February 2007

The following press release was sent out by Istithmar Hotels, easyHotel master franchisee for the Middle East, North Africa and India, on the occasion of Stelios giving a press conference in Dubai last week-end.

Istithmar Hotels and easyHotel break ground on a completely new concept in Dubai - Istithmar Hotels unveils innovative new design for 3,800 hotel rooms.

UAE: Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the serial entrepreneur who revolutionised air travel in Europe with low-cost carrier easyJet, brought a splash of orange to Dubai today, as he broke ground on the first easyHotel.com property in the Emirate.

easyHotel.com is a completely new concept for hotels in the region. Based on a model already launched in Europe, easyHotel.com provides safe, clean, private rooms, with en suite facilities at the best possible price and at a fraction of the cost of competitors.

Dubai’s first easyHotel.com property is being built at Al Karama and is one of six planned for the Emirate. The property is being developed by Istithmar Hotels, which has the master franchise for easyHotel.com in the Middle East, the Levant, North Africa, India and Pakistan. The company is investing more than US$ 400 million over the next five years, to build 38 easyHotel.com properties in 17 countries.

Joe Sita, chief executive of Istithmar Hotels, said: “We are delighted to welcome Stelios to Dubai today for this important ground-breaking ceremony. The man who brought low-cost air travel to millions is now bringing low-cost hotel accommodation to the world.

“The site at Al Karama will be complete and ready to open early next year, by which time we will be well advanced on two further locations in Dubai. easyHotel.com is a brand that will grow with Dubai.”

Stelios added:
“Istithmar Hotels has ambitious plans to take the easyHotel.com brand across the wider region, bringing this unique concept into major cities from Casablanca to Delhi. It’s a proud moment for me to be able to break ground on the first easyHotel.com property in the region.”

The pair also unveiled details of the unique design for easyHotel.com rooms. In a world first, rooms will be pre-fabricated at a single manufacturing site as self-contained units, which are then constructed into a hotel using a “stack, connect and stick” building concept.

This sees self structured units stacked on top of each other, connected with pre-fabricated corridor and lift units, and founded on a concrete platform. A 200-room hotel will be capable of opening within 20 weeks of that concrete podium being completed.

Each room follows a common design which ensures optimum use of space, while providing guests with what they want most.

Joe Sita said: “Over the past 10 months, we have invested more than US$ 2.5 million in researching, designing and refining the core room concept. In approximately 15 square metres, each room provides everything that the guest will want – a well-sprung bed, a high pressure shower unit, a work cubicle, and an activity wall that includes flat screen television and broadband internet.

“The core concept is to deliver an absolutely first class ‘sleep and shower’ experience at an affordable price. Our research showed that this, ahead of anything else, is what our guests want from a budget hotel room.

“From there, it is all about choice. We’re not going to force guests to pay for things they don’t want. Instead, we’re going to charge the lowest possible room rates, and then let guests choose which additional extras they want – and want to pay for - whether that is television, internet connection or so on.

“We won’t announce pricing until we’re ready to open for business. But if I was opening this easyHotel.com property tomorrow, I’d expect rooms to start at between 250 and 300 Dirhams per night.”

The rooms, designed by leading international architects Harper Downie, are to be assembled at a single manufacturing plant, described as ‘the world’s first hotel room assembly line’. Each room is delivered to the hotel site fully assembled, with all internal elements included – even down to sheets and towels. In total, more than 3,800 rooms will be constructed for the 38 easyHotel.com properties being built across the region.

Unveiling the new room designs, Stelios said: “It was important to us to find a partner who would add to the easyHotel.com concept. With these new rooms, Istithmar Hotels has done that. I’m looking forward to seeing them roll out around the world.”

easyHotel.com Dubai Al Karama is expected to open in early 2008, following a construction period of only eight months, and will have 195 rooms in a six-storey structure.


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