When it comes to choices for places to stay, businesspeople in Abu Dhabi are spoiled.
Between 2012 and 2015, about 5,000 new hotel rooms and serviced apartments were added to the market, and almost 5,000 more are due in the next two years, according to JLL. This surge in supply has been matched by demand, with STR Global figures for January showing that occupancy edged up to 75.5 per cent during the month.
Given such strong fundamentals, it is hardly a surprise that a property investment company owned by Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan took a decision to convert an existing community of apartments connected to the city’s Al Seef Mall, and convert it into a community aimed at business travellers and corporate clients looking to house executives on short-term contracts.
Three years ago, this was a regular community of one, two and three-bedroom apartments that were let on standard annual leases. At the time, a one-bed apartment cost Dh85,000 per year (including water and electricity), a typical two-bed was Dh140,000 per year and a three-bed was Dh180,000 per year. Now known as Al Seef Village Resort and Spa by Andalus, the development of 213 homes has come back on the market at Dh175,000 for a one-bed, Dh285,000 for a two-bed and Dh320,000 for a three-bed property.
So what do you get for your money? Well, Richard Haddad, the vice-president of the development’s operating company, Jannah Hotels, believes that this offers much more than regular apartments.
For instance, the increased rates include all utilities, as well as a couple of televisions and Wi-Fi throughout. Units also come fully furnished, linens are also provided and the apartments are cleaned twice a week.
On top of this, the development has been reshaped to give a much stronger sense of community. There is a glass entrance lobby to welcome short-stay guests, and a pedestrian “street experience” has been created with internal boulevards lined by 22 new units including restaurants such as Il Caffe di Roma, Flame & Bake and the Japanese brand Tsunami, laundry services and a pharmacy. Individual buildings each contain a two-bed ground floor apartment, a mid-level three-bed and an upper-level one-bed with generous terrace space.
Guests are ferried through the development by golf cart and there is a central community pool area. Then there is the Karim service – a part-free, part-paid concierge offering a range of services from grocery delivery from the adjoining Al Seef Mall to arranging restaurants, shopping trips, airport pickups and much more.
The redevelopment has been opening on a phased basis, with the first units completed in January, a second phase due to be handed over this month and the final phase opening next month.
Jannah Hotels’ Richard Haddad and Drica Rodrigues, head of agency at the lettings agent Chestertons, tell Michael Fahy more about the development:
Who would live in a development like this?
RH: It is for project managers who come for limited time projects, or for people who come on a one-year contract and don’t want to go through the hassle of electricity, furnishing, snagging and painting. We’re even taking care of the gardening. Sixty-six units will be kept for short-stay guests because they are the prime area round the pool. All of the others will be for long-stay guests. We rent for monthly, three-month, six-month or yearly periods.
What about the surrounding area?
DR: It’s unique, because you are right at the edge of the city so you can easily go to Dubai and Abu Dhabi. You also have residential, commercial and retail all in one area. Brighton College and Khalifa Park are also nearby. These are furnished, high-end apartments that you could compare with the likes of Rosewood Abu Dhabi, but this is a much more family-friendly location.
Can you explain more about the Karim service? What is covered and what’s not?
RH: It’s like a butler’s service. You have a limited number of free services – if you’ve done your shopping and want someone to pick up your bags, if you want someone to assist with tuning something in the room, if you have a suit that needs to be picked up from Galleria Mall – these are considered to be free. What’s not free are services that take time – babysitting, for example. We will book your golf for free, but if you want someone to go along and assist you, you will be charged.
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