Dubai’s mega mall hotels are battling it out for business

The opening of the Kempinski Mall of the Emirates in Dubai has dealt a heavy blow to rival mall property, Sofitel City Centre Hotel, which saw year-on-year business slump this summer.

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By  Joseph Mortimer Published  September 1, 2006

The opening of the Kempinski Mall of the Emirates in Dubai has dealt a heavy blow to rival mall property, Sofitel City Centre Hotel, which saw year-on-year business slump this summer. “We’ve seen quite a decrease in occupancies,” conceded Nafisa Syed, marketing manager, Sofitel City Centre Hotel and Residence Dubai. “Usually the summer months are our best, but we’ve noticed that a portion of that business has moved to the Kempinski.” June and July occupancies ranged between 75% and 80%, while in August they nudged up to the low 90s, she said. This compared unfavourably to 2005 where occupancy rates averaged the high 90s throughout the summer months. Since it opened in September 2005, Mall of the Emirates has welcomed more than 10 million visitors, or 450,000 per week, and one of its biggest draw cards is Ski Dubai. “We have loyal Sofitel guests wanting to try something new and pay a higher price, [and they are] absolutely ready to pay the premium,” said Michael Henssler, general manager, at Kempinski Mall of the Emirates. But there is no room for complacency; the Burjuman Rotana Suites is set to open in December, boasting fully serviced, one-bedroom suites, duplex townhouses and a penthouse, while in late 2007/early 2008, the five-star Ibn Battuta Mövenpick Hotel is scheduled for completion, by which time the area around the mall will have become one of the “new centres of Dubai”, according to Toufic Tamim, director of sales and marketing, Middle East, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts. “This, coupled with the new airport and The Palm Jumeirah and Jebel Ali projects, will sustain the hotel’s occupancy and yield, be it from individuals or corporate groups.”

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