Concierge Dubai blog Tue, 13 May 2014 13:17:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Luxury’s New Social Currency Tue, 13 May 2014 13:17:56 +0000 admin As the post-financial crisis revival in demand for luxury travel continues unabated, unique experiences  – and not just for the affluent  – are the new social currency.

The ascendancy of social media and with it the widespread sharing of vacation photographs and videos with friends, families and colleagues has fostered this experiential trend, states global travel consultancy, Resonance.

This evolution is good news for the UAE as it is a destination defined by world-class attractions, unique natural vistas and five-star hotels and resorts. The established luxury market here ensures that travellers looking for luxury combined with unique experiences are well served.

However, despite the UAE’s obvious strengths, its luxury providers are not standing still and many are already evolving their offering to take advantage of the latest travel trend.

Hilton Worldwide, which recently opened the Conrad Hotel in Dubai and the first Waldorf Astoria hotels for the UAE in Ras Al Khaimah and Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah, is one company that is already tapping into the rise in interest for luxurious and authentic experiences. The group believes that Ras Al Khaimah is one UAE market that is increasingly becoming a destination of choice among a growing number of “perceptive travellers” seeking an authentic Emirati experience, whether it be for leisure, adventure or culture.  As such, the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah was designed to reflect the classic features of an Arabian palace.

Rudi Jagersbacher, President, Hilton Worldwide Middle East & Africa, said: “Ras Al Khaimah boasts majestic mountain ranges, expanses of red sandy desert and lush green plains alongside a series of creeks and lagoons. Charming historic sites, forts and abandoned villages also echo the Emirate’s 5,000-year-old heritage and add to the overall distinctive appeal of Ras Al Khaimah.”

Bedouin heritage

Voted the Middle East’s top luxury hotel in the 2014 TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards, Starwood Hotels’ Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa also offers an indulgent escape. Its success lies in combining a luxury offering with an opportunity to experience the heritage and architecture of the Bedouins, amid the picturesque desert landscape.

“Al Maha was conceptualised to encapsulate the best this region has to offer, from its natural beauty to the exceptional levels of hospitality and service that have been the hallmark of the resort since its inception,” said Arne Silvis, Al Maha’s General Manager. “To be included in these power lists is testament to the team’s hard work in striving for excellence and underscores our commitment to ensuring the UAE’s hospitality industry continues to make waves globally.”

For Tri Hospitality Consulting Dubai’s Christopher Hewett, the strength of the luxury tourism market throughout the country is clear, as is the diversity of experiences that are on offer for discerning travellers. However, he says the top-end of the UAE market will continue to evolve over the coming years, diversifying further to incorporate specialised and niche offerings as experiential tourism grows.

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A Shopping Destination Tue, 13 May 2014 13:14:38 +0000 admin Rising disposable incomes, retail real estate expansion and a steady inflow of international retailers, will see retail tourism in the UAE reach new highs in the years ahead, and hotels are looking for a slice of the action.

A gateway for many visitors to the UAE, Dubai is a shopper’s paradise, home to 82 percent of the world’s top luxury brands, while luxury retail in the UAE as a whole is valued at roughly AED22 billion a year, according to a report by the Chalhoub Group, which operates stores for fashion houses such as Lanvin, Ralph Lauren, Lacoste, Celine and Marc Jacobs, among others. Showing no signs of slowing down, the luxury pioneer continues to consistently launch new brands and increase its presence in the country’s top malls.

Commenting on retail growth, Mansour Hajjar, Managing Director of Allied Enterprises, Chalhoub Group, says: “The luxury retail tourism market is indeed growing at a fast pace in the UAE, with a tangible acceleration witnessed in the past two years following the slowdown caused by the global financial meltdown.

“The evolution in our consumer base is a very good illustration of this. We are today seeing an increased share of the number of visitors among our clients with new outbound markets such as China and Africa. Depending on our brands, the tourist clientele can range from 10 percent to more than 70 percent of the total clientele.”

Looking ahead, the Dubai FDI, part of the Department of Economic Development, forecasts the country’s retail industry will grow 33 percent to AED151 billion by 2015.

“The vital role of retailing in economic development along with the constant growth in demand makes the sector one of the most lucrative foreign investment prospects in Dubai,” says Fahad Al Gergawi, CEO, Dubai FDI.

Stay, dine and shop

In Abu Dhabi, a wave of recently opened malls, such as The Galleria, are paving the way for a thriving shopping scene. And, as shopping and tourism become more closely connected, hotels in the emirate are opening boutique malls. Examples include The Collection within The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, a development that contains shops, restaurants, spas and salons. Another notable luxury retail facility is Avenue at Etihad Towers, located adjacent to the five-star Jumeirah at Etihad Towers hotel.

This concept of bringing together opportunities to shop, dine and stay is not uncommon in Dubai. Here, a plethora of mixed-use developments are in the works, such as the five floors of retail stores that will accompany residential towers, luxury hotels and a Las Vegas-style theatre at the AED11 billion Al Habtoor City development, adjacent to the Business Bay creek extension. A retail plaza is also planned along with luxury hotels, serviced apartments and parks for The Opera District in Downtown Dubai. Similarly, the ‘souk’ at Bluewaters Island by Meraas Holding will host an eclectic mix of retail stores alongside the boutique five-star hotel, residences, dining outlets and 210-metre ferris wheel.

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Standing Out From the Crowd Tue, 13 May 2014 13:12:26 +0000 admin Competition within the Arabian luxury travel market is intensifying as the number of hotel openings rise. As a result, hotels are increasingly focusing on strategies to stand out from the crowd, while balancing the divergent demands and tastes of the swelling numbers of affluent travellers.

According to Christopher Hewett of TRI Hospitality Consulting’s Middle East’s office, quality service will need to remain at the forefront of hotels’ strategies, as the luxury segment in certain markets within the region reaches a point of maturity.

“In order for hoteliers to keep their properties at the forefront of the market they will need to focus on the quality of the products and services they offer, he says.

“Technology is advancing rapidly in the industry, with recent examples including innovative mood lighting and music systems in the rooms and iPad check in’s. However, this should not overshadow the experience and interaction between guests and colleagues, as this will almost always be the key memory of any stay.”

Service and Location

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide is one luxury provider expanding in the region. The Westin Doha Hotel & Spa is scheduled to open in late 2014 in a prime location in the city’s central business district. It plans to differentiate itself with The Westin’s clear brand offering based around wellness.

For Hewett, JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai is a property that stands out in the marketplace, having changed the dynamics of the conference and convention business in the city by creating a complete new segment in actively seeking large international conventions and exhibitions that would normally occur in European or North American destinations, he says.

Also in Dubai, The Oberoi Hotel Group entered the UAE in mid-2013 with the opening of The Oberoi, Dubai. The Business Bay hotel was recently recognised as one of the “70 coolest new hotels changing the travel landscape”. According to Karim Bizid, General Manager, the hotel group’s commitment to delivering consistent, excellent service without compromise sets it apart from its competitors.

Europe’s leading luxury hotel brand, Sofitel, also has eyes on the Middle East and has undergone considerable expansion. For General Manager of the recently opened Sofitel Downtown Dubai, Klaus Assmann, innovation and that old rule of real estate, ‘location, location, location’, are the secrets to creating a thriving luxury hotel business in a competitive marketplace.

He says: “Every day I get a kick out of going to work because the Sofitel Downtown Dubai is in such a fantastic location. We are one of the few hotels connected to the Dubai Mall; on the one side we have unobstructed views of Burj Khalifa and on the other the coast.

Yet, given the competitive marketplace, why open a new hotel in Dubai? “Dubai is back on the map and it is the only market in the world that guarantees you will fill rooms. That guarantee is 2020,” Assmann says.

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The World’s Most Visited City Tue, 13 May 2014 13:05:58 +0000 admin

Dubai has stated its ambition to become the world’s most visited city, aiming to wrestle the mantle from the UK’s capital city, London.

His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, Director-General of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) recently said that while Dubai is already seen as a must-visit destination, a continuous drive to innovate will lead to a constant reinvention of the visitor experience, creating one that is unrivalled anywhere else in the world.

“It is this collective industry commitment that makes us confident that we will be able to achieve our target of attracting 20 million annual visitors by 2020, and inspires the ambition to eventually become the world’s most visited city,” he said.

According to the DTCM, while an ambitious goal, claiming the title of most visited city in the world is a realistic one. Given Dubai’s exponential tourism growth rate, which increased by 10.6 percent to 11 million visitors in 2013, the city’s could surpass London’s 16 million annual visitors by 2018, should growth continue apace.

Dubai’s new ambition comes one year into the delivery of Dubai’s ‘Tourism Vision for 2020’, which has seen significant first steps taken to achieve its target of attracting 20 million annual visitors by 2020.

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Insight: Luxury Travel Sun, 06 Apr 2014 09:42:21 +0000 admin

Luxury tourism has made a comeback with travellers in 2014 and the UAE stands to gain from this rising trend.

According to new research from global travel consultancy, Resonance, a revival in demand for luxury and ultra-luxury travel will go unabated as the number of the world’s millionaires continues to rise.

The trend is good news for the UAE with its core tourism proposition of ‘affordable luxury’.

Luxury Travel Trends

Resonance has identified the top trends that will impact tourism for the next decade or more. These include:

Strength of luxury travel

The number of millionaires in the world is expanding, while the numbers of newly affluent travellers in their early 30s and 40s are also growing.

Impact of Millennials 

Millennials – 18- to 30-year-olds – are more interested in international travel than non-Millennials. They’re also more interested in urban destinations than resorts, are twice as likely to share experiences via social media and view online reviews as ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ important.

Unstoppable Elders 

Estimated at 1.3 to 1.6 billion people worldwide, Unstoppable Elders are the world’s most affluent and demanding travel demographic. Elders favour off-peak travel, while high standards of customer service and security are crucial.

Rise of Conspicuous Leisure 

Driven by the prevalence of social media, Conspicuous Leisure is the signalling of social status through consumption and sharing of experiences rather than through consumer goods.

Multi-generational travel 

Today’s seniors are healthier and live longer. As a result, multigenerational travel is on the rise. More than 40% of families took such a holiday in 2013, with 70% of these trips planned around a milestone event.


Contact Pedro for more info


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Tourism: A Record-Breaking Year Sun, 06 Apr 2014 09:41:50 +0000 admin  

The UAE tourism industry is headed for another record-breaking year, as hotel occupancy levels rise and demand outstrips supply.

Hotels across the country saw occupancy levels soar in January and February this year, demonstrating positive growth towards the nation’s goal of attracting over 15 million tourists by the end of the year.

The growth of investments into hotel and retail property development, airline route expansions, recent visa exemptions for all EU citizens and the recorded advances in the restaurant and leisure industries are all contributing factors.

Dubai leads the way

Hotels in Dubai recorded their highest February occupancy levels in seven years:

  • 88.6% occupancy
  • 10.7% increase in average daily rate to US$300 (AED1103)

“Growth in demand was able to outpace the continuous growth in supply, resulting in the highest occupancy levels of any February since 2007 for the market,” says Elizabeth Winkle, Managing Director of international data analyst STR Global.

Despite an existing supply of 84,534 rooms across 611 properties, Dubai’s development pipeline will add 141 hotel establishments, 99 hotels and 48 hotel apartments, raising the room count by almost 30,000, according to the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.

Abu Dhabi leaps ahead

Meanwhile, hotels in Abu Dhabi also enjoyed a fantastic February:

  • 33% rise in guests compare to February 2013
  • 81% occupancy

While the largest source markets were UAE residents, UK and Indian visitors, the most significant growth came from China.

On the back of the Chinese Visitor Summit hosted in Abu Dhabi last September, Chinese visitor performance is rising, peaking in the early months of 2014. A total of 22,577 Chinese visitors flooded Abu Dhabi hotels in January and February, a remarkable 182% jump on the same time last year (see In Focus for more on Chinese visitors).


Contact Xing for more info

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Retail: Rapid UAE Market Growth Sun, 06 Apr 2014 09:40:46 +0000 admin

According to new research, the UAE has the world’s second greatest potential for luxury spending growth, while at the same time, the value of the county’s retail sector is set to expand by $10 billion (AED36.7 billion) between 2012-2015.

The Knight Frank Wealth Report 2014, outlined global luxury spending trends, naming Qatar, the UAE and Saudi Arabia as the top three fastest growing premium markets in the short to medium term.

analysis of luxury spending trends

Spotlight on luxury

Dubai FDI, part of the Department of Economic Development in Dubai, estimates that the UAE’s retail sector will grow by around 32.9% to reach US$41 billion (AED151 billion) by 2015, driven by a number of factors, including:

  • Affluent UAE residents’ high disposable incomes
  • A rise in visitors here to spend
  • A steady inflow of international retailers

With 82% luxury brand presence, Dubai commands about a third of the entire regional luxury goods market. Additionally, in a show of confidence in Dubai as a premier shopping destination, luxury brands will be vying for travellers’ attention at Dubai’s upcoming Arabian Travel Market (May 5 to 8, 2014), the theme of which will be ‘Spotlight on Luxury’.

Growth drivers

Confident in Dubai’s luxury retail future, Emaar Chairman Mohamed Alabbar plans to list Emaar’s shopping retail division. He says: “Today, Emaar’s retail subsidiary is our high-performing business, which derives its growth impetus from the sustained growth of Dubai and its reputation as an international business and leisure hub.”

With a recorded footfall of 75 million in The Dubai Mall alone last year and new luxury retail malls popping up across the country, the UAE’s luxury goods market is poised for very strong growth in 2014.


Contact Carmen for more info

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Tourism: Nu Skin Brings 14,500 Visitors Sun, 06 Apr 2014 09:39:49 +0000 admin

Nu Skin Enterprises adds to Chinese tourism growth, choosing the UAE for its annual incentive trip, bringing 14,500 delegates to the country.

Surge in Chinese visitors

The single largest incentives group in UAE history will come from China, April 6 to 16, from Nu Skin Enterprises. Around 14,500 Chinese delegates will flood more than 25 high-end hotels across the UAE in seven waves, with plans to visit some of the country’s premier attractions.

“The UAE has done a great job at marketing the destination to Chinese visitors with both Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing and Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority opening offices in China to promote their cities. The UAE has grown to become not only a symbol of luxury in the Chinese mindset, but also a hub for business travel,” explains Xing Zhang, our Chinese Relationship Manager.

Paving the way for business travel

Director of Dubai Convention and Events Bureau, Steen Jakobsen, says: “I’m confident this will pave the way for other incentive groups and association events in the future.”

Bearing in mind that business travellers spend on average more than five to six times more than leisure visitors in expenditure per day, the UAE business events market is now set to grow at the same pace as leisure tourism over the next few years.

A whopping 50% surge in Chinese visitors has been recorded since 2011 and is steadily growing. The UAE is quickly proving to be a destination of choice for Chinese leisure and business travel.


Contact Xing for more info

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Retail: Chinese Favour High-end Watches Sun, 06 Apr 2014 09:38:22 +0000 admin

In the spirit of the Year of the Horse that represents courage, travel and adventure, the Chinese are travelling more and spending more and watches seem to be on the top of their shopping lists.

Luxury watches are the fastest growing luxury retail segment among Chinese spenders with an increased demand of 59.4% year on year.

Due to the rise in Chinese luxury travellers, the watch market has been growing steadily for the past 10 years and is expected to continue to grow. While only 3% of Chinese nationals were passport holders in 2013, that number is expected to rise to 5% this year, increasing the number of Chinese travellers by 28 million.

“Chinese consumer spend has been up significantly within the luxury watch market. Research indicates that Chinese consumers are taking advantage of the tax incentives in the UAE and purchasing not one but several ultra-luxury timepieces at a time,” says Aysha Chapti, Concierge’s luxury watch Relationship Manager.

Having identified this potential for growth, watchmakers are aiming to increase brand loyalty. As a result, some have even created bespoke watches that incorporate elements of Chinese culture to appeal to Chinese consumers’ tastes. Vacheron Constantin, for example, targeted affluent Chinese watch enthusiasts with an ultra-exclusive timepiece series celebrating the Year of the Horse.

China aside, other developing markets, particularly Russia and India, have also contributed to the rising demand for luxury watches.


Contact Aysha for more info

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Inside the 2014 Dubai Shopping Festival Thu, 02 Jan 2014 12:07:55 +0000 admin Get your credit cards at the ready because the annual Dubai Shopping Festival officially launched across the malls and boutiques of Dubai today. Many thousands of visitors are expected to land in the emirates for the month-long festival, particularly from across Russia and East Asia as the event coincides with Russian Orthodox Christmas and Chinese New Year. In fact, the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE) expects an increase of up to 10 per cent on last year’s statistic of four million shoppers. The Dubai Shopping Festival is a key annual event for retailers – who make 25 to 30 percent of their annual revenues during the month – and for shoppers who enjoy great discounts and rewards at stores throughout the city. Here’s the lowdown on what to expect.

Price cut

Throughout the city, label-savvy shoppers will be treated to up to 50 percent off selected items from designer brands including Max&Co, Marc Jacobs, Max Mara, Celine, DSquared2, Michael Kors, Diesel and Pinko. In addition, local boutiques such as Valleydez and Bimba and Lola will offer substantial discounts on ready-to-wear and accessories from regional and international designers.

Shop and win

Some malls have launched shopping incentives so guests could be in with the chance to win top prizes as well as receive discounts. Mall of the Emirates has introduced three themed shopping zones wherein shoppers could win huge prizes: Stylista (fashion and jewellery boutiques), Travelista (outdoor and leisure stores) and Decorista (home and furniture shops). At Stylista, shoppers could in a 2014 Bentley GT V8, at Travelista they could win a holiday to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and at Decorista a home makeover is up for grabs.

Elsewhere in Deira, anyone who spends AED200 or more at Al Ghurair Centre’s food and beverage establishments receives a ‘scratch and win’ card and could receive instant rewards such as shopping vouchers or prizes from a number of stores. The recently-expanded mall will also host daily complimentary family-friendly entertainment shows to amuse all ages of shoppers.

Sleep in style

Visitors to Dubai can take advantage of the Dubai Shopping Festival package at The Oberoi, Dubai, a luxury hotel situated close to The Dubai Mall. The two-night package enables clients to sleep in style in a deluxe room and includes breakfast at Nine7One, a AED200 voucher to redeem on a post-shopping spa break, complimentary hourly shuttle services to The Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates plus collection services from the malls. Prices start at AED 1,380 based on single occupancy and AED1,460 based on two sharing.



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