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In Dubai, hotel bookings and occupancy build up for Expo – and so are room rates

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October will be a month for new beginnings – the Expo and for ‘Ain Dubai’, the observation wheel that is all set to start its spin and wow all. Dubai’s hotels can’t wait for the action to start.

Dubai: With two weeks to go for the Expo opening, Dubai’s hotel room rates are on the rise – but with steady increases rather than overnight spikes. Advance bookings for October and November are doing quite well, and hotel operators are confident this pace should last well into early next year.

“With the current changes in tourist visa regulations, guests were quick to respond, and we observe from the recent search results that there is a growing demand for all-inclusive holidays in Dubai,” said Ali Ozbay, Regional Director of Marketing and Communications at Rixos Hotels UAE, which operates resorts in Dubai’s JBR and Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi. “We’ve already discovered the local market’s potential – and the feedback has been highly positive.”

While everyone in the hotel industry knew an upturn in occupancy and bookings were imminent ahead of the Expo, it was the Government’s announcement on clearing tourist arrivals and visitors to the Expo that speeded up the process.

What about room rates?

Hotels did not wait to respond with what they believe would be the right set of rates and offers for now. At Rixos, an all-inclusive package costs between Dh1,200 to Dh1,600 depending on the room and season. It includes a deluxe or premium accommodation, choices at a la carte restaurants, entertainment options and the whole works, so to speak.

The Five Palm Jumeirah’s package starts from Dh1,670, which includes breakfast, lunch and dinner at one of the hotel’s seven restaurants. Ritz Carlton in Dubai has a ‘half-board dine around offer,’ which includes a buffet breakfast, lunch or dinner with the choice to dine around at over 100 participating restaurants in the UAE by MoreCravings – Marriott’s online dining platform.

Affordable ones too

As per travel and hotel booking portals, stay rates in Dubai are rising, but gradually. There are rooms available for what can only be deemed as extremely affordable. These include a 5-star stay at Asiana Hotel in Deira for close to Dh160 a night. Radisson Blue and Carlton Blue – also in Deira – charge around Dh160 a night.

For those looking for more amenities but on a budget, a room at the Grand Plaza Mövenpick can be booked for Dh329, while Marriott Hotel Al Jadaf costs around Dh340 for a night. If affordable luxury is what is required, the Kempinski Hotel at Mall of the Emirates could be a great option with room rates starting Dh680. The intercontinental in Dubai Marina is also going for close to Dh600 for a night.

When one thinks of Dubai’s luxury hotels, the first name that comes to mind – Burj Al Arab – will have guests paying from Dh4,000 during the coming weeks.

Occupancy gains

Occupancy rates at Dubai’s hotels are already close to pre-pandemic levels. “Barriers to travel have lessened – and the UAE has been one of the few destinations that has been able to remain open with limited restrictions because of dropping case counts,” said Philip Wooller, Area Director for the Middle East and Africa at the consultancy STR.

The UAE resumed issuing tourist visas for fully vaccinated people from all countries as of August 30. Tourist visa applicants must be fully vaccinated with one of the vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“This is another example of the UAE being out front in the safe return of tourism,” said Wooller, “Any move like this, which will add greater travel confidence, is another positive as the country already sits around 90 per cent of pre-pandemic occupancy levels ahead of Expo 2020.”

Aiming for winter highs

All signs point to a bumper winter for UAE’s hotels. “We have started to see a lot of enquiries and received bookings for the last months of 2021 across our hotels, especially at our Uptown properties as they are closer to the Expo site,” said Mark Kirby, Head of Hospitality, Emaar Hospitality group . “We are seeing large corporate bookings in the lead up to Expo.

“We believe that the fourth quarter will be our strongest period like every year on the backs of Expo, Christmas and New Year. And we are also gearing up to celebrate UAE’s Jubilee Year in December.”

Emaar Hospitality, an official Expo 2020 partner, is offering guests complementary tickets to the event during their stay. This is for guests staying at the company’s Address or Vida Hotels in Dubai between October 1 to March 31, 2022.

For more information please visit gulfnews.com

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