A one-bedroom suite at InterContinental Dubai Marina. A one-bedroom suite at InterContinental Dubai Marina.

The long-awaited InterContinental Dubai Marina opens this month. Hotelier pays a visit ahead of the big launch

When it opens its doors this month, the InterContinental Dubai Marina will become the brand’s third property in the UAE, after the InterContinental Dubai Festival City and the InterContinental Abu Dhabi.

However, the heavily delayed hotel, which was meant to open in 2013 when it was first signed after Marriott International pulled out, is unlike other InterContinental properties, general manager Michael Martin tells Hotelier during our visit to the 328-key hotel in April.

“At our core we are an InterContinental hotel, but our F&B is a little bit funkier, a little bit more lifestyle, a little bit more contemporary in its style. And unlike an InterContinental where it has a lot of banqueting, what we have are individual restaurants, which are all standalone outlets in their own right. So we wanted to take a retailer’s view to our restaurant business as opposed to a hotelier’s view,” Martin says.

The hotel’s food and beverage offering is something the entire team seems enthusiastic about. In total, InterContinental Dubai Marina will offer nine F&B outlets, including celebrity chef Jason Atherton’s first Middle East restaurant Marina Social, and adjoining bar Social Lounge.

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The hotel also aims to differentiate its F&B offering from standard hotel operations in various ways. Food & beverage director James Worthington explains: “What we’ve realised in Dubai is if you have an à la carte restaurant, you’ll have more people coming in, and [the food] is very affordable.

At a lot of hotel restaurants, it is all buffet. And since a lot of our guests live all around us, people can come in, we get to know them really well, and understand what they want.

So if they want something on the menu, we can evolve it; it’s not a menu that will stay for three months. It’s also about seeing what the local community wants vs. the international community, and how do we serve all of them all the time? Everything we did was about that when deciding on the concepts.”

Stressing the affordability of the restaurants at InterContinental Dubai Marina, Worthington says the team did a lot of research prior to planning the concepts, including surveying the comp set and figuring out what was missing.

“We are very conscious of the price point within the local market and our competitive set is not just hotels but standalone restaurants. We have to always be on target. We have to work with the chef to get the best pricing, the best quality, and make sure that the more people that come in, the more they enjoy us, and the easier it is,” he says.

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