikverein concert hall and a short walk from attractions such as the Vienna State Opera, Kunsthistorisches Museum and Secession Building.
The 7-storey Hotel Imperial Vienna has 138 rooms, including 59 suites. There are three food and beverage outlets; The Café Imperial Wien, a veritable institution among Viennese coffee houses; the award-winning Opus Restaurant and the historic 1873 Halle&Salon Bar. The hotel boasts five hotel meeting rooms and conferences salons equipped with state of the art technology.
Bandera told Chairman Al Habtoor that he had only heard positive news about the Group’s acquisition of the historic hotel. “This is due to a combination of the Al Habtoor Group’s solid reputation and transparent business practices, as well as the wish to preserve heritage,” he said.
Bandera informed the Chairman about other potential investments in Austria. Al Habtoor said he is considering further expansion abroad if the right opportunity presents itself in the hospitality and real estate space. “I will consider acquisitions abroad,” he said. “But not new builds.”
In recent years the Al Habtoor Group has expanded its hospitality portfolio abroad. It is now present in six countries; the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Hungary, Austria, UK, USA. The Group’s international assets include the Hotel Imperial, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Vienna managed by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide; The Hilton London Wembley; Two further Hilton-branded hotels in Lebanon – Hilton Beirut Habtoor Grand Hotel and Hilton Beirut Metropolitan Palace, as well as the President Abraham Lincoln Springfield – a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, and two five-star hotels in Hungary – the InterContinental Hotel Budapest and The Ritz-Carlton Budapest.
In addition, the Group has seven hotels in Dubai, including projects under constructions; The Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection managed by Marriott International; The Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah, a Hilton luxury brand; The St. Regis Dubai at Al Habtoor City, managed by Starwood Hotels & Resorts worldwide. Starwood will also manage the day to day running of the upcoming W Dubai – Al Habtoor City, and The Westin Dubai, Al Habtoor City, as well as another St. Regis at the Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club in DubaiLand, which is due to open in 2017. In addition the Al Habtoor Group is developing a new Metropolitan Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road, due to open later this year.