Starwood’s St. Regis will open a 6 million-square-foot ‘polo resort’ in Dubai

One more place to take polo lessons on artificial turf in the desert.
One more place to take polo lessons on artificial turf in the desert.
Image: Reuters/Pool
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The Starwood hotel group announced plans for its first St. Regis polo resort, to open in early 2017 in Dubai.

The St. Regis Dubai Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club will have 136 guest rooms, 24 luxury bungalows, and 138 residential villas. There will be four polo fields on the 6 million-square-foot property, along with a polo club, a polo academy, and 500 riding stables.

“Every guest of the hotel will be able to watch polo from their rooms, suites and the restaurant terraces,” said Mohammed Al Habtoor, an executive of the Al Habtoor Group, a partner in the project and in other Starwood properties planned for Dubai.

St. Regis has a history of endorsing and hosting polo events; the brand was founded in New York by John Jacob Astor IV, whose family was a fixture among the elites during the city’s Gilded Age—when polo matches on Governor’s Island were high-profile social events. The Astors hosted parties and put polo players up at the landmark St. Regis in Manhattan.

For decades after World War II, however, the St. Regis name had little to do with the so-called “Sport of Kings.” Not until 2007, after the original St. Regis hotel in New York had been acquired by Starwood and made the flagship of a whole line of St. Regis hotels around the world, did the brand come back to the sport. St. Regis sponsored a polo tournament in New York that summer, and in 2008 it worked with the Manhattan Polo Classic to host the first tournament to be played on Governor’s Island in 70 years.

Next came the hotel brand’s sponsorship of Argentine polo player Nacho Figueras, the establishment of the annual St. Regis International Polo Cup in the UK, and the 2014 inauguration of an annual charity tournament in Sonoma Valley, California.

Dubai isn’t a surprising choice of location for a St. Regis polo resort—not only is the UAE Starwood’s largest market in the Middle East (and Dubai the company’s second-largest market after New York), it’s also a hotbed for polo passion.

Dubai’s first polo club was established in 1974. There are now four active clubs between there and Abu Dhabi. Some, such as the Desert Palm club, are integrated with luxury hotels. Cartier has sponsored a prestigious international polo tournament at Desert Palm for the past 10 years. And the UAE loves horses; polo is one more equestrian sport to enjoy there alongside horse shows and races such as the Dubai World Cup.