In a city with an abundance of accommodation options, location is vital.

Having only opened in October 2016, Premier Inn Dubai Ibn Battuta Mall has already captured its share of the market, with Roudi Soubra, general manager, Premier Inn Dubai Ibn Battuta Mall, reporting 100 percent occupancy during the second half of November.

As the only mid-market hotel in the area, and with a direct link bridge to Ibn Battuta Mall, the occupancy levels are a clear indicator of the scope of opportunity within the mid-range market in close proximity to shopping malls.

Hoteliers are no strangers to the role in which shopping plays in many travellers' itineraries, with properties strategically located to retail giants, or providing convenient transportation to ensure convenient ease of access.

Whilst noting that the property endeavours to facilitate shopping experiences for travellers, Bahl said, "We offer scheduled complimentary shuttles for all our guests to Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates."

There are vast opportunities for collaboration between the shopping malls and properties, with many addresses having clinched promotional partnerships with retailers.

Coupled with a butler service to assist with shopping needs, Ammar Hilal, general manager, Sofitel Downtown Dubai, exemplified, "[...] A number of discounts for prime brands have been negotiated and extended exclusively to many of our repeat guests."

Guests staying at JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai can also have access to a selection of offers through dedicated shopping packages, which Nick Patmore, director, food and beverage, JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai, depicted as personal shopper experiences, discounts and massages.

With the aim of appealing to domestic visitors from both Dubai and elsewhere in the UAE, Slim Zaiane, general manager, Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates Dubai, revealed, "[...] We have introduced free valet parking for shoppers who spend AED100 (USD27.23) per person in one of our restaurants."

He further underscored that because the address is seen as the red carpet to the shopping centre, this personalised service has proved to be very popular.

LEADING THE WAY

While the malls and souks remain alluring tourist attractions, Dubai truly stands out as a shopping hotspot thanks to its longstanding shopping festivals.

The Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), which ran for the 22nd year between December 26, 2016 – January 28, is regarded as the largest shopping event of its kind in the Middle East, and the pinnacle of the retail calendar. DSF, along with Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS), due to celebrate its 20th edition this year, have been declared as anchor city festivals.

The popularity of such events, combined with the aim of boosting tourism retail spend has resulted in Dubai Tourism developing an annual Retail Calendar for Dubai, unveiled in November 2016.

Soon to be marketed internationally, the programme will highlight a whole host of promotional activities aligned with cultural celebrations as well as global retail and fashion cycles. Overall, the accumulated impact of the initiative is forecast to contribute to exponential growth, with turnover expected to reach USD52 billion by 2020.

Underlining the importance of these happenings to the hospitality industry, Deere noted that during consumer event periods, Amwaj Rotana Jumeirah Beach sees a substantial rise in hotel guests, as much as a 20 percent increase, with a large proportion visiting from Abu Dhabi.

This is upheld through seasonal packages such as, during DSF, additional shuttle services, foot reflexology and room service dinners.

TRENDSETTERS

Not only is shopping a key driver in attracting visitors to the emirate, but the recent explosion of food outlets has transformed Dubai's dining scene.

"In recent years, Dubai has seen the food and beverage industry grow triple fold with the introduction of major food festivals, food trucks and well-known international brands setting up shop," explained Patmore.

Now in its fourth year and bigger than ever before, Dubai Food Festival, held February 23 – March 11, features an assortment of culinary experiences, including Street Nights, Taste of Dubai and Eat the World DXB.

As an industry particularly influenced by trends, Dubai's culinary landscape is no different, with all ends of the spectrum being served to tourists and locals alike, from fashionable fresh street food to innovative Michelin Starworthy gastronomy.

Along with traditional Arabic fare, a myriad of authentic cuisines are available thanks to the sheer diversity of the city's population, which according to Mark Kirby, general manager, Armani Hotel Dubai, stands at more than 200 nationalities.

Having said that, Dubai is distinguished not just for the variety of cuisines on offer, but as Vanden Auweele expanded, for the exceptionally high level of service.