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Gordon Ramsay quits Dubai and Versace resort developer pulls out

Posted on 18 October 2011 with no comments from readers

Two giant global brand names are exiting Dubai business ventures in unrelated moves linked to the global economic downturn and a consolidation of business groups into their most profitable core divisions: Gordon Ramsey and Versace resort developer Sunland.

The foul-mouthed reality TV star chef Gordon Ramsey’s Verre restaurant in the Hilton Creek will close later this month, ten years after opening in Dubai. Verre was a hit in the Dubai boom years but like fine dining around the world has struggled since the global financial crisis of three years ago.

Reality shock

Ramsay has closed restaurants in Cape Town and London and only earnings from his highly successful TV reality shows have kept his empire afloat. His arrival a decade ago brought a whole raft of celebrity chefs to Dubai and so far they all seem to be staying.

In a completely unrelated move Australian developer Sunland is pulling out of the $626 million Palazzo Versace resort development now in advanced construction on the banks of the Dubai Creek.

Its local partner Emirates Investment Holdings is swapping its 50 per cent share in the D1 skyscaper on the Gold Coast in Australia for the 49 per cent stake in the Dubai development owned by Sunland. No cash is changing hands.

The Dubai Versace project started on site in 2007 at the height of the Dubai property boom and was 80 per cent sold before the crash. However, reports in The National claim more than half of these sales have since collapsed.

Risk off

Enshaa is getting a tall-tower and Versace hotel and residences in exchange for half of a completed tower on the Gold Coast, though admittedly the tallest residential building in the southern hemisphere.

Provided it has the funding to complete the job and can afford to be patient this looks the better side of the deal. Besides many commentators think Australian property is about to crash and the exit from D1 may be well timed.

Of course, it then has to make a fashion-branded hotel work. The rival Armani hotel in the Burj Dubai has been struggling to attract guests since opening, and this must have contributed to the cautious approach by Sunland.

It is indeed a sign of the times when big names exit Dubai, although the Versace name will surely stay with the resort development and Gordon Ramsey is already rumoured to be looking at a location in New Dubai. His old restaurant is in the wrong part of town, down by the Creek and the same might be said for Versace.

Posted on 18 October 2011 Categories: Destinations & Hotels, GCC Economics, GCC Real Estate

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