Why the hotel market is different in Dubai

Dubai, Uae. Burj Al Arab From AboveHotels are more than just a part of the hospitality and tourism industry in Dubai, they are an integral part of an expat’s way of life. In most countries you would only visit a hotel when you were there on vacation, or you may sometimes visit their spas or the occasional restaurant or bar. But in the UAE in general, and Dubai in particular, it is a very different market for hotels.

Dubai RevPAR boosted by strong tourism industry

With the world’s tallest hotel, the world’s tallest building, the world’s biggest fountain, the world’s biggest mall (you get the picture), Dubai enjoys a bit of a spectacle when it comes to its tourism trade. Since 1999, following the opening of the Burj Al Arab, the world’s tallest hotel and a world-recognised icon, an average of 17 new hotels have been launched each year in Dubai.

You may think that this constant stream of new projects and increasing supply would make room occupancy rates stall, but Dubai reached over 80 percent occupancy in 2013 across the market and certain products even attained rates as high as 90 percent. 

There is no doubt that there is considerable revenue to be made from room bookings in Dubai, but revPAR isn’t the only aspect to consider.

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RevPOR at every opportunity – high margin services

Many social occasions in the UAE will be associated with a hotel or resort, and almost any kind of night out will involve visiting them in one way or another. Most of your typical nights out that could be spent in any number of locations in cities around the world will take place in a hotel in Dubai.

A romantic dinner for two

Want to try that new trendy restaurant, that quiet little place overlooking the beach or even the classic British pub for something simple that reminds you of home? Welml all of those will be in hotels. The process of restaurants applying for food and alcohol licences in the UAE is long and complicated and often requires them to be situated within hotel property.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The hotels in Dubai tend to be in the best locations in the emirate, either with beautiful views along the beach or in the heart of the action downtown.

A family day at the beach

When you live in the Middle East, a day at the beach is part of everyday life. Weekends spent lounging in the sun while the kids play in the sea are part of almost every expat’s weekend plans. It just so happens that most of the beachfront is occupied by hotels.

There are, of course, open beaches that aren’t directly linked to hotels such as The Walk along JBR. But you’ll be hard pressed to find a spot that isn’t overlooked by nearby hotels such as the Sheraton and the Mövenpick.

Hotels also have the monopoly on beach-side pools, day resorts and activities. Water parks and attractions such as Wild Wadi at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel are hugely popular with those living in Dubai as well as those visiting.

A boozy Friday brunch

Remembering that Friday is the UAE equivalent of a Sunday, Friday Brunch is a huge Dubai tradition. Everyone from singles, to couples, to families regularly head out to a Friday brunch and every time a new brunch is launched, it becomes a major event. While the food is, of course, excellent, many visit them for the all-you-can-drink element, which dictates that they be within a hotel or resort.

A day at the spa

OK, this one is a given – spas are very often integrated into hotels and resorts, as are fitness and health clubs. Dubai is no exception to this rule and it’s considerable supply of hotels and spas to choose from means that competition between them is often quite fierce.

A night at the theatre

Feel like getting some culture with a night at the theatre? Well surprise, surprise – they’re mostly to be found in a hotel. The Madinat Theatre at the Madinat Jumeirah is probably Dubai’s most popular venue for visiting shows, plays and comedians. The Dubai Community Theatre has also hosted some impressive productions such as the Nutcracker and West Side Story and. it also just happens to be in the Kempinski Hotel in the Mall of the Emirates.

The symbiotic relationship between hotels and the social scene in Dubai is not necessarily a bad one. For a population with a considerable amount of disposable income, there are ample opportunities for hotels to capitalize on the huge amount of revenue generated by these additional sources.

About the author

Nick BakerNick Baker is the community manager for Appy Hotel, a hotel digital marketing startup based in SE Asia, that provides mobile applications and digital marketing technology solutions to hundreds of hotels across Asia and around the world. Reach him at nick@appyhotel.com

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