By Claire Valdini
Several five-star hotels are using quieter summer months for extensive refurbishment
Older hotels in Dubai are fast tracking refurbishment plans amid increased competition from new hotels in the emirate.
Several hotels, including the iconic Jumeirah Beach Hotel, are utilising the quieter summer months to embark on extensive refurbishment programmes as an estimated 12,000 hotel rooms come online in the next two years.
“There is a lot of competition in the market; there are a lot of new properties and particularly in Dubai and the region in general, the pressure to refurbish and upgrade is even more acute than perhaps other parts of the world,” Gavin Samson, managing director of hospitality consultant Christie + Co, MENA told Arabian Business.
“Everything is a lot newer in this market. You are talking about a very demanding consumer; everything is quite glitzy in this part of the world so there is a lot more pressure on hotels to up their game to keep up with new properties in terms of guest experiences and what the hotel offers,” he added.
The emirate, home to some of the most lavish hotels in the world, and the world’s number one international airline, Emirates, is benefiting from an increase in visitors and trade. In April, 7.8 percent more passengers arrived at its international airport over the same period a year before.
A record 51m travellers arrived in 2011. The emirate received 9.3m tourists last year, up 10 percent from 2010, its tourism department said March 7. Hotel revenue jumped 20 percent.
Dubai is expected to add 12,000 hotel rooms between this year and 2014 with around 79 percent expected to be five-star, Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels said last month.
Jumeirah Group, which operates five properties in the emirate, is refurbishing two of its most famous hotels, the Burj Al Arab and Jumeirah Beach Hotel. The firm has already upgraded 70 of its rooms in the Jumeirah Beach Hotel and expects to complete an additional 188 rooms by September.
The hotel’s 360 outdoor lounge and Marina Restaurant will undergo extensive renovation before reopening as 360 Bar, Lounge and Club on 27 September. Upgrades at the Burj Al Arab includes the refurbishment of the Al Mutaha restaurant, banqueting area and the aquariums.
“It is hospitality industry best practice to upgrade the product on a regular basis to ensure that the hotel remains a prime product,” a Jumeirah Group spokesperson said.
Further down the coast Le Méridien Mina Seyahi is in the midst of its own refurbishment, which will see the hotel closed for eight months. Upgrades include new interiors throughout the hotel and new restaurants. Operator Starwood, which declined to give a cost for the project, said the property will reopen 20 October.
Other hotel refurbishments include Dusit Thani Dubai, expected to be completed by September, and City Centre Deira, which is being upgraded to incorporate a Pullman Hotel.
Several hospitality brands have announced new projects in recent months. Dubai-based Habtoor Group earlier in the year announced it would invest US$1.5bn building three Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide properties on the site of its old Metropolitan Hotel and in October said it would restart work on a five-star property on the Palm Jumeirah.
Starwood is in talks to revive its stalled W Dubai Festival City Hotel while UAE-based hotel operator Rotana plans to two new properties in Dubai in the third quarter of 2012.