More than 90% of the executive team at Sheraton Grand Hotel, Dubai was hired from within Starwood. More than 90% of the executive team at Sheraton Grand Hotel, Dubai was hired from within Starwood.

Hotelier Middle East visits the newly-opened Sheraton Grand Hotel, Dubai to speak to the team about how Starwood’s Middle East flagship property will stand out from the crowd on the busiest street in the UAE

Starwood Hotels and Resorts opened the company’s regional flagship property — Sheraton Grand Hotel, Dubai — on Sheikh Zayed Road in November 2014. The five-star 654-key hotel includes 180 branded apartments, and an additional 510 residences, and part of the complex is an office tower. Initially just 180 of the units were open, and 450 more went online by the end of 2014, with the remaining 24 to open this year.

Leading the team through the pre-opening and soft-opening process is general manager Heinz F. Grub, who was previously general manager at Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel. The hotel shut down for renovation in July 2013, and Grub joined Sheraton Grand in December 2013.

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Given its Sheikh Zayed Road location, and proximity to Dubai World Trade Centre, the hotel’s target market is clear, director of sales Ramon Von Schukkmann says. “Predominantly, our guests will be corporate and business travellers.

We think the major part of our business will be individual corporate travel and within that, we have a niche market, which is the long-stay segment. We have 180 apartments — fully serviced, with 100 one-bedroom apartments. So we specifically target corporate customers who want to stay a bit longer — anything between one month and a year,” he explains.

MICE and groups will also be a focus for the hotel, especially during trade shows and conferences at the convention centre, Schuckmann explains, referring to the two-storey ballroom and six meeting rooms.

“This is the first Starwood property within walking distance from the Trade Centre, so there is a big target on groups,” he explains.

The hotel will also appeal to a small number of leisure travellers, in particular those with short stopovers in the city who do not require a beach or mall location, but would still prefer to be in close proximity to the city’s major attractions.

Being one of the larger properties in Dubai, especially along the already busy Sheikh Zayed Road strip, Grub acknowledges the team has quite a task ahead to fill rooms, however he thinks the hotel won’t be far behind its competitors by the end of the year.

“We believe we will have about 93% of our comp set by year-end 2015. Because you’re ramping up, you won’t be having a full hotel right off the bat; you’re establishing yourself in the market, and the market share is your ultimate measurement in any marketplace.”

The comp set Grub refers to includes several other five-star business hotels quite literally down the road, including Conrad Dubai, Fairmont Dubai, Radisson Royal Hotel, and Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai.

Sheraton Grand’s quiet opening in the middle of the busy season has not gone unnoticed, but Grub insists the team did not launch any marketing campaigns until they were certain that “we have the right opening date, or we have an opening date we can meet”.

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