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Moussa El Hayek, COO of Al Bustan, says the growing number of international events being hosted in Dubai is generating new traffic to the property, especially from those looking for hotels that can accommodate large groups.
“We are not considered a first choice in the conferencing and meetings sector, yet we can be very competitive because we have the bigger inventory,” says El Hayek. “For individuals, their first choice will be hotels near the venue. For big groups, it’s a different story. We can accommodate the biggest single group in Dubai.
“We’ve had as many as 850 people staying in this hotel as one single group. Other hotels can’t do that and it’s a big advantage for us.”
El Hayek says the renovation complements the company’s efforts to grab a bigger piece of the meetings, incentives, conferencing and events (Mice) market. He says the renovation overhauled all 848 rooms of the property, replacing every single item from the beds to in-room amenities.
The hospitality maven also reiterates that in the Mice sector, size indeed matters.
“Normally, event organisers don’t want to split their guests in different hotels,” he says. “They would rather have them in one hotel.
“In Dubai, if you are talking about big hotels, you are talking about 400-500 rooms. We have 848 rooms. The average five-star hotels in the city don’t have more than 350 rooms.”
Al Bustan, however, will continue to focus on its main market consisting of UAE and GCC travelers as well as guests from Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which account for around 12 per cent of its business.
“Our market is primarily UAE nationals from other emirates who travel to Dubai for short business or weekend and holiday trips and GCC nationals who come here during summer,” he says. “For these guests, the size of the property is what brings them here.
“We also have normal foreign tourists of which around 70 per cent are from Russia and the CIS. However, the crisis in that area has affected our business, mainly because the cost of travel has become more expensive for regular travelers. We hope the market will recover quickly, but for high-end travelers, they are still coming to the UAE.”
El Hayek says the hotel’s location in Al Qusais would seem a disadvantage, but the property is actually unique in terms of size and offerings in Dubai’s Deira district.
“When our chairman built this hotel in 1997, people were saying ‘what is this guy doing?’ There was nothing here,” he says. “Now we are a major player in this area. From Deira City Centre to this area, we represent perhaps 50 per cent of the inventory.”
Source: Jobannie Tabada, Subeditor, Property Weekly