St. Regis Dubai Polo Club Leaving Starwood Effective Immediately

At the beginning of the year I reviewed the St. Regis Dubai Polo Club, which is the second St. Regis property in Dubai (making it the second city in the world to have two St. Regis properties, after Abu Dhabi).

The hotel itself was beautiful, though bizarre on several levels. For one, it was completely empty. Like, eerily so. I felt like there were maybe a few other rooms occupied at most. On top of that, the hotel was in the middle of nowhere. Dubai is already spread out as a city, though this hotel wasn’t even part of that sprawling metropolis.

The St. Regis Dubai Polo Club is owned by the Al Habtoor Group, which is the same company that owns the other St. Regis (as well as the now-reconverted W and Westin).

Interestingly the St. Regis Dubai Polo Resort and Club is leaving Starwood as of tomorrow, July 1, 2018. That’s very little notice for a hotel to give of a branding change. Gulf Business reports that an email memo says that this is “a mutual decision reached amicably.”

Management will be transferred from SPG/Marriott to the Al Habtoor Group, though I guess we’ll see how the hotel is branded in the future. This was also St. Regis’ first polo resort globally.

The UAE royal family is known to be into polo, so it sure seems to me like this was more of a vanity project than anything else. I could see it perhaps briefly being popular if there were a polo tournament, or something, but on an ongoing basis I don’t think they realistically expected to turn a profit on this property.

What I find interesting here is that this is only one of the Al Habtoor Group’s four hotels in Dubai. I wonder if there’s some sort of dispute between Starwood and the group, and if we could see the other three properties reflagged as well. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit…

Comments

  1. I stayed there and it felt errie too. My guess is that they will shut it down as a hotel and turn it into residences.

  2. Thank god. I hope customer complaints + audit had something to do with this. Shoddy construction, poor maintenance, incompetent front line staff. Should have never been flagged St Regis.

  3. As soon as a press release goes out that insists “the parting was amicable” I almost immediately assume the opposite. Especially here given the short notice.

  4. Marriott is actively pushing poor Starwood properties out of the portfolio to protect their brands. Starwood did a particularly poor job of product integrity and compliance, so there’s a lot of work to do

  5. This isn’t one of 4 Habtoor hotels in Dubai. It’s one of 7

    Waldorf Astoria Palm
    Habtoor Grand Marina (Autograph Collection)
    Metropolitan (self managed, like the polo resort will be)

    in addition to the 4 you mentioned including this one.

    The owners have been unhappy with Marriott for quite a while (including issues with the 3 Habtoor City hotels – St Regis, W, Westin). Occupancy figures have been horrendous and the problem is, if Marriott can’t fill your rooms, who can? There isn’t a comparable competitor of scale.

    As an interesting comparison, the next door 1608 room JW Marquis (largest hotel in Dubai) fills its rooms fine and is a happy partnership between Marriott and Emirates Group.

  6. @WP

    You put it in quotes, so I thought its in the article and I misread 😛
    So I searched, but it isn’t. “Al Habtoor Group’s four hotels in Dubai” is in the third last line of the article. Also one of the other 3 is also Marriott marketed and distributed (Habtoor Grand, not part of Habtoor City complex), so if there is a management-owner dispute, at least that one would be potentially affected as well.

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