Dubai: Despite being under development at a time of acute pressure on hotels located in the city, the ultra-luxury hotel brand One & Only has defended its decision to open its first urban property in Dubai.
Traditionally focused on resorts, the company announced its first-ever city hotel in 2018, set to open in the One Za’abeel towers in 2021.
In an interview at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) on Sunday, the company’s chief operating officer said that the company felt that it had a unique enough value proposition to be shielded from the downturn.
“What we feel is that …[it’s about] what you can deliver for those aspirational individuals, and as a result it is not related to any cycle,” said Philippe Zuber, president and chief operating officer of One & Only hotels.
“If you are desirable, the guests are coming, and they’re buying the rate that you believe will be suitable for the product you’re offering, that we think it’s worth.”
Dubai’s city hotels have struggled with revenue per available room (RevPAR) and occupancy levels since 2016, while the emirate’s beachfront hotels have seen healthier returns.
The continued influx of new hotels — especially in the city areas — has weighed on rates, with several thousand new hotel rooms expected to come online this year.
Fundamentally, Zuber said, he was pleased with the overall growth in the number of wealthy individuals arriving in to Dubai, and the number of tourists visiting the city.
“We’re obviously so bullish on Dubai,” he added.
In 2014, the state-owned Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD) acquired a 46 per cent stake in Kerzner International, the parent company of One & Only.
While the One & Only One Za’abeel will not be totally unique in the market, according to Zuber, the senior executive argued that his competitors were simply retrofitting their hotels to create what he calls an “urban resort,” whilst One & Only is designing one from scratch.
“Many are trying, or pretending, and some are delivering to a nice level, but not in a 360 experience. They didn’t think about this since day one,” he said.
“Many are adapting to the environment. We are building to create a demand.”
According to Zuber, the average One & Only guest travels around 14 weeks a year for pleasure alone.