Jumeirah seeks GCC, Asia expansion

Marco Nijhof, Jumeirah’s senior vice-president, Gulf, tells SHALU CHANDRAN the group will be talking up its new properties and future expansion plans at this year’s ATM
An impression of the Jumeirah’s new beachfront property on The Palm Jumeirah

Jumeirah has launched several; properties both regionally and internationally. What is the group’s strategy in line with your ambitions to be a global player?
Jumeirah is clearly aiming to be a worldwide player.

We have set a target of 57 new properties by 2011. We currently have 10 hotels that are operational and 15 that are under development regionally and internationally. We will be celebrating our 10th anniversary this year and as a young company, backed with the support of Dubai holdings have emerged into a home grown company.

What sort of brand recognition does Jumeirah have internationally?
We are still in the threshold of developing the Jumeirah brand internationally. With our two properties in London and New York, and new properties opening in Phuket, Bermuda, London, Shanghai, Qatar and Saraya Aqaba in Jordan, we will be better know internationally and regionally. We are giving strong emphasis on who we are - a five-star deluxe top of the line brand.

Is there a need to differentiate the brand and bring in properties of different classes including economy properties?
Jumeirah is very clearly marketing itself as a five-star property. It is what we do best and what we plan to continue doing under the brand name Jumeirah. In the future, we may consider developing four-star properties or budget properties under a new brand name. but right now, we plan to continue to stay ahead of the game in the five-star deluxe market. We are still a young brand, and need to establish ourselves as a worldwide brand name – regionally and internationally.

What about expanding the rest of the GCC, including Saudi?
Yes, Jumeirah is expanding rapidly within the GCC region. We have already announced the Jumeirah Dubai Towers in Doha which will boast 146 luxurious rooms and suites, and 166 serviced apartments. We will soon announce a hotel in Abu Dhabi. We have some major expansion plans for the UAE as well.   The new waterfront Jumeirah hotel on the Palm Jumeirah, the Jumeirah Desert Pearl Hotel and The Jumeirah Business Bay Hotel are some of the new projects. Jumeirah will also see the opening of Jumeirah Live-in properties – these serviced residential apartments will be at the Jumeirah Beach Residences. We will also manage the Aqua Dunya, the largest and most diverse theme park resort in the Middle East, to be located in Dubailand as well as managing the Jumeirah Desert Pearl Hotel.

What other markets do you hope to reach? India, perhaps?
We have already announced that we will have a hotel in Jordan, at Saraya Aqaba, a beachfront development where we will undertake the management of luxury five-star hotels and a waterpark.
We do also have plans right across India. We work hand in hand with Emirates, who will help in opening new markets for us – Japan is another prospective market for Jumeirah. We are constantly on the look out at every opportunity and every new market.  In terms of Asia, we see a huge growth market. We are already present in Shanghai and Phuket and see expect a very positive feedback.

As someone who was behind the launch and operation of the Serena Hotels, which opened in off-beat areas like Afghanistan, will you put that expertise to use for Jumeirah?
That is not our aim. We are looking at every developing market where we can set up a deluxe five-star property. We are definitely looking to take Jumeirah into newer locations and establish itself as a global super-brand, but taking Jumeirah to off-beat locations would only take longer to reach out to that critical mass and get the recognition.