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Ali Ozbay

Navigating the pandemic with Rixos Hotels

INTERVIEW The changes and future plans of one of the UAE's busiest hotels.

Rixos Premium Dubai's Ali Ozbay on surviving during Covid, handling the competition and more.


Supplied Rixos Country Director of Marketing and Communications, Ali Ozbay


How are you finding things in the post covid era, and what plans does Rixos have to welcome back overseas visitors?


The first half of the year has been encouraging. We have implemented the right strategies to welcome the post-covid era. If you ask what the future holds, I can make an educated guess. It's easier when you put yourself in your guests' shoes. A better question to ask might be "what would a 21st-century guest want in the new post-pandemic world?". I think travellers seek new experiences more than ever. They want to try new things through wellness, outdoor activities, gastronomy or a specific interest like sports or music. They're travelling solo, with a group or on business. They might learn about a destination or travel brand via social media rather than traditional marketing channels. Today's traveller has an open mind, choosing funky motels or glamping over standard hotels and even visiting emerging destinations before they've popped up on the tourism radar. And of course, health and safety will play the most essential part before any decision has been made.

Supplied Rixos Premium Dubai JBR by night


Where do you position yourself in an overly competitive market?


We believe guests want to engage in experiences with brands that they can resonate with on an emotional level. We started tailoring our brand preposition to the experiences that our guests' crave, along with the people, things, and ideas that inspire them. Suppose you are into watching a particular Netflix series in the evenings. There's no reason why you should stop doing that when you go on a holiday, especially when your room comes with cutting-edge tech. The key is to stop focusing on the product and anticipate what the guest might expect from it. Times have changed. While people were once more into traditional luxury hotels, the new generation is looking for something different, new experiences, or recognition of their own personality. For them, a hotel is the place to be and caters to their lifestyle and moods. Take a look at Rixos Premium JBR. It had been trending on multiple platforms since its launch back in 2017.

Supplied A poolside cabana


What makes Rixos Premium Dubai so unique?


A light-filled lobby with a strikingly modern and minimalist design exudes a trendy and soothing ambience. Rixos Premium JBR is a unique property combining various lifestyle elements and fashionably presenting them. It is a magnet for celebrities and trendsetters. Thousands of them share their holidays on various social channels, adding to the hotel's fame. From Premier League footballers to A-list celebrities, from the art world's greatest creators to best-selling authors, you can bump into a wide range of well-known figures in this hotel. The guest profile is young and trendy. They stay with us to relax, socialise, see and be seen. When you look at the other three Rixos properties in UAE, you see something very different and intriguing. Pretty much on the same level, but offering different types of experiences to diverse audiences. Demanding travellers expect inspirational holiday experiences. People want to fill their life with adventures, not things. They want stories to tell, not stuff to show. Conventional luxury is an element of the past. We present multiple stories to make your choice as easy and joyful as possible.


What makes Rixos different?


Rixos Hotels have been pioneers in the "All-Inclusive Holiday" segment in terms of its concept offering. The all-inclusive of today is nothing like what some may recall from the early, unruly days of all-inclusives, which started popping up on Caribbean beaches in the 1970s with no business model or game plan. Rixos Hotels, starting off first in Turkey and then expanding into Europe, Middle East and soon, Asia, has helped drive the evolution of the all-inclusive concept into a luxury vacation segment. Increased demand has spurred competition has resulted in vastly higher quality at every level. Rixos is a young and dynamic brand. This freshness gives us a unique advantage when you compare us with more traditional brands. We focus on trends that we think would become relevant and execute them before our competition. This might mean a gluten-free corner in our all-day dining restaurant or your very own Netflix subscription in the comfort of your hotel room. Maybe some educational kids activities for the little ones, or our regular morning SUP rides on the iconic Palm Jumeirah island. It's essential to anticipate what the guest might need or want before the trend even becomes noticeable. Take a look at the F&B sector. There's a great demand for unique F&B concepts. We choose our partner brands very carefully. When you look at STK Steakhouse, LSB(Lock Stock Barrels), Black Tap, Luigia, Ammos, Azure, Asil, etc. you realise these brands have created their unique communities and defined the territories they operated in. The constant flow of people between our hotels and outlets simply showing us that we are on the right track.


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