Earlier this week, Dubai resident Karim M. made a last-minute decision to book a staycation for the Eid holidays. “I was anticipating rates through the roof,” he said. “But they weren’t too bad. I booked a two-day half board in Ras Al Khaimah for a little over Dh1,500.”
Like Karim, several UAE residents are flocking to various hotels and homestays across the country during the long weekend of Eid. According to industry experts, while Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah are popular choices among UAE residents for staycations, Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the top picks for those flying into the country for Eid.
“As Eid is followed by a weekend, we are seeing a demand over 3 days with staycations including packages with breakfast and dinner,” said James Britchford, vice-president Commercial, India, Middle & Africa at IHG. “We are currently seeing a growth in pricing of 30 per cent versus the start of Ramadan, and [it] could go up further within a 3-day booking window.”
Depending on when Eid falls, residents could get up to 5 days of holidays. The UAE’s moon-sighting committee will meet on Thursday, April 20, to determine whether Eid is on Friday, April 21; or Saturday, April 22. If Eid is on Friday, residents will get a four-day break from Thursday till Sunday. If on Saturday, the break will be for five days —Thursday to Monday.
Vinayak Mahtani, the CEO of bnbme holiday homes, agreed that this increase in prices was experienced in the holiday home sector as well. “We have seen prices go up by about 30 per cent,” he said. “Closer to the dates, we expect prices to rise further by 50 per cent.”
According to industry experts, demand is highest for family offerings. “Eid has traditionally been a popular time for families to travel and enjoy a staycation together, which may explain the high demand among families,” said Daniel Ebo from Destination Mina Siyahi.
Those with multiple properties say the demand depends on the kind of properties. “Our resort properties are proving hugely popular with families,” said Gustavo Pereira, from Wasl Properties at Marriott International. “Both our resorts in Dubai are close to full occupancy during Eid. Within the resort, we also have the newly opened W Dubai – Mina Seyahi, and with it being an adults-only property, we’re seeing demand from both couples and solo travellers.”
According to him, the group’s four city properties, which are located within close proximity to the airport, are seeing a rise in demand from those in the GCC region who are looking to travel for the long weekend.
For homestays, the demand is higher from families as well. “We are seeing families come together and ask us to arrange board games, karaoke and BBQs for them,” said Vinayak. “Properties in demand include villas and penthouses. Around 80 per cent of the demand is from European nationalities.”
The demand in packages and properties has varied vastly depending on the target audience. While for some, the bed and breakfast is most popular, for others, it is their all-inclusive package that is most in demand.
According to Daniel, their all-inclusive package has a lot of takers during the Eid break. “This is because many guests prefer the convenience of having most of their meals and drinks included in their package,” he said.
For BNBme, the weather has played a role in defining the demand. “There are a lot of bookings for larger properties where a group of friends and families can come together,” said Vinayak. “The weather has also been incredible, which is seeing beach properties sell well. Packages that include food, butler services [and] concierge services are seeking an upsurge.”
Meanwhile, for Marriott, the trend has been slightly different. “Across all our properties, the room and breakfast option is proving the most popular,” said Gustavo. “However, the interest and uptake of our half board options are becoming more popular with tourists who choosing to visit the city [for] their annual holiday.”
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