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Thu 1 Feb 2007 03:39 PM

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For love or money?

Valentine's Day is big business for hotels throughout the Middle East, and spas and food and beverages outlets region-wide have seized the opportunity to put together special packages targeted at couples.

Valentine's Day is big business for hotels throughout the Middle East, and spas and food and beverages outlets region-wide have seized the opportunity to put together special packages targeted at couples.

"February 14 is important for hotels as it gives a sense of occasion to what would otherwise be a normal day," explained Roger Hessing, director of F&B at The Ritz-Carlton, Doha.

"It is one of the biggest days of the year, almost equal to Christmas or New Year's Eve.

"Restaurant reservations are made weeks in advance and guests will often spend more than normal as they splurge on luxury items like champagne, caviar and oysters."

The reason that the Valentine's Day holiday ranks among the most important annual events in terms of revenue generation is its wide appeal, according to Abdul Baaghil, executive assistant manager for food and beverage at The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain Hotel & Spa.

"Valentine's Day is celebrated by almost everyone in Bahrain," he told
Leisure Manager

. "On previous Valentine's Days our outlets were mostly patronised by ex-pats, along with some local guests who also celebrated the evening."

The holiday is also becoming increasingly popular with residents in Dubai, according to PR and communications manager at the Radisson SAS Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek, Stephanie AbouJaoude.

"Hotels have to cater to all the internationally celebrated occasions, and as it is one of the most practiced Valentine's Day traditions to go out for a romantic dinner for two. It provides an ideal opportunity to give an additional boost to F&B revenue during February," she explained.

Indeed, all the outlets at the Radisson offer specials for the occasion.

"I think this is important in order to give a wider choice to people, whether they are looking for the romantic, quiet dinner or a fun Valentine's event, we have a plan for all preferences," said AbouJaoude.

It's not just bars and restaurants that are cashing in on February 14, however. The region's spas are also pushing Valentine's Day promotions: The Park Hyatt Dubai, for instance, is offering a special menu featuring Valentine's treatments.

"Our Amara day spa is offering the Perfect Spa Ritual for Couples - a romantic experience to be shared in [our] private couples' suites," explained Maria Warner, the hotel's marketing communication manager.

Fujairah's Le Meridien Al Aqah also has a comprehensive offering.

The Valentine's Escape package includes a sea-view room, roses on arrival, a romantic dinner with live music, an in-room spa bath, and breakfast on the balcony.

"Recent surveys conducted by Hotwire and MIVA in the US and European markets about the February 14 occasion found that an out-of-town getaway is the most desired Valentine's Day gift," said general manager Patrick Antaki.

"Thirty-five percent of respondents would like a vacation with their loved one, while taking the second and third spots were a dinner for two or a night's stay in a romantic hotel. This is great news as we are catering to all these trends."

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