DUBAI: When thinking of Dubai, images of the iconic Atlantis resort on the Palm Jumeirah or the Bab Al Shams resort, nestled in the desert, quickly come to mind. These emblems of Dubai’s tourism ambitions are set to grow. Kerzner International, the owner of Atlantis Resorts and Residences and ultra-luxury One&Only Resorts worldwide, is building its portfolio with the launch of Rare Finds. The latter is a diverse collection of new luxury resorts in the Middle East and North Africa region.
Under this new vertical, Kerzner has taken over the management of Bab Al Shams, Dubai’s quintessential desert resort, previously owned by Meydan. The resort will temporarily close for an extensive renovation between May 2022 and early 2023, reopening as part of Rare Finds. Two upcoming new openings are – Atlantis, The Royal Resort & Residences, and One&Only One Za’abeel.
“Following two years of uncertainty, the introduction of the Rare Finds vertical marks the brand’s continued growth and expansion within the region,” said Philippe Zuber, chief executive officer of Kerzner International, in an interview with Arab News. “In the past couple of years, we have all gone through periods of prolonged isolation which have made guests value genuine human connection more than ever. From our observations, there is a rise in demand for new experiences and forging connections has remained at the forefront of travelers’ needs.”
On brand awareness
Aside from the revamped Bab Al Shams, Kerzner is set to launch the new addition to the Atlantis opening at the end of this year. The Royal will offer 231 ultra-luxury residences, alongside 17 restaurants and bars, five of which will be helmed by Michelin-starred chefs. Kerzner’s current portfolio has three properties: Atlantis the Palm, One&Only Royal Mirage, and One&Only The Palm. Kerzner will continue to strategically grow the Rare Finds Portfolio, carefully curating a selection of unique properties in the coming years.
The elite hospitality brand attracts customers from Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
“The US, UK, and GCC are all very strong source markets for our brand internationally and consistently in our top three year on year,” said Zuber.
He added that top source markets for Atlantis, The Palm for 2021, specifically, included the UK, the UAE, and Russia in terms of both, room nights and revenue, with a mix of EU countries following closely behind.
Spotlight on wellness
The focus will be on wellness and luxury, which are high in demand, according to consumer travel preferences observed by Zuber’s team. He predicts that wellness getaways and retreats worldwide will boom to the tune of $919 billion by the end of this year. This is in line with a detailed McKinsey & Co. report released in April 2021: The consultancy valued the global wellness market at more than $1.5 trillion with annual growth of five to 10 percent.
“Amongst the GCC audience, the majority of our resorts and destinations continue to see consistent interest and arrivals from affluent travelers in the region,” he said. “Despite recent global challenges, guests continue to seek a luxury escape, whether for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, an ultimate wellness retreat, or a dreamy island escape.”
The brand also has Saudi Arabia on its radar. Zuber said that there is “tremendous opportunity in Saudi Arabia in the coming years across Kerzner’s brands, including the possibility for an Atlantis or Atlantis, The Royal.”
“This aligns with our growth and expansion plans regionally across the GCC, and we are definitely in discussions on exciting prospects within the Kingdom,” he added. “We are recognized as disruptors in our field, redefining luxury hospitality with Kerzner International’s new openings and will continue to set benchmarks in the regional hospitality industry.”
As borders reopen and regular travel assumes a new normal, Zuber is “confident of a travel resurgence.”
“With a wide portfolio of resorts located in the world’s most unique locales, our key markets have been destination-dependent over the last two years,” he said. “However,” he added, “we are now witnessing an increase of international travelers returning to our resorts.”