x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Analysts expect new records for the hospitality sector.

The Burj Khalifa is seen from Al Qasr hotel in downtown Dubai. REUTERS/Jumana ElHeloueh
The Burj Khalifa is seen from Al Qasr hotel in downtown Dubai. REUTERS/Jumana ElHeloueh
Dubai hotels attached to malls are gearing up for the 19th edition of the city's shopping festival as analysts expect new records for the hospitality sector.

Last January, occupancy rates at Dubai's four- and five-star hotels touched 89.8 per cent, steadily going up from 83.1 per cent in 2011, according to TRI Hospitality Consulting. The average room rate was US$347.78 per night last January, rising from $297.75 in 2011.

"The positive trend seen in the market throughout this year is expected to continue through the next quarter, and January 2014 is likely to see record performance for Dubai hotels," said Rashid Aboobacker, a senior consultant with TRI Hospitality Consulting.

At the Kempinski Hotel at Mall of the Emirates, the general manager, Konstantin Zeuke, has put the porters and bellhops on alert, especially during the peak time of 8pm to 10pm as guests emerge from the mall to drop into their rooms.

"Since we are directly connected to the mall, the Dubai Shopping Festival is an automatic advantage for us as shoppers want to stay as close as possible to the mall," he said.

A majority - 60 per cent - of his guests are from the Arabian Gulf region, with those from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Abu Dhabi dominating. Many of the rest are from the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Italy, Kenya and Nigeria.

During the past few years, the hotel has also seen an increasing number of guests from South America, even though the numbers are small, around 5 per cent of the total guests.

The hotel expects occupancy of 90 per cent in January, up from 85 per cent last year, and room rates starting at Dh1,600 per night for the month, an increase of about 10 per cent. During the first weekend of DSF, its grand ski chalet with two-bedrooms is going for Dh10,000 per night.

At Madinat Jumeirah's Mina A' Salam hotel, rooms during DSF's first weekend start at Dh4,000 per night, while those at the adjacent Al Qasr Hotel start at Dh4,700 per night and go up to Dh6,700. The figures are double the weekend rates in April, for instance, which start at Dh2,000.

In 2012, DSF attracted more than 4.3 million people, 10 per cent more than in 2011, who spent $4 billion during the month-long festival, according to its organisers, Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment, an arm of Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing.

It conducted the study in association with the global research firm YouGov.

Of the 895,000 international visitors, about 28 per cent were from Europe followed by the Arabian Gulf and South Asia.

Originally conceived as a way to promote Dubai, DSF is now among a host of other attractions which also caters to the neighbouring emirates, said Chiheb Ben Mahmoud, the executive vice president and head of hotels and hospitality group for Middle East and Africa for Jones Lang LaSalle.

Neighbouring Abu Dhabi, which opened the luxury shopping mall The Galleria on Al Maryah Island in August, is expecting to harness the enthusiasm among out-of-town shoppers.

"We haven't done any comparison study but we benefit from the close proximity to Dubai and do see visitors coming from Dubai to shop here," said Mohammed Al Dhaheri, the director of strategy and policy of TCA Abu Dhabi.

Occupancy rates for January in Abu Dhabi hotels have increased as well over the past three years. Last January, it stood at 80 per cent, up from 62.60 per cent in 2011. Room rates have fallen, however, touching $135.31 per night last January from a high of $191.16 in 2011, according to TRI Hospitality Consulting.