Hotels across the country were packed to the rafters over the Eid Al Adha weekend as a deluge of tourists from the Arabian Gulf were attracted to the 24-hour shopping in Dubai.
Bumper Eid for hotels as 24-hour shopping lures tourists
Many hotels reported full occupancy as families from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar flew in to celebrate the holiday and residents indulged themselves at the country's desert resorts.
"We were filling even the top penthouse that has five bedrooms," said Michael Zager, the general manager of the Ramada at Jumeirah Beach Residence, which opened three months ago.
"The GCC countries love to come with their families. Room service was pumping with breakfasts and hamburgers. The reception was full at 2am. It was 24 hours."
The Ramada has 356 units, ranging from studios to five-bedroom apartments and the hotel was fully occupied with 1,200 guests during the weekend.
Tour operators said they were inundated with requests from GCC families planning stays in hotels along the coast in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the Northern Emirates.
"Business was extremely busy," said Sunil D'Souza, the regional travel director at Kanoo Travel, a tour operator. "The families prefer the beach properties with facilities for the kids to play around. Atlantis, Jumeirah Beach Hotel all those properties dotted around the Dubai coast, as well as Abu Dhabi and Sharjah."
Hoteliers all said the addition of the 24-hour shopping festival in Dubai had helped to attract GCC tourists, who enjoy late-night shopping with their families.
"The 24-hour shopping experience played a key role in energising Dubai's key economic sectors, with the [Armani] hotel experiencing booking lead time of at least 10 days prior to the kick-off of the celebrations," said Jason Harding, the regional general manager of the Armani Hotel in the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
"The seven food and beverage outlets at Armani Hotel Dubai also experienced terrific performance."
Mr Harding said the Armani was full during the Eid period and was able to charge higher rates than the same period last year thanks to such high demand.
For two consecutive weekends over the Eid holiday period, stores have been open in malls from 10am on Thursday and until 1am the following Sunday. This weekend will mark the final weekend of extended opening.
Initial reports from retailers participating in the round-the-clock extravaganza showed a bustling Eid trade in the malls, driven by the large number of out-of-town guests in hotels.
"The 24-hour shopping experience certainly provided an additional option for the visiting guests to visit the main malls at their own leisure time," said Craig Senior, the regional director of sales and marketing at Meydan Hotels and Hospitality.
"Guests were from the UAE and the GCC key feeder markets of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, with the majority being families."
Desert getaways also proved popular over the Eid weekend for expatriate residents and Emiratis.
"It's been fantastic," said Nancy Nusrally, the public relations manager for Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa, Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort and Desert Islands Resort & Spa. All three Abu Dhabi resorts are run by Anantara. "We managed to sell out all the rooms at best rate."
All three hotels were running at almost full occupancy.
Revenues from the hotel and hospitality market are expected to grow more than 10 per cent a year for the next four years, dramatically outpacing growth in the overall economy. Revenues will reach US$4.9 billion (Dh17.99bn) this year, up from $4.5bn last year, and will eventually grow to $7.5bn by 2016 as tourists continue to flood into the country, according to Alpen Capital's latest GCC industry report.