Luxury has become a byword for the hospitality sector in Abu Dhabi in recent years. But as the industry expands, new players are coming to the capital to push a new market: budget hotels. Part of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority's drive to broaden the base of tourists coming to the capital, these leisure companies have been encouraged to build good-quality, affordable accommodations.
Last October, for example, the three-star Park Inn and Centro hotels opened on Yas Island, and other budget properties, including a Premier Inn and an Ibis, are to be unveiled. "Abu Dhabi at the moment is suffering something of an oversupply of hotel rooms, but predominantly that's at the five-star end of the market," says Darroch Crawford, the managing director of Premier Inn in the Middle East. "We believe there's still an opportunity for a value-for-money brand such as Premier Inn to come in and do extremely well."
The hotel, which is expected to open next year, is being built next to the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, with opening rates likely to be between Dh300 (US$81) and Dh400 a night. Mr Crawford says Premier Inn will undercut any offers launched by the five and four-star hotels. "Whatever the five-star hotels do, Premier Inn will still offer better value for money because that's what the whole brand is built upon," he says.
The company also plans to build another hotel in the capital in the near future. "Tourists are travelling at their own expense and therefore [the price] is even more important to them than it is perhaps to a business traveller," Mr Crawford says. The Centro Yas Island, which is managed by the Rotana Group, expects to see an increase in tourist numbers once the Ferrari World theme park opens this year but says it will still offer competitive rates.
"We want to provide a very affordable price," says Philippe Anric, the general manager at Centro. New players have also seen a chance to make money from budget hotels. CAPM Investment, which has its headquarters in Abu Dhabi, formed a joint venture with Layia Hospitality of Dubai to launch a budget hotel chain in the capital called Day and Night. The plan is to initially develop five of the alcohol-free hotels in Abu Dhabi, with the first expected to open within two years.
"The Middle East market is now mature enough to accept the concept of budget hotels," Ahmad al Yousuf, the chairman of Layia Hospitality, says. email@example.com