Last year at the Arabian Travel Market, Shurooq unveiled the Sharjah Collection, the first local luxury hospitality brand to further strengthen the emirate’s tourist sector and reinforce its position as one of the leading destinations at local and regional levels. HE Marwan Al Serkal, CEO, Shurooq, speaks with TravTalk about this initiative.
Q) Please share some information in the Sharjah Collection.
The first phase of the Sharjah Collection portfolio, developed by Shurooq across the emirate, comprises Al Badayer Oasis at Al Badayer desert; Kingfisher Lodge in Kalba as part of the Kalba ecotourism project; and Fossil Rock Lodge at the Mleiha Archaeological. As far as the development progress is concerned, the Kingfisher Lodge is 90 per cent complete, while the Fossil Rock Lodge stands at 80 per cent. We will be looking to welcome our first visitors in the next few months. Last November, Shurooq appointed Mantis, a global boutique hotels brand and a management consultant to manage all hospitality facilities and lodges under the umbrella of Sharjah Collection, in a strategic partnership dedicated to preserving the spirit of local culture and heritage. Mantis has enormous expertise and experience in managing sustainable hospitality facilities worldwide and has won many prestigious international hospitality awards.
Q) Kingfisher Lodge would be the first eco lodge to be established in the region. Could you explain its importance and facilities?
Kingfisher Lodge features 30 five-star luxury tents, ten of which are allocated for the main building, spa and conference hall, while the remaining 20 are for guests. The construction of the tents and adjoining pools in each unit is already complete. The tents will deliver prime services to visitors with an opportunity to engage in the natural surroundings. Guests are also offered an array of outdoor leisure activities, such as kayaking around the mangrove reserves and walking along the beach of the Indian Ocean. The infrastructure of the Kingfisher Lodge is also complete, as is the space dedicated to fitness activities and conference hall. The spa, main reception tent, restaurant and other facilities are nearing completion.
As a luxury hospitality development, Kingfisher Lodge is one of Shurooq’s flagship ecotourism projects with widespread international appeal. More and more tourists are seeking a five-star experience within a natural environment, and Kingfisher Lodge provides just that perfectly, making it one of the region’s most desirable vacation destinations.
Q) Shurooq was the initiator for ecotourism in Sharjah. What plans does it have to promote this concept in the years to come?
Tourism has become a key driver in Sharjah’s diversified economy by attracting visitors who are looking for a different experience in terms of heritage, culture, luxury environmental facilities and adventure tourism. From five-star accommodation giving a glimpse into traditional Emirati living to historic desert lodges, the emirate’s innovative ecotourism projects offer a unique experience within the region. As people become more concerned about the environment, local, regional and international tourism is changing towards a far more environmentally conscious experience. The Sharjah Collection reflects that in all of its projects and will continue to promote each development as an ideal destination to what is a fairly niche but constantly growing market.
Q) Could you share some plans for 2018 by Shurooq on other projects to develop the emirate of Sharjah?
There is a number of groundbreaking developments with projects such as the AED 2.4 billion Maryam Island, AED 155 Kalba Waterfront and the AED 107 million Palace Al Khan. These are set to change the residential, retail, commercial and community landscape in Sharjah. Eagle Hills, for example, is playing an extremely high-profile role in the real estate sector, focusing on niche projects that offer distinctive lifestyle options in the emirate. The aim is to celebrate Sharjah’s unique history, heritage and culture. Maintaining, developing and creating infrastructure around Sharjah is an ongoing process which will benefit communities around the emirate as cities such as Mleiha, Kalba and Khorfakkan.