Jumeirah plans third ‘super luxury’ brand, to double hotel count
Dubai: Jumeirah will eventually add one more hotel brand to its stable, chief executive Jose Silva declared in an interview with Gulf News, speaking to the press for the first time since taking over the top position in January.
As the company enters its next phase of expansion, targeting global markets whilst shoring up its pre-eminence at home in the UAE, Silva says that ultimately the company will look to create three separate identities, complementing the eponymous Jumeirah brand and the recently introduced Zabeel House with a third, super-luxury hotel offering.
“We may one day have … three brands. I see our future very clearly as [having] two to three tiers,” Silva said.
The third brand would likely be “an ultra-luxury brand … it could be an extension of the Burj Al Arab, super luxury,” he said.
We are right now just going global. We’re in the perfect phase of being a success story in Dubai, and we’re going to expand that success story globally.”
- Jose Silva | Jumeirah Group chief executive officer
Given its exclusive nature, Silva explained that there might be only 12 of these hotels globally.
Opened in 1999, the $1 billion (Dh3.67 billion) Burj Al Arab hotel continues to command the highest room rate in the city, at around Dh9,000 a night.
When asked if this third brand would be added via an acquisition or created organically, Silva explained that it would be done in-house.
“[It won’t be] through acquisition. We don’t discard the opportunity of acquisition, but our goal is to become a national brand with a national identity. An Emirati-born brand…,” he said.
Silva talked at length in the interview about the state of the Dubai hospitality market, sharing his assessment that city hotels would continue to struggle with revenue per available room (RevPAR) while beachfront hotels would see healthier returns, and his road map for the next decade.
According to the chief executive, Dubai’s state-owned hotel company will open an additional 15 hotels globally in the next five years, including six new properties in Europe, and six in China.
“I think 10 years down the road, we’ll have 50 hotels worldwide, including eventually in the United States. We’d love to go back,” Silva said.
In more than doubling its number of hotels around the world, the company says it derives its confidence from the brand’s popularity in Dubai with a number of key demographics.
“We are right now just going global. We’re in the perfect phase of being a success story in Dubai, and we’re going to expand that success story globally. We’re a darling brand of Chinese, Russian, British, and that gives us a lot of potential to expand internationally. If we opened in Paris, Chinese people would stay with us,” Silva said.
Targeting gateway cities, Jumeirah says it intends to be competing among the top five hotel brands in the world in the near future.
“If your brand doesn’t go global, it will one day be threatened at home. Or it will lack global expertise,” he added.
Since arriving at the beginning of the year, Silva has sought to strengthen his leadership team with such international experience.
The Canadian has assembled six executive officers to lead the brand globally, and is bringing five new vice presidents to Dubai to build the brand locally.
Most recently, Jumeirah announced that it had hired Michael Ellis, the former international director for the Michelin Guide, as chief culinary officer, to lead the company’s overhaul of its food and beverage offering.
Occupancy rate goal
Silva’s team will assist him as he attempts to bolster the company’s offering at home and abroad, sustaining Jumeirah’s agglomerated room rate of Dh2,500 and an occupancy rate of close to 80 per cent.
Much of this is thanks to strong business from China. But Silva does not worry that opening a planned six hotels in China will cannibalise his Dubai business.
“What it will do, is it will send more Chinese business to us in Dubai. It’ll become their home brand, and my vision for Jumeirah is to have a local identity wherever we go,” he said.
“The international culture of Dubai commends that we will respect local cultures wherever we go. In Paris we would like to be extremely French, in China we will be extremely Chinese, and in Italy we will be extremely Italian,” he added.