SIPPING on refreshing lemon water and looking out at panoramic views of the endless blue-green ocean, it is easy to understand why Habtoor Grand Resort, Autograph Collection’s Club Lounge won the best regional club lounge at World Travel Awards last year. Located at the cusp of Jumeirah Beach Residences and Dubai Marina, Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection, features 25 floors, 399 luxury rooms and 47 suites, with 10 meeting rooms totalling 42,033 sq ft of total meeting space.
We spoke to Frida Audi, director of business development at Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection, for a deeper insight into the property and what has been driving its recent growth curve.
“We have done a lot of changes to the hotel,” Audi tells TTN. “We have renovated our lobby, the Club Lounge, the tower rooms, the club rooms and the club suites. We are now pending a complete refurbishment of the 104 resort rooms near the pool and the beach, which we have postponed to May because we are running such a high occupancy now.”
Also on the cards is a renovation of all the outlets, be it Italian, Lebanese or seafood speciality. “We are also working on a beach extension, which will end up in our beach being completely different from what it is now. We are doing this mainly for the Al Habtoor City Starwood Complex guests, who will then have free beach access. Also, we may have a similar beach access arrangement with Lapita in Dubai Parks & Resorts, which is also an Autograph Collection hotel. Eventually, our beach will be closer to the Nikki Beach concept, I should say.”
Strategically this is a very important hotel for holding company Al Habtoor Group, which also owns Al Habtoor City Hotel Collection (The St. Regis Dubai, The Westin Dubai, Al Habtoor City and W Dubai – Al Habtoor City), Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah; Metropolitan Hotel Dubai and the soon to open St. Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club in DubaiLand. “This hotel is very special to the chairman. He has definitely invested a lot in this hotel and he wants to invest more. The property is managed by The Habtoor Group, we are applying the standards of Marriott International. Marriott’s global sales office supports us, we get support on the marketing side as well, e-commerce etc but I have my own sales and marketing team here and I am so proud of them,” says Audi.
“We always have promotions and offers for international tour operators and local destination management companies. We have done a great improvement in our sales and marketing efforts and are so proud to share that we have seen a 100 per cent growth in revenue in 2016, compared to 2015. Not many hotels can lay claim to such an achievement in this environment, in fact, most hotels showed decline.
“We are gaining a large market share and quite rapidly too. Some years ago, we used to be a ‘primarily Russian’ hotel focusing on CIS markets. Since I joined, the general manager and myself have together changed the strategy and diversified the business. As a result, the UK market is now the most important, after which we have the German market, CIS is also doing alright, GCC countries, Scandinavia, Italy – we are diversifying like never before. Corporate and Mice business are also doing great in this hotel.
“A 13 per cent decline has been predicted by one of the STR reports I was reading.,” Audi tell us, “But we have to carry on pushing new markets and trying our best to buck the downward trend.”
Although the Indian market is the most important one for Dubai, the hotel is not seeing too many Indian guests. “For 2017, I would like to see a lot more Indians at our hotel. My focus will also be on the Chinese market as Dubai is also a popular outbound destination for them. I would love to welcome more Japanese and Australian guests, with the help of Emirates Holidays perhaps, all the while maintaining a great relationship with the UK market, the Germans and the local DMCs, because they are our bread and butter.”
By Rashi Sen
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