David Lance, general manager of the newly opened Marriott Hotel and Marriot Executive Apartments Downtown, Abu Dhabi tells Hotel News ME why Abu Dhabi is the region’s foremost business, leisure and cultural destination and how the debut of the new hotel is tapping into Gen-Y travellers.
1. The demand for extended stays
The hotel apartment sector in the UAE is evolving to meet increased demand from travellers that are looking for the benefits of long-stay combined with the service levels and facilities of hotels. In Abu Dhabi alone deluxe hotel apartments are seeing occupancy levels of over 85% throughout the year while still increasing average daily rates. Marriott Executive Apartments provides upscale residential living including 64 one, two and three bedroom apartments and offers a trusted extended-stay product for travellers looking to stay in the capital from one month to one year. There is ample opportunity across the UAE and greater GCC region for internationally branded serviced apartments like ours.
2. Abu Dhabi as a MICE destination
Abu Dhabi is a force to be reckoned with in the MICE sector, as it jumped 35 places to 73 in the annual ranking by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) – the only city in the region to advance in the overall ICCA ranking. Marriott Hotel Downtown Abu Dhabi offers corporate travellers a strong MICE offering with over 1,500 sqm of total meetings space – including 21 flexible meeting rooms and two secluded ballrooms. We will be following Marriott’s Meetings Imagined concept, focusing on the needs of the younger generations. With every meeting and event – we ensure that the design of the room set-up, food and drink and overall technology is tailored specifically to meet the meeting purpose rather than just offering a meeting space.
3. Improved leisure offering
Despite strong MICE capabilities, the capital is also attracting more leisure travellers. The expanding leisure sector is tied in with a growing global family travel trend. According to a YouGov survey released during Arabian Travel Market 2015, 64% of the MENA-based survey respondents travelled with their children. Abu Dhabi offers a variety of attractions to welcome families from the region and beyond, including the cultural district on Saadiyat Island, Yas Island and Formula 1. Marriott Hotel Downtown Abu Dhabi offers 315 contemporary spacious guest rooms including 32 well-appointed suites to suit all travellers – individuals, couples, families and groups alike.
4. New tourist attractions
The growing leisure sector is also a result of increased tourist attractions. We are privileged to have the support of the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, which remains committed to ensuring Abu Dhabi’s growth and putting it on the map as a leading tourism hub. Major attractions to open over the next year includes the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Warner Brothers World, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Zayed National Museum and Reem Mall. The expansion of Abu Dhabi International Airport and Etihad’s increasing global outreach will also play a key factor in boosting leisure and business travel to the capital. Located centrally in the heart of Abu Dhabi’s Diplomatic and Government area, Marriott Downtown Abu Dhabi aims to tap into the increased traveller numbers whilst they discover the world-class attractions Abu Dhabi has to offer.
5. Welcoming Gen-Y
It is a well-known fact that today’s hospitality focus has shifted to cater to the next generation of travellers – Gen-Y. Hotels need to remain innovative in order to engage and retain this emerging target audience. The modern traveller requires a seamless and personalised travel experience, and at Marriott Hotel Downtown Abu Dhabi we have kept the new age traveller in mind by designing every guest’s touch point with the millennial traveller in mind. We blend high-tech with high-touch services at the hotel, offering mobile check-in and check-out, real time mobile chat with the on-property service team, Wi-Fi in all areas for Marriott Rewards members and a 48 inch LED TV with personal device access, so guests don’t have to compromise their lifestyle while travelling.
6. Urban appeal
Abu Dhabi is well placed to absorb the growing global tourist interest in urban destinations. According to the ITB World Travel Trends Report (WTTR) 2013-14 the volume of city trips has increased by 47% since 2009. The Marriott Downtown Abu Dhabi property is proudly located in the heart of the bustling city with the dual offering of a 5-star hotel and upscale extended-stay apartments. With easy access to the Corniche and some of the capital’s key attractions nearby just a 25-minute drive from Abu Dhabi International Airport, Marriott Hotel Downtown Abu Dhabi is the ideal hotel to mix work and play, targeting a mix of business and leisure travellers.
7. Business-led F&B
The concept of high quality F&B outlets in urban districts where business professionals work and live is increasingly common and F&B is playing a bigger role in the after-hours activities of the city centres. Marriott Hotel Downtown Abu Dhabi located in the centre of the business district of Abu Dhabi offers five bars and restaurants that have been designed to offer a differentiated product in the market. Appealing to urban professionals we offer on-the-go cuisine, after-work relaxation in a vibrant sports and music venue as well as Marriott’s signature JW Steakhouse as a place to close the deal.
8. Spa and wellness
The MENA region is the second fastest-growing market in the world for spas according to the Global Wellness Institute (GWI). Marriott has evolved its own Saray Spa concept to remain true to the culture, habits and natural resources of the Middle East. Following other Marriott hotels in the region, we have chosen to introduce this concept to Abu Dhabi as part of the extensive wellness facilities of the hotel. Saray Spa at Marriott Hotel Downtown Abu Dhabi features six treatment rooms, steam rooms, saunas and spacious relaxation areas for both men and women.
9. Guest loyalty
One point that the Marriott brand takes very seriously is the importance of customer relationship management and loyalty. The global award-winning Marriott Rewards guest loyalty scheme offers members exclusive offers and rates and other perks such as mobile check in, complimentary nights and free Wi-Fi. Tied in with the Gen-Y traveller, who is always looking for a rewarding new experience, Marriott Rewards also makes it easy for members to explore the things they love and experience travel to the fullest.
10. Marriott: A global brand
The strength of a global hotel brand still speaks volumes, especially in a market like the UAE and the entry of the first Marriott Hotel into the capital has garnered much interest and anticipation. Following the introduction of the Ritz-Carlton in 2013 and Courtyard by Marriott in December 2014, Marriott International now brings its flagship brand and upscale extended stay apartment living for the first time to Abu Dhabi. I am extremely proud to lead this project and foresee a positive outlook as Abu Dhabi continues to grow as a business and tourism hub in the region.