While the coloured exterior of JALHotels’ new Fujairah property has caused a furore, the resort’s subtle interior design and high service standards prove that looks can be deceiving.
A brightly painted family-orientated resort has opened its doors on the Fujairah coast promising culinary excellence and an insight into Japanese culture.
The five-star Hotel JAL Fujairah Resort & Spa, which celebrated its soft opening on May 15, boasts a product "very different to existing properties in Fujairah", according to general manager, Frank Gueuning.
"One of our key selling points will be our dining options," he said, noting the hotel's Icho (teppan grill), Al Nokhada (Arabic) and Marco Polo (Asian) restaurants in particular. "We are not going down the buffet route; we are looking to create a lifestyle environment. Our sushi restaurant will be the best in the UAE."
Additional USPs include family facilities such as a children's centre, games room, three outdoor pools, and "the best dive centre in Fujairah". The property also boasts a 500-metre beach - longer than any other hotel beach in the emirate.
But perhaps one of the hotel's key assets is its team, which has been trained according to two distinctive schools of thought.
Firstly, Gueuning's extensive experience running independent top end properties in Europe permeates the workforce ethos at Hotel JAL Fujairah Resort & Spa.
"I believe in traditional values. We are a hotelier and that's the image we need to portray; we are in the business of hospitality," he explained. "Of course, it's a business, but the guest is number one no matter what policies have been written."
Manager of JALHotels' Fujairah pre-opening office, Hideyo Sato, added that the Japanese were noted for quality and the property's service standards reflected this.
Gueuning and Sato are currently devising their sales and marketing strategy in the run up to the property's official opening in mid-October, post-Ramadan.
But Sato said the property was currently promoting health packages starting from AED 900 (US $245), including an overnight stay in a superior room, spa treatments and a sushi dinner.
Occupancies in excess of 80% are anticipated following the official launch, with leisure business dominating the mix sourced from Europe (weekdays), locals (weekends), with some Japanese guests expected to filter through.
Gueuning said meetings and incentive business from Dubai and Abu Dhabi was also proving robust as corporates appreciated the value for money and relaxation benefits Fujairah offered.
Hotel JAL Fujairah Resort & Spa has been criticised for its boldy coloured exterior, which contrasts vastly with its subtle and contemporary Asian-influenced interior.
But Gueuning defended the decision to paint the property in tones of blue, pink, yellow, brown and cream, which reflect the elements of the UAE (sand and sea) combined with the famous Japanese cherry blossom: "It's colourful - so what? It attracts attention and shows we are different. It will soften in time when the landscape surrounding the property matures."
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