Caesars Palace Dubai
dnata Travel revealed that domestic travel is in high demand, and the most popular trends are beach staycations in Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah [Caesars Palace Dubai] Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Five-star properties in the country are gearing up for a stellar four days as the National Day celebrations, coupled with the FIFA World Cup Qatar footfall, promise high occupancy rates to start December. This high demand is expected to continue throughout the month, culminating in spectacular New Year's Eve celebrations across UAE.

December 1 to 3 have been confirmed as paid days off for UAE residents, giving employees a long four-day weekend. Owing to the increased flights given the World Cup and the festive winter season, many residents are choosing to celebrate the short break with a hotel staycation instead of a trip.

Ras Al Khaimah Zipline
The long weekend also offers residents the chance to take road trips to nearby emirates. Ras Al Khaimah is a popular choice for its thrilling activity roster. Residents could choose to combine a relaxing five-star staycation with an adrenaline-pumping activity at Jebel Jais.

dnata Travel revealed that UAE is among the top destinations being booked by travellers for the National Day break. The travel provider said domestic travel continues to be popular, with beach staycations in Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah trending the highest.

Also read

'Last-minute reservations'

Richard Haddad, CEO at Jannah Hotels & Resorts group told Gulf News that for the National Day weekend last-minute reservations were expected to boost occupancy rates.

He added, "In general, 2022 has recorded exceptional overall growth results comparing to last year and to 2019. However, we have so far witnessed a slowdown in early bookings for the National Day weekend from the local market. Having said that, the last minute reservations will fill the last mile and we expect to have around 95 per cent occupancy across our properties."

Year-on-year, staycation bookings have been healthy, mainly driven by last minute demand, especially during occasions like the National Day weekend.

- Anthony Costa, Regional President, Caesars Palace Dubai

Echoing this trend, Pascal Eggerstedt, Director, Paramount Hotel Dubai commented, "We are busy preparing for the 51st UAE National Day. It’s going to be our fourth National Day celebration and we’re expecting another influx of bookings closer to the weekend."

NAT 220110 FUJAIRAH WINTER - SCUBA ARAMZAN-9-1642828703527
Experiences matter for the perfect staycation, and UAE residents have a variety of activities that they can choose from for a memorable and unique experience. For instance, Fujairah offers scuba diving and snorkelling for visitors. The emirate is also known for its beautiful beaches.

Also read

Special offers for residents

Given the popularity of staycations and domestic travel, UAE-based hotels are focussed on offering special packages for residents. "We always experience great bookings from UAE resident guests," Akshay Kapur – Cluster Director of Revenue Management for Th8 Palm, Fairmont The Palm, Mövenpick JLT and RIVA Beach Club told Gulf News.

Hotels in the UAE are offering as high as 40 per cent off on best available rates for UAE residents this season, along with discounts on dining and amenities such as the spa. Jumeirah Group hotels, Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island, Fairmont Ajman, Anantara Palm Dubai are some hotels that have active resident offers.

The Festive season looks very strong as business on books is 50 per cent better than last year. Paramount Dubai are expecting a full house from Christmas to New Year.

- Pascal Eggerstedt, Director, Paramount Hotel Dubai

Kapur added, "Staycations have been traditionally strong for the cluster; and it has been the same this year, we’re pleased to see the volumes doing well across all of our properties. When we look at the year-on-year comparison for National Day weekend, the performance is in line with last year collectively across the group which is fantastic."

Unique experiences, flexibility is what guests want

In terms of what people are looking for in a staycation or a hotel stay, unique experiences are what matter the most, industry sources told Gulf News.

"Staycation guests are looking to feel like they have had a break, an escape from everyday city life. Beyond just a room, the full experience matters...", Anthony Costa, Regional President, Caesars Palace Dubai commented.

The United Arab Emirates tourism recovery was exceptional over the past 10 months. This lead[s] to positioning the country as a top destination.

- Richard Haddad, CEO, Jannah Hotels & Resorts

Paramount Hotel Dubai is another hotel that has unique experiences at the heart of its offering. "Living up to the Paramount Pictures legacy, the hotel has become recognized for combining luxury and entertainment as well as offering guests an escape to feeling like a Hollywood star. Guests can find themselves entertained for days, without having to leave the hotel," Eggerstedt said.

Along with the experience, flexibility matters, according to Kapur. He added, "We have found that in these times, people are looking for flexibility. We have created promotions that are flexible to cancel, and at the brand levels, offers have included discounted rates with flexible cancellation."

If you're planning to celebrate New Year's Eve with a staycation, book early to get discounted rates. Hotels are offering competitive rates and packages; the deals with views of fireworks displays are going for the highest rates and can be expected to sold be out by the second week of December.

Combining FIFA frenzy with staycations

Hotels are taking advantage of the World Cup fan frenzy to beef up their offerings. Dubai-based hotel Palazzo Versace has an all-inclusive FIFA package that includes stay, daily breakfast, airport transfers and return Economy Class airfare to and from Doha on a match-day shuttle flight. The hotel has paired up with flydubai for the offer.

Other hotels are offering live FIFA World Cup screenings in rooms or in special fan zones set up for the tournament.

FIFA World Cup Qatar

The football tournament kicked off on November 20, and Dubai and Abu Dhabi have become fan pitstops. With more than 120 match-day shuttles flying to Qatar from Dubai along with the regular routes to Doha, it is cheaper for fans to stay in the UAE and fly to Doha for specific matches, than to stay in Qatar.

Competition from short-stay rentals

This year has seen the short-stay rental market booming in the UAE, many offering guests cheaper alternatives to hotels for longer trips. However, this is not something that luxury hotels see as a threat.

"The short stay rentals is a no match to the amenities and service provided by hotels. The majority of short-stay rentals offers an accommodation with limited services. Hotels offer a full seamless environment with an ecosystem combining accommodation, dining experience, entertainment, events and spas to name a few." Haddad said.

For us, we have experienced the contrary, the demand for short rental stays has helped us during the summer period and generated more demand.

- Akshay Kapur – Cluster Director of Revenue Management Th8 Palm, Fairmont The Palm, Mövenpick JLT and RIVA Beach Club

Some hotels have taken advantage of this trend by offering longer-stay packages promising the best of both worlds.

Currently, five-star staycation rates in the UAE for the long weeked start from Dh600 per night for two. This can go as high as Dh4,000 depending on your choice of hotel and package benefits. These rates are expected to rise later in December in the run up to Christmas and New Year's Eve.