Jean-Philippe Bittencourt, the general manager of Pullman Deira City Centre Dubai, is in charge of rebranding the hotel from the luxury brand Sofitel to an upscale five-star hotel. This involved refurbishing the 317-room property launched September 1.
Here, he talks about the new Pullman brand.
Accor, which owns both Pullman and Sofitel brands, wants to more than double its number of hotels to 150 by 2020 around the world. How many Pullman hotels will be in the UAE?
Right now, this is the second Pullman hotel in the UAE. The first one was with Mall of the Emirates and that opened three years ago. Here, we have one to two projects under negotiations and a few others under discussion in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and some Levant countries.
Why did Accor decide to change the brands?
The hotel opened 15 years ago with Sofitel. With the ageing of the hotel, it was no longer compliant with Sofitel's standards.
How much did you invest in the remodelling of the hotel?
Around US$35 million (Dh128.5m). There was a major need of ... redoing the rooms and restaurant.
How will the look and facilities of the hotel change with the Pullman makeover?
We have brought in Wi-Fi and broadband in the rooms, changed the size of the television sets, beds are more comfortable and colours are much lighter. It is a place you feel at ease to sleep and to work. We have also redesigned the executive lounge to have snacks the whole day besides having a business centre, which are complimentary services. We have an interactive kitchen where a guest can come during breakfast, lunch or dinner and ask for specific food or change them. We are also going to bring back the Friday brunch in December.
Are there price increases in room rates?
The prices will go up by 25 to 30 per cent.
With the Dubai hotel space already crowded how are you going to compete?
It is a five-star hotel [now] but we will deliver the experience in a relaxed and contemporary way. Our welcomers are always around to assist a guest from the entrance until the room. We are competing with five-star hotels such as Crowne Plaza, GW Marriott and others in the Downtown and Sheikh Zayed Road.
What are the benefits of the site?
It is situated in the centre of the town and attached to a mall, that is, Deira City Centre. Our Pullman Hotel with the Mall of the Emirates quickly reached a good level of occupancy. The [Deira hotel] is close to the airport and will cater to people looking for meetings.
What is your target occupancy?
We expect to go up to as high as 70 per cent next year.