By John Lee.
Hilton Worldwide has announced expansion plans in Iraqi Kurdistan with the signing of a management agreement with the Mihtab Group to develop the first Hilton Hotels & Resorts property in the rapidly growing city of Erbil.
The 300-room Hilton Erbil Hotel & Spa, which is expected to open in 2016, will be the second Hilton Worldwide property in Erbil following the 2011 announcement to develop a DoubleTree Suites by Hilton in the city.
Hilton Erbil Hotel & Spa will be set in extensive, landscaped grounds in an upscale residential and commercial district just North of Erbil, an area famous for its picturesque, mountainous landscape as well as its close proximity to the city's main access road. These key location benefits are attracting many new businesses to the area, including a number of foreign embassies planned within the next two years.
Rudi Jagersbacher (pictured), president, Hilton Worldwide, Middle East & Africa said:
"We're tremendously excited to introduce our second property to Erbil and welcome the opportunity to become part of its energetic and thriving city community. Establishing a strong presence in Kurdistan supports our ambitious strategy to open a further 40 hotels in the Middle East & Africa within the next four years."
Hilton Erbil Hotel & Spa's 300 rooms includes 30 suites and a further 10 chalets featuring a large health club, an outdoor and indoor pool and an upscale retail arcade. An additional compliment will be an eforea: spa at Hilton location, one of the fastest growing spa concepts in the world.
Dining options include two speciality restaurants, an all-day dining area, a destination bar, lobby lounge and pool bar. The property will also boast a substantial selection of business and event facilities with five meeting rooms, two boardrooms and one of the largest multi-purpose ballrooms in the city, with capacity for up to 1000 people.
Welcoming today's announcement, Dave Horton, global head, Hilton Hotels & Resorts said: "Iraq is a significant new market for our brand and we are thrilled to be able to offer visitors to Erbil the consistent high brand standards that guests experience in over 80 countries worldwide.
Hilton Erbil Hotel & Spa is set to be an outstanding, landmark property and we look forward to welcoming guests to one of the most beautiful and unexplored areas of the Middle East."
Zmnako Yasin Ismail Qadir, Owner, Mihtab Group said:
"As we face a surge in domestic and international travel to Iraqi Kurdistan, the addition of a new property by Hilton Worldwide, and the well-known quality it represents, will be a major boost to the range of hospitality offerings currently available."
The Kurdistan economy is expanding rapidly across all major industry sectors of oil, trade, agriculture and tourism. As the main financial and commercial city in the region, Erbil is directly benefiting from this growth, particularly in tourism, where the increasing number of international airlines is fuelling business and leisure travel.
Leisure travellers, particularly, are attracted by the relative stability, the temperate climate and the increasing awareness of Northern Iraq as an attractive destination. This wider international appreciation of the area has been driven by recent reports in influential travel journals showcasing the wealth of adventures and ancient discoveries to be made in the region. National Geographic, for example, recently listed Kurdistan among their Top 20 best trips.