Dubai International Airport has now processed more than fifty million passengers
Billed as the largest airport in the world, DIA hosts tourists and business travellers from all parts of the Gulf and the globe. The fifty million milestone was passed in late 2010 when Parvez Khan, a local hotel executive, was named as the 50 millionth passenger to pass through the terminal.
Dubai Airports, the government airport authority, and Emirates, the emirate's government-owner airline carrier, joined with Dubai Duty Free to mark the occasion with a special ceremony, and presentation to Parvez Khan.
Rotana's Jumeriah Beach hotel now open
The Dubai Amwaj Rotana Hotel, on Jumeirah Beach has now opened. The long-awaited hotel missed a number of start dates, dating back more than two years, but it all came together for its June 1st 2010 opening.
The newly-opened hotel boasts 211 rooms and suites comprising 90 Classic Rooms, 136 Premium Rooms, 63 Club Rotana Rooms, 7 Classic Suites, 4 Club Rotana Suites, and 1 Presidential Suite.
All the rooms have multi channel satellite TV, Bathrobes and hair dryer, and an electronic monitoring system to manage the temperature and security system.
The Classic Sea View Rooms are 42 sqm and have a side sea view and balcony. All rooms have a 32 inch LCD satellite TV, high speed Internet access and IP phone, with a two seater sofa (in King rooms only). Complimentary coffee/tea making facilities and mini bar are included. Bathroom have a spacious walk in shower, magnifying mirror, hair dryer, in-room safe, and analog telephone.
The Premium Sea View Rooms are 42 sqm, the only difference being the sea view is direct rather than from the side. All rooms have balconies, and all the other facilities of the Calssic rooms.
Club Rotana Sea View Rooms, of which there are sixty three, again are the same specifications as the Classic and Premium rooms, but are situated on the 21st to 24th floors, and have access to the Club Rotana Lounge on Level 25, where snacks and drinks, and continental breakfast are served daily. TV and newspapers are also provided.
Classic Sea View Suites are nearly twice the size of the conventional rooms at 87 square metres and have a direct sea view and balcony. All suites have a separate living/dining area. They include king beds, 32 inch LCD satellite TV, IP phone, working desk with high speed Internet access. There is a Living/dining area with views over the Arabian Gulf, 32 inch TV and a second IP phone unit. Complimentary coffee/tea making facilities and mini bar are included. Bathrooms have a spacious walk in rain shower, separate bath tub, magnifying mirror, hair dryer, in-room safe and analog telephone. The suites which have a sitting area with 4-seat dining table, are situated on the 14th to 20th levels.
New budget hotel chain to be launched in Dubai
Citimax Hotels, an economy-style hotel chain will soon be launched in Dubai. The 378-room Citymax Al Barsha will be the chain’s first hotel in the UAE, and will be followed by another two properties in Bur Dubai and Sharjah in June.
“Overall we will be entering the mid market segment with 1,331 rooms,” spokesman for the group Michael Weyland told Dubai Hotels.Net.
Citymax tariffs will be at minimum rates, at less than AED300 which includes breakfast and government taxes.
“We are the only brand that has an absolute straight forward rate structure. We have high season rates and low season rates, and that is it,” Weyland said.
Citymax Al Barsha, which is situated at the rear of the Mall of the Emirates, comprises a swimming pool, gymnasium, 24 hour coffee shop, lounge bar, and a grill restaurant offering live entertainment on some nights.
The 260-room Citymax Sharjah will not serve alcohol and will only have the coffee shop facility.
Citymax, a member of the Landmark Group, is not the first budget hotel brand to open in Dubai or consider the emirates for expansion, but Weyland said he was not concerned by the extra competition.
“We feel that the market is large enough for all of us. Something that is in favour of mid market hotels in light of the economic conditions worldwide is that a lot of larger companies have revised putting their staff in five star hotels. It is now a matter of image to say ‘no we’re going into a mid market hotel’.”
He said that Dubai’s image as only a luxury destination was already beginning to change and that many UK and European tourists saw the emirate as an affordable holiday destination.
“If you just look at the number of low cost carriers coming to this part of the world, that speaks for itself. It’s a positive thing for Dubai.”
“We are absolutely looking to expand in the region and internationally, but now let’s learn to walk before we can run,” he said.
Stop Press: New Jumeirah Beach Hotel Now Open
Of the four new hotels on Dubai's Jumeirah Beach, the Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach joined the Movenpick after a soft opening leading up to New Year's Eve. It has since of course been joined by the Amwaj Rotana which means three of the new four hotels are now open, with only the Crowne Plaza still to come, probably not until the first half of 2011. The Sofitel has 438 rooms, including forty suites. It has an Irish bar, Hub, which opens daily from 4:00pm to 1:00am. Rococo, an Italian cuisine restaurant, is open nightly for dinner from 7:00pm to 11:30pm. The hotel's brasseries opens for breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets and a la carte menus. There is also an adjoining bar which opens 24 hours. Both the hotel's bars have draft beer including Fosters. The Infinity swimming pool blends with the sea with a cut-off that makes the sea seem almost an extension of the pool. All the hotel's rooms have a sea view, quite an architectural feat for the rectangular shaped building. Mr Gilles Longuet is the hotel's first General Manager. The owner of the property is Abu Dhabi National Hotels.
Jumeirah Beach before the news hotels, hosted and continues to host the Sheraton, Hilton, Le Meridien, Rotz-Carlton, and Habtoor Grand.
Dubai hosts a huge array of international standard hotels, and while the sector has dipped over the past year due to the global financial crisis, the hotel industry has recorded its highest occupancies in 2010 for more than a year.
Top of the range of the Dubai hotels is the iconic Burj Al Arab on a man-made island just off Jumeirah Beach. All the big brands are represented in the emirate including, Sheraton, Grosvenor House, Kempinski, Le Meridien, InterContinental, Radisson, Fairmont, Hilton, Shangri-la, Hyatt, Holiday Inn, Ramada, Moevenpick, Sofitel, Novotel, and more. Regional brands like Rotana, and local chains Jumeirah and Habtoor Grand are also prominent. A recent arrival is The Address, a 5-star hotel chain by one of Dubai's biggest master developers Emaar, which developed the world-famous Dubai Marina.
Aside from existing hotels, there are between 70,000 and 80,000 new hotel rooms under construction or in the planning stages. These cover the length and breadth of Dubai and include locations at Jumeirah Beach, Dubai Marina, Palm Jumeirah, Palm Jebel Ali, Palm Deira and Palm Universe. The Trump Hotel & Tower, which was to be built in a centrepiece location on Palm Jumeirah however has been shelved. At the tip of the palm is Atlantis, which is now in its second year. Fairmont, Raj, and Kempinski all have major resorts under development on the Palm Jumeirah however the opening of these has been delayed until 2011, while Movenpic will operate the Seven Tides-developed Oceana hotel and resort on completion, which is now not expected until 2011.
Hotels will also be emerging at Dubai Sports, and Dubailand, a theme park which will be two and a half times bigger than the biggest Disney World. Hotels are also located in the industrial free zone of Jebel Ali, around the Dubai International Airport, the city of Dubai of course, and nearby Deira. One of the unique attractions about Dubai hotels, along with several Gulf cities, is that the only alcohol service is within these international properties. Most of the hotels, as a result, offer a large range of restaurants, bars, and lounges, and cater for outside trade as well.
Additions to the Dubai hotel inventory in recent years include the Habtoor Grand on Jumeirah Beach, the Grosvenor House and Radisson Blu at Dubai Marina, and the Westin at Mina Seyahi Beach, which is just opposite Dubai Media City; the Media Hotel at DMC, The Address (three locations: Dubai Mall, Dubai Marina and Montgomery), the Rotana at TECOM and Holiday Inn Expres at DMC. Three new hotels have opened in 2010 on Jumeirah Beach, the Movenpic, Sofitel, and Amwaj Rotana.
Dubai planning a bid for the 2020 Olympic Games and Expo
A committee named Higher organization Committee of Dubai 2020 is busily researching and preparing a bid for the Olympics and the 2020 Expo. The committee has the support of the Ruler of Dubai, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is also the Prime Minister of the UAE, and Crown prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The committee is studyng the feasibility of a bid for the two events. The emirate is counting on Dubai's prominence as a renouned international and Arab city, and as a hub for Middle East regional finance, media, and administrative activity. Dubai has also developed world class sporting facilities including stadiums at Dubai Sports City.
"Certainly the UAE will win and have the honour to host these two international events of land on an Arab city with a rich hostory of achievments and requirements that enable it to be the favourite destination of countries and international companies," Sheikh Mohammed said at the launch of the committee in November 2009.
Dubai’s Harbour Hotel & Residence joins Marriott
The 261-unit, 52-storey Harbour Hotel & Residence, at the gateway to Dubai Marina, was absorbed into the Marriott International lodging portfolio on September 15th 2009. Marriott was appointed by joint owners, the dubai-based Emirates Airline, and Group. Following some modifications, mainly relating to the common areas including the lobby, and restaurant, and changes to the room configuration which will result in the hotel inventory altering to 232 guest rooms, the name of the hotel will change to Dubai Marriott Harbour Hotel & Suites. This will occur in the final quarter of 2009. The hotel will become the first upscale Marriott-branded hotel in the city. There is a Marriott apartments complex in the CBD, and a Courtyard by Marriott about three kilometres south of Dubai Marina.
The Address Hotels & Resorts becoming established in Dubai
Emaar's The Address Hotels & Resorts are becoming established in Dubai with properties opening in two key locations, The Address Dubai Mall, and The Address Dubai Marina. The first of these openings, the Dubai Mall hotel is connected to The Dubai Mall, one of the largest shopping and entertainment complexes in the world. Situated in close proximity to Burj Dubai, the world's tallest building, and The Dubai Fountain, The Address Dubai Mall featurers 244 rooms, 449 serviced apartments, and five restaurant venues.
Tourism in the emirate of Dubai is being sustained at good levels despite the downturn in the global economy, and the opening of several new hotels in Dubai. The latest figures from Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing, show the number of visitors to the city in the first three quarters of last year reached 5.6 million, a 3% increase on the same period the year before. Tourism from around the Gulf grew while traffic from the United Kingdom and Ireland fell.
Deloitte & Touche, who track a majority of the hotels in Dubai, say the hotels' occupany for the three quarters was 69%, down from around 79% the year prior. Revenue per available room was $163.36, down 31.4% on the previous comparable period. The benchmark figure was the second highest among the Gulf countries, falling just short of neighboring Abu Dhabi. “Yes, there is a drop but it is not massively dissimilar to what is happening in other markets,” Rob O’Hanlon, partner at Deloitte & Touche,” told The Financial Times. "Occupancy of nearly 70% in most markets would be considered fantastic. Are they achieving great returns on a macro scale? Absolutely they are.”
O’Hanlon said he attributes the relative success to a diversified offering, from business and conference hotels to bucket and spade beachside properties – and to developed infrastructure. The tourism sector accounts for nearly 20% of Dubai’s gross domestic product and the official target of the emirate is for15 million visitors to be coming in by 2015.
“There’s a cross section of hotels and it is efficient. They are basic things but often it is basic things that will drive the appeal or use-ability of the destination,”O’Hanlon said.
Russell Sharpe, of Mezze Associates, however, says a number of hotels in Dubai are up for sale and the revenue per available room number is being boosted by closure of wings and floors for maintenance or mothballing.
In the first three quarters of last year the number of hotel rooms grew 19% compared to 2008 to 59,372, according to Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing. There were 533 hotels and hotel apartments complexes.
But Sharpe says up to 2,000 rooms are for sale. The Ritz Carlton in the Dubai International Financial Centre has been put on the market by Union Properties.
Mr Sharpe notes that Union is asking for slightly over $400 million for the building – the equivalent of $1 million a room. Hotels in other areas such as Tecom and the Marina have also been affected, he says.
“What you will find now is that a lot of people who have taken leases or who have built hotels are now faced with the situation that they either bite the bullet and take the loss over a period of time or they sell,” Mr Sharpe told The Financial Times.
The hotels which are for sale are not marketed as such but as serviced apartments and the offer is typically in the hands of brokers rather than being advertised.
Revenue per available room (RevPAR) for Jumeirah Beach hotels fell to about Dh500 (US$136.12) more than other hotels in the city in the second half of 2009, compared with Dh1,300 more in the same period last year, according to data from STR Global.
RevPAR for the first quarter of this year for Dubai hotels has fallen by 35.9% to $203 compared with the same period last year.
The RevPAR decline for the Middle East was 13%.
In the past, Jumeirah Beach hotels had managed to avoid discounting because of the popularity of the area.
This led to a significant difference between the RevPAR for the area’s properties and those in the rest of Dubai.
But the report said this difference had fallen dramatically to levels last seen in 2004.
“What that is illustrating is that the beach hotels clearly are more dependent on the leisure markets and heavily dependent on northern Europe,” Arthur de Haast, the global chief executive of Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, told the 'Times.
“The UK is a key market and the UK is suffering a very difficult economic period, so in order to stimulate demand they have had to offer discounts.
“It has been very effective because they have stimulated demand by working together, so the beach hotels and the airlines have come together and they are offering some very attractive packages.
“But of course, those packages have been priced to stimulate demand and therefore both the airline and the hotel are offering discounts to... the rates they were getting twelve months ago.”
Mr de Haast said that general occupancy was still high at the beach hotels, but those levels had been maintained at the expense of their premiums.
Jumeirah Hotels said its occupancy rates for its beach hotels in Dubai, which include the Burj Al Arab and the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, are running at 90%. But the hotels are lowering room rates to attract visitors, it said.
But Mr de Haast added that Dubai’s hotels were still outperforming those of many other parts of the world.
The sample of hotels in the Jumeirah Beach area is made up of twenty two resort properties that have a total of 7,400 rooms. Most of these fall into the luxury and upper-scale categories.
These hotels were compared with eighty two others, and 18,400 rooms, elsewhere in Dubai.
Occupany and room rates generally are off compared to last year. The Dubai Shopping Festival was not as buoyant as in recent years due to the economic slowdown. The global recession in Europe and the UK and other destinations has caused a drop-off of visitors from these areas.
We are entering a price war as most hotels in Dubai are cutting their rates,” Amine Moukarzel, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of the Dutch-Swiss Golden Tulip group told the UAE's newest newspaper, The National.
Golden Tulip is one of the largest middle-range hotel groups in the Middle East, with forty one properties. It has 11 hotels in the UAE, in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.
“The situation is very dire indeed and I believe that all hotels in Dubai are experiencing much lower rates than last year because people right now are really starting to cut down on travel budgets,” Moukarzel said.
Many hotels in Dubai have seen occupancy rates drop to between 60% and 70% from the 80% and 90% levels in the same period last year, according to Habib Khan, the CEO of Planet Group, which owns and manages three mid-range hotels in Dubai.
Hilton hotels have slashed their prices by up to 50% on weekend breaks for bookings made before the end of August this year. The offer would be valid in 220 hotels – Hilton, Conrad Hotels and Resorts, The Waldorf-Astoria Collection, Doubletree by Hilton and Hilton Garden Inn – across 45 countries including the Middle East, the company said.
Hilton Dubai Creek, known for its Gordon Ramsay Verre restaurant, is offering rooms at a starting rate of AED530 (US$144) compared with AED1,944 last year, while Hilton Al Ain is promoting rates from AED435, down from Dh870. Even in Ras al Khaimah, weekend rates at the Hilton have dropped to AED460 from the AED920 being charged at this time last year.
To address falling occupancy rates, the recently opened Atlantis in Dubai is requiring 7 day minimum bookings during the holidays.
So far, no official data on tourist numbers have been released by Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) for the final quarter of last year. A spokesman said the report would be published soon.
With plans to double the number of tourists to 15 million annually by 2015, the DTCM announced a plan last week that aims to boost visitor numbers early this year.
“The DTCM will launch a new marketing campaign aimed at increasing the number of tourists and visitors during the Dubai Shopping Festival [which starts on 10 January] till mid-February,” said a DTCM spokesman.
The plan includes deeper discounts on room rates, ranging from 40% to 60%, in addition to a 25% discount on the prices of food and beverages. Khalid Ahmed bin Sulayem, the Director General of DTCM, said the campaign was part of an effort to sustain tourist attractions throughout the year.
The campaign will use the Internet, press and industry promotions to cover the UK, Germany, GCC states, India, China, Japan and Australia.
“It is no surprise hoteliers are expecting a tough year ahead but I think that we can overcome these challenges by offering attractive discounts and deals,” Eyad Abdul Rahman, Executive Director of media relations and acting director of business development at the DTCM said. “We have no plans to revise our tourism targets, so to put it simply we will achieve the goals that we have set out.”
Travel & Tourism
The emirate has seen a burgeoning of growth in recent years with the construction industry operating at a frenetic pace. Apartments, villas, office towers, infrastructure, new tramways and railways, theme parks, leisure and recreational facilities, and new airports, are bringing Dubai to the fore as one of the most exciting and vibrant cities of the 21st century. The city is being likened to Hong Kong, Singapore, and Monte Carlo, but on completion it is likely to be more lively, more divergent, and more self-sustaining, with new industry and a huge focus on tourism that will see the economy supported well into the future.
The hotel industry is booming with local hotels attracting rates of around 2,000 dirhams, or several hundred U.S. dollars, a night. The plethora of new properties coming on stream should moderate demand, but the industry is likely to be buoyant well into the future. Aside from conventional hotels, numerous serviced apartments, and hotel apartments complexes are under development or in the pipeline. An underwater hotel is being developed, and desert resorts have been completed. New hotels will surround the new airports, as they do the existing Dubai International Airport.
The city will soon host the world's tallest tower, and already has the tallest all-suite hotel, the famous Burj Al Arab. Visitors at present hail from places like Europe, the UK, the USA, other Gulf countries, Australia and New Zealand. The regional airline, the Dubai-based Emirates is reaching out across the globe to bring tourists to its home city. It is one of the fastest-growing airlines in an industry beset with challenges over the rocketing price of fuel. While in other countries airlines are folding, or reducing capacity, Emirates is expanding. It has also been joined by the Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways which is also spreading its wings around the world, enticing tourist traffic to the UAE. Hotels will continue to be supported as traffic builds and construction continues. The travel and tourism industry is thus likely to thrive for decades to come, particularly when Dubailand is fully functional.
Premier opens new hotel at DXB
Premier Inns has unveiled its third property in the United Arab Emirates. It will be the second budget hotel the group has opened this year. Earlier in 2009 Premier established a hotel at Dubai Silicon Oasis. The latest Premier Inn is at Dubai International Airport (DXB).
The Oasis Beach Hotel on Jumeirah Beach after closing its doors in late 2008 has now been completely demolished after a month-long-demolition-marathon. A new hotel will be built on the site, however with the current financial crisis it is not likely to be started any time soon.. Although only a few years old, the Oasis Beach Hotel was more a mid-scale hotel, rated four stars. In its place will emerge a deluxe five star hotel in keeping with the other hotels on Jumeirah Beach, and those that are currently being built including the Rotana, the Sofitel, the Crowne Plaza, and the Moevenpick.
Whilst it is always good to herald the opening of new hotels, it is in a way sad to farewell those that served us well. For the hundreds of thousands of people that have stayed at the hotel over the years there will be many memories of happy times.
From a nostalgic point of view we feature our review of the hotel which we published after one of our reviewers stayed there recently:
"It was fairly late when I arrived at the hotel, about a 30 minute drive from the Dubai International Airport. The cab fare was about 70 dirhams ($19 US). The hotel was situated in the midst of the Jumeirah Beach hotels right on the beach, and in from the Jumeirah Beach residence complex, a giant condominium complex of around thirty towers of residential apartments. The four-star Oasis Beach had a good feel about it as I arrived. It is known as the friendliest hotel on Jumeirah Beach, probably because of the informality of the hotel and the lack of a brand name which tends to lend to a more clinical and regimented, or uniform, approach. I was relieved of my bags and directed up the small stairway to the right where the reception counter was. The hotel lobby was extremely spacious, and comprised the hotel's major restaurant and opened into the main bar. The lay out of the hotel was certainly of a tropical flavor and had a definite resort feel to it. My reservation was located by the clerk. I had booked direct with the hotel on a rate of 790 dirhams ($215) a night which included breakfast, taxes, and access to the Club Lounge. I was allocated a welcome pack and key cards for Room 702. The elevator bank (there were four elevators for the hotel's 252 rooms and suites, which is a good ratio).
I and the porter with my luggage alighted at the seventh floor and continued down the hallway to the end room. The carpet was a rich green, red, beige and brown pattern while the walls and ceilings were painted cream. The entry doors and jams were in pastel wood finishes with gold fittings. Right at the end I found Room 702. On entering I immediately smelt smoke, it was undoubtedly a smoking room. I picked up the phone and called reception and they confirmed it was a smoking room and that they would make available another room, a non-smoking room. They said I was lucky as there were few non-smoking rooms in the hotel. Soon after another porter arrived to transfer my luggage and issue me with new key cards for Room 602, an identical room on the sixth floor. He said he would also transfer a number of items which the hotel had made available for my arrival. On a large table was a complimentary bottle of Oxford Landing (Australia) Vintage 2002 merlot, together with two wine glasses, a large fruit basket comprising two bananas, three apples, a bunch of grapes, three apricots, three apples, and two kiwi fruits. There was also a tray of Arabic sweets, and a plate of dates. Amongst this was a welcome letter from the Front Office Manager Fredrik Reinisch welcoming me to the hotel, hoping that I had a pleasant journey and would enjoy my stay at their "oasis on the beach." I was also extended the invitation to the Oasis Privilege Lounge where I could enjoy complimentary newspapers, continental breakfast, refreshments throughout the day, unlimited Internet access, an extensive range of business services, and complimentary pre-dinner drinks and canapés between 6.30pm and 8pm each night.
Transferring down to the sixth floor I entered Room 602. The long hallway had two pastel wood double door floor-to-ceiling cabinets on the right. The first contained 10 spacious shelves one of which housed a four-digit combination safe. The safe was good in that you didn't have to reprogram the code each time you used it. The second cabinet was a double wardrobe with plenty of hanging space, some 17 wooden hangers, two spare pillows, and two pairs of slippers. On the wall opposite the cabinets was a full body-length mirror framed in thick polished bamboo. Down at the end of the hallway was the entrance to the bathroom with an interconnecting door to the adjacent room on the right (which was locked) and a large opening to the main part of the room on the left.
The room, as with the hallway, was carpeted in a brown, gold, and burnt orange patterned carpet while the walls were all painted in light yellow. The room was big and airy, very spacious and with a high white-painted ceiling. There was an elaborate bamboo luggage rack on the left and a little further in a long bench cabinet all mahogany with doors and drawers painted black with gold trims. There was also extensive thick bamboo frames surrounding the various components. There was a glass top on the bench with a TV on swivel stand to the left. Channels included local Arabic stations, not only from the UAE but from Egypt, Lebanon, and the Middle East BC channel, CNN, Euro News, Sky, Bloomberg, the BBC, UK Granada, Supermovies, National Geographic, Disney, and French and German TV. The television reception worked fine but the remote control was poor. It may have been faulty. Below the TV was a cabinet containing a fully-stocked mini-bar fridge and to the right of it, a cabinet containing two shelves. One of the shelves contained a tray with two tumblers and two wine glasses. There was an ice bucket on the shelf below. To the right of that was a set of three good sized drawers. On top was a basket of confectionary and snacks, and a large bottle of complimentary mineral water. There was a slim brass desk light and a small chest which contained stationery items (3 marker pens, Scotch tape, adhesive-backed notepaper, and a box of paper clips). There was a directory of services for the hotel and a high speed Internet access data point. Internet access was complimentary and generally worked quite well, although a little slow at times (not uncommon in the UAE). There was also a tray of and coffee making facilities, and a lamp with a rustic black steel base and a white light shade. Backed up on the wall behind the bench was a large mirror with a thick bamboo frame. There was a wicker chair with a thick green and white fabric seat fronting the bench. To the side of the bench was a large armchair fully constructed from thick bamboo with green and white fabric back and seat pads. Behind it was a full length perfectly straight thick bamboo stand with a white light fitting on top.
The windows consisted of sliding glass doors. There was a large glass panel on each side with the door in the middle. The frames were metal painted in white. They opened to a very large balcony which overlooked the Jumeirah Beach Residence towers and glimpses of the Dubai Marina. There was a quite large circular white plastic outdoor table and two chairs on the balcony which was paved in large bone color tiles. The other side of this very large room comprised a king size bed with a large wooden bed head with a black painted center and gold trims with a thick bamboo surround, a large wooden bed side table each side of the bed with thick bamboo frames and consisting of two large drawers, the panels of which were painted black with gold trims, one of which contained a set of Dubai White and Yellow Pages telephone directories, glass tops of each of the tables, one of which had a telephone while both featured a large bone colored porcelain lamp with large beige shades. Above the bed head was an elaborately (very thick bamboo) framed sketch print in vivid colors. Alongside the bed setting was a a 3-seat wicker lounge covered in an olive green, dark blue, and beige patterned fabric. Behind it on the wall was a print similar to the one above the bed head, and in front was a quite large oval-shaped table with a wicker skirting which stretched from the glass top of the table almost to the floor. On top of it were the welcome offerings that I mentioned previously. The air-conditioning in the room was excellent, the lighting was very good, and the spaciousness a real feature.
The bathroom was entered through another pastel wood finish door with gold fittings. It was also spacious with pastel stone tiles laid so the squares appeared in a diamond-shape setting, the walls were all large square beige tiles. There was a full size bath to the right which also served as a shower. The shower was very good but not perfect. It could have done with a touch more body. There was another adjustable shower hose fixed to the wall. Temperature control was perfect. There were two white shower curtains hung across the bath area limiting the light from the room. One was a see-through set of curtains and the other of the block-out variety. The toilet and a bidet was situated on the left while in front was a good size bench done in pine wood with a granite top. The section around the base was curved. The bench extended right down the wall where the toilet and bidet were situated, providing plenty of space for toiletries. There was a phone affixed to the wall near the toilet and a hair dryer fixed to the wall at the end of the bench in front. There was a wide-pinewood frame housing a mirror on the wall above the bench which also contained a wicker basket tissue dispenser and guest amenities from Molton Brown of London. There was a set of scales on the floor and a chrome waste-paper basket.
After checking in I decided to try Charlie Parrot's, a bar in the lobby area. It was quite large, somewhat dark and had a band playing. The theme was that of a jungle with an emphasis on parrots. There was even one (at least) in a cage. Like the hotel generally it was a fairly casual atmosphere. Draft beers included Fosters and drinks were quite reasonable. On my second night in the hotel I had a light meal at Charlie Parrot's and it was very good. I also had dinner one night at Oregano Restaurant on the first floor. It specializes in Mediterranean country cooking from Italys Piemonte and Frances Province region. Its farmhouse interior was rustic and features a wine tasting corner, live accordion music, and original artifacts. There's also the Bazaar Restaurant, based on the theme of an open market place where you can visit various live cooking stations for freshly cooked food, such as made-to-order pizza and grills, this restaurant is open around the clock serving buffet and a-la-Carte meals. An original feature of the restaurant is the classic Citroen Van serving as a French pancake station. In the evenings the Bazaar offers a trip around the world with a different theme buffet every night. There's also the Pool Bar and the Coco Cabana Beach Bar & Restaurant. The hotel has a Health Club, specialty shops, a large swimming pool and heated Jacuzzi in a tropical setting and of course opens on to the white sand and sea of Jumeirah Beach. Overall the stay was fine. The hotel is very friendly and casual, and in a great location, near to Dubai Marina, Dubai Media and Internet cities, and Sheikh Zayed Road."
Well so much for the Oasis Beach Hotel. Lets hope its replacement is a great hotel as well. We look forward to bringing you an update, and a review, when the hotel is finished. In the meantime here's what the operator of the property told us:
"The saying goes that all good things must come to an end and so after 10 years the Oasis Beach Hotel has officially closed on 29th August 2008 after a phenomenal run as the only 4-star hotel on Jumeirah beach in Dubai. Although not a decision made by Jebel Ali International Hotels (we were the management company but not owner of the property), it is all part of being in Dubai and seeing this extraordinary city constantly reinvent itself. An exciting new project is expected to be developed on the existing site."
"We would like to thank all our loyal guests who supported the hotel and its facilities right up until the last day - it has been a pleasure and a great honour to serve you."
The Jumeirah Beach Hotel (see photo above)
PO Box 11416
Jumeirah Beach, Dubai, UAE
Telephone: 971 4 348 0000
Facsimile : 971 4 348 2273
Web site: http://www.jumeirahbeachhotel.com
Set on the shores of the Arabian Gulf and built in a startling shape that mirrors a breaking wave, the award winning Jumeirah Beach Hotel is an absolute beachfront property overlooking the world famous Burl al Arab hotel, the tallest hotel tower in the world.
I arrived from the airport at around 2:00pm and was astonished at the impressive structure, the entrance and the huge, busy, lobby. I was escorted from the reception to the 15th floor, the site of the Club Executive lounge. I had pre-booked with the hotel direct at a rate of 1,050 dirhams per night (approximately USD 245). In the lounge overlooking the sea I was offered a drink and was asked for my passport and reservation details. A short time later I was advised the check-in was complete and was passed a satchel containing welcome information and two swipe cards for Room 1818 on the 18th floor. I was then accompanied to the room where I was shown over it, and shortly after my luggage arrived. The elevators from the lobby area numbered four in total. There were also two elevators in the mid-section of the hotel. Six in all for 599 rooms I found to be one of the major downside points of the hotel. Frankly it was inadequate. You seemed to spend so many minutes waiting for elevators and when they came they were filled to capacity. The hotel runs at high occupancy with a large sector of leisure guests so the demand for elevators throughout the day and night is high.
The hallways were bright, all the rooms were on one side so all face the sea. The other side of the corridor consisted mainly of glass with views out over the neighboring landscape (mainly desert) and residential buildings. The carpets were thick, multi-colored giving the hotel a sense of vibrancy and modernity. Room 1818 was a fair distance from the elevator area, although it was pointed out there was another elevator bank (two elevators) in the mid-section of the hotel which was only steps from the room. There was also a third bank of elevators covering floors up to the 11th level somewhat further along, reflecting the diminishing number of rooms on each floor as you go up.
The entrance door to 1818 was a solid polished sectionalized pine wood door with chrome handles. It opened to a very spacious room (which I learned was around 55 square meters). To the left were two sets of robes with shuttered polished pine wood doors and inset chrome handles. The first was a double wardrobe with ample hanging space, about 16 polished wood hangers, and four satin hangers. The robe was quite deep and also housed an iron, an ironing board, two white bath robes, and a basket which you could place your shoes in and leave for a complimentary shoe shine. The adjacent cabinet consisted of four large shelves down each side and one complete shelf across the top section. There was also a six-digit combination safe (complimentary), a packaged extra pillow, a packaged extra blanket, laundry bags and instructions, a sewing kit, a detergent powder pack, a packaged canvas carrying bag, and another bag. Further along and adjacent to the wardrobes was an elaborate luggage rack. It was a long shelf coming out from the wall. It tapered towards the end where it was curved. It had a large polished wood panel with a studded chrome strip inset. The top of the rack was a hard black carpet which also extended right up the two walls at the back and side.
Opposite the robes was the entrance to the bathroom. There was an open shuttered polished pine wood door with chrome handles. The room itself was quite spacious with large white and light blue floor tiles, light grey and two-toned blue wall tiles with a large patterned section also featuring a mild green. Also on the floor were two large cashmere looking (but 100% cotton) off-white rugs (made in Portugal). Just to the left was a large set of chrome weight scales, and a large chrome waste-paper container. Directly in front was a large smudged black granite and polished pine wood bench which had plenty of space for toiletries. It had one large white basin with chrome fittings. There was a solid unpolished marble tissue dispenser box, a phone fixed to the wall, and a chrome framed cosmetic mirror (also fixed to the wall).
There was a tray of guest amenities which included talcum powder, mouth wash, a large bottle of body lotion, two packaged shower caps, a nail file, a packet of cotton wool pads, a tube of lip balm, a pack of cotton buds, and a tube of sun block (factor 15). There were also two bottles of natural spring water. To the right was the toilet and beside that a bidet. At the left of the entrance was a full size bath with smudged black granite surrounds and a polished pine wood body frame. On a shelf beside the bath was a set of bath amenities which included a container of purifying mineral salts, a wrapped cake of soap, and large bottles of body polish, bath gel, shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion. There was also a small yellow plastic ornamental duck wearing sun glasses to keep you company in the bath. There was also a separate shower area separated from the rest of the room by a thick glass wall and door (with chrome handle). It was the shape of a heart cut in half. The wall tiles were the same as the rest of the bathroom while the floor consisted of a moulded white trough of about six inches height. There was a solid chrome hand rail fixed to the wall and a further tray of guest amenities (large bottles of shampoo, conditioner, bath gel, and a pack of wrapped soap). The shower area was really spacious with large chrome fittings which provided excellent management of water flow and temperature and the solidity of the flow was very good. There was excellent lighting in the bathroom with two lights fixed to the walls around the vanity area, and very effective down lights over the bath, shower, and toilet.
Into the main room area two things struck me, the size of the room, and the view. The carpet, a streaked pastel blue and very dark blue had overlays of a pattern of white circles. It extended from the entrance to the room, through the hallway and to the main body of the room. The wallpaper throughout was a plain light grey smoked fabric while the ceiling was a plain white. The room was quite wide and long and tapered a touch towards the end. There were two adjacent twin beds made up as a king bed backing on to the bathroom wall which ran at an angle and was curved back towards the bathroom entrance. The bedding was covered with a rich grey and white patterned bed spread with two oversized pillows at the head of each of the beds. Running up the back on the wall were two polished wood bed heads and a framed section of light turquoise wallpaper which contained an ornamental fixture consisting of a long staff of bamboos with chrome fittings and ends with darker blue straps leading down to the bed heads. The beds were quite comfortable and provided a good nights’ sleep. There were two bedside light shades, chrome stems with white shades fixed to the wall above bed side tables which were located on the outside of each bed. They were oval shaped and consisted mainly of polished bamboo, polished pine wood, and chrome. They each contained two cave-like shelves, one of which contained a White Pages, and a Yellow Pages directory. On one of the tables was an alarm clock, a telephone, and a further bottle of natural spring water with a sweat (wrist) band placed around it, and alongside a jogging map.
On the left of the room was a large curved polished pine wood shelf with a studded chrome strip. Above it was a set of four gold framed pastel design prints. A little further along a quite large light blue and tan cushion on a bamboo structure. A little further along was a large oval shaped bamboo and polished wood cabinet, a larger version of the bed side tables but with a door in front and to each side. The center door opened to a mini bar completely stocked with liquor, sodas, juices, and waters. Scotch, bourbon, gin, Bacardi etc was 45 dirhams ($12 US), juices were 17 dirhams ($4.65), Heineken, Fosters 20 dirhams ($5.45), chocolate bars 11 dirhams ($3), right up to a half bottle of champagne at 230 dirhams ($63). The doors to the left and right opened to tumblers, wine glasses, cigarettes, and confectionery. On top on a swivel was a reasonably sized Grundig TV which included a huge array of local Arabic channels, Sky News, CNN, CNBC (English and Arabic channels), BBC World, Fox Sports, Disney, TMC, Star Movies, Super Movies, Discovery Channel, and more. There was also a sound speaker in the bathroom so you could keep track of a show you might be watching. There was a black and chrome ice bucket to the side of the television and two glass tumblers. There was a turn down service each night during which the ice bucket was filled with ice. The houseman actually had an esky on his trolley for this purpose. Aside from servicing the bathroom and turning down the bed, replenishing amenities, water and so on, the turn-down service included closing of the blinds and placement on the bed of a one page (double-sided) full color bulletin outlining the next day’s weather, events taking place in the hotel, restaurant theme nights, and listing the entire sports and leisure facilities of the hotel, and the restaurants and bars. A packaged Godiva chocolate was also left near your pillow.
Further on to past the mini bar area was a long curved polished wood desk/table with two sets of three drawers down each side. The top left hand drawer contained a hair dryer plugged in and ready to go. There was a studded chrome strip running along the outside of the top of the desk which also contained a fax which had its own number for the room. It worked perfectly during my stay for receiving and sending faxes. There was a black vinyl stationery and post card folder, and a very large pastel colored Directory of Services. There was also a data point for high speed Internet access which was very expensive at 30 dirhams ($8.17) or a whopping 150 dirhams ($41) a day. Being on one of the Club Executive levels of the hotel though meant I was entitled to visit the Club Executive Lounge on the 15th floor where wireless Internet access was available and there were two computers wired up to broadband, both service were complimentary, which was good as the lounge was open 24 hours a day. There is also a business center which had more computers, and a Premier Leisure Club lounge. It must be said though I found the Internet access very ordinary. It was not reliable, sometimes was not working at all (wireless or broadband), was often extremely slow, and other times was patchy. On a couple of occasions the IT people were in the lounge attending to the service. I should also say I have found Internet access throughout the UAE quite sub-standard so it would be unfair to debit the hotel with the responsibility for the problem. In fact they worked overtime to address the issues that arose and they seemed to have IT people working around the clock.
The large desk also had a very large polished pine wood framed mirror backing on to the wall above it which had two lamps either side, identical to those above the bed side tables. To the right of the table was a large polished dark bamboo strips circular waste paper basket and in the corner an elaborate shaped thick chrome stem standing lamp with an off-white shade. Opposite the desk/table area was a three seat blue, beige and grey lounge with several standard and cylinder type blue cushions, and an off white cushion. On each side of the settee was a polished wood top table with chrome frames and bundled bamboo legs. On each was a large ceramic tan lamp on an iron frame with large white shades. Above the lounge on the wall at the back was another set of gold painted wood framed pastel design prints, similar to the other set on the opposite wall. In front of the lounge was a large oval shaped polished wood top table supported by a complete bamboo structure cratered by chrome strips. On top was a tray with three small pot plants which were regularly serviced during my stay.
At the end of the room backing onto the windows was a setting comprising a circular table (polished wood top with bamboo supporting structure cratered by chrome strips) and two vintage armchairs made completely from dark bamboo with velvet blue seat and back, and velvet blue cushions. Shortly after I arrived an attendant brought a bowl of fruit which was placed in a transparent bubble shaped container on a stand. This bowl of fruit was replaced each day of my stay.
The main highlight of the room was the floor to ceiling windows which overlooked the beach, a major lagoon and marina, and a nearby adjacent beach. In the foreground were the magnificent grounds, gardens, pools and thatched roof restaurants and the fitness center to the right. The view was brilliant and it should be remembered would be very similar for every one of the 599 rooms in the hotel. There was a set of see through curtains and a set of patterned blue block out curtains as well. To each side of the windows was a shuttered polished wood panel topping off a splendidly designed room intermixed with unusual, curved shapes, bamboo, chrome, and polished pine wood with a dominating blue color reflecting the seaside location and the panoramic view.
The facilities at the hotel were extremely extensive. There was a large fitness centre in a dome building off to the right side of the hotel facing the beach. It was a two story complex which also featured a café on the ground floor which also had al fresco dining out on the balcony. The upstairs section had extensive running machines, cycling machines, climbing machines, free weights, weight resistant equipment, plenty of specially laundered towels and packed bottled water, all complimentary. There was also an extensive open space which could be used for aerobics, yoga, and so on. There were three beaches, the main one directly opposite the Burj Al Arab. There was also one in the centre which was housed in a huge man-made lagoon. This area also served as a marina. On the right hand side was another open beach which adjoined the main public beach in Jumeirah. The sand and the sea looked exactly as you would expect from brochures of the area, the sand was water and magnificent blues and greens.
There were also two main pool area, one for children with specially designed slides and structures. It also housed a clubhouse designed like a ship called Sinbad's Kids Club which provided a varied program of activities for children aged between 2 and 12, under the supervision of trained and qualified staff, from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm everyday. After 12:00 pm, children under 5 had to be accompanied by an adult or a babysitter (which could be arranged. The other was a large odd-shaped pool with two spas in a garden setting right in the front of the hotel on the beach. Entrance to the pool areas was from the basement of the hotel through a large stone cave which really added to the atmosphere. There were trolley carts shooting everywhere from this area going to the different beaches, to the Burj Al Arab and another associated nearby hotel. As all of these hotels were under one ownership you could use the bars and restaurants of all of them to charge to your room. All over the beaches and pool areas there were lazy boys, thatched roof areas, and umbrellas. Towels were available from a station where you came into the basement.
Another outstanding attraction of the hotel is Wild Wadi, a theme park which operates 23 rides and attractions. It is a 12 acre fun paradise which includes a wave-generating machine providing 1-and-a-half metre high waves. Another popular facility is the ride down the river in an inflated tube, this travels for quite a distance over some mild rapids. The park has a gift shop, two food outlets selling burgers, fries, hot dogs, salads, and drinks (non-alcoholic).
There’s also the Premium Leisure Club, a family oriented concept built over two floors, the lower level of the Club featuring a dedicated reception, children's computer games, an Internet room, and spacious outdoor seating. The upper level hosts a designer bar and male/female shower and changing rooms.
The hotel had an extensive range of specialty shops in arcades on the basement, ground, and first floors. These included shops for jewelry, gifts, toys, perfumes, clothing, crystal, electronics, swim wear, pens, carpets, antiques, sports gear, luggage, leather goods, sports wear, watches, and more. There was a Europcar rent a car office on site and a yacht hire office.
Restaurants and bars were many and varied. I tried the Dhow and Anchor, a traditional British pub, which served a number of tap beers including Heineken and Fosters. It was a wood paneled room with a low ceiling which made it seem smaller than it was. It was always busy though and the atmosphere was good. There was a dining area opening up from the bar area and this too extended out on to terraces for outdoor dining. The menu was what you would expect, fish and chips, burgers, pies and the meal I selected, roast of the day. This was roast veal covered in thick brown gravy on top of roasted vegetables including roast potato. A really delicious meal and quite reasonable at 56 dirhams ($15.25). Beers though were a bit over the top at 29 dirhams ($7.90) aalthough the prices were halved during Happy Hour. There’s also Der Keller, a Bierkeller on the first floor serving authentic, homely German dishes. I didn’t try this on this visit but had on a previous one. The restaurant and bar had a terrific atmosphere despite a somewhat tacky raw red brick décor. The menu though was varied and the food delicious, and of course the range of beers on tap was inspiring. Probably the main restaurant in the building is The Colonnade which is on the ground floor (lobby) level. It is actually a series of restaurants with different chef stations and displays for all types of food. During lunch and dinner, there would be a selection of curries in one section, Asian foods in another, seafood, meat dishes, and so on. There would be a special section for breads and rolls, and another for desserts. This was one of the main restaurants for breakfast as well, and I can say the buffest breakfast at this hotel would match it anywhere in the world. There is some variety too between the different venues. Breakfast is served on the beach at the Beachcomber restaurant as well as at the Plaza Court, also in the restaurant on the top (25th) floor, and in the Club Executive lounge. Aside from the extensive range of cereals, including several versions of bircher muesli (plain, Asian, blackberry, banana, and mango) there is porridge, salads, cheeses, curries, bread rolls, toast, pork and veal sausages, hash brown potatoes or roast potatoes (it varied), a huge range of pastries, muffins, scrambled eggs, boiled eggs, fried eggs (cooked on demand along with omelets), fish, and so on. Another restaurant I sampled and was impressed with was the Al Khayal This was a Lebanese restaurant and the food was outstanding. Another favorite was Go West, an American cuisine restaurant at the end of the ground floor. It had a great band playing every night, the staff were terrific, some decked out in Mexican gear, and the atmosphere very good. There was tap beer on top, a variety of wines, and of course an extensive range of sodas. The meals were served quickly. On arrival you were brought two brown paper bags stitched to each other. One contained unshelled peanuts and the other hot pop corn. After taking your order you were then served with a hot loaf of wholemeal bread and three fantastic spreads, one of an apricot paste, and the other two a yoghurt type paste. Meals included things like ribs, nachos, chile con carne, and a variety of steaks which could be ordered with side dishes including fried onion rings, fries, wedges, vegetables, and salads. There’s also an Argentinian restaurant called La Parrilla which also includes a Tango show each night. There is an authentic Italian restaurant, Carnevale, and the Villa Beach restaurant right on the beach front. This is a family restaurant with international cuisine. The Beachcombers which I mentioned before serves an Indonesian buffet, and there’s The Apartment which specializes in French dishes in an apartment style setting which includes a music room. There’s also the Marina Seafood Market providing innovating seafood and Asian dishes.
The hotel is undoubtedly a treat. The concierge staff, porters, the Club Executive team, reception staff, life guards, towel station attendants, and so on were all very friendly, greeting you each time they saw you. The service was excellent and the facilities as I hope I’ve outlined are as good as any provided by any hotel anywhere. I have to say the Jumeirah Beach Hotel has become my favorite hotel and I can’t wait to get back there again.