From an entrepreneur who moved to Dubai to set up his business to a fitness trainer, many residents are living in the UAE tenancy contract-free. Known as ‘long-stay guests’, these residents have made hotel rooms their homes.
The fitness trainer mentioned above has built a “community of clients and sport enthusiasts” around the hotel, according to Paul Bridger, chief operating officer of Rove Hotels, which had launched its long-stay packages in 2017.
“(The packages) truly began to garner traction after the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Given the uncertainty, people began scouring for long-term, affordable, and convenient stay options, that did not require them to engage on a yearly contract,” Bridger told Khaleej Times.
Monthly stay packages are inclusive of all utility bills, housekeeping, laundry, Internet connection, as well as pool and gym access. Some hotels offer complimentary breakfast as well.
Bridger claimed these make hotel rooms more affordable than traditional apartment rentals.
The rental market in Dubai continued its upward trend this year, with the average annual rents for apartments surging close to 28 per cent during the first two months of 2023. This is causing some residents to move to hotels and hotel apartments, experts said.
“The fact that this option comes with amenities like pool and gym access, and no additional Internet costs makes this a wiser choice as opposed to leasing an apartment,” said Bridger.
Currently, Rove Hotels are home to over 300 long-stay guests.
At Premier Inn, long-term guests stay for between 30 and 120 days. It welcomes more than 1.6 million guests at its 11 hotels in the UAE and Qatar every year, according to Simon Leigh, managing director, Premier Inn Mena. “Around 240,000 (15 per cent) are ‘long stayers’, who book for several weeks – and sometimes months – at a time,” he told Khaleej Times.
Who are opting for long hotel stays?
Recently-launched visas, such as those for freelance and retirement, have led to an increase in long-term guests, according to experts.
At Rove, monthly stays are popular among “remote workers, digital nomads, people that recently moved to Dubai and are looking for a place to stay temporarily, and residents that prefer the flexibility of a monthly stay”.
Leigh said some long stayers are families who are new to the UAE and finalising a permanent living arrangement; while others are entrepreneurs on a long-term work project. “Some are visiting family for a holiday and others are working here without their family and choose to stay with us instead of renting a place of their own.”
The cost factor
Long-stay packages at Rove start from Dh4,999 per month and go up to Dh14,999 with all taxes included. “Rates are also dependent on seasonality and will become more affordable during the summer season – May to September,” said Bridger.
Payment is done at the beginning of each month. “This gives them the convenience of not having one upfront fee, but also allows them to keep the same room and not have the hassle of changing regularly.”
Anthony Wright, area general manager for hotel apartment brand Suha Hospitality, said rates for studios range from Dh60,000 annually in Jaddaf to Dh80,000 in Bur Dubai. A 3-bedroom hotel apartment in JBR costs around Dh300,000 annually.
Long-term stays are booked the same way regular staycations are. There is no additional paperwork required, said Bridger.
Leigh added that “terms and conditions apply as with any hotel stay of any length”.
The paperwork for hotel apartment is also minimal, according to Wright. “Another brilliant benefit of staying in a hotel apartment is that you do not require any external contract for your accommodation. All facets of the accommodation are taken care of by the hotel apartment operator themselves. Dewa, Ejari, WiFi is all taken care of by the hotel management. The only contract is signing the document at the start of your stay, even this is only applicable to long staying guests.”
Leigh highlighted how one will see people on their laptops in Premier Inn reception areas, restaurants and coffee shops. “We also have private meeting rooms at some properties, and are currently exploring new concepts in terms of communal working spaces, too,” he said.
Rove offers shared seating spaces. “Additionally, we have an ongoing collaboration with letswork, the largest co-working platform in the region, to offer packages inclusive of unlimited tea, coffee, water, and special discounts on meeting rooms and F&B,” said Bridger.
At hotel apartments, tenants tend to operate part of the living room as a makeshift office. “We provide services like enhanced broadband to further bolster their working operations to enable them to work uninterrupted and stay always connected,” said Wright.
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