If you haven’t seen the leading hotels in both the Middle East and East Asia then you haven’t seen the cutting edge of our industry. At Hotelintel.co, we’re more than familiar with the best of the Far East, so it’s time to take a closer look at what the Gulf has to offer.

The Middle East is rarely out of the news, and in recent years a number of destinations have seen arrivals drop due to instability and the perceived threat of terrorism. Dubai, in contrast, has gone from strength to strength, with Emirates connecting every corner of the planet via DXB, and a steady pipeline of luxury hotels and residential developments to cater to the rising arrivals numbers.

The largest single source market for visitors to Dubai is India, followed by Saudi Arabia, the UK, Oman, and China. However, given that the Philippines is 12th on the list, and Pakistan 7th, this may be an indication that arrivals figures also include those who are taking up employment. Similar to the situation in the Far East, Chinese arrivals have been growing strongly, increasing 48% for 2017 over the previous year.

Olivier Chavy, CEO and President of Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, explained that “Dubai is a global hub for tourism and trade and attracted more than 16.5 million visitors in 2017. It is on track to meet its target of 20 million international tourists by 2020, if not earlier, and this is fueling demand growth for hotel beds, which is currently around 5.8%. This growth is predicted to continue, peaking at 6.2% in 2020 when Dubai hosts the World Expo, with more than $800 billion being pumped into infrastructure to support the event.”

To meet the growing demands of these visitors, Dubai now offers around 675 hotels (including hotel apartment complexes), with 5-star properties forming the largest sector at 33%. In total, 57% of supply falls into the 4 or 5-star category, with occupancy running at around 79% consistently across all types. With a total of 23.8 million occupied room/nights for 2017 and an average length of stay of 3.5 nights, Dubai had average ADR of 130 USD and RevPAR of 100 USD

For a closer look, we recently visited the must-see Burj Al Arab, a hotel which has become a destination in its own right, flooded with wealthy Chinese. Adjacent lies the Jumeirah Al Naseem, while nearby on The Palm you can find the traditional luxury of One&Only and Anantara, where a majority of the guests are European, and especially British. Meanwhile, the leading 5-star hotel brand in the Arab world according to Forbes is Mövenpick, with 47 properties in 10 countries in the region, including five in Dubai with three more under development.  

While many people think of Dubai as rather extravagant, we’ve noticed a little bit of a change as modern luxury has been introduced to the market. One such example is FIVE Palm, a 468-room showcase for the new era of luxury owned by FIVE Holdings, a Dubai-based real estate group. Vida Hotel is another homegrown brand by Emaar, a very subtle but stylish lifestyle hotel. Both hotels are known for their F&B venues as they form the heart of the socialite scene for Dubai residents.

One of the current trends in Asia has been to reduce the staffing levels, along with smaller rooms and reductions in the F&B outlets. This concept has now been introduced in Dubai with Rove Hotels, whose smaller rooms are complemented by co-working spaces, a TGIF outlet and minimart, and space to do your laundry. The idea seems to have caught on as the city now has four Rove properties with a fifth about to open in Dubai Marina in mid-2018. In addition, the company has just announced the Rove King Abdullah Economic City in Saudi Arabia, which will be the first property outside the UAE. It is planned that there will be a total of ten Rove Hotels in the UAE and beyond by 2020.

Another new brand following this trend in Dubai is Rest Republic, so it is clear that the city is no longer only for the rich. With affordable yet stylish accommodation and the emergence of low cost airlines in the region, the phenomenon that is Dubai may be about to enter a new chapter.