SAYONI BHADURI – Mumbai
In an aim to cater to more Hajj and Umrah business from India Fairmont Raffles Makkah is looking to make its presence felt in India. “In 2012, we saw as many as 1000 room nights which came from India alone. This allows us to believe that there is a huge market in India that needs to be tapped,” said Khaled Yamak, group director of communication and business development, Fairmont Raffles Hotel Makkah. He then adds that they have seen positive indications from the Indian market when it comes to business into Saudi Arabia. India also has the third largest Islamic population in the world and with the improving economy of the country the disposable income has also increased the number of people travelling.
“Since visas to the Saudi Arabia are available only through recognised tour operators and the percentage of visas allotted to each nation is also limited, it is important for us to reach out to this community and create awareness about our hotels,” added Yamak. As to luxury hotel in a holy city he said that the aim has always been to offer luxury with humility. “When we first opened in the city, hotels were offering fairly mediocre services and were not pushing themselves. We offered our guests a choice with a variety of facilities. We were the first to open a spa in Makkah. While everybody asked why a spa, we asked back why not? We also have the first business centre in the city as well as special rooms for elderly travellers, we have trained nurses managing it,” he added.
Located in Clock Tower complex are three Fairmont Raffles hotels – Swissotel Makkah, Raffles Makkah Palace and Makkah Clock Royal Tower – which caters to 40 per cent of the business in Makkah.