No impact from euro zone crisis, says Jumeirah

Jan-Aug 2012 occupancy was up 5.8% to 74.4% and RevPAR was up 13.4%

Gerard Lawless, Jumeirah Group president and CEO
Gerard Lawless, Jumeirah Group president and CEO

Dubai’s Jumeirah Group has seen a rise in hotel occupancy rates and revenue this year and has not suffered any adverse affects from regional Arab Spring political protests or the ongoing eurozone financial crisis, the hotelier’s president and CEO told Arabian Business.

“2012 has been very good, especially in Dubai. Overall, revenue we are up about 10 percent on last year and we expect to have quite a multiple of that by the end of the year,” Gerard Lawless, Jumeirah Group president and CEO, said in an interview.

“Occupancy and average room rates have had healthy growth on last year,” he added.

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Figures show that between January and August 2012, Jumeirah’s average hotel occupancy was 74.4 percent, up 5.8 percent compared to the same period in 2011.

At the same time, revenue per available room (RevPAR) – the standard performance measure in the hospitality industry – was at AED1,421 (US$386), up 13.4 percent compared to the same period last year.

While some of Jumeirah’s biggest source markets are still the UK and Germany, Lawless said the ongoing difficulties in the eurozone have not impacted client arrivals to the group’s hotels. At the same time, the heightening tensions surrounding possible military action against Iran and the impact from the Arab Spring political demonstrations have not had any adverse influence on arrivals, he added.

“This particular situation in the region is not affecting at all the attitude of our tourists. We have good business. The number one comes still from the UK. Russia has come up to number two and certainly we don’t hear any concern about the region.

“Quite the opposite, they see the UAE and Dubai as somewhere to come and be a haven of peace without any concerns. We have seen crisis come and crisis go. The situation that prevails in the region is not affecting us at all,” he said.

On the back of this growth in business, Lawless revealed he is investing “a lot” refurbishing some of Jumeirah’s major trophy assets.

“We have always thought that we need to keep our properties at a high level. We have just finished a refurbishment programme of nearly all the rooms at Jumeirah Emirates Towers and will be completed by the end of the year.
“Jumeirah Beach Hotel we have a three year phased programme. We have 200 rooms totally being refurbished. At Burj al Arab we have a zero tolerance as far as maintenance is concerned. We don’t allow anything to get old or to look like it is getting old. An integral part of the characteristic of the Burj al Arab is that it is a historic hotel.”

Lawless is also looking to expand the luxury brand’s portfolio across the UAE outside of the main cities.

“If there is a property that is the right standard and right profile we would be happy to consider it and there is no reason why we wouldn’t consider having a Jumeirah hotel in the other emirates other than Abu Dhabi and Dubai,” he added.

Jumeirah previously operated the Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa, which was switched to Meydan in December 2010, but Lawless said he is still interested in adding a similar style desert resort to the group’s Dubai portfolio if the right offer came along:

“It would be nice to have a desert property. If the opportunity was to come forward we would seriously consider it.”

As part of the group’s ongoing growth, Lawless said the hotelier, which is a division of the government-owned Dubai Holding, is aiming to have more than 30 hotels in operation within the next four years.

“At the moment we are operating 22 hotels and really we have gone from 10 or 11 hotels in about 18 months. It is hard to give a number but in four years time… opened and under operation, we should be well into the 30s,” he predicted.

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