Hungry hotels spice up specials

A number of hotels in Dubai are offering lower Eid rates than last year, while others are expanding their offerings in order to attract trade.

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DUBAI // A number of hotels in Dubai are offering lower Eid rates than last year, while others are expanding their offerings in order to attract trade. This is occurring even as hotels are seen to be recovering from the economic downturn and many are raising regular season prices relative to the past few months, if not yet from year-ago levels.

As residents geared up to spend time away from work during the holiday, they were spoilt for choice in picking hotel accommodation. With pitches such as "more value for money", "better rooms available" and "more activities on offer", five-star hotels up and down the emirate offered smart deals. "We've definitely noticed a drop in occupancy levels since last Eid," said Daniela Paderi, director of sales and marketing at the Sheraton Deira, whose Eid specials included three nights in a suite for the price of two.

Ms Paderi said the Sheraton had seen a 30 per cent drop in occupancy compared with the same time last year. "After Ramadan, we are expecting business to pick up, but it won't be the same as last year because of the situation," she said, alluding to the economic downturn. The Sheraton had been at 80 per cent occupancy last Eid, she said, but this year the level was around 60 per cent. The Jebel Ali Golf Resort and Spa had a larger selection of rooms available than last year and was offering some at Dh740 with half board - bed, breakfast and one main meal.

"We are giving more to our customers than last year," said Mariaan Valero, the director of sales and marketing for Jebel Ali International Hotels. Because of the effort the company had put in over the past year to retain customers, the hotel expected little change in its occupancy rate for Eid, she said. "You have to bear in mind that it is difficult to judge until the actual Eid," she said, "because it largely depends on last-minute bookings."

The company, which also owns Oasis Beach Tower and Hatta Fort Hotel, has been working with more "value-added rates", hoping to attract both residents and international travellers to keep its business up. On any given day, for example, the Jebel Ali Golf Resort and Spa offers around 50 activities, including horse riding, diving and golf. "We have definitely run more offers and promotions over the last year as a result of the current environment and the fact that people are looking for more value," Ms Valero said. "I feel that this has worked to our advantage."

Yet business this year has relied heavily on events and holidays, rather than on a constant flow of guests. "This year has been more up and down," Ms Valero said, "whereas, before, there was more of a busy stream. Now there are more periods that are tougher to sell." The Grand Millennium Dubai, a recently established five-star hotel near Tecom, offered rooms during Eid for as low as Dh550 for a double with breakfast.

"This is logical," said Samia Kerrouche, a public relations and marketing supervisor. "We are trying to put reasonable rates to attract people and create revenue for the hotel. "We understand that it is a tough situation for everybody."