Marriott Al Forsan welcomes first guests

Four hundred spacious guest rooms offer sophisticated design and innovation throughout, with inspirational views and new experiences. Surrounded by football and rugby pitches, basketball, tennis and volleyball courts, two indoor paintball arenas, a professional karting circuit, an off-road buggy race track, shooting facilities, equestrian centre, polo field and a stunning lake with water-ski and wakeboarding cableway system, the hotel attracts both business and leisure travellers who want to maximise their own travel experience with an energising break complemented by Saray Spa & Health Club that offers a wealth of flexible fitness options and wellbeing possibilities.

The hotel’s 612 sq m square metre fluid meeting space is designed to accommodate meetings, conferences and social occasions of all sizes with dedicated staff and event planners to bring Marriott Hotels’ signature meetings concept, “Meetings Imagined” to life. Six world class hospitality venues from The Grill, Khayal and Appaloosa through to The Lobby Lounge, Couture and Splash cater for every taste and mood through enticing food and entertainment.

Richard Bleakley, the hotel’s general manager, Alex Kyriakidis, president and managing director, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International, and Rashed Al Qubaisi, general manager, Al Forsan Holding, spoke to Kim Thomson, TTN’s publishing director, for more insight into the product.

Alex Kyriakidis, president and managing director, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International, said: "As the newest addition to the Marriott Hotels portfolio in the region, Marriott Al Forsan is the prime example of combining innovation and technology to best serve our guests and appeal to their inventive self. As well as challenging their minds, they can also put themselves to the test with the diverse range of sporting and leisure activities that are available in Al Forsan International Sports Resort.”

Richard Bleakley, the hotel’s general manager, says, “For the hotel, the group segment, which is bookings of more than 10 rooms and above, will be around 25 per cent and the remaining a mixture of business and leisure. For leisure, our source markets will be the UAE and the GCC, as this resorts offers great facilities.”

Rashed Al Qubaisi, general manager, Al Forsan Holding said: “We have been operating the Al Forsan International Sport Resort for more than five years, but now with Marriott is on board, this will bring a change to the mix. We are shifting away from local corporate business to leisure. We are trying to push the facility toward more of an international meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions destination. We can keep them busy with all the facilities we have on offer.”

“We are already seeing this come as a reality as we have had a company enquire about holding an event with us and they want to include team building,” adds Bleakley. “This same company also reached out to Al Forsan for team building, but they wanted a hotel, so straight away we see the synergy and we can now work very closely together and become a much more powerful proposition against other hotels in the UAE – as we can work as one team.”

In January, Al Forsan International Sports Resort was home to Al Shira’aa International Horse Show, a four-star show-jumping competition, which was funded by Shaikha Fatima Bint Hazza Al Nahyan, owner of the Al Shira’aa Stables. “With this hotel coming as an addition to the sports club, it will make the logistics much easier for the riders and teams for future events,” adds Al Qubaisi.

All three delegates stressed on the importance of the traditional travel agents for this property. President and managing director Kyriakidis, says, “The traditional travel agents are critically important. Especially now as this property is a first for us in this region. A first Marriott, where we are launching ourselves into a space we have never been before, which is a sports and leisure space. And interestingly, it comes at a time where we have done something similar in Dubai with the St Regis Polo Clubs soft opening, so suddenly, we are on the map for international sports offerings.”

“I think we are going to try to attract international teams in the sports facilities that are offered here to train here off season, which is very exciting for us because it is a different kind of packaging, a different kind of tour operator. It is dealing with the manager of clubs, it is dealing with sports bodies around the world. We are very excited on what’s to come here and to learn from it and hopefully leverage this model elsewhere in the region,” concludes Kyriakidis.