Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa Joins Starwood Hotels & Resorts' Middle East Portfolio

Under Strategic Agreement with Emirates Group, Award-Winning Resort Becomes Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa in Dubai will join Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. (NYSE: HOT) as the latest addition to its Luxury Collection portfolio, effective today. The resort will be renamed 'Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai', with Emirates retaining ownership of the resort and Starwood Hotels & Resorts overseeing the management of the property.

Designed and built following the principles of environmentally sustainable development, Al Maha has been at the forefront of conservation-based hospitality in the Middle East, for over 10 years. The resort was designed to recreate a Bedouin encampment spread across the vast dunes, featuring 42 secluded suites with tented roofs, floor-to-ceiling windows, marbled bathrooms, private deck and pool.

"A pioneer in the area of luxury conservation-based hospitality in the Middle East, Al Maha will be a valuable addition to The Luxury Collection," said His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline & Group. "As a leading hotel management group, Starwood's Luxury Collection brand represents some of the finest properties across the world, and with their extensive network, global infrastructure and history of successful brand management, we are confident that they will take Al Maha to even greater heights."

"We are delighted to take over the management of the Al Maha Resort, extending our long-standing relationship with the Emirates Group and adding a spectacular hotel to the Luxury Collection portfolio in Dubai," stated Roeland Vos, President of Starwood, Europe, Africa & Middle East. "The addition of the Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa is symbolic of our continued focus to grow our portfolio of luxury hotels and resorts in the Middle East."

Al Maha rests within the 225-square kilometre Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR) one of the largest formally protected conservation reserves in the Gulf and is internationally recognised. The DDCR will continue to be sponsored and managed by Emirates. Al Maha was lauded for its efforts by the World Travel & Tourism Council earlier this year and was identified as the region's leading sustainable eco-tourism development by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Surrounded by some of the region's most spectacular landscape, rich with protected wildlife and filled with experiences of traditional Bedouin pastimes, Al Maha offers a sophisticated, yet simple and serene experience to its guests. Sunset camel rides, desert safaris, wildlife drives, horse-riding and falconry are all part of the unique indigenous experience at the resort as well as soothing massage treatments at its spa with an infinity pool overlooking the sands, scrub and mountains.

A discrete suite of meeting rooms is available for small boardroom and executive conferences and the resort has been acclaimed as the ultimate incentive destination.

In addition, the Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa has taken on the mantle of a cultural treasure trove. Its initial collection of Arab antiques, artefacts and artworks acquired to fuel the Arabic experience in suites and public areas now expanded to more than 2,000 pieces covering carpets, tents, jewellery, brass coffee pots, camel bags and saddles as well as specially commissioned wildlife paintings.

The Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa is Starwood's second Luxury Collection hotel in the UAE, joining the iconic Grosvenor House Dubai, and third in the Middle East. Starwood Hotels & Resorts currently operates more than 50 hotels in the Middle East under eight of the company's nine brands including: The Luxury Collection, St. Regis, Sheraton, Westin, W Hotels, Le Méridien, Four Points by Sheraton and Aloft. The company has plans to open additional luxury hotels under its Luxury Collection and St. Regis brands in the following destinations: Doha (Qatar), Abu Dhabi, Ajman, and Dubai (UAE), Aqaba (Jordan) and Manama (Bahrain).

About The Luxury Collection Hotels & Resorts

The Luxury Collection(R) is an ensemble of hotels and resorts offering unique, authentic experiences that evoke lasting, treasured memories. For the global explorer, The Luxury Collection offers a gateway to the world's most exciting and desirable destinations. Each hotel and resort is a unique and cherished expression of its location; a portal to the destination's indigenous charms and treasures. Magnificent décor, spectacular settings, impeccable service and the latest modern conveniences combine to provide a uniquely enriching experience. Originated in 1906 under the CIGA brand as a collection of Europe's most celebrated and iconic properties, today The Luxury Collection brand is a glittering ensemble of more than 75 of the world's finest hotels and resorts in more than 30 countries in bustling cities and spectacular destinations around the world. The Luxury Collection includes award-winning properties that continuously exceed guest expectations by offering unparalleled service, style and class while celebrating each hotel's distinctive heritage and unique character. All of these hotels, many of them centuries old, are internationally recognized as being among the world's finest. For more information, please visit www.luxurycollection.com.

About Emirates

Dubai-based Emirates Airline, one of the fastest growing airlines in the world, has received more than 400 international awards for excellence. Emirates now flies to 108 destinations in 65 countries in Europe, North America, South America, the Middle East, Africa, the Indian subcontinent and Asia-Pacific. Emirates operates 153 wide-body Airbus and Boeing aircraft, with a fleet that is among the youngest in the skies, an average age of 69 months. With orders for an additional 200 aircraft, worth more than USD$59 billion, Emirates is on track to become one of the largest airlines in the world. The airline reported a net profit of USD$964 million for the last fiscal year. For more information please visit www.emirates.com.

SOURCE: Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.

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