Hot summer ahead: Layia CEO

Guest Writer

Veteran hotelier Daniel Hajjar, CEO of Layia Hospitality, has forecast hotels in Dubai will have a bumper July, but is realistically downbeat about potential for exciting business in the interim.”With Ramadan falling in August, business will be concentrated in July but before that, May and June have traditionally been slow months,” he warned. “The trend is for hotels to make offers, with some five-star properties already talking about AED350 rates, but the demand is just not there and if hotels start dumping rates, everyone will lose out.”With operators also manipulating group bookings, the potential is there for a cut-throat summer, he said. “Operators are playing us at our own game, selling an area but not a specific hotel, and then coming to offer us last minute business at their own specified rates.”With new inventory coming to market, Hajjar is sanguine about prospects for the immediate future but has not abandoned plans for expansion and development of the budget market: “We have four apartment properties and one hotel, and with the bigger apartments and suites still in demand for the regional market, we can do deals on the one-beds.For the future, the group is opening its second hotel in autumn, the 232-room Layia Plaza Hotel at Terminal 2, Dubai International Airport, with the 114-room Layia Orchid set to launch early in 2011 and two more hotels in Dubai and Sharjah opening in 2012 and 2013.In the pipeline are 11 additional hotels, but Hajjar said some of these had been put on the backburner, although roll-out of the new Day & Night brand was imminent. “Reaction has been very good so far and we expect more interest when we reveal the design next month - however, we will break ground with the first one in Abu Dhabi within three months and there are plans for five around the emirate within five years.”Aimed at the budget conscious younger traveller, the brand is not only targeting major city centre locations but also targeting leisure locations around the UAE.

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