By Gavin Gibbon
Dimitris Manikis, president and managing director, EMEA, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, explains how the industry will adapt to the 'new normal'
Known throughout the world for its glitz and glamour and bountiful supply of five-star hotels, Dimitris Manikis, president and managing director, MEA, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, believes Dubai is ready to embrace the economy and mid-market sector.
According to reports, 160 hotels with 50,460 rooms are slated to open in in the emirate by 2023 - 81 in the four-star segment while the remaining 79 will be 5-star properties. This year alone there were 66 openings planned with the addition of 22,673 rooms, although the majority will be postponed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Wyndham Dubai Deira and the Super 8 by Wyndham Dubai Deira are scheduled to open in October.
Manikis told Arabian Business: “The brands that we’re going to be bringing in are going to range from upscale to economy segment and that is what I think is a big thing for Dubai. I love the luxury, I love the five-star, but I think you need to look at quality economy brands, they’re going to come into the country and they are going to supplement the product offering.”
Wyndham, which commands a leading presence in the economy and midscale segments of the industry, already operates eight properties in Dubai including the Ramada Hotel & Suites by Wyndham Dubai, JBR; Wyndham Dubai Marina, Ramada by Wyndham Jumeirah Hotel, TRYP by Wyndham Dubai, Ramada by Wyndham Downtown Dubai, Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Dubai Deira, Howard Johnson by Wyndham Bur Dubai, and Ramada by Wyndham Dubai Deira.
Speaking from his family home in Athens, Manikis said there is huge potential in the mid-market segment.
He said: “Dubai has so much to offer to the middle class family of Europeans to enjoy the parks, enjoy the gastronomy, enjoy the malls, the seaside, the opera. It is amazing when I see Dubai from Greece, I am so envious of what Dubai has managed to do in 30-40 years and how the leadership and ruler of Dubai has produced a vision.
“The middle class European family has so much to enjoy in Dubai and it’s not just about a two-day stay, or it’s not about the five-star, it’s about every single segment of that leisure and business that can have a great time in Dubai.”
He has, however, conceded that the hospitality industry, and hotels in particular, are going to look very different in the post Covid-19, whether in luxury or economy, five star or budget.
Already there has been reports of the potential end of buffets, while even services such as the mini-bar in hotel rooms is coming under scrutiny.
Manikis said: “We want to make sure that we don’t burn-out and the new normal will adapt to the buffets, to the breakfasts. It will adapt to the fact that you don’t have to have a room of gadgets any more, because you didn’t really need them in the first place. Did I need an espresso machine in my room? Probably not; it was nice to have but I didn’t need it.
“So when they are taking it away from me, but they are taking it because they really want to protect me, that’s how people and consumers will change. They will change their attitude, they will change the way they see things, but remember, you cannot turn a hotel into a hospital. You still have to remind yourself, the essence of hospitality, you need to smile behind those masks.”