DUBAI-The 42-suite Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa, located herein a 140-square-mile conservation park, will now be managed byStarwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. as part of its LuxuryCollection portfolio. Locally-based Emirates Airline, will retainownership of the property and all current staff will remain.

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The resort is a unique brand that focuses on the experience ofthe desert. The property was designed to recreate a Bedouinencampment spread across vast dunes, featuring suites with tentedroofs, floor-to-ceiling windows, marbled bathrooms, a private deckand a pool. Guests can enjoy sunset camel rides, desert safaris,wildlife drives, horse riding and more. The hotel also has a grandcollection of thousands of Arab antiques, artifacts andartworks.

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Roeland Vos, president of Starwood’s local division, said in astatement that his company plans to grow its portfolio of luxuryhotels and resorts in the Middle East. The Al Maha is the company’ssecond Luxury Collection hotel in the UAE, and the third in theMiddle East. Starwood plans to open hotels from this brand inQatar, Abu Dhabi, Jordan and Bahrain.

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Emirates also reportedly turned over its Harbour Hotel in DubaiMarina to Marriott in 2009. On the Emirates Group Web site, thecompany claims to opening the Cap Ternay Resort and Spa in theSeychelles in 2011, but the firm’s hotel site now only advertisesits Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa in New South Wales, Australia.

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