Hotel chains discover the West Bank
Promising news for the West Bank: The fledgling Palestinian capital of Ramallah is set to receive a five-star hotel in the coming months. The new Movenpick Hotel Ramallah will be the West Bank’s first ever chain hotel.
Advertisements have been placed in Palestinian newspapers and on local websites for low- and medium- level staff, while ads are being placed on European job search sites for their executive chef gig. Want to work as a chef in Palestine? It sounds like employees will be more likely to prepare (halal?) spaghetti carbonara than maqluba:
Movenpick Hotels & Resorts will be opening the Movenpick Hotel Ramallah – West Bank- Palestine, 1st Quarter 2010. As the only 5 star business property in Ramallah, political and commercial center of Palestine, the hotel is offering 172 rooms and suites, an executive floor, extensive conference and meeting facilities up to 800, all fully equiped with the latest audio-video technology, an all day dining restaurant, an Italian restaurant, two bars, pool with bar and restaurant in season.
Currently, the Ramallah hotel scene is a mix of homegrown properties catering to the constant influx of United Nations and NGO employees into town. They also have a sideline in serving business travelers. Due to the time-consuming roadblocks that are a persistent feature in Palestinian life, travel in the West Bank (approximately the size of northern New Jersey) can be extremely lengthy. However, the depressed Palestinian economy makes it impossible for all but the rich and upper-middle class to afford regular hotel stays. When traveling in the West Bank, most overnight stays are made at the homes of friends and family. For this reason, Ramallah’s hotels cater towards foreign trade. Nonetheless, most high end hotel rooms in Ramallah go for ~US$100 nightly – a far cry from the standard prices of the first world.
The Movenpick project is opening after a staggering nine year delay. Construction was previously placed on hold due to both the Second Intifada and financial problems among investors. The original 2000 opening date was later scaled back to 2005, to 2007 and to 2010.
Movenpick is a Swiss hotel chain that has aggressively courted the Middle East market, with dozens of locations throughout Turkey and the Arab world. The Movenpick Tel Aviv is slated to open in neighboring Israel in 2011, along with the Movenpick Damascus.