StayWell’s regional director on why Dubai’s old town will see regeneration again

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Park Regis Kris Kin leader Colin Baker says the area’s history should be preserved

olin Baker, StayWell regional director Middle East and general manager of Park Regis Kris Kin is sure that Bur Dubai still holds allure for travellers.

The hotel, which stands on the edge of Karama near Burjuman has been in operation for just more than a decade and has 384 keys across various room types, as well as a rooftop pool and five F&B outlets, including the popular Masala Bazaar.

In an exclusive interview with Dubai hospitality, Baker said: “It can be a challenge to stay fresh as Dubai has so much innovation. People tend to jump on the bandwagon a bit. For us it’s a question of how far do we innovate and how far do we preserve? It’s a balancing act at this hotel. You need to keep a semblance of history and culture of the area I believe.

“We are aimed more towards traditionalist travellers – the sort of people who know what they’re getting before they buy.

“Within certain markets, our stance of preservation has helped build loyalty and trust. There’s no surprises. We obviously keep amenities fresh and standards high, but our rooms themselves tend to defy age.”

The concept of preservation is not exclusive to the hotel, he said, but is a trait of the wider Karama and Bur Dubai area.

He added: “Plenty of people still have interest in Old Dubai and enjoy it. It doesn’t perhaps have the glitz of the modern parts but that’s a good thing to have. There are the winding souks here and it really takes you back to the old days.”

In 2020, Dubai’s historic Deira district, on the other side of the creek, has seen an array of new developments pop=up as part of a regeneration project, and Nakheel’s vast Deira Islands already has the 800-key RIU Dubai open for business.

Is the Bur Dubai side of the Creek at risk of being overshadowed? Baker said: “I think this area has already had its resurgence. Take Al Seef for example. That’s a fantastic development. They’ve done so well there, it has a good mix of restaurants and some trendy places. It has a great blend of Mediterranean places, rustic places and many others.

“In terms of residential and hotels, there’s a lot going on the Creek so I think there’s a resurgence here already. I can see the Creek developing more and more. It’s got a lot going on.

“There’s not a lot of land left in Downtown or Marina anymore so eventually the old part of Dubai will see more development again. Developers now, their rooms are getting smaller and smaller, our rooms, however, are much larger here in the older parts.”

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