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Breaking Travel News interview: David Brown, general manager, Fraser Suites Dubai

Breaking Travel News interview: David Brown, general manager, Fraser Suites Dubai David Brown of Frasers Hospitality, centre, is joined by World Travel Awards president Graham Cooke at the recent WTA Middle East Gala Ceremony in Doha

Serviced apartments have grown in recent years to becoming one of the most exciting sectors in international hospitality, as both business and leisure travellers come to recognise their advantages.

Leading the pack is Frasers Hospitality, which was recently recognised as the Middle East’s Leading Serviced Apartment Brand by the World Travel Awards.

Here Chris O’Toole sits down with David Brown, general manager, Fraser Suites Dubai, to discuss the latest with the brand.

Breaking Travel News: Perhaps we could begin with a quick overview of the Frasers Hospitality offering in the Middle East? The group has properties in Doha, Dubai and other key destinations I believe?

David Brown: Frasers Hospitality entered the Middle East market in 2009 with the opening of Fraser Suites Bahrain, a luxurious serviced residence with direct connection to Seef Shopping Mall.

This property features 90 suites including studio, one, two, three bedroom and penthouse suites, meeting rooms, Fraser’s signature Kid’s Club, a gymnasium and large outdoor swimming pools overlooking the sea.

Fraser Suites Dubai followed in May 2010 marking the company’s entry into the UAE market.

All of the 180 suites are situated from levels 23 to 45, of Sidra Tower, with each enjoying spectacular views over the city or pristine coastline.

The property has unrivalled lifestyle facilities including a 25 metre lap pool, children’s swimming pool, gymnasium, yoga room, tennis and squash courts, sauna and steam rooms as well as a ladies and gents spa. 

Food and beverage is provided in Aqua Café, an all-day dining outlet situated adjacent to the pool deck, the resident’s lounge, a coffee lounge and Yamo, a Syrian themed restaurant.

Fraser Suites Doha launched in 2012 with 138 suites in a 14-storey contemporary tower set back from the Doha Corniche.

The striking design of the property incorporates a huge atrium with communal lounges every 3rd floor for the exclusive use of residents to meet and relax.

Fraser Suites Doha has a rooftop pool, spa and gymnasium with commanding views across the water to West Bay and an all-day restaurant and lobby coffee lounge.

First class facilities at Fraser Suites Dubai

BTN: Are there any investment plans you are able to share with us today? I understand Frasers Suites has six more properties planned for the Middle East in the coming years?

DB: Frasers Hospitality has ambitious plans to grow its presence throughout the broader Middle East with emphasis on the UAE.

As announced at ATM, Frasers will open a second property in Bahrain in quarter four of 2014.

This stunning new property is located in the diplomatic area of Manama and will comprise 120 keys with a range of suites and superb lifestyle facilities.

A second Doha Fraser Suites property is currently under construction in West Bay and due to open in quarter four of 2015.

Featuring 396 keys over 46 levels, this property will be the hallmark of high rise living in the centre of the city.

Our next openings will be in Dubai with a new Fraser Suites and new to the Middle East Fraser Residence brand opening in Al Jadaf, an upcoming vibrant quarter of the city.

With a combined 290 keys guests will be accommodated in three towers which will offer studio, one, two and three bedroom suites with comprehensive recreational facilities and dining options. 

Frasers also has two properties under construction in Riyadh, KSA, under the Fraser Suites brand, with both expected to open in 2015.

The company is currently working on a number of new development opportunities and we hope to announce new signings over the coming months that will add to our presence in this region.

Luxury accommodation in the Middle East with Fraser Suites

BTN: Do you feel the serviced apartment sector has come of age in the Middle East in recent years, with business travellers especially coming to recognise their unique advantages?

DB: I think there has been a fairly long standing acceptance of the (hotel apartment) serviced apartment concept over the years especially among GCC customers who appreciate the space and convenience afforded by a full sized apartment when compared to a hotel room.

What the market has witnessed in more recent times is the growth of internationally branded properties. 

The emergence of international brands has served to raise the bar in terms of quality, facilities and range of services offered as well as affording guests the opportunity to participate in global loyalty programs previously not available when staying in locally operated properties.

Frasers Hospitality is a specialist serviced residence operator currently managing 92 Gold Standard properties in 49 cities with 15,500 units around the globe. 

Given the existing acceptance of the hotel apartments concept in the Middle East, we saw a natural opportunity to extend our international portfolio to this region and our efforts to date have been highly rewarded.

Mixing business with pleasure at Frases Suites

BTN: How about the leisure market for serviced apartments? What can you offer in that sector?

DB: Our properties have traditionally appealed to the corporate traveller whether for transient, relocation or project work, or as a temporary accommodation solution. 

In fact the vast majority of our customers around the globe are corporate customers.  However in this region there is very strong demand from the leisure market.

Dubai for example is a magnet for holidaymakers due to its rising popularity as one of the world’s premier leisure destinations with its many world class attractions, heritage and culture, stunning beaches, desert experiences and shopping opportunities, not to mention the more than 330 days of sunshine per year. 

It is no wonder that the city is geared for tourism! 

Fraser Suites Dubai benefits from DTCM’s efforts to market Dubai as a safe and exciting holiday destination and leisure based travel is a very important driver of business. 

The rise in popularity in this region extends to Doha and Bahrain, with both destinations investing heavily to attract the premium customer by improving infrastructure, developing new attractions and constructing hotels to satisfy increased demand.

Securing major events such as the World Cup 2022 in Doha and Expo 2020 in Dubai assist to create a strong desire to visit the Middle East and Gulf countries in particular.

Of course the national carriers Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways play an important role in generating awareness and bringing new leisure customers to the region.

And of course back to our properties, our guests enjoy full sized apartments with a kitchen, laundry facilities, large open plan living and dining spaces, generously proportioned bedrooms with luxurious bedding and high quality bathroom amenities combined with full hotel style services. 

We see this as a perfect solution for couples and families on vacation who want the comfort and space afforded by an apartment but don’t want to miss out on the services and facilities one would normally expect from a five-star hotel.

Culinary delights at Fraser Suites

BTN: Who do you welcome to your accommodation? Do you receive visitors from the GCC, from Europe, or North America? Or is it further afield still?

DB: In our region the year round the number one source market is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, without a doubt. 

The Saudi market has blossomed over the past five years and Dubai is considered a very desirable holiday destination particularly for the family market. 

Our properties in Bahrain and Doha also attract a high percentage of Saudi visitors due to the close proximity and growing appeal of their respective destinations.

Traditionally the United Kingdom has been a very solid market for Dubai and it continues to be a major contributor to our properties in this region, especially during the winter months where our temperate climate is a world away from the bitter European weather conditions.

India is currently ranked the number 2 inbound market to Dubai and our properties are experiencing solid growth year on year.

We are also extremely encouraged by the growth of the Australian market which can be attributed to the Qantas Emirates alliance that now sees Qantas flying direct to Dubai en route to the UK, with multiple daily services between Dubai and major cities in Australia.

The USA, France, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and a number of South East Asian countries all make significant contributions to our business and not to forget residents from the UAE who are frequent customers in our properties especially on weekends and during special event holiday periods.

Business facilities are also top of the line

BTN: Frasers Hospitality was recently recognised as the Middle East’s Leading Serviced Apartment Brand at the World Travel Awards Middle East Gala Ceremony, while Fraser Suites Dubai took the title of Dubai’s Leading Serviced Apartments at the event. Can you tell our readers a little about these titles and how they can be used by the brand to leverage their reputation in the region?

DB: Frasers Hospitality has established and maintained a reputation for excellence right from the launch of the Company in 1998 and this is reflected in the many awards and accolades we have attracted over the past 16 years – far too many to list here! 

This recognition serves to reinforce our commitment to our stakeholders and strengthens our credibility with guests, staff, business partners, suppliers and our investors alike. 

When considering how these awards can be used to leverage the brand I am drawn to one of our core values, which is ‘innovativeness’. 

This value, which is shared with our colleagues worldwide, inspires us to think differently as we seek new and more creative ways to delight our customers. 

Our efforts have been rewarded and as the name implies, the World Travel Awards represents a global stage that recognises the ‘best of the best’. 

To achieve these individual and regional awards is something every member of our property teams can be proud of and our customers can be assured that we will continue in our quest for excellence in all that we do.

Of course we will communicate our successes and reassure our customers that when choosing to stay with Fraser Suites they have made the right choice!

Interview: Chris O’Toole