Georgio Armani unveils global luxury resorts venture

World famous haute couture celebrity Giorgio Armani has rolled up his ‘designer’ sleeves off to wow the trade with the ‘bellissima’ chain of luxury hotels he designs while keeping a finger on the fashion pulse. Giorgio Armani SpA and EMAAR properties signed a partnership to create a worldwide collection of Armani luxury hotels and resorts. Armani inked a contract last month with Mohamed Ali Alabbar, chairman of the Dubai-based EMAAR Properties whose equity is upwards of US$1.8 billion – its largest shareholder being the government of Dubai in the Emirates.

imageIn an interview with eTurbo News, the Milan-based fashion mogul talks about the developments of his hot, haute hotel line.  Said Armani:  “We do not plan to discuss the exact details of the financial arrangement.  However, we consider it to be a ‘strategic collaboration’, in to which the Armani Group will invest significant resources and personnel.  As the project begins to take shape the Armani Group will be involving its full range of capabilities including design, production, distribution, retail and marketing.”

Armani stated that both the Armani Group and EMAAR Properties are approaching this project as a long-term venture with a long-term goal.  “Clearly, to open 10 luxury hotels and 4 luxury resorts requires a significant investment, both practically and financially. We have said that the full program of openings will take seven years during which time and beyond which time, we certainly look to receive a return on investment,” Armani said.

Aside from benefiting from the revenue stream of the hotels and resorts, the Armani Group will also benefit significantly through the design and manufacture of all furnishings, staff wardrobes and guest amenities, and through the retail opportunity presented by possible in-hotel ‘Armani’ boutiques.

At the moment, the first hotel to open has no name yet, although Armani hinted that the hotels will be located in cities the group considers to be the most important in the world today, primarily in the project ‘home towns’ of Milan and Dubai.

However, the first hotel will not be located in Dubai.  “Although that is the first location to be identified, because EMAAR Properties has a wonderful new building that it is currently constructing which will offer a prime and prestigious location for our hotel. If we secure another location in one of the other cities sooner, we will open there first. We are considering a number of different options for Milan.  Nothing is finalized,” Armani explained. It is proposed the Dubai Armani Hotel on the new Burj Dubai development (billed the world’s tallest residential and commercial construction) will have 250 suites, restaurants and a spa covering more than 40,000 square meters.

So why Dubai and why EMAAR properties?  Armani explained:  “Over time, we have received proposals from many potential ‘suitors’ in regards to a hotel collaboration.   What struck me about Mr. Alabbar and his company is their long-term vision, backed by great expertise in property development and resort management and a real appreciation for our capabilities and for the intrinsic value of the Armani name and aesthetic.”

Armani added: “We aim to make it innovative, putting great emphasis on quality, service and style.  If it makes sense to have Armani boutiques, cafes and restaurants there is certainly nothing to prevent people from being incorporated into the concept obviously respecting any pre-existing franchise agreements that may exist in those cities.”

The idea of a fashion designer coming to express his art in a hotel property is not exclusive to Armani. Bulgari has plans for six hotels with an investment of around euro 60 million in a joint venture with the Marriott Group. With the shrinking hotel market share, especially for a destination such as Dubai where there is little room for luxury hotels, the presence of another designer in the business could spell stiff competition. Armani does not, however, believe this to be some form of competition. According to him, it is the idea of bringing new and innovative hotels to all of the main cities in the world that is the significant vision.

Consumers have always viewed Giorgio Armani as the pillar of style – one who dresses the most beautiful women on and off the ramp. Today, we see him dressing the accommodations of the future.  His venture into the hotel field rather indicates confidence in a recovery for tourism which in turn will be a boost for the fashion and luxury industry.

“There is no question that the combination of the aftermath of September 11, SARS, and the world’s general economic malaise has led to a sharp decline in tourism.  However, in the last six months we have seen strong evidence of a recovery. 

Our view is that the most important cities in the world are always frequented by travelers, whether tourists or business people.  Our hotels will be there to serve them,” closed Armani.

By Hazel Heyer – your news source for the travel and tourism industry.

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