20COMMENT          Value for money in Dubai          Viability director Guy Wilkinson weighs up the worth of summer packag...
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Value for money in dubai

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Viability's Guy Wilkinson writes a monthly column for Hotelier Middle East Magazine. This article originally appeared in July 2011.
For more information about Viability, please visit http://www.linkedin.com/company/2347942 or http://www.viability.ae/

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Value for money in dubai

  1. 1. 20COMMENT Value for money in Dubai Viability director Guy Wilkinson weighs up the worth of summer packages, from bargain deals to high-end offers and comes to the conclusion that it’s best to judge their value upon check out for rooms, F&B and other services. However, a rare exception to this rule is Emirates’ Al Maha Desert Resort, now part of Starwood’s Luxury Col- lection, which has been exclusively selling all-inclusive packages since it opened in 1999, including not just three meals a day, but also two activ- ities per day, such as camel riding, 4WD safaris, dune bashing and fal- conry. Not to mention that guests get to luxuriate in a sumptuous tent- like suite with its own infinity pool COLUMNIST and such essential details as a pair of Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa, part of Starwood’s Luxury Collection, which has been all-inclusive since 1999. binoculars to watch the oryx frolick- n these sweltering summer ing in the desert, and complimentary I days when occupancy has to be bought through discounts or freebies, it is interesting to think for a moment about the true meaning of the word ‘value.’ Ac- AT THE SUPER-LUXURY END OF THE MARKET, VALUE CAN OFTEN LIE NOT IN THE URBAN HOTEL’S VIRTUES OF GRANDIOSE espresso and sherry. This combined with the magi- cal setting of the super-exclusive 42-suite resort in a 225 square kilo- meter game reserve explains why cording to www.oxfordictionaries. internet rates currently start at com, the word can mean various SUITES WITH MARBLE FLOORS AND OVER- AED2,400 ($652) per night and the things, including ‘the regard that DRESSED FLUNKIES, BUT IN RUSTIC hotel’s ARRs have historically been something is held to deserve; the CHARM AND THE CHANCE TO ESCAPE TO A among the highest in the world. importance, worth, or usefulness of TRULY PEACEFUL AND PRIVATE PLACE This is a very different kind of something; the worth of something value proposition to that of dis- compared to the price paid or asked counting or adding extras. At the for it.’ super-luxury end of the market, Let’s take some examples. The value can often lie, not in the urban easyHotel Dubai is still offering its when they get home. By contrast, the ‘progressive dinner’ with different hotel’s virtues of grandiose suites original AED 99 (US $27) per night Ibis offers a very affordable room in courses at different outlets. with marble floors and over-dressed deal, while the nearby Ibis Al Bar- a hotel with some creature comforts Here is another example of added flunkies, but in rustic charm and the sha is charging AED 123 ($33). If you included in the price, as well as vari- value, essentially representing the chance to escape to a truly peaceful are a guest, how do you compare the ous public area amenities on hand latest progression in the multitude of and private place. ‘Bare foot luxury’, value you would get for your money for guests with a little extra in their measures taken by all Dubai’s hotels whether found in a desert tented at each property? It’s not easy to pockets in terms of discretionary since the recession really started to suite or a palm-roofed beach palapa, tell from the websites. In reality, the spending power. bite in 2009, including everything is an increasingly rare commodity answer at one level at least is that the At the luxury end of the market, from complimentary airport pick- these days, and there are no hard and easyHotel is able to offer the lower interestingly also in Jebel Ali (appar- ups, to bed and breakfast deals and fast rules — or indeed limits — as to price because it is a rooms-only ently the hub of innovation in this room upgrades. Does it represent how much it is worth. The real test operation with no F&B or any other respect), the Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel the beginning of the slippery slope of value is that there’s no pain when facilities, while all in-room services Dubai, managed by Mövenpick into mass tourism, Red Sea-style, for you check out, because you’ve had a are charged extra, including the TV! Hotels & Resorts, has launched Dubai? I doubt it, but the trend may wonderful time and couldn’t imag- By contrast, the Ibis provides a res- Dubai’s first ever ‘all-inclusive’ well prove successful and therefore ine spending your money better. HME taurant, two bars and a gym, among package in a luxury hotel. The deal outlast the current summer season other relative luxuries — and watch- gives guests the option to pay a $68 that has inspired its introduction. ing TV is free. The bottom line is that supplement per person per night, the easyHotel is the better option for which reportedly buys them access RARE EXCEPTION guests who simply want to spend less to normal restaurant menus (not the The reason we have not seen all- Guy Wilkinson is a director of Viability, a per night, by living like Spartans, horrid buffets typical of all-inclusive inclusive packages here before is that hospitality and property consulting firm in Dubai. buying their dinner from the local resorts) in any of the hotel’s seven there is of course always more money For more information, e-mail: guy@viability.ae gas station and washing their clothes outlets, including the possibility of a to be made from charging separately July 2011 • Hotelier Middle East www.hoteliermiddleeast.com

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