x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Cheaper rooms, more flights and retailing fill Dubai hotels

Global hotel giant Starwood Hotels and Resorts expects further increases in rates and occupancy levels in Dubai this year.

Starwood Hotels and Resorts, with brands including Le Meridien and Westin, is expecting further growth in rates and occupancy in its properties in Dubai this year.

In the fourth quarter of last year, the hotel group experienced a 12 per cent increase in revenue per available room in its 15 Dubai properties over the same period a year earlier, it reported

"We anticipate that [growth] will continue this year and we will build on the momentum," said Guido de Wilde, the senior vice president and regional director for Starwood Hotels and Resorts in the Middle East. "We believe there is enough demand coming into the market to further build on occupancies and to further build on rates."

Hotel performance fell sharply in Dubai in 2009 and 2010 amid the global economic crisis.

But unrest elsewhere in the region, affordability and airlines opening new markets are helping hotels to bounce back.

"This does not necessarily come as a surprise for Dubai, as you see the growth in what is driving the business into Dubai," said Mr de Wilde. "If you look at Emirates Airline and all of the new destinations they are bringing on board, every single new destination they are adding on to their network is bringing new customers in. I can tell you, now opening up Rio de Janeiro, just today I got a group booking from Brazil for Al Maha. We didn't have that type of business before.

"The second thing is that after the crisis, rates in Dubai became much more affordable. Then its location, its hub, people travelling from all over the world, transiting through Dubai, then all the authorities trying to keep that traveller who transits through Dubai in Dubai. All these efforts are paying off."

Hotels in the emirate have reported a strong start to the year, with events such as the Dubai Shopping Festival, the Arab Health conference and good weather bringing in tourists and business travellers.

Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates said that during this year's Dubai Shopping Festival, which ran for most of last month, it experienced an increase in occupancy on a 20 per cent higher average room rate compared with the same period last year.

rbundhun@thenational.ae

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