One of the Singapore’s top luxury hotel and resort chain, Raffles, has opened its seventh property in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The 213-room hotel is Raffles’ second property in the Middle East, following the opening of its Dubai property in 2007 and signals the chain’s determination to expand outside of its established Asian base – a property in Paris is set to open later this year.
Raffles Makkah Palace is located in the spectacular new Abraj Al Bait complex, a seven-tower community directly adjoining the Masjid Al Haram, or Grand Mosque,– and the Kaaba. The hotel, located only steps away from the Holy Mosque, is expected to reach new levels of personal service in Saudi Arabia. The Raffles Makkah Palace offers round-the-clock butler service for guests, along with a coffee sommelier, a four-storey mall in the basement, and four restaurants. Dining options include the Creamery ice cream parlor, the Narjes tea salon, Middle Eastern restaurant Al Majilis and a fusion restaurant named Al Qasr. The hotel also offers a superbly equipped business center and state-of-the-art business rooms, making it a business destination as well.
According to hotel analysts STR Global, Saudi Arabia was the second fastest-growing market in the Middle East after the United Arab Emirates in June, with 16,680 rooms in the pipeline, compared to 54,814 in the UAE.
However, Raffles’ hotel will soon be ‘overshadowed’, by the Makkah Clock Royal Tower hotel from Fairmont right next door. Situated in a 76-storey building and set to be opened within months, the 858-room hotel has been built inside the new Makkah Clock Tower, the centerpiece of the enormous Abraj Al Bait Complex which will eventually house the Raffles, the Fairmont and a Swissotel.
The clock tower features four faces that are 43 meters in diameter, visible from 17 kilometers away, to announce daily prayers to the Muslim world and establish Makkah Time as an alternative to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) as the global time standard.