The world's most exciting hospitality industry is in Dubai, and the emirate's decision to aim at the top end of the market has made it synonymous with luxury. More than a hundred 4- and 5-star hotels have opened their doors since 2000, and 150 new hotels are projected to open by 2010—creating a sort of gold-rush fever as every hotel group rushes to stake its claim. Now for the downside.
In 2007 research showed that Dubai was the third most expensive place to stay in the world after New York and Moscow. Budget accommodations are next to impossible to find, as anything rated lower than 4 stars doesn't fit into Dubai's marketing strategy.
Understanding hotel rates in Dubai is like trying to unravel the Da Vinci code. They change by the day, depending on occupancy, and hotels keep their rack rates a closely guarded secret. Even in hotels with a large number of beds, their average occupancy hovers at around 85% (one of the highest in the world) and is buoyed by vast numbers of business travelers, giving them little incentive to discount. Many companies prefer to leave rooms empty rather than attract guests who don't fit their demographics.
Peak tourist season is from November to April, but instead of lowering rates during off-peak times, resort hotels often ramp up their offerings with special value-added packages. These incentives usually include extras, such as meals in signature restaurants and spa treatments, and business hotels give preferential rates on weekends when demand drops. Prices also drop during Ramadan, but services are curtailed at this time. Only one restaurant per hotel will be open during daylight hours, and visitors are asked to refrain from eating, drinking, or smoking in public during the day.
Now that you know you'll be handing over a wad of cash for your lodging, and location, location, location is the prime consideration after checking your budget—what's the main reason for your visit to Dubai? If sunning and water sports are your prime objective, book a beach resort. If old Dubai is the enticement, look for a hotel downtown. By determining your interests before you come, you'll spend much less time traveling and much more time doing.