Business | Tourism

Atlantis eyes region, India for revenue growth

Man-made wonder entertains top TV shows and celebrities while emerging as Bollywood's favoured filming location.

  • By Suzanne Fenton, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 22:05 September 25, 2009
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Megan Hirons/Gulf News
  • Atlantis had over a million visitors through the Lost Chambers and over 650,000 guests coming through Aquaventure and the water parks.
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Dubai: Atlantis Dubai celebrated its first birthday on Thursday, complete with fireworks, dolphin displays, night rides on water slides and a chocolate cake.

Hundreds of people attended the event and enjoyed the novelty of floating around the rapids in a rubber ring or playing on the water slides under a night sky.

Atlantis has been doing its Cool Summer Nights event on Thursdays since June, with a small pause during Ramadan. However, Thursday marked a year to the day since the resort first welcomed guests on September 24, 2008.

Despite a fire breaking out in the $1.5 billion (Dh5.5 billion) hotel just three weeks before opening, the resort opened on time, much to the delight of Dubai residents and tourists who had waited patiently for the first integrated resort in the country to open its doors to the public.

And the curiosity from the public and media was hardly surprising. The hotel offered 1,539 rooms, including the Bridge Suite, which spans the two towers of the hotel and costs a cool $25,000 a night.

There are also 17 food and beverage outlets and around 23 boutique shops and the 11 million-litre Ambassador Lagoon.

Amazingly the entire development sits on only 50 per cent of land available to Kerzner International, managers of Atlantis. So the possibilities for expansion are unlimited.

Visitors enjoyed the water park and the food and the dolphin display at Dolphin Bay but in the end, most had come to see the fireworks.

"They were stunning and reflected well on their first year. It was a great night," said Knut Johnssen, a Dubai resident and frequent visitor to Aquaventure.

Yawa Aspin, from the United Kingdom, said: "It was a spectacular night and awesome all-round service."

Dubai Just before the first birthday celebrations kicked off at the Atlantis resort on Thursday, Gulf News caught up with Alan Leibman, managing director of Kerzner International, managers of the resort, to talk about teething problems and the outlook for 2010.

"It was an exciting day... coming to the resort a year after opening. That first day was very busy, very intense, we had a water outage and I think the thing I'm most pleased about is, a year later, we are performing nicely," Leibman said.

Atlantis had over a million visitors through the Lost Chambers and over 650,000 guests coming through Aquaventure and the water parks.

"We've had a lot of Bollywood stuff shot at the hotel, we've had various TV shows, X Factor, we've had the Race to Dubai coming in November and we had Paris Hilton.

"But what I think is nice is the mixture of people coming to Atlantis, the diversity," Leibman said.

Leibman said "great business" was coming out of Europe. Also business from India "is starting to grow nicely," as well as "the Russian business".

In the case of India, Atlantis is continuing to focus on it as it is a country with a large disposable income.

Furthermore, the GCC has been very important for Atlantis.

"We were in high occupancy, we were able to maintain our rates and it was through a very difficult time. I mean, we opened this resort in a tough economic situation and for that, the resort is performing nicely."

According to Leibman, Atlantis has become an iconic tourism destination for Dubai and a "must-see".

Regarding future business, Leibman said: "It's tough to look out too far in the future. Our business continues to be very, very short-term and visibility is still very tough to get a sense.

"The consumer is looking for a good deal, looking for value and tending to wait before they book their holidays or getaways."

The next year, he said, will all be about new ideas and improvement.

"I feel very comfortable that we're going into next year with some great, new ideas and thoughts on venues," Leibman said.

"We've only developed 50 per cent of our land. We'd very much like to do the next phases of development but that all depends on when the market starts to turn and when liquidity starts to become available."

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