x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Stay off our beach, say flat owners

Owners at Oceana say they are upset that tourists from other hotels are allowed to use their "private" beach, but the developer says they have every right to do so.

The Oceana apartments on the Palm Jumeirah, where residents and the developer disagree over who may use the pool and beach.
The Oceana apartments on the Palm Jumeirah, where residents and the developer disagree over who may use the pool and beach.

DUBAI // Residents of a luxury resort on the Palm Jumeirah are complaining that the developer is ferrying in tourists to the pool and beach that were sold to them as private.

The developer of the Oceana resort, Seven Tides, offers regular shuttles to the seaside facilities to guests at two hotels it owns across town. It defends the practice and says any dispute is a misunderstanding.

The disagreement is one of many that have arisen in Dubai over the past year as owners prepare to take control of their communities and tussle with developers over who owns the "common spaces" such as beaches, pools and gyms.

The Dubai strata law, which was supposed to have gone into effect a year ago, takes control of those areas from developers and gives it to owners' associations.

But Seven Tides owns 100 of the 650 Oceana apartments, and an unopened Movenpick hotel, on which it pays service fees for common areas. It also claims to own the pool area.

Oceana residents are upset that use of the facilities is not exclusively theirs.

"We feel kind of cheated because they sold us this complex as exclusive," said Susanne Riel, 54, from Austria. "They bring them by the busload."

Several tourists from the Movenpick hotels in Deira and at the Ibn Battuta Gate, owned by Seven Tides, were relaxing one recent afternoon at the infinity pool and outdoor bar.

A group of visitors from Austria said they had chosen the Movenpick simply so they could have access to the Oceana.

A friend who told them about the deal had already stayed at the hotel three times, said Daniela Weilguny, 35. Many other Movenpick guests have left rave reviews about the beach access on the tourism website Trip Advisor.

"It's a bit strange," a British Oceana resident, Paul, 29, said of the hotel guests as he reclined on a deck chair among them.

Seven Tides describes Oceana on its website as a "dynamic residential and resort community" with "private beach access".

"All the public areas - the pool, the lazy river, the grass areas, the beach - are in effect owned by the developer, which is Seven Tides. And all flat owners have got the right of use," said Michael Scully, the managing director of hospitality at Seven Tides.

"We're paying our percentage of the service charge for the whole complex. We have every right to bring guests in to use the facilities."

Until the Movenpick at Oceana opens, Seven Tides is bringing guests from other hotels to boost business there and at the Oceana bar and restaurant.

The number of hotel guests from the two outside hotels is less than the total that will eventually come from the Movenpick, Mr Scully said.

Most outsiders using the beach are guests of Oceana residents, he said. Although they were allowed to bring four visitors a day, some of them brought more. "If there was no abuse by residents, we would be absolutely fine," Mr Scully said.

Some residents said they could accept the hotel guests but wanted to regulate other outsiders. Access cards have been issued and new ones with photographs will soon follow.

The board of directors of the owners association said that it was looking into the question of common spaces.

"This is an issue between the owners association and Seven Tides and will be raised by the board of the interim homeowners association at their next meeting. It is not an issue for public debate," the board chairman Fadi Boush said in an email. "All parties are actively involved in working in the best interest of the community."