Since opening in September, the 293-key Anantara Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa has steadily grown its presence. The brand name also helped promote the resort, with Anantara being a popular choice for tourists from Asia in particular. Jean-Francois Laurent, General Manager Anantara Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa told us more about Thai luxury in Dubai.
Tell us about the challenges which you have faced so far and how you and your team managed to overcome these.
On the whole, the opening of the resort went smoothly and the first year of opening has been a great success.
As with all new openings, we faced some initial challenges with the launch – such as the delayed opening of Bushman’s Restaurant & Bar and Anantara Spa, both due to unforeseen circumstances and factors beyond our control.
We managed to overcome these particular delays by focusing on the elements of the resort that were fully functioning and perfecting those for our guests.
Also, we looked at how we could maximise the situation. To fill the gap for the delayed Spa opening, for example, our Spa Director used her innovative skills by launching in-room spa treatments, whereby the team would transform the rooms into relaxing havens, and she also launched a massage cabana on the beach, which was very popular amongst guests.
I think the delays, in a way, may have even worked in our favour, because to launch Bushman’s later on meant that we could really focus on its uniqueness and give it the full attention and launch it deserved. It was long awaited and eagerly anticipated by guests, but the response from the market has been incredible.
What are you current target markets and what new segments are you planning to tap into for 2016 and why?
Our three key markets are Germany, UK and Russia, and these will continue to be our main target markets into 2016.
We welcome a great mix of nationalities however throughout the year – guests from China, USA, GCC, etc
I think it is a resort that can appeal to any kind of traveler too, whether that’s someone travelling solo, or as a couple for the weekend, right through to long family holidays.
How was your property doing in 2015 in terms of the Russian Market? How do you identify this market in comparison with other European markets?
We have been extremely popular amongst Russian guests. As mentioned, it is one of our key markets and we receive fantastic feedback. The Russian holidays are always very busy here in the resort, attracting many families looking for an upscale luxury beach-side break.
We have tried to introduce various elements around the resort to welcome our Russian guests – we have, for example, many Russian speaking associates, Russian menus, and our villas are of particular interest to our Russian guests, as well as the Spa.
The Palm is a destination that exudes luxury and exclusivity, which is why I think we are such an attractive option to our Russian travelers.
Could you tell us about the response from your Chinese guests?
China is growing market for us. We have hosted many trips here since we opened, including having been involved in hosting the well-documented NU Skin incentive group, which was the biggest incentive group Dubai has ever welcomed, so it was a huge privilege to be involved.
We recently welcomed guests for the Chinese Visitor Summit and we are attracting more attention from the Chinese media, having hosted many channels and news portals for site inspections and film/photoshoots.
We believe this market will increase further 2016 and we are looking forward to welcoming more Chinese holiday makers.
As a resort, tell us a little about the offerings provided to holiday guests?
Our resort is truly one of kind, for various reasons.
We were the first resort in the Middle East to introduce Over Water Villas, which each have glass viewing panels to watch the sealife beneath.
We have over 10,000 sq m of lagoon pools throughout the resort, with many rooms enjoying direct access to the lagoon pools from their balcony.
We also offer ‘room-service on water’ – a floating bar, where our associates serve drinks from a Thai market boat, right on the water. A very nice touch for our guests.
Comfortable rooms with ample space and options for all requirements and tastes.
We will shortly be launching trips to the Marina, and around the Palm in a traditional Thai longtail boat.
We have electronic tuk tuks that not only look great and add to the Thai-inspired architecture, but they’re also really quiet and clean too, so great for the environment.
Our restaurants are all very unique and of high quality, with a great team of 96 chefs. From authentic Australian cuisine, to signature Thai and Mediterranean dishes, our guests can try cuisine from around the world!
What are your hotel’s unique selling points and how are you currently promoting these?
We promote these using a range of methods and approaches and we have an active team focused on ensuring that we have a presence in most communication platforms, including around the resort, on social media, the radio, we try to maintain good relationships with guests and the media, who have shown us great support during our first year of operation. We like to engage with our guests as much as possible, so we often run competitions to give people the chance to sample the resort and give back to those who support us.
Very importantly, we listen to our guest feedback and implement improvements where appropriate.
Having only been open for one year, we are still evolving and seeing trends, but we have some very interesting promotions and ideas for the next year, so it’s a very exciting time for us.
The aim is to build on the success of the first year and strengthen our position as a resort of choice for a range of travellers.