‘We are the most unique offering in Dubai’

Michael Henssler of the Kempinski Mall of the Emirates tells KEITH J FERNANDEZ that high rates mean higher agent commissions
Poolside at the Kempinski Mall of the Emirates

THE Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates has recorded occupancy levels above 90 per cent over its first six months of operations, according to the hotel’s general manager.

“We anticipated a slow season, but to always have occupancies over 90 per cent, and all sold at prime rates, has been more or less overwhelming. It is an absolute luxury to stop selling while others are still rushing to meet quotas,” Michael Henssler tells TTN. In fact, a delayed opening had no adverse impact on bookings, he says.
Several factors have contributed to the hotel’s performance, he said, including the novelty of a new property, the brand name, as well as the unique appeal of the destination – the hotel is in the midst of an multi-use complex that hosts the third largest mall in the world, the Mall of the Emirates and Ski Dubai, the region’s first indoor ski slope.
“This is a destination in itself. People check in and stay here, they don’t need to go anywhere. We have a variety of dining options, both in the hotel and outside in the mall, and some of them are unique to the city, like Sezzam, which seats 1000 people, and where the kitchens are defined by the method of cooking, not by an ethnic background,” he says.
Over the coming season the hotel will position itself as the number one leisure resort in the emirate. “Once the hotel is complete, with the addition of the ski chalets, it is going to be the most unique offering in Dubai,” Henssler said. “We are working to diversify our segmentation of clients, and to move away from tactical responses to a more planned approach,” he adds, in enumerating the tasks ahead of him.
For the moment, the hotel’s largest percentage of guests comes from the GCC leisure market, particularly Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, but sustaintainability, Henssler says, comes with diversifying into the corporate sector and looking for group business. “We are the perfect MICE destination, especially so for people that don’t necessarily lie on the beach on holiday, such as those form the Far East, the Middle East or the Indian subcontinent.” For those that do want to lie on the beach, the hotel has deals with beach properties in Dubai, Ajman and Abu Dhabi.
Despite all the kudos, however, the hotel is still a work in progress, although no signs of construction are evident. Still to come is a new spa in association with Soft Touch Ayurveda on schedule to open in the Ramadan period, and those much-talked about ski chalets, which are set to open in this final quarter of 2006, and are reputedly being booked for $7,000 per night. “We will never be a cheap place,” says Henssler. “We were asked at the beginning how we could be more expensive than the beach hotels, but we invited the agents in, and once they saw the product, they understood and went out and sold our property very successfully. The higher the rates the agents sell at, the higher their commissions.”
Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates recently announced the completion of exciting new facilities within the complex, including an amazing outdoor, overflowing swimming pool stylishly elevated from the wooden sun deck. The area includes a chic and trendy pool bar offering a variety of freshly squeezed fruit cocktails, smoothies, and a selection of alcoholic beverages as well as delectable sandwiches, wraps, salads and appetizers.
“Kempinski is renowned for its refinement and elegance, and we made every effort to make all aspects of our hotel operations reflect this revered standard, including our conference facilities. We have taken great care in integrating every conceivable need our business travellers and corporate clients have for their events and meetings to ensure that they have a truly hassle-free and relaxing stay at our hotel,” says Henssler.
The 480,000sqft property boasts the country’s largest hotel rooms, with 395 deluxe rooms and suites including 15 ski chalets, all designed and built with luxury and comfort in mind. The conference wing features 13 elegant banquet and conference rooms that can accommodate up to 470 people for large functions and events. Hi-tech features include innovative built-in video conferencing, high speed wireless internet connection, retractable screen and built-in projection system, wireless digital room controlling panel, among other features.
The hotel was recently included in Travel+Leisure’s It List of the coolest hotels around the world.