Centara to open beachfront hotel, water park at Dubai's Deira Islands
Thai hotel group to enter Dubai with a four-star, 500-key property designed with water theme park facilities
Thai hotel group Centara Hotels & Resorts continues to expand its Middle East footprint, with the signing of a joint venture to open a 500-key, four-star Centara property on the beachfront in Dubai’s Deira Islands; this was revealed to Hotelier Middle East during an interview with Centara Grand West Bay Doha general manager James Wilson during the 2017 Arabian Travel Market (ATM).
He added that the Dubai property will not fall under its five-star Centara brand but will be designed to primarily attract families, with water theme park facilities to be a major attraction, and is expected to see completion by 2018 or 2019.
He also mentioned that, aside from the upcoming opening of Centara Grand West Bay Doha, which will operate as the company’s flagship in the region, three projects are currently underway in the Qatari capital, namely, a Centara Residence located at Doha’s Corniche, another five-star Centara Grand and a third Centara with details and location still to be finalised. In 2016, Centara Hotels & Resorts COO Chris Bailey had revealed the company's Doha plans during an interview with Hotelier Middle East but at that time, details about the Dubai project were not yet disclosed.
As for Centara Grand West Bay Doha, Wilson said that pre-opening is proceeding smoothly, with final licensing processes falling into place and that the property is on track for its opening later this year. “Pre-opening in Doha has been very good. It’s a lengthy process and we’ve got lots of legislation to get through. But that’s good because it ensures that health and safety for our guests and employees is the way it should be.”
He admitted that opening during a period when Doha has been undergoing a period of economic softening poses its challenges but expressed confidence in both the government’s ongoing efforts to attract more visitors to Qatar and in Centara’s differentiating factors versus the competition.
“I understand the way the dynamics of the market have been. We’ve been very much involved and listening to the guidance that the Qatar Tourism Authority has to say. They’re looking to open up visas for more nationalities, Russian, Indian, Chinese. They’re also looking at cruise ship stop overs and two to three day stopovers by Qatar Airways. This is all very positive news,” Wilson declared.
He added: “We understand that we are coming into a market that has a lot of hotels. I think the important thing is, each hotel has its own differentiation. Our restaurant concepts that we’re looking at, for example, are different to what’s existing in the area. We don’t want to do the same. There’s another Asian brand but not Thai. We’re going to offer Thai hospitality. We are there to offer something different and to give that choice to the consumer. Once people will come in – and our name is not as well known in the Middle East as it is in Southeast Asia and other parts of the world – I think they will be very pleasantly surprised.”
“For us, the focus is more on getting people familiar with our brand,” Wilson continued. “Of course we are going to do value offers during our opening to get exposure and get people to come in but we’re quite confident that we can compete at the market level.”
He also mentioned that despite the downturn in certain sectors such as oil and gas, he is confident that opportunities still exist in others.
“We see quite a significant corporate market still out there although there has been a softening within the oil and gas which everybody has realised in the region. I think it is important not to forget that Doha is heavily in infrastructure development for the FIFA so there’s a lot of technology, a lot of construction coming in there. So there is energy coming from other sources and this is what we will be looking at,” Wilson said.