GHASSAN FARHAT, HOTEL MANAGER, TIME RUBY HOTEL AND APARTMENTS, SHARJAH, SHEDS LIGHT ON HOW SHARJAH CATERS TO MIDDLE EASTERN FAMILIES.
TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: From where do the majority of your guests come from?
GHASSAN FARHAT: TIME Ruby Hotel Apartments’ main market feeder is the [Saudi Arabian] and Omani market, as we cater for all their needs and requirements.
TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: What has been done to attract families to Sharjah?
GHASSAN FARHAT: A lot of family attractions were added to Sharjah as a ily oriented destination, such as upgrading Sharjah Al Majaz water front, upgrading Al Muntazah water park, maintaining activities like Sharjah Light Festival, and Sharjah Food Festival and other activities in Al Qasba area, Sharjah’s main family attraction.
In parallel, Sharjah tourism is keen to feature all this and more in the GCC Road Shows done in coordination with Sharjah’s hotels and furnished apartments.
TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: How does your property promote family tourism?
GHASSAN FARHAT: In coordination with Sharjah Commerce & Tourism Development Authority and other authorities looking after the tourism segment, we distribute all flyers and attend workshops specially for the front line staff to be able to assist families whenever they ask for any information about Sharjah and the places they can go with their families.
TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: In your personal opinion, what sets Sharjah as the ideal holiday destination for those seeking a family getaway?
GHASSAN FARHAT: Sharjah has a unique ambiance meeting all the needs [of] the families especially the ones coming from the GCC, from the first moment you arrive to your furnished apartment or hotel, going to the parks or activities and restaurants, not to forget the special events that Sharjah, [leading] the way in cultural activities such as The Book Fair and Ramadan activities.
TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: What are the must-sees in Sharjah for Middle Eastern families?
GHASSAN FARHAT: The must-sees in Sharjah are a lot, starting from the cultural museums – more than two museums that show a lot about Sharjah and the UAE’s heritage and history – going through the Al Majaz Water Front, reaching to Sharjah Aquarium, not to mention Al Qasba area which is Sharjah's landmark now, as it has a lot of activities throughout the seasons and during week days or weekends, you can find it very active and entertaining for [family] getaways in Sharjah.
TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: What can guests look forward to in the near future regarding new plans or offerings?
GHASSAN FARHAT: As a standard furnished apartment, we are trying our best to meet all guests' needs, in the hotel while they stay with us, and outside as they come to entertain themselves, as they will require logistics assistance, so we provide free drop and pickup to and from major shopping malls in Sharjah on a scheduled bus. At the same time, we provide special packages for families that would like to spend some time on the beach – due to our proximity to the beach – on the other hand, we have special packages that are related to some family activities like the Al Muntazah Water Park or Sharjah City Tour Bus.
TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: How was business in the first quarter of the year?
GHASSAN FARHAT: [Quarter one] business on the books is the same if not better than 2016.
In some areas, [we were] affected a lot by the happenings and holidays in the GCC countries main market feeder.
Main contributor to keep up the story of [our] success, is the consistency to implement Sharjah's activity annual calendar and the deep belief that Sharjah is the safest place for a family to travel to regardless of the age.