Popular club sees decrease in members but still demand for luxury among wealthy

Mike Mcgrath, general manager of The Club, Abu Dhabi - a popular weekend and after-work spot for expatriates - said members are leaving in droves and the number of enquiries about new memberships have fallen.

ABU DHABI // One of the capital’s biggest and most popular private members clubs said it had suffered a “significant” ­decrease in memberships as ­expatriates returned home.

Mike McGrath, general manager of The Club, Abu Dhabi – a popular weekend and after-work spot for expats – said members were leaving in droves.

“We are seeing a sizeable increase in the number of members leaving,” he said. “We are advised by them that jobs are seizing up – across the private sector and public sector – in oil, banking, construction.”

Despite that, he said The Club would not be cutting its membership fees. “We already offer very competitive and attractive rates so we won’t be dropping rates,” he said. “We will, how­ever, be looking at ways to make The Club that more attractive to people in Abu Dhabi.”

Despite stagnating salaries and tightening of belts for most working and middle-class people, five-star hotels, golf clubs and high-end rental groups said there was still an appetite for luxury among high-net-worth individuals in the country.

Carly Tjader, sales and marketing manager at Yas Links, said expats were still willing to pay the annual membership fees at the golf club – Dh29,000 for an individual. “We actually haven’t had much deviation from our membership count,” she said.

“With the residential units ­being built around the property, we now anticipate an increase.”

Alexander Sell, acting general manager at The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, said interest in membership – Dh13,100 for an individual and Dh16,400 for a family package – was rising.

“We have seen time and again that consistency and quality survive any market trends,” he said.

“The number of resort members enjoying the facilities has been growing steadily in the past three years, with 2016 figures ­being the strongest to date.”

Ryan Kasper, head of luxury rentals at Luxhabitat, Dubai’s only high-end real estate brokerage, said there continued to be an interest in luxury rentals, although inquiries tended to be about shorter lets now.

“We have observed in recent months more tenants opting for a standard one-year contract rather than a multiyear contract, suggesting they are more wary of entering into longer-term commitments,” he said.

newsdesk@thenational.ae

Published: June 18, 2016 04:00 AM

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