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Iconic Cairo hotel changes name and management

Grand Hyatt becomes the Grand Nile Tower as the legal dispute between its Saudi owners and former managers rumbles on

Ahmed Feteha, Monday 20 Jun 2011
Grand Nile Tower
The hotel formerly known as the Grand Hyatt in central Cairo

An iconic Nile-front hotel at the heart of Cairo has changed its name and management over the last few weeks.

Following a bitter dispute with the hotel management brand Hyatt International, the hotel -- formerly known as the Grand Hyatt -- is now fully managed by its owners, the Saudi Egyptian Touristic Development Company (SETDC), and has been renamed the Grand Nile Tower Hotel.

SETDC officially changed the hotel's name on 1 June, despite a 21 March announcement from Hyatt forbidding the hotel from using the company's brand name.

SETDC and Hyatt are currently involved in legal arbitration, with the former seeking financial reparations they claim were incurred when Hyatt undertook a one-sided termination of their management contract.

"They gave us 48 hours notice to terminate management and remove their brand name, this has caused us grave financial losses," Abdel Aziz Al-Shehail, spokesperson for SETDC, told Ahram Online.

Hotel owner and management firm have been locked in a dispute for nearly four months, with SETDC claiming Hyatt failed to meet its management responsibilities by allowing vital foreign staff to leave during February's unrest.

According to the company, Hyatt management insisted on retaining the same French manager who fled Cairo in February, leading to a deadlock.

"We have managed the hotel solely before, and occupancy rates were significantly higher at the time," Al-Shehail adds.

During the early 2000s, SETDC managed the five-star hotel under its current name after taking control from the Le Meridien international brand.

Al-Shehail said the company is planning to inject $65 million into renovating the original, smaller building which sits on the riverfront site.

Hyatt began managing Grand Hyatt Cairo in August 2003 on a 10-year contract.

The international hospitality firm still provides management services for two Hyatt Regency hotels in Sharm El-Sheikh and Taba Heights.

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© 2010 Ahram Online.