A bumper festive period for UAE hotels

Dubai and Abu Dhabi hotels are reporting a full house for festive season.

  A porter hurries suitcases thought the lobby at the Sofitel The Palm hotel at the Palm Jumeirah in Dubai. Strong hotel bookings for the festive period have been recorded. Silvia Razgova / The National
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UAE hotels report near to full occupancy as they enter the festive season.

In Dubai, JW Marriott Marquis Hotel is booked 90 per cent during the Christmas week and is full for New Year.

Around 40 per cent of the guests during this period come from the domestic market, while Europe and the Arabian Gulf account for the bulk of the rest. Food and beverage contributes about 40 per cent of the revenues during the festive season.

“New Year is busier than Christmas for us with our pool terrace offering views of the fireworks,” said Rupprecht Queitsch, the general manager for JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai. “With the Expo 2020, the word went out to the world about Dubai, everybody’s talking about it.”

The Abu Dhabi hotel operator Rotana, which has 32 properties across the country, is also expecting occupancy rates of 90 per cent in most of its hotels with visitors mainly from Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the Gulf,, besides domestic tourists.

“We are anticipating a strong festive season,” said Omer Kaddouri, Rotana’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “The UAE is the centre of the world, and everybody knows this is where you can come and have a lot of fun, because of the weather, the beaches, restaurants and hotels, but we have always relied on domestic visitors.”

About 30 per cent of the revenues come from food and beverage for the hotels in Rotana’s UAE portfolio, and 70 per cent from room sales.

The source markets for the hotels vary according to the hotel. Amwaj Rotana in Jumeirah Beach Residence area, for instance, is expecting full occupancy with all the visitors coming from Europe, Mr Kaddouri said.

The airlines are also expecting a strong passenger load factor though both Emirates and flydubai declined to provide numbers.

“Due to the further expansion of our route network and the increase of flight frequencies into Eastern Europe, Russia and the Gulf, we are experiencing an increase in the number of passengers visiting Dubai during the holiday period,” said a flydubai spokeswoman.

At Arabian Courtyard Hotel & Spa in Dubai’s Bastakiya area, rooms are sold out from December 29 until January 3, and the property expects an occupancy rate of about 85 per cent during Christmas, said Habib Khan, the general manager of Arabian Courtyard and chief executive of the hospitality division at Planet Group, which manages the hotel. And 95 per cent of the guests are from overseas, dominated by the UK, Germany and Australia, drawn by the hotel’s “Arabic character, nearby Dubai Creek, bargain shopping and heritage areas”, Mr Khan said.

Al Bustan Centre and Residence, which is close to the Dubai airport with 640 suites, is fully booked from December 20 until January 2.

“During this time, most of our visitors are from Russia, who stay on average for a week, and rest are mainly from Gulf and the UAE, who stay on for three to five days,” said Arun Kumar, the resident manager of Al Bustan Centre. The Sharia compliant hotel says sales from food is around 15 per cent.

In the capital, Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, which opened in March, is also expecting to run at full capacity from December 26 and until January 2.

“We have introduced several festive room packages, such as Christmas Day Brunch and Stay Package and New Year’s Eve Suite Life Package, that have seen a lot of interest from the local community,” said Dilip Mukundan, the director of sales and marketing at the hotel.

And it is not only Christmas and New Year that are keeping the hotels busy.

In the Western Region, Tilal Liwa Hotel is fully booked from December 14 until January 6 as the 111-room Madinat Zayed hotel caters to visitors to 15-day Al Dhafra camel beauty contest, which started December 14, and the week-long Liwa Desert Challenge, which ends January 4.

“The main attraction here is the desert and the average length of stay is three nights,” said Ayman Ashor, the general manager of Tilal Liwa Hotel. Around 80 per cent of the visitors during this time as in rest of the year are from within the UAE, with the rest from international market, dominated by German and Chinese guests.

The demand means the room rates here start at Dh1,500 per night during the period, as compared with Dh600 on average for the rest of the year.

Tilal Liwa has two restaurants and close to 44 per cent of the hotel’s revenue come from food and beverage. “People are nowadays looking for the experience, and are willing to pay for it,” Mr Ashor says.

In Dubai, four and five-star hotels surveyed by HotStats achieved 84.5 per cent occupancy in December last year, up marginally from 83.7 per cent during the same period the previous year. The average room rate they posted were US$323 in December 2012, up 4.7 per cent.

In Abu Dhabi, hotels achieved 76 per cent occupancy last year, up from 69.3 per cent in 2011 and an average room rate of US$130.6 in December 2012, down 15 per cent compared to the previous year.