x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

F1 race week to rev up profits for Abu Dhabi’s hospitality sector

Abu Dhabi’s hospitality industry is set to benefit from the increased tourism numbers driven by next month’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The October rates at Yas Viceroy start at Dh600 a night for a deluxe room. Sammy Dallal / The National
The October rates at Yas Viceroy start at Dh600 a night for a deluxe room. Sammy Dallal / The National

Abu Dhabi’s hospitality industry is set to benefit from the increased tourism numbers driven by next month’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Already accommodation at the Yas Viceroy, the world’s only hotel that straddles a Formula One race track, is almost fully booked for the race week from November 1 to 3.

Thanks to improved aviation connectivity, the number of tourists visiting the capital has been increasing. In the eight months to August, Abu Dhabi welcomed some 10.8 million passengers, a 12 per cent rise on the same period last year.

At the Yas Viceroy, tables at its four restaurants that have views of the race track are also fully booked for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

While the hotel would not reveal how much the race week contributes to its annual revenue, it accounts for more revenue than any other comparable period over the year.

“It’s like my wedding day,” said Anton Bawab, the regional president of the Los Angeles-based Viceroy Hotel Group. “I am in my best suit, standing at the door from 7am receiving guests.”

A four-night package during the F1 race week at the 499-room hotel for a deluxe room costs Dh5,200 a night. A deluxe suite costs Dh15,000 a night, the Yas grand suite Dh18,000, and the marina executive suite Dh22,000.

The hotel’s room rates this month start at Dh600 a night for a deluxe room, Dh1,000 for a deluxe suite, Dh1,200 for the Yas grand suite, and about Dh1,500 at the marina executive suite.

As with the Yas Viceroy, other hotels in Abu Dhabi, including Radisson Blu and Crowne Plaza Yas Island, are also sold out.

According to Rashid Aboobacker, a senior consultant at Tri Hospitality Consulting, occupancy and average room rates for hotels on Yas Island are typically the highest in November, much of it because of the grand prix.

“Average monthly occupancy in November went up to nearly 80 per cent last year, over 15 percentage points more than the average annual occupancy for these hotels,” Mr Aboobacker said.

He said some of the major events at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Centre and other venues in the city were viewed as having a strong impact on hotels’ occupancy and room rates.

“However, it is hard to compare with Yas Island, as this island destination virtually functions as a unique sub-market due to its location,” Mr Aboobacker said.

Mubadala, Abu Dhabi’s investment firm, shares equal ownership of the Viceroy Hotel Group with a Malaysian investor.

Aldar Properties, based in Abu Dhabi, owns the land on which the Yas Viceroy is located.

The hotel is also partnering international lifestyle companies to attract guests to next month’s race week.

One of them is The Podium Lounge, based in Singapore, which will oversee post-race entertainment at the hotel’s second-floor lounge.

The cost for booking tables at the lounge start at Dh500 and can rise up to Dh50,000 for the ultra-exclusive parties.

The Italian Cavalli Caffè, associated with the designer Roberto Cavalli, will operate the second lounge at the hotel. Collectively, the lounges can accommodate about 1,000 people.

The Viceroy Hotel Group, which has its sole regional hotel in Abu Dhabi, will open its Istanbul property next year. It is also looking to expand in Saudi Arabia, Oman and Qatar.

ssahoo@thenational.ae