Hotel bookings boost for Bahrain F1
Manama, March 26, 2014
Some of Bahrain's most popular hotels are fully-booked ahead of next month's Formula One race, it has been revealed.
The Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea and Spa Hotel, nearest the Bahrain International Circuit at Sakhir, and Novotel Al Dana Resort, which is hosting members of the Renault team, both confirmed they had no rooms left for the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix weekend from April 4 to 6, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
Others such as the Kempinski Grand and Ixir Hotel Bahrain City Centre and Al Safir Hotel and Tower said they were confident of occupancy rates of 90 per cent or more, based on current bookings.
Meanwhile, the Ritz-Carlton Bahrain Hotel and Spa did not reveal its booking numbers, but did say that guest reservations were "long anticipated" and that the bookings team was already looking ahead to next year.
No rooms were available through the hotel's website for the race weekend.
"It's always a very good weekend for us and we are expecting it to be even better this year because this is the first time that the race is taking place in the evening," said Bahrain's Five Star Hotels Executive Committee chairman Abdulnabi Daylami.
He added luxury room rates had a starting price of BD150 ($395.7) to BD160 per night as in previous years and customers' response so far was "very promising."
"Some of the guests even made their bookings last year, before they left the country after the Formula One, to secure their favourite rooms in the hotels," he said.
Bahrain Four Star Hotels Committee chairman Hameed Al Halwachi, who last year complained to have been "snubbed" by Formula One organisers, was much more optimistic about this year's prospects.
"I can say the demand is much better," he said.
"Last year I was complaining to the F1 management and the tourism department that we did not have enough business for the F1, but we held a meeting and they resolved this issue."
Increased advertising and promotion of Bahrain's more affordable hotels was helping to boost business, Al Halwachi said.
"Because of the government's push for a lot of events like concerts, the air show - and of course the F1 - the demand is there," he said.
"We are happy in general. Business since January in Bahrain has been promising and we have exceeded our budget target - hopefully it will continue."
Rates at four-star hotels for the Formula One weekend are currently averaging at BD50 to BD60 a night, plus additional charges, Al Halwachi added.
However, not all hotels were expecting to cash in on the Formula One bounty.
Mercure Grand Hotel Seef general manager Yasser Bahaa said he had only received advance bookings for about 30pc of his rooms - and wasn't expecting that to increase too much over the next week.
"It's not going to be booming, I don't expect that," he said.
"Sometimes it can happen, but for me I'm realistic. All the people crossing the causeway from the Eastern Province, Dammam and Khobar can take a car and be here within half an hour - they don't need a hotel.
"It's not like last year. This time last year it was better (for advance bookings), but nobody can tell.
"Sometimes you can start badly and it ends well. It's like roulette."
Al Raya Suites general manager Krishna Shetty also sounded a note of caution.
"To be honest, we have not seen many more bookings than usual, it's the same as last year - about 60 per cent," he said.
"We are positive it's going to be a very good weekend, I don't want to be negative about that, but the hotel industry today is not doing as well as it was before.
"There are so many hotels now, but fewer people, so they are bringing the prices down and in the end it is the guests who benefit - not the hotel."
Shetty said rooms that once commanded a BD85 rate would now only fetch BD60.
"But being in this industry I do feel positive," he added. "As a hotel we are doing better than compared to last year." - TradeArabia News Service