‘India to become one of our top three feeder markets soon’
Fredrik Reinisch, Complex General Manager, Al Habtoor City Hotel Collection, says they are continuously seeking new ways to craft new experiences for the Indian travellers
In the dynamic and visionary city of Dubai stands Habtoor Palace, LXR Hotels & Resorts as an iconic emblem of success and history. With 234 lavishly appointed guestrooms, 52 opulent suites (Exquisite Bentley Suite and Sir Winston Churchill Suite) and signature butler service, Habtoor Palace offers luxuriant comfort in palatial style.
Located on the banks of Dubai Water Canal, the hotel is rich in urban amenities and Beaux-Arts architecture, seven well-defined restaurants and lounges, sprawling gardens, a premier Silk Spa, a classic and elegant ballroom, two rooftop pools and bespoke butler service. Habtoor Palace is one of the three ultra-luxurious hotels from the Al Habtoor City Hotel Collection. The other two being V Hotel Dubai and Hilton Dubai Al Habtoor City. Together, they offer 1,600 exceptionally designed rooms and suites, 23 world-class restaurants and lounges, three ballrooms, 37 meeting rooms and La Perle, Dubai’s number one show.
Why Habtoor Palace?
“It is an ideal destination for guests who wish to escape the daily routine of modern life and experience classic royalty, presented with contemporary elegance. They can indulge in three different ambiences,” informs Fredrik Reinisch, Complex General Manager, Al Habtoor City Hotel Collection. He adds the first one is V hotel for guests who want to inject fun into their travel with a retro-futurism concept. “The hotel is surrounded with enticing activities and home to La Perle – a world-class water-themed show created by Dragone,” says Reinisch. Habtoor Palace offers sophisticated authentic palatial experience with opulent suites, artful decor and signature butler service for all guests - royalty. And the third one is “the iconic Hilton offering a vibrant stay, with every aspect of visit transformed into a refreshing experience. It can accommodate events from small meetings to grand galas including entertainment for all ages and complimentary Kids Club,” he puts in.
India as a market
Agreeing that India played an important role during the pre-Covid19 period and contributed around 10 per cent of business including FIT and groups, he says, “With travel restrictions, sales from the Indian market dropped drastically. However, we are projecting an increase in demand during summer where we foresee the combined business (groups and corporate) to increase by a certain level. We see India becoming one of our top three feeder markets. It is our ambition and we are deploying very strong endeavours in this respect,” says Reinisch who visited India in March 2022 with focus on key source markets of Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Chennai as well as emerging Tier II and III cities set for expansion.
“We have engaged with Tamarind Global and Red Dot Marketing as our extended presence to represent Al Habtoor City Hotel Collection and continuously seek new ways to craft experiences and key messaging that speak directly to the interests and hearts of Indian travellers. We believe Al Habtoor City Hotel Collection will be recognised as a preferred destination for most discerning Indian travellers,” he feels.
Booking trends and changing consumer preferences
“Pre-pandemic, guests planned their holidays and business trips in advance. This helped us understand forecasts and were able to project for the year by Q1. Post-Covid19, booking windows have decreased and guests have become spontaneous with trips. This trend is evident from the fact that the booking window has come down to 10-15 days vis-à-vis 45-60 days for the European market, one-two days from four-six days for GCC guests and 20-30 days vis-à-vis 60-90 days for the Asian market with more emphasis on the Indian market,” he says.
“During peak Covid19 season in 2020-2021, staycations became a trend with the locals and expats in the UAE due to travel restrictions. There was a rise in inter-city travel and hotel bookings and a decline in corporate bookings from March 2020 until January 2022 with ‘work from home’ culture and travel restrictions. Since February 2022, there has been a positive change resulting in increased corporate bookings and events,” he avers.
F&B offerings, especially for Indian guests
“We provide Indian breakfast dishes in all the three hotels which include oats, idli, dosa, Indian masala omelette, poori bhaji and many more delicacies. Our breakfast restaurants offer a line-up of live cooking stations with chefs from around the world including Indian, Chinese, Arabic and international specialties because we understand how important it is for guests to start the day with a most personalised breakfast in line with their habits, if not dietary preferences,” shares Reinisch, adding that dishes as per the guests’ requests and dietary requirements are also served.
“We are introducing an Indian theme night at Level 7 - V Hotel where the menu changes regularly and covers all the regions of India. V-hotel is also home to Haveli, an Indian restaurant-lounge with vibrant live music on stage, Bollywood inspired décor and over 100 cocktails to choose from,” he informs.
For leisure and business traveller
For leisure travellers, Al Habtoor City Hotel Collection offers various packages which includes half board and full board packages, multiple in-house entertainment options such as La Perle - A Las Vegas style entertainment live show, entertainment for kids (Kid’s club), special offers and savings on spas for in-house guests. “For business travellers, we offer benefits to corporate guests including but not limited to preferred rates, automatic enrolment to Hilton Honours, chauffer services, special dining and laundry packages and much more as per the guest’s requirements,” he says.
At Al Habtoor City Hotel Collection, MICE contributes 25 per cent business whereas weddings contribute to hundreds of events. “Within the wedding business, the Indian market captures a majority followed by Emiratis, Arab and Pakistani weddings. The top five source markets for MICE are within the MENA region followed by South America and the CIS market whereas the top for source markets for weddings come from wedding planners, event organisers, online platforms and regular guests,” shares Reinisch.
Safer environment for guests
“The last two years have been a rollercoaster. This pandemic put health and safety at the forefront in the tourism sector making it something that tourists will not concede on. Initially, a certain percentage of tourists used to do budget travelling. After the pandemic, we witness a change with tourists opting for luxury travel instead for health and safety reasons. Hygiene procedures are specifically highlighted by hotels for their guests, which makes the guests feel safe,” feels the Al Habtoor City Hotel Collection’s Complex General Manager.
“As a part of Hilton Group, we have taken strict measures when it comes to health and safety for our guests and employees. Hilton has partnered with Reckitt, makers of Lysol® & Dettol®, to help deliver an even cleaner stay for our guests with the creation of the Hilton CleanStay programme. Our promise to our guests is to deliver the same level of reliable and friendly service one would expect from Hilton,” he concludes.
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