ITB Berlin 2015 interview: Thomas Grundner, head of sales and marketing, Meydan Hotels & Hospitality

Having been recognised as the World’s Leading Sports Resort by voters at the World Travel Awards, Meydan Hotel is preparing to host its showcase event, the Dubai World Cup later this month.

Ahead of the world’s most famous race, Breaking Travel News here sits down with Thomas Grunder, head of sales at parent Meydan Hotels & Hospitality, to discuss the preparations.

Breaking Travel News: We are here in Germany for ITB Berlin 2015, with visitors from across Europe in town for the event. How important is Europe for Dubai and Meydan Hotels & Hospitality in particular?

Thomas Grundner: With easy accessibility to the region and daily flights from key cities, the UAE is the main gateway to Europe.

For our properties, the main feeder markets are Europe and the GCC.

As the world’s first and only five-star trackside hotel, The Meydan Hotel, and unique desert hotel destination, Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa, there is a strong interest from countries such as Middle East, Europe and Australia in particular since we offer unique experience with the hotels, which are under our portfolio.

BTN: With work now underway for the Dubai Expo 2020, how would you describe the tourism market in the Emirate at present? Have we now seen the return to the optimism of a few years ago?

TG: Tourism is the driving force behind the United Arab Emirate’s economic and business development.

We believe that the spirit of optimism has now returned as the government has announced many exciting projects for the future, such as Mall of the World project, which will be connected to 100 hotels, opening of world-class theme parks and other leisure facilities.

BTN: The Meydan Hotel was recognised as the World’s Leading Sports Resort in 2014 by the World Travel Awards, while Bab Al Shams took the title of World’s Leading Desert Resort. How does it feel to have taken this title for the third consecutive year?

TG: We are honoured that both The Meydan Hotel and Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa have been recognised at the World Travel Awards.

These are coveted honours for global travel and tourism industrials around the world- especially as Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa was awarded the accolade for the third time.

Although the two properties are distinctively different, they both showcase the key cultural aspects of the Middle East. 

With the horse being a symbolic part of the tradition and culture of the Middle East, The Meydan Hotel is the renowned for horseracing.

In addition, the property offers a large range of sport activities including a floodlit ‘Championship 9 Hole’ golf course and multiple courts of the Tennis Academy.

On the other hand, Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa is a unique destination.

Exuding warmth of Arabic hospitality and pure luxury, the resort has been offering guests an authentic desert experience that is true to the cultural and traditional heritage of the United Arab Emirates.

BTN: The Dubai World Cup reaches its climax later this month, with the 20th running scheduled for Saturday, March 28th. How are preparations for the main event of the sporting year in Dubai going?

The sport of horseracing and the Dubai World Cup have always been an integral focus of Meydan Hotels and Hospitality, and the preparations for the World Cup have been underway since the last quarter of 2014.

Each year, The Meydan Hotel becomes a headquarters for the Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest horseracing event.

The Meydan Hotel provides a prime location to enjoy the exhilarating action of the racing season, and is an attractive travel destination all-year round with 284 luxurious rooms and suites.

Furthermore, for the World Cup, we have created special packages in each of our food and beverage outlets offering guests exclusive Apron View Access and dining with unrivalled views of the racetrack.

Last year you revealed plans for an expansion of the Bab Al Shams resort. Can you bring us up to date with what is happening at the property?

BTN: In order to ensure a true desert experience is offered, plans are still being finalised regarding the expansion for Bab Al Shams.

We recognise that it is important to keep tradition and offer an end product which would entice guests when they stay with us.