Family market turns away from Dubai – 3 May 2007

The Dubai family market is on the wane due to a lack of special deals for children and ongoing construction work, a premium operator has claimed.

Elite Vacations has seen its family market fall from 80% of total sales to 20%, with the majority of its bookings now coming from couples and single travellers.

“Prices have gone up and hotels are less generous with special deals for children,” said Elite managing director Peter Jackson.

“Where they would once have allowed two youngsters to share their parents’ room free, now it tends to be just one child. We also wonder whether all the building work is putting off families more than other visitors.”

Dubai has traditionally been a popular choice among families, particularly during Easter and half-term holidays. Operators reported mixed results for family bookings in the early part of 2007.

Premier Holidays product manager Nicola Hain said that although bookings aren’t moving as fast as they were last year, construction is unlikely to be a deterrent.

“There’s always been a lot of building work in Dubai. For some it’s almost an attraction in itself.”

She claimed the family market is growing, especially with more self-catering apartments coming on line. “Oasis Beach Tower has been in since last April and doing really well  and from September we will have the Emirates Marina Residence and Spa.”

With water park Wild Wadi, Ski Dubai, desert activities, shopping, cinemas and Dubailand on the horizon, Hain said families still have plenty to do.

She warned hoteliers need to keep their 2008 rates ‘realistic’ with so much new capacity coming up. “Repeat bookers will want something new, and if the new hotels have great opening rates, existing hotels will have to do something special.”


Pick of the new hotels

Raffles Dubai: The pyramid-shaped Raffles Dubai opens this summer, complete with 188 rooms and 52 suites. The hotel will contain nine outlets, a grand ballroom, seven meeting rooms, Raffles Amrita Spa, gym and ‘sparkling botanical sky garden’.

Southern Sun: South African chain Southern Sun has opened the 197-room Al Manzil and 150-room Qamardeen Hotel at Burj Dubai, where the world’s tallest building is under construction.

EasyHotels: The first of three EasyHotels earmarked for Dubai will open in Karama in 2008. Each 15sq metre room will offer a bed, shower, work cubicle and activity wall that includes flat-screen TV and broadband. Rates will start from around £55 a night.

BurJuman Rotana Suites: The 148-room BurJuman Rotana Suites recently opened on Trade Centre Road, perfect for shopaholics as its connects with the upmarket BurJuman mall.

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