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Bulgari Milan targets Arab travellers

Italian chain pulls on regional marketing expertise of Ritz-Carlton

As summer approaches, the Bulgari Hotel Milan is stepping up its marketing initiatives in the Middle East in a bid to tap into the lucrative vacation market coming out of the region during July and August.

The hotel, which opened in May 2004, is the first in a planned chain of ten luxury hotels to fall under the Bulgari umbrella, and so far the combination of relaxed elegance and attentive service found at the 58-room property is proving a hit with Middle East travellers.

“The Middle East market is our fourth largest market, and Milan has a great appeal to them,” Attilio Marro, general manager, Bulgari Hotel Milan, told Hotelier Middle East.

“We are very attentive to their needs. We place dried fruits and dates in the rooms on arrival, can provide Arabic magazines printed in house, serve tea on arrival, and also have Arabic television stations.”

The hotel is a joint venture between Bulgari and The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, and therefore Marro has been able to pull on the expertise and network of Ritz-Carlton across the Middle East to gain entry into the market.

“Last summer, I went on The Ritz-Carlton general managers road show to Saudi Arabia, and plan to repeat that before this summer, to meet with travel agents there. Also, early last year we hosted a fam trip for 10 Kuwaiti travel agents, and we may repeat that with agents from a different country [in the Middle East],” Marro said.

“We are slowly increasing our presence in the market, and it is a perfect market for Milan in terms of shopping and fashion. It is the right clientele for our property, as they are conscious about trends and fashion.”

While the hotel receives Middle East guests throughout the year, the summer is the peak season for this market. “We see more Middle East guests during the summer. This is because in summer we see more families, while in winter it is more couples,” Marro points out. “Also, Milan is a starting point for seeing other areas. It is one and a half hours from Porto Fino, an hour from Lake Como, Switzerland is very close, as is St. Morritz. Milan is very central.”

The hotel receives numerous VIPS from the Middle East and works closely with the personal assistants of these guests to provide a tailor-made stay. According to Marro, the most popular requests are for advance restaurant reservations or spa bookings. Taking tailor-made stays a step further, the Bulgari Hotel Milan also offers personalised bathrobes and linen for repeat guests or top VIPs.

Bulgari plans to open ten hotels in the future, with the second hotel, Bulgari Hotel Bali, scheduled to soft open in July.

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