Luxury breaks at cut-price rates

From Dh1,490 a year, the new luxury membership scheme, Tawfeer, which means “savings” in Arabic, manages hotel bookings for its members, securing exclusive rates in addition to other rewards and benefits.

Tawfeer has launched a VIP Membership Programme
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As UAE residents become more particular about their hotel and travel requirements, luxury membership and award schemes have mushroomed.

Tawfeer, an Abu Dhabi-headquartered hospitality company, is the most recent player to do so, launching its VIP Executive Membership programme last Saturday. This builds on the classic, superior and deluxe memberships that it offered previously.

From Dh1,490 a year, Tawfeer, which means “savings” in Arabic, manages hotel bookings for its members, securing exclusive rates in addition to other rewards and benefits.

Rates are typically 10 per cent lower than other third-party booking sites such as booking.com or expedia.com, according to the chief executive Hussam Al Mulhem. For now, the Abu-Dhabi based Tawfeer operates only in the UAE but it plans to open offices in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and London next year.

The company is able to secure these cheaper rates because it builds local relationships, says Mr Al Mulhem, from Syria.

“We work on those relationships and build the foundations and the trust and the loyalty,” he explains. “Based on that relationship they become more confident in us and give us better rates including discounts on certain spa treatments and restaurants.”

VIP members, who pay Dh9,490 for a three-year membership, receive vouchers for five-star hotels.

“Anything our members want, we provide. We just call and discuss,” says Miranda Gray, the company’s head of marketing and communications, who is also in charge of training.

The firm says it receives numerous honeymoon requests. One of the more unusual was a member who asked for help in planning a treasure hunt, asking Tawfeer to book a luxury hotel in every emirate over seven nights.

There are currently more than 80 participating hotels in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, with the most recent to sign up Jumeirah Zabeel Saray in Dubai and the Iberotel Miramar Al Aqah Beach Resort in Fujairah.

Q&A: Everyone likes a bargain

Tawfeer’s chief executive, Hussam Al Mulhem, reveals more about the membership scheme.

Tell me more about the programme’s membership levels.

Classic membership costs Dh1,490 for a year and members receive 24-hour access to the booking service and all the exclusive rates and restaurant discounts at the respective hotels. Deluxe membership is Dh4,490 for two years and as well as the classic level benefits, members are given vouchers for eight free nights at Tawfeer’s four and five-star hotel partners, including two overseas bookings. VIP membership costs Dh9,490 for three years; members receive 12 vouchers for five-star hotels, including four overseas bookings.

People in the UAE are not short of a bob or two. Do they care about making these savings?

Yes, without a doubt. Negotiation is part of the culture here and everyone wants to save when they can.

What’s the process if I call up your booking centre?

You would speak to one of our four reservation agents at any time of the day or night. They ask for your requirements: in which area would you like to stay? Is this a business or leisure trip? Do you want a four or five-star hotel? We look at our partner hotels and come up with suggestions; then we find out more about what you want. Do you need dinner on arrival? Do you have a pet? Do you need a private check-in? We keep the member’s profile on record and take care of all the paperwork. We then send a text, BBM, WhatsApp or email to confirm the reservation.

business@thenational.ae

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