Viceroy Dubai delay 'blessing in disguise' says GM

Hotel plans to accept bookings from April next year, with a possible opening date of March 2017

Mikael Svensson
Mikael Svensson

The Viceroy Palm Jumeirah will not open in 2016, as first announced by the group, general manager Mikael Svensson told Hotelier Middle East exclusively.

“Now we are at about 85% completion, the last 15% or so is where things get complicated. We were hoping and pushing hard to open in 2016, but we did not want to at the end of the day… the owners and Viceroy decided not to rush the opening just for the sake of it,” he said.

“When I arrived in June [2015] we were supposed to open in September and November [2015]. But, you know how it is, this is now a realistic date and it’s a complex build.

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He added: “We are taking bookings as of April next year, as a realistic date, with an anticipated date of opening in March [next year].”

“For us it’s important to do it, and do it right. You only get one chance at an opening, and it’s a new type of hotel and we want to make sure we get things right.”

He said that the delay in opening acts as a blessing in disguise. “Usually, as a [pre-opening] GM you come in a year before operations, but the fact that we are now going to be opening in April is a blessing because what we want to do as a brand, as Viceroy, a lot of it depends on this hotel.”

Svensson told Hotelier how the Dubai hotel will be a platform for the brand on several counts. “It’s not about the size of the hotel or the fact that it is huge part of the brand being in Dubai. But, also from how we are developing the brand globally, and being able to use Viceroy Dubai as a platform for initiatives, whether they are technological initiatives of how we take bookings or interact with guests. But, also how we are going to be conceptually different or deliver service different.”

He added: “It gives us that opportunity to spend time on those things, otherwise what happens in the year is a general manager goes through a check list to open a hotel.”

He said that a lot of groups have launched their version of a lifestyle brand, which is not something that Viceroy does. “It’s an interesting brand because its unlike the other companies where they have established themselves as strong business hotels and then maybe they branch out into resort-styled hotels or a different calibre of five-star hotels. And, what happened years ago is that they went into the lifestyle segment - Starwood went with W, Hyatt went with Andaaz and all of these various brands came in.”

"The difference with Viceroy is – lifestyle is at our core. One of the things that we wanted to do is to understand our customer’s lifestyle, needs and wants and not their hotel expectations.”

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