Bahrain Confidential (June-July 2022)

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First of all... Our June-July edition features some of Bahrain’s top leaders in hospitality. From 5-star resorts to 4-star and extended-stay hotels, these exceptional leaders are redefining hospitality. Bahrain Confidential discusses with them what’s new, what’s next, and what makes them the best.

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32 Bahrain’s Leaders in Hospitality

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Bahrain’s Leaders in Hospitality

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Bahrain’s Leaders in

Hospitality Bahrain Confidential

features some of Bahrain's top leaders in hospitality. From 5-star resorts to 4-star and extended-stay hotels, these exceptional leaders are redefining hospitality. We discuss with them what's new, what's next, and what makes them the best.


Bahrain Hospitality

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hat is your vision for Elite Hospitality Group’s hotels? To continue to be the best local brand of hotels in Bahrain. We are continuously evolving, adapting, and improving. By the end of the year, we will be opening a lovely beach and at least two new restaurants with specialty cuisines. We endeavour to delight our guests consistently. What have been your biggest challenges (and successes) over the past difficult years? The Tourism industry has faced challenges not just during the Covid pandemic, but prior to that as well. We had a surge of new hotels opening in Bahrain, with no real increase in footfall, which led to a fall in average room rates and occupancies. This, combined with unlicensed properties, has brought down market shares. Operating costs have spiralled – the biggest being utility bills. The shortage of commodities over the past two years has also led to price increases. Other than a great team, what qualities do your hotels have that make them stand out in Bahrain? Our all-suite properties cater to both business and leisure travellers looking to stay long-term and enjoy our amazing facilities, unique restaurants, nightclubs, and spas.

Sarosh Aibara - Chief Operating Officer Elite Hospitality Group

As the word implies, leadership to me means leading from the front, yet knowing when to take a back seat as a mentor.

What does hospitality leadership mean to you? As the word implies, leadership to me means leading from the front, yet knowing when to take a back seat as a mentor. It means standing up for my work family, and for my brand. I try and preach only what I practice. I do my best to listen, keep learning, stay abreast with technology, and have consensus where possible! Is there a particular saying or motto that guides you? When I joined the group, I was given a job description which stated “Employed for job completion and not for hours of duty”. The hotel industry is 24×7, which means long hours. I have lived by this for all my 40 years in this industry. “Work is worship; your place of work is your place of worship”. These words have been my motto all the way. n

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Bahrain Hospitality

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hat is your vision for Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay? Our vision is to position Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay as the “hotel and resort of choice for business and leisure travelers” in the market. We bring this vision to life by focusing on service excellence supported by the exceptional quality of our product. Our property is undoubtedly perceived as one of the best within the Four Seasons portfolio. Quality, Service, Culture, and Brand are the pillars Four Seasons is built on, and our hotel is a living example. What have been your biggest challenges (and successes) over the past difficult years? The sequence of events I experienced while based in Beirut; the revolution, currency devaluation, people losing jobs due to COVID and eventually the third largest explosion in history resulting in the destruction and closure of Four Seasons Hotel Beirut were very challenging times. But the most challenging was having to see colleagues and friends losing their jobs due to reasons beyond anyone’s control. As a leader, you feel helpless and almost guilty for not being able to help! Looking back at the pandemic, which was a critical time for the entire world and our industry, you realize how important it is to work for the right company when things get seriously tough. Although we too had to make some very tough and unpopular decisions, they were done with dignity and thoughtfulness, and those affected rushed to rejoin the Four Seasons Family when the opportunities returned post-pandemic. In 2022, business levels came back with a vengeance, exceeding 2019, which was the best year for our hotel, so it remains true that “the best is yet to come”! Other than a great team, what qualities does your hotel have that make it stand out in Bahrain? We stand at a great location with beautifully appointed rooms and suites and a wide range of facilities from dining and events to recreation and family-friendly areas. Since its inception, there was certainly no compromise on the quality of this property. A hotel of such luxurious and superior quality would be the #1 address no matter where it is located, Paris, Hong Kong, or New York.

Rami Sayess - Regional Vice President and General Manager Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

We stand at a great location with beautifully appointed rooms and suites and a wide range of facilities from dining and events to recreation and family-friendly areas.

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As Regional Vice President overseeing several hotels & resorts, what according to you is the most important quality of a hospitality leader? Consistency, empathy, and clarity are essential qualities for a hospitality leader. Leaders are responsible for maintaining the stability in their organization and transparent and open communication with the staff, guests, owners, and third parties. Being in hospitality also means expecting the unexpected and being ready for any scenario 24/7. As Vice President, I guide and support our very capable general managers and help them focus on what is important for the company. Whatever we do, we must always provide our guests and employees with the Four Seasons experience because it is what they expect. Is there a particular saying or motto that guides you? BE YOU! Don’t be fake or pretend to be someone you are not. Authentic connections are only established with genuine characters. This authenticity makes you the right person for the job and a true Four Seasons Ambassador. At the same time, don’t forget to enjoy the journey while working towards reaching your goal. n


Bahrain Hospitality

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hat is your vision for the hotel? Gulf Suites is designed to cater to the people living on this island. The property was built into a hotel and long-stay residential apartment. I believe we have run 80 per cent of the track to convert Gulf Suites into a fourstar hotel. However, we have a little more to do in the areas of human resources and guest services. Guest satisfaction is the number one priority of any business. What have been your biggest challenges (and successes) over the past difficult years? The pandemic in itself was a great challenge. The threat, however, turned into an opportunity as we opened quarantine facilities at the hotel. This proved to be successful and profitable for us. Other than a great team, what qualities does your hotel have that make it stand out in Bahrain? Our executive-level room concept distinguishes us from most hotels that focus on the concept of apartments. The hotel is centrally located with a spacious parking facility that holds up to 200 vehicles at a time. We are looking to expand this area further.

Dr. Deepal Fernando - General Manager Gulf Suites Hotel

The results suggest that open communication and a people-centric leadership style are most efficient in the hospitality industry.

What does hospitality leadership mean to you? The goal of every hospitality leader is to exceed customer satisfaction. The results suggest that open communication and a people-centric leadership style are most efficient in the hospitality industry. Effective leaders provide clarity of purpose, motivate, and guide the organization to realize its mission. Both “people skills” and “business skills” are needed and a good manager exhibits both. Is there a particular saying or motto that guides you? One could make a hotel out of diamonds or gold but the only thing that makes a difference is the people in that hotel. n

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hat is your vision for Hilton Bahrain? The hotel will be the perfect choice for guests with our modern and stylish studios, one and two-bedroom apartments, which feature spacious living rooms, a fully equipped kitchen and a breathtaking view of the sea from its balcony. Six distinct restaurants, a wellness centre, an outdoor pool, a jacuzzi, and meeting spaces add to the new features. The team and I are ecstatic to see the lights of Hilton Bahrain on, its doors open to welcome our guests in August and provide the experiences we have created for them. What have been your biggest challenges (and successes) over the past difficult years? With pre-opening, we expected to encounter challenges but there was nothing that a talented and dedicated team could not overcome. With my team’s hard work and our owner’s support, I believe we are now at the end of the tunnel, with bright lights ahead of us, as we get closer to our opening. Other than a great team, what qualities does your hotel have that make it stand out in Bahrain? We have studied the needs and wants of our guests and created a dynamic urban lifestyle with our state-of-the-art facilities, wellness, culinary experiences and world-renowned Hilton hospitality. We are a proud supporter of Hilton’s economic, social and governance strategy to drive responsible travel and tourism. It is our goal to be a champion when it comes to sustainability and environmental activism in Bahrain’s hospitality industry. We have removed all single-use plastic— one of the many projects we have developed to drive sustainability. Hilton Bahrain is a pet-friendly hotel. We understand the need for pet lovers, such as myself, to have a trusted destination where we can share memorable experiences with our pets. Hilton Bahrain will provide “paw-fect” services and perks like an exclusive VIP pet membership, grooming services, treats and in-room pet dining menu!

Tamer Farouk - General Manager Hilton Bahrain

With pre-opening, we expected to encounter challenges but there was nothing that a talented and dedicated team could not overcome.

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What does hospitality leadership mean to you? It’s to lead by example. Hospitality is an ever-growing industry. It is in our hands to make a difference in our guests’ everyday experiences and our team members’ professional and personal growth. We also have the opportunity to set standards for other hospitality providers. We are responsible to make an impact on society. We have the capabilities to drive growth, support tourism and champion social and environmental causes that will highlight development and bring joy. This, I believe is the ultimate goal of hospitality in the first place. Is there a particular saying or motto that guides you? “Will it spark joy?” This question has guided me in my career to date. A happy team creates happy guests. When faced with a decision, I ask myself, “will my actions spark happiness and positivity in my team members and spread to our guests?” After all, joy and positivity are what we want to leave our guests and team members with. n


Bahrain Hospitality

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hat is your vision for Hilton Garden Inn? My vision for Hilton Garden Inn Bahrain Bay is to be the leading hotel in Bahrain by delivering bright-hearted service to all our guests – where everyone enjoys a feeling of home away from home. I also envision the hotel to be the employer of choice for our current and future team members. We are striving to be a great place to work where every team member can thrive and build a career in hospitality. What have been your biggest challenges (and successes) over the past difficult years? Opening the hotel was surely the biggest challenge and success over the last two years. This included recruiting under pandemic restrictions (delays in visa processes and flights) as well as remote training. The commercial positioning of the hotel during the uncertainties of the pandemic with continued travel restrictions was certainly an added risk we had to deal with. Everyone from the leadership to all the team members went the extra mile to successfully open the hotel on 15th July 2021. Other than a great team, what qualities does your hotel have that make it stand out in Bahrain? The team comes first and does make all the difference. They are the heart and soul spreading the light and warmth of hospitality. It is a wonderful combination of local Bahrainis (about 35%) and international team members from 18 different nationalities. One of the additional unique selling points for Hilton Garden Inn Bahrain Bay is certainly the location. Our hotel is directly connected to the Avenues Bahrain Mall. Another unique feature is the spectacular 360-degree sea view from all the rooms, restaurants, and public areas.

Manuela K. Brode - General Manager Hilton Garden Inn Bahrain Bay

Hospitality leadership for me is all about teamwork and lifelong learning. Teamwork starts with everyone understanding each other’s work.

What does hospitality leadership mean to you? Hospitality leadership for me is all about teamwork and lifelong learning. Teamwork starts with everyone understanding each other’s work. Lifelong learning is part of learning from each other and learning from our guests. My role is to provide the tools and environment for every team member to be at their personal best to every one of our guests. Is there a particular saying or motto that guides you? ‘Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you will land amongst the stars.’ n

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Bahrain Hospitality

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hat is your vision for InterContinental Regency Bahrain? InterContinental Regency is focusing on providing an outstanding guest experience by incorporating technology. We have made a lot of developments in our offerings over the years. However, with travel and hospitality evolving, our guests’ needs are changing. We are relaunching customized experiences through services that enhance our guests’ stay at the hotel. When the world hit a pause on travel, IHG Hotels & Resorts saw an opportunity to reconnect and learn from its guests and owners. We launched Journey to Tomorrow, a new action plan that signals fresh commitments to drive positive change for our people, communities, and the planet aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030. What have been your biggest challenges (and successes) over the past difficult years? The market conditions with an influx of new hotels, disproportionate supply and demand, workforce shortages, and prolonged economic challenges directly affected all aspects of our business. However, these challenges made us think out of the box, finding new ways to reach our guests. One of our new ideas – the Greek Ghost Kitchen concept has now got a life of its own as a popular pop-up restaurant during the winter months. Other than a great team, what qualities does your hotel have that make it stand out in Bahrain? Our location in the heart of Manama, within walking distance to the traditional local souq, the World Trade Center, the financial harbour, and popular malls, makes it attractive to both business and leisure guests. The IHG One Rewards, the industry’s first hotel loyalty program, is evolving to meet the needs of our current and future members. What does hospitality leadership mean to you? Meeting and exceeding the needs of our guests by creating memorable experiences is the main goal for a hospitality leader. They result in achieving guest satisfaction, repeat business, and word-of-mouth advertising.

Philipp John Economou

Area General Manager, Bahrain (IHG) General Manager, InterContinental® Regency Bahrain

Leaders need Innovation in order to improve their organization.

Hospitality professionals work long nights and endless weeks because a hotel is a 24/7 business. Despite the workload, one needs to be ready to take control of situations and be accountable for solving any problems, while being punctual, organized, and in control. Part of being an effective leader is knowing when to delegate responsibilities by building a team you trust. Leaders need Innovation in order to improve their organization. This means that great leaders are perceptive to the ideas of others, show flexibility, and look at situations through different lenses. Innovative leaders are always learning and analyzing strengths and weaknesses while looking for ways to improve. Is there a particular saying or motto that guides you? “People will forget what you said, forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou n

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Bahrain Hospitality

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hat is your vision for Mövenpick Bahrain? To continue to improve our guest experience as well as develop our team members in order to meet our goals and remain the market leader in hospitality in Bahrain. This can only be achieved by the great commitment of our team and the full continued support we receive and the trust of our owners and Accor. Moreover, now that COVID-19 is behind us, we are working on developing new hotel activities that will further enhance the guest experience and support our aim to be regarded as one of the best 5-star hotels in Bahrain. What have been your biggest challenges (and successes) over the past difficult years? The biggest challenge we faced was the impact of Covid-19 on the team, our guests, and the whole community. The biggest success was our hotel renovation. We managed to come up with a very beautiful facility as we are told by our guests. During Covid, we managed to keep the hotel open and running, avoided downsizing and took good care of our team members’ wellbeing. Other than a great team, what qualities does your hotel have that make it stand out in Bahrain? Based on the feedback of our guests throughout the years, our hotel stands at a great location with outstanding food and beverage service, and a reputation for great hospitality in the market.

Pasquale Baiguera - General Manager Mövenpick Bahrain

Hospitality leadership to me is being able to operate with a high level of integrity and fairness towards all stakeholders.

What does hospitality leadership mean to you? Hospitality leadership to me is being able to operate with a high level of integrity and fairness towards all stakeholders: team, guests, owners and take responsibility for the community around us as well as the environment. Is there a particular saying or motto that guides you? "I am still learning" by Michael Angelo n

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Bahrain Hospitality

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hat is your vision for Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa? We aspire to maintain our status as the preferred destination in Bahrain, creating a unique luxurious getaway with a touch of local heritage and French “Art de Vivre” (Art of Living), for our guests. We are expanding our offering with the addition of four new villas to our room inventory next year. Being a leading hotel in this region, we deeply focus on sustainability with initiatives like the removal of all single-use plastic at the hotel. Sofitel Bahrain is an ideal place for friends and family gatherings and we aim to build life-long relationships with them by delivering quality services driven by our passion as leaders in Bahrain’s hospitality industry. What have been your biggest challenges (and successes) over the past difficult years? The pandemic posed several challenges to the hospitality industry. We quickly implemented drastic responses to reduce the impact of the virus and the loss to the business. Forecasting was nearly impossible with the multiple lockdowns and restrictions. At Sofitel Bahrain, we understood that business would mainly come from within the country. Staycation offers gained popularity as long-distance travel was restricted. We invested all our efforts in attracting this segment during the lockdowns. The pandemic transformed the way the industry operates; it changed the guests’ preferences and what they care about. Travellers demand additional health and safety measures and we have had to adapt to satisfy new trends. Other than a great team, what qualities does your hotel have that make it stand out in Bahrain? The secluded location of the hotel offers a luxurious escape far from the bustling city. French elegance infused with traditional Arab architecture highlights the hotel’s dedication to creating a haven for its guests. The spectacular beach-front setting and amenities make for a memorable getaway.

Mehdi Hanayen - Cluster General Manager Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa

Sofitel Bahrain is an ideal place for friends and family gatherings and we aim to build life-long relationships with them by delivering quality services.

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The hotel boasts 21 Prestige Suites, 6 rooftop thematic Opera suites, and 1 Royal Suite, all furnished. We have thirteen dining and nightlife options with award-winning seafood, Italian, Southeast Asian or Lebanese restaurants. Our bars and lobby lounge are perfect for a nightcap, a business meeting or a rendezvous with friends. Our Thalassa Wellness & Rehabilitation Center, the only one in the GCC, offers an array of seawater-based treatments, including hydrotherapy, massage, wellness and rehabilitation. What does hospitality leadership mean to you? A hospitality leader needs to have an innovative mind to improve their organization and find opportunities where others don’t. An open-minded manager thinks out of the box and explores new ways to elevate guests’ experiences. Mutual respect in the work environment with a sense of direction and motivation in their staff are important qualities of any hospitality leader. We must be able to make them feel valued and that they have opportunities for growth and development within the hotel. Is there a particular saying or motto that guides you? Hard work, passion, discipline and sacrifices will guide you to success. n



Bahrain Hospitality

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hat is your vision for The Art Hotel & Resort? The Art Hotel & Resort is a distinguished and well-established business and leisure destination in Bahrain. We understand our guests’ preferences and the evolving shifts in their behaviour. We tend to stick to the basics and the incarnation of our name: The Art of meeting expectations. What have been your biggest challenges (and successes) over the past difficult years? Keeping the doors open by creating sales opportunities and cutting costs with the objective of retaining our most valuable asset — the hotel team, was an intensive task and a very valuable learning experience. Other than a great team, what qualities does your hotel have that make it stand out in Bahrain? I believe that The Art has it all. The Art can demonstrate Art in business offering as well as The Art in leisure. It’s not only the facilities, the perfectly appointed rooms, or the variety of quality outlets and lovely recreational features that make us special. We stand out by diversifying our fun and leisure activities and digitalising our personalized interaction with our guests to always be closer to them and ensure our promise of an unscripted guest experience at all times where the actual difference is made.

Ramez Nemeh - General Manager The Art Hotel & Resort

I believe that The Art has it all. The Art can demonstrate Art in business offering as well as The Art in leisure.

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What does hospitality leadership mean to you? Hospitality leadership starts with an effective leader who is able to look beyond existing processes, make the best use of talents at all levels and understand the bigger picture where his team will be confident enough to meet and exceed the needs of guests. The leader leverages the strength of the team to deliver exceptional customer service and work towards a common goal. Is there a particular saying or motto that guides you? True hospitality carries a genuine desire to please, is a continuous pursuit of perfection and mastering The Art in everything. n


Bahrain Hospitality

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hat is your vision for the Gulf Hotel Bahrain as well as the Gulf Hotels Group in general? The vision is to diversify the group’s activities and expand its portfolio. For many years, the focus was the Bahrain market, where we acquired and managed several properties. We ventured to Zanzibar, managing a beautiful resort following which we bought a property in the UAE, and now we have acquired the expertise to manage and acquire projects in all potential markets. Georgia is the first property we are managing in Europe, and we are currently looking at other properties in Eastern Europe and Saudi Arabia. What have been your biggest challenges (and successes) over the past difficult years? The travel restrictions due to the pandemic caused an unprecedented situation for the travel and tourism industry. We had to down-size our operation and even close some facilities following government instructions. This led to a great talent loss, who chose to go back to their home countries. The remaining team learned to multitask, acquiring new expertise, and that has helped us become more resilient. Today, as the business is picking up, we are able to operate more efficiently, and we have become more cost-conscious, enabling us to maximize our profits. Other than a great team, what qualities does Gulf Hotel have that make it stand out in Bahrain? Being the first five-star hotel in Bahrain, the property has an unparalleled legacy; it is known and has been visited by almost every national and expat in Bahrain. Our genuine Bahraini hospitality complimented by quality products and dedicated service has allowed us to gain a great reputation over the years and maintain our position despite multinational brands entering the Bahrain hospitality market.

Fares Yactine - Vice President, MEA, Gulf Hotels Group General Manager, Gulf Hotel Bahrain

Our genuine Bahraini hospitality complimented by quality products and dedicated service has allowed us to gain a great reputation over the years.

What does hospitality leadership mean to you? As in any leadership, you need to lead by example, empower your team, keep them motivated, encourage teamwork, improve efficiency, and achieve goals while keeping a close focus on customer satisfaction and exceeding guests’ needs. Is there a particular saying or motto that guides you? There are no secrets to success; it is the result of hard work and looking at the opportunity in any difficulty you face. n

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Bahrain Hospitality

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hat is your vision for The Palace Boutique Hotel? We envision branching out to two or three hotels under the same name. With this in mind, we have begun the renovation and rebranding of our hotel, including its iconic exterior shape. The idea is to create a unique positioning for the hotel in Bahrain ahead of its reopening in mid-November. What have been your biggest challenges (and successes) over the past difficult years? Personally, my relocation as I am new to the Middle East – just over 2 years. However, I really enjoy life in Bahrain. Professionally, as was the case with most businesses, COVID-19 posed challenges to recruitment and goods supply, while none of them were impossible to deal with. Other than a great team, what qualities does your hotel have that make it stand out in Bahrain? Our food and beverage offerings: breakfast at the Orangery, lunch at Masso, dinner at Circa, and a late drink by the pool of the hotel provide unique experiences to our guests. They can also enjoy inroom dining from any of these three restaurants.

Loyd Loudy - General Manager The Palace Boutique Hotel

It is to empower people to make the right decisions, recruit talented individuals, and let them bring their energy into the business and inspire the teams to move forward.

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What does hospitality leadership mean to you? It is to empower people to make the right decisions, recruit talented individuals, and let them bring their energy into the business and inspire the teams to move forward. It doesn’t have to be a manager; anybody can be a leader in their own right. As a leader, you need to recognize and encourage the right behaviour, while monitoring if it is on-brand. Only then will we move as a unit in the same direction. Is there a particular saying or motto that guides you? Stay focused on the end result, and be optimistic. You always need to keep your eyes on the prize, this will bring success to the company and your people. Steer clear of worrying about the little things. As a German philosopher said, “The devil is in the details”. n


Bahrain Hospitality

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hat is your vision for The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain? When you have the best employees, you need to make sure that they remain the best throughout their tenure and create programs that promote work-life balance and employee satisfaction. I champion The Ritz-Carlton’s Take Care initiatives, Community Footprints and events that play a crucial role in our employees’ professional and personal lives. What have been your biggest challenges (and successes) over the past difficult years? Sustaining the operation during the pandemic was challenging with the negative impact on our business and people. However, during this difficult situation, we managed to retain all of our Ladies and Gentlemen. We created programs and initiatives that helped maintain their physical, emotional and financial well-being. Seeing them emerge strong and resilient was most rewarding. We have suffered together but we have stayed together. Other than a great team, what qualities does your hotel have that make it stand out in Bahrain? Our five-star city resort is one of the most elegant destinations in Bahrain where guests can immerse in the local culture, enjoy extraordinary cuisine and explore the dazzling capital city of Manama. The hotel offers modern and international dining experiences with award-winning restaurants, lounges, and beach cafes. We are the first and only hotel in Bahrain that serves Kosher meals. Each of our seafront villas has a private infinity pool, beach access, and 24-hour on-call butler service. The hotel promises an array of leisure activities for the whole family; from the sea-inspired Ritz-Carlton Spa, the Royal Beach Club, and a new marina, to indoor and outdoor pools, and the Ritz Kids Club.

Rasha Ghoul - Director of Human Resources The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain

Hospitality leadership is all about luxury and customer service. At The Ritz-Carlton, we do not sell rooms, we sell an experience.

What does hospitality leadership mean to you? Hospitality leadership is all about luxury and customer service. At The Ritz-Carlton, we do not sell rooms, we sell an experience. Our guests seek The Ritz-Carlton experience – that’s what they pay for above and beyond the rooms, restaurants, function space or the beach. The experience we create sets us apart from our competition. It’s what stays in our guests’ hearts long after they depart and it’s what motivates them to return. Is there a particular saying or motto that guides you? The Ritz-Carlton motto is “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen”. Our people are the heart and soul of this company. They are the most important resource in our commitment to our guests. This motto exemplifies the anticipatory service provided by us, creating Ritz-Carlton guests for life. n

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hat is your vision for The Westin & Le Meridien? To make The Westin & Le Meridien, City Centre a preferred choice for travellers whether it’s for leisure or business travel. What have been your biggest challenges (and successes) over the past difficult years? The biggest challenge was losing great talent due to the pandemic. We have been primarily focusing on recruiting and training on service delivery for the past seven months. Other than a great team, what qualities do your hotels have that make them stand out in Bahrain? Being attached to the largest mall on the island, City Centre Bahrain makes us the perfect destination for leisure and business. Guests can stay, dine, shop, and unwind all in the comfort of being in one place. Our hotels offer a combination of new and exciting Food & Beverage (F&B) offerings, with the likes of Baharat adding a Turkish touch to diners’ experience. Our newly opened giant burger and monster milkshake lounge, Butcher and Buns, has live music and would be a great place to watch the World Cup and other sporting events. Salero, our authentic Spanish tapas and paella restaurant has live Flamenco performances, keeping our visitors entertained throughout the night. We also have a number of F&B changes in line, which we will reveal towards the end of the year.

Sammy Gani - Complex General Manager The Westin and Le Meridien

I would define hospitality leadership as having the ability to share an inspired vision embraced by the team.

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What does hospitality leadership mean to you? I would define hospitality leadership as having the ability to share an inspired vision embraced by the team. This results in mastering the anticipation of guests’ needs, their expectations, and delivering consistently on that. Is there a particular saying or motto that guides you? “100% Responsibility, 0 excuses”. This is a quote from the book “Stepping Up” by John Izzo. n


Bahrain Hospitality Senior Leadership Team

Alper Kucukbaycan Complex Director of Operations Where do you see yourself in five years? I would like to lead a 5-star hotel in Turkey where I am originally from. I would also like to do more for the community by supporting the education of youth who cannot afford a good education. What do you enjoy doing in Bahrain when you are not working? Bahrain is a very nice place, especially for families. So, I try to spend most of my time with my family here. We go for family breakfasts, beach activities, and to the playgrounds. I also like to watch sports when I have the time and when there is an important sports event.

Cristalyn Pastrana Complex Director of Marketing What is the most exciting aspect of your job? Every day brings different excitement to my job at both hotels, but perhaps the most exciting part right now is the opening of our new outlets Butcher and Buns Lounge at Le Meridien City Centre Bahrain. Many exciting promotions and works of art were put into this new outlet, and we cannot wait to see the success ahead. A lot of exciting news and new offerings are coming your way, Bahrain; so, stay tuned! As a leader, how do you encourage and support your staff to bring out their best in their career? My team appreciates that I am upfront with them. I ensure that we have open communication all around and that

information needed by the team is always shared and not hidden. Showing that you genuinely care and showing kindness even in little things can bring out the best in each member of the team. Keeping your commitments as a leader by doing what you say you will do, will be mirrored in the team’s performance.

legal “adherence to rules” of companies in order to comply with laws, guidelines, and ethical codes. It is referred to by the Government and Company policies to avoid breaches of rules. “The way we do business is as important as the business itself”. What is the biggest lesson you have learned in your career? Focus. When we focus 100% on what we do, our thoughts empower us and then trigger the right decisions.

Armelle Retmia Complex Director of Revenue Management What are the most important qualities that each employee in the hospitality industry must possess? It is no secret that being committed, having great people skills, attention to detail, and strong teamwork skills are key qualities within the hospitality industry. But, let’s not forget about enthusiasm and attitude – which may be considered the most important. What advice for success would you give to someone who has just started pursuing their career in this industry? Be ready to learn! To grow in your career, you have to be open to learning to become a great leader. No matter what university you have graduated from, professional life will be different from college. Be prepared to face a million questions, be open to receiving feedback, and a beautiful career will be waiting for you.

Mahmoud ElSheikh Cluster Director of Finance

Jane Fernandes Cluster Director of Human Resources The hospitality industry can get busy and require long working hours. How do you maintain a good work-life balance? I strongly believe that work-life balance is an ongoing cycle and not an achievement. As a mother of 1-year-old twins, leading Human Resources of four hotels in two different countries, I maintain a good work-life balance through several deeply ingrained habits – from prioritising/reprioritising, recognising signs of burnout, and taking time to unplug and setting realistic boundaries between work and home. As a Hotelier, some days, you might focus more on the service, associates, guests, or business, while other days you might have more time to spend with your loved ones. It is about achieving that balance over time. What to you is the backbone of success? An indomitable spirit (the spirit that pushes you to achieve more despite the challenges, failures and obstacles) and a positive approach that not only inspires you but also uplifts those around you.

What is the most challenging part of your job? I would call it interesting rather than challenging and it is ‘compliance’. This term originates from the business and

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Bahrain Hospitality

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hat is your vision for Wyndham Grand Manama? We, at Wyndham Grand Manama, are planning an extensive growth plan from being a hotel to being “a Resort”. It started with opening “Spa by Wyndham Grand Manama” last year and it will continue by adding a new entertainment zone that includes a dedicated teen entertainment section and an exclusive water park. In addition, as part of the expansion and growth plan, Wyndham Grand Bahrain Bay will be developing a private beach as part of a significant integrated tourism project. What have been your biggest challenges (and successes) over the past difficult years? We really believe that challenges are opportunities and together as a team, we can overcome them. With this mindset, we did our best to take relevant measures like cost-management, utilizing leave accruals, and many other initiatives to overcome the challenges. As a result, Wyndham Grand Manama reached new heights even before the causeway opened with 90% of our workforce back on duty. And for this year so far, we have achieved the highest revenue figures since the hotel opening. However, success is reflected by maintaining our position and being one of the leading 5-star hotels in Bahrain. Other than a great team, what qualities does your hotel have that make it stand out in Bahrain? Our Team is not just a great team, it is, as I call them, the “Shark team”! They have earned this title by demonstrating a high level of commitment, service, and responsibility. Without their efforts and commitment, it wouldn’t be enough to reach what we are aiming to. The iconic architecture of the Hotel makes it a one-of-a-kind landmark located on the fastest-growing island of Bahrain Bay. In addition, the experience, comfort, and care at our hotel make our guests feel at home away from home.

Anwar Hajjar - General Manager Wyndham Grand Manama

We really believe that challenges are opportunities and together as a team, we can overcome them.

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What does hospitality leadership mean to you? In the Hospitality business, it goes without saying that the General Manager has to be proficient in all areas of the hotel. However, leadership is personal as interpersonal abilities are the key to comprehending consumer wants and guiding in ways that inspire team members to meet those goals. Simply said, being passionate, reliable, flexible, charismatic, and patient are leadership traits that ensure the happiness of both customers and employees along with achieving business results. Is there a particular saying or motto that guides you? Interaction with visitors from all walks of life has long been central to the hospitality sector's philosophy. We actively try to interact with our visitors at the Wyndham Grand Manama. Every person we encounter enhances our experience and helps us operate the property to its highest potential. We strive to live by the words “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.” - Teddy Roosevelt n



Feature

Elite Summer Escape These hotels are offering a summer escape for families in Bahrain!

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f you’re looking for a summer escape to enjoy with your family, look no further than the Elite Hospitality Group! Below are their offers during the season!

Elite Seef Residence Hotel Located at Seef, in the center of the Kingdom’s main shopping area, is an ideal option to enjoy the fun of city living. The hotel’s one and two-bedroom family suites are elegantly furnished in modern leather interiors. They also come with a fully equipped modular kitchen, lavish bathrooms, home theatre system with in-house TV channels, digital satellite TV system, and 24-hour personalized room service with special menus offering lavish choices with great value. The one-bedroom suite starts

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Feature at BD 36 net per night including taxes and service charge. The rate is inclusive of a breakfast buffet for two persons with hot beverages and selected fresh Juices.

Elite Grande Hotel The hotel is located close to the largest shopping complex on the island - Bahrain City Centre. Elite Grande Hotel’s two-bedroom family suite is a perfect place to unwind in a relaxing atmosphere with our personalized service by a dedicated team. Their special summer promotions this summer includes a breakfast buffet, taxes and service charge, and a free early and late checkout. The rates start from BD 36 net per night at a one or twin bedroom suite. Each spacious suite is lavishly furnished with grand bathrooms, complete home theatre systems in each bedroom with DVD, and HDTV Satellite channels, hi-speed internet access, a direct dialing facility with voice mail, and digital safe-deposit lockers. The two-bedroom suite starts at BD 60 net only including taxes and service charge, Wi-Fi internet, and buffet breakfast for four persons with hot beverages and selected fresh juices.

Elite’s Summer Escape is available among all their hotels in Bahrain until the end of October 2022.

Elite Resort & Spa Elite Resort & Spa provides all the contemporary facilities to accommodate your request from one to three-bedroom suites to at a special daily rate of BD 85 net per night inclusive of all service charges and breakfast buffet. Enjoy a special discount on food and beverage at Al Naseem café while you’re at it! Elite’s Summer Escape is available among all their hotels in Bahrain until the end of October 2022. On another note, you can also explore Elite Hospitality Catering! They offer an excellent food service, specializing in institutional catering in offices and factories, supplying to large corporate / companies like banks, factories, and ministries. They also cater for all events such as receptions, cocktail parties, BBQs, birthdays, anniversaries, and graduation celebrations. n For bookings and more details please call: +973 1755 8200 or visit www.elitegrouphotels.com

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Bahrain Based

Food Bloggers Bahrain is unquestionably a foodie nation, so we're bound to have some fantastic food bloggers and critics. These accounts are great to follow, especially if you enjoy trying new foods and experiences.

@everylittlecrumb Everylittlecrumb is a blogger and recipe developer who creates recipes that are easy to make and taste delicious. If you're looking for some cooking inspiration, give her a follow!

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@justanotherfoodie.bh A foodie who posts drool-worthy pictures and leaves genuine comments on meals!

@iknowhatoeat Iknowhatoeat is one of the OGs of Bahrain's food blogging scene.

@bahrain.food Bahrain.food covers all the new places while also providing a cost estimate for each dish – great for when you don't want to be surprised at check-out!

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@thefoodieeats Thefoodieeats posts sincere feedback and high-quality content. Be cautious because some posts may cause you to drool.

@eat_bahrain

@thefoodmenu.bh You don't need to ask what's on the menu because this local blog has it covered.

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Eat_bahrain gives honest reviews and shares mouthwatering posts about various cuisines, restaurants, and cafes. On occasion, competitions are held on the page!


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@thebloggerr This blogger features honest product reviews on their page.

@hungry_fifi

@foodiesab Sabrina is a food enthusiast that posts detailed reviews!

Very descriptive and comprehensive reviews on dishes from restaurants, cafes, and bars! She reviews various drinks across the country, which is a refreshing change from the other food blogs.

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Just recently, we had the chance to talk to DJ and producer, Samy (@djsamy. infrared) who is currently making a buzz in the Kingdom’s music scene.

#BahrainBios: Bahrain-based DJ Samy AKA Infrared

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hen were you first inspired by music and underground culture? I was always drawn to electronic music in general. After a trip around Europe, specifically Berlin, I discovered a new culture and taste to the electronic sound, which kept growing on me the more I dived deeper into it!

I discovered a new culture and taste to the electronic sound, which kept growing on me the more I dived deeper into it!

What has been your favorite venue/location you’ve played at so far? That would surely be Calexico! It’s the perfect spot for an underground event or any other. Tell us about your creative process – from an idea to your final product perspective. I’m not very sure if I have an actual process. The creativity waves flow in and I do my best to put these ideas into plan, in a way that makes sense, is enjoyable, unique and shows attention to detail. This applies to all aspects of what I do. Any upcoming events you’re particularly excited for? I’m excited for all the events happening in Bahrain. There’s been a lot of hard work and effort put in by a lot of individuals or teams who care about providing people with the means of a good time and entertainment. From artists and promoters to sound technicians, and more. It’s cool to see the music scene in Bahrain growing stronger every day. n

What brought you to the music scene in Bahrain? Being around music and being around friends who all had varied tastes in music. I also started out as a drummer when I was young, however, I was more into hip hop in my younger days. I even went through a rapper phase! I eventually settled on DJing, music production and events, which I found myself enjoying the most.

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Get to know

Latifa Janahi, Founder of Moz Ever heard of Moz? This homebased banana pudding brand seemed to have taken Bahrain by storm during the last few weeks! We recently caught up with its creator, Latifa Janahi, to know more!

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ell us a bit about yourself. What do you do? When I was about 10, I would prefer to third wheel to my dad and uncle’s conversation about their next milestone in business, which fascinated me more than building Lego. It made my imagination evolve somewhat maturely yet filled with the innocence of just a 10-year-old. I always knew growing up I am not someone that’s just going to follow my family’s footsteps and become an architect or a banker. I refused to fall into the trap of “the ultimate choreographed life” where as if you did not have a degree, you’re considered a failure. I was stubborn, I had a deep passion for being in the kitchen, I knew I wanted to build a career out of it. Fast-forward 15 years, I now develop my own recipes that are critical by the gram. I won’t give you that typical “I grew up in the kitchen with my grandma and mom” which sounds like an ideal chef's story, but that’s not it for me. I am not fond of sitting behind a desk from 8am-5pm working for someone I barely even know. I like to explore different fields and gain experience at my own pace. To me, life is about facing challenges on a daily basis or else, to be honest, it gets boring. Bachelor degrees, master degrees, endless diplomas, have long been romanticized as the ultimate expression of success. To me, this is a myth I strongly disagree with.

I am not fond of sitting behind a desk from 8am5pm working for someone I barely even know.

When I graduated high school, I did not want to continue studying. I was somewhat forced into it to not disappoint the people around me. During my first semester, I was losing my mind, I dropped out without a second thought. Yes, I did receive endless pep talks and demotivating speeches about how I am going to end up as a failure but I honestly had enough of it. I said to myself this is my life, I am going to do what my gut tells me. As years have passed, I took on many jobs, some being corporate and some being in the kitchen. I guess you can tell which I

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enjoyed more. Do not get me wrong, I did gain a handful of experience at corporate jobs but it was not my cup of tea. Whereas the jobs I had in the kitchen, as a pastry chef, a comme, a sous chef and so on, put me over the moon. Even if it meant I had to be on my feet for over 15 hours a day, seven days a week. Trust me, I felt no pain whatsoever. I was genuinely happy.

I usually talk to myself in English but this time it was in Arabic. Then it hit me MOZ, which is banana in Arabic.

Six years later, I was still being cornered at the fact that I did not finish my studies. As a people pleaser, I was like “you know what, let me just get these four years out of my way and just have people stop bullying me for being an entrepreneur at a young age”. I signed up and I am currently majoring in marketing. To wrap it all up, once again, full-time student, a cooking career with a side business and a founder of a marketing agency called “Kiddo and Beyond.”

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What inspired you to create “Moz”? How did you come up with the name? I was going about my regular ‘lazy day’ scrolling through TikTok. I came across a video of someone making banana pudding and I was like I NEED THIS. I got into my car at 9pm with my sister in search of all the ingredients. The next day, I took some over to my friend's place. When I tell you that they were fighting over it, I am not kidding. I told them, what do you think? Shall I sell it to my followers for like a month? They all pushed me to do it and I am forever grateful for them. To be honest, we are on a small island, yet flooded with burger restaurants and coffee shops serving milk cakes. We need something different – we need something that has bananas in it to be more specific. After the longest session of brainstorming name ideas with my friends, my mind went blank. I got home and got ready for bed, as I was falling asleep, I was listening to the voices inside my head trying to figure out a name. I usually talk to myself in English but this time it was in Arabic. Then it hit me MOZ, which is banana in Arabic. I jumped out of bed, got onto my computer and started creating the logo and voila!


Feature There are a lot of chefs in Bahrain offering their products at the moment, what makes you stand out from the rest? I have a high amount of respect for every Bahraini chef that is putting their products out there. I feel like we all have something in common; we want to be heard, not with our voices, but through our food. What makes me unique is that I always have to tweak every recipe I want to create. Bahrain has a big competition when it comes to selling food items, especially home based businesses. Even though we are flooded by the same products, every business has its unique selling point. When I come to selling a product, I make sure it’s a product that falls into the gap of our market. I do not like following trends, it gets crowded and over abused. Some of the people around me in this field have an advantage over me, which is a culinary degree. At some point I felt like I was behind. As time passed, I was like wait, having a culinary degree does not make you Gordon Ramsay. Cooking should not be competitive or a field with different levels. Being a great chef comes with experience, whether you had a certified professional to guide you, or guide yourself solo. What differentiates me could be the fact that it is not just a career to me – it's my actual life, my routine, my child. If there is one person I look up to, it’s the woman I imagine myself to be in five years. The woman I portray in my dreams. The future version of myself. How can our readers order? I decided to create a separate account for Moz, @moz.bh. Orders can be done via direct message for now until I get my website up and running. Are there any exciting news you would like to share? I have gotten attached to MOZ, I do not want it to be a product behind screens. I am planning a pop up in the near future, to have people fully experience a trip down banana lane. Hopefully one day, a shop. n

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WhatsApp / Voice 3363 1363

WhatsApp / Voice 3363 1363