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Mon 1 Jan 2007 12:00 AM

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Graf hits back at Park Hyatt critics

The GM of one of Dubai’s most exclusive deluxe properties has hit back at claims the hotel is struggling to retain healthy occupancy rates.

Graf hits back at Park Hyatt critics
Graf expects occupancy to hit the upper 80s to early 90s from now until May.

The GM of one of Dubai’s most exclusive deluxe properties has hit back at claims the hotel is struggling to retain healthy occupancy rates.

Pablo E Graf, general manager at the Park Hyatt Dubai, which opened 18 months ago, emphasised that from now until May, he expected occupancy rates to hit the “upper 80s to early 90s”, generated alongside “a very healthy room rate”.

In response to harsh critics of the Dubai hotel community, who have questioned the hotel’s success, Graf explained: “When you are talking about a luxury hotel and you have strong brand equity in the market place, you will grow your business slowly. It won’t come as quickly as it does for a mainstream fivestar hotel because you are not out there giving a strong financial deal. You don’t give the same price as the Fairmont or that type of hotel. Your pricing is higher, so you will not attract people looking for bargains.” He said unless GMs had experienced several hotel openings – Graf has overseen four – they did not understand that a hotel “is not fruitful from day one”.

“There are many factors influencing this. First of all, most wholesalers and travel agents will not feature you until you are totally open and they have tried your product.

You will not appear in brochures until eight to 10 months after opening,” he added.

Graf claimed repeat business levels at the Park Hyatt Dubai hit the 40% mark on occasions.

“This gives us confidence that when a lot of competing hotels open around us such as the Four Seasons and The W, we will still achieve high levels of business. We are confident this hotel will be the top deluxe hotel in the city,” he said.

The biggest challenges ahead, he said, were establishing the Park Hyatt brand and educating customers and the trade about the difference between a Regency-, a Grand-, and a Park Hyatt.

“I think people understand the Grand is superior to the Regency in that it’s a more theatrical hotel, but they can’t quite fit the Park Hyatt, which is a more luxurious brand, but subtle and residential.

It’s not a place for people to be seen. This is a place where people come to indulge. They are not interested in being seen.

It’s a place where people appreciate the product, the service and the privacy,” Graf said.

He also assured critics that the hotel’s teething problems in terms of service standards, had been straightened out.

“To reach very high service levels you need to ensure your staff work as a team. Initially, we had 44 nationalities coming together, and it has taken them time to understand each other,” he said.

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