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Nov. 15--More services, job opportunities in the offing

The world's tallest hotel, JW Marriott Hotel Marquis Dubai, achieved remarkable success since its official opening in February, and it is set to open its second tower early next year that will also open the doors for at least 400 job-seekers for different positions, general manager Rupprecht Queitsch told in an interview.

Owned by the Emirates Group, the Dh1.8 billion property consists of two towers with 804 rooms in each. The first tower was opened with an official inauguration and the second will bring in more food and beverage options.

"It's a success story since the opening of the hotel as the market accepted the property very well. Our goal is to establish a good reputation in the market and so far we have succeeded. We will open the second tower in the first quarter of next year and it will be done in phases," Queitsch said. It would be either half or one third from the beginning of next year, he explained.

Hiring of staff for the second tower has already started and "we probably will have 300 to 400 more employees".

"Right now we have somewhere [around] 1,200 staff members," he added. Dubai is an exciting market especially for the hospitality sector as some other properties are also opening at the same time, which is good for job-seekers in this field, he said.

"So right now it's heaven for them," he added.

Regarding occupancy levels, he said it is close to the market level, which is good for the new property, which is just nine months old since its official launch.

"I think within one year to be on the market level is really amazing," he added.

Talking about the breakeven of the property, he said: "I think we are ahead of the target. It's a long-term business plan and I believe we will reach the long term business plan faster than we anticipated."

Queitsch opened the Dubai property with a four-decade hospitality experience. He has been working with the Marriott group for the last 26 years and during the tenure, he was involved in launching seven properties in Germany, France and the US.

In total, Marriott International manages 12,237 rooms across 42 properties across the Middle East and Africa and the numbers are expected to double over the next five years. Globally, at the end of the third quarter of 2013, the company's worldwide pipeline of hotels under signed contracts increased to over 144,000 rooms compared to nearly 141,000 rooms in the second quarter of 2013.

Mice business

JW Marriott Hotel Marquis Dubai is an ideal place for the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions, or Mice, market and it is competing with top destinations in Europe.

So in addition to serving leisure and business travellers, the hotel is targeting the lucrative and increasingly-important Mice business, which currently does not have a hotel of sufficient scale to host such large groups.

Queitsch mentioned that so many big meetings are coming to the property. "We are right now negotiating with some big group meetings from 800 rooms to more than 1,000 rooms for next year. Big meetings [are] planned well in advance, so we are also negotiating several big meetings for 2016," he explained.

As of now the hotel has hosted 1,500 meetings from 50 rooms to 650 rooms, he said. "We probably this year generate about Dh79 million [revenue] on the Mice market," he added.

The hotel has two ballrooms with high ceilings, namely Dubai and Emirates, comprising 1,400sqm and 1,200sqm, respectively. In addition, the property has 24 breakout meeting rooms. "As we have huge space, it allows us to have so many meetings at the same time."

He said this hotel is unique in this marketplace and in the world as well. Giving an example, he said: "Paris is the largest convention market in the world by number of meetings. But there is no hotel in Paris which can match this hotel in terms of meetings rooms and number of rooms."

"Maybe there are some in Las Vegas or in Orlando, but Dubai has central location, which is its advantage on others."

Location is crucial and another factor that is crucial is the air connections Emirates airline has established through direct flights. Giving an example, he said a big pharmaceutical group is coming to Dubai for the first time from South America only because Emirates recently started direct flights from Dubai to there. "They used to go to Europe for meetings and now around 350 people are coming from South America to Dubai in January next year."

Talking about the Mice business' contribution to total revenues, he said: "Our goal for the group market is about half of our total business."

Marriott in MEA

Marriott has announced 21 new properties in the Middle East, which are scheduled to join Marriott International's portfolio in the region through 2018, adding 6,541 rooms to the Marriott International system. The UAE's share in terms of room inventory will be 37 per cent of the total.

The company currently has a regional Middle East presence consisting of 34 properties in seven countries, offering 8,978 rooms and spanning seven lodging brands.

Marriott International began operations in the Middle East and Africa in 1980 with the opening of the 391-room Riyadh Marriott Hotel in Saudi Arabia.

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