Is luxury a victim of the prevailing economic crunch? Is it dead?
At least not at the Dubai-based Jumeirah Group of hotels, says Gerald Lawless, its executive chairman. “Luxury doesn’t have to mean being ostentatious or flaunting anything,” he told Business Traveller Asia-Pacific. “The standards that we are known for – operating in a caring manner for our guests and interaction with the local community where our properties are based – remain.”
The chain, whose iconic hotels the Burj Al-Arab and Emirates Tower have become an inextricable part of the Dubai skyline, carries the tagline, “Stay Different”, which Lawless says was coined, “because each guest is different, and we want them to stay that way.”
Each of Jumeirah’s member hotels is unique as well, Lawless notes, “with a great sense of place”.
Optimistic that the current downturn was cyclical, Lawless said it was vital the company stood by its standards of quality and “ensure we do not disappoint those who stay with us”. He added: “We believe the level of guests who patronises our hotels is resilient to recession.”
Thinking long-term is the reason the Group hasn’t called a halt on expansion, recently announcing the sign on of five new projects in Bali, the Maldives and Middle East (Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait) bringing its total of hotel developments to 19 at the filing of this report. “There will always be projects that start and don’t finish,” Lawless said, “but we shouldn’t stop looking for opportunities or spending on marketing”.
In Asia-Pacific, China provides the bright spot, despite a slowing in GDP, but says Lawless: “That’s still phenomenal growth which will necessitate new hotels.”
Jumeirah’s first foray into this market will come shortly with the debut of Jumeirah HanTang Xintiandi, located in Shanghai’s most high-profile entertainment district.
The all-butler hotel, according to its general manager Akram Touma, is pulling no stops to showing the Chinese market what luxury Jumeirah style means. Highlights include Spa Villas, including the Chairman’s Villa, consisting of spa facilities as well as its exclusive gym and lift; the Crystal Pavilion complemented by an elevated outdoor venue ideal for functions and events; and a Grand Ballroom among others.
For more details, visit www.jumeirah.com.
Margie T Logarta