Dubai’s luxury clubs slash costs to lure members

Hotel beach clubs, golf courses look to boost numbers amid economic slowdown
Dubai’s luxury clubs slash costs to lure members
(Image for illustration only)
By Claire Ferris-Lay
Sun 13 Nov 2011 07:36 AM

Luxury hotels and golf clubs in Dubai have slashed their joining fees and membership rates as they look to ramp up numbers amid an economic slowdown.

Several five-star hotels and golf courses in Dubai have scrapped expensive joining fees while others are offering easier payment plans and added incentives to better reflect the financial climate.

“Even the wealthy are being careful about their money these days.  A number of companies have closed down in Dubai since 2009 and I would guess there must simply be fewer company heads with the level of disposable income that would enable them and their families to become members of such clubs,” said Guy Wilkinson, managing partner at hospitality consultancy, Viability.

“Demand has reduced in line with a general reduction in the population of Dubai, as expatriates have lost their jobs and either returned home, or relocated.”

Consumer spending soared in Dubai during the emirate’s five-year property boom. Lending in the UAE increased 30 percent annually during 2009 and 2010, according to Central Bank data. But the emirate – which overstretched itself building extravagant real estate projects – was hit hard by the global downturn and thousands of expatriates lost their jobs.

A number of hotels that offer residents access to beach and leisure facilities have scrapped their joining fees. Dubai Marine Resort, which charges AED17,000 for a family of four, no longer charges its AED3,200 joining fee.

Jumeirah Beach Hotel, operated by the state-owned Jumeirah Group, used to charge members 50 percent of the total cost of the annual membership as a joining fee but has since discarded it altogether. Annual membership rates for a family of four at the resort is currently AED59,000.

“As of October of this year they simply decided to remove the joining fees – this turns out to an average discount of 24 percent for new members,” said a Jumeirah spokesperson.

The hotel operator in September launched its Madinat Jumeirah Beach Club package, priced at AED57,500 for a family of four, which includes access to the leisure facilities as well as discounts at food and beverage outlets and beauty treatments.

Jumeirah Golf Estates is currently offering golfers a 15 month membership for the same price as a year. The Montgomerie Dubai, which charges AED26,500 for a single membership, has scrapped its joining fee and is allowing members to pay fees quarterly or monthly.

“Jumeirah Golf Estates would like to be seen as the best value club in the UAE with regards to price and added value,” said a spokesperson for Nakheel.

Demand at two of Dubai’s most popular golf courses, Emirates Golf Club and Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, has remained high. Despite a decline in its membership waiting list during the downturn, the two clubs have a current waiting list of 2,500 and have not reduced their rates.

“At both Emirates Golf Club and Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club our membership rates have not reduced.  Both of the clubs have continued to maintain very strong levels of membership over the past few years,” Christopher May, general manager, Dubai Golf.

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