Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Hilton Hotels in Saudi Arabia: From Fine to Fabulous

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Hilton Hotels in Saudi Arabia: From Fine to Fabulous

Article excerpt

More than 30 years ago, the Hilton opened its first hotel in the Arabian Peninsula. The company now operates 31 hotels in the Middle East, including four in Saudi Arabia. The most recent opened in August: the incredibly luxurious Hilton Qasr al Sharq on the Red Sea in Jeddah.

"Opulence reigns," the Hilton's press release proclaims. The triangular granite Qasr al Sharq consists of 46 suites on nine floors. All the suites are over-the-top lavish. Marble from all over the world was selected to create the mosaic-inspired flooring. The hotel includes two restaurants. Mataam al Sharq, specializing in Middle Eastern cuisine, seats 100 with private dining available for 10 to 30 guests. Bice is an Italian restaurant that accommodates 96 with a private dining room that seats 12.

"This hotel is a palace," said Marc de Beer, the hotel manager. For information or reservations, call +966 2 659 0000 or e-mail qasralsharq.Jeddahfehilton.com

There are, however, other Hiltons in Saudi Arabia. They may not reach the pinnacle of luxury achieved at Qasr al Sharq, but they won't cause near-fatal rupturing of the wallet either. In the same city, travelers can also opt for the Jeddah Hilton, a 414-room hotel with views of the city and of the Red Sea. It is especially convenient for conferences: the facility includes the Congress Hall, a ballroom, twelve meeting rooms and a business center.

To keep you relaxed and entertained, there's the Hiltonia Sports and Health Club, the Red Sea Diving Center, and a bowling alley. And, of course, there's a shopping arcade. Rooms run $204 to S2,602.

There are two other Hiltons in Saudi Arabia, both close to the Red Sea. One is in Madinah; the other, Makkah. The Madinah Hilton is located in the Central District close to the Prophet's Holy Mosque. The hotel offers 357 rooms and suites. Some rooms open out onto city views. Others have a view of the Haram. Three restaurants offer a variety of Middle Eastern and continental cuisines.

The newly renovated Makkah Hilton and Towers is the chain's largest property. It is a massive structure that is located in front of the Haram, close to King Fahd Gate. There are 598 deluxe hotel rooms and suites, many with panoramic views of Al Haram. Add to this number an additional 800 studios and villas in the Towers. …

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