Destination Dubai

Dubai

The bright lights of Dubai beckon to travellers from far and wide to experience this glamorous emirate’s ever-evolving tourism product. Natalie Hami reports.

A force to be reckoned with in a region brimming with unforgettable experiences just waiting to be lived by potential visitors, Dubai manages to surprise its visitors year-in year-out with announcements set to enhance various lucrative sectors such as transport, retail and hospitality. And with the emirate playing host to Expo 2020, it seems to have created an unstoppable momentum that it plans on leveraging for a long time to come.

Just recently in a keynote speech at the Cityscape conference, vice president of Legacy, Expo 2020, Marjan Faraidooni set out ambitious plans to transform the Expo’s 4.38km2 into an ecosystem that connects businesses in the transport and logistics, travel and tourism, real estate and education sectors, as part of creating a thriving knowledge economy that contributes to the UAE’s diversified future.

IMEX Frankfurt 2020

She said: “Our legacy plans are wide ranging and ambitious. Our Expo will continue to foster innovation and create meaningful partnerships that will live beyond 2020 – not only for the UAE but for the region as a whole.

“We have spent the past year working on developing our master plan specifically to create a platform for the future. Over 80 per cent of our investments will be retained following the event. This includes the infrastructure, as well as the cutting edge technologies, the roads and public transport systems put in place to host the Expo. We intend to build on those physical and virtual platforms to create an ecosystem that lives through legacy.”

Honing in on the emirate’s leisure product, Dubai’s residents and visitors alike will very soon be welcoming the opening of Dubai Parks and Resorts (October 31). While in the world of hospitality the emirate’s impressive room count continues to grow with properties such as the Rosemont Five Star Hotel & Residences (boasting its own private rainforest), Nikki Beach Resort and Spa Dubai, DusitPrincess ACES Dubai, Bulgari Resort and Residences, Aloft Dubai City Centre Deira, and much more. And sure to attract the cultural set is the recent opening of the Dubai Opera, which, according to its chief executive, Jasper Hope, the ‘line-up of performances will be a revelation for culture-lovers in the city.’

In terms of upping its visitor numbers, Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) is also doing its part by initiating a high-tech campaign in London – called ‘Here Today, Dubai Tomorrow’ – with the aim of attracting more visitors from the UK.

THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX

Meanwhile, as the city’s room count climbs to impressive heights in order to create the capacity needed for Expo 2020, the hospitality sector continues to look at new ways to make its properties shine bright in a sky full of attractive and value-conscious hotels. Properties are not only enhancing their products but also diversifying in terms of tourism segments.

Senior vice president sales, marketing and PR, Atlantis, The Palm and Global Partnerships Kerzner, Ravini Perera told TTG that as Atlantis is attracting such a huge proportion of families, it is always adapting its offering to suit their needs and requirements.

“Most recently the hotel has seen the launch of unique dining experiences including the Bread Street Kitchen Family Brunch, where every Friday the family can enjoy an array of starters, British roasts, main courses and desserts, as well as a free visit to The Lost Chambers Aquarium and Beyond the Sea activity village for kids. In addition, Ronda Locatelli has also launched its Saturday Brunch, All’Italiana, where kids under 11 years of age dine for free and are entertained by a magician, an art studio and a pizza cooking class, whilst parents can indulge in a fantastic selection of Italian classics.”

Furthermore, the underwater restaurant Ossiano now provides families with complimentary access to the Kids Club whilst parents enjoy an adult-only dining experience.

Also looking at catering to the popular family segment is Iberotel Miramar Al Aqah Beach Resort, whose general manager, Ashraf Helmy informed TTG of the hotel’s latest enhancements in a bid to boost this segment.

“Miramar Al Aqah Beach Resort is now offering a new ultra all-inclusive concept in addition to the half board and bed and breakfast concepts with full entertainment programmes, including animation Kids Club due to an increased demand from our guests, especially families, who wish to have this option, more for the sake of convenience rather than the sake of cost. Another exciting new development is we are also introducing Teen Club this year. We are looking to attract more leisure guests and families with kids with this unique feature.”

Commenting on the fact that The Ritz-Carlton Dubai attracts a number of families with children, area vice president Middle East and Africa, Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Ibrahim Barghout told TTG that the successful ‘Better Together’ summer package, which is currently winding down, offered families as well as other visitors a complimentary night’s stay for every two nights booked. In addition, families were able to delight in complimentary accommodation and dining for children under 12 years, as well as savings on spa treatments and select dining experiences, along with complimentary WiFi.

He added: “The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai, which attracts a number of families with children, offered the ‘Better Together’ campaign with a Ritz Kids programme that allowed children to experience the life of a desert dweller. This included activities centred around the themes of land and water, including ‘Living Desert’: a fun yet educational activity about desert life.”

In an emirate where the skyline is constantly changing to accommodate the ever-growing number of hotels, the current properties find themselves having to explore various strategies to keep their occupancy high, with the key being diversification.

According to general manager, Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach, Philip Jones, in the last year the property has seen booking patterns and guest profiles evolve in a much more dynamic way, resulting in the need to adapt its accommodation offering. “In light of this we have converted many of the regular sofas in the guest rooms into sofa beds. Additionally, we have installed new mattresses in a number of king bed rooms, which allows for instant conversion to either king or twin configuration, depending on the guest requirement.”

VALUE-CONSCIOUS EMIRATE

As Dubai continues to diversify and grow its tourism product, with one of the more recent developments being its foray into the mid-market segment in a bid to welcome the more budget-conscious traveller, established hotels have become more sensitive to these changes. As a result, many of them are promoting special deals to attract the budget-conscious traveller.

Perera of Atlantis, The Palm explained that for September, the lush property went live with the Atlantis September Birthday Sale, an initiative that directly targeted previous guests to Atlantis.

He added: “Additionally, we are targeting our loyal and repeat Aquaventure visitors from the local market, with the launch of a first of its kind annual pass for the waterpark. For one fixed cost, guests are now able to access the park for unlimited visits in a year, as well as receive discounts on activities such as ray feeding, dolphin and sea lion interactions.”

Senior manager, Arabian Adventures, Samir Mehta explained that given the very competitive market place, at Arabian Adventures, the company is constantly looking at providing value add-ons with its packages, thus boosting the visitor experience.

He elaborated: “We are currently finalising an exciting new addition to our value-added options which will include F&B discounts and offers across a range of restaurants and outlets in Dubai. These will be provided exclusively to Arabian Adventures/Gulf Ventures as well as customers of the various national and international dnata travel brands.”

A united front, Dubai’s stakeholders continue to up their game as Expo 2020 draws ever closer.