The exterior of the Fairmont Fujairah Beach Resort, as seen from the marina-side. The exterior of the Fairmont Fujairah Beach Resort, as seen from the marina-side.

The Fairmont Fujairah Beach Resort, developed by UAE-based Mina Al Fajer Real Estate, was first announced in 2010, and since then has had its opening date move across the years. Last year, it opted on the side of caution, aiming for an April 2017 opening. However, the property has already soft-opened, with the official opening party planned for Q2 2017.

The general manager, Omar Souab, who was previously the hotel manager at the Fairmont Dubai, says that opening ahead of time was a challenge. He tells Hotelier: “We had initially planned to open on April 1, because we wanted to open the hotel and beach club at the same time. Then we moved the date to early January because we took a decision to open the hotel without the beach club. But then we had to open earlier, so my team and I overcame the challenge of opening the hotel two weeks before the target date which was a big achievement.

“It was not an easy task because we had to move forward quite a few programmes of training but we managed, and I think that it was actually a good thing to do because it gave us time to fine tune the service and to make sure that we are at the level that we are today. The owners understood that it was important to open softly and then start building the service quality and fine tune the product before we do an official launch, and we supported that wish.”

The beach club, which is still under construction, is set to open in May, reports Souab. The spa, when Hotelier visited, was also awaiting opening, scheduled for February 1. One of the restaurants, The Copper Lobster, was yet to open, while the others had commenced operations. The 180-room art-inspired hotel located in the Mina Al Fajer mixed-use development was designed by Stickman, and offers a mosaic-tiled swimming pool, children’s club, the second Willow Stream Spa in the UAE, a fully-equipped fitness centre and dive centre, along with five F&B outlets, expansive outdoor space, and three meeting rooms, including a large pre-function area. When one approaches the property, it is reminiscent of traditional architecture in the region, but one step inside showcases the heavy focus on art — especially with nods to the region and its culture — which can be found across the entire property.

Souab says: “Opening a property is very special because you get to experience or take all the decisions from the beginning.”

Starting with recruiting the team, Souab is very proud of the 170-strong hotel team today. “It’s not an easy task because there are a lot of things to think about and a lot of challenges to overcome. But when you open a hotel, and you have your first guest and the guest comes in and they say: ‘Wow this is an amazing property’, it’s very rewarding.”

Fairmont Ajman and Fairmont Fujairah Beach Resort cluster director of sales and marketing Khaled Al-Idrissi, who started work on this project in June 2016, says the first target of the property is to start attracting local business. He notes: “Transient business tends to be much faster to react with regards to generating revenue for our hotel. Transient meaning anywhere through our, our online travel agents’ network that we have, and working through that into building our wholesale and tour business which takes a little bit longer to achieve because it is international.”

Al-Idrissi says the hotel’s reservations team is already getting a lot of interest from UAE-based nationals and residents for staycations, with weekends doing exceptionally well since the soft opening. Other top source markets include Germany, the UK and CIS. Souab agrees with his cluster DOSM and says the main focus right now is the local market.

The team has already started the marketing messaging, with a huge focus on digital. Display advertising that’s geographically targeted will be the main focus of the property’s strategy. Al-Idrissi elaborates: “We also look at display in multi-language and multi-device, and how we’re able to cater to those different areas. With display, we also look at a closer approach of retargeting, so we use the precision remarketing approach which then allows us to spend less with more of a better target.

“Nowadays the online travel agent world has very deep pockets of marketing, so we try not to compete directly on organic search or paid search; it’s more about display for us which has a much higher return. We still invest in optimisation of organic search through specific keyword mappings, and we work through paid search but our core focus remains to be the display.”

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