Hotels roll out the red carpet for race fans

Poolside entertainment on offer at Ritz Carlton

The importance of the year’s first Formula One race, which takes place from March 12 to 14 at Bahrain International Circuit, is a major issue for the island’s Tourism Sector, the section of the Ministry of Culture and Information set up last year to help drive promotion of the island’s tourism industry.

Dr Heba Aziz executive director and advisor at the sector said: “The Gulf Air Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix is the flagship tourism product for Bahrain, it has almost single-handedly shaped Bahrain’s image.

“The current most dominant image of ‘Destination Bahrain’ is as the Middle East’s Home for Motorsport. The economic impact of Formula One is very clear, last year the race period registered the longest average stay for tourists in five-star hotels, reaching three nights and exceeding the annual average of two nights.

“Our objective this year is to include more events in order to attract a wider circle of arrivals and to combine the activities of F1 and the Spring of Culture to create an attractive package of activities.

“We aim to work closely with Bahrain International Circuit to make the three days of the race a time of ‘must be seen in Bahrain’ not only for motorsports fans but for out target audience of the luxury ABC1 market both regionally and internationally.”

The significance of the event is also recognised by Gulf Air, which is the major sponsor and also shares its 60th anniversary this year with the race.

CEO Samer Majali said: “The Gulf Air-F1 sponsorship agreement  has paid rich dividends in firmly establishing the Kingdom of Bahrain in the global map as the ‘Home of Motorsport in the Middle East” as well as raising the airline’s image as the sports ambassador of the country.

“The enormous success of the Formula One Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, since it began in 2004, as evidenced by the increasing number of visitors to the kingdom year-on-year to witness the race, is clear proof of the popularity of the race that has brought substantial returns to the kingdom and to Gulf Air.

“More than 540 million television viewers tuned in from around the world to watch last year’s race, while close to 100,000 people attended the three-day extravaganza in Bahrain with a good number of visitors from abroad travelling by Gulf Air to witness the race.”

The island’s hotels are also keen to make F1 visitors welcome with many offering extras for race goers such as free transport to and from the circuit and complimentary breakfasts.

Majali…sponsorship pays dividends

The InterContinental Regency has four nights’ accommodation and a grandstand ticket for BD570 ($1,511) plus taxes per person in a double room.

While the Crowne Plaza has single rooms from BD160 plus taxes per night with transport to the circuit, drinks vouchers and a host of other extras.

Kate Simmonds, area director of sales and marketing – InterContinental Hotels Group Northern Gulf, said: “This year’s Formula One in Bahrain is going to be even bigger and better as it’s the first race of the competition and we are expecting lots of visitors to the island – both first time and regular guests.

“Formula One is the biggest event of the year for Bahrain’s tourism industry and not only does it generate revenue for many local companies, it also showcases the fabulous and famous Bahraini hospitality in so many ways and keeps us on the international sporting event map.”

The Al Safir Hotel and Tower is offering double rooms at BD700 for the three days of the event including taxes and round-trip transfers to the circuit while at the Marriott Executive Apartments, a one bedroom apartment is available for BD300 per night.

Marriott director of sales Marwan Haddad said: “We are delighted to have the first race of the season taking place in Bahrain. We are sure that Bahrain will set a new standard for hosting such major events and we are working with the organiser to make sure that will happen.

“Guests staying with us will truly feel like they are in a ‘home away from home’. We will be having a special room service snack menu should they choose to watch the race in the privacy of their apartment. In addition, they will have the chance to follow the goings on at the circuit while having their breakfast  in our restaurant prior going to the race and our kitchen team will be offering breakfast and lunch boxes for our guests to take with them to the race.”

And the Ritz Carlton is offering poolside promotions to chill out after a long day.