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Jumeirah hints at Asia Pacific strategy

The man charged with the task of developing the Jumeirah product in Asia Pacific has talked to ATN about some of the ambitious projects he is considering.

The man charged with the task of developing the Jumeirah product in Asia Pacific has talked to ATN about some of the ambitious projects he is considering.

Mountain, health, golf, destination and island resorts are just some of the ideas that Serge Zaalof, senior vice president, Asia Pacific, Jumeirah Group, is considering.

“We will open hotels in the usual gateways in Asia – Phuket, Bali and emerging markets such as Vietnam – as well as at some secret locations,” he told ATN.

“We can experiment with six to 10 different types of resorts, because customers want to have different experiences and they now take several vacations a year.

“We need to develop niche markets, and since we are dealing with the high end, we can be more adventurous and be more flexible in our approach.”

Dubai-based Jumeirah Group plans to operate around 70 hotels worldwide by 2011, and between 17 and 22 of these will be located in Asia, said Zaalof, the former GM at Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Dubai. They will span both leisure and corporate properties and strive to incorporate a “hospitality approach”.

“Service these days is a given, but what makes the difference is hospitality. Hospitality in a resort is different to hospitality in a corporate hotel, but we should also be able to bring the resort hospitality into the corporate hotel,” explained Zaalof. “It’s exciting developing a corporate hotel because we can build in leisure concepts to make it a unique experience.”

Jumeirah’s first corporate property scheduled to open in Asia, in May 2008, will be the HanTang Jumeirah Shanghai, featuring 338 rooms and located in the city’s downtown Puxi district.

Zaalof said Asia’s key cities were targets for Jumeirah’s corporate property roll out and hinted that some of the Chinese islands, as well as Malaysia would be good starting points for new resort concepts: “We need to be a trailblazer in the region; we are looking to drive tourism to new places.

If we are the innovator in an area then we protect the investment we make there,” he said.

India is also another market Jumeirah is keen to tap into.
“We will have a property there within the next 18 months,” Zaalof added.

Jumeirah is also likely to design some of its new properties with the Arab customer in mind.

“People from the UAE know about Jumeirah and Arabic people are going to Asia and discovering it has a history. At some of the properties we will develop villas for the Middle East market specifically,” explained Zaalof. “It’s all about understanding the values of your customer and offering them a different experience, but nothing at all gimmicky.”

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