Opening in February this year, W Dubai – the Palm saw Marriott expand its presence in one of the fastest growing hospitality markets in the world.
Here Breaking Travel News chats with Anne Scott, general manager of the property, to find out more about what it brings to the tourism sector in the Middle East.
Breaking Travel News: W Dubai – the Palm has been open for coming up to six months, how has it been received by your first guests?
Anne Scott: The opening of W Dubai – the Palm came at a time when the market needed something fresh and different to cut through the monotony.
Dubai is full of amazing hotels – full of marble staircases and crystal chandeliers.
The feedback from our guests is that they welcome the fact that we are something different.
The Escape, the word for resort in the W world, with its unique and extensive design narrative, offering and service culture, has been welcomed with open arms.
Our first guests have been vital in our learnings as well, as we take back all feedback and channel it positively.
BTN: Have any changes from your original plans been needed following the opening?
AS: Change is inevitable especially in the region we are in.
We haven’t deviated from our original plans; but we have adapted the hotel as we learnt what works well and what needs to change.
For example, as soon as we opened, we realised that the Wet Deck (W lingo for swimming pool area) was a smash hit in the local market.
It was always designed as a social space but not for the volume of demand that we created didn’t match the scope and scale of the set up.
So, we have added additional dispense bars and purchased additional cabanas and sun loungers for the comfort of our guests.
Another example is the open-air terrace at Akira Back.
We had designed it for lounge bar seating and casual grazing – however, our guests very quickly made it clear that they want to dine outdoors when the weather is fine, so we’ve adapted the space and purchased additional tables and armchairs to suit this new demand.
BTN: The Palm Jumeirah in Dubai is one of the most iconic hospitality destinations in the world, and home to a number of leading resorts. What does the new W hotel bring that is unique to the location?
AS: We are the neighbours you want to have beside you.
Imagine it as if we were a pair of vibrant neon and glitter sneakers sitting on a rack of white, monotone ones - we came to disrupt the Palm!
W Dubai – the Palm is the space where you come to ‘hit escape’ however you desire.
What does that mean? It means – if you want to relax on our pristine beach or mingle at our roof top bar with 360 views, you can.
If you want to SUP (stand up paddle) or glam it up at Away Spa – not a problem.
Michelin Star Chef? We’ve got two!
We set the trend and for those that want to be in the know – they embrace our direction.
What better way to grab a guest’s attention than presenting them with limitless possibilities?
BTN: Is this an auspicious time to be opening a new luxury hotel in Dubai? There have been reports of oversupply at the top end of the market and consequent falling prices; has this been your experience?
AS: I’m pleased and proud that we have opened something new and different in the market.
There is oversupply of new hotels in the market – and pressure on room rates.
Therefore, the only way to go is “new, exciting, different” – and so we continue to challenge ourselves every day for guest experiences that set us apart.
For example, we celebrate our passion for music by offering guests a DJ experience package – whereby guests can have a private DJ one to one session and learn a new skill.
We use offers like this to give guests a reason to book W, that is not price led, but is experience led.
BTN: Saudi Arabia, the UK and India are among the most importance source markets for Dubai – has this been reflected among your guests? How would you describe occupancy at the hotel?
AS: For those that aren’t familiar with the W Brand, we attract travellers that have a lust for life, a laid-back approach to luxury and a curiosity for what is new and next.
The UK is definitely a key source market for us followed by the GCC region.
We usually have an influx of local guests on the weekends and a steady flow of our pals from the UK, coming in for sunshine and good vibes.
Another key market is Russia, guests who love the hotel for its innovative design and vibrant service culture.
BTN: A lot of focus has been placed on Expo 2020 next autumn – will this have a positive, even transformative, impact on the United Arab Emirates hotel sector?
AS: There are an expected 25 million visitors who will attend Expo 2020, including 17 million international visitors so it will be a powerful source of business for hotels.
From the sneak peaks that I have seen, the experiences available through Expo are transformational.
Some say the Palm based hotels will not benefit from Expo due to location, but I believe in the saying that “a rising tide lifts all boats,” and I think the marketplace will enjoy positive growth in demand.
BTN: The Wake Up Call festival has been unveiled at W Dubai – the Palm for October. What will this offer to guests to the hotel?
AS: This is a music festival done differently.
Wake Up Call takes the festival experience off the fields and onto fabulous hotel grounds.
From October 10-12, room key and ticket holders can check in and check out performances throughout the hotel, from Wet Deck DJ parties to live sets by some of the hottest acts in music today including Disclosure (DJ set), Rita Ora, Rüfüs Du Sol, and more.
It’s all access (and perhaps a bit of excess), all the time.
Guests and festival attendees will also have the chance to experience W’s passion points of Fuel, Design and Fashion with interactive pop-ups.
Fans of our weekend Palm Sugar brunch, can enjoy the eats and beats that made this a world-famous way to spend an afternoon at Wed Deck.
For a more intimate setting, guests can gather the tribe and book one of the Luxury Festival Suites which offer the best views of the Main Stage and Dubai skyline with premium beverage and food offerings, private suite facilities and dedicated service.
The breath-taking design of W Dubai – the Palm celebrates the evolution of one of the most dynamic cities in the world, seamlessly juxtaposing the organic, natural curves of sand dunes and coastline with the marvel of the geometric lines of the city’s skyscrapers.
Find out more about the hotel in the official website.