Saturday, May 01, 2010

First family resort brand launches in Dubai

First family resort brand launches in Dubai

First & Foremost launches into Middle East with focus on family entertainment and sustainable development – brand offers real inbound tourism growth

The region’s first family resort concept is being launched in Dubai in collaboration with one of Europe’s most successful family hotel concepts.

New hotel management company First & Foremost Hotels and Resorts has teamed up with Leading Family Hotels & Resorts to bring a new breed of exclusive and all-inclusive holiday packages to the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

First &Foremost, an initiative founded by Michael Scully, Managing Director of hospitality at Dubai-based holding company Seven Tides, will assemble a portfolio of luxury resorts and hotels, budget hotels, and hotel apartments in some of the regions’ key holiday spots, beginning with Dubai.

It will be existing Leading Family Hotels and Resorts’ first hotel outside Europe on a beach location, which is the perfect alternative to their current properties built around ski resorts, golf destinations and thermal springs.

“We are the first hotel management group with our own market segment that can stimulate real inbound tourism growth in the region,” said Michael Scully.

“Our hotels operate at 92% occupancy with over 60% coming from existing Leading Family Hotels and Resorts clientele, who book direct through our website. Generally we operate at over double the revenue per room of competitor hotels. This is why we are confident of attracting new visitors to Dubai, giving real growth and benefiting the local economy, while offering very favourable returns for hotel owners.”

Package holidays have been popular in Europe for the past 50 years but the concept has never made it to our shores – until now. But this is not a “stack ’em high and sell them low” concept. Instead, it is exclusive, inclusive packages designed for upmarket family focused hotels and resorts.

The company is currently looking at suitable properties to manage with the aim of signing 12 deals within five years. They plan to have a property in every emirate, and a further five throughout the GCC.

“We have already spoken to a number of investors and the feedback we have received is very positive, thus we hope to make an announcement in the near future about our first property in the Middle East,” said Scully.

The company also plans to register and comply with Estidama, an initiative developed by the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council to promote sustainable development, management and operation. All properties under the management of First & Foremost will adhere to Estidama’s Pearl Rating System, a framework encompassing sustainable design, construction and operation of communities and buildings, but also supports the social and cultural traditions of the emirate.

“Our hotels will be practical in their design rather than relying on aesthetics that tend to have a high carbon footprint. We will also buy locally-grown produce to reduce our carbon emissions,” added Scully.

In a recent poll by Travel Weekly, nearly half of all travellers said they would be prepared to pay up to 10% more to stay in a green-certified hotel.

Currently, Leading Family Hotels and Resorts has 55 properties in Europe, including 51 Kinderhotels, and four four- and five-star own branded resorts. Although the organisation specialises in catering for families with children aged 0-4 years, who are not restricted to school holidays, it equally caters for kids up to the age of 16.

Ernst Mayer, President of existing Leading Family Hotels and Resorts, said: “We have been looking to enter the Middle East market for a while and are confident we have found the right partner with which to take this step. Following the success of our brand in Europe, we hope to replicate this formula and attract our existing customers to the region for the first time.”

Photo 1: Hotel Alpenrose, a Leading Family Hotels and Resorts property
Photo 2: A family takes a dip in the sea

First & Foremost
First &Foremost is a new hotel brand, which has partnered with one of the largest family hotel brands in the world to introduce the new holiday concept to the Middle East. The company is headed by CEO Michael Scully, who has been in the hotel industry in the Middle East for 18 years, opening three luxury properties and is in the process of developing another four for Seven Tides.

Leading Family Hotels & Resorts
Leading Family Hotels and Resorts (LFH&R) is a unique holiday concept focusing on upmarket package breaks. The company specialises in entertaining children from the age 10 days to four years, but also has qualified childcare staff catering to youngsters up to the age of 16. LFH&R is launching in the Middle East having accumulated 55 successful properties across Europe. It is moving into beach holidays after growing a successful portfolio of resorts in the Alps, golf destinations and thermal springs.
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