|Expansion of Beirut's Le Royal silences naysayers (Daily Star)
|By 2007, hotel will see building of Olympic-size swimming pool
Iraqi billionaire Nadhmi Auchi told The Daily Star during an exclusive interview in February that from the time construction began on the $150 million Le Royal Beirut Hotel and adjoining Watergate water park, people voiced reservations about its location in a hill overlooking the Dbayyeh highway.
"I would say, just look at the view," he said, laughing. Evidently, that view of Beirut's coastline inspired him to develop a 60,000-square meter beachfront property on a stretch of land facing the hotel.
The "multi-million dollar" development is to consist of 40,000 square meters of seaside recreation facilities, including a marina, private beach and yachting clubhouse according to a press release. What makes this latest seaside development even more interesting is that it will be connected to the hotel via a 150-meter cable-car system, and will also be accessible by heliport.
Work on the project will be implemented in two phases and is expected to "start soon" according to a hotel spokesperson. The second phase, slated for completion in 2007, will see the construction of an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The press release said that "the addition of prime seaside property" will enable Le Royal to offer hotel guests and registered members expanded recreation and leisure opportunities, among them the first cable-driven (boatless) water ski facility in Lebanon.
"Market research and highly favorable industry echoes have prompted the owning company to take this huge step," said Richard Abou Jaoude, the hotel's general manager, referring to General Mediterranean Holding, the London-based company that owns the Le Royal chain.
Indeed, Auchi told The Daily Star earlier this year that he was very pleased with the 231-room hotel's performance since it opened in August 2003.
"When you open a hotel, you don't expect to operate at a profit in the first year ... we will make a profit," he said.
The Daily Star