Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 30 October 2020

Executive travel: The Dubai hotel that is serious business for executives and shoppers alike

Sofitel Downtown Dubai has a floor with 11 meeting rooms of various sizes and configurations, as well as a VIP club lounge

The Sofitel Downtown Dubai hotel. Accor, which owns the Sofitel, Fairmont, Mercure and Ibis hotel brands,  is scrapping a €280 million dividend as it closes two-thirds of hotels in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Courtesy of Softel Dubai Downtown
The Sofitel Downtown Dubai hotel. Accor, which owns the Sofitel, Fairmont, Mercure and Ibis hotel brands,  is scrapping a €280 million dividend as it closes two-thirds of hotels in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Courtesy of Softel Dubai Downtown

On casual inspection Sofitel Dubai Downtown seems almost too chic to engage with the planet’s transient business community.

But a closer look inside this distinctive tower on Sheikh Zayed Road reveals a hotel that’s not just a convenient retreat for shopped-out visitors returning from nearby Dubai Mall.

What most leisure guests won't see is the floor dedicated to meeting rooms — 11 of various sizes and configurations, with the audio visual-equipment you'd expect from a quality hotel and the option of natural daylight or blackout curtains.

The Diamond Ballroom is available for larger meetings and functions such as product launches and shareholder gatherings. Like other meeting spaces, it is supported by extensive breakout areas in which guests can refresh and huddle.

A serviced business centre on the same floor offers computer-equipped desks and two snazzy laptop pods that afford executives more privacy as they go about their correspondence.

It’s a considerable allocation of space in a prime Dubai postcode. Then again, world-class retail opportunities aside, this Sofitel also sits close to a lot of commercial activity.

A short walk away, Emaar Square and Emaar Business Park accommodate an array of business operations and are host to the likes of Standard Chartered Bank and HSBC.

The hotel is also right beside Burj Khalifa metro station, which is, in turn, one stop from Business Bay offices one way and DIFC the other for visitors who want to be close, but put a little distance between their pillow and the boardroom.

That metro station also makes this Sofitel strategically placed for convention crowds descending on Dubai World Trade Centre and another emerging location due to welcome the world later this year.

“We are 30-35 minutes away by metro from the Expo 2020 site,” says Klaus Assmann, general manager of the hotel, which last year celebrated its fifth anniversary.

“This makes the journey from the hotel to the Expo 2020 site comfortable, avoiding traffic and keeping transportation expenses very efficient.”

While the Expo metro extension is yet to power up, Sofitel Dubai Downtown will arguably offer both business and leisure travellers a canny mix of accessibility with city centre convenience.

Mr Assmann says his ratio of business travellers to leisure guests is “pretty equally spread”, although adds, perhaps surprisingly: “During winter months, a bigger percentage of our guests are business travellers compared to leisure travellers, which changes during summer months.”

That dynamic has shifted slightly recently with the introduction of new accommodation products, including a Kids & Family room that could interest executives travelling with loved ones, and Sofie’s Ladies Floor, a private access section exclusive to female guests and likely to appeal to female executives travelling solo.

A display of treats on offer at the hotel's third-floor VIP club lounge, Club Millesime, which features showers, a relaxation area and massage chairs. Courtesy of Softel Dubai Downtown Dubai
A display of treats on offer at the hotel's third-floor VIP club lounge, Club Millesime, which features showers, a relaxation area and massage chairs. Courtesy of Softel Dubai Downtown Dubai

The hotel has also enhanced its VIP club lounge, Club Millesime. “We moved it from ground to the third floor, added shower facilities and a relaxation area with massage chairs, which our guests absolutely love," says the general manager.

By other club lounge standards, this is impressive, with dozens of seating options for unwinding or working, a nook area for informal meetings and a separate smoking section with balcony.

Guests can avail afternoon tea here, as well as breakfast, instead of frequenting the more contemporary all-day dining restaurant Les Cuisines. Our visit to the latter had us beside FedEx crew who appeared to be regulars in the property.

Other dining options include La Patisserie lobby cafe — suitable for casual client catch-ups — the Peruvian-themed Inka, and Wakame, a stylish Japanese restaurant and bar with private dining opportunities.

The hotel recently relaunched its rooftop outlet as Above 2.0. Re-tuned as a “vibrant Mediterranean rooftop lounge”, this spacious restaurant and bar tenders an international menu with extensive indoor and outdoor seating, ideal for client entertaining.

It sits beside the Sofitel’s two level pool, well-sized for lane swims, and serviced al fresco seating area with views across to Burj Khalifa and Downtown Dubai.

A modern, well-equipped gym delivers more downtime possibilities as does a serene spa.

A luxury room overlooking the Dubai coastline. Courtesy of Softel Dubai Downtown
A luxury room overlooking the Dubai coastline. Courtesy of Softel Dubai Downtown

All this caters to 350 guest rooms, including 76 suites, combining brightly-coloured furniture with on-trend soft furnishings and warm, elegant decor. The quality of entry level Luxury Rooms are, as the branding suggests, beyond regular standards, offering views of either Downtown or Sheikh Zayed Road and the coastline beyond, if located high enough.

Facilities include a workable desk, armchair, 48 inch flat screen TV and wardrobe space that offers robes, iron and board, plus a safe.

Free Wi-Fi remains generous here, even into a spacious and contemporary bathroom with both oval stand-alone tub, independent rain shower and Lanvin amenities.

USB sockets aren’t abundant, but a handy panel offers one along with Scart, HDMI, RCA and network connections, plus a JBL music system-linked iPod socket. You’ll also find an efficient hairdryer, kettle and coffee machine.

Staying here costs from Dh1,158 (including taxes and breakfast), based on a ‘flexible rate’ one-night stay, checking in February 21.

If you flee the hotel for entertainment, you’re in useful proximity to Dubai Opera, the Coca-Cola Arena and countless dining and nightlife opportunities within The Dubai Mall — ask about guest discounts for its entertainment outlets — and Souk Al Bahar.

The writer was a guest of the hotel.

Updated: February 20, 2020 05:45 PM

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