Luxury hotel chain Raffles - one of the Singapore’s top hotel and resort chain – 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. Looking over the Grand Mosque and the Kaaba, 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. However, Raffles’ hotel will soon be overshadowed — literally — 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. 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. Last week, Hilton announced that it had signed a deal to open two properties in Riyadh in 2012, describing the country as its “number one development market in the Middle East.”
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