Business | Tourism

UAE hotels cash in during Eid Al Fitr holiday

Hoteliers expect to record between 90 and 100 per cent occupancy in Dubai, and over 80 per cent in Abu Dhabi

  • By Sarah Algethami and Cleofe Maceda, Staff Reporters
  • Published: 17:02 August 7, 2013
  • Gulf News

Dubai: The coming Eid holidays are expected to bring again cheer to hotels in the UAE, as the country will play host to thousands of visitors from the GCC and other parts of the globe.

UAE hotels are already seeing an increase in room bookings ahead of the holidays, and they are looking forward to accommodate more guests during the Eid weekend as the peak season returns.

The first day of Eid Al Fitr is expected to start on Thursday. Hoteliers in Dubai said they are looking to fill between 80 and 100 per cent of their rooms starting today, as holidaymakers from the neighbouring GCC countries, as well as other markets like Central Europe, Australia and Asia are expected to celebrate the end of Ramadan in the country.

“The UAE and Dubai will definitely be the must-see destination this coming Eid. Most of the hotels are [already] witnessing high occupancy. UAE and Dubai are very attractive because of its diversified products and offerings, [namely} top-class hotels, shopping malls, restaurants and infrastructure,” said Wael Al Behi, general manager of Ramada Downtown Dubai.

Peter Goddard, managing director of TRI Hospitality Consulting in Dubai said the well-established hotels in Dubai are the ones likely to achieve 100 per cent occupancy, although Philip Wooller, area director of STR Global for the Middle East and Africa. said even economy and mid-range hotels in the UAE are expected to be full. “It’s a strong period for leisure travellers,” Wooller said.

Ramada Hotel in Downtown Dubai expects to reach between 85 and 90 per cent occupancy, which is similar to last year, and is looking to host guests mostly from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE and Qatar, and some visitors from other Middle East and European markets.

Al Behi said that even before the start of Eid, their rooms have already been on demand from travellers, with occupany reaching 75 per cent since the beginning of the holy month.

“Eid has always been a high season for us. However, I have noticed that [occupancy also increases] post Eid period. Those who could not travel earlier this summer from June 20 to July 10, will definitely come between August 10 and September 5,” said Al Behi.

Sofitel The Palm, which opened in July this year, expects to record 100 per cent occupancy during the Eid weekend. “This is traditionally the busiest weekend of the year, and we still have only a few rooms and suites to sell,” said Emmanual Comble, the hotel’s Director of Sales and Marketing, told Gulf News.

Similarly, Nader Batniji, Executive Assistant Manager of Business Development at Al Ghurair Arjaan and Al Ghurair Rayhaan by Rotana, said he expects occupancy levels to reach between 90 to 100 per cent. “Al Ghurair Arjaan by Rotana is close to 100 per cent occupancy and Al Ghurair Rayhaan by Rotana is close to 90 per cent for the Eid,” he said.

Arabian Courtyard Hotel and Spa is also looking forward to achieve full occupancy starting this weekend until August 18 due to holidays observed in GCC countries. “GCC holidays always have great impact on occupancy. [The guests] will be mix and we are expecting about 15 per cent from GCC, 20 per cent from the UK, 25 per cent from Europe, 10 per cent from Oceana and 20 per cent from Asia,” said Habib Khan, general manager of Arabian Courtyard Hotel and Spa.

Khan said travellers from the region and around the world traditionally spend Eid holidays in Dubai because of its wide variety of offerings, central location and favourable climate, among others. “This is a cosmopolitan city and its climate is suitable for European and GCC [tourists]... People have ample choices to enjoy Eid in Dubai,” Khan said.

The demand for hotel rooms has gone up compared to last month, during which occupancy levels reached between 55 and 56 per cent on average in Dubai, Wooller said.

As a result of the increased demand, Goddard expects average room rates to increase by 20 to 25 per cent during Eid this year, up between five and 10 per cent compared to the same time last year. However, Wooller estimates the increase in average room rates to be between four and five per cent.

The majority of tourists visiting the UAE this weekend are expected to be from the GCC countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Oman, according to the analysts. They might stay in the country between six and seven days after Eid, Goddard said.

However, visitors from Asian and western countries are expected to come in smaller numbers due to a perception that the country is not appealing as it is the end of Ramadan, during which there is a limitation on alcohol and entertainment, he said.

Abu Dhabi hotel occupancy

Hotels in Abu Dhabi expect to register high occupancy levels over the Eid weekend, too.

Occupancy across Accor’s network of hotels in Abu Dhabi is expected to reach over 80 per cent, according to Olivier Hick, the hotel operator’s vice president of operations in the Gulf and the Levant countries.

“In Abu Dhabi, [occupancy is] slightly lower than Dubai… Mercure Abu Dhabi [is] expecting over 80 per cent [and] Novotel and Ibis Abu Dhabi Gate at over 80 per cent as well,” Hick told Gulf News. Similarly, Ayman Ashor, general manager of the capital’s Tilal Liwa Hotel said he expects occupancy to reach 100 per cent during the weekend.

“Currently we have 90 per cent occupancy in the books and we expect to close full 100 per cent occupancy [during Eid],” Ashor said.

In addition, Hick expects room rates to increase between 30 and 40 per cent during the weekend, compared to previous months.

Some hotels in Dubai and Abu Dhabi have launched Eid offers.

According to Goddard, there will be “less discounting” during the Eid period.

The Pullman Deira City Centre is offering an Eid lunch buffet and a Dh50 gift voucher that can be used at the hotels’ spa.

Also, Park Rotana in Abu Dhabi is offering guests a stay in a Classic Room and a buffet breakfast for two starting from Dh500 during Eid.

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