Dubai's appeal is increasingly diverse, finds Katie McGonagle
Send shopaholics to New York, families to Florida, safari-goers to South Africa – it’s easy to get stuck in a rut selling destinations to the same markets over and over. So why not take a fresh look at an old favourite?
Once known as a high-end hideaway for time-poor tourists with cash to splash, Dubai has broadened its appeal to attract many different markets. From families splashing about in fun-filled water parks to shopaholics trawling the malls and adventurers dune-bashing in the desert, the emirate has established itself as a mainstay for mid-haul breaks.
It saw a 6.6% jump in British visitors last year to 686,000 – a number that could increase further when the new Qantas-Emirates partnership begins on March 31.
To demonstrate Dubai’s variety, we asked operators for a few of their suggestions to suit different sectors, with tips on how to maximise your commission with add-ons.
Why Dubai? Family-focused resorts, first-class beaches and attractions for all ages.
Sell it: Dubai’s huge resorts can take credit for its growing family appeal, with on-site facilities most hoteliers only dream of. Atlantis The Palm is hotel, theme park and restaurant in one, with Aquaventure’s thrilling slides, dolphin encounters, a huge aquarium, mile-long stretch of prime Palm beachfront, plus pools, kids’ clubs and an overwhelming range of restaurants. Jumeirah Beach Hotel is another sprawling resort, offering guests unlimited access to Wild Wadi Water Park and its newly-revamped Jumeirah Sceirah ride, plus Sinbad’s kids’ club and The Hub for teenagers.
Mosaic Holidays reports the growth of all-inclusive packages as a key driver for families and longer stays, highlighting the likes of JA Resorts’ Palm Tree Court and Jebel Ali Beach, and Movenpick’s Ibn Battuta Gate for their all inclusive offering.
There is plenty to keep all age groups occupied too. Dubai Mall is home to Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, plus ‘edutainment’ centre KidZania for tiny tots or next-door arcade Sega Republic for older siblings. In Mall of the Emirates, Ski Dubai is a fun chance to try skiing, tobogganing and bobsleigh rides (from £36 for adults, £29 for under-11s, with Do Something Different).
Book it: Funway Holidays offers four nights at Jumeirah Beach Hotel from £3,239 for two adults and two children, with private transfers, free half-board upgrade and flights in May.
0844 557 0626
Why Dubai? Elegant and exclusive accommodation.
Sell it: Couples seeking a sophisticated getaway should look no further than One&Only’s The Palm or Royal Mirage. Travel 2 highlights the former’s ‘tranquil and relaxed holiday experience’ with special touches including private cabanas and water taxi transfers, while Virgin Holidays loves the latter’s Arabic design and high level of service. Also picking up on traditional motifs is Dar Al Masyaf, one of Gold Medal’s most popular properties; its courtyard-style two-storey houses boast private butler service and direct beach access.
Dubai is the perfect stop en route to romantic escapes in the Indian Ocean; Hayes & Jarvis reports a huge increase in bookings since last year, mainly for two or three-night stopovers. If clients are pressed for time, add a touch of romance by pre-booking an excursion such as Attraction World’s Bateaux Dubai Dinner Cruise – a four-course meal, unlimited drinks and superb views of the skyline, from £90.
Book it: Travel 2 has five nights at One&Only The Palm, with flights and free upgrade to half-board, from £1,289 (May-September).
0800 022 4182
Why Dubai? Vast desert dunes brimming with adventure.
Sell it: Visitors don’t have to stray far to find rolling red sand dunes, so it’s easy to get that sense of adventure even on a day trip. Kuoni’s Desert Safari & BBQ includes a four-wheel-drive and Bedouin-style dinner complete with camel rides and belly dancing (from £50). Attraction World’s Dune Buggy Safari gets visitors behind the wheel of an 850cc dune buggy – knowing they come equipped with roll cage and safety harnesses should give an idea of what to expect (from £125) – or for a more traditional take, try camel riding and sandboarding through the dunes (from £174 with Do Something Different).
If that doesn’t satisfy intrepid explorers, suggest a longer stay in a desert camp. Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa offers two activities, from a choice of falconry, horse riding, camel trekking, four-wheel drives and nature walks, in the nightly rate.
Book it: Virgin Holidays offers four nights’ full-board in a Bedouin suite at Al Maha from £1,479, with Virgin Atlantic flights departing May 20.
0844 557 3973
Why Dubai? Splurge-worthy shopping malls and exotic souks.
Sell it: Dubai’s ultra-modern malls are temples to our modern consumer culture, so dedicated shopaholics will need countless hours to browse their designer brands and cutting-edge couture. Stay in a hotel nearby – they don’t get much closer than Sheraton Dubai Mall of the Emirates Hotel – or opt for the Towers Rotana, just a stone’s throw from Dubai Mall and offering a shuttle service to shopping centres and nearby beaches.
While modern malls have overtaken the traditional souks in spending power, the hot and hectic jumble of stalls selling spices, perfumes, jewellery and fabrics is a must for sightseeing value alone. If clients are nervous of finding their way, try the Dubai Shopping Tour to see both extremes (from £31 per adult, £23 per child with Attraction World).
Book it: A three-night stay at the four-star Towers Rotana starts at £975 with Kuoni, including Emirates flights and transfers for departures on April 1.
Why Dubai? An ever-changing modern metropolis.
Sell it: If they want to be at the heart of the action, recommend clients bypass the beach for a downtown hotel – and where better than one overlooking the world’s tallest building? Deborah Wadhams, Gold Medal’s assistant product manager for the Middle East, says: “As far as stunning city centre locations go, I struggle to think of anywhere more impressive than The Address Downtown. The hotel is opposite the Burj Khalifa and the rooms have fantastic views of the tower itself as well as the Old Town, Burj Emaar Boulevard and the fountain show.”
Tag on a city tour to maximise time on a short stay. Kuoni has a full-day Modern Dubai with Burj Khalifa Experience from £75, taking in Dubai Marina and the souks. If they’d rather go it alone, suggest the new Metro system.
Book it: Gold Medal has three nights’ B&B at The Address Downtown from £669 (book by March 31 for travel May 11-June 21), including flights.
0800 014 7777
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