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Sun 20 May 2007 03:20 PM

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Al Aqah raises its game

Le Meridien makes improvements as competition intensifies in Fujairah.

Fujairah's landmark property Le Meridien Al Aqah is making several enhancements to its offering as competition enters the market.

Following the opening of the Fujairah Rotana Hotel & Spa next door and additional resorts slated to spring up either side of the hotel, including Iberotel, JAL and TUI, Le Meridien's general manager, Patrick Antaki is ensuring his product stays one step ahead of the game.

"We are building a brand new 1300m² spa in its own stand alone building," he told


"The existing spa will be developed into a beauty centre and we will open a couple more shops."

The new spa, which will be part of the Starwood group's ‘Starwood Spa Collection', will feature eight regular treatment rooms and five for Indian-style Ayurvedic treatments when it opens early next year.

Additional resort enhancements include a refurbishment of the outdoor restaurant, which will offer pizza at lunchtime and seafood in the evening, and another F&B outlet serving Arabic cuisine.

Antaki said F&B sales had been boosted since the Rotana opened next door as many of the property's guests regularly visited the Le Meridien to eat. The two properties have also removed security borders between them to allow guests to roam freely from one hotel to the other.

The GM also said that the invasion of new properties had done nothing but boost awareness of Fujairah and that bookings and occupancies were stronger than ever.

"We are being mentioned more on the radio and the tour operators are featuring Fujairah and our property more prominently," he said.

"It's too early to say how the summer season will go. Some are pessimistic, but I think it will go well. People have questioned why the Middle East and the UAE were not together and that's something we have to look at. We have to understand the sensitivity of the cultural connection [between the Middle East and UAE exhibitors]."

Walsh also revealed that RTE would review the time and the day the exhibition was open to consumers.

"I agree that the Thursday long day (10am-9pm) may have been confusing to the consumer and needs to be re-assessed," he said.

"We may stick to the trade on Thursday and make Friday a consumer day as the end-user is of paramount importance to the exhibitors."

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