Retail therapy in a luxury setting

RetailME Bureau

In its bid to draw higher footfall and boost revenue, the hospitality industry in the UAE is wooing visitors with leisure, adventure, entertainment and wellness facilities – as well as exclusive retail complexes within their precincts. The Avenues at Atlantis, the Palm provides a comprehensive shopping experience for every type of traveller – while generating significant revenue for the luxury beach resort, writes Rupkatha Bhowmick.

It’s a luxuriously colourful marketplace spread across 25,000sqft of exclusive retail space, its meandering promenade housing some of the world’s most sought after brands in over 39 retail shops that offer everything from the latest ladies, men’s and children’s catwalks to jewels befitting royalty to accessories and confectionary.

“There are luxury jewellery brands, fashion outlets, restaurants and much more,” says Tania Moubader, director of retail of the Avenues. “Not just high-end – you’ll find bridge brands as well. That’s what makes the Avenues special as an internal retail complex within Atlantis, the Palm.”

Fulfilling retail therapy, she calls it. “It’s all part of the original vision when the 1,537 room five-star luxury resort was being set up on the Palm, a coveted area in Dubai. The idea was to build something more than just a luxurious beach resort. It had to be a getaway for the entire family, replete with adventurous leisure-cum-entertainment facilities, spas for wellness and relaxation as well as an array of restaurants and night clubs. And, of course, a comprehensive shopping experience for our guests and the UAE residents,” Moubader explains.

Retail offerings with an Atlantis theme… and more

“There’s an underlying Atlantis theme in our retail offerings, 12 of the 39 outlets being owned and managed by the resort. We work with more than 150 suppliers – both local and international – offering over 3,000 Atlantis-branded products, most of them encouraging awareness of marine life and Kerzner Marine Foundation practices. They include plush toys of marine life, key rings, Crocs, canvas bags and underwater cameras, with our Atlantis-branded caps being one of our best-selling products – over 26,000 pieces sold last year,” she adds.

The jewellery segment features high-end brands such as Levant, Harry Winston, Graff, Carrera y Carrera, Tiffany & Company, Cartier, Paspaley and Kenza, while catwalk fashion includes Levant Couture, Lacoste, Robert Cavalli, Leonard Paris, Villa Moda, Rodeo Drive, Via Rodeo, B More and Leonard. There’s also Chopard (watches and jewellery), Faces (perfumes and beauty/care products), Ondademar and Hamac (casual beachwear and beach accessories), Porsche Design (accessories, luggage and pens) and Bateel (dates and Arabic sweets).

“We launched the Nasimi Boutique, our beachside boutique, last year to offer a range of beachwear, jewellery and accessories, its bespoke fashion collection featuring international and regional designers – chic and luxurious kaftans by Colin Heaney and Marena Y Sol; unique jewellery from Miriam Salat and Roarke; clutches from Amanda van der Ham; sunglasses from New York brand Lumette and spectacles from Al Yateem; and stylish and chic watches from the Rivoli and Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons brand collection. Plus, in keeping with our family-orientation, we even have a children’s wear brand – Angels,” Moubader elaborates.

Recent additions to the retail portfolio include Barracuda, Tower of Poseidon and Gallery One, the latter showcasing contemporary art and photography and offering an array of innovative, high quality souvenirs and gifts. There are also a number of kiosks, including Watch Out B360, an innovative watch brand; Precise, a brand dealing in sub-surface laser etching of high quality crystals; Treasure Box, a souvenir and gift shop; Montage Carpet; and Sand Art.

There’s also world-class chefs, global F&B concepts… and entertainment

The Avenues offers F&B options through its 17 restaurants, bars and lounges to suit every palate, the choices ranging from sophisticated seafood and innovative sushi to quick bites and foods from around the world.

“Our F&B brands are doing quite well, with four world-class chefs to welcome guests. They include master chef and sushi mogul Nobuyuki Matsuhisa (Nobu, in partnership with Robert DeNiro); Michelin-starred Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli (Ronda Locatelli); two-star Michelin chef Michel Rostang from Paris (Rostang – the French Brasserie); and three-star Michelin chef SantiSantamaria (Ossiano – gourmet seafood). In addition, there’s TBJ, Asia Republic and Kaleidoscope. Every one of these concepts has been welcomed by our guests and has received very positive response. In addition, we have a small Al Rifai outlet, a Lebanese brand dealing in dry fruits, herbal items and so on, as well as a Yogurberry outlet,” Moubader points out.

Atlantis is also home to Sanctuary, a state-of-the-art nightclub and a host of other entertainment offerings that include Aquaventure, a popular waterpark flowing across 42 fun-filled acres; The Lost Chambers Aquarium that houses 65,000 marine animals and has a network of underwater mazes and tunnels that explore the ruins of legendary Atlantis; the four-and-a-half hectare Dolphin Bay where guests can play with dolphins; as well as scuba diving, courtesy Al Boom Diving, in Ambassador Lagoon, which also harbours indigenous marine animals.

Reaching out to a wider audience and growing footfall

The Avenues receives 1.3 million people annually from the west and Asia as well as significant numbers of UAE and GCCresidents. “We cater to a wide consumer mix comprising Emiratis, GCC nationals, Russians, Chinese, Germans, British, Indians, Chinese and Australians, our footfall growing 250% since 2009. The reason for this stupendous growth is our variegated retail offerings in our portfolio of international as well as home-grown brands,” Moubader points out.

“We conduct an in-depth assessment before selecting brands to ensure they are in line with our retail offerings, collaborating with our tenants to ensure the design of their outlets is in sync with our brand image. For example, we are cautious about the lights we use – they should not be too bright or dull but enough to highlight the products and catch customer attention,” she explains.

According to Moubader, brands such as Vilebrequin – part of Hamac – are doing very well, while Starbucks and Coldstone happen to be revenue drivers as well.

“We see between 4,000 and 8,000 walk-ins during week days, the number touching the 20,000-mark over weekends. Winters are exceptionally good for us, with a spike in sales, while the summer months witness a bit of a slump, although we are seeing some improvement on a year-on-year basis. Festive seasons in particular prove to be very busy for us and we now have our fifth anniversary celebrations lined up for November, when we expect greater footfall,” she concludes.

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