x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Hotel competition converts to better value for grand prix fans

Formula One racegoers in Abu Dhabi paid an average of Dh1,750 a night for a hotel room on the Saturday, down sharply from the first year.

The F1 race is by far the biggest event for Abu Dhabi's hotel sector in terms of the revenue it generates and the number of international guests that flock to the capital. Pawan Singh / The National
The F1 race is by far the biggest event for Abu Dhabi's hotel sector in terms of the revenue it generates and the number of international guests that flock to the capital. Pawan Singh / The National

Formula One fans attending the grand prix in the capital last weekend paid an average of more than Dh1,750 (US$476) for a room on Saturday night.

That figure is down by nearly 23 per cent compared with two years ago, when there were fewer hotels in the emirate, new data shows.

The F1 race is by far the biggest event for Abu Dhabi's hotel sector in terms of the revenue it generates and the number of international guests that flock to the capital.

Average daily rates declined from close to Dh2,300 on the Saturday night during the three-day event two years ago, the first year it was held in Abu Dhabi, to Dh1,754.14 last Saturday, according to STR Global, a hotel benchmarking firm based in London. Last year, the average rate on the Saturday during the grand prix was about Dh2,000.

"I think the reason why the overall average is lower is because of the new hotels," said Adrian Deegan, the area director of sales at Rotana Hotels.

"You have a lot of new hotel apartments in town. That would have reduced the average rate in the city. You have more lower categories, like the three-star categories now. You've got the new five-star hotels."

Rotana sold out all of its hotels in Abu Dhabi for the F1 event, and its revenue was up slightly on last year, Mr Deegan said.

"If you look at the same hotels that were here last year, then you would probably see a slight increase in rates. But because of the additional hotels overall … the total average across the city would probably be less."

Night-time hotel occupancy on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday this year was above the level during Grand Prix weekend last year, despite the increase in the number of rooms. Occupancy was about 94.3 per cent on Saturday night compared with about 91 per cent last year. However, occupancy was down on 2009 because of the increase in the number of rooms.

"Since the introduction of the Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi in 2009, the census data from STR Global, tracking the city-wide hotel inventory, has indicated that hotel supply grew by 16 per cent to 15,115 daily rooms," said Konstanze Auernheimer, the director of marketing and analysis at STR Global. "With additional hotels expected to enter the market in the near future, it will likely remain a competitive market environment for hoteliers."

The Grand Prix and the exposure of Abu Dhabi to a global audience would benefit hotels in the long term, she said.

"I think guests are getting far better value for money compared to what you used to get," Mr Deegan said. "That was just taking advantage of the market. You have that across any city when you have a shortage of supply. Abu Dhabi used to be the second-most-expensive city in the world, but not any more, because the market has matured a lot since 2008."

rbundhun@thenational.ae

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