By Rory Reynolds
THE firm behind the seven-star Burj Al Arab in Dubai are searching for a site in Edinburgh for their plush new hotel.
The Jumeirah group, who own palace-like hotels across the Middle East, have met with city leaders at the international real estate exposition in Cannes to discuss a visit to Scotland.
The firm currently have just two hotels in the UK, both in London, but have previously looked into building a six-star hotel in Glasgow.
Tom Buchanan, Edinburgh City Council’s economic development leader, who is showcasing the city at Cannes, said: “A number of major brands have shown an interest.
“Jumeirah Hotel is looking for an iconic site so we will come back [to Edinburgh] and have a look at potential sites for them.
“They say Edinburgh is one of the most iconic cities in the world and if you want to have a hotel in key cities, Edinburgh is one of them.
“I’ve spoken to more than 80 investors with a direct interest in Edinburgh and once we come back I’ve got ten guaranteed investment visits arranged, where we will show them available sites and allow them to do due diligence on sites and visit the city.”
As well as the famous sail-shaped Burj Al Arab, the Jumeirah hotel group currently run luxury hotels across the world, including the Jumeirah Carlton Tower in London and Essex House on New York’s Central Park.
Edinburgh’s Chamber of Commerce has announced it wishes to see more five-star brands in the capital, like the recently opened Missoni hotel on the Royal Mile, while leaving two and three-star hotels out if the city centre.
Graham Birse, deputy chief executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, said: “Edinburgh is a destination that any world-class hotel brand is interested in.
“Our occupancy and revenue per available room are in the top ten, which makes it attractive.”
“But to bring a world-class hotel brand to Edinburgh you need a prime site and you need people to understand the needs of the developer.
“As seen with the Intercontinental Hotel Group at Haymarket, [where plans were scrapped] Edinburgh is not always the easiest place to make an inward investment, although that is changing.”
The MIPIM real estate event in Cannes has awarded Edinburgh the title “best small city” in Europe, while the Urban Land Institute praised city leaders for their creativity.