The First Group Capitalises on Dubai’s Mid-Market Hotel Boom with Portfolio Expansion

  • Dubai-based property developer to open four new upscale hotels ahead of Expo 2020 to meet rising demand for affordable luxury accommodation

The First Group will open four new upscale hotels in Dubai by 2020 as the city’s visitor profile diversifies, driving demand for affordable luxury accommodation.

As new family attractions open their doors, appealing to a broader market, and in preparation for Expo 2020 Dubai, which is expected to draw 25 million visitors, the Dubai-based property development firm has earmarked plots for properties in four strategic locations across the city: Dubai Marina, Business Bay, Jumeirah Village Triangle (JVT) and Jumeirah Village Circle (JVC).

Millennium Place Business Bay, Millennium Place JVT Dubai, Ramada Plaza JVC and The One Dubai Marina, all of which will open ahead of the Expo, will expand The First Group’s hotel portfolio to five properties. The firm’s first hotel, Wyndham Dubai Marina, opened in February 2016.

The British-owned international hotel and property firm, which is best known for its collection of highly popular aparthotels in Dubai, has focused its attention on developing upscale hotels to cater to the growing number of visitors seeking value-for-money accommodation options in the city, explained Mariano Faz, Head of TFG Asset Management.

“To achieve its target of 20 million visitors by 2020, Dubai is diversifying its tourism offering and attracting new markets, which has seen a new guest profile emerge: value-conscious families and business travellers who demand the luxury accommodation for which the city is known, but at an affordable price,” he said.

“The First Group anticipated this market shift and has responded by developing upscale properties that tick all the right boxes. Our contemporary and architecturally-striking hotels will occupy some of Dubai’s most desirable precincts and offer uncompromised quality and high service standards. They will provide a full range of facilities, from restaurants to rooftop pools and spas.”

Faz said the overwhelming success of Wyndham Dubai Marina, which welcomed more than 36,000 guests in its first year of operation, proved the upscale hotel model met new market demand.

Faz will be one of several high-level hotel industry experts speaking at the upcoming Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC), which takes place at Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, from 25 to 27 April 2017.

He will join David Vely, Vice President Development MEAI, Club Med, for a panel discussion on day three (27 April) entitled ‘Upscale is the new luxury’. The session will focus on the rising demand for affordable luxury accommodation options in Dubai and the wider GCC region.

In 2016, Dubai’s hotel inventory reached 102,845 rooms across 681 establishments, with 32 percent in the five-star category (33,122 rooms) and 23 percent in the four-star category (22,990 rooms), Dubai Tourism figures reveal.

To accommodate the 20 million visitors expected by 2020, Dubai requires at least 150,000 rooms. The emirate is on target to reach 134,000 rooms by the end of 2018, Dubai Tourism Director General Helal Almarri recently revealed.

He stressed there was a “significant boost in the number of properties in the three- and four-star range” in 2016, with capacity growing by 24 percent and 8 percent respectively as “several stylish and boutique new entrants carved a niche positioning for themselves in the market”.

However, more midscale and upscale room stock is needed by 2020 if current visitor demand trends continue, said Faz.

“With new theme parks such as Dubai Parks & Resorts and IMG Worlds of Adventure opening their doors and many more, including Six Flags, IMG Worlds of Legends and Dubai Safari to follow, Dubai’s family visitor segment will boom, in line with Dubai Tourism’s strategy to attract this market,” he said.

“At the same time, Dubai’s fastest-growing and highest-volume source markets are the GCC, India and China. Growth in each is being driven by the wealthy middle class, increasing demand for affordable luxury accommodation.

“The First Group, with its well-located and high-quality properties, is well placed to capitalise on this market shift, which will only gain momentum in the run-up to Expo 2020 Dubai and beyond.”