UAE hotels set for a busy half-term as bookings surge

Hoteliers say the global vaccination drive against Covid-19 has eased travel anxiety

Holidaymakers from across the world will descend on the UAE this week as the school half-term begins.

Hotels in Dubai and Abu Dhabi reported a surge in bookings from both domestic and international guests.

Some airlines also put on extra flights to cater for the demand in passenger travel, as the global vaccination drive against Covid-19 has eased travel anxiety.

With the week-long half-term starting on February 14, hotels said they received bookings from a number of international markets including the UK, US, Saudi Arabia and Spain, and many were enticing guests with free room upgrades and discounts on activities.

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The average length of stay for our half-term guests is four to five days. If comparing to this time in 2021, we’ve seen a lift by about 15 per cent in occupancy, on average
Nathalie Cockayne, Melia Desert Palm

Nathalie Cockayne, general manager at Melia Desert Palm hotel in Dubai, said the property, which has 39 rooms, was running at more than 90 per cent occupancy for the half-term week.

“The average length of stay for our half-term guests is four to five days,” she said.

“We have seen strong demand for next week.

“If comparing to this time in 2021, we’ve seen a lift by about 15 per cent in occupancy, on average.”

She said most guests were international travellers, mainly from the UK, US, Spain and Argentina.

Vinayak Mahtani, chief executive of bnbme, which operates holiday home lets in the UAE, said tourists from the UK are topping their bookings list at the moment.

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“We have seen an increase in demand from people travelling from the UK for the half-term break, but we have seen an increase for staycations too,” he said.

“For Dubai residents, we are seeing a lot of demand for our glamping set-ups.

“I think the local residents have been there and done that in terms of resort stays and they are more inclined to try something different, yet luxurious.”

For apartment stays, he said the most popular areas were Downtown Dubai, Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Village Circle and Jumeirah Beach Residence. Glamping bookings have soared in Al Qudra desert, as well as the beach and wadi areas in Ras Al Khaimah.

In Abu Dhabi, Jatinder Singh, director of sales and marketing at the W Hotel on Yas Island, which has 499 rooms, said school breaks were always a busy period.

“We have been witnessing a steady pickup this year and the hotel is at a high 80 per cent occupancy rate,” he said.

“We anticipate higher occupancy leading as the school midterm break starts.

“We do have a stay and play offer online on the hotel website, which gives guests discounts to book rooms plus theme park tickets to Ferarri World, Warner Brothers and Yas Waterworld for the holidays.”

Vinayak Mahtani, chief executive of bnbme, said glamping was popular among UAE residents. Photo: bnbme

Mr Singh said the majority of guests making bookings at the hotel were from the GCC and Europe, with UAE residents also booking staycations.

Earlier this month, data from travel agency site Skyscanner showed that Dubai was the most popular destination for British holidaymakers in 2022, before Spain, Tenerife and Malaga.

Bookings made in January to Dubai from the UK were up 49 per cent from the same month in 2020.

A representative from flydubai said school holidays were always a busy time for flights, and the pre-planned schedules reflected this.

“This is a popular time for travel for our passengers and our published flight schedule factors in public holidays, national days and schools breaks,” she said.

“We expect healthy demand for travel to holiday destinations like Colombo, Istanbul, Maldives, Salalah and Tbilisi.

“Dubai continues to be the preferred holiday destination as we see more UAE residents opting to welcome friends and family in our city for the holiday period, which is reflected in the inbound traffic from around our network.”

The Emirates website shows that the airline is also operating an extra daily service on its Dubai-London Heathrow route.

Seven A380 flights will depart Dubai for Heathrow, with the additional service scheduled to take off at 3.15pm from Dubai International Airport.

To travel to Dubai from the UK, passengers must present a negative PCR test result taken within 48 hours of departure.

Children aged under 12 and passengers with moderate to severe disabilities are not required to take a PCR test to travel to the UAE.

The rules for UK travel are the same for Abu Dhabi. Whether you are a UAE resident or a tourist, you will need to present a negative PCR test result taken within 48 hours of departure.

If you are fully vaccinated and flying to Abu Dhabi, you must be tested on arrival in Abu Dhabi airport — after baggage collection. There is no need to quarantine but since the UK was removed from Abu Dhabi's Green List, you must take another PCR test on day four and day eight.

Updated: February 14, 2022, 5:53 AM
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