Fairmont hotel openings in Ajman and Fujairah add to luxury shift in Northern Emirates
The Northern Emirates are coming under the focus of luxury hotel operators.
Fairmont Hotels and Resorts will become the third international chain after Starwood and Kempinski to enter Ajman.
The operator of the Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel brands expects to open Fairmont Ajman in May and Fairmont Fujairah later this year. Both were initially slated to open in 2013.
Its Fairmont Abu Dhabi Marina is due to open next year. The Toronto-based company entered the UAE in 2002 with Fairmont Dubai. It was followed by Fairmont Bab Al Bahr in Abu Dhabi in 2009, and Fairmont the Palm Dubai in 2012.
The 182-room Fujairah and 252-room Ajman properties will seek to reap the benefits of growing tourist footfall in the Northern Emirates, drawn by competitive room rates compared with neighbouring Dubai.
This has taken on greater significance as a weak euro and rouble hit the purchasing power of many European visitors to the country.
“The weak euro is expected to cause some shift in demand from the more expensive destination [Dubai] to a cheaper one. However, it is likely to be minor and short term in nature unless the devaluation issue persists or worsens in the future,” said Rashid Aboobacker, a senior consultant with TRI Consulting. “Operators are also attracted to Ajman and Fujairah due to opportunities for genuine beachfront resorts, while there are limited opportunities left in Dubai.”
The gap in nightly rates between Dubai and its northern neighbours can be dramatic.
Rooms could be had at the Kempinski Ajman over the weekend for about Dh850 on a number of travel sites searched yesterday. A room at the company’s property on Palm Jumeirah was more than double that for the same nights.
Limited infrastructure and entertainment facilities, however, make it tougher for Ajman and Fujairah to compete with Dubai.
In 2012, about 283,960 people checked into Ajman’s hotels, an increase of 24 per cent on the previous year, with the properties reporting occupancy of 55 per cent, a drop of 7 per cent over 2011, according to the latest figures available from the emirate’s tourism department.
Fujairah had about 693,587 hotel guests in 2013, an increase of 22 per cent over the previous year, with an average occupancy rate at 62 per cent, which was flat, according to the latest figures available.
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Updated: February 18, 2015 04:00 AM