Flora Group aims for 10 hotels by 2010

THE Flora Group of Hotels aims to build ten hotels by 2010 – and is halfway to that target. Suhas Desai, vice-president, Flora Group of Hotels, spoke to TTN. Excerpts:

What is the extent of your group, what are your expansion plans?
The Flora Group of Hotels started operations in 2001 with the Florida Hotel in Deira, Dubai, and we have since opened one property every year, the fifth property being Flora Park Hotel Apartments.

By the end of 2007, we will have a new property overlooking the creek, Flora Creek Hotel Apartments with 180 deluxe units. We will have reached our target of 10 hotels by 2010, with new properties in Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah and on Sheikh Zayed Road, which will also have state-of-the-art banqueting and conference facilities.

What are your occupancy rates like?
Since we opened the Flora Park in July 2006 we have had a very encouraging response. In December and January, we had 100 per cent occupancy. We look forward to a similar response in 2007.
The hotel is currently fully functional, though there’s still some work left like a new restaurant currently under construction.

What strategy are you employing to bring in more guests? What is the unique selling point of the hotel?
Hotel apartments are a relatively new product in the Middle East. There are plenty of standard and deluxe properties in the market today. So, we made some structural changes to differentiate our products: for example, every single bedroom in a one-, two- or three-bedroom apartment comes with an ensuite bathroom, allowing two individuals or families to share one two-bedroom apartment in comfort and privacy.
Apart from that all our rooms are fitted with LCD panel TVs, all rooms have 24-hour WiFi, interactive TV, video on demand, and so on. We provide a business centre, meeting rooms for up to 40 people, health club, sauna, swimming pool as well as treatment rooms offering ayurvedic massage and treatments. We also have a lobby lounge and a restaurant called Ambrosia that is currently functional. A third restaurant is currently under construction.
We believe that travellers, especially corporate travellers must have all their tools easily available to them at all time.

What are your source markets?
We have a product for both the GCC families, who like to travel in groups and prefer a three-bedroom apartment to the business man, who might take a studio or one-bedroom for an extended stay. So far, 63 per cent of our guests have been the GCC families and the remaining corporate.

What do you offer agents and tour operators?
We are working closely with almost all the major travel agents in town as well as with agents in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar.
The Flora Group of Hotels, is relatively an unknown brand in the UAE market. Thus, creating a brand identity in top priority. Our sales and marketing team is aggressively focussed on giving a platform to the company and we hop to achieve that market position by 2008-09.