Singapore group in Dubai debut

The new serviced apartments at the Somerset Jadaf

THE Ascott Group, a leading international serviced residence company headquartered in Singapore, has opened its first Middle East property – Somerset Jadaf, Dubai.

The hotel, owned by Wafi Group, is offering guests special promotion rates until September 30: studios at a daily rate of Dh600 and two-bedroom apartments at Dh1175.
The 84-unit serviced residence is in the Jadaf area, and offers personalised services and facilities including daily housekeeping, buffet breakfast, babysitting, grocery deliveries, valet service and dry cleaning. Each unit is furnished with a fully-equipped modern kitchen, a living and dining room, home entertainment system and more. Also available are a business centre, meeting room, outdoor swimming pool, jacuzzi and fully-equipped gymnasium.
Ascott is the world’s largest serviced residence owner-operator outside the US with properties in 43 cities in Asia Pacific, Europe and now the Middle East. TTN’s SHALU CHANDRAN quizzed Yip Hoong Mun, Ascott Group CEO Asia Pacific Middle East, about the group’s expansion. Excerpts:

So why Dubai?
Moving to the Middle East has been on our agenda for some time and Dubai obviously was our first choice. The city is one of the fastest growing in the world and has a relatively limited supply of serviced residences.

What are your plans for the region? Can we expect more properties?
The opening of the Somersert Jadaf is our first step in the brand’s expansion plans to have about 15 properties in the region by 2010, a feat we believe will be successful and easily achievable considering the region’s strong economic growth. Our first phase will see properties in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Qatar, followed by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Egypt. We hope to make some exciting announcements soon.

What about bringing in your other brands – Ascott and Citadines?
We definitely will bring all our brands to the region, depending on location and suitability. The Ascott brand offers exclusive premier apartments situated within the city centre, suitable for top executives over a short period of time, Somerset offers quality apartments for corporate executives and their families with personalised service and Citadines are serviced residences for mid-level executives.

There has been an Ascot hotel in Dubai for many years. Will this lead to brand confusion?
I don’t think so. The Ascot in Bur Dubai caters to a completely different market. We are two different products serving to different sectors of guests. Moreover, since we have now launched our Somerset brand in Dubai, by the time we open a Ascott, more people will be aware of the Ascott brand. The market will recognise the difference; Ascott never has and does not intend to run hotels. Our key focus has always been serviced apartments.