(L TO R) Panel Moderator Natasha D’Souza, Independent business journalist,Grant Salter, Director Head of Travel, Hospitality and Leisure Advisory Middle East Region, Deloitte,Milind Samant, Research Director - Travel & Tourism Middle East & Africa, TNS and Caroline List, International Sales Manager, TOPHOTELPROJECTS during the Hotel Show panel discussion of Update on market and consumer patterns and trends - get the inside track at DWTC. Image Credit: Atiq ur Rehman/Gulf news

Dubai: Hotels within theme parks could be the next big thing for travellers in the Middle East looking for new experiences, according to industry experts at The Hotel Show, which kicked off in Dubai on Sunday.

Theme parks’ on-property hotels normally target families and offer perks such as early access to the park’s rides and attractions. Travellers in the region could be spending more nights at theme parks, as more of them open, according to Milind Samant, research director of travel and tourism for the Middle East and Africa at research firm TNS.

“A lot of people [in the region] haven’t gotten exposed to theme parks, unlike the western part of the world. I think customers will prefer something like [a hotel within a theme park] because they are looking for new experiences,” he said.

The concept of a hotel in a theme park is still new in the region, he said, adding that travellers these days are looking for different types of rooms.

“If you look at the luxury travellers and the affordable luxury travellers, they are looking for interesting concepts like suites, private villas, boutique rooms, and theme-based rooms … Dubai Parks and Resorts will have a Lapita resort. All these theme-based rooms are gaining a lot of popularity.”

Dubai Parks and Resorts, which is set to open in October, will feature a Polynesian themed hotel, called Lapita Hotel Dubai, inside the theme park. The upcoming Warner Bros theme park, located on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island, will have a Warner Bros-themed hotel alongside it. Scheduled to open in 2018, the park is expected to increase the number of visitors to Yas Island from 25 million in 2015 to 30 million by 2018.

Construction pipeline

Dubai, too, hopes new theme parks will attract more visitors and extend their length of stay. It aims to welcome 20 million visitors per year by 2020, and in an effort to accommodate these visitors, it is encouraging the building of new hotels. It has set a target of 160,000 hotel rooms by 2020.

There are 190 hotels in the UAE construction pipeline, of which 138 are set to open in Dubai. These are scheduled to be completed by 2022, according to Caroline List, international sales manager at TOPHOTELPROJECTS, an online database for hotel projects. Abu Dhabi, meanwhile, has 23 projects in the pipeline.

Luxury hotels in Dubai performed better overall than the midscale and upper midscale properties year to July, said Grant Salter, director head of travel, hospitality and leisure advisory for the Middle East at consultancy Deloitte. He added that average room rates for the luxury segment stood at $340 (Dh1,248) during the same period.