By Lily B. Libo-on www.khaleejtimes.com
Rose Rayhaan by Rotana is Dubai’s latest landmark as it entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the tallest hotel in the world on Wednesday.
It also is one of the first major hotel brands to open in Dubai as alcohol-free, a pitch aimed at catering to Middle Eastern families.
Towering near the Dubai International Financial Centre Metro Station, Rose Rayhaan is located on Shaikh Zayed Road, soaring up to 72 floors and to a height of 333 metres (1,093 feet). It has beaten the 330-metre Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang (1,083 feet) and Dubai’s own Burj Al Arab, which is 321 metres (1,035 feet) in height.
Omer Z. Kaddouri, senior vice-president, UAE Operations for Rotana, said the hotel had a Dh400 room rate and an occupancy rate of 65 per cent on the opening day. He expects the hotel to be full in the coming days, like its other hotels in the area during the New Year period. “We have four hotels operating near each other in this area, but they are not hurting each other,” Kaddouri said.
Instead, they are feeding each other because each serves different clients, as they did during New Year and the opening of Burj Khalifa. “All of them are full.”
Dubai hotels have traditionally had high occupancy rates but in the past year, many reports have noted a decline. The Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing maintains that during mid-last year, five-star beach hotels recorded 97 per cent occupancies, while five-star and four-star hotels in the city recorded 81 per cent occupancy rates.
However, STR Global, a research body, recorded a drop of 4.5 per cent compared with the 2008 occupancy rates in Dubai hotels — still the highest in the world. The group also found that Dubai had the highest average room rates at $361 compared with $295 in New York.
Naeem Darkazally, Rotana’s area director of Sales and Marketing for Dubai and Northern Emirates, told Khaleej Times that in 2009, there was only a 5 per cent across-the-board reduction in the market amidst the economic downturn. “But, hotels started correcting room rates to suit the demand for travellers leading to normal room rates that again saw the inventory increase in Dubai’s tourists,” Darkazally said.
“Rotana has reached out to guests from new markets in Eastern Europe, South America, Far East — like China and Malaysia and Hong Kong.”
Darkazally said the hotel’s other USP was its panoramic view, which guests can see from the 65th floor. From there, the view goes beyond The Palm and Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Metro and the entire city on the other side.
“This is on top of the strategic location of the tallest hotel,” he said, referring to its proximity to Dubai Mall and the airport. Daniel Mathew, general manager of Rose Rayhaan, said it would be marketed as a hotel catering to GCC families and families looking for an alcohol-free hotel.
“With research indicating this category’s huge potential due to its inherent appeal in the Middle East, Rose Rayhaan is set for incredible growth in the coming years,” Mathew said.
Although the hotel said it was the first to push this concept, at least one other company had caught on to the idea of “halal tourism”.
The Al Jawhara Hospitality Group, based in Dubai, has several hotels in the country that do not serve alcohol nor allow it on their premises and offer separate areas for men and women. Its general manager earlier told Khaleej Times that 60 to 70 per cent of its clientele were non-Muslims.
The construction of the $180 million Rose Rayhaan started in 2004 with Bonyan International Investment Group as its developer.
The building was officially completed in 2009 with 482 rooms, suites and penthouses.