Jumeirah Group expects to sign a management agreement for the first hotel under its four-star brand, Venu, in the next two months, according to the group’s top executive.
In September, the luxury hotel group said it was in talks with developer Meraas Holding to operate a Venu hotel on Bluewaters Island, a mixed-use development that it is building off the cost of Jumeirah Beach Residence in Dubai.
“With Meraas, all is going well and we should finish before the end of the year,” Gerald Lawless, president and chief executive of Jumeirah Group, told Gulf News in an interview on Thursday.
Jumeirah, which is a member of Dubai Holding, revived its Venu brand in September after it was scrapped in 2011, only a year after its launch, in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. But with the recovery of the UAE economy, the group sees that it is now the right time to reinstate the brand.
We do foresee Venu being a popular brand worldwide and certainly in the UAE. It looks like the first Venu will be in the UAE,” Lawless said.
Jumeirah is in discussions with other UAE investors to operate Venu hotels, whom Lawless declined to name. He, however, expects to sign a management agreement for a second Venu hotel in the country within the next six months.
Venu hotels are likely to open in Dubai Design District, which is being developed by Tecom Investments, and Dubai Holding’s Mall of the World, which will be linked to 100 hotels, Lawless said.
“We are in serious discussions with Tecom about a number of possibilities. We would have to see whether we will have Jumeirah, Venu or both … Mall of the World is also a fabulous location … I am sure we would have both [Jumeirah and Venu] there,” he said.
Jumeirah is also keen on introducing the brand in Abu Dhabi and the Northern Emirates, besides European markets, such as London, Barcelona, Madrid, Berlin and Rome, as well as Asia and Africa.
“There is a lot of interest in the product in Asia. We also think the Venu brand would do well in Africa. We have had some discussions already,” Lawless said.
The group aims to have 40 hotels in operation under the Jumeirah and Venu brands globally by 2018.
Lawless said the hotel operator has so far maintained its market share even as more three- and four-star hotels enter Dubai, and that is expected to continue with the launch of Venu.
“It is important to have choices for guests — that is why we introduced Venu, Jumeirah Living and Jumeirah Stay Different. There is definitely a range there that will be able to help us maintain market share,” he said.
Dubai is also seeing the entry of ultra-luxury hotels, such as the Four Seasons Resort Dubai, Mandarin Oriental Dubai, and Bulgari Hotel, which is not challenging for Jumeirah, Lawless said.
“This is a free market. Competition is good for the industry and the consumer. It gives Jumeirah the opportunity to showcase our hotels in Dubai to these customers who come to stay with the competition,” he said.