Frustration for guests of Dubai fire hotel

DUBAI // Five weeks on from the fire that engulfed The Address Downtown Dubai on New Year’s Eve, guests are frustrated at the slow pace of compensation for a ruined holiday. Ruzanna Galfayan, a dentist from the US, said she was forced to cancel plans with family and friends to stay at the Emirates Palace […]

DUBAI // Five weeks on from the fire that engulfed The Address Downtown Dubai on New Year’s Eve, guests are frustrated at the slow pace of compensation for a ruined holiday.

Ruzanna Galfayan, a dentist from the US, said she was forced to cancel plans with family and friends to stay at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi on New Year’s Day to retrieve their belongings from the Dubai hotel.

She and her family were staying on the 12th floor of the 63-story building. However, their room was not affected by the blaze, in which 14 people were injured.

On the night of the fire, her group fled the lounge and restaurant area.

They continued their trip to a hotel in Oman as planned but memories of the fire remained.

“I thought we were safe and that was what mattered the most,” said Ms Galfayan. “But I cannot return to my work and give it my complete attention. Now I feel more emotional than [I was] on the day of the fire.

“We did go to Muscat but it wasn’t the same. We were very tired emotionally and physically. After the fire, for two days, I couldn’t sleep and couldn’t eat.”

While the hotel has refunded the New Year’s Eve dinner charges, Ms Galfayan has disputed fees amounting to US$7,000 (Dh25,710) for their hotel stay and asked for a refund.

The hotel said it was processing her claim.

“We will make every effort to get back to you as promptly as possible but we ask you to please bear with us,” it said.

The tourist wanted to know how much time it would take. “I emailed the hotel and they said give us time. How much time?” Ms Galfayan asked.

“For sure, our trip was a total loss. We took [time] off from work to come back rested and happy, so we can continue working. Now we are very emotional and tired.”

Osa Amenechi, from the UK, said he, too, was asking to be compensated for a ruined holiday.

Mr Amenechi was staying in Room 1504, close to where police said the fire started. He and his family were in Dubai to celebrate his mother’s 80th birthday.

“We were having dinner downstairs at about 6.45pm, and the next thing we see is people exiting the hotel,” he said.

“I arrived on December 27 and was planning to stay until January 4.”

Mr Amenechi said that most of his belongings were destroyed in the fire, and he only managed to grab his laptop bag that contained his passport when he went back to the room on January 3.

“We then were put up in Burj Khalifa, which was OK, to be fair,” he said. However, he said that he contacted the hotel a number of times before it eventually replied on Thursday.

“We just want the thing done quickly, judiciously and expeditiously because, as you can imagine, it’s a great inconvenience for us and there’s only so much you can buy to temporary replace what was missing until you get compensated,” he said.

“My mum’s case, for example, she’s 80 years old and we had to do a lot of walking [during the evacuation]. She’s also diabetic.

“I got a response today from The Address telling me they have passed my details to the insurance company, who will contact me shortly.”

Meanwhile, a resident of The Address Downtown Dubai said that developer Emaar has confirmed that residents will not be reimbursed for damages.

“I had temporarily moved to Nassima Royal Hotel, which Emaar had arranged, and I moved out less than a week after shifting there and cancelled my contract. It wasn’t a fair match,” said L A H, who declined to give her full name.

“No compensation has been offered. We were responsible for personally insuring our belongings.”

The hotel referred all questions to Emaar, which did not respond to requests for comment.

dmoukhallati@thenational.ae

rtalwar@thenational.ae

Source: uae news

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