Four-star Rose reaches higher

The world's tallest hotel will open in Dubai in December, taking the title away from the Burj Al Arab.

The Rose Rotana aka The Rose Tower, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai. Sept 07 2009. Duncan Chard for the National *** Local Caption ***  TN090901DC0012.jpg
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The world's tallest hotel will open in Dubai in December, taking the title away from the Burj Al Arab. Unlike the famous sail-shaped hotel, the Rose Rahyaan hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road, which is 12 metres taller at 333 metres, is not designed to appeal to day visitors coming to eat, drink and enjoy its views across Dubai, according to Rotana Hotels, which will manage it. Instead, the Rose is largely focused on business travellers and GCC leisure guests, with an alcohol-free policy and top floors dedicated to suites and penthouses, rather than a sky-view restaurant.

"The Burj Al Arab was built as a place of tourism but Rose is basically a business hotel, so we are focusing on the corporate segment and the non-alcohol leisure market at the weekends," said Daniel Mathew, the general manager of the Rose Rayhaan. As new hotels continue to open in Dubai during a downturn in the global tourism industry, Rotana said the 72-storey, four-star hotel was likely to succeed because it is located near the emirate's business district.

Its no-alcohol policy also gives it a niche position in an overcrowded market. When it opens, the Rose will add 481 rooms to the market, bringing Rotana's total number of rooms in Dubai and the Northern Emirates up to 3,500. A spokesman from the hotel's owner, Bonyan International Investment Group, said two months ago that the owner wanted to upgrade the hotel from a four-star property to a five-star. Mr Mathew said this had not been ruled out for the future, but it would open as a four-star hotel.

"There are so many additional things that are required for a five-star," he said, such as adding two more restaurants and tennis or squash courts. Mr Mathew said promotional room rates in December would start at Dh400 and that the Rose would be competing against hotels in the area such as Four Points and Dusit. "We are going to give them a run for their money, that's for sure." Rotana is also increasing its marketing efforts, with plans to set up sales offices in China and Russia to tap into new markets.

"Hotels - have learned in the last nine months that they cannot just build a hotel and get the business from all the segments they wish to," said Naeem Darkazally, the Dubai and Northern Emirates director of sales and marketing for Rotana Hotels. Diversifying was more pressing given that business from Europe has declined in the last year. "We have to step out of the norm and think about what else we can do to sustain business. You need to be different," Mr Darkazally said.

He said that the Rotana Arjaan Dubai Media City, which was also dry, had one of the highest occupancy and revenues of all its hotels in the city. Dr Ian Michael, who specialises in tourism research at Zayed University, said that in recent years Dubai had priced itself out of many travellers' budgets by setting itself up as a luxury destination. "In all our research, we found that people who wanted to stay at three-star or four-star hotels had this block that Dubai was equal to Burj Al Arab," Dr Michael said.

This was now being corrected by the downturn in the market and the opening of more three and four-star hotels in the emirate, he said.