The Thai Connection

The Dusit Dubai stands out amidst the Dubai skyline with its unusual shape. One year after it started operations, Jonna Simon spoke to general manager Michael Tiplady about tourism, architecture and chasing down MICE.
The Thai 'wai'-inspired architecture of the Dusit Dubai.

The Dusit Dubai Hotel is located on the Sheikh Zayed Road, which seems to be taking over as the preferred location for top hotels in Dubai. Does the location mean you are aiming at the business travellers or do you also attract holidaymakers?

Dusit Dubai is primarily a corporate hotel, our main target is the business traveller. Having said that though, we have an arrangement with a beach hotel, The Oasis Beach Hotel in Jumeirah, for the vacationers staying at our hotel.

We offer golf packages, which the Japanese have responded to, as well as racing packages for the Dubai World Cup event. We offer our guests a shuttle bus service several times daily to the beach facility and to the shopping malls.

The government of Dubai wants to attract 15 million visitors annually to the emirate by 2010. Last year, the economy of Dubai grew by a healthy eight per cent, so it certainly seems the right time for the Dusit hotel chain to open a property in Dubai. Would you agree?

The thrust of the company is expansion, Dusit Dubai is the Litmus test to see, how this venture works out. As the hotel is doing very well, the company is now looking for more properties in the Middle East, including Dubai, and further afield.

It is good news that the government of Dubai is doing so much with respect to infrastructure thus encouraging more visitors to Dubai. IMF 2003 will bring many corporate visitors, which is good for the hotel business - and if the development of Dubai continues in the next ten years as it has in the last five, the place is going to be absolutely phenomenal.

There are several new hotels planned for Dubai for the future. Do you think the market will be saturated? And do you feel the competition getting tougher?

The competition is always tough, whether it is ten or 200 hotels, because all the hotels are attuned to the market and very aware of the possibilities and opportunities. Hotels need to react before anything happens - and yes, it is going to get tougher.

The Dusit Dubai is only a stroll away from the new Convention Centre. Will the MICE market become important to your hotel?

We have not developed much of a MICE market in the past, but we intend to do so in the future. The priority for the MICE market is the need for themed catering events in order to run it successfully. We have some support along these lines, but not enough, so we are currently developing this aspect.

Many visitors to Dubai can often remember two hotels - the Burj Al Arab and the arched shape of the Dusit Dubai - what was the architectural inspiration for the shape of the building?

The Dusit hotel group's reputation is built on the unique Thai style in Asia. The shape of this hotel is the Thai 'wai', ie the traditional Thai greeting of pressing the palms together - that is the shape of the building.