Movenpick to boost Middle East presence

WESTPORT, Conn. -- Movenpick plans to add eight to 10 hotels per year during the next five years. Several of them will be in the Middle East including three in Israel.

JerusalemThe 35-property group announced in December that its first hotel in the Holy Land is under construction in Jerusalem about half a mile north of the Old City, on the line that divided Israel's capital prior to the 1967 Six Day War.

The Jerusalem property is expected to open in late 1999 or early 2000, according to a spokeswoman here for the Switzerland-based chain. Its location places guests within walking distance of attractions that include the Via Dolorosa, the Western Wall and the golden Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount.

Even closer will be Ammunition Hill, where visitors can walk through military trenches built by Jordan before the 1967 war and see a documentary film about the role the area played during the period. Near the military site is Mount Scopus, the hill mentioned in the Bible as overlooking Jerusalem and where the main facilities of the Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital are currently located.

The 244-room hotel will feature a Movenpick Gastronomy restaurant, offering the light gourmet cuisine in which the chain specializes; a kosher section will be provided. The property also will have a specialty restaurant and a lobby bar; a health club; a rooftop garden and pool for summer use; conference facilities, and a business center.

The spokeswoman said the hotel will probably draw a lot of European visitors, who are familiar with the chain, but also expects to attract a large U.S. clientele.

Movenpick is expected to open properties in the Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Ashdod by the turn of the millennium. In the region, Movenpick said it planned to open hotels in Ajman, United Arab Emirates, this year, and in 1999, the chain will add properties in Beirut, Lebanon; Cairo, Egypt; Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Aqaba, Jordan. By 2000, it plans to open hotels in Yitty Beach, Oman; Morocco, and Sousse, Tunisia.

The chain already has properties in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Movenpick has hotels in 10 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Movenpick Hotels & Resorts, Phone: (800) 34-HOTEL or (203) 222-9314, Fax: (203) 454-8840

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI