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July 6, 2009

Rosewood brings business brand to UAE

Dallas-based Rosewood Hotels & Resorts is expanding its presence in the Middle East with a Rosewood Dubai in Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) to open 2010; and a Rosewood Abu Dhabi on Sowwah Island to open in 2012. Rosewood currently has three properties in Saudi Arabia.


The two new properties will be heavily targeted towards the business and meetings markets. The plan is to build on the success of Rosewood Al Faisaliah Hotel in Riyadh, which has cornered the meetings market there with the largest column-free banqueting hall in the Kingdom.


“The location of the new hotel in Dubai will be perfect [for this market],” said Ron Cusiter, corporate director of sales and marketing, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts. “It will feed off our hotels in Saudi, in terms of Middle East corporate business and the GCC leisure traveller. Given its location in DIFC its going to be heavily leaning toward conference business, meetings business, and social catering and banquet events.


"The Rosewood Abu Dhabi hotel will also be in the new financial district. So that will give us three locations in the Middle East that all create a synergy for the same customer - which is a business traveller and the meetings events traveller.”


Cusiter acknowledged that with the impact of the economic crisis on the hospitality industry, this is a challenging time to be launching two new hotels, but he remained confident that the strength of the Rosewood brand, and its tight focus on the niche business sector would help to pull in business.


“The biggest change now is that customers this time last year who were calling me up and saying I want to book a meeting, I want to book a conference event, and I want the rooms – now they are calling ten other hotels too. Budget is paramount and of course the AIG effect is having an impact because people do not want to be seen to be using luxury hotel groups to have their meeting and conferences, so that’s having an impact on business globally. Like everybody else we are facing challenges. We are having to work an awful lot harder now for business than we ever had to do before.”


Despite these challenges, Cusiter insists the answer is not to drop rates. “Dropping rates is not the way forward. We have tried to look where possible to try to meet our customers’ needs, other than drop rates. We are saying we will try to meet your needs, whether that’s with added benefits with the meetings space, or add-ons. For example, if you’re bringing a spouse we can try to do something for them or something that will enhance their stay and help their budget - but we don’t have to drop rates. That’s not going to solve this crisis. I think people who do that will damage their long term outlook in business.”



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