Hagop Doghramadjian, general manager of Raffles Dubai explains why the upcoming property will be one of the city's most luxurious properties yet.
What's different about Raffles Dubai?
It will be the hotel with the largest room size in Dubai. We will have almost 200 Grand State Rooms at around 70m² and the other suites will range from 150m² to 650m². This will make Raffles Dubai a hotel above the standard of the traditional five-star hotels in Dubai. Every single room will have a balcony, while the Royal, Penthouse and Presidential Suites will be unique in design with the latter based on the four elements.
As for the two Penthouse Suites, one will be Moroccan [in design] and the other Ottoman. The entire building is unique by its shape and size and mixes Asian design with Middle East flair. I believe Raffles Dubai will be the most luxurious hotel in Dubai.
ATN: What market are you targeting?
Raffles Dubai will be a city hotel and will target business travellers, but also leisure customers who want to stay in the city, whether it's for shopping or to experience the excitement of Dubai. From the business perspective we will cater to anything from private meetings to large functions of up to 2000 people at our outdoor Raffles garden on the third floor [linking the property to Wafi City]. For the leisure traveller we have the Amrita spa with six treatment rooms and of course the [Wafi] mall, which is due to be expanded to include more top-end retail outlets, as well as a new traditional Arabic souq.
When will you actually open?
Early October 2007 during Ramadan when occupancies are generally lower. We don't like to call it a soft opening, but it will be a good chance for us to have a slow start. It suits us because it gives us time to go through the [staff] training.
Is there room for so many ‘luxury' hotels in the Dubai market?
Right now there are several five-star properties, but not many real luxury properties in Dubai, except for the Burj Al Arab, One & Only Royal Mirage and perhaps Grosvenor House. I don't see any of these hotels having difficulty filling up, and there is no reason why we should be less successful than the rest. If hotels like Raffles and Versace are coming to Dubai, there is definitely room for such unique properties.
How will you ensure the ‘Raffles standard' is maintained at this property?
It's about employing the right staff. We will employ a broad mix of nationalities; from Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. Our top priority is training and development of our managers and our staff. The plan is to take some staff from existing Raffles properties, as well as people that have a strong hotel and hospitality background working for other top brands such as Four Seasons and The Ritz-Carlton.
What are the key selling points of Raffles Dubai?
The key selling point is the guest stay. It's the feeling of residency; the Raffles experience. It's all about privacy and being discreet. We want customers to share their personal feelings with us to make sure they come back to us again and again. It's about being convinced that we are the best.