As summer begins and temperatures soar, Dubai hotels are being forced to offer deep discounts and competitive promotions to try to attract tourists. However in Abu Dhabi, such deals are likely to be harder to come by given the shortage of rooms and focus on the business traveller. The summer is typically a quieter a period for hotels in Dubai, but as demand from key source markets drops and the emirate's supply of hotel rooms continues to increase, analysts are predicting this year will be even more difficult for hotel ≠operators. The Jumeirah Group, which operates the Jumeirah Beach hotel and Burj Al Arab, is offering a summer family deal which includes free accommodation, meals and water park entry for children. The Address, owned by Emaar Hospitality Group, is offering special summer rates and free entry to attractions such as the Dubai Aquarium and ice rink, as well as shopping discounts at Dubai Mall. Even Atlantis, the flagship resort on The Palm island which opened in a US$20 million (Dh73.45m) ceremony last September, is offering guests a special rate starting from Dh800 per room per night. The deal includes unlimited free entry to Aquaventure water park and The Lost Chambers, a maze of underwater halls and tunnels. In addition, Emirates Airline has teamed up with a number of hotels in Dubai in an unprecedented promotion for children that includes free flights, hotel stays, meals and entry to attractions. "In any event it is going to be a very challenging summer for Dubai," said Max Cooper at Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, who added that he expected the downward trend seen this year to continue. He predicted that occupancy levels could fall to the high 50s compared with last summer's occupancy of about 70 per cent. "It's not the best time of year to visit Dubai, but there are packages out there to entice people," he said. "How successful that is is hard to determine. We can only gauge by what's happened thus far. Assuming that trend continues, there will be business coming in, but it just doesn't come in at the same levels as it does when the weather is a bit cooler." In April, Dubai's occupancy levels fell to 72.6 per cent from 84 per cent in the same month the previous year, while revenue per available room (RevPAR) declined to $205.06 compared with $291.96 in April last year. Deloitte has predicted an even steeper decline, forecasting occupancy levels in the 30s for those hotels not on the beach during the summer, with RevPAR at about $50. Naeem Darkazally, the head of sales and marketing for Rotana Hotels in Dubai and the northern emirates, said Dubai had already seen a correction in room rates "down to more logical levels" in the first quarter of the year. "The same will happen in the summer, with the rates being adjusted to reflect real value for money," he said. Mr Darkazally said hotels would have to be far more competitive compared with last summer. "A lot of companies such as ours have been extra proactive in planning and putting our strategies forward," he said, adding that hotel operators in Dubai were now targeting a new clientele, with different pricing strategies. "This summer, a lot of terms and conditions have been more lenient, our rates have been packaged in a more attractive way." In addition, Rotana, which is based in the UAE, was working hard to continue to attract visitors from the GCC, a main source of tourists in the summer, he said. Hotels in Abu Dhabi, however, were likely to maintain their high rates because of the corporate clientele and shortage of rooms, said Mr Darkazally. Even so, Abu Dhabi's market has started to show signs of strain, with occupancy levels in April falling to 80.3 per cent, down from 88 per cent in April last year and RevPAR slipping by 6.9 per cent to $249.43 from $267.90, according to data from STR Global. But average room rates in Abu Dhabi were up 2 per cent to $310.56 during the same period. Mr Cooper said he expected a similar contraction in occupancy to be seen in the capital over the summer amid softer market conditions. But he said rates would stay at last year's levels as supply remained static, with most new rooms in Abu Dhabi set to be ready in the last quarter of this year. Olivier Hick, the director of operations of Accor Hospitality Middle East, agreed that Abu Dhabi's rates were likely to be less affected. He said that Accor was offering a summer promotion at its Novotel hotels in Dubai that represented about a 20 per cent greater discount than last year. "Abu Dhabi is a corporate market and we are very happy with Abu Dhabi in the sense that the business hasn't moved, so there is no specific action we are taking." firstname.lastname@example.org
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