In a wide ranging interview describing the work of the Fujairah Tourism and Antiquities Authority (FTAA), Patrick Antaki, the General Manager of Le Méridien Al Aqah, spoke of the impact of the global recession on Fujairah hotels.
Here are some snippets relevant to this theme:
Slowing and Stopping
“It has slowed things down. There were three active projects. One of them, the company that was building it has gone bankrupt – that was Damas Hotels.”
“Another is InterContinental management group, but the owners have slowed down the process in order to save money. So they are still building it but it’s taking its time.”
“And the third one – Mina Al Fajer [a Fairmont resort] is still going ahead so that should be ready by the end of 2010.”
“Fujairah has a lot of hotels coming up in the town itself. On the main street there is a Rotana opening, there is a Concorde opened, there is a Coral residence, there are another two under construction – Premier Inn has signed on some land there.”
“Don’t forget Fujairah town is growing through a lot of commercial investments. The port is doubling in size, there are a number of industries as the oil pipeline so we are looking at between 20 and 30,000 new residents coming to Fujairah.”
Business at Le Méridien Al Aqah?
“It’s had less of an impact for people who were thinking outside of the box, who still put investment and development of the product as a major objective, who still made sure that quality and service delivery is the number one.”
“You can do two things in bad times, you can start cutting costs or you can make sure that your services are top notch to make sure the people who are still travelling will come to you, not your neighbour.”
Getting Ready for the Upswing
“So that’s what Al Aqah is doing. We are just about to go into a room refurbishment; we are refurbishing our main restaurant. People ask me: why are you investing in the middle of a recession? But it’s so that I’m ready for the upswing so that when business starts pulling back, we are there and we’re fresh.”
Cutting the Rates?
“Yes thirty to forty percent. You have to work with a formula called the ‘elasticity of pricing’. It’s about supply and demand. So when I see it’s not selling, you have to reduce your prices. That’s the way the cookie crumbles. We are competing today against different countries, not just within the UAE. We need to attract customers going to Egypt and Turkey too.”
Major Challenges in Promoting Fujairah?
“To be heard above all that noise, and the other destinations coming up against us. There are people with more money that can shout louder, so this will definitely be a challenge. Otherwise it’s a beautiful destination and a very sellable destination.”
Read the Full Text of this Important Interview
Monika Grzesik, Fujairah Goes Forth, Hotelier Middle East, 14 September 2010.
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