Alex Lee, Jumeirah Group
Alex Lee, Chief Commercial Officer of Jumeirah Group Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Dubai is emerging as one of the world’s ‘bleisure’ hubs - and Jumeirah Group wants to speed up the process with new projects.

“One of the things that we have seen is the blurring lines between business and leisure travel,” said Alex Lee, Chief Commercial Officer at the upscale hotel operator. “We are seeing this come together to create not only a reason to travel more frequently but travel for a longer duration.

Video: Virendra Saklani | Editing: Sonia Shah | Reporting: Nivetha Dayanand

“This is because, with the ability to remote work, travellers are able to stay in the destination as long as they want.”

Guests on bleisure trips will typically add extra days to their business trip in order to relax. Lee said, “It started off at first as customers wanting to take a leisure trip and then adding on additional days, but now it also works the other way around. Guests on a business trip add on additional days for leisure at the end of the trip.”

Lee said that bleisure travellers look for a longer stay and greater space, and the Jumeirah is already launching properties catering to this segment. Hinting at the Group’s latest all-villa luxury resort in Bali, Lee said that the Jumeirah’s villa portfolio is just ‘perfect’ for bleisure travellers.

“The strength of the villa product is really coming to the forefront of this time post-pandemic,” he said.

Jumeirah in Bali

The Dubai brand launched an all-villa luxury resort in Bali in April. The resort offers 123 villas in one- and two-bedroom configurations, as well as a four-bedroom Royal Water Palace. Each villa features a private pool and outdoor living area.

“The project was delayed from the original timeline due to COVID-19 - we are now looking at busy summer for Bali,” said Lee. “Bali is now in a great season from a weather perspective.

“Now through to September offers some of the driest months of the year. It’s the perfect opportunity to experience Bali at a time when the weather is the complete opposite of Dubai as well as other locations.”

Expansion ideas

While Lee confirmed that the group has no intentions of launching any sub-brands in terms of hotels, Jumeirah did seize the opportunity to expand its existing property brands. During the pandemic, it launched the Jumeirah Living Marina Gate, a serviced residence in Dubai Marina.

Jumeirah Living Marina Gate Image Credit: Supplied

“We [Jumeirah] have two properties under construction, one is Jumeirah Marsa Al Arab, a new hotel that will elevate the position of luxury for the brand. And the second property is Jumeirah Living Marsa Al Arab”

Jumeirah Marsa Al Arab is scheduled to launch in 2023. The project is expected to lead Jumeirah Group’s ultra-luxury portfolio.

New territory

Lee said that the pandemic has been a ‘great opportunity’ for Jumeirah to go back and refocus on the needs of consumers. “The other thing that we working on is expanding our experiences through dining as being one of the key deliverables,” said Lee. “Over the last 18 months, we launched 13 new restaurant and bar concepts - the most significant being SAL at Burj Al Arab.

Sal at Burj Al ARab
SAL at Burj Al Arab Image Credit: Supplied

“We will open our second SAL in Abu Dhabi later this year at Jumeirah Saadiyat Island,” said Lee. “We will also be considering some other locations to add SAL in a few months.”

Saudi ambitions

Jumeirah has two projects lined up in Makkah and the Red Sea, but these won’t definitely be the only ones in the Kingdom.

“The Makkah project is expected to open either late 2022 or early 2023,” said Lee. “The second project that we had started on is on the Red Sea, and it’s one of the first resorts that will open there,” he added. “We are very keen to continue to expand into other destinations in Saudi Arabia, and we would absolutely look to go into cities such as Jeddah as well as Riyadh.”

Jumeirah’s Carlton tower is open for business
Jumeirah reopened its flagship hotel in London just after the pandemic. Jumeirah has had properties in London since the early 2000s.

The luxury brand marked its territory in London with two properties - Carlton tower Jumeirah and Jumeirah Lowndes Hotel. During the pandemic, Carlton was closed for an extensive renovation and has now opened its doors for customers.

“We have just reopened that [Carlton tower] and it has now really become our flagship within Europe.”