TRAVEL TRADE MENA: The Ritz-Carlton has recently begun to operate its first partner hotel in Ras Al Khaimah. What contributed to the decision of launching in this emirate in particular?
AMIT ARORA: Ras Al Khaimah, one of the seven emirates of the UAE, is emerging as the new hot spot, the go-to destination for international travellers seeking indigenous experiences, nature, authenticity, and adventure.
With an already significant footprint in the UAE, this new addition to our portfolio compliments our well established beach and city hotels in the UAE, providing a new indigenous destination and multi-activity centre for our guests to enjoy a unique combination of beach, city and desert.
TRAVEL TRADE MENA: Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) reported significant growth in international arrivals in the first half of 2016, how important will international markets be to business at your property?
AMIT ARORA: The Ritz-Carlton will drive a healthy business mix between overseas visitors whilst catering to local UAE residents.
Visitors from traditional source markets like Germany, the UK and GCC continue to grow exponentially, complimented by growth from emerging markets such as Scandinavia and India due to the increased promotional activities of RAKTDA.
Al Wadi Desert Ras Al Khaimah, a Ritz-Carlton Partner Hotel will also cater to mid-week international groups and events whilst attracting MICE business from GCC and neighbouring emirates including but not limited to executive retreats, highend product launches as well as conferences in unique settings and team building events.
The Ritz-Carlton global distribution network will certainly drive incremental business from long haul markets whilst attracting niche luxury clientele to the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, opening up new source markets.
TRAVEL TRADE MENA: What makes Ras Al Khaimah stand out as an international tourist destination?
AMIT ARORA: Ras Al Khaimah is poised to attract more international visitors, the destination boasts unique natural landscapes including 65km of pristine beaches, desert, mountains and adventure, together with world class hotels in a safe destination only a short 45 minutes drive from Dubai International Airport, a global hub [and] the busiest international airport in the world.
Ras Al Khaimah is blessed with abundance of natural assets [including] desert, seas, ancient oases, natural hot springs and an extensive mountain range which includes the UAE's highest peak – Jebel Jais – peaking at 1,934m.
TRAVEL TRADE MENA: What does the future hold for Ras Al Khaimah's tourism industry?
AMIT ARORA: The future of Ras Al Khaimah is bright, Ras Al Khaimah International Airport has begun operating charter flights from Europe recently added by TUIfly.
RAKTDA has signed multiple new strategic marketing partnership agreements with major tour operators and airlines.
This incremental activity will start bearing fruit soon and our boutique resort, a luxury oasis, is poised to benefit from this.
Our unique location, in the midst of 500ha Wadi Khadeja, will continue to cater to families with its vast recreational happenings including, but not limited to a state of the art equestrian centre offering horseback riding lessons, daily falcon shows, an archery [facility], among other captivating activities, making it second to none.
Couples and honeymooners will adore the privacy and intimacy of our resort and will continue to escape the hustle and bustle of Dubai for a refreshing, relaxing and rejuvenating experience.
Our future plans for Al Wadi include enhancing the guest experience, refreshing the food and beverage offerings whilst creating unique and personalised dining experiences tailor made and crafted for our guests by our team of highly talented ladies and gentlemen.
The Ritz-Carlton Company will also operate Al Hamra beach resort, which has been closed for a full renovation and will reopen with a new identity this year.