Rotana checks in with stronger Dubai presence

Hotel operator Rotana has opened two new schemes in Dubai's Deira district, increasing the number of rooms it operates in the emirate by nearly a fifth.

Rotana has opened two new hotels in Dubai's Deira district, increasing the number of rooms it operates in the emirate by nearly a fifth.

Yesterday the biggest hotel chain operator in the country opened its Al Ghurair Rayhaan and Al Ghurair Arjaanhotels next to the Al Ghurair shopping centre, comprising a total of 620 new rooms - its largest room inventory in a single project.

The new hotels, owned by the Dubai conglomerate Al Ghurair, bring Rotana's total number of rooms in the city to 3,795 and its total number of hotels in Dubai to 15.

The event was held on the same day that the Dubai-based developer Emaar announced it was awarding the contract to Brookfield Multiplex to build another Dubai hotel - the 72-storey The Address, The BLVD tower of 523 serviced apartments in Downtown Dubai.

The Rotana hotels, whose soft opening took place on December 12, achieved an average occupancy of about 60 per cent over the past 18 days, said the hotel operator, adding it was targeting occupancy of 60 to 65 per cent in the first year, with rates starting at Dh650 (US$176) per night for a standard room.

Speaking to The National yesterday, Omer Kaddouri, the executive vice president and chief operating officer of Rotana, said Dubai was "doing very well at the moment and we think we can hold on to the coat-tails of everybody else during the first year of opening of this hotel.

"I think Dubai is a hotel inventory sponge," he added.

"Supply for new hotels is increasing quickly - we should be reaching the 90,000 rooms by next year.

"A lot of people ask me is there room for more hotels in Dubai and I think there absolutely is - as long as the dynamics of what the Dubai Government in terms of promoting Dubai continues."

Mr Kaddouri said occupancy for the Rotana group as a whole averaged about 70 per cent last year as the group's hotels in Egypt and Syria suffered from the effects of the Arab Spring.

Nonetheless, he said Rotana was continuing its expansion outside the UAE within the Middle East. Plans for five new hotel openings over the rest of this year include only one hotel in the UAE - a Rotana Rayhaan in Al Ain. The others comprise hotels in Doha, Bahrain,Amman and Karbala, Iraq. The group is also hoping to expand in India.

"Over the next five years we hope to have eight to 10 hotels operating in Iraq - we have one at the moment, a similar story in Saudi Arabia and also Turkey," said Mr Kaddouri.

He added that because of more top range hotels in Rotana's home city, Abu Dhabi, coming on stream, room rates in the capital had fallen over the past year by about 10 per cent while average occupancy remained flat at about 82 per cent and looked set to remain at about the same level this year.

"There could be more pressure on room rates in Abu Dhabi in 2013 because all of the new players that have entered the market will want to increase occupancy," he said.