Bab Al Shams
Dubai's Bab Al Shams is in for a makeover, more so on the experience side of things. That's what the transition to a 'Rare Finds' management will bring about. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: After the Atlantis came the One&Only. And now Kerzner International, the global hospitality powerhouse, is all set to start on ‘Rare Finds’ in Dubai.

Kerzner International will take over management of Bab Al Shams, a resort set in the desert and owned by Dubai Government owned Meydan. The Bab Al Shams will be put through an ‘extensive re-imagination’ between now and early 2023, and will re-open as a ‘Rare Finds’.

Bab Al Shams
The idyllic getaway spot in the desert - that's been Bab Al Shams' calling card since its opening in 2004. Image Credit: Supplied

Bab Al Shams opened in 2004 and has had an enduring track record over the years. The makeover under the new management will help the property reach out to new audiences who are familiar with Kerzner and some of the other properties it manages in Dubai.

Apart from the original Atlantis on the Palm, another bearing the name – Atlantis, The Royal Resort & Residences - is closing in on its completion. Then, there will be the hotel part of the One Za’abeel twin-tower development near the Dubai World Trade Centre, also scheduled for opening in 2023.

Weddings and celebrations

Bab Al Shams in its Rare Finds’ transformation will provide a ‘dreamy setting’ for weddings, events and celebrations. Corporate houses can head there for meetings, and the destination can also serve as an incentive retreat with indoor and outdoor event spaces that can host up to 500 visitors.

With Rare Finds, Kerzner will handpick existing resorts with enough of a unique legacy to back them.

“They must already have a brand image, they must have a story to tell,” said Philippe Zuber. “With Kerzner coming in, we bring our expertise in leisure hotels. The Rare Finds’ hotels can plug into our network – but with the promise of the original branding remaining in place.

"Instead of focussing on the rooms, which is what classical hotel companies do, we will give our attention to the F&B and entertainment. Any resort that falls under Rare Finds will be about experience and entertainment. It will be an approach that has never been done before - at least to the extent we are planning."

Two new brands

Kerzner International, wholly owned by Investment Corporation of Dubai, launched Rare Finds and SIRO to add to its entrenched Atlantis and One&Only labels. SIRO are for resort destinations where their fitness centres will be as central to the offering as the rooms and other comforts.

“No, we came up with SIRO concept much before the pandemic,” said Philippe Zuber, CEO of Kerzner International. “A high-quality gym will be the centrepiece of these properties, and they will be supported by the best coaches. Everything that you will be doing on a SIRO resort will be focussed on the guest’s health. Just to make sure you continue the journey that the guest does at home.”

Health and wellness emerged as a USP that hotels and resorts could tap into for travellers that wanted to get away from the trauma associated with the COVID-19. The whole narrative in the industry was about creating those spaces – indoors and outdoors – that would help guests ease into post-Covid travel and stay.

“SIRO is very new, exciting and a disruptor in the hotel industry because the concept didn’t exist before,” said the CEO. “It’s a big, big new direction for our organisation.”

Kerzner International’s plan is to by year-end to have three properties confirmed for SIRO. “SIRO is very new, its exciting, and a disruptor in the hotel industry because the concept didn’t exist before,” said the CEO. “It’s a big new direction for our organisation.”

Kerzner’s plan is to by year-end to have three properties confirmed for SIRO. It is also in keeping with this fitness push that Kerzner has tied up with the Italian football super-club A.C. Milan. “This gives us access to all of the medical staff, all of the nutritionists and consultants,” said Zuber.

Atlantis in Saudi Arabia
Of Kerzner International well-established brands, Atlantis and One&Only, there could be other destinations in the Gulf that will host them.

"We believe in Saudi, we could have The Atlantis or Atlantis, The Royal," said Zuber. "That's why we are very much in discussions with a few projects in the Kingdom."

We are thrilled to continue to be part of the future of Dubai, and we look forward to welcoming guests to discover this new, evolved idyllic retreat

- Philippe Zuber of Kerzner International