What are the details of the DUKES Dubai project?
ABDULLA BIN SULAYEM: DUKES Dubai is part of the Oceana development, which we've handed over in 2009. It is the hotel part of the development. Part of the development is, as you can see, the large podium that connects all the residences with the hotel and beautiful skyline of the Dubai Marina. It consist of two pools. You have the main large infinity swimming pool on the podium overlooking the Marina, and you have a pool in the hotel building on the 14th floor. There is also a 325 meter beach and the hotel is quintessentially British and has a lot of features from our existing hotel back in London.
We have the DUKES bar, which is very famous there, and we brought that with the same theme and the same atmosphere from London. There will be a lot of training from staff from London, because we would like consistency for our guests that live in London and if they visit and stay with us in Dubai, then we'd like them to feel the same comfort and the same atmosphere that they've felt in London.
DUKES is unique in a way that it is home away from home. Every single customer or client or hotel guest that we have in the hotel feels like he's at home. Everyone gets special care and the staff have a good reputation of being friendly and knowing a lot of information of each individual hotel guest. So we're really famous on that part of the hotel. The design itself, the rooms have been very well designed and look very similar to the existing product in London and have a lot of features from there.
The all-day dining is also very unique with its design. There will be beautiful marble arches and columns in the restaurant. That really will make it standout from other all-day dining restaurants in different hotels. The land size of the hotel is 350,000 square feet. The buildup area is around 850,000 square feet.
What will the breakdown of use (residential/hospitality/etc.) be at DUKES Dubai?
ABDULLA BIN SULAYEM: As far as the guest is concerned, the whole building is a hotel. We have sold to investors, as an investment product, and we've called it a hotel apartment. We have a total of 500 rooms. One side of the hotel where the residences sit at is 227 units. These are what we have sold 90 percent of so far of the project. The other 273 rooms on the other side we retain as a company. But from a customer's perspective, when he checks into the hotel, they are both consistent in terms of the design and end product.
What are some of the innovative elements that of the DUKES Dubai development?
ABDULLA BIN SULAYEM: I think we have done a great job in designing and achieving the design that we wanted to have to resemble the existing property back in London. And it was very well received. When we launched the project for sale back in April 2015, we had a lot of good comments from every single person, from tour operators and from clients who bought some of the residential units. So that to me was a big achievement and something that we are really proud of. Plus, we went into details. We have an existing restaurant here, the West 14 Steakhouse. And we have also recently announced Khyber Restaurant that will be on the 15th floor. It’s coming all the way from Mumbai in India and it will be a very unique Indian restaurant with a different interior design.
This is our first step, from London to Dubai.
Who is your target market for DUKES Dubai?
ABDULLA BIN SULAYEM: Our target market will be a mix of business and leisure, because of our location on the Palm, it's a very unique location. We have the beach. We have the view. We have the resort for the leisure market. And we are very close to the entrance of the Palm, not far out. So we will capture a lot of business clients too.
What kind of returns can investors expect to realize?
ABDULLA BIN SULAYEM: We have studied the market and we saw what people are offering. We thought we should do something more attractive. Our product is outstanding. We need an outstanding offer in the market. We decided to go for a 10 percent net guarantee for investors for five years. Meaning that any investor who invests into the project will get 50 percent of his investment back over a 5 year period. And after the fifth year, the guarantee stop there, but if we are guaranteeing 5 years of 10 percent, then that is adding credibility to what the potential of our development is.
How important is the DUKES brand and what is your marketing strategy for DUKES Dubai?
ABDULLA BIN SULAYEM: DUKES has been in London for over a 100 years. It is like a hidden gem in St James. It is very familiar. We have a lot of return guests. The reason for that is, you know, we stand by our service and we are all about being home away from home. And maintaining that is what our clients really appreciate. So this is what the level of service will be on a higher level, in a higher standard that we are going to be offering here in this hotel. The design of the rooms and features will be very similar to our existing property. Our location here is also key. It is one of the best locations on the Palm. So that's what's really important to us, you know, to maintain mainly is the service levels. This is our credibility. This is what people pay a premium for.
Do you have plans to expand the DUKES brands further abroad?
ABDULLA BIN SULAYEM: This is our first step, from London to Dubai. You know, we will keep studying and where the opportunity arises, we will obviously jump into different ventures after studying it. In the next five years, I see us operating more and more hotels. So it depends on the location. Currently, we are working on a development that is in an area where it will be perfect for a four star or a lower category of hotel brand. So that is something we are also exploring to operate and could be a subsidiary or a sister company to DUKES.