x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Warning leads hotels to rein in brunches

Hotels offering Friday brunch are policing themselves after the Dubai "sex on the beach" court case involving a British couple.

Vince Acors, above, and Michelle Palmer were convicted of having illicit relations after a day of excessive wining and dining.
Vince Acors, above, and Michelle Palmer were convicted of having illicit relations after a day of excessive wining and dining.

DUBAI // Hotels offering Friday brunch are policing themselves after the Dubai "sex on the beach" court case involving a British couple. Michelle Palmer and Vince Acors await deportation having been convicted of illicit relations on a public beach after an afternoon of excessive wining and dining, and hotels recognise the potential damage that headlines generated by their behaviour may have done to the city's tourist industry. Dubai Police have told hotels that they must not allow inappropriate behaviour but are leaving it to them to ensure it does not occur. They have said they want to be called to licensed premises only if a crime is committed. As a result, the excesses of the Friday brunch, where for a one-off payment food and drink flow endlessly, are being tempered. Now it is far less likely that a full bottle of wine or a jug of cocktails will be left on your table. Instead drinks are served by the glass. Prices are also going up. "The message to us has been clear: make sure people behave themselves," said a hotel manager in Dubai. "The police have been good in the way they have not made lots of demands. They do not want to be called to a brunch, as the vast majority of customers just want to eat good food and have a good time." Hotels are also increasing prices for brunches after the summer break, with the top-end hotels charging around Dhs600 rather than Dhs400, the price a few months ago. Col Khalil Ibrahim al Mansouri, the deputy director of the crime unit in the Dubai Police criminal investigation department, said one of the main roles of the police in keeping drunken behaviour under control was to respond to any complaints they may receive from the public or from staff of a licensed venue. "If a complaint was made - if a fight broke out, for example - police will respond immediately." The police are also responsible for issuing alcohol licences and ensuring that hotels follow the rules, which include not selling alcohol to underage customers - below 21 - and not allowing inappropriate behaviour on their premises. "There are undercover CID officers who do surprise visits to hotel bars and clubs," Col Mansouri said. "They look for any violations such as serving alcohol to the underaged or allowing them in. They also check for any indecent behaviour that could be taking place." Col Mansouri said hotels that broke the rules faced heavy fines or even closure. "If it is uncovered that a venue is not adhering to the laws and regulations, then they face a fine between Dh10,000 and Dh100,000. A nightclub will be forced to shut down if there was proof of inappropriate activities taking place." He added that drunken behaviour in bars and clubs was not a big problem but that the police presence was increased at weekends as a safety precaution. Undercover and uniformed officers are regularly stationed in hotels with licensed bars to handle alcohol-related problems - moreso on Fridays and Saturdays, he said. "There are more people out during the weekend and police patrols are increased everywhere. People are allowed to consume alcohol in licensed areas in Dubai and, therefore, we are only involved in the event of a fight or a problem, which is not very common," he said. Meanwhile Hassan Matter, a legal consultant to Palmer and Acors, said yesterday that reports the two signed a court document in which they pledged to marry in Britain were false. rabubaker@thenational.ae