Will love prove recession-proof?
By Emma Chamberlain
F&B experts across the region are confident that this Valentine’s Day will be a roaring success, despite the effects of the economic downturn on consumer spending.
The signs are good: although public spending has slowed, covers seem to be stabilising in restaurants across the region after the dramatic fall last year.
Commeting on Valentine's Day food and beverage business, Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek director of F&B Ali Fatehnezhad predicted “similar outcomes to last year in terms of footfall and overall activity in the actual outlets’ operations”.
Meanwhile Grand Hyatt Muscat assistant director of food and beverage Iryna Ryazanova said she also expected past successes to be repeated
“Valentine’s at Grand Hyatt Muscat is popular amongst the locals; every year it is a big success. I wouldn’t expect this year to be much different from the years before,” she asserted.
Al Diar Siji Hotel and Siji Hotel Apartments assistant food and beverage manager Meque Verbo was similarly optimistic.
“We anticipate that business this Valentine’s Day, will be if not better, then at least the same as last year,” he said.
According to Sebastien Duvocelle, assistant director of food and beverage at The Palace, The Old Town, signs indicate that February 14 will bring in more revenue than last year.
“As of today, we have had a better month than last year; we therefore expect the same for February, especially for Valentines’ Day,” he explained.
While day-to-day business has been affected over the past couple of years, Valentine’s Day is — to a certain degree — immune to external economic factors.
Al Diar Siji’sVerbo commented: “Recession or no recession, I think people will choose to go out, spend according to their budget, and celebrate Valentine’s Day to express their love for their loved ones and to make them feel special.”
Duvocelle agreed that as an annual event, February 14 remained relatively recession-proof: “We do not think [the economic downturn] will affect Valentine’s Day, as couples want to spend this exclusive moment together in an exceptional environment to make it the special romantic event of the year.”
Grand Hyatt’s Ryazanova added: “To take out your loved one on Valentine’s Day is a special treat from one partner to another.
“In my opinion, 99% of women would love to get pampered and surprised on Valentine’s Day and be taken to a good restaurant for a romantic evening.”
Despite this upbeat outlook regarding consumer spending, outlets still face another challenge: competition in the region is high.
Outlets must offer an extra-special array of packages to mark themselves out and attract business.
At the Radisson Blu, Dubai Deira Creek, there is the hotel’s trademark Valentine’s Dinner Cruise by the Creek, aboard the Al Mansour Dhow.
Al Diar Siji Hotel will offer a specially prepared six-course dinner at its Asmak and Faseel restaurants.
“We want the women diners to feel special, so we will be giving them Valentine’s roses,” Verbo added.
Meanwhile Grand Hyatt Muscat promises “a romantic dining experience where guests can dine in the garden, surrounded by candles, with the chefs showcasing their best romantic dishes of the year”.
The Palace, The Old Town is offering guests exclusive tailor-made packages entitled ‘Love in the Palace’, all inclusive of a suite and dinner on the private balcony with various extras.
The Grand Hyatt Muscat is making its mark with something truly different: an ‘Anti-Valentines dinner’ at its Safari Rooftop Grill House.
The property’s Ryazanova calimed it would be “the perfect get-away for those who do not want to have anything to do with Valentine’s Day and are looking for a good laugh”.