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Feb/Mar/Apr 2013

No.04

DUBAI, UAE – Rotana, a big hotel management company in the Middle East and Africa, recently opened two properies in Deira, one of Dubai’s busiest tourism and commercial districts, taking the company’s total number of properties in Dubai to 15 - the highest from any operator in the city. (Story on page18)

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ITB Berlin officially opens Indonesia is this year’s partner country Story on page 4

As a driving force in the travel industry, the event gives important impulses to a continuously growing market. Exhibitor sales of about 6 billion Euro and an exhibitor satisfaction rate of 92 percent are evidence enough that supply and demand meet at the right place.

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2 OUR WORD

CONTENTS

By all indications, tourism is on the upswing with the World Travel Monitor Forum stating that international travel is expected to reach a new all-time high in 2012 and then grow moderately in 2013, driven by emerging markets. This is further galvanized by a report recently released by the United Nations World Tourism Organizations which showed that international tourist arrivals grew by four percent in 2012 to reach 1.035 billion. “With an additional 39 million international tourists, up from 996 million in 2011, international tourist arrivals surpassed 1 billion (1.035 billion) for the first time in history in 2012,” UNWTO said. With these at the backdrop, major travel industry players—a good cross-section, that is—from around the world have once again convened at this year’s ITB Berlin to draw up plans of actions and address concerns besetting world travel—from easing immigration restrictions to green airlines. But what is comforting to hear at the end of the day is that WTMF and UNWTO confirm that people around the world still want to travel despite the global financial and economic crisis, and that the tourism industry appears to remain resilient and able to overcome the impact of negative external factors.

news

02

COVER STORY

04

ONE ON ONE

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flights plus

16

new hotels

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news Abu Dhabi reports 14% increased hotel occupancy 2.17 M guests stayed in the city’s 137 hotels which has a total of 23,516 rooms The Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi waterpark is one of the city’s major attractions and is expected to deliver major hotel guest boost for the UAE capital this year.

NUMBERS SPEAK

The trend on outbound trips based on figures covering the period 2009 to 2012 -4% 7%

4%

2009 2010 2011 2012 HE Mubarak Al Muhairi

Abu Dhabi, UAE -- The number of hotel guests staying in Abu Dhabi’s 137 hotels, resorts and hotel apartments from January to November 2012 has risen 14 percent on the same period in the destination’s record 2011 with guest nights running 11 percent up on last year’s performance. Figures from Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) showed that in the 11 months of 2012, some 2,171,680 hotel guests stayed in the emirate’s accommodation – beating 2011’s overall performance. The guests accounted for 6,312,359 guest

5% Source: World Travel Monitor 2012

INDUSTRY QUIZ 1) What is the name of the United Arab Emirates’ flag carrier? 2) Name the new hotels that Rotana recently opened in Deira, Dubai. 3) How many hotels does Abu Dhabi has? CLUE: All answers are in this edition of Travel Arabia News Email your answers to dass@kalimatgroup.com and win a prize

CONTACTS www.travel-arabia.com Publisher-CEO Hekmat el Zein

Address Travel Arabia Head Office Office G4, Building No.1 Phase One, P.O.Box 502408 Dubai Media City, UAE Tel +971 4 391 0410/1/2/3 Fax +971 4 391 6619 E-mail editor@travel-arabia.com Media House KGI

General Manager Shaza Sharaffdeen Editor Jojo Dass dass@kalimatgroup.com Photographer Maher Youssef Creative Manager Karen Haroon Designer Najeeb Hamza Sales & Marketing Manager Syed Muhammad Arif arif@kalimatgroup.com

nights. “This is extremely encouraging particularly when viewed in the context of the significant number of rooms we now have, which currently stands at 23,516,” said HE Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General, TCA Abu Dhabi. “We are very positive about achieving our 2.3 million guest target and ending 2012 on a satisfactory note while looking forward to attaining more guest gains during 2013 when we have a mainline attraction and new resorts opening.” Abu Dhabi is currently gearing up for first quarter 2013 opening of the luxury beachfront Ritz Carlton Grand Canal Abu Dhabi—a five star resort which will mark the entry of the prestigious Ritz Carlton brand into the UAE capital. October 2012 proved to be the busiest in terms of guest nights with some 207,335 guests accounting for 676,593 guest nights. November 2012’s results remained static in terms of guest numbers compared to the same month last year though guest nights rose 10 percent.

Sales & Marketing Executive Crisna De Guzman crisna@kalimatgroup.com Circulation Manager Ihab Abdallah Distributor Jashanmal National Co. LLC

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The Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi waterpark is one of the city’s major attractions and is expected to deliver major hotel guest boost for the UAE capital this year.

All rights reserved. © 2012 KGI

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3 International tourism to continue robust growth in 2013 –UNWTO

Taleb Rifai

International tourist arrivals grew by 4 percent in 2012 to reach 1.035 billion, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Emerging economies (+4.1%) regained the lead over advanced economies (+3.6%), with Asia and the Pacific showing the strongest results. Growth is expected to continue in 2013 only slightly below the 2012 level (+3% to +4%) and in line with UNWTO long term forecast. With an additional 39 million international tourists, up from 996 million in 2011, international tourist arrivals surpassed 1 billion (1.035 billion) for the first time in history in 2012. Demand held well throughout the year, with a stronger than expected fourth

among over 300 experts worldwide, the Index shows that prospects for 2013 are similar to the evaluation of last year (124 points for 2013 against 122 for 2012). By region, prospects for 2013 are stronger for Asia and the Pacific (+5% to +6%), followed by Africa (+4% to +6%), the Americas (+3% to +4%), Europe (+2% to +3%) and the Middle East (0% to +5%). Emerging economies regain the lead In 2012, growth was stronger in emerging economies (+4.1%) as compared to advanced economies (+3.6%), a trend which has marked the sector for many years now. International tourist arrivals to Europe, the most visited region in the world, were up by 3%; a very positive result in view of the economic situation, and following a strong 2011 (+6%). Total arrivals reached 535 million, 17 million more than in 2011. By sub-region, Central and Eastern Europe destinations (+8%) experienced the best results, followed by Western Europe (+3%). Destinations in

years, while North America (+3%) consolidated its 2011 growth. Africa (+6%) recovered well from its setback in 2011 when arrivals declined by 1% due largely to the negative results of North

Tourists marvel at the Niagara Falls’ splendour.

Although the highest growth rates in expenditure abroad among the ten top markets came from emerging economies – China (+42%) and Russia (+31%) – important traditional source markets, showed particularly good results. quarter. By region, Asia and the Pacific (+7%) was the best performer, while by sub-region South-East Asia, North Africa (both at +9%) and Central and Eastern Europe (+8%) topped the ranking. “2012 saw continued economic volatility around the globe, particularly in the Eurozone. Yet international tourism managed to stay on course,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “The sector has shown its capacity to adjust to the changing market conditions and, although at a slightly more modest rate, is expected to continue expanding in 2013. Tourism is thus one of the pillars that should be supported by governments around the world as part of the solution to stimulating economic growth,” he added. UNWTO forecasts international tourist arrivals to increase by 3% to 4% in 2013, much in line with its long term forecast for 2030: +3.8% a year on average between 2010 and 2020. This outlook is confirmed by the UNWTO Confidence Index. Compiled

Africa. Arrivals reached a new record (52 million) due to the rebound in North Africa (+9% as compared to a 9% decline in 2011) and to the continued growth of Sub-Saharan destinations (+5%).

Southern Mediterranean Europe (+2%) consolidated their excellent performance of 2011 and returned in 2012 to their normal growth rates. Asia and the Pacific (+7%) was up by 15 million arrivals in 2012, reaching a total 233 million international tourists. South-East Asia (+9%) was the best performing sub-region much due to the implementation of policies that foster intraregional cooperation and coordination in tourism. Growth was also strong in North-East Asia (+6%), as Japanese inbound and outbound tourism recovered, while it was comparatively weaker in South Asia (+4%) and in Oceania (+4%). The Americas (+4%) saw an increase of 6 million arrivals, reaching 162 million in total. Leading the growth were destinations in Central America (+6%), while South America, up by 4%, showed some slowdown as compared to the double-digit growth of 2010 and 2011. The Caribbean (+4%), on the other hand, is performing above the previous two www.travel-arabia.com

Results in the Middle East (-5%) improved after a 7% decline in 2011, yet the region recorded an estimated 3 million international tourist arrivals less in 2012 in spite of the clear recovery in Egypt.


4

cover

story

ITB Berlin officially opens Indonesia is this year’s partner country Colourful display of traditional music and dance starts the international summit on travel and tourism. ITB Berlin, the leading B2Bplatform of all tourism industry offers, this year started with opening remarks from Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel, the first woman chancellor of Germany, while Indonesia takes centre stage as the exhibition, which has been held since 1966, spearheads the promotion of Indonesian tourism in Europe, especially in Germany. Tourism is one of the main industries driving the pace of the Indonesian economy, with up to 3.2 million dependent on it. Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago with over 17,000 islands. The opening ceremonies took place in Hall 1 of the ICC Berlin in the early evening of March 5, 2013, one day before the official start of the show. Welcoming addresses were also given by Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of the Republic of Indonesia, Berlin’s Governing Mayor Klaus Wowereit and the Chief Executive Officer of Messe Berlin GmbH Raimund Hosch. The evening’s event was attended by some 4,500 international guests who witnessed a colourful and spectacular display organised by Indonesia. A brilliant multi-cultural introduction to this opening event, entitled “Indonesia, The World’s Heart of Wonders” was provided by the Indonesian Conductor Aminoto Kosin, who is honored with the “Oscar Peterson Award for Outstanding Musicianship” given by the Berklee college of Music, USA. ITB Berlin 2013 will be taking place March 6 to 10, 2013 March. ITB Berlin is the world’s leading travel trade show. In 2012 a total of 10,644 exhibitors from 187 countries displayed their products and

services to 172,000 visitors, who included 113,006 trade visitors. As a driving force in the travel industry, ITB Berlin gives important impulses to a continuously growing market. Exhibitor sales of about 6 billion Euro and an exhibitor satisfaction rate of 92 percent are evidence enough that supply and demand meet at the right place. All levels of the value added chain are present: tour operators, booking engines, destinations, airlines, and hotels right through to car rental companies. Despite its size, ITB Berlin is clearly structured. ITB Berlin enjoys worldwide media recognition and offers comprehensive support for all marketing questions exhibitors might have.

Some salient points from IPK International’s World Travel Monitor • The number of travellers aged over 55 has increased to 23 percent, while 35 percent are in the 15-34 age category and 42 percent are aged between 35 and 54. • Holidays remain the dominant reason for taking an international trip. • The internet has now clearly established itself as the main place to buy travel with 54% of bookings, well ahead of travel agencies which have slipped back to 24%. Interestingly, this is a global trend with Asians and South Americans now catching up with North Americans and Europeans in terms of booking via the web, the IPK figures showed. • The fastest-growing region this year was South America with a 12-percent increase in outbound trips to a new all-time high.

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6 ‘We achieved the 2012 target of one million visitors in November of that year —one month ahead of schedule. ’

One on One

—Victor Louis, RAK Tourism Development Authority chief operating officer

Travel Arabia News: RAK is being marketed as a destination for the great outdoors—desert, fishing, scuba, marine sports, etc. There are many destinations across the regions that offer the same. How is RAK different? Victor Louis: Ras Al Khaimah is a naturally picturesque emirate and offers visitors an opportunity to participate in an eclectic choice of outdoor adventures as well as an affordable place to stay throughout the year. Located only 45 minutes from Dubai International Airport, it is the perfect weekend escape for friends, couples and families due to its outdoor adventures and affordable luxury experiences. The natural beauty of Ras Al Khaimah fascinates visitors. The emirate’s extensive shoreline with white sandy beaches and crystal, clear blue waters offers pure relaxation with a host of water activities including swimming, snorkelling and diving and also kayaking and fishing. The UAE desert is the ideal place for safaris to enjoy traditional Arabic pastimes including horseback riding, camel riding and sample a taste of the old Bedouin life. The affordable luxury destination offers international and regional chain hotel brands with its premium accommodation, international cuisines and world-class spas; including Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton,

Rotana Hotels & Resorts, Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts, Casa Hotels & Resorts, Rixos Hotels & Resorts and the first Waldorf Astoria property in the UAE. TAN: The idea of “affordable leisure luxury” benefits the emirate into which specific markets? What are to count on as main attractions? VL: The total number of visitors to Ras Al Khaimah from January to December 2012 was 1,105,191 and the main visitor source markets are UAE, Germany, Russia, Czech Republic, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Sweden, Austria, Italy and India. The UAE is our main source market in the region, producing weekend stays and longer breaks during local Islamic holidays. Germany is our strongest European market bringing in 295,926 visitors, followed by the UAE with 302,516 visitors and Russia with 165,594 visitors. Ras Al Khaimah is a fabulous destination that complements the neighbouring emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, offering diverse and unique natural environments for friends, couples and families to explore and enjoy at the most. TAN: RAK is being promoted as the “rising emirate,” how is the overall effort doing? VL: Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority’s (Ras Al Khaimah TDA) commitment to promote Ras Al Khaimah as the

“rising emirate” is fully supported by a robust marketing, promotional, business development and investor relations programme conducted across the UAE, regionally and internationally. Internationally, special attention has been given to various European markets, from which charter flights direct to Ras Al Khaimah have been launched. These include such markets as Germany, Scandinavia and Russia to name a few. In our goal to promote Ras Al Khaimah as the “rising emirate”, we have undertaken numerous projects including the expansion of tourist attractions in the emirate as well as the increase and upgrading of the hotels & resorts inventory. Many new hospitality developments and hotels have been launched and as a result of the continuous investment in tourism projects, we have already received increasing demand in room inventory through various channels including international tour operators. This demand has been influenced by strategically positioning the emirate as an affordable luxury

The Ras Al Khaimah government has allocated a budget of US$500 million for tourism projects until the end of 2013 destination which offers outdoor adventure, relaxation and a diverse mix of attractions. The Ras Al Khaimah government has allocated a budget of US$500 million for tourism projects until the end of 2013 with a goal of receiving 1.2 million visitors by 2013 and increasing the emirate’s total hotel and resort room portfolio to 10,000 units by 2016. Today we remain on track in achieving these goals suggesting that the “rising emirate” branding has not only been effective, but remains relevant and accurate. TAN: Ras Al Khaimah has announced plans to increase the tourism sector contribution to its economy from two percent to

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15 percent in the coming 10 years. Where do we stand today on this? VL: Ras Al Khaimah’s room inventory is currently 2,975 hotel rooms and we work closely with investors and partners aiming to achieve our goal of increasing the total number of annual visitors to Ras Al Khaimah to 1.2 million by 2013, and increasing the emirate’s total hotel and resort room inventory to 10,000 keys by 2016. There are a number of hotel projects currently underway including the Waldorf Astoria which is slated to open by Q2 2013. Its opening will mark the entry of the luxury brand of Hilton Worldwide in the UAE and will feature 349 rooms and extensive dining outlets as well as leisure and recreational facilities. Scheduled to open in Q4 2013 is the 632 room and suite Rixos Bab Al Bahr, which will be the UAE’s first “all inclusive” resort of this magnitude. In 2014, the 485 room DoubleTree by Hilton Resort will open its doors in Al Marjan Island, and scheduled to open in 2015 is the first Crowne Plaza Resort (IHG), which will have 442 rooms and suites. TAN: Knowing that Germany and Russia are the biggest markets, what efforts are going to capture the oil-rich GCC states and emerging markets like China, India and Brazil? VL: Ras Al Khaimah TDA is always seeking new, potential and expanding market opportunities to promote and develop the rising emirate. Emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil, among many others are being evaluated in an ongoing process, with inroads being made in a collaborative effort, as demonstrated with Ras Al Khaimah’s participation in a roadshow to India which took place in October 2012 and was sponsored by the UAE National Council of Tourism and Antiquities. In regards to the GCC market, Ras Al Khaimah TDA will participate for the first time in the Riyadh Travel Fair happening on April, 23 – 26, 2013 to promote this rising emirate in one of the main travel shows in KSA. TAN:Updates please on the plan to have 10,000 rooms by 2016 in RAK.

VL: Since it was established in May 2011, the Authority has embarked upon a rigorous development and promotional schedule of programmes to firmly position Ras Al Khaimah regionally and overseas as an affordable luxury destination offering adventure, relaxation as well as a range of activities and exclusive attractions. Clear strategic goals and targets have been set by Ras Al Khaimah TDA as mentioned earlier. Looking towards to achieve these targets, Ras Al Khaimah TDA launched in September 2012 the “RAK Tourism” Apple Application. Available for complimentary download on all iPad and iPhone devices, RAK Tourism” iPad App. is a useful tool to both educate and inform visitors of the attractions offered in our emirate, as well as to conveniently assist them during their stay with accommodation, restaurant and other various information. Ras Al Khaimah TDA has also been involved in several conferences, international travel exhibitions as well as road shows in Sweden, Russia and Ukraine, including ITB in Germany in March 2012, Arabian Hotel and Investment Conference (AHIC) in April 2012, Arabian Travel Market – ATM in May 2012 and the International Ukrainian Tourism Exhibition – Ukraine 2012, in October, which is the second largest tourism show in Kiev attended by more than 10,000 industry professionals and media. In order to encourage local talent and business opportunities and development through tourism, Ras Al Khaimah TDA launched, in November 2012, a training programme that had as result the participants becoming licensed as official Ras Al Khaimah tour guides. The programme was part of an initiative to both educate and improve the awareness and knowledge of the emirate’s historical and tourism attractions. Another marketing tool to promote the destination is the official Ras Al Khaimah movie, which was launched with the new look and feel of the destination with a budget of AED 1.2 million in collaboration with the winner of the Abu Dhabi Film Commission (ADFC), Jac Mulder covering rich culture & heritage, local traditions, diverse landscape, natural beauty and wild life together with different adven-


7 daily rate versus 2011 improved by 11.27% to US$ 73.71 which resulted in growth in revenue per available room (Rev Par) by 4.76% to US$ 45.15 compared to 2011. In 2013, Ras Al Khaimah aims to receive 1.2 million visitors.

ture and sports activities, shopping malls and exclusive hotels and resorts. (www.youtube.com/visitrasalkhaimah); Working towards our targets, we already secured a number of development opportunities which include the following: • Al Marjan Island, the first manmade island project to be developed within Ras Al Khaimah, consists of a cluster of five coralshaped islands extending over 2.7 million square metres. Valued at more than US$ 1.8 billion, Al

Marjan Island will include floating villas, leisure and dining facilities, as well as 4 and 5 star hotels and resorts • The first Ladies Beach in the emirate, scheduled to open by Q3 2013, offering premium facilities and services. • The dining outlets of Al Hamra Marina and Al Hamra Golf managed by Ras Al Khaimah Hospitality Group are currently being upgraded. TAN: What is the growth in the

number of visitor arrivals per year? How do you compare the running year with the previous ones. What are the projections for 2013? VL: Ras Al Khaimah’s visitor numbers have been performing well each year. From January to December 2012, the total number of visitors to Ras Al Khaimah was recorded at 1,105,191, an increase of 138.15% compared to the previous year’s figures, which was recorded at 835,200 visitors. The 2011 figure was also an excellent result exceed-

ed the 2011 target of 800,000. For beach hotels and resorts, all key areas have shown stable growth from January to December 2012 with occupancy levels increased by 2.85% to 73.72% for the year. Additionally 2012 also saw an increase in the average room rate by 17.59%, reaching US$ 156.05 which resulted in growth in revenue per available room (Rev Par) by 22.32% to US$ 115.04 compared to 2011. The performance of city hotels also increased in key areas. Average

TAN: What is being done to have the growth sourced through airlines and hotel sector? VL: Ras Al Khaimah continuously embarks on various projects with the airlines and hotel sector for further growth for the emirate. Visitor growth with airlines occurs on many levels, including an increase in direct flights to Ras Al Khaimah Airport through charter flights and RAK Airways flights and codeshares. A notable case in point in this regard has been the RAK Airways and Etihad Airways codeshare flights between various international sectors, Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah. Ras Al Khaimah TDA will also continue its part by encouraging overseas travel industry partners to increase charter operations from strategic markets. In 2011 Ras Al Khaimah TDA introduced two charter flights with a German tour operator, and a Swedish tour operator, which are expected to bring an additional 60,000 visitors to the emirate until June 2012. These direct flights to Ras Al Khaimah have proven extremely successful, increasing the hotel revenue to AED 139 million in Q4 2011 with an increase of (Continued on page 10)

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8 ‘We listen to what our guests are telling us, anticipate new industry trends and so are able to make their stay better than before.’ —Vipin Khattar Director of Sales & Marketing Grand Hyatt Dubai / Area Director of Sales & Marketing - Hyatt Hotels in Dubai

Travel Arabia News: Let’s start off with the basics: How is Grand Hyatt Dubai different from the multitude of hotels in the city? Vipin Khattar: Grand Hyatt Dubai is a city conference resort, which, in itself a unique concept, being the only hotel that offers the three key components to satisfy any type of traveler. We have a great location in the heart of the city, just eight minutes from the airport, within walking distance to Dubai Metro Station and minutes away from major shopping areas and malls. Our event and convention facilities are of one of the largest and comprehensive in town with almost 5,000 square metres of space, and our extensive recreational and leisure facilities are unmatched in any other city hotels. Grand Hyatt Dubai is also a leader in the campaign for greater environmental awareness. We are a proud partner and winner of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) Dubai Green Tourism Awards, committing to sustainable practices in our daily operations. We believe that caring for our environment and our community is a responsibility that we all share. Today’s socially responsible traveler also wants his preferred hotel accommodation to play a part in reducing the overall carbon footprint.

lifestyle experiences to the city: the launch of Al Manzil, a pioneer and award-winning concept which puts forth the flexibility to host an event with exciting possibilities in a multi-event residential style space. Ahasees Spa & Club has been awarded the distinction of the Best Hotel Spa at the Middle East Spa Awards within a year of its opening, while The Living Room continues to provide a stimulating lounge atmosphere in the heart of our lobby. We constantly refresh our rooms and restaurants, giving some outlets a little facelift or offering new and exciting menu options for the discerning traveler. Our hotel has developed a soul, going beyond keeping our product fresh, it is indeed the software, our people and their service which is the core of our success and competitive advantage. TAN: Could you tell us more about your customer profile? VK: We see a very international leisure market visiting the hotel. Around 40 percent of our guests comprise business travelers from the UK, US, Germany and Gulf countries. Regional support, both for leisure and business travels, from Gulf countries have performed well as have the constantly increasing markets of China and India while guests from Russia and the CIS region have been growing steadily. Being ranked as the 2nd Favourite Hotel visited on Business Overseas by Conde Nast Traveller India has further influenced the demand in premium MICE business coming from India to our hotel while

luxury travel market continues to rise as Dubai is one of the preferred destinations for the well-travelled/ cosmopolitan Indian elite. We also continue to benefit from the growing air-connectivity to and from Dubai not just from the main gateway cities but also from tier two and three cities in emerging markets. Our customer profile transcends the globe. TAN: Grand Hyatt Dubai is not a beach hotel yet it is still getting leisure market. Comment please.

Grand Hyatt Dubai is also a leader in the campaign for greater environmental awareness. We are the proud partner and winner of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing Dubai Green Tourism Awards, committing to sustainable practices in our daily operations. VK: Grand Hyatt Dubai is in fact an oasis for the leisure traveler with 37 acres of lush resort facilities within the very heart of the city. Our indoor tropical gardens and indoor pool offer a respite from the summer sun along with three beautiful outdoor swimming pools including a children’s and toddlers’ pool – our guests never feel that they are missing the beach! Our gardens are even home to a family of rescued ducks and koi fish which are now star attractions for our young visitors. Moreover, as our hotel is in close proximity to Dubai’s most popular malls, many of our leisure

TAN: How does Grand Hyatt Dubai keep up with the number of new hotels regularly opening up in the city? VK: One of our strongest plus points is the hotel’s continuous commitment to innovation and drive to constantly offer new and ground-breaking experiences to our guests, who will always have something new to explore each time they visit the hotel. We listen to what our guests are telling us, anticipate new industry trends and so are able to make their stay better than before. Over the last year, Grand Hyatt Dubai has introduced three new www.travel-arabia.com

guests who love shopping see this as a plus. TAN: Where does your MICE market come from? VK: UK, Germany, Australia and India are huge markets for this segment. The commodities sector from Australia also comes regularly to Dubai and we get a good share of this as the Hyatt brand presence in Asia Pacific is very strong. With seven Hyatt hotels in Australia especially in major cities such as Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, and Perth, the close brand association benefits our property as well. TAN: Let’s talk about occupancy and projections. VK: I have been keenly observing hospitality trends over the past 10 years that I have been in Dubai. While occupancy numbers have seen great fluctuations, in general the hotel industry has performed very well especially with the growing air-connectivity to/ from Dubai. We are projecting an upward growth, and visitor arrivals to Dubai are showing a very positive trend. TAN: Occupancy per market? VK: We enjoy a balanced distribution between the MICE and leisure markets. We almost equally share the percentages when it comes to businesses coming out of corporate and leisure. TAN: Which new market are you going for? VK: South America, South Africa and Turkey are our market concentration for the next few years. We have seen this emerging markets

perform well over the last couple of years and anticipate this to grow further with travelers coming from both the leisure and corporate segments. TAN: How would you describe Dubai as a destination? VK: Dubai was and continues to be a unique east-meets-west destination and its abundant business and leisure attractions appeal to the rising number of middle class travelers from India and China who are more mobile now than ever before. We can expect a larger number of transit travelers from Australia, South America and Europe to stay and spend in Dubai rather than simply passing through the airport. TAN: How is your occupancy booking doing? VK: We are already seeing bookings being confirmed right up to the end of 2014 especially from clients who require large number of rooms and event space alongside. Our sales team is very proactive and we are constantly in the process of securing more contracts and business. We have goals set in place to outperform year on year. TAN: From what source do you get the bookings? What percentage is online? VK: The most popular and main booking channel remains the telephone, where bookers still prefer the personal touch of a human voice available to assist them directly with any questions they may have. Following this, online bookings are seeing a steady increase globally.


9 ‘Today, Rotana operates 1,464 rooms under the Centro Brand with a plan to open 25 Centro properties across the Middle East and Africa by 2014.’ —Dominique Hebert General Manager, Centro Capital Gate opening in Abu Dhabi.

‘We are finalizing plans for a property with 168 rooms, including 50 private villas with its own private swimming pools. It will be the landmark of Al Aqah.’ —Ashraf Helmy General Manager and Area Business Development Manager Iberotel Miramar Al Aqah Beach Resort Fujairah ence facility will be expanded to accommodate 500 people banquet style. It will also have more breakout rooms. We will have it done so that starting this year, we will be able to compete in this market. We will have the facilities for the Meetings Incentives Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) market.

TRAVEL ARABIA NEWS: Could you tell us about your property’s markets? Ashraf Helmi: This type of tourism—the sea, sun and sand— doesn’t change a lot, but nationalities have. Years ago, we have Germans and British as majority. Now the Russians have increased. Some other markets like the French and the Dutch are coming, but not in huge numbers in this area. The property is now going five years. We have 50 percent of the occupancy from weekend return guests where the average length of stay is five nights. TAN: Occupancy rate. AH: January 2013 was almost the same as in the same month last year. We were around 70 percent. This year’s occupancy projection is at 73 percent. TAN: Any upgrades or expansion projects in your property? AH: This year, our confer-

TAN: You are branching out from leisure and family to MICE? AH: The market is big. Fujairah is the right place if you’re thinking of having a corporate meeting. If you do it in Dubai, your people will be travelling here and there. If you take them to Fujairah, first you will have something different, plus you have all the people confined to one place. They get to know each other. They can have talks after the meeting. I think having the meetings there will have better results. The new meeting room is under construction. It will be ready by June 1, 2013. We have a big demand from the local market. We have a lot of corporate possibilities, plus, we have a lot of international markets. TAN: We heard about another property. AH: We are working on a second property. In Fujairah, we have extra plots of land. Due to the demands of the market, we are finalizing plans for a property with 168 rooms including 50 private villas with its own private swimming pools. We are doing a high-end product. It will be the landmark of Al Aqah.

TAN: How much is the investment? AH: It will be around 300 million dirhams. TAN: Operational around when? AH: It should take up to two years to build. TAN: Beach villas like Banyan Tree’s? AH: We want to attract the Arab market. This will be a new concept. We are trying to connect to Arabic themes. We will also have a special Arabic spa which will have four treatment rooms and a huge hammam. This will be the first spa with hammam in Fujairah. Also in the plans are an all-day dining restaurant, and three specialty restaurants that will complement each other. We have the size and location but we have not decided on the type of restaurants. TAN: On another area, would you comment on Rotana Jet’s flights to Fujairah? AH: Other properties will follow with development with this airline coming to Fujairah. I believe the flights, plus improving the airport will help a lot in establishing Fujairah stronger as a destination. It’s two ways actually. We have to include the number of rooms in the area for the airport to be expanded: airport has to be bigger, we have to have more rooms to attract more charter flights. www.travel-arabia.com

TAN: Knowing Centro Capital Centre by Rotana as a budget hotel; what stands it out in its competitive set? DH: To start with, the name Rotana does give us a huge push whenever we introduce the Centro brand to the market for the guests and clients expect to be satisfied when they check in to any Rotana property. However, this is not the only factor that differentiates us from Travel Arabia News: How is the our competitors. Centro brand Abu Dhabi market responding to is growing very fast in the UAE the budget brands, knowing it’s and today Rotana operates 1,464 an oil rich state and more defined rooms under the Centro Brand as a luxury destination through with the plan to open 25 Centro its islands developments? properties across the Middle East Dominique Hebert: The Abu and Africa by 2014. Dhabi market is vastly opening This huge expansion definitely to all markets and attracting dif- comes from a need that Rotana ferent crowds – both Arabs and sees in the market and also from Westerners – whether through the a great response that we are seeing exhibitions that take place in the by the opening of every Centro capital or other acproperty. The reativities like the on- ‘At the end of the son for this positive going concerts that response and deday a business play a huge part in mand is very simtraveller requires attracting visitors ple: it is great value from different des- a hotel that can for money and exmeet his or her tinations. cellent service. Moreover the needs in both price We are giving mass of companies and service while the guests a threein Abu Dhabi and staying away from star product in the investments the luxury service terms of rate only. happening are all that comes at a But when it comes key sources that are high price which he to the service, to the in need of bud- or she will not use facilities and rooms, get brands. Centro or need during a and to the overall Capital Centre falls look and feel of the business stay’. under the category hotel, the guests do of business budnot feel they are in a get hotels and since the opening three-star hotel which I can say is in October, the demand has been one of the main points of strength. overwhelming from all the sourc- This is in addition to the location es. of the hotel which is in 15-minute Looking at our location which proximity to the airport, Yas Isis beside the Abu Dhabi National land and the industrial area which Exhibition Centre, we heavily rely has the mass of the companies, on the exhibitions, both the ex- and just few steps away from ADhibitors and guests are in need for NEC. All of these factors make us such bands for they look value for a strong competitor in this tough money without having to com- market. promise on quality, because at the end of the day a business travel- TAN: Why would a guest choose ler requires a hotel that can meet Centro Capital with several ophis or her needs in both price and tions available? service while staying away from DH: Because you know you will the luxury service that comes at a be getting an excellent friendly high price which he or she will not service. You will feel at home in use or need during a business stay. our rooms, you will feel energized Having said that, the response for in our outlets, pool and gym. And the budget brands is very positive you will feel that the money you and I can only say that we will see will spend is as per your budget more and more of these brands and worth it.


10 (From page 7)

‘We are here to make people feel good.’ —Rupprecht Queitsch General Manager J W Marriott Marquis Dubai TRAVEL ARABIA NEWS: What makes the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai a stand out? Rupprecht Queitsch: For one, we have the restaurant on the 68th floor—Prime— which is, and I will say without exaggeration, one of the best steak restaurants I have seen in my career and I have been in this business for over 40 years. I have been a general manager for 24 years, believe me I have seen many restaurants and I love to go out. It’s not only the view--the view is dramatic. It is not a typical steak restaurant. It’s all white and silver. Of course, it is also the service and the food. The steakhouse is here to serve you an experience. You walk away and it’s the experience that counts. TAN: People say your property is a luxury hotel. RQ: Luxury means different things to different people, although I always say You come here, you feel good; feeling good is luxury. You don’t feel intimidated; you feel comfortable. We are here to make people feel good. We have it individualized. TAN: Market sources please. RQ: Our feeder markets are America, and Europe—very strong.

Then, Russia and India. Increasingly strong are Australia and South America—those markets, especially Brazil have also become increasingly important. China is also growing. TAN: How’s the hotel doing? RQ: We started very well. We sold out over New Year’s eve. Dubai is a big attraction. If you want to party, this hotel is the ideal place. TAN: What are your occupancy projections? RQ: Our first quarter is good. February looks very good. March looks pretty good. May and June are still being developed. May is traditionally strong with all the conventions like the annual Arabian Travel Market. Overall, the year looks pretty promising.

39.67% compared to Q4 2010. The agreement with the German tour operator Reise Service Deutschland was signed in 2011 resulting in 6 flights a week to cover the cities of Hamburg, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Berlin, Munich and the Austrian capital Vienna. The service continued from September 2011 through to June 2012. At the same a similar charter flight agreement was concluded with the Swedish tour operator Apollo, which is part of the Swiss Kuoni Group resulting in a service operating between November 2011 and February 2012 between Scandinavia and Ras Al Khaimah. Both charter flight agreements brought approximately additional 55,000 visitors to Ras Al Khaimah. In September 2012, Ras Al Khaimah TDA has signed an agreement with Natalie Tours, in cooperation with Alpha Tours to introduce twice weekly charter flights from Moscow to Ras Al Khaimah, with operations from October 2012 until the end of April 2013. The current annual capacity of Ras Al Khaimah airport is 1 million passengers, however it is currently undergoing a U$ 27 million expansion, where new runways are being built in addition to extended passenger and cargo terminals, which once completed will facilitate a greater number of direct flights to the emirate and thereby support further growth for direct airline passengers visiting the emirate. Furthermore, Ras Al Khaimah TDA works closely with established hotels in Ras Al Khaimah to increase visitor growth through a myriad of national, regional and international marketing and business development activities. TAN: Could you walk us through on fresh investments coming to RAK? Are there any? From where? What are the projects involved? Are there new hotels and air routes coming? VL: The Ras Al Khaimah government entity, Ras Al Khaimah Hospitality Group was established in November 2011 acting as a management company on behalf of the government-owned hotels, hospitality, tourism and leisure assets to diversify food and beverage concept offerings to the local residents and tourists. Managing the Qawasim Corniche, we, Ras Al Khaimah HG, are working on a masterplan, where its first stage is scheduled to open within the next 18 months at the Qawasim Corniche area. This project under the name of ‘Down Town’ will introduce an outdoor complex including five double-decker restaurants, one ground floor restaurant, a rooftop restaurant, 17 to 20 bazaar-concept shops and wet www.travel-arabia.com

areas for children. These dining outlets will cover different F&B concepts offering a variety of dining experiences, including Asian fusion, steakhouse, Arabic fusion, seafood and pastry bakery. All the restaurants will have indoor and outdoor areas and their spaces will vary from approximately 100 sqm. to 900 sqm. The restaurants will feature various international brands, which will be announced soon. TAN: The Russian market is known for its preference to sunny outdoors and the beach just like what RAK has. What is being done to bring in more Russian visitors? Could you provide us with figures on the number of Russian visitors over the past years? What is the trend? Is it increasing? VL: Alongside GCC countries, Europe, Germany, Italy, the UK and the Scandinavian countries, Russia is considered one of our main international source markets, being the 3rd source market to Ras Al Khaimah. The rising emirate offers a plentitude of exclusive and diverse cultural and natural land-

In 2012 Ras Al Khaimah received a total of 1,105,191 visitors with an increase of 45.7% compared to the year 2011. scapes, providing Russian visitors with an opportunity to participate in an extensive choice of outdoor adventures, while enjoying the affordable luxury hotels and resorts with the all year sunshine with temperatures between 16-25 °C in winter and 30-42 °C in summer. In order to attract more Russian visitors to the rising emirate, Ras Al Khaimah TDA has conducted various marketing and business development projects that have included a road show to Russia in July 2012, as part of a joint marketing activity with Natalie Tours, Russia’s largest tour operator selling destination UAE, which included visits to the cities of Tyumen, Omsk, Novosibirsk and Surgut. Additionally, an agreement was signed with Natalie Tours in cooperation with Alpha Tours, to introduce twice weekly charter flights from Moscow to Ras Al Khaimah which has been running since the end of October 2012 and will end by April 2013. In 2012 Ras Al Khaimah received a total of 165,594 visitors from Russia resulting in an increasing trend that is expected to continue in 2013.

TAN: Please provide us a breakdown of your top visitors by nationality. VL: The main visitor source markets to Ras Al Khaimah in 2012 were the UAE, Germany, Russia, Czech Republic and Ukraine. Germany is the strongest international market bringing in more than 295,926 visitors followed by Russia with 165,594 visitors. Domestic UAE visitors accounted for 302,516 visitors. During 2012, our Top 3 Source Markets were: • Germany : No.1 source market (globally) It showed production of 227,820 room nights with room revenue of approximately US$ 23 million and 295,926 visitors . • United Arab Emirates : No.1 source market (in the region) and No. 2 source market (globally) It showed production of 193,799 room nights with room revenue of almost US$29.5 million and 302,516 visitors. • Russia: No.3 source market (globally) It showed production of 88,731 room nights with room revenue of almost US$ 11.25 million and 165,594 visitors. Further Source Markets and among the Top 10 main Source Markets are United Kingdom with the production of 35,130 room nights with room revenue of almost US$ 5.2 million and 26,726 visitors, Italy with the production of 17,341 room nights with approximate room revenue of US$ 1.94 million and 26,483 visitors and Czech Republic with the production of 16,509 room nights with approximate room revenue of US$ 1.42 million and 29,183 visitors. TAN: What new markets are you exploring? VL: In 2013, we will continue promoting Ras Al Khaimah as an affordable luxury destination for leisure and adventure and Ras Al Khaimah TDA will remain focusing on its main visitor source markets which are Germany, UAE, Russia, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Italy, Austria, Ukraine, India, Sweden and Switzerland. We are working on exploring further source markets as well as potential opportunities and these projects can announced once finalized. We will also be looking at adding further signature sporting events to the calendar to reinforce the already popular outdoor leisure activities which Ras Al Khaimah can offer.


11 ‘Our only concern is that we have lots of hotel apartments in the area selling rooms at very cheap prices that we cannot compete with. We don’t want to drop our prices. This is a very good challenge for us.’ —Chadi Gedeon General Manager, Mövenpick Hotel Apartments The Square very convenient for families from countries with the Gulf Cooperating Council (GCC) as we have lots of suites which have connecting rooms.

TRAVEL ARABIA NEWS: Mövenpick Hotel Apartments The Square opened in Jan. 16, 2013. Why did the company decide to open here in Al Mamzar? Chadi Gedeon: There is no branded international chain in the area but us. The property is also very close to the airport and the Dubai Airport Free Zone area. Moreover, the hotel apartment is

TAN: Occupancy projection. CG: We are around 60 percent to 70 percent filled (as of presstime). We are looking at having full occupancy at the end of the month (January 2013). The only reason why I don’t want to load my team is we just want to do things the right way. We don’t want to compromise on the quality. Our occupancy forecast for the first year is around 75 percent. Our official rates will be between 500 and 900 dirhams. TAN: What is the challenge operating here in Al Mamzar? CG: We haven’t really identified real competitors in terms of simi-

lar products. Our only concern is that we have lots of hotel apartments in the area selling rooms at very cheap prices that we cannot compete with. We don’t want to drop our prices. This is a very good challenge for us.

TAN: What is the trend on hotel apartments? CG: Hotel apartments will surely be growing this year in Dubai. There is a very high demand also from GCC, Russia, India, Iran markets for Dubai hotels. Now,

will the growth in hotel apartments affect the hotels? No—the increase in the supply of hotel apartments will not affect the hotels because the demand for hotels is also increasing. Dubai is coming back to how it used to be.

TAN: What is the difference with staying at Mövenpick Hotel Apartments The Square? CG: We are a well known Swiss hospitality brand. We are a growing company. We are expanding especially in Dubai, now. A few years back, we have maybe 50 properties around the world. Now we are looking at around 75. We are looking at having 100 properties by 2015. People will come to Mövenpick because we have the same standards. We have the same hospitality. We follow the same standards and training.

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12 Time is precious; it’s becoming the most important luxury. —Burkhard Wolter General Manager Kempinski Hotel and Residences Palm Jumeirah We have all the hotel facilities and we provide a full range of services at the comfort of a leisure resort like no other on The Palm.

TRAVEL ARABIA NEWS: Could you tell us more about your property? Burkhard Wolter: Kempinski Hotel & Residences Palm Jumeirah is the fourth and youngest Kempinski property in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Our first property was opened in Ajman, and this year we are proud to celebrate the 15 years that Kempinski has been in the region with that first property. There is also Kempinski Mall of the Emirates on Sheikh Zayed Road, and the Emirates Palace managed by Kempinski in Abu Dhabi. We are an all-suite hotel with very spacious suites, penthouses and villas, which amplifies the market direction for families. Everyone who appreciates the high-end product and a laid back ambiance will definitely love it here. Nowadays, time is much more of a luxury than the hotel you are staying at, itself, because you appreciate every minute of your stay while on vacation.

TAN: With such a high-end luxury property, who might your guests be? BW: We have guests from all over the world; however the majority of our guests are coming from the countries with the Gulf Cooperating Council (GCC) and Europe. TAN: Kempinski portfolio abroad. BW: Kempinski has more than 75 properties all over the world. All of them individually designed and owned. Among them are two properties in Moscow, another one will be opened in Ukraine in the nearest future. We recently opened a property in Bahrain and we have properties in Qatar and Egypt. There is already a strong brand awareness in those markets. The brand itself is expanding quite dynamically. Additionally we have 30-plus properties in the pipeline all over the world. TAN: How is the occupancy here at Kempinski Hotel and Residences? BW: 2013 has just begun. However, in the first month we completed with a 25-percent increase comparing to the same period of time last year. TAN: What was your occupancy

last year? BW: We closed the year at 60 percent. TAN: This year, you’re looking at? BW: We have 244 suites and penthouses including 10 fivebedroom villas. This year we are looking at a 70-percent occupancy. However, 65 percent will probably be more realistic. TAN: What would be your property’s attractions? BW: We want to ensure that all efforts are taken to make everyone’s stay memorable. That means providing ¬ our guests with everything to the last detail. For the traveling families, that really puts the parents at ease. We have great facilities like kids’ shaded pool and outdoor playground, spacious gardens where they can play football, tennis and so on. Also one of the biggest waterparks is only few minutes’ drive away. Each department in our hotel is multi-lingual—this is very common for Dubai and very convenient for guests of all nationalities. For those who want to enjoy the shopping, the shuttle bus service is available to Mall of the Emirates few times a day. TAN: The Palm Jumeirah is a major attraction. Obviously it’s one of your selling points. Who are the competition? BW: Our competition can be

www.travel-arabia.com

considered as any property on the Palm. But then, having a residential concept which offers fully equipped suites with private pools and Jacuzzis, dining area, kitchens among others, and all that located on the beach - makes us quite unique on the market. In Dubai, there’s no one-fitall. If you will come to Dubai for the first time and you want to be out and about, party and shop, then you can stay in our sister property Kempinski Mall of the Emirates, which is part of the famous Dubai shopping mall. But if you are looking for the relaxed vacation with your family on the beach, you should definitely stay with us.

TAN: In the area of food and beverage, what do you have? BW: Of course there are hotels in Dubai with seven, eight and even more restaurants. Our guests, especially families, are looking for an exceptional place to stay with the kids with the different ambiance than other properties. Most of our guests enjoy the service of private dining in the spacious terraces of their suites or have a family picnic in the garden. We also became a choice of the neighborhood on the Palm and Marina residents for the Argentinean beach BBQ every evening. TAN: What about Emirates Palace? BW: Abu Dhabi is very popular because it is growing into the cultural type of what UAE is all

about. Both cities—Abu Dhabi and Dubai—have attractions that some people would love to combine. In terms of expectations and the proximity, these two cities are growing more and more together.

TAN: Where would future markets be coming from? BW: South America. There’s a new generation growing up. Their behaviour pattern is changing. In the south continent, we can observe a tremendous financial wealth. The people there evaluate, compare and know exactly what they are looking for. Also China, which is officially one of the top 10 Dubai visitors by descent. Kempinski is already established in China, we have 17 properties there and few more are coming up. TAN: What is your assessment of the visitor industry in Dubai? BW: It is phenomenal. Dubai received tourists at a faster pace than so many other destinations. The Chinese market will definitely takeover tourism in Dubai. The airlines, Emirates, is developing forward. There is a key of feeding Dubai through the “via Dubai” flight connection. It is very, very important. The main reason behind Dubai’s popularity, I believe, is that it is a safe and developed environment.


13 ‘We are looking to open a very unique resort in Al Ain sometime in September this year. A hunting resort. We will have 20 VIP villas. This will be exclusively for hunting.’ —Tarek Elsherif Managing Director, Mourouj Hospitality Group When there is no hunting we can offer safari.

TRAVEL ARABIA NEWS: Any upcoming projects? Tarek Elsherif: We have signed two new hotels: one that opened on Jan. 1, 2013 and is called the Executive Suites by Mourouj Abu Dhabi, a four-star property with 120 rooms, rooftop swimming pool, a small meeting room and coffee shop. We have also taken over management of Concorde Hotel in Fujairah, a five-star hotel. We have signed the management contract with the owner, and we took over officially on Feb. 1, 2013. The hotel will be re-branded Concorde by Mourouj. We have in our platform, two other hotels—we have the Mourouj Hotel Apartments, which is a serviced apartment owned by our owner and operational in Abu Dhabi; and we have the 42-suite Khalidia Hotel Apartments in Dubai. We are very much focusing on our presence in the UAE where we are looking to open a very unique resort in Al Ain sometime in September this year: a hunting resort; we will have 20 VIP villas. Next to that will be a heritage village that will be good for families. We are temporarily calling it Barari Hunting Resort. TAN: What made you decide to go Al Ain? TE: We present a unique hunting resort and that by itself is going to be a destination. It will attract people who used to travel to Africa or Asia for hunting and so we are bringing them in here. TAN: How big is the resort? TE: It is seven kilometres by five kilometers. There will be part that will be segregated for the hunters and made sure that it is secured.

TAN: What will they hunt? TE: Oryx and different birds. It will be kind of a pre-arranged hunting ground. These animals will be released in the area and then people will start hunting according to a plan. They hunt them down, and there are different options—either they cook them or have them barbecued. The animals are not protected species. These are local species that are available and farmed; they are not endangered. The resort is in the middle of the desert, about 15 kilometres away from Al Ain. We are working with government agencies on this project. Rules and regulations are still being ironed out. The resort will only open during a hunting season in the cooler months. Construction started two months ago (as of presstime).

has more supply in the market than demand, and that in turn will lead to a market led by prices. So whoever can reduce the price further will get a piece of the business. Etihad has been opening a new destination every month. That is building in more traffic into Abu Dhabi. However, that increase in traffic has been at a lower pace than the increase in the supply that is why I think 2013 will be a bottleneck for Abu Dhabi where 2014 will be a much better year. Average room rate in Abu Dhabi is going down by 12 percent compared to last year (2012) and about 20 percent as compared to BEACH it HOTEL (ADS) Travel Arabia go22x28 2011. IRAMADA think will continue

TAN: Let’s talk about Fujairah. How do you bring people to your property there? TE: There are more charter flights to Fujairah from different destinations. The government of Fujairah is focusing on holding events, maybe not as huge as Dubai’s and Abu Dhabi’s but these will gradually put Fujairah on the map. There are more business especially from the oil sector, and now we also feel some education business coming as some educational institutes are opening up in Fujairah. Moreover, Rotana Jet is now connecting Fujairah to different destinations, connecting it to Al Ain, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Normally, when airline starts, that means there is traffic. C

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TAN: Tourism projections, please. TE: Dubai is definitely filling the rooms. 2013, I think, is going to be a much better year than 2012. There is a coming back of tourism. There are also a lot of destinations that are on hold like Egypt, Tunisia and Syria. All this destinations make Dubai a key regional destination. There are more and more demand in Dubai now than before. I think this is going to be a healthy year for Dubai. Abu Dhabi, on the other hand, www.travel-arabia.com

ing down by five to six percent in 2013 before the supply-demand picks up. TAN: So now is the best time for GCC holidaymakers to go to Abu Dhabi? TE: Yes, of course that is definitely one point; and also we are seeing now more events that have become anchored in Abu Dhabi like Formula 1, the Abu Dhabi festivals in March, and the golf tournaments. There are more events that started four or three years ago that are now anchored and has started to create more impact. These events are now growing. 1 2/3/13apartments 4:29 PM TAN: Are hotel de-

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priving hotels of their market share? TE: To a certain degree yes. Although what we have in serviced apartments are people who are here for the long stay—two weeks and up. Some people prefer to prepare their own breakfast for instance or for a family traveling, a serviced apartment becomes more convenient. It becomes more economically good to stay in a serviced apartment with two bedrooms or three. Hotels, on the other hand, are for three- or four-night stays. It depends on what hat the guest is wearing—is he on leisure or business, or invited?


14

who’s who

Moritz Klein

Area General Manager Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa - Abu Dhabi. Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spa has announced the appointment of Moritz Klein, who joins the award winning hospitality group as both General Manager for Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa and Area General Manager, Abu Dhabi. Mr. Klein has an international career in hospitality that spans 28 years and two continents, from Europe to Asia. Klein joined Anantara from Rotana Hotels, where he spent a highly successful nine years, most recently as Area Vice President Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.

Marc Reissigner Area General Manager InterContinental Hotels Group - Port Ghalib. InterContinental Hotels Group - Port Ghalib has announced the appointment of Marc Reissigner as Area General Manager of InterContinental Hotels Group - Port Ghalib. Mr. Reissigner will be responsible for the overall commercial operations and management of all four of InterContinental Hotels Group - Port Ghalib which includes; InterContinental The Palace Port Ghalib Resort, Crowne Plaza Sahara Sands

& Crowne Plaza Sahara Oasis Port Ghalib Resort, and Marina Lodge at Port Ghalib. He brings with him over 25 years of experience in hospitality industry and hotel management previously Area General Manager at ACCOR (French Polynesia). Mr. Reissigner has held further Delegate Manager position at Hotel Mercure Convention Center, Jakarta, as well as General Manager at Sofitel Hurghada - Egypt.

Rana Al Khoury General Manager Le Gray, Beirut

Rana Al Khoury has been appointed as the new general manager of luxury boutique hotel Le Gray, Beirut. Rana joined Le Gray as business development Manager in January 2011 and due to her strong leadership and years of experience in the luxury hospitality sector, she quickly assumed the role of hotel manager, overseeing the operational side of the hotel. Her latest appointment as general manager makes her one of the first Lebanese women to hold this position at a five star hotel. Ms Khoury has a degree in Hospitality Management from Florida International University

and has over 16 years’ experience of managing multi-million dollar projects in the hospitality sector.

Frank Normann Eikeland General Manager Radisson Blu Resort El Quesier

Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group has announced that Frank Normann Eikeland is general manager for the Radisson Blu Resort El Quesier, the group’s stunning leisure resort on the banks of the Red Sea, Egypt. Eikeland has a proven track record within the hospitality inwww.travel-arabia.com

dustry of driving revenues, developing strategic alliances and leading hotels to fulfil their maximum potential. Eikeland joins the team in El Quesier from his previous position within the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, at Park Inn by Radisson, Al Khobar, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where he held the position of General Manager since 2010. Prior to his Al Khobar position, Eikeland first worked with the Rezidor Hotel Group, during his Regional Director of Sales position at Radisson SAS Hotels, from 2000 – 2005. Having studied at the Norwegian Hotel Management School and subsequently worked at several hotels in Norway, including Rica Victoria Hotel, Reso Oslo Plaza and Sheraton Hotel, Oslo Fjord.


16

flights plus

Etihad Airways signs strategic partnership with Kenya Airways

James Hogan - PCEO Etihad Airways & Dr.Titus Naikuni - MD and CEO Kenya

DUBAI, UAE – Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), will expand

significantly its reach across Africa with the signing of a strategic commercial partnership agree-

ment with Kenya Airways, the national flag carrier of Kenya. Etihad Airways will place its EY code on Kenya Airways flights from Nairobi to 27 destinations across Kenya Airways’ network in Africa. James Hogan, Etihad Airways President and Chief Executive Officer, said the partnership agreement with Kenya Airways is “in line with our strategy of forming alliances with airlines around the world to enhance our network and marketing reach. “This agreement will also allow both airlines to benefit from cost savings achieved through

synergies and economies of scale. “Last year we launched new services to Tripoli, Nairobi and Lagos, and over the last five years we have more than doubled our services to Africa, reflecting the increasing importance of the continent. During the same period we have flown nearly three million passengers between Africa and the UAE, and key destinations across our network.” Dr. Titus Naikuni, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Kenya Airways, for his part, said the new codeshare partnership with Etihad Airways is “a significant strengthening of the global network of both airlines, which provides more choice to all our passengers. “As part of the agreement we are looking for greater collaboration and coordination on cargo operations, training and procurement opportunities which will make us more cost efficient and customer responsive.”

and Australia. Kenya Airlines joins a growing list of airlines to have launched new services to Abu Dhabi International Airport as a direct result of Etihad Airways’ partnership strategy, including: airberlin Air Seychelles, Alitalia, CSA Czech Airlines, Garuda, Hainan Airlines, RAK Airways and Virgin Australia. The codeshare agreement with Kenyan Airways brings to 42 the number of Etihad Airways codeshare partners, creating a combined passenger network of 349 destinations, more than any other Middle East airline. Etihad Airways’ daily service from Nairobi to Abu Dhabi is operated by a two class A320 aircraft with 16 Pearl Business class and 120 Coral Economy seats.

Codeshare As part of the reciprocal codeshare agreement, Kenya Airways will place its KQ code on Etihad

Visitor increase Meanwhile, the Kenya Tourist Board (KTB)has reported a 96.3-percent rise in the number of UAE visitors for the first ten months of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011. Between January and October 2012, there were 32,865 arrivals

Airways’ daily service from Nairobi to Abu Dhabi and, subject to government approval, onwards to up to 32 key destinations across Etihad’s global network. Kenya Airways will also launch a new three-times-a-week service between Nairobi and Abu Dhabi from mid-summer 2013. This will give passengers improved connections and greater choice. The agreement paves the way for greater collaboration between the airlines on the joint procurement of services for ground handling, line and heavy maintenance, training and cargo operations. The new codeshare with Kenya Airways will complement Etihad’s existing scheduled service between Nairobi to Abu Dhabi which provides passengers with sub-four hour connections over its hub in the UAE to destinations across North Asia, South East Asia, the Indian Sub continent

into Kenya from the UAE compared to 16,738 in 2011. As a result, the UAE now holds 3.2% of Kenya’s market share compared to 1.6% in 2011. A major tourist attraction has always been Kenya’s safaris and abundance of wildlife where visitors are more likely than not to encounter all of the ‘big five’, which includes lions, elephants, leopards, buffalo and rhinos, among a myriad of many hundreds of different types of fauna and birdlife species, while the country’s landscapes and natural wilderness offer visitors a prime opportunity to get close to nature for both relaxation and rejuvenation. The best way to discover Kenya’s natural world is on safari, which can be experienced the conventional way by four-wheel drive vehicles or on horseback, by bicycle, on foot or even more exciting, from a hot air balloon.

HOME AWAY FROM HOME…

Our Hotel Apartments are situated at the downtown Bur Dubai, conveniently located within a short distance from Dubai World Trade Centre, Metro Station and other major attractions. The Freedom and flexibility is a great advantage of staying at any of our Apartments, where you will enjoy the liberty of your own luxurious and spacious apartment designed in the latest contemporary style.

Reservations:+971 +971443599925 3599925 ForForreservations:

126012 E-mail: info@xclusivehotels.ae Website: Website:www.xclusivehoteldubai.com www. xclusivehotels.ae P.O. P.O Box Box 126012 Dubai,Dubai UAE, UAE Email: info@xclusivehoteldubai.com,

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The Address Dubai Marina makes doing business a pleasure Special team formed to ensure all guest requirements are met

Corporate meetings, conferences and related events are up for a new twist at The Address Dubai Marina which has come up with an all-embracing program that would make the, at times, rigorous practice of business less stressful and more fun instead. “With Dubai picking up pace as one of the most sought-

after destinations for the Meetings Incentives Conference and Exhibitions (MICE) segment, it is essential for us to provide a spectrum of services that meets every single need of our guests,” said Ms. Shailja Kalia, director of the hotel’s Conference & Catering Services (CCS). She added that “since Dubai has been bestowed with the title, ‘World Festivals and Events City’ by IFEA, and with the city’s focus on the bid for Expo 2020, the hospitality and MICE industries are likely to be further energized.” This in mind, Ms. Kalia said “it is essential for us to widen our horizons to reach out to the various sectors in the industry.” “This emphasis on the MICE sector, adds to our strengths, especially with leisure becoming an increasingly integral part of the

Xclusive Group of Hotels to introduce themed hotel apartments

Xclusive Group of Hotels, a company providing upmarket accommodations in Dubai, will be introducing themed hotel apartments, according to Nishchay Dheer, general manager for operations and projects. This even as Dheer said the company will be opening an additional property in Bur Dubai on March 1, 2013. “Xclusive Hospitality is looking forward to introducing different themed hotel apartments not only in Bur Dubai but in various locations across Dubai, keeping in mind the increasing expectations of our repeat guests and, as well, meeting the increasing demand,” Dheer said. Dheer said Xclusive Group

of Hotels is looking at an 85-percent occupancy this year. Last year, the company enjoyed “quite reasonable occupancy rates. “The year has been quite encouraging. Definitely, our focus in 2013 is to achieve better and higher rate of occupancy in comparison to 2012,” he added. Meantime Dheer said Xclusive Hospitality has added additional property in Bur Dubai called Xclusive Casa Hotel Apartment. “The property,” he said, “has a combination of one and two bedroom apartments and will be refurbished to bring up to the expectation of worldwide travelers coming in Dubai.” XCG recently opened Xclusive Maples Hotel Apartment, a 91-key property. Xclusive Maples is equipped with modern health club facilities and a multi-cuisine café. Dheer said the company is looking to open more hotels. “Xclusive Hospitality is eagerly looking forward to expand in various emirates of UAE. We are definitely looking forward to add more properties in the group before the end of 2013,” he said.

MICE tourism experience,” she said. Integral The program is meant to instill a sense of belongingness to guests who are in the hotel for their corporate or business events, and ensure that their stay would not be just another typical function where nothing is left to memory saved for the meeting agenda and recommendations reached at the official function. This include a “surprise day” where guests are given something—small gifts— that would have totally not expected. Ms. Kalia said CCS is an “integral part of the hotel and exemplifies the corporate meet and greet concept,” adding that its concepts are “original and creative,” having been developed with the proper-

mice & events ty’s sales team to ensure that all of the guests’ requirements are met. “Our CCS offerings are devised to meet the guests’ full spectrum of needs,” she said. Among highlights of the program are the “Yes, we can!” motto which, Ms. Kalia said guarantees that the hotel’s staff “can successfully and seamlessly execute whatever our guests require.” “This also complements our ‘one-size-fits-one’ approach, which means that our overall service across every facet is custommade to suit the requirements of our guests,” she added. Asked why the hotel has come up with the program, Kalia said the MICE segment “plays a crucial role in establishing our credentials as a hotel that offers a variety of services.” She added, “Building on the importance of this seg-

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ment, a dedicated CCS member is allocated to each individual client event, ensuring there is complete understanding of the client’s requirements. It also builds a strong rapport between the hotel and the client, and provides complete integration of all services and smooth execution of the event.” Portfolio The Address Dubai Marina’s meetings and events portfolio includes the Constellation Ballroom, which can accommodate up to 1,000 guests, with an adjoining terrace for breakouts, cocktails or as additional semi-private meeting space. The 948-square metre ballroom is complemented by 16 meeting rooms, all featuring private balconies overlooking the Marina, with capacity to accommodate 10 to 100 guests.

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18

new hotels Four Points by Sheraton Riyadh Khaldia to open

Rotana launches new hotel in Dubai DUBAI, UAE – Rotana, a big hotel management company in the Middle East and Africa, recently opened Al Ghurair Rayhaan & Al Ghurair Arjaan by Rotana in the heart of Deira, one of Dubai’s busiest tourism and commercial districts, taking the company’s total number of properties in Dubai to 15 - the highest from any operator in the city. The two new hotels also represent Rotana’s largest ever room inventory in a single project and will add 620 rooms to Rotana’s Dubai portfolio – 428 rooms at Al Ghurair Rayhaan by Rotana and 192 apartments at Al Ghurair Arjaan by Rotana - bringing its total room inventory in the emirate to 3,795, its most significant in a single city within Rotana’s extensive portfolio. Omer Kaddouri, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Rotana, said the two hotels answer the needs of the luxury hospitality market in Deira with two highly sought-after product offerings. “Many guests seek to reflect their cultural values in their choice of hotel accommodation and Rayhaan by Rotana offers these guests the opportunity to stay in a world-class hotel that respects the culture and beliefs of this region,” said Kaddouri. “Prior to launching the Rayhaan by Rotana brand in 2010, our market research indicated the category’s huge potential due to its inherent appeal and popularity in the Middle East and that has been confirmed by more than 1,800 rooms already operating under the Rayhaan by Rotana brand. With the opening of

the Al Ghurair property, Rotana now operates four Rayhaan hotels – three in the UAE and one in Saudi Arabia in Makkah.” The Al Ghurair Arjaan Hotel takes Rotana’s portfolio of Arjaan residential properties to ten in total – eight in the UAE, with two more Arjaan properties in the wider Middle East. “Arjaan by Rotana combines Rotana’s service excellence and deep knowledge of the Middle East market in a first-class residential hospitality product. Arjaan Hotel Apartments are designed to close the gap between hotel and home,” Kaddouri said. The two hotels feature four food and beverage venues that offer dining choices to satisfy every taste and mood, including an international all-day dining restaurant Liwan; Buzz Deli Café for a quick bite, the Yasmine Lounge and the signature Persian restaurant Shayan. The hotels are also the first in Dubai to include the company’s award-winning Zen the spa by Rotana concept. The spa comprises 8 treatment rooms, separate male and female services and a steam sauna. A trained team of therapists offer a wide treatment menu, including massage treatments, body treatments, facial treatments as well as foot and hand treatments, using high quality product lines that incorporate indigenous ingredients like damask rose and frankincense. Rotana currently manages a portfolio of over 70 properties throughout the Middle East and Africa with an aggressive expansion plan in place.

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Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. has signed an agreement with Khaldia Towers Company, a partnership between Al Jedaie Group and Al Hokair Group, to operate a Four Points by Sheraton hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The Four Points by Sheraton Riyadh Khaldia will open in the second quarter of 2013, marking the entry of Starwood’s Four Points by Sheraton brand into Saudi Arabia. The hotel will feature 376 guest rooms including 138 suites, three restaurants and lounges, and an ultra-modern meeting and event space, including 18 purpose-built meeting rooms along with a spa and fitness centre. “Together with Khaldia Towers Company, we are delighted to introduce the Four Points by Sheraton brand to the Kingdom and further expand our footprint in the country,” said Roeland Vos, President Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Europe, Africa & Middle East. “As Saudi Arabia continues to attract business travellers and religious tourism, the time is right to extend the Starwood portfolio across the country.” Othman S. Abahussain, General Manager of Khaldia Towers Company for his part said he is excited about opening their first hotel with Starwood and introducing the Four Points by Sheraton brand in Saudi Ara-

bia. “There is a strong demand for mid-market hotel brands in the country and we believe Four Points by Sheraton has a great reputation with business travellers globally,” he said. Starwood’s Four Points by Sheraton brand’s “best for business” approach provides travellers with everything that matters the most with stylish design and an uncomplicated friendly approach to hospitality and service – all at a great value. Four Points by Sheraton Riyadh Khaldia will be located 20 minutes from the business areas of Riyadh and 45 minutes from Riyadh King Khalid International Airport. The hotel will also feature all of the brand’s defining elements, including the signature Four Points by Sheraton Four Comfort bed and free Wi-Fi in all public areas, reflecting the brand’s promise and insight into the needs of today’s traveller. Starwood today operates close to 50 hotels and resorts across the Middle East under eight of the company’s nine distinct lifestyle brands including: The Luxury Collection, St. Regis, Sheraton, Westin, W Hotels, Le Méridien, Four Points by Sheraton and Aloft. With the opening of Four Points by Sheraton Riyadh Khaldia, Starwood will operate a total of 12 hotels in Saudi Arabia with additional five new hotels to in the country over the next three years.


19 Fairmont Hotels & Resorts debuts on The Palm Jumeirah Dubai, UAE – Fairmont Hotels & Resorts debuts a new addition to its growing portfolio in the Middle East – Fairmont The Palm. The property is owned by international residential and resort developer IFA Hotels & Resorts (IFA HR). The luxurious resort is located in the heart of the iconic Palm Jumeirah, the world’s largest man-made island shaped in the form of a palm tree. It is ideally located next to key leisure areas and business districts, major city landmarks and two ‘world firsts’ – Burj Khalifa, the tallest free standing building and The Dubai Mall, the largest retail development. Fairmont The Palm will feature 381 guestrooms and suites, including two presidential suites, 3,000 square metres of meeting space, outdoor leisure facilities with four swimming pools, a private beach club, Children’s Activity Centre, as well as a variety of dining facilities featuring

sea, garden or pool views, a Fairmont Gold product and a Willow Stream Spa. The resort will also house the newest addition to the brand’s private residence club offering, Fairmont Heritage Place, The Palm, Dubai, featuring 10 oneand two-bedroom residences. Many of the guestrooms and suites also offer sweeping sea views, and extended balcony spaces allow for outdoor relaxation. Offering a novel dining portfolio for guests and residents on the Palm Jumeirah, seven restaurants and lounges deliver a range of dining options Event planners can take advantage of over 3,000 square metres that can host a range of events for the C-suite executive from corporate meetings, press conferences, incentive and team building activities, to outdoor receptions, weddings, and bespoke social events. Eight versatile rooms, almost all flooded with

natural light, include a ballroom that can accommodate upwards to 400 guests and an outdoor venue space that offers a resplendent setting to enjoy spectacular views of the Arabian Gulf. Fairmont’s branded signature spa concept - Willow Stream

Spa - is based on the philosophy of drawing on the energy and essence of its chosen destination. Covering over 1,600 square metres with 13 treatment rooms, this holistic spa experience will showcase a wide range of treatments and wellness methodologies.

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is a celebrated collection of more than 60 luxury properties around the globe, including Shanghai’s Fairmont Peace Hotel, The Plaza in New York, and Makkah Clock Royal Tower in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Ramada Deira Hotel opens in style Promises a new level of hospitality

The 173-room Ramada hotel offers its guests a perfect blend of world class amenities and services as it features 15 modern executive suites, 150 Standard Double or Twin Rooms, eight Standard Single Rooms and Family Rooms.

Officials of Landmark Hotels & Suites and Ramada Hotels announce their partnership at a recent press conference.

DUBAI, UAE – Landmark Hotels & Suites recently held the grand opening of the four-star Ramada Deira Hotel, its latest property in Dubai. Speaking during the official launch, S.M. Sadique, Managing Director of Landmark Zenath

Group, said the company’s “alliance with Ramada Hotels fits well with our future development plans.” “We are proud to be associated with Ramada Hotels,” he said. “Landmark Hotels has been in the business since 1995 and we

believe firmly that, if it is worth doing let’s do it well. Over the years we have reinvented ourselves several times and diversified into new ventures through strategic tie-ups. Our alliance with Ramada Hotels fits well with the future development plans of

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the company.” Aimed at leisure and business travelers, the newly built Ramada Deira Hotel is located across from the Salahuddin Metro Station near Al Ghurair City, approximately 15 minutes drive from Dubai International Airport. The 173-room Ramada hotel offers its guests a perfect blend of world class amenities and services as it features 15 modern executive suites, 150 Standard Double or Twin Rooms, eight Standard Single Rooms, Family Rooms for 2 adults and 2 children and Interconnecting Family Rooms that can accommodate four adults and two children. While the Executive Suite includes a living room, all other room types feature ultra modern décor and are equipped with the latest flat-screen televisions, high

speed internet access, a wardrobe and a mini-bar. Business guests have access to a well equipped Business Center which offers computer access and meeting support services. The hotel also offers a fully equipped Health Club, hot tub, a temperature controlled outdoor pool, sauna, steam room and a state-of-the-art fitness center for an extensive workout. The Ramada Deira Hotel is situated directly across from the Reef Mall and also close to Deira City Centre, making it the perfect home base for shopping enthusiasts. Guests can make use of the hotel’s free shuttle to Al Mamzar Beach. To top it all, the hotel’s ideal location right next to the Dubai Metro Station provides a convenient link to the major attractions of the city


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The B2B Travel News of the Middle East