Just 90 minutes from Dubai, Fujairah offers a world of opportunities for planners.
Just 90 minutes from Dubai, Fujairah offers another world of opportunities for planners.
While Fujairah's tourism board is still finding its feet, promoting the destination to meetings planners has been largely left up to the emirate's hotels; it seems to be paying off.
Fujairah's tourism offering is divided into two distinct regions; the city centre and Al Aqah beach.
Until very recently, the Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort dominated the hotel market on the Al Aqah strip, being the only five-star property in the area.
The new hotels that have opened up over the last year; the Fujairah Rotana Resort & Spa, Hotel JAL Fujairah Resort & Spa and the Miramar Al Aqah Beach Resort have created more competition for business, but also increased the amount of promotional activity dedicated to the area.
Al Aqah's location - some 90 minutes from Dubai - and the value for money offering are two of its major appeals, according to Patrick Antaki, general manager of the Le Meridien Al Aqah.
"When we first opened, people wondered why we built such a big facility so far away from Dubai, but now we could actually do with another ballroom!" he explains.
"Because we are not yet that well-known for our conference side, we tend to give a lot more value for money. Even if our price compares with a hotel in Dubai, what they get is a totally different experience.
Extensive meetings facilities and a large space for outside events makes the hotel popular with meetings and conferences, according to Antaki: "We found that we are very popular for team building and we are also popular for think-tanks and annual general meetings (AGMs) of various sorts.
"It could be the annual sales conference or any big annual meeting where they will reward people, as well and include an incentive aspect.
One international corporation recently hired out the entire hotel for a four-day event: "It was tough but it was great because the results were sublime; the whole hotel was doing the same thing so for once we could concentrate all the staff to serve the same people," Antaki explains.
Competition between the hotels tends to heat up in the summer season when business slows down, but that is when corporate planners can find the best deals, Antaki adds.Downtown
Fujairah's town centre is small and lacks the resort-like appeal of the beach-front hotels in Al Aqah, but it is the centre of trade and commerce for the emirate, making it an essential stop for many corporates.
Two hotels manage to maintain a steady business from local and international meetings planners.
The beach-facing Hilton Fujairah Resort is somewhat dated compared to many other Hilton properties around the world, but the hotel remains a popular venue for small local meetings.
The property boasts two meeting rooms for groups of 16-200 people, but Guy Epsom, regional director of sales and marketing, Arabian Peninsular and Indian Ocean, Hilton Hotels, says most business comes from small groups.
"Fujairah is a smallish hotel that can ideally take 30 to 40 people in the meeting rooms, so it can work for small board meetings. It is a very nice hotel to do a small corporate meeting where you just want the management team for example," he says.
Along the city's main drag, the Al Diar Siji Hotel caters to the bulk of business travel passing through Fujairah or visiting for meetings.
"Fujairah is emerging as the largest bunkering facility in the region, so our market segment reflects more towards the shipping and related businesses," explains Syed Noaman Masood, senior sales & marketing manager at the hotel.
The property is close to Fujairah International Airport and the Port of Fujairah.
"Since inception, Al Diar Siji Hotel has positioned itself as a business hotel and our main markets are the business and corporate clients from within the UAE, from GCC and some parts of Europe," adds general manager Fouad Melhem.
The hotel features its own bowling alley; the only computerized six-lane bowling alley on the East Coast of the UAE.