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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

Hefty room rates in Abu Dhabi for last minute F1 stays

Room rates can be up to 14 times that of regular fares

Abu Dhabi hotel revenue rose in September but were 10.9% lower than a year ago. Delores Johnson / The National
Abu Dhabi hotel revenue rose in September but were 10.9% lower than a year ago. Delores Johnson / The National

Last minute hotel bookings for this year’s Formula 1 race in Abu Dhabi can set someone back tens of thousands of dirhams as room rates skyrocket up to 14 times that of non-holiday fares.

More than 60,000 visitors are expected to arrive in the capital for Thursday’s kickoff of the F1 season finale at Yas Marina Circuit, representing a huge boost for nearby hoteliers.

“Every year we tend to receive bookings during the week leading up to the F1 weekend, with final bookings taken days before the first race,” Mark Griffiths, Yas Viceroy regional vice president and managing director, told The National.

Yas Viceroy, located on top of part of the race track, is the epicentre for activity during the four-day racing event. With nearly 500 rooms and suites, the venue is listed as fully booked on hotel reservation site, Booking.com. However, Mr Griffiths said there was still availability. “During F1, we normally have a minimum length of stay of four nights and an entry rate of Dh5,950+ per room per night; however, the rates are always subject to supply and demand,” he said. This is 14 times the starting rates during a normal out-of-season stay, Mr Griffiths said.

According to Booking.com, room rates for these Yas hotels and surrounding areas Saadiyat Island and Raha Beach are taking advantage of the increased demand. Radisson Blu’s standard room sold out prior to this past Sunday for a fee of Dh2,765 per night compared to the same booking next weekend at Dh598 a night.

Nearby at the Crowne Plaza, per night rates ranged from a deluxe king bed with sea view and balcony at Dh2,490 to a deluxe suite costing up to Dh3,866. Racing enthusiast and Dubai resident, Paul Davies, has previously stayed on Yas Island twice for the Grand Prix.

He said the convenience is the main factor. “Prices are not cheap, but the hotels are superbly situated with just a seven-minute walk to the west and south stands, 10-minute walk to the main grandstand and about a 20-minute walk to the north stand or du arena for the after race concerts,” Mr Davies said.

Last year, he paid just under Dh4,000 per night at the Yas Rotana for Thursday to Monday. “Plus you have to pay for the hotel at the time of booking with no refund or cancellation,” he said.

The same is true for all six Yas hotels as far as prepayment and minimum four-day stay despite Booking.com touting otherwise. Mr Davies said that while the website may offer this solution, booking are followed by a confirmation email and within a “few hours you get an email that says your hotel is cancelled”.

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The price Mr Davies paid last year at the Yas Rotana is only half of what room rates went for last week, with its premium room with marina view going for Dh2,725 per night. Calling the hotel’s reception resulted in an even higher rate of Dh3,315 per night.

In his fourth year of attending the Abu Dhabi event, Briton Jonathan Rhead said he spends an average of Dh5,000 for one week including food, accommodation and transportation. “Last year, the prices were more expensive than previous years, but overall it’s very reasonable,” he said.

He opted to book through an early bird special as well as tapping his IHG member account for the Crowne Plaza. He booked in May spending about Dh364 per night, breakfast included.

Abu Dhabi residents are tapping into the F1 craze by offering flats via AirBnB.
Abu Dhabi residents are tapping into the F1 craze by offering flats via AirBnB.

There are cheaper places to stay if goers are willing to fight the traffic by staying on the mainland of Abu Dhabi island. Booking.com rates show the cheapest during the F1 weekend can be found for Dh650 a night and the most expensive can be found at Al Raha Beach Villas, Dh10,810, and Saadiyat’s Park Hyatt, Dh5,000 and St Regis, Dh3,967.

The only room left at the Dusit Thani is the presidential suite going for a whopping Dh15,000 a night; however, the hotel reception said a lower rate could be negotiated with manager approval.

Think that you can surpass all of this by finding a place via AirBnB? Think again as the closest-to-Yas one bedroom for rent in Raha Beach was up for around Dh2,500 a night with a minimum of two nights. The owner, who declined to be named, said he posted the listing on Monday though there had been no inquiries by midday Tuesday. “The price is huge, but it’s still at least 20 to 30 per cent less than the nearby hotels,” he said.

Booking.com's Yas Island hotel rates from this week for per day prices during the four-day F1 weekend.
Booking.com's Yas Island hotel rates from this week for per day prices during the four-day F1 weekend.