Three important things for a hotel
Conrad Hilton once famously said: "The three most important things when planning a new hotel are location, location and location." Wise words, which continue to be relevant in today's hotel market and nowhere more so than at present in Dubai. The recession has hit at a time when hotel room supply in the emirate has mushroomed and though a number of projects have been shelved, there is many more room to come.
It's important to differentiate here between resort properties and those more geared to corporate customers. The large number of new hotels on Palm Jumeirah, for example, will, as the world economy recovers, cater to new markets as well as the more traditional ones and bring in hundreds of thousands of new visitors to Dubai, attracted by superb facilities and the unique location of the world's largest man-made island.
For business-orientated properties however, location is even more the key to success and this has been something of a hard lesson for Premier Inn. Our first two properties in Dubai were both built in emerging areas of the city, Dubai Investments Park and Dubai Silicon Oasis.
DIP was chosen because of the huge success of the Investments Park itself and its proximity to the Free Zone in Jebel Ali and Dubai World Central. While the hotel has done very well indeed, it has not yet consistently hit the very high occupancy levels we enjoy in the UK, because we built 308 rooms in anticipation of what was to come. For the moment at least, Exhibition World, one of the key features of Dubai World Central, has been shelved and Al Maktoum International is still some way off handling passengers, although cargo flights are due to start this summer.
On a more positive note Dubai Sports City is beginning to attract a good number of sporting events, particularly cricket matches and the dramatic infrastructure improvements on Emirates Road are bringing DIP closer to the city all the time. In the meantime there are very few hotels in Dubai, if any, where you can get a nicer room for Dh295.
Our second property at Dubai Silicon Oasis is a similar story. When we commissioned it Dubailand was the place to be, with Universal Studios a massive attraction to complement the commercial demand from DSO itself.
Clearly, development in Dubailand has slowed down, but Silicon Oasis continues to grow and Academic City just behind is beginning to thrive.
In addition, the nearby Dubai Outsource Zone is rapidly filling up with blue chip companies and 7he Sevens is developing a number of great new events to compliment the Rugby 7s. It has not escaped our notice too that the DSO Premier Inn is the closest hotel, too, to the fabulous new venue under construction on the Dubai bypass road, which will host the World Short-Course Swimming Championships at the end of this year.
What has really brought the location message home to me, however, is the launch of our latest property opposite Dubai International Airport, (Terminal 3) which we opened on New Year's Day. I am delighted to say that the hotel has been enormously well received and we has already reached occupancy levels in excess of those we achieved after more than three months in the previous two.
The Premier Inn winning formula of really nice and immaculately clean rooms at a great price (Dh375 in the case of the Airport property) has been proven again and even with almost 300 rooms we anticipate occupancy levels of which even our central London properties would be proud.
The message for me is clear. If you plan to invest in hotels, come up with a unique proposition and deliver it consistently to every guest in the right location, location, location.
- The author is Managing Director of Premier Inn Hotels, Middle East. The views expressed are his own
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