x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

One of busiest nights of the year at Dubai's Burj Al Arab

Chinese New Year is the luxury hotel's busiest period of the year as Chinese tourists throng the Emirates in celebration of a week-long holiday.

Chinese tourists and residents in the UAE celebrate Chinese New Year as they bid farewell to the Year of the Dragon and welcome the Year of the Snake.
Chinese tourists and residents in the UAE celebrate Chinese New Year as they bid farewell to the Year of the Dragon and welcome the Year of the Snake.

Many of the guests staying at the Burj Al Arab tonight will be from one country - and everything from the decor to the food and entertainment will be tailored to their tastes.

Chinese New Year is the luxury hotel's busiest period of the year for Chinese visitors.

But they are also among the top nationalities year-round at the sail-shaped hotel, at which a one-bedroom suite costs about Dh9,000 a night.

"In 2009, Dubai became an approved destination by the Chinese government and once that happened we saw a significant increase year on year of Chinese travellers," said Heinrich Morio, general manager for Burj Al Arab.

The number of Chinese guests has increased "remarkably" every year since, with a 25 per cent rise in visitors from the Asian nation last year, he added.

The luxury status of Burj Al Arab has helped the hotel attract more Chinese visitors. But it also has a sales office in China and holds events several times a year.

"We have our hotel in Shanghai, Jumeirah Himalayas Hotel, which also helps to raise the awareness of Jumeirah in that market. So we are very active," said Mr Morio. "It was a very focused approach that we have taken over the past four or five years. You can say that Jumeirah and Burj Al Arab was the first to enter that market aggressively and the results are self evident."

Other hotels in the Emirates have also spotted potential in the vast market and have taken steps to promote their properties abroad.

Anantara Hotels, Resorts and Spas last year appointed a Chinese sales manager, who makes regular trips to China and participates in Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority roadshows and exhibitions.

"In 2011 we had very negligible traffic from the Chinese market," said David Garner, regional director of sales and marketing for Anantara Hotels, Resorts and Spas.

"We really went after it quite hard in 2012 and we expect in 2013 to have another 100 per cent growth from the Chinese market. But you are moving from single figures."

Nevertheless, Qasr Al Sarab, which sits at the edge of the Empty Quarter and is one of three properties in Abu Dhabi managed by the group, experienced a 300 per cent rise in Chinese visitors last year.

"We have done an extraordinary amount of work on the media aspect to promote Qasr Al Sarab to this market," said Mr Garner.

"The Chinese market were initially booking into Dubai but now they are also looking for high quality alternatives and I think in Abu Dhabi region we have some authentic experiences they would like to see."

 

gduncan@thenational.ae