This Ramadan, let the feeling stay

To sustain a regular flow of tourists during the holy month of Ramadan, the tourism industry in the Middle East is promoting staycations. Initially, staycations were promoted by five-star and beach properties in Dubai and Abu Dhabi but today other emirates and some short-haul destinations have taken up this niche tourism segment.

Shehara Rizly

1. Leonardo Baiocchi, General Manager, Four Seasons Dubai JB
Ramadan is that time of the year when the consumer can experience the highest level of luxury at the best possible value. Consumers can maximise on their return on spend with excellent value-added rates. This is a slow and peaceful time of the year, so it is an ideal time for consumers to take a short break from work and pamper themselves with a staycation. It is a period that allows for flexibility, with the best possible chance for a consumer to secure a room at the last minute. For agents, Ramadan is the perfect time to experience the product, so when the high season comes around, they are well informed and ready to sell.

2. Adam Harvey, Director of Business Development, Hilton Abu Dhabi
Staycations offer a quick break from the everyday routine, allowing people to unwind and rejuvenate over a short stay away from home without having to splurge on a full vacation. More hotels are catering to the varied needs of customers with customisable packages for families, couples and leisure travellers. Customers can take advantage of the competitive deals available in the market and treat themselves to a short vacation. They can enjoy fine dining, spa treatments, and a swim in the sea, all for a bargain. From an agent’s perspective, a staycation is simply a marketing gimmick that helps boost bookings for hotels within the leisure segment. Staycations have proven to be a great way to drive business during weekends, especially in the leisure sector of the industry.

3. Manish Singh, Director of Sales, Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort
Staycation is a fairly new concept that has picked up over the past two years as summers became longer for those residing in the UAE. Parents working in the UAE get a holiday for a certain number of days, different from the number of days their kids get in a year. The five-star and beach properties in Palm Jumeirah, Abu Dhabi and other emirates identified a niche and started exploring possibilities of offering various activities coupled with a stay for the weekend where parents could holiday together with the children. This paved the way for staycations, which is a very popular concept today. At Anantara the Palm, we offer many activities for the entire family and ensure that all our guests are able to spend quality time together.

4.Charlie Taylor, Group Director Brand Communications, Jumeirah Group
UAE’s resident population is one of our biggest markets throughout the year, with our hotels in Dubai and Abu Dhabi being very popular for staycations. During shoulder seasons, staycations help drive volumes, with our hotels providing most of the popular dining venues in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Staycation packages are seen as a great way to combine a couple of days at the beach or in the heart of the city with a fantastic dining experience. All Jumeirah properties in Dubai and Abu Dhabi offer a very competitive UAE resident rate that is available all-year-round. This includes up to a 20 per cent discount on the best available rate and unlimited access to WildWadi Waterpark, private beaches and fitness facilities

5.Neal Jones, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer Middle East & Africa, Marriott International
Staycations allow travellers to focus on the stay and the experience rather than the journey. A growing trend, we see staycations as an opportunity to create enriching experiences with lucrative offers that give the much-needed impetus to intra-region travel. Diving, desert, beach, safari, shopping or museums, whatever kind of escape you crave, our region has it for you. Our summer campaign, “More travels. More savings”, provides a unified offer at nearly 200 participating Marriott International hotels in 30 countries. It gives travellers the opportunity to save up to 30 per cent and discover new locales either closer to home or within a few hours reach.

6.Philip Jones, General Manager, Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach
Staycations have become part of the travelling public’s annual leisure experience, as a supplement to the annual vacation and providing a quick, convenient break from the dayto-day grind. During the month of Ramadan, staycations that feature a good package element are very important as many guests think there is nothing to do, when in fact it is really business as usual. We have, for this reason, created a package with Dubai Parks and Resorts. These packages do have a positive demand as they offer good value and cater to a wider audience.

7.Slim Zaiane, General Manager, Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates
We’re looking forward to welcoming guests to Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates during the holy month of Ramadan and throughout the summer. It’s a very special time of year for us in the region and we look forward to offering guests a memorable Ramadan experience. We will be offering authentic Levantine flavours during Iftar and Suhour in our signature, truly Levantine restaurant, Olea. We will also be offering a personalised and exclusive Iftar experience in our luxurious Aspen Ski Chalets, overlooking the slopes of Ski Dubai.

8.Mark Deere, General Manager, Amwaj Rotana
The biggest benefit of a staycation during Ramadan is the convenience it offers. When guests are fasting, they prefer to stay within their country of residence and not travel long distances or use a means of transportation other than a car. They also want less hassle when preparing for a trip. They also like taking last minute trips and not have to plan in advance. Such a trend has proven successful for us, looking at the number of bookings we get from UAE residents for short stays during Ramadan

9.James Reeves, General Manager, Desert Palm Per Aquum
Over the last three years we have seen a significant increase in the number of ‘staycations’ at Desert Palm during the holy month of Ramadan. With Ramadan moving towards the cooler months over the coming years, we believe that this will be a trend to follow as more staycation options become available throughout the UAE. In the past, guests would have had to look outside of the UAE to escape the stress of city life, but like other countries around the world, UAE residents are reducing travel time and getting more out of their vacation budgets by staying closer to home.

10.Siegfried Poppe, Chief Operating Officer, Smartotels Hospitality International LLC
Staycations continue to increase in popularity around the world due to fundamental geopolitical and demographical shifts. Cross-border travel is becoming increasingly difficult due to visa restrictions and security concerns. Furthermore, reasons such as the stress of travelling with a large family, and shorter breaks at work, iterate the importance of staycations. Dubai is home to one of the most exciting lodging markets in the world, making it the responsibility of the hospitality market to address these prospective travellers with staycation packages.

11.Rita Chbeir Saad, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, Le Gray Beirut
Le Gray Beirut is ideal for short breaks, being a contemporary luxury hotel with a unique location in Downtown. When you are on a short break, you do not want to spend the time commuting; you want to make the most of your time and this is why Le Gray is the place to be. GCC nationals and residents from various nationalities consider Beirut as a short escape and we cater them accordingly. Inspired by their needs and existing trends, our packages help them choose among a variety of possibilities. Travellers can save time preparing their itinerary when they have a comprehensive package that is also mindful of budget.

12.Guenter H. Gebhard, General Manager, Mandarin Oriental Bodrum
Short haul staycations from the GCC are extremely important and growing in popularity. The fact that Turkish Airlines is launching new direct services from Kuwait and Beirut to Bodrum starting June 2017, shows the demand to the destination. Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum is a luxurious hideaway with 129 rooms, suites, apartments and villas. At Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum, we make sure to offer a variety of services covering all aspects of travel for families to ensure all their needs are met. The resort’s children’s recreational groups, managed jointly with Worldwide Kids, include activities for children to teenagers of all ages to keep them busy. Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum offers an exclusive VIP Gate to Gate service at the two international Airports in Istanbul (IST and SAW). This is an added value which any travel agent or tour operator may offer in addition to the accommodation arrangements at Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum.

13.Ahmet Arslan, General Manager, Mövenpick Hotel Istanbul Golden Horn
The holy month of Ramadan is a time for celebrating, spending time with family and sharing. With that in mind, we serve a traditional Iftar buffet accompanied by whirling dervish ceremony at the CulinArt Restaurant of Mövenpick Hotel Istanbul Golden Horn. Guests can also visit Eyüp Sultan mosque, which is a short stroll away from our hotel. Although there has been a slight decrease in foreign visitors, we host local guests during Ramadan both for Iftar buffet and accommodation. Istanbul is a cosmopolitan city with a remarkable history and offers a variety of shopping, dining and leisure options. We make attractive packages for locals to discover the beauty of Istanbul or visit their families during Eid al-Fitr or throughout the year. The ideal location of the hotel, on Istanbul’s historic peninsula, gives guests the opportunity to spend a long weekend with their families and enjoy nearby attractions such as Miniaturk, Rahmi Koc Museum, Vialand or swimming with dolphins

14.Patrick Antaki, Complex General Manager, Le Méridien Al Aqah Beach Resort, Fujairah
Le Méridien Al Aqah Beach Resort has maintained an above average occupancy rate during the holy month of Ramadan, over the past years. We certainly look forward to nothing short of our previous success, hence have recreated attractive packages and promotional offers catering to residents, GCC and international guests. The resort has organised what will be the biggest indoor tent on the East Coast exclusively for the season with a variety of traditional delicacies and other favorites during iftar. The summer package will officially be launched on May 14 and will remain valid until the September 30. The campaign ideally focuses on fussfree travel at unbeatable prices for family staycations, day-out packages, water sport excursions, and exquisite culinary experiences.

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