Dubai's no-frills Dh99 per night hotel



The first easyHotel outside Europe will add a new cut-price segment to Dubai's hotel market as it will charge as little as Dh99 (US$26.95) a night for a room with a bed and little else. Weary travellers who want anything extra - such as fresh towels or clean sheets after the first night or a TV to watch, must pay for the privilege, when the new hotel opens on August 1 in Jebel Ali.

"People like this 'pay as you go' model," said Chiheb Ben-Mahmoud, the senior vice president at Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels in the MENA region. "Why pay for TV if you're going to spend the whole day in the office?" He believes the low prices are unlikely to affect other hotels in Dubai as rates are already under pressure. "It will not have an impact on the price of other hotels because it's a completely different proposition. It's in a segment of it's own. It's an experience for the traveller." Mr Ben-Mahmoud said the brand had a loyal following.

Average daily rates in Dubai fell to $235.48 last year from $308.51 the previous year. Although the pace of decline has slowed dramatically, prices have remained under pressure as hotels compete to fill their rooms. The company, which is part of the easyGroup of businesses founded by Stelios Haji-Ioannou, said it priced its hotels on the basis of "the earlier you book, the less you pay". Istithmar World is the master franchise owner for easyHotel in the region.

The original plan, announced in 2006, was to open a chain of 38 budget easyHotel branded hotels across the Middle East, North Africa, India and Pakistan within five years. The future of these developments remains uncertain. "Dubai is well known for being a luxury destination but clearly not everyone can afford the price tags that luxury demands," said Calum Russell, the commercial director at easyHotel.com.

"We believe there is a real gap in the hotel market in Dubai to bring true budget pricing to this global destination." @Email:rbundhun@thenational.ae

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