Ferrari World puts hoteliers on pole

Hotels in Abu Dhabi are in pole position to capitalise on increased demand from thrill-seekers as the world's first Ferrari World opens in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

Ferrari World will have its formal opening on Wednesday but officials have already allowed visitors a glimpse of the theme park. Courtesy photo
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Theme park opens

Latest attraction looks set to boost tourism across Abu Dhabi

Rebecca Bundhun

With the world's first Ferrari World theme park set to open in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, hotels in the capital are in pole position to capitalise on increased demand for rooms from thrill-seekers.

Hoteliers are developing package deals and the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) is setting up a permanent visitor centre at the entrance to the theme park.

The ADTA said Ferrari World, which includes the world's fastest roller coaster among its rides, would help increase the number of hotel guests staying in the capital from 1.54 million guests last year.

"Beyond its immediate draw and the returns it will generate in assisting us to achieve our 2010 target of 1.65 million hotel guests is the role Ferrari World Abu Dhabi plays in helping to build a peerless reputation for Yas Island as a world-class entertainment destination," said Lawrence Franklin, the strategy and policy director at the ADTA.

Among those looking forward to the opening of Ferrari World are hoteliers on Yas Island.

"We're all waiting for the opening," said Patrick Martinez, the general manager of the Rotana Yas Island and Centro Yas Island hotels.

"This is a great opportunity to map Abu Dhabi. We are growing as a leisure destination as far as Yas Island is concerned. We believe that [Ferrari World] is going to start boosting the demand and the destination."

Mr Martinez said Rotana planned to work with Ferrari World to offer package deals for its hotels on Yas Island, as well as some of the chain's other hotels in the city.

The deals include free premium tickets to the theme park for guests who book two nights' accommodation at participating hotels.

The offers will also be available online, including premium tickets to Ferrari World, starting at Dh700 (US$190.58).

Ferrari World is also expected to be popular with business travellers. Some hotel bookings have already been taken for meetings and conferences next yearbecause of the theme park, said Mr Martinez. "I think the first year was a year of positioning," he said "We believe next year will be a much better year."

Dieter Franke, the general manager of the Crowne Plaza hotel on Yas Island, was also optimistic about the theme park. "We are very excited," he said. "We are working to create packages."

Hoteliers off Yas Island are also planning to capitalise on Ferrari World.

"The Yas Island hotels have something to look forward to but so do we," said Sid Sattanathan, the general manager of the Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi. "It's very positive because it's raising Abu Dhabi's profile. The occupancies go up, the rates go up, so we all benefit. We will support them with packages. We will be selling tickets for our in-house guests and tickets packaged with our rooms."

Some hoteliers have expressed concern that until more attractions open in the emirate, Ferrari World might not be a sufficient incentive for visitors from neighbouring emirates to stay overnight in Abu Dhabi, noting that it could be easily visited on a day trip from Dubai.

Ferrari World is now a go, b4