CAIRO: Cairo s luxury Grand Hyatt hotel is serving alcohol again after a compromise was reached between the international management company and the Saudi owner who abruptly declared it a dry venue earlier this year.
The Saudi sheikh s decision in April to follow Islam s ban on alcohol and stop serving it at one of the city s swankiest tourist landmarks shocked many in Egypt s vital tourism industry. All of Cairo s international hotel chains serve alcohol, as do many restaurants.
In May Sheikh Abdelaziz Ibrahim, a member of the Saudi royal family, poured some 2,500 bottles of alcohol worth $300,000 down the drain after unilaterally deciding to ban booze in the establishment.
The authorities, highly protective of Egypt s tourism industry, then threatened to downgrade the Grand Hyatt s rating to two stars in line with national tourism guidelines.
The Cairo Grand Hyatt spokeswoman, Sally Khattab, said Tuesday that the Hyatt company reached a compromise with the Saudi owner that alcohol could be served in a single restaurant at the top of the hotel overlooking the Nile River.
He decided to compromise by giving Hyatt a chance to fulfill their commitments by managing this serving of alcohol in a secluded restaurant on the 40th floor so he would keep his hotel with the family atmosphere he would like to present to his guests, she told the Associated Press.
The revolving restaurant at the top of the hotel will now be managed by a special subsidiary of Hyatt Hotels separate from the Cairo hotel itself, so the sheikh would not be involved with the promotion or sale of alcohol, she said.
Guests will also be able to order alcohol through room service. But the hotel s dozen other restaurants, including Japanese, Italian, Indian and Continental cuisine, however, would remain alcohol free.
Alcohol is forbidden in Islam, though it is sold in most Muslim countries, except Saudi Arabia and Sudan.
Khattab said there had not been much negative feedback from guests during the four dry months before the compromise deal was reached July 23, because it coincided with the summer months when guests are predominantly from the conservative Gulf states.
That period was basically a family period for vacations and it wouldn t give you the impact on the alcohol ban that much as if you were in the winter season which features business people and international tourists, she said.
Booze remains banned at the hotel s other 11 restaurants as well as in the 716 minibars in rooms and suites, although it can be ordered via room service.
Many of Cairo s luxury hotels are owned by wealthy Arab investors from the Gulf states. Despite the rising conservatism in Egypt and the region, however, there has never been an attempt to ban alcohol and potentially endanger the tourism industry. -Agencies