Hotels report surge in iftar and suhoor bookings as Ramadan tents return to UAE

Hoteliers say the number of reservations is exceeding pre-pandemic levels

Bookings for iftar and suhoor meals at hotels are substantially up this year in Abu Dhabi as many Ramadan traditions return for the first time since 2019.

Hoteliers in the capital said they received a rush of reservations for the holy month, which is the closest to normal since the pandemic began.

Companies have begun making bookings for team iftars again, said Fabrice Ducry, general manager of Saadiyat Rotana Resort and Villas.

“Bookings have been even better than usual years,” he said.

Ramadan decor at the poolside area of Saadiyat Rotana Resort and Villas. Victor Besa / The National

“People have decided to plan even more ahead. We have had in the past two years very last minute [bookings] and surprisingly now this year for Ramadan, people want to make sure they have their tables.

“In past years, companies were not keen on entertaining during Ramadan, even for small gatherings. This year we can see companies have decided to do this, to come for iftar.”

Group bookings are also up in other properties.

“At Al Seef Heritage Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton, we are already seeing a number of bookings — particularly group bookings — at Sabaa cafe,” said Remco Werkhoven, cluster general manager of Hilton’s three properties in Al Seef — Al Seef Heritage Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton, Canopy by Hilton Dubai Al Seef and Hampton by Hilton Dubai Al Seef. The cafe is popular for its view of an iftar cannon.

The outdoor iftar at Canopy by Hilton Dubai Al Seef’s Skafos restaurant is also seeing “great interest”, he said.

Some restrictions remain in Abu Dhabi. The green pass requires people to show proof of vaccination or a recent PCR test to gain access to public places.

Social distancing also remains and masks are mandatory indoors. Hotels capacity is limited to 90 per cent and Ramadan tents are only allowed at licensed entities.

But it is very different to previous years during the pandemic, said Mr Ducry.

“Last year we did a small offering for Ramadan. But I have to say it was very low-key because there were so many restrictions for table size as well, as we were not able at all to create any atmosphere or create the sense of Ramadan,” he said.

Ramadan decor at the lobby of Saadiyat Rotana Resort and Villas. Victor Besa / The National

“I can’t say there are any restrictions in place that affect the spirit of Ramadan this year.”

While some rules have been lifted, authorities have urged people to remain cautious during the holy month to ensure cases remain low.

Abu Dhabi has advised people to limit iftar and suhoor to family members who live in the same house when possible this Ramadan.

In an interview with The National, Dr Farida Al Hosani, the official spokeswoman for the UAE's healthcare sector, said daily Covid-19 cases had dropped substantially and there was a sense of normality after two years but that did not mean that people should become lax about safety measures.

“Covid is still out there, and maintaining safety measures is still very important,” she said.

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Updated: April 10, 2022, 6:41 AM