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JULY/AUGUST 2014 ISSUE 02

Essential reading for hotel operators, owners, developers and investors

ARE OUR HOTELS GREEN ENOUGH? What our hotels are doing to reduce their carbon footprints

Orange County – the best of the USA

A report on tourism from the sunshine state

Top child friendly hotels

It’s summer, where are you taking your kids?

Top hotel Wellness A dedicated look at the regional wellness industry


Picture perfect by fabric library

A huge range, all stocked and serviced

Silkland Trading LLC

PO Box 8044, Dubai, UAE Between 3rd & 4th interchange, Sheikh Zayed Road Tel:+971 4 3233237/38; 3233237*202 nalin@silkland.ae; mail@silkland.ae, silkland.com


Top hotel Middle East is published in association with Signature Media LLC & Freizeit-Verlag Landsberg Gmbh.

Launch of Top hotel Wellness SIGNATURE MEDIA FZ LLE P. O. Box 49784, Dubai, UAE Tel: 04 3978847/3795678 Email: info@signaturemediame.com Exclusive Sales Agent Signature Media LLC P.O. Box 49784, Dubai, UAE Publisher: Jason Verhoven jason@signaturemediame.com Director: Deepak Chandiramani Deepak@signaturemediame.com Managing Editor: Munawar Shariff munawar@signaturemediame.com Art Director: Raveendran Production Manager: Roy Varghese Roy@signaturemediame.com

Printed by United Printing Press (UPP) – Abu Dhabi Distributed by Tawseel Distribution & Logistics – Dubai

FREIZEIT-VERLAG LANDSBERG GMBH Johann-Arnold-Straße 32b+c, D-86899 Landsberg am Lech Postbox 101255, D-86882 Landsberg am Lech Telephone +49 (0)8191- 947 160 Fax +49 (0)8191- 947 16-66 www.tophotel.de

It’s been an exciting couple of months since our first magazine was published. The response we’ve received has been phenomenal. Thank you! We have more exciting news to add, from this issue we are launching a new section dedicated to the wellness industry - Top hotel Wellness. In this section we will bring to you topics, trends, analysis, news and happenings of our ever expanding regional wellness industry. Hope you enjoy it. This issue, we’ve focused on the sustainability aspect of our industry. Not only is the tourism and travel industry a large contributor of a country’s GDP’ it is also a major consumer of utilities - water, electricity. So while it drives the construction industry, if a building is not constructed sustainably the carbon emissions are extreme from the get go. What are our hotels doing about it? The UAE is a leader in sustainability initiatives and measures and ideas are being put forth by authorities everyday for hotels to make themselves more environmentally friendly. Programmes such as DTCM’s Green Tourism Award make sure hotels are taking all aspects of their operations into consideration when competing for this award. Makes us all that more relevant in today’s hyper aware and connected society. I’d love to hear from you, feel free to write to me. See you in September. Munawar Shariff Managing Editor munawar@signaturemediame.com

Managing Directors: Thomas Karsch, Eckhard Lenz Contributor’s opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher or editor and while every precaution has been taken to ensure that the information contained in this handbook is accurate and timely, no liability is accepted by them for errors or omissions, however caused. Articles and information contained in this publication are the copyright of Signature Media FZ LLE & SIGNATURE MEDIA LLC and cannot be reproduced in any form without written permission. JULY/AUGUST 2014 1


Close your eyes, you are in Provence.

With over 64 locations in 24 countries, each Spa L’OCCITANE offers a real escape for your mind and body. Immortelle from Corsica, Almond from the plateau of Valensole, rare essential oils: L’OCCITANE finds the source and inspiration for its treatment and rituals in the lands of the South. Ingredients of certified origin, both beneficial and timeless, are combined with entirely hand-performed sequences that blend traditional massage techniques from all over the world. At Spa L’OCCITANE, simply close your eyes to travel to Provence: a sunny land where beauty never ceases to be reinvented. For more details, visit spa.loccitane.com and contact us : Myriam Redouane | 00971 4 812 8300 | 00971 55 710 4252 | Myriam.Redouane@mailmac.net | Chalhoub Group – FZE | http://www.chalhoubgroup.com/

Petit Spa L’OCCITANE - Opening Soon The Beach, Dubai, UAE - Tel : +971.4.4301556 loccitane-me.com

spa.loccitane.com


CONTENTS

JULY/AUGUST 2014 ISSUE 02

17

24

44 61

04 TOP HOTEL UNDERCOVER An exceptional experience

Top hotel checks-in at the Marriott Marquis to get an idea of its service and property status

08 NEWS

All the latest from hotels in the region

17 OPERATOR INTERVIEW A winning strategy

Hospitality Management Holdings is unfazed by the competition

24 COVER STORY

Are our hotels green enough? What are our hotels doing to reduce consumption levels?

39 LETTER FROM LONDON

The Middle Eastern Investor A majority of all recent European hospitality acquisitions are by Middle Eastern investors

44 ANALYSIS

The increasing importance of branded residences The urge to have the best has now been transferred to homes. The luxury branded residence is here

So much to see so little time!

COVER ILLUSTRATION: B RAVEENDRAN

A separate magazine for the regional wellness industry

58 BRAND STORY Cult products

Creating winners one after the other, THW finds out the secret to Natura Bisse’s success

48 HOTEL REVIEW

A luxurious icon – The Oberoi Dubai

60 SPA REVIEW

Mixing business and leisure

A relaxed state of mind

How a few hours can transform your face and your outlook

50 RESTAURANT REVIEW Gorgeous grills and Chic Chinese

THME reviews top choices for eating out – Iz at the Grand Hyatt and Ba at the Fairmont the Palm

52 FEATURE

The best hotels for children Summer is here, where are you taking your kids?

40 DESTINATION REPORT

Orange County – the best of the USA

57 TOP HOTEL WELLNESS

61 BRAND STORY

Pure, natural and robust

A look at all the natural ingredients that make Elemis products

64 PRODUCT REVIEWS The Exclusives

Superlative spa products to take care of your skin this summer

66 COMMUNITY 40

A round-up of CSR and other community events happening at regional hotels

JULY/AUGUST 2014 3


TOP HOTEL UNDERCOVER

An exceptional experience The Marriott Marquis is a fabulous new hotel in the heart of Dubai’s new business district. Not only is it beautiful from the outside but expertly run on the inside. Top hotel Middle East left impressed with everything - the service, hospitality and everything in between.

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About Top hotel Undercover Building on the legacy established by our big brother publication - Top hotel - in Germany, Top hotel Middle East sets out to highlight all that is great and good about the five-star properties in the Middle East, as well as the things that such prestigious properties should really do better. Top hotel has built its reputation on fair and balanced assessment of five-start hotels in Europe and beyond; we now pledge to carry on that tradition in the Middle East. We hope that by highlighting the good and the bad, we can help to raise standards across the region and recognise the properties that have clearly got it right.


TOP HOTEL UNDERCOVER

RESERVATION: Monday, 3.05pm The phone was answered promptly and when I asked about room reservations I was put on hold to be connected to the right person in a reservations call centre located outside the hotel and connected to the hotel’s central reservation system. This connection however took me to an answering service which asked me to be on hold after I was done with the call in order to participate in a survey. So while I waited to be reconnected, I was disconnected! I called back, and the exact same thing happened. The third time I called back and told the person on the other side that I hadn’t been connected the first two times. Again I was put onto the voice asking me to take the survey at the end of the call but thankfully the call went through to reservations this time. The reservations assistant was efficient with all the information I needed as well as offered more suitable options for me to choose from in terms of available rooms and preferences. Since this is peak summer, the rates are quite low all over the city. I reserved a room at AED 680 plus service charge AED 68 and government fees AED 68 and the Tourism Dirham of AED 20 per night totalling to AED 836 including breakfast. Evaluation: Despite the initial hiccup, everything else was handled very well. Good.

CHECK-IN: Tuesday 4pm As I approached the hotel that afternoon, the the twin towers are unmistakable from afar. Coming closer to the property I saw that there were a large number of cars coming in at the valet, and there were lots of people also near the entrance plus as I went to the check-in desks they were all full and had people lined up at each desk waiting to be served. It looked extremely busy! A short wait later we were checked in smoothly. I asked the lady checking us in that it was quite a busy time even though it’s in the afternoon and summer time. She laughed and replied that in fact today was one of their quieter days! Evaluation: Excellent.

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TOP HOTEL UNDERCOVER

the price of the room or that wifi wasn’t free all over the hotel. It was AED 25 for one hour or AED 100 for a day. I mean, it’s 2014! Evaluation: Good (not excellent because of the internet).

The Spa

ROOM 2213 The room was at the end of a carpeted corridor. Very quiet and smelt fresh and new. I hardly came across any other guest in the corridors throughout the duration of my stay. The room was very spacious with a floor to ceiling window facing the main entrance, a mirrored wall on the left and the bed on the right. As you enter there is the huge bathroom on your right with separate showers, a stand alone bathtub, 2 large vanities. It must have been half of the size of the room, it was extremely roomy and you could really walk around in it! Roomy bathrooms always add to the luxurious appeal. Amenities were from Aromatherapy Associates.

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Getting back to the room. Facing the bathroom, were the closets and luggage storage area. Once you cross that you enter into the room. By the mirrored wall was a large multipurpose table which had the cable connections etc. Beside this was a flat screen tv and two arm chairs with a side table right by the window. The view isn’t much being beside currently ongoing construction work, a few years down the line, views might improve. So in summary, very comfortable rooms with all the amenities, tea, coffee, well-stocked mini bar, safe deposit locker. Everything you might need. Except, the internet! I was quite surprised to find out that Internet wasn’t included in

I had reserved a treatment at the spa for around 5pm. I was promptly reminded by 4.50pm that I should be in the steam room by five if my treatment was to begin on time. I went to the elevator and surprisingly my access card wasn’t working inside the elevator. Hence I couldn’t press the desired floor button! I got out at a level the elevator stopped on and found another worried guest in the same predicament as me! Her access card wasn’t working inside the elevators and hence she also couldn’t access her desired floor. Anyway, luckily my card worked once to get my fellow guest to her floor but then I was still stuck. I tried using the phone on the level I was on to call reception for help. Unfortunately no one answered the phone. I tried my luck again in the elevator and finally it worked. I reached the Spa about 10 minutes late. The reception informed me that I was late for my appointment and that I should have been here at least 15-20 minutes before my appointment start time. I wasn’t informed about this at the time of booking the appointment. Without wasting any more time, I was ushered inside the very airy and spacious long winding corridors of the spa area. Each steam room had glass doors yet was completely private. My therapist arrived soon enough. I was informed of the many steps involved in the spa treatment and that we would be having to change rooms after the requisite amount of time in the steam room was done. The spa treatment was the Turkish Hammam, which involves spending about 10-15 minutes inside the steam room followed by a soap application and then a thorough body scrubbing then a cleanse and finally the application of a body oil. The treatment was very smooth under the experienced hands of the Thai therapist. She was also having a busy day and had many more services to get done before her day’s work was over. This was definitely a very popular hotel amongst guests within the country and from the region. The therapist was mentioning how ladies from Saudi Arabia and Qatar come frequently to this spa and sometimes just for the spa! Evaluation: Excellent.


TOP HOTEL UNDERCOVER

Room Service 8.40pm

had arrived. It was delicious!

Back in the room after the spa, I decided to order some dessert. The room is connected to all the various parts of the hotels through the in-room tablet. The person who accompanied me to the room when we checked in showed me how to work it. However when I tried to order room service through it, it apparently did not work. As I had to pick up the phone and call them and order the traditional way. I was told that the food would be in the room in around 20 minutes and they were right. In exacty 20 minutes, the dessert

oh-my-god bread pudding infused with real vanilla, the cappucino.

Evaluation: Excellent.

Evaluation: Excellent.

Breakfast buffet, Kitchen 6, 9.30am This restaurant has six kitchens from which you can choose whatever you feel like eating from. In reality however it feels like there are not six but 12 kitchens as there is just so much food. It’s an experience worth trying and early in the morning it’s delightful. As everything is so very good. Special mentions are the extremely scrumptious waffles, the homemade caramel topping to go with the waffles, the

Check out 11.30am The credit card bill was settled and we were checked out smoothly. The hotel was relatively quieter than when I had arrived the day before. Everything was very ably done. The hotel experience was superlative. Such a huge property and one which runs like a well oiled machine. Evaluation: Excellent.

The Marriott Marquis Dubai Reservation: Good

Top hotel ratings 0-20 - Un-satisfactory 21-40 - Poor 41-60 - Satisfactory 61-80 - Good 81-100 - Excellent

Check-in: Excellent Room 2213: Good Bath: Excellent Floor service: Good Landscaping: Good Breakfast buffet: Excellent

Top hotel Undercover opinion:

Excellent

Fitness: Excellent Corridors, elevators, stairs: Excellent

Total: 93.5%

Housekeeping: Excellent Check out: Excellent 0

20

40

60

80

100

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Saudi Arabia to set up tourist information centres across the country

THE SAUDI Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) has signed a SR11.9 million contract to set up tourist information centres across the country that provide

information on domestic events. Prince Sultan bin Salman, President of the SCTA, signed the contract with a company for three years to manage the project.

Hamad bin Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikh, SCTA Vice President for Marketing and Programmes, said the centres would provide information on tourism destinations, sites

and activities. It aims to set up 21 such centres in the next three years. Earlier, the SCTA established five centres at local airports that operate 16 hours a day. It also plans to set up 340 electronic information machines connected to the Internet that can provide information on tourism services. The plan includes creating jobs for Saudis to operate and maintain these centres and machines at various public areas including airports, tourist accommodation, marketplaces and parks. The SCTA has developed an Internet portal providing up-to-date tourism information including flight-booking services, hotel reservations, and a 24-hour communications and complaints service through the toll-free number 19988. -arabnews.com

City Sightseeing Worldwide comes to Kingdom of Bahrain THE MINISTER of Culture and Tourism of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Her Excellency Sheikha Mai bint Mohammad Al Khalifa, and the President and CEO of City Sightseeing Worldwide, Enrique Ybarra Valdenebro, recently announced the launch of a new operation of the leading open top bus tour company. City Sightseeing Bahrain, which will become the city number 108 of the company’s international network, will be a new tourist destination of the renowned brand in the Middle East. The launch of City Sightseeing Bahrain is forecasted to March 2015, when the iconic open top double decker buses will tour the main landmarks of Bahrain

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to ensure an unforgettable sightseeing experience along this country of contrast. Bahrain is a destination of cultural interest, with UNESCO World Heritage sites such as the Site of Bahrain Fort, together with outstanding places such as the Bahrain National Theatre, Bab al Bahrain, Bahrain National Museum, Shaikh Salman bin Ahmed Al-Fateh Fort, historical district of Muharraq, Suq al Qaisariya, Tree of life, Bait al Quran. Bahrain is also a vibrant commercial city and home of the annual Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit. -eturbonews.com


Mövenpick in Casablanca. MOVENPICK HOTELS and Resorts recently announced the management takeover of the 184-room Husa Casablanca Plaza located in the heart of the business district. With a presence already in Tangier since 2001, the newly rebranded Movenpick Hotel Casablanca is the upscale hotel group’s third venture in the vibrant and colourful destination of Morocco with the scheduled opening of Mövenpick Hotel Marrakesh early 2015. Renovated in 2011, the five star Mövenpick Hotel Casablanca, blends modern comfort and contemporary style with respect for local heritage to create the traditional Moroccan welcoming warmth. Located in Morocco’s largest city on the Atlantic coast, the hotel is ideally placed to enjoy the ancient Medina, Sacre Coeur Cathedral and Place Mohamed V. Other

points of interest include the Hassan II Mosque, the Corniche and Habous Quarter. The style and décor of guestrooms create a mood of soothing relaxation, as contemporary patterns seamlessly blend with traditional Moroccan motifs to reflect the heritage of the city. There are 184 rooms and suites including four rooms suitable for the physically impaired and one apartment. All are equipped flat screen satellite TVs, free WiFi, air conditioning and tea and coffee-making facilities. Ideal for both business and leisure guests, the hotel features a stunning rooftop pool with breathtaking city views, a Spa and Wellness Centre with hammam, massage and beauty treatments and is ideally positioned and equipped to stage banquets, conferences and business meetings with a ballroom, conference hall and four meeting rooms.

Oman launches 22 projects to encourage investment in tourism sector THE MINISTRY of Tourism placed 22 locations for investment in the tourism sector in the Sultanate as part of its efforts to encourage investment in tourist and service facilities, and part of the government support for companies, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the country and allow them to contribute in developing and enhancing the sector. The Ministry requires the investor to apply for one plot of land and the priority will be given to the citizens of the governorates where the investment projects are. Applications for the investment opportunities started on June 1st. Among the important opportunities are construction of a 20,000 sq metre tourist camp in Al Khoudh in the Wilayat of A’Seeb in Muscat Governorate and a 15,000 sq metre tourist centre in the same area. In Dhofar Governorate, the Tourism Ministry offered three locations, including the construction of a 5,000 sq metre skating and entertainment indoor resort in the industrial zone in Salalah, as well as 10,000 sq metre entertainment tourist centre for women and children in the Wilayat of Mirbat and a 10,000 square metre entertainment tourist centre in the Wilayat of Thumrait, in addition to various projects in other governorates. -omanobserver.com

JULY/AUGUST 2014 9


Westin and Le Meridien open in Bahrain

STARWOOD HOTELS and Resorts and Majid Al Futtaim recently celebrated the opening of The Westin Bahrain City Centre and Le Méridien Bahrain City Centre. Located in the heart of Manama, the two hotels mark Starwood’s launch of Westin and Le Meridien brands in the country, adding 460 rooms to the group’s portfolio in Bahrain.

“We are delighted to strengthen our relationship with Majid Al Futtaim as we debut our Westin and Le Méridien brands in Bahrain,” said Guido de Wilde, Senior Vice President, Regional Director, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Middle East.“We look forward to introducing Westin’s winning approach to well-being and Le Méridien’s

Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi wins Best Apartment Hotel 2014 DUSIT THANI Abu Dhabi, won a Middle East Hotel Award for the category of Best Hotel Apartment. The prestigious title, announced at the Middle East Hotel Awards 2014 Gala Dinner on Thursday June 5, 2014, was received a few weeks after the hotel celebrated its first anniversary. Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi offers guests 402 rooms and 131 serviced apartments, from which 52 are studios of 42 sqm and 79 one-bedroom apartments of 84 sqm, located in the heart of Abu Dhabi and featuring a full range of modern amenities and convenience in tastefully designed interiors that evoke traditional Thai style. The facilities include access to the fully-equipped gym, 24-hour parking, pool, housekeeping services and unobstructed vistas of the city.

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contemporary lifestyle approach through the arts, culture and cuisine to the local community and international travellers to Manama.” George Kostas, CEO, Majid Al Futtaim Properties, said, “Majid Al Futtam Properties is committed to actively supporting the long term development of Bahrain. We are very pleased to once again

partner with Starwood which is recognised as a leader in tourism and business travel, both important sectors for Bahrain. We have had excellent success with our two hotels in Bahrain thus far, and we anticipate even better times ahead with the arrival of these two brands that will no doubt bolster the Kingdom’s hospitality sector. The Westin Bahrain City Centre and Le Méridien Bahrain City Centre are in close proximity to popular tourist and commercial areas such the Manama Souq, King Faisal Corniche and Diplomatic Area. The two hotels are directly linked to City Centre Bahrain, the country’s premier shopping and entertainment destination, which is home to 350 international branded retail outlets, 50 dining outlets, a temperature-controlled water park – Wahooo, a cineplex and a bowling centre.

Boom time for Oman’s four and five star hotels IT’S A BOOM time for the hospitality industry here as the total number of guests in Oman’s four and five star hotels grew by 23.8 per cent at the end of April 2014 to 266,314, compared to 215,074 in the same period in 2013. A bulletin released by the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI) said that these hotels’ revenue rose to OMR65,966,000 by the end of April 2014 compared to OMR59,702,000 during the same period in 2013, constituting a 10.5 per cent rise. The number of Omani guests reached 73,354 by the end of April 2014, compared to 64,259 during the same period in 2013, registering an increase of 14.2 per cent. The number of guests from the GCC countries stood at 27,027, and when compared to 23,001, constituted a growth of 17.5 per cent. Meanwhile, the number of Arab guests stood at 9,472, compared to 7,212, an increase of 31.3 per cent in the last one year. The number of African guests reached 1,823, compared to 1,190, registering an increase of 53.2 per cent.

The European guests’ number stood at 108,596 at the end of April 2014 compared to 81,645 during the same period in 2013, an increase of 33 per cent. The number of Asian guests during the period stood at 24,407 compared to 19,229, constituting an increase of 26.9 per cent. The NCSI bulletin adds that the number of Americans stood at 11,121 by the end of April 2014, compared to 10,171 guests during the same period in 2013, registering an increase of 9.3 per cent. The number of hotel guests from Oceania stood at 3,006 in comparison to 2,439 during the same period in 2013, an increase of 23.2 per cent. Guests hailing from other nationalities stood at 7,508, compared to 5,928 during the same period in 2013, registering a growth of 26.7 per cent. The bulletin stated that four and five star hotels’ occupancy rate rose by 71.6 per cent at the end of April 2014, compared to 66.9 per cent during the same period in 2013, constituting a growth of seven per cent. -ONA


Qatar Tourism Authority welcomes first-ever graduating tour guides

Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) held a graduation ceremony today to felicitate 15 trainees who successfully completed the“Tour Guide License Programme.”His Excellency Issa bin Mohammed Al Mohannadi, Chairman of QTA, handed out the certificates at the Doha Exhibition Centre in the presence of senior executives including Robert Coelen, the Executive Dean at Stenden University Qatar, and Omar Al Jaber, the Human Resources Manager at QTA. 21 trainees joined the training programme in December 2013, of whom 15 successfully completed the 16-week Broggi2[1].pdf 1 6/30/14 2:44 PM training programme held at Stenden University, Qatar. The 15 candidates will immediately start their careers in the Broggi2[1].pdf 1 6/29/14 3:10 PM tourism and promotions with QTA.

QTAs chairman His Excellency Issa bin Mohammed Al Mohannadi gave a brief speech to welcome the trainees as new members of QTA and reiterated the importance of human capital investment. He further emphasised QTA’s policy of being a meritocratic and performance-based organisation and the importance of the training programme in equipping trainees with the skills needed to advance in their careers as tour guides. He went on to thank the human resources team for their work to support and advance the Qatari workforce. Tour guides have an important and multifaceted role in contemporary tourism. Tourist guides are instrumental in helping travellers understand the culture of the country and the way of life of its people.

Their conduct and performance can be a major source of influence on whether tourists stay longer or visit Qatar more often. The Tour Guide License Programme aims to provide comprehensive training to aspiring tour guides in the following areas: the history of Qatar, knowledge of local tourist attractions, general tourism information, tour-guide essentials and the development of interpersonal skills and competencies in delivering information in engaging ways. The programme is the product of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between QTA and Stenden University Qatar last year to develop a special curriculum for training professional tour guides in Qatar. -www.menafn.com

971 4 388 3812 office@everstyleuae.com July/august 2014 11


IHG set to expand in Abu Dhabi with two new hotels

INTERCONTINENTAL Hotels Group (IHG) today announced the signing of two new hotels in Abu Dhabi which will mark the entry of a second InterContinental and second Holiday Inn property into the UAE capital. A 20-year management agreement was signed with the National Corporation of Tourism and Hotels for InterContinental Abu Dhabi – Grand Marina. Located in close proximity to InterContinental Abu Dhabi, the new 184-key hotel will feature rooms and serviced apartments along with a range of exciting food

and beverage and entertainment facilities. These include a Michelin star signature restaurant with a rooftop bar; a lounge and bar with a terrace and private dining rooms; a destination bar as well as a premium spa and pool. Due to open in 2016, the hotel will also have extensive meeting space catering for the ever growing Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing and Exhibitions (MICE) market. IHG also signed a management agreement with Pearl Azure Hotel Management LLC for the 257-key Holiday Inn Downtown Abu Dhabi,

which will be a conversion of the current Sands Hotel in downtown Abu Dhabi. Featuring a restaurant, bar, pool, fitness centre and dedicated meeting space, the new hotel will undergo a refurbishment and open as a Holiday Inn by the end of 2014. The National Corporation of Tourism and Hotels and Pearl Azure Hotel Management LLC already have three IHG properties in their portfolio across the UAE: InterContinental Abu Dhabi, Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi and Crowne Plaza Dubai. Along with these new signings comes

a renewal of the management agreement for the existing InterContinental Abu Dhabi. IHG currently has 18 hotels open in the UAE across five brands, with another seven in the pipeline. There are five IHG properties operating in Abu Dhabi: an InterContinental hotel, two Crowne Plaza hotels, a Holiday Inn and a Staybridge Suites. This latest announcement brings the total number of properties in IHG’s development pipeline for Abu Dhabi to three, including a new Staybridge Suites which will open in the next three to five years.

Westin’s 200th hotel milestone STARWOOD HOTELS and Resorts recently announced that its Westin brand has reached the 200th hotel milestone with the opening of The Westin Chongqing Liberation Square in China. Westin will follow this growth milestone with the opening of three more hotels in China: The Westin Zhujiajian Resort in Zhoushan, The Westin Blue Bay Resort in Qingshui Bay,

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Hainan and The Westin Haikou in Hainan. Starwood expects to open a total of nine new Westin hotels worldwide in 2014 and nearly another 30 by the end of 2016, with almost half of those new hotels in Asia Pacific, the brand’s fastest growing region. “The Westin brand has built a strong foundation and following in established markets over the last decade, and the fact that we

have opened our 200th Westin in China is illustrative of the phenomenal demand we are now experiencing in Asia Pacific, as well as our strong and deeprooted local teams in dynamic markets worldwide,”said Simon Turner, President of Global Development for Starwood. “Emerging markets now account for nearly 70% of the Westin development pipeline, fueled by

accelerating demand in China and India, where rising wealth and rapid urbanization have generated a fierce appetite for strong global brands.” In the Middle East, Westin is expanding rapidly and will triple its portfolio by 2016 with the addition of five new hotels in markets including Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.


A gateway into the desert Samir Tabbah, Group CEO at Desert Gate Tourism, outlines the potential of the tourism industry in the country and the region HOW BIG is the market for your services as a destination management company? What percentage of that market have you captured? We see things on a long term strategic basis. With the 2020 Expo coming up, as well as the explosive growth of 5-star hotels and the upcoming theme parks in Dubai and cultural openings in Abu Dhabi, we believe that the market niche we are positioning ourselves in is both large and expanding. Our strength is in the unique combination of technology and human touch, and how it directly affects the guest experience. With the new products we are developing, we believe that we are creating market and will therefore not be “reacting” but rather “instigating”. How much market share have we captured? Difficult to say, we go by the partners that are signing up and guests that return happy. Based on those two elements, we are doing very well. Are you affiliated or have a partnership with the Dubai government as a tourism promoter? How much competition do you have? Everyone who sells touristic services in Dubai is promoting Dubai and mostly does so in a positive manner. As I have already mentioned, we are market innovators so when we go out and sell the destination, we do it “differently” with differentiated products and services. Some of our key top executives come from ‘International Luxury’ backgrounds so we have more

a completely transparent and ethical company. Our decision to expand Desert Gate to a fully fledged DMC was taken by myself and my top management after we examined the market and identified the niche where we wanted to be.

Samir Tabbah

than just a few new ideas up our sleeves. As to competition, we know that there may be competition out there, both direct and indirect, but we are intensely focused on the quality of services, products and experiences that we deliver on a consistent basis. How is the response so far? I was lucky enough to be involved with the explosive growth of Dubai. We travelled the world over promoting the destination first and the response was excellent. We had our challenges with world economic conditions as well as a number of other surprises along the way such as the Icelandic ash cloud. My first company was successful enough to be identified and acquired by one of the World’s top tourism groups, which for me was a tremendous honour. Desert Gate started in 2004 as a supplier to local DMCs and we have been constantly recognised for our excellent product and service delivery as well as being

What services do you provide? We have spent a long time building our product offering, procedures and services to attend a very demanding segment. To detail every service would be very difficult, but suffice it to say that we look after every detail from helping our local partner in closing the sale to making sure every detail on the trip is perfect to ensuring the guests get back on the aircraft to their destination of origin. We are very proactive with all our partners and help them to identify origin niches and work with them to develop products and services unique to them. Who is your target audience? Our main markets are upscale leisure groups and families; we are focusing initially on UK, Germany and CIS target markets as they are somewhat mature markets and have great airlift capacity into the region, with some serious passenger volumes. We have great partners in those markets and we have a responsibility to these partners to offer them great new products and service levels so that they can continue to grow and expand their individual market share. Desert Gate is willing and able to invest and work hand in

hand with its local partners to develop emerging markets on a long term basis such as the Far East and the Americas. As airlines are opening new routes and we see markets emerging we plan to stay at the forefront of the industry. You’ve recently opened another office in Oman, what was the deciding factor in opening there as opposed to another part of the Middle East region? Oman is such a wonderful destination. A sublime mix of nature, culture, landscapes and beaches. Originally Oman was a secondary destination to the UAE. Now, I believe it is a great standalone destination and holds great allure for many segments of travellers who are looking for something different and unexplored. Where do you see needs of the market heading to in the future, what plans are in place to absorb those needs? We started with the UAE. Now, we are opening Oman and we have an aggressive growth strategy in the region over the next 10 years. Some of this may be organic but we are also looking at strategic as well as tactical acquisitions. We are investing in infrastructure, technology and most importantly, people. This investment in people is already showing results with some top flight talents coming on board. In short, we have tremendous faith in our destinations and our services and are gearing up to be one of the most powerful tourism groups in the region.

JULY/AUGUST 2014 13


Celebration time at The Oberoi Dubai June 15 marked The Oberoi Dubai’s first year of operations. Karim Bizid, GM, tells us more about the hotel’s plans moving forward and also how they are sharing their happiness with guests What are your thoughts at the Oberoi Dubai’s first anniversary? The Oberoi Group, which was founded in 1934 and was recently voted the ‘World’s Best Hotel Brand’ by readers of Travel + Leisure, opened the doors of its 30th hotel, The Oberoi, Dubai, to guests on 15 June 2013. Since then we have steadily climbed the rankings of hotels in Dubai based on guest feedback as well as receiving recognition and awards from our industry peers. Our first anniversary is a significant milestone which gives us the chance to reflect upon the last 12 months. In that time we have strived very hard to deliver the warm personalised service for which

14 JULY/AUGUST 2014

The Oberoi Group is known worldwide and to maintain high standards across all areas of operations. One of the highlights from our first year of operations was the inauguration of the hotel in November 2013 by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Department of Civil Aviation, CEO and Chairman of The Emirates Group and Chairman of Dubai World, with guests of honour Sheikh Adel Al Aujan, Chairman of Aujan Group Holding, and P.R.S. Oberoi, Executive Chairman of The Oberoi Group. To celebrate our anniversary, we have introduced a special ‘First Time for Everything’ package that is designed to

showcase the best that The Oberoi, Dubai has to offer, from spa experiences, a private tour of Dubai, a masterclass with Executive Chef Dirk Haltenhof to a candlelit dinner on your own private terrace overlooking the Burj Khalifa. What sets you apart from other properties in the city and region? We believe that what sets us apart is our commitment to delivering consistent, excellent service. In keeping with the Group’s pioneering tradition, The Oberoi, Dubai brings an ethos of service without compromise to the UAE - many of our colleagues have been trained at The Oberoi Centre of Learning and Development.

We have already received widespread recognition for our service in the first half of 2014, having been ranked number one hotel for service worldwide by ReviewPro. We were also named the Middle East’s Leading Luxury City Hotel at the prestigious World Travel Awards and readers voted us Best New Business Hotel in the Business Traveller Middle East Awards. We were also ranked one of the top three properties in the UAE for service in the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards. Can you shed some light on the new Oberoi property being developed in the region? Our Executive Chairman, P.R.S. Oberoi, has stated that the UAE and the Middle East are an important part of The Oberoi Group’s expansion plans so we are looking forward to establishing more hotels in the region with strong local partners. He also recently revealed that there are two properties in the pipeline in Morocco and that the company is planning additional hotels Ajman, Abu Dhabi and Oman. And as he says,“We do not want to be the biggest - we want to be the best.”


Information exchange ‘The Travel Marketing Council (TTMC) is a forum for individuals and organisations from the tourism industry to share information and data in order to create a more robust business for all parties. Gaurav Sinha, CEO, elaborates What was the need for TTMC? I have been working in the travel and hospitality industry in the GCC for nearly two decades and realised that professionals working with the travel industry do not have a broad, regional or global forum that allows them to connect, collaborate and contribute to the industry. There are numerous industry events that happen across the world and even in the Middle East, one has hundreds, if not thousands of LinkedIn groups and if you need data or market intelligence then you have to spend a lot of time looking for relevant resources. The Travel Marketing Council is a members-only forum for travel professionals to be empowered through collective intelligence and it proposes to host topical events on a regular basis across the world and give travel professionals and industry leaders a compelling opportunity to grow their relevance. What are your immediate goals? How are you planning on executing them? We are currently aligning our ‘knowledge partners’ and are delighted to have a lot of interest from some of the world’s most well-reputed organisations. Business consultants, market strategists, educational institutes and key travel brands have been eager to support our goals and we are now planning our first event in Q4 of 2014. This will give us a good opportunity to evaluate what topics are relevant and

how we can improve our value proposition. We are also launching a mobile app that will have some very innovative features – more on this in the coming months. How many members have signed up till date? As of now we are soliciting memberships for the Executive Committee and these individuals are captains of industry both in the region and internationally. We aim to be a very nimble and progressive forum that’s main aim is to foster ‘thought-leadership’ and our membership structure is tiered for individual travel professionals, relevant corporations and we will also introduce an affiliate programme to empower young professionals who have recently graduated and want to invest in their own growth and network. What kind of data was lacking most that you are going to address? There is a lot of data in the market, in fact, its turning data into knowledge that’s the challenge. The industry traditionally has a key-hole perspective on regional market trends, all companies typically tap into global trends but not everything is relevant. People don’t share market knowledge as organisations want to maintain their competitive edge but we believe a deep and meaningful dialogue between

travel professionals benefits the whole industry. There are also many different topics that need to be addressed, the need for pertinent information or networking for people in the aviation industry are very different from the needs of people in the hospitality, travel or destination marketing segments. We will take small steps and see how our events evolve, in keeping with the needs of the members.

Gaurav Sinha

The Travel Marketing Council is a membersonly forum for travel professionals to be empowered through collective intelligence and it proposes to host topical events on a regular basis across the world and give travel professionals and industry leaders a compelling opportunity to grow their relevance.

How many annual events are being planned for members and industry partners? We would hopefully aim to host two events a year with an annual summit that would be the main focus. We are also considering a number of small invitation-only roundtable events that are more intimate, with 30 to 40 delegates only, so that there’s more quality of collaborative dialogue as opposed to many delegates who don’t necessarily get to meet the right people. What topics are you currently working on? There are numerous different topics we are currently researching for our reports and briefings. These include trend forecasting on product development, consumption patterns, innovation in marketing, digital and social dialogue, partnership augmentation and much more. Do register your interest on www. thetravelmarketingcouncil.com to stay in touch with the latest developments.

JULY/AUGUST 2014 15


OWNER INTERVIEW

A winning Hospitality Management Holdings (HMH) is a very old and experienced player in the industry. It remains unfazed by its competitors and is prepared to capture all the opportunities the regional market is throwing up. Laurent A. Voivenel, CEO, HMH, tells it like it is What is your current growth strategy? How many projects are you handling currently in the region and how many are going to happen in this year? Laurent A. Voivenel: By 2020 our aim is to have a hotel in every GCC country while doubling our portfolio in UAE and we certainly believe it is achievable. HMH has a strong presence in the region, with 20 hotels in operation and six new properties opening this year and first half of next in quick succession. Coral Muscat Hotel and Apartments, Coral Dubai Sports City Hotel and Apartments, Coral Beirut

Concorde Hotel, Coral Riyadh Al Dhabab Hotel, EWA Khartoum Hotel and Apartments and EWA Port Sudan Hotel and Apartments are all in advanced stages of development and are expected to welcome their first guests by the last quarter of 2014 / beginning of 2015. The new hotels will boost the existing HMH portfolio by 25 per cent. In addition, we have a solid development pipeline. How does HMH aim to capitalise on all the hospitality incentives and initiatives being outlined for Dubai’s hosting of Expo 2020?

Dubai’s successful bid for World Expo 2020 is a massive stimulant for the entire (GCC) region’s hospitality and meetings industry accelerating economic growth and development. The GCC’s hospitality market is expected to grow at an annual rate of 8.1 per cent to US$28.3 billion by 2016 compared to US$19.2 billion in 2011. The Expo will deliver global exposure for the UAE and its tourism sector, including its world-class infrastructure. Therefore, being based in Dubai, it presents an unprecedented opportunity for HMH group and our various brands that we are eager to capitalise on. Besides the above six hotels, we plan to add another two properties to our portfolio in 2015 and two in 2016. With a value-oriented and disciplined approach our objective is to unlock HMH’s full potential while maximising operating performance of each asset we put our name to. When developers consider our hotel management company for their asset, they know HMH will deliver for ‘We say, we do’. At this stage there is nothing definite but we are in talks with certain entities to explore opportunities for our brands in Dubai World Central (DWC), the Expo 2020 site. JULY/AUGUST 2014 17


OWNER INTERVIEW

Guest Room at Corp Executive Al Khoory Hotel, Al Wasl

Coral Beach Hotel, Jubail

Corp Executive Al Khoory Hotel, Al Wasl

Guest Room at Coral Beach Resort, Sharjah

What is your opinion on the hospitality landscape in Dubai and Abu Dhabi? Hotel stock in the Middle East including the UAE is predominantly geared towards luxury and up-market accommodation leaving a huge gap and opportunity for budget hotels that we are keen to develop. We are eager to target this largely untapped market for mid-scale and economy hotels in the region, particularly in Dubai and Abu Dhabi with ECOS Hotels that 18 JULY/AUGUST 2014

will be a perfect fit with its economical and ecological concept. What Dubai is doing with Abu Dhabi is positioning the UAE as the destination - creating Brand UAE. With its extraordinary vision and development, Dubai has served as a leverage for the UAE making it the beating heart of the Middle East and is helping to generate more business for the other states. UAE is like a tree – branching out with different emirates offering different attractions. The fruits are ripe in some

places and it is impossible not to be dazzled by Dubai or amazed by Abu Dhabi. Attractions in other emirates have to mature to the same level and the Northern Emirates is in the right direction. The respective tourism boards like Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority created the Wheel of Excellence, the foundation and the roadmap for developers and the


OWNER INTERVIEW

regaining the business lost and attracting new markets while growing the existing ones.

Coral Port Sudan

Coral Beach Resort, Sharjah

Pool Majlis at The Ajman Palace

hoteliers. In doing so they offer to the international traveller“venue guaranteed� with no bad surprises. Give us a brief overview of the region from the recession in 2009 till date. The tourism and hospitality industry in the Middle East was severely hit by the recession and later by the Arab Spring. It turned out to be an extremely challenging period for HMH with huge setbacks in terms of

development owing to political unrest and escalating violence in some of the key growth markets such as Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, Lebanon, Yemen and Jordan. Several of our projects were put on hold in these countries compelling us to restructure our plans in terms of future expansion. However, the region was quick to recover with stability returning to Bahrain, Jordan and hopefully Lebanon. GCC as a whole, and the UAE in particular, have shown excellent resilience and rebound,

What plans does HMH have for the Middle East region and Africa? We provide hotel owners and developers a broad spectrum of comprehensive management solutions with five distinct, yet complementary, hotel brands catering to varied market segments from luxury to budget. These include The Ajman Palace, Coral Hotels and Resorts, Corp Hotels, ECOS Hotels and EWA Hotel Apartments. Over the years, we have established an excellent reputation with our brands offering a safe, alcohol-free environment that has given us a unique niche both regionally and globally. Building on our strong record, we are stepping into a new era and are ready to take up new challenges and opportunities be it in the four to five star category or the mid-market / budget segment. We wish to grow the path according to our strategic plan that is sustainable in a physical sense. It is not only about business opportunities out there. Therefore, our expansion plans are at the moment sharply focused on the UAE. We are a home-grown Emirati company. We opened our first hotel in the UAE and the primary focus continues to be on the UAE, followed by GCC. Our goal is to double the number of our hotels in the UAE by 2020 as well as have a hotel in every GCC country. Hopefully, we are on the right track. The outlook for the GCC region in terms of inbound travel looks extremely promising with a four to five per cent growth forecast which presents the most fertile ground for any new hotel development. The number of visitors travelling to the Middle East region is projected to double reaching 136 million by 2020 compared to 54 million in 2008. The region is seeing phenomenal growth in stopover traffic, rapidly expanding low-cost carriers, inter-regional travel, increased airport capacity and a growing middle class that is fueling the demand for budget hotels. In addition, a lot of local and international companies are cutting down on their annual travelling budgets and seeking affordable accommodation. However, existing hotel stock in the Middle East, JULY/AUGUST 2014 19


Therefore we prefer to be very careful and selective in not developing the hotel with someone who does not have a long-term understanding with us. Do regional investors/owners of family businesses want to be more involved in your management style? How is the owner / investor of the Middle East different? Well, the answer is ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ because there is no hard and fast rule. Yes, there are some who could be more involved in management and others who prefer to stay away. Neither is it specific to the Middle East. You could have a similar situation in Asia or for that matter anywhere else in the world.

including the UAE, is predominantly geared towards luxury and up-market accommodation leaving a huge gap and opportunity for budget hotels that we are keen to develop. We are eager to develop ECOS Hotels that will serve as the ideal address for savvy budget conscious business and leisure travellers looking for quality in terms of basics such as a good bed, shower and breakfast. ECOS Hotels is a smart choice for investors too offering strong investment opportunity because of lower construction and operating costs and quick and high return on investment. To start with we have three different projects under consideration in the UAE and the first of these will be developed in Dubai. We believe it is the best time to do so as Dubai is once again leading the way, but other markets are following thick and fast. Dubai has given a tax reprieve to investors developing mid-market hotels by exempting eligible hotels from 10 per cent municipality fee levied on the daily room rate for a period of four years if the construction permit is granted between October 1, 2013 and December 31, 2017. How are relationships with owners/investors managed? We believe in maintaining very close ties with our owners and have enjoyed 20 JULY/AUGUST 2014

Coral Deira Dubai

excellent relations over the years. Transparency and trust is the key to success of any relation including business and we believe in keeping our stakeholders informed as to how the business is managed. Our business model is designed to maximise long term returns through strategic asset management and operation. At HMH, ‘We Say, We Do’. When you build a hotel, you build a relationship with an owner.

How are you as an experienced and highly successful management company able to stay on top of forecasted trends, in keeping the guest engaged and satisfied and having the edge over the competition? Digital and social engagement has moved brands outside of advertisements into incidental exposure. As a brand we must serve customers who attend to multiple media simultaneously. Therefore, as part of our marketing and rebranding strategy we are investing heavily in new digital platforms to optimise the consumer experience. Our primary objective is to engage and build strong relationships with our guests. Consumers want to be understood and listened to rather than the other way round. The new identity for Coral Hotels and Resorts offers a strong, consistent and focused brand identity on all customer-facing fronts. All our hotels enjoy a superb location in close proximity to key commercial and leisure attractions in great cities. Being alcohol-free hotels, we offer a safe and family-friendly environment, with the very best in hospitality topped with the legendary Arabic warmth and welcome. Attention to detail, personalised care and value for money are the hallmarks of our brands. Strategic planning, tapping traditional and online travel agent networks and successful development of new distribution channels are key to driving revenue. Our strategy has been to drive business across all vertical sectors that has given us a


Owner Interview

steady mix of corporate, long-stay, leisure, e-commerce and FIT segment which in turn kept our figures firm. It is important to recognise that different channels cater to different types of customers, and having an appropriately diversified and optimal mix enabled us to drive improved revenue and profit outcomes. In terms of the future, we remain extremely bullish, as we try to maximise profits. To sustain our growth in a highly competitive environment, it is absolutely essential to have a stronger grip on our business. What is your take on all the new players in the market? More players mean more competition. A successful company is all about being adaptable and flexible to the environment it finds itself in at any given time. It is important to diagnose one’s competitive position and strengthen it. Accepted wisdom holds that the less competition a business Luzerne 1 6/30/14 faces, theArtwork more Example.pdf it thrives. Being

Luzerne Artwork Example.pdf

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unique is better than being the best. Creating value – not beating rivals is the right approach. Given the scale of competition we have to look at factors that are holding us back and therefore should be eliminated or reduced while others to be raised above industry standards and those that have 2:45 PM been offered by the industry never

6/29/14

The Ajman Palace

to be created in order to have clear competitive advantage. Lasting success comes not from battling competitors, but from finding a sea, less crowded by creating “blue oceans”- untapped new market spaces ripe for growth. Such strategic moves create powerful leaps in value and we are working towards it.

11:49 AM

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The Ar t Of P er f ec t ion Featuring Luzerne New Bone. Specialist in high-performance, professional grade fine tableware.

Everstyle Trading LLC Tel: +971 6 531 4106

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Email: office@everstyleuae.com July/August 2014 21


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OWNER INTERVIEW

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24 JULY/AUGUST 2014


COVER STORY

Are our hotels

green

enough?

high levels of The region is known for its extremely energy and water consumption. The hospitality

industry is aware however is enough being done in order to reduce consumption levels? Avantika

Vijay Singh, Senior Associate, HVS New Delhi, offers her perspective and possible solutions

S

ustainable Development was defined by the Brundtland Commission in the 1980s as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. It addressed how economic growth and, thus, the market economy could evolve in ways that are environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive. With environmental degradation manifesting itself through pollution, reduction of resources like water, loss of bio-diversity, ozone hole, global warming and climate change amongst others, the ‘Green’ concept gathered global force. The Middle East region is climatically hot, and geographically located in arid and low-lying area. By virtue of its location, it is endowed with greater demand for natural

JULY/AUGUST 2014 25


COVER STORY

resources like water and consumption of energy, which is further exacerbated by its rapid economic growth. This greater demand for resource consumption can be felt with negative impacts in terms of depletion of groundwater aquifers, contamination by wastewater and other discharges, loss of biodiversity, and rising air pollution. Thus, for a business as usual scenario to prevail the need for sustainability is greater than ever. The hospitality industry, which by its nature is heavily dependent on natural resources, has responded with sustainable initiatives. Most hotel chains have implemented sustainable initiatives across their properties, which result in reduced water and energy consumption and thereby the carbon footprint. The Middle East, too, is no stranger to that. However, a lot more remains to be done.

Sustainability awareness and initiatives in the Middle East The economy of the region is heavily reliant on revenues from the fuel industry, which is essentially a nonrenewable natural resource, particularly more so of Kuwait and Qatar. However, an increasing level of awareness is building about the dangers of climate change and looming water supply shortage though there is diversity among states in their responses. Since nature has endowed it with ample sunlight, the Middle East is aiming to capitalise on this free resource by pushing for more solar power based energy supply, alongside new nuclear capacity. Abu Dhabi aims to cover seven per cent of its energy needs with renewables by 2020; the Comprehensive Cooling Plan aims to reduce the projected energy consumption in cooling buildings by 2025, targeting a reduction of over 10 million tons of CO2 emissions. Qatar aims to provide 20 per cent of solar power based energy by 2030, and Saudi Arabia aims to cover almost a third of its consumption with renewables by 2032. In keeping with the vision of Green Economy for Sustainable Development, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority started Smart Initiative to encourage and raise awareness of responsible energy consumption. Research and Education, like the Masdar Institute in Abu 26 JULY/AUGUST 2014

Dhabi, is contributing to developing specialised human capital in sustainable and renewable energy as well as benchmarks for new techniques for environmentally responsible energy use and urban living. Green architecture, like Abu Dhabi’s latticed-dome parliament incorporating passive solar design and unique desert architectural techniques, is also making sustainability visible. The UAE is currently leading the green building movement in the region. The Change Initiative building in Dubai has achieved the highest LEED Platinum rating in the world from the US Green Building Council. The push for clean capitalism is relatively new and slowly gaining momentum armed with the help of think tanks and government initiatives. The Energy and Environment Park in Dubai has positioned itself as a hub for new sustainable businesses working on projects that can be used across the region. Masdar City is seeking to become a model of commercial urban development with the lowest environmental footprint possible. Such initiatives compare favourably with global ones.

Areas that need further focus While energy supply diversification is gaining stride in the carbon footprint reduction portfolio, there always exists scope for energy efficiency, which is in the hands of the end-user. Energy efficiency measures include new buildings that are climate adapted and appliances that run at optimum efficiency. Engineers at individual properties can run energy efficient operations and pay special attention to preventive maintenance. Countries like Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia are characterised by extremely high levels energy use and carbon emissions per capita ‌ in fact, amongst the highest in the world. And, the demand for water is projected to only grow in the near future. Part of the reason behind such a high rate of energy use and emissions is water scarcity. The UAE has a very high per capita water usage, much above the global average. In most cases, especially in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the countries adopted desalination of sea water to meet their water challenges.


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JULY/AUGUST 2014 27


But, desalination itself is an energyintensive process. Hence, players across the board can focus further on opportunities for treating wastewater and instituting high water-saving technology and practices as water is not only a limited resource but directly linked to energy. Hotel properties, can specifically, look to reducing their water consumption and recycling water as much as possible. In addition, reducing the footprint of water in products used would also be appropriate. Also, the subsidies on fuel and water are generally regarded as reducing the financial incentive for building owners 28 JULY/AUGUST 2014

and occupiers to introduce sustainability initiatives to reduce their consumption.

Areas that can contribute to reduction in carbon footprint at a typical property According to data from United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), among the many activities that produce greenhouse gases, energy accounts for the largest source of emissions. Within the energy sector, CO2 resulting from oxidation of carbon in fuels during combustion dominates.This is prevalent in such processes as energy generation, heating

and cooling, electricity, transportation, and importing products over long distances. So, it stands to reason that reduction in energy consumption would majorly reduce the carbon footprint. The hospitality sector is a huge consumer of energy and, thus, emitter of carbon emissions. The areas that can enable a reduction in the carbon footprint of a typical property are those that reduce the energy consumption of the property and are summarised below: A well insulated building faรงade or envelope reduces heating and cooling loads or energy required to heat/


COVER STORY

cool a building. The overall thermal performance of a building element such as a wall, roof, or window is specified as thermal transmission (typically described as a U-value). U-Value is a measure of the rate at which heat flows through an element (wall, window or roof) when a temperature difference is present across its interior and exterior. R-value is the thermal resistance (or insulation) of building materials to heat flow. Thus, higher the R-value, the higher the insulation. For windows, SHGC (Solar Heat Gain Coefficient) or the ratio of solar heat gain that passes through to the total incident solar

radiation that falls on the window, is another important determinant. Table 1 summarises strategies to make a tight building insulation. Reduction in energy consumption by exploiting all technical best standards for electrical efficiency; for example replacement of incandescent bulbs by compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), which use less energy and last eight times longer (8,000h instead of 1,000h). Optimisation of heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) plays a very important role in this and is summarised in Table 2. Replacement of old equipment with energy efficient ones.

Regular maintenance of equipment to contain any leaks and ensure efficiency in operations. Reduction in cogeneration of energy that usually goes waste such as in operations of cooling towers or utilising this energy simultaneously for other processes. Replacement of fossil energy sources with renewable ones available locally such as wind or sun. Water efficient operations should be focused on as not only is water a fast-depleting natural resource, but extraction and supply of it is directly linked to energy. JULY/AUGUST 2014 29


COVER STORY

Table 1. Summary of a green building envelope Area

Problem

Solution

Roof

The roof is directly exposed to the sun and can absorb large amounts of heat, which can increase the energy required to cool the building.

Ensure cool roof through surfaces that can reflect and reject sunlight. Light coloured coating with high reflectance is suitable. Paints with low U-value and high R-value are useful. Garden roofs can increase insulation.

Windows and skylights

These are made up largely of glass, which allows not only light but also heat to pass through adding to the cooling load of the building. Conditioned losses can also take place through the frame, joints and sealings.

Ensure high-performance windows with low-SHGC (that takes into account the complete window) and U-factor, and more glazing for reducing cooling load in hot climates. External shading of windows can reduce the incidence of direct sunlight.

Walls

Heat can also be gained through walls if insulation is low.

Ensure walls with good insulation or low U-Factor. Protection from direct sunlight can also be gained from the shade of trees or cool walls.

Doors/ Openings

Doors and other openings can lead to loss of conditioned air.

Ensure building maintenance and repair any openings that leak conditioned air to exterior.

Table 2. Summary of HVAC Measures that reduce energy consumption[1] Measure

Function Description and Strategy

Monitoring and Control systems

Optimise HVAC performance.

Non-production temperature set back

Turning building temperatures down in winter or up in summer reduces HVAC energy consumption.

Reducing duct leakage

Duct leakage can be reduced by appropriate insulation, regular checks, and maintenance

Variable-air-volume (VAV) systems

Adjust the volume of air that is delivered to a room according to its thermal requirements, optimising air flow in HVAC ductwork. Reducing ventilation in unoccupied rooms saves energy. Varying ventilation with occupancy for spaces with variable occupancy like conference rooms saves energy and improves indoor air quality.

Variable-speed drives (VSDs)

Regulates the speed of the motor (thus, the pump or fan) to the requirements of the air handling system. Can be used in elevator motors, water pumps (swimming pool), ventilation systems.

Heat recovery

Reduces energy required to heat or cool facility intake air by harnessing the thermal energy of the facility’s exhaust air. E.g. heat recovery wheels, pipes, and run-around loops.

Chiller efficiency improvements

Chillers produce water that removes heat from a circulating cold water loop and discharges that heat to the outside air through a cooling tower. Chiller size should balance chiller load.

Occupancy sensors

Occupancy sensors like in toilets and unoccupied areas can reduce energy used for lighting by switching on when occupied.

Sustainability in old constructions? It is important to note that sustainability can also apply to existing assets in addition to greenfield projects. The building itself can be made more sustainable by the following strategies: Building Insulation that can be added to older buildings is mainly of three types – mineral wools, oil-based products such as polystyrene, and lastly organic products such as flax

and cellulose. Mineral wools and oil-based products are non-renewable and difficult to dispose and have high embodied energy. Organic insulation, though more expensive, does not suffer from these problems and also allows the building to breathe. Companies such as Pro Clima have developed 3-ply structures that have an air proofing layer on the interior, a wind barrier on the exterior and thermal insulation in between.

Ventilation in newer buildings must ensure good circulation of air to enable protection against moisture so that mold and fungi do not grow. This is important not only to maintain the condition of the building and the refurbishments, but also for the health of the people inhabiting that building like staff and guests. New ‘intelligent’ membranes offer moisture control along with protection from wind and rain. High-performance windows that take the complete window into account (frame, pane and joints) are other areas for refurbishment. Apart from triple glazing to improve thermal performance, other alternatives like vacuum glazing can also be explored. It prevents the thermal conduction caused by the gas in the cavity between the panes. Window films are also effective in reducing thermal gains. Preventive Maintenance that improves the efficiency of wiring, ducting, piping and electrical equipment is crucial for any property. In addition, improving water delivering infrastructure like pipes so that leakages are minimised, can reduce both water and energy consumption. Energy losses can be prevented by cleaning dirt or preventing pipe/duct leakage in addition to extending equipment life by regularly cleaning condensers, evaporator coils and air filters. Energy saving equipment commissioning/retrofitting is important. Of particular significance is the life-cycle cost of equipment and technology, which includes not only the upfront cost, but also the savings from reduced maintenance/replacement generated over the life cycle of the investment. Since building equipment is typically a one-time purchase, the savings begin immediately upon installation and commissioning and can be quite significant over the investment horizon of an asset. Energy-efficient Lighting like LED in place of older lighting is a common area for making older buildings more sustainable.

Guest awareness about sustainability features There are many variables that influence energy consumption like lighting, hot water, HVAC, amongst others with space conditioning (HVAC) being the single largest end-user of energy in hotels. JULY/AUGUST 2014 31


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Key cards are very useful in switching off lighting and reducing air conditioning in unoccupied rooms. However, help of guests can be solicited for saving electricity by turning off lights that they do not need and switching off television in unoccupied rooms when not in use as it consumes energy. The Earth Hour, with switching off of electricity, is gaining

popularity globally. Hotels can institute such programmes without discomforting guests. Water conservation is an area where guests’ help is often solicited with Linen and Towel reuse programmes. Also, if the hotel has any waste to wealth schemes or recycling schemes that reduce landfill waste, guests can be asked to participate in that.

Active engagement Mark Willis, Area Vice President, Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa the Rezidor Hotel Group shares the initiatives in place at the many Rezidor properties in the region What percentage of your hotels are eco-labelled in the Middle East region? All of our hotels in the Middle East are ecolabelled. Are all your constructed buildings LEED Certified? No. What is the percentage of energy consumption that has been reduced since the inception of the Think Planet Programme? In 2013, Rezidor Group reduced energy use per square metre by 2.8 per cent compared to the 2011 baseline. Energy per occupied room was reduced by 4.2 per cent. In total, 36 hotels within Europe, Middle East and Africa have already reached or exceeded their five-year Think Planet targets with many achieving savings above 30 per cent on our Think Planet key performance indicators. What is the percentage of water consumption that has been saved? What measures are in place in each of your hotel rooms to save excessive use of water? Reducing water consumption in our hotels – without compromising service quality for guests – is a key priority for Rezidor. In 2013, water consumption in litres per guest night was reduced by 0.9 per cent for the group as a whole. In all of our hotels, we involve guests in towel and sheet replacement programmes and we have an ongoing maintenance programme to complete the installation of water saving devices such as aerators and sensor taps. In new hotels, systems to harvest rainwater or reuse grey water are integrated wherever possible. 32 JULY/AUGUST 2014

What is the percentage of waste that has been reduced, how much is being recycled, how has that figure changed over previous years? Solid waste is generated by many activities in our hotels including food preparation, consumption of pre-packaged items, guest waste, and cleaning. We proactively seek ways to reduce and recycle waste, and to reduce the residual waste which goes to landfill or incineration. At the end of 2013 93 per cent of our hotels had a dedicated waste sorting area. More than 66 per cent of hotels had waste sorting facilities on housekeeping trolleys and our overall recycling rate is 29 per cent for hotels. What initiatives are in place to be bigger and better in terms of doing your bit for the planet in the next year and the future years? We have just announced our alignment with the UN CEO Water Mandate and have set up a new water task force that, going forward, will look at ways to maximise water sustainability from room and building design, to bathroom fixtures, kitchen, pumps and maintenance of the systems. With our leading position and strong pipeline in the emerging markets, where water scarcity is a big issue, we want to take the lead in water stewardship. The UN CEO Water Mandate will help us to achieve this ambition. Please tell us in detail about operational procedures that help in reducing waste and reducing the use of water on a dayto-day basis. Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Media City has

Guest satisfaction is crucial to the performance of the hotel industry, and being green is actually a selling point for the business as customers today are well informed. Guests can be made more aware of initiatives through multiple approaches; however, it is best if they are nonintrusive and not aggressive. Some of

installed LED exterior lighting, signage and in the lobby and there are motion sensors throughout the hotel. The air-conditioning units are controlled through key switches and sensors based on occupancy. Radisson Blu Resort Sharjah converted the existing diesel boilers to natural gas resulting in a nine per cent energy saving. They have also installed sensor taps, dual flush toilets and water-free urinals making a further 1.1per cent energy savings Radisson Blu Resort El Quseir has been an environmental leader for many years, using electrically powered golf carts and grey water recuperation. By utilising voltage


COVER STORY

these are summarised below, however, hotels should experiment and use what works best for them. Visual communication – Opportunities for visually communicating with guests can be seized by employing measures that are already synonymous with sustainability like LED lights. Secondly, measures like waterless urinals with

perhaps an accompanying infographic could consolidate the picture. These could in turn be used as unique selling points of the hotel. Printed communication – Information highlighting sustainable measures employed in the hotel embedded in their proper perspective can be made available through brochures and

optimisation/power correction the hotel will save 705,000 kWh in the next five years Radisson Blu Residence Dubai Marina collects condensate water from the air handling units to use for watering the gardens. Radisson Blu Hotel, Cairo Heliopolis is using energy saving lighting, to include the usage of LED lighting throughout the hotels which has reduced lighting consumption by 15 per cent. What are total investments in environmental saving technologies? How has this helped in gaining higher returns?

In 2013, Rezidor invested over EUR 3 million (US$4.1 million) in 13 integrated hotel projects which were led by energy service companies. The Hotel Carbon Measurement initiative, tell us more about this and Rezidor’s contribution to it. Since 2006, our carbon dioxide and equivalent emissions have been calculated. The assessment focuses on energy related emissions only and contains both scope one and two emissions. The Initiative includes a single methodology for calculating carbon dioxide emissions and consistent metrics for

stationary in the guest rooms that guests can read at leisure. The hotel website, featuring factually correct and absorbing information is also a good source of communication. Interpersonal communication – Sustainable features employed in the hotel can form talking points with guests. Staff like that of Housekeeping

communicating the data. It is used in the Meetings Minus Carbon programme. Carlson Rezidor offsets emissions for all Club Carlson For Planners meetings and events across the group’s seven global hotel brands. The carbon offsetting initiative, a free service for meeting planners, is managed through Carlson Rezidor’s partner, Carbon Footprint Ltd. Each contribution is used to invest in renewable energy in India; and is combined with the planting of one tree for every ton of carbon offset through Club Carlson For Planners events in the Great Rift Valley in Kenya. To date, over 10,000 tonnes of CO2 have been offset.

JULY/AUGUST 2014 33


COVER STORY

MIddle East’s first Green Globe property

and Front Desk, who often come into guest contact, should be trained to talk about such features.

Abdul Quddus Sheikh, Director of Engineering, The Palace Downtown Dubai tells about his hotel’s sustainability initiatives

Some of the talking points for the various types of communication could be formed by: Hotel design and décor – Culture and heritage are being increasingly recognised as enablers of sustainability since they not only reinforce local identity but also bring about economic benefits through sustainable tourism. An example of the way that culture can enable sustainability is traditional architecture, which is climate adapted. This, today, has found interest amongst architects resulting in green buildings, which can conserve energy required for HVAC and also mitigate GHG emissions. Menu – The menu of a hotel, especially if it is local or organic, can form another talking point about sustainability. Purchasing locally in space and time (like in-season vegetables) reduces the food miles or the embodied energy, which means the amount of energy required to produce, supply, use, and then disposal of the product. Many hotels are increasingly switching to sustainable food policies by growing herbs and vegetables locally (within the premises if space allows) and sourcing local meats and sustainable seafood. Special features that reduce energy and water consumption or lower generation of waste – This could include ways to recycle water or reduce water and energy consumption like employing recycled water for flushing. Recycled or biodegradable products – Biodegradable matter is anything that can be decomposed and returned to nature by living organisms such as bacteria and fungi. It does not add to landfill waste upon disposal, which also emit emissions. Bio-plastics or plastics from natural products like cornstarch are biodegradable alternatives to the traditional petroleum-based plastics. Biodegradable crockery is also on the rise these days. Such features can engage the attention of guests and can lead to further discussions.

Tell us about all the environment saving initiatives in place at The Palace Downtown. The Palace Downtown Dubai has a number of initiatives in place to do its part for the environment. From policies surrounding the consumption of nonrecycling products, to sustainability that is tested against more than 385 standards, we continue to implement a number of environmentally friendly initiatives. All of the lights in the hotel are controlled by LUTON, and they are programmed according to sunrise and sunset, while motion sensor switches operate in the back-of-the-house operations; and over 70 per cent of the bulbs are LED or energy saving. What certifications has the hotel earned? The Palace Downtown Dubai was the first hotel in the region to be Green Globe certified; and has been recertified for the last three years. In figures what are investments in place in order to make the hotel an environmentally friendly project? How have these investments translated in relevant returns? Up to 10 per cent of expense is attributed for renovation and refurbishment, a portion of which focuses on energy optimisation. In figures what are results in terms of energy savings, reduction in water wastage/use, reduction in carbon emissions, recycling till date? How have these numbers changed from the time the environmental initiatives were put in place at the property? We have been able to improve our energy consumption drastically over the last four years, with an overall decrease of up to 30 per cent in those years. Could you tell us about planned initiatives that will make your environmental commitment bigger and better in the region as compared to other hotels? We continue to put initiatives in place, setting targets that enable us to be kinder to the environment, such as 20 per cent reduction of general waste, and a reduction of food wastage by 85 per cent. 34 JULY/AUGUST 2014

The way forward Low hanging fruits are typically more likely to move ahead and this includes energy, water, and waste audits along with their monitoring and management, which can translate into increases in the Hotel’s GOP. Audits through metering and measurement of different areas can identify opportunities for reducing consumption of both energy and water. While the lower end of this range is readily achievable through no-cost or low-cost strategies, the higher end typically requires some infusion of capital investment into building efficient infrastructure. Sustainability is the need of the hour. For business to go on as usual, hotels need to take stock of their assets, both in terms of the infrastructure deployed in the property and practices that are employed by the staff. Training of hotel staff is very critical to taking sustainability forward in the hospitality industry, especially as hotel staff are the ultimate denominators for implementing sustainable practices. A focus on reducing utility costs (energy, water, and waste) at hotels and resorts through improved diligence over hotel operations and strategic investments in building equipment that translate into utility cost savings is the path forward for sustainable hotels to follow. [1]This Table has been adapted for the hotel industry from: Christina Galitsky, Shengchieh Chang,Ernst Worrell, and Eric Masanet. Energy efficiency improvement and cost saving opportunities for the pharmaceutical industry: An energy star guide for energy and plant managers. Sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, March 2008 Avantika Vijay Singh is Senior Associate with HVS’s New Delhi office and manages the ECOTEL Certification. She serves as Auditor and Trainer for certifying and training properties applying for the ECOTEL re/Certification. Avantika passed with distinction the Master’s level course on “Introduction to Strategic Sustainable Development” from the Blekinge Institute of Technology, Karlskrona, Sweden in December 2010. She also holds an MS in Biomedicine from the Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences (BITS), Pilani, India. In February 2012, she did a course on ‘Water Footprint: Concept and Applications’ from the World Bank Institute in collaboration with the Water Footprint Network and University of Twente. She has written several industry-related articles.


COVER STORY

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COVER STORY

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COVER STORY

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LETTER FROM LONDON

The Middle Eastern investor The preceding Letter from London touched on general investor

demand for quality hotel assets in key European gateway cities. The article to hand aims to sharpen the focus by highlighting a selection of European hotel transactions which have involved Middle Eastern investors in the recent past. iven that buyers from this part of the world are estimated to have accounted for around a third (by value) of upscale hotel deals taking place in Europe during 2013, it`s fair to say that identifying a number of transactions has not proved to be arduous. The acquisition of the Intercontinental Park Lane in London by Constellation Hotels from Qatar for circa £400m stands out as the major single asset deal during 2013. Given the location and market positioning of the hotel concerned, the deal could be described as very much matching the habitual investment profile sought by Middle Eastern investors. The same could also be said of the purchase by Al Rayyan Tourism and Investment Company ( another Qatari investor group) of the Grand Hyatt in Berlin for approximately £88m. In portfolio terms, Constellation Hotels` acquisition of the four hotels which comprise the Groupe de Louvre (for circa £620m) also fits the profile, but the same cannot be said of the purchase by Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) of 42 Marriott hotels spread across the UK for around £570m. This deal provides further evidence that given a chunky lot size coupled with an attractive price (in this case, around £79k per room), Middle Eastern investors are willing to depart from trophy asset territory in capital cities and invest in provincial hotels. Indeed, ADIA was reliably reported to have outbid at least one other Middle Eastern sovereign wealth fund in the process of acquiring the portfolio. Every hotel broker worth his or her salt knows that, in compiling a top 20 list of potential buyers for prime hotel assets in major European cities, it is de rigueur to adopt the oft quoted words of Captain Renault in Casablanca. Rounding up the usual suspects translates into including

at least three Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds on such lists, although it is both refreshing and reassuring to note that new entrants from elsewhere are emerging with increasing frequency. Furthermore, improved liquidity and the resultant increased competition amongst European banks to finance quality hotel deals is widening the scope for debt reliant investors to throw their hats back into the buyer`s ring. On top of this, nonmainstream lenders are now playing a part in financing the industry, with the number of insurance companies willing to countenance long term funding for low leveraged high quality assets very much on the increase. It is interesting to note, however, that despite many borrowers claiming that they hanker after long term funding, when it comes to the crunch there is a distinct tendency to opt for

a maximum tenor of around five years. In other words, flexibility in funding remains likely to take precedence over a technically soundly based desire to match long term assets and liabilities. Looking ahead, a sprinkling of investors originating from Russia are already making a modest impression in the European hotel market and (perpetuating a long established trend), investors from both North America and Asia continue to be acquisitive. Middle Eastern investors are, however, expected to remain the major players in the short term. Given the challenges inherent in persuading owners to part company with trophy assets, shortages of such hotel stock may well drive these investors to follow the route pursued by Dubai International Capital back in 2006 (when it acquired Travelodge for £675m) and focus upon buying more provincial hotel portfolios across Europe.

JULY/AUGUST 2014 39


40 JULY/AUGUST 2014


DESTINATION REPORT

The sun isn’t a reason to visit this beautiful Californian destination, we have plenty of it here. The OC as Orange County is fondly known, besides being one large movie set, has a myriad tourist spots to experience. Ed Fuller, President and CEO of Orange County Visitors Association (OCVA) elaborates

Orange County – the best of the

T

he Orange County Visitors Association (OCVA) recently opened an office in April this year in Dubai. This is only the third location after two offices in China (Shanghai and Beijing) which opened late last year. The county is definitely keen on attracting tourists from countries with a high standard of living. Ed Fuller, President and CEO of OCVA, says,“Orange County traditionally has been one of the most popular holiday destinations for U.S. domestic travellers seeking an eclectic lifestyle vacation that offers a variety of quality accommodation options with excellent yearround weather, picturesque beaches and landscapes, a kaleidoscope of family entertainment attractions, and exciting shopping and gourmet experiences. With a diverse and multi-cultural population, Orange County has also long attracted many visitors from overseas. “As the OCVA we have recently started to proactively engage and promote directly to overseas audiences. We feel the luxury lifestyle experiences and attractions of Orange County fit well with the needs of travellers from the Gulf States - and we have a lot to offer them. To this end we opened our office here in the Middle East in Dubai in April this year, which is only our third international office to date, signifying both our commitment and expectations for this market. Increased direct flight access to our region through Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) with Emirates, Saudi Airlines and now Etihad Airways has made this the most opportune and meaningful time to open our office here. This is in addition to the exceptional connections with Gulf based airlines flying into other U.S. cities such as

JULY/AUGUST 2014 41


Chicago, Dallas and San Francisco and then transferring to the Orange County (John Wayne) Airport in Santa Ana (SNA). John Wayne Airport is a modern and efficient airport at the heart of Orange County capable of handling approximately 10 million passengers per year. “Proudly, we are the first U.S. state, regional or city tourism association to establish a permanent presence here in the Middle East. We feel that this is a significant milestone and wonderful example of how Orange County California is open to welcoming the world.” The county has a stable economic climate which it has maintained. The OC enjoys one of the highest levels of employment in California and throughout the United States. Its economy has been resilient and tourism is growing daily. Visitors to Orange County spent US$9.6 billion last year, which is an increase of 10 per cent over 2012. Orange County drew 44.4 million domestic visitors in 2013, and almost four million international visitors. Tourism numbers contributing to the county’s overall revenues are impressive too. In 2013, travellers to California spent over US$109.6 billion which created almost one million jobs within the state. Visitor numbers have been growing steadily with 2013 seeing tourists numbering 44.4 million, up 1.4 per cent from 2012. There is no figure denoting 42 JULY/AUGUST 2014

tourists from the MENA region yet as proactive promotions have only just begun here.

The attractions OC’s tourism initiatives in the Middle East are multi-layered across various platforms. The initial task at hand is to educate and create awareness of the many amazing attractions especially among Middle East travel agents and consumers. “We are working closely with our airline, travel agent and media partners to

this end, ensuring that travel agents have OC packages, holiday plans and accommodation options ready to sell and also that the agents are qualified and confident to promote the destination to their clients,” continues Fuller. “At the same time we are seeking to generate consumer demand for destination OC both indirectly through traditional media outlets, and before the end of this year, directly through various English and Arabic social media platforms.” The OCVA is also in the process of creating a number of strong and mutually beneficial partnerships and networks between key tourism professionals here in the Middle East and tourism partners back in the OC. “The first official tourism delegation of OC hoteliers, shopping, attraction and other entertainment representatives as well as tourism entities will be visiting the UAE between October 19 to 21 for further business and network development,” says Fuller. So what then are expected visitor number from the region that the OCVA hopes to attract. Fuller says, “While the OCVA has only just opened in the region our industry partners, such as the Marriott hotels, Montage Laguna Beach, Pelican Hill Resort, South Coast Plaza, Fashion Island and Disneyland have long been attracting visitors from the region. Given the diverse nationality make-up of GCC residents it can be challenging


DESTINATION REPORT

celebrities and influential individuals. The OC truly is a playground and home to people seeking the best that life has to offer,” he says.

The tourism industry

to correctly ascertain the number of GCC residents visiting the OC. As such, in our first year of operations we will be concentrating on increasing the number of travel agents selling the OC and looking to increase the media exposure and therefore awareness of the destination.” Challenges in terms of a long haul flight are one of the key things the OCVA needs to consider.“It is long haul, but Emirates and Etihad airways provide excellent services, and we believe like many repeat visitors from the region that the time taken to travel to the OC is well and truly worth it. Orange County offers some of the highest awarded hotels and resorts in the whole of the USA, year round whale-watching excursions, iconic theme parks and quality family entertainment. The cuisine offered is of extremely high quality and both modern and varied reflective of the diverse community that makes up Orange County. Additionally our shopping experiences are some of the best to be had in the world with Orange County offering the highest concentration of fashion designers in the whole of the United States. “As such our target visitors are very much couples, groups and families that appreciate quality lifestyle experiences and like to feel comfortable, safe and welcomed. For these very reasons the OC also attracts, or is home to, many U.S.

The tourism industry is very well equipped to handle the higher influx of tourists in the near future. “Our key hospitality and tourism partners are well aware of the needs and expectations of visitors from this region as the summer season in particular has long seen many travellers from the Middle East visit the OC. It is something we have had a long time practice doing. Looking forward our goal is to further increase the number of visitors from the Middle East throughout the whole year. We are ready.” With approximately 160,000 professionals working in the tourism industry in Orange County and almost one million professionals working in the industry throughout the state of California. The industry continues to increase. “We have in excess of 400 hotels in the immediate Orange County area, ranging from the very luxurious to moderate to economy categories. The OC boasts some of the finest luxury facilities and hospitality experiences in the United States, with two of these hotels ranked by Condé Nast and other magazines as number one and number two in the United States - the Montage and Pelican Hill Resorts. The luxury market has some of the finest names in hotels - the Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, Hyatt and Marriott. Given the wide range, number and varying rates of accommodation available, all travellers no matter their budgets, are able to enjoy all that the OC has to offer.” Hotel occupancy rates have also been increasing steadily over the years. 2013 hotel occupancy figures were 76 per cent.“We expect the occupancy rate to continue to rise,” Fuller says. Currently at least 2,300 rooms are under construction and should come into the market in the next two years.“Pipelines, however, are often predicted differently,” says Fuller, “we estimate that there could be as many as 5,000 new rooms in the next five years.” JULY/AUGUST 2014 43


THE INCREASING IMPORTANCE OF BRANDED RESIDENCES

Dubai has a number of branded residences already on the market from 2010. Abu Dhabi is a big area of focus for developers of branded residences in the UAE. HVS recently studied the need and increasing importance of these residences from a worldwide perspective

F

ollowing the success of recent article ‘Here to Stay – an Overview of the European Serviced Apartment Sector’, which gives a comprehensive overview of the European Serviced Apartment sector, HVS spoke with industry experts to further explore the worldwide strategies and future growth opportunities of the major 44 JULY/AUGUST 2014

branded residence players globally. This article is based on a sample of eight luxury international branded residence operators.

OVERVIEW OF BRANDED RESIDENCES The concept of branded residences has rapidly evolved over recent years. This growth in branded residences has been spurred by its attractiveness to both developers and investors. Compared

with unbranded residential properties it is proven that developers of branded residences can demand premiums in cities around the world by simply having a brand affiliation. Branded residences are a growing concept in luxury housing whereby the developer works with international upscale and luxury brands to create a ‘home’ for wealthy individuals who are constantly travelling and enjoy having their ‘home’ looked after.


HVS

JULY/AUGUST 2014 45


HVS

They are typically managed by well-known hotel operators, and are therefore usually located adjacent to a hotel, or in part of a mixed-use development. This allows the resident owners to benefit from the use of hotel services, facilities and amenities. Branded residences are located in international city centres, as well as in resort destinations. Branded residences are a relatively safe investment, given that it is a tangible asset and is often associated with a known brand. Additionally, investors are attracted by the design and high-quality services associated with the concept. In some properties, brands offer rental management agreements. In this instance, the branded residence is mainly an investment product and the owner of the unit has limited use, for example twelve weeks of the year, during which he can use the property. 46 JULY/AUGUST 2014

SURVEY AND KEY FINDINGS We surveyed a sample of eight major hotel operators which are also recognised players in the luxury branded residence market in order to understand their current portfolio, strategy and future goals. Our findings are detailed below. Branded residences are operated in both urban and resort locations. Although, urban projects are preferable as they are easier to manage because owners are typically living in the residence year round, or for a large part of the year, whereas resort locations are more remote and owners are characteristically staying for a shorter period of time; Typically, residential developments are not actively being sought after; they are a bi-product of hotel developments predominantly in a mixed use context; Branded residences have helped brands enter new markets. For many

operators a large proportion of their existing pipeline is in mixed-use developments; The majority of operators do not operate standalone residential products and it is not a major consideration for the future; Hotel operators offer a combination of serviced and branded residences. The terms and conditions of the rental programme for branded residences, or whether a rental programme exists depends on the legal restrictions of a destination. Some operators do not currently have a rental programme at any residences; On occasions third-party developers only brand the hotel component in a mixed-use development and use the hotel brand as leverage to aid sales of unbranded residences. It is noted that third-party developers do not always see the upside potential of branding the residences;


HVS

Asia, Africa, Middle East and South America. We make the following comments. Other important Asian markets excluding China are primarily Japan, Indonesia and Thailand; There are also several projects in India, spread throughout the country, including Delhi and Goa; Turkey is seeing branded residence development in both Istanbul and in several beach resort locations There are numerous projects in the Middle East with the majority concentrated in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. Interestingly, Dubai is not a market which is actively under development as many already have presence there; Projects in Africa are concentrated mainly in North Africa, specifically in Morocco and Egypt; Companies headquartered in North America are predominant in developing residences in the Caribbean. We note that following the onset of the global economic crisis many projects in the Caribbean have been put on hold and remain so; Projects in Central/South America are spread throughout the region, including Mexico, Puerto Rico and Panama. The preceding chart shows the branded residences pipeline for the luxury branded residence operators surveyed. We note that this chart is not exhaustive. For details on recently opened projects in Europe please see our previous article.

leads, Most of the time the operator would assist with using their network and channels for selected marketing campaigns (such as magazines, adverts in existing hotels and so forth); Brand standards are important for residential developments and design and technical guidelines are given to developers. Typically, the standards provide additional criteria on top of that given for hotel developments. We note that guidelines are flexible to a certain extent and are project specific. There are, however, minimum requirements regarding unit mix and sizing; Owners of the branded residences sometimes gain membership to the operator’s loyalty programme, or similar offering, which provides them with discounts and benefits at the operator’s hotels around the world.

PIPELINE A key topic of discussion in our interviews was the current pipeline, and according to the information obtained the most important market for development of branded residences at present is China. Characteristically, development projects in China are mixed-use and these are encouraged by the government. As a result, a number of operators are entering the market with a hotel and a branded residence is built to complement it. Other important markets for expansion in the medium term include

Branded residences developments

CONCLUSIONS

25

20

15

10

Turkey

Africa

The Caribbean

South America

Asia Other

China

Middle East Other

0

Abu Dhabi

5

Saudi Arabia

A license/royalty fee is typically between three and five per cent and is negotiable. However, there are some operators that would command higher fee levels. The majority of operators show a general consensus that the license/royalty fee payable covers the use of the brand name and approval of marketing material. However, certain operators consider it their USP to offer additional sales and marketing services for third-party developers which can be included in the license/royalty fee or come at an additional cost; Generally, it is considered the thirdparty developers’ responsibility to sell units. However, operators typically have a dedicated team in-house to train and support developers, including a marketing and sales support division. These services often come at a charge which varies depending on service offering; Only a few operators help the developer in generating qualified sales

Source: HVS Research

The overall view is that branded residences are an important sector moving forward following recovery from the global economic crisis, as demand for branded residences moves with the real estate market. In addition, mixeduse developments are becoming more frequent in some markets and these typically contain a residential component. From our research we understand that there does not seem to be any geographical limitations with regards to branded residential development globally, although the majority seems to be concentrated outside of Europe at present. -Lucy Payne, Consultant and Valuation Analyst, HVS London. -Arlett Oehmichen, Director, HVS London. -www.hvs.com JULY/AUGUST 2014 47


A LUXURIOUS ICON

THE OBEROI DUBAI

The Oberoi Dubai is a luxurious haven right in the middle of Dubai. Once inside, you kind of forget about work though, as the beautiful interiors, the luxurious relaxation and prompt service makes you want to take it slow and give yourself time to smell the roses! Literally. 48 JULY/AUGUST 2014

W

hen it opened last year, The Oberoi Dubai brought with it expectations for a multitude of people who are familiar with the brand from other parts of the world. All the Oberoi Dubai has done is pushed the bar higher. From the time you enter the property, there is this familiar yet you can’t identify it, very different, enchanting fragrance everywhere you go in the hotel … there’s the beautiful chandelier, and the famous warm hospitality.

We were ushered into the hotel and asked about our trip to the hotel. While our room was being prepared the Hotel Manager happened to be around the check-in desk and decided to upgrade us to a suite as we were checking in only for a day and the hotel was relatively empty so he wanted us to experience the suite life and definitely come back for more. We were accompanied to our room and shown around. It was lavish, magnificent, with parquet floors which gave one an impression of being in a cold climate,


HOTEL REVIEW

something anyone would love to spend time in, while away time soaking in the bathtub and lazily watching tv all day. Sigh. Double vanity counters with Etro amenities completed our initial impression of the hotel. The Oberoi Dubai has definitely upped the stakes for other properties in the city, it is a very chic and luxurious business property right in the middle of it all. Once we had taken in the entire suite, welcome desserts were brought to the room which were beautiful looking as well as sumptuous Indian desserts. Satiated, it was time to explore the hotel in detail. First stop was at the Spa. I had booked a session with Priyanka Chowdhury, Wellness Specialist and Yoga Olympian. After a brief chat, we decided on a medium paced yoga session. It was a truly invigorating session where you had the option of changing pace as per your physical needs and situations, Priyanka was very hands on and informed in detail of all steps of breathing and provided pose variations as per fitness levels. Back at the spa reception, a look at the many Ayurvedic therapies on offer were tempting but time constraints made sure a return trip to be scheduled soon enough.

DINING Ananta

however outside the windows the sweltering heat was unmistakable. It was a good visual effect the floors gave to the room. Getting back to describing the suite in detail, though. The suite opened up to a long passage with a floor to ceiling window at the end of it. On the right of the passage was a washroom and the living room with panoramic views of the hotel’s pool and the street below. There was a huge balcony to lounge in however in this climate no one would even think of venturing outdoors.

The living room was very chic with a dining table, sofas, tv and study table all very comfortably arranged with lots of space to walk around. On the left of the passageway was the very enormous and beautiful bedroom, again floor to ceiling windows, we were told that each room had these huge windows making the room look all that more spacious, bright and airy. The attached bathroom had its own closet and dressing areas, separate showers and a stand alone bathtub by the windows with a mirror television facing it. Now that was

The Oberoi has a wide selection of dining options including Ananta their signature Indian restaurant, Umai a pan asian cuisine outlet and Nine7One the all day dining multi culinary restaurant. Besides these there is a The Lobby Lounge a coffee shop serving light meals, teas and coffees all through the day. We decided to try out their signature Indian restaurant Ananta. Located on the lobby level, the restaurant has a huge ornate door, very reminiscent of doors opening into lavish havelis (castles) in the days gone by of Indian history. This door however opened into the modern red and black interiors of the restaurant with a live sitar player and glass walled kitchen where chefs were busy prepping to welcome the evening’s diners. With a huge array of dishes to choose from, we were informed right after we placed our order that Chef Saneesh Varghese was coming to JULY/AUGUST 2014 49


HOTEL REVIEW

see us. Chef Saneesh very graciously informed us that he had created a special few items that would be served alongside our order. He said it was more like a tasting menu of his take on the traditional Indian food item. We were excited to see what was in store. We ordered Aam Panna for our drinks. It was a thick divine raw mango juice diluted with water and lightly flavoured with cumin. Just amazing to taste, thankfully we ordered a half glass each as we knew the amount of food that was headed our way that evening. For starters we ordered Tandoori Tiger Prawns - huge prawns marinated in tandoori masala and grilled to perfection; Mustard flavoured fish tikka - wonderfully succulent boneless fish fillets with just a hint of mustard and other flavours, very lightly spiced. For our mains we ordered Kurkuri bhindi this is a vegetarian dish where the lady fingers are washed and thinly sliced lengthwise and then coated in a gram flour and water dip which is flavoured with a few spices and carom seeds and then deep fried and drained of excess oil. Goes very well with Tarka Dal - a regular staple lentil dish - which we also ordered. We also ordered Amritsari Tawa Gosh - a boneless mutton dish made on a flat griddle (the tawa). Breads to go with our mains were Lachcha paratha. The food was very flavourful, excellently spiced, nothing was over the top everything was just perfect as it is meant to be. Also worth mentioning, is a raw mango pickle which was served on the side to go with a welcome plate of poppadums, that too was scrumptious and quite unforgettable. We finished our meal with Indian speciality desserts: the 50 JULY/AUGUST 2014

Dessert Sampler which was a plate of mini versions of the ras malai, kulfi and angoori jamun, and thank god for mini versions. There was definitely no place to eat any more. A selection of teas followed and we were very much done for the evening.

The special items the chef prepared for us alongside our order were a number of delicious original versions of famous Indian street foods as well as specialities. We were very fortunate to have the chef make dishes especially for us that evening. Thank you, Chef Saneesh.

Nine7One Breakfast the following morning was at Nine7One, and it was brimming with guests. There were not too many empty seats, it was good circulation as guests came, ate and left followed by more. And we were told the hotel was not fully occupied! Breakfast was elaborate and filling. Whether you want to pick your favourites from the buffet or order specials from the menu, it was all covered.


RESTAURANT REVIEWS

Gorgeous grills Izfinity – Grand Hyatt Brunch at Iz When I was invited for the launch event of this newest brunch on the scene, I was keen to know how the hotel would differentiate itself from the rest of the many buffets around town. As the Grand Hyatt is one of the older hotels located in the heart of the city. When I got to the property, it was a friday afternoon, I wasn’t expecting the many lines that I witnessed that day for valeting your car as people got in and out of the hotel. It might be an older property but its charm has just grown with time. The familiarity and the memories this hotel holds are many and that must be the case for a lot of Dubai’s old residents. And it’s always a welcome change when your favourite eating out spots add a few more sparkles. The same could be said for the Iz Restaurants IZfinity brunch. The brunch is a version of the regular brunches you will find nationwide. The concept is simpler and even friendly

Chic Chinese Ba Restaurant and Lounge, Fairmont The Palm Ba is Mandarin for the auspicious number eight. Eight is considered lucky just because its Chinese word Ba sounds like the Chinese word for prosperity Fa. If you notice, there aren’t too many Chinese Lounge restaurants in the city. Ba is one of the chicest ones for sure. When you walk into Ba, it has a very urban, trendy, modern lounge atmosphere. Spread out over two levels, the lounge is on the top level and the dining area is below. Since we were very hungry by the time we actually got to the Fairmont, we decided to order our food and drinks from our tables. The menu is extensive and very true to real Chinese food, not different versions of it that are famous in their own right around the world. Our server chatted with us in detail about not only the restaurant and menu but also about offers all through the hotel. When it came to recommending the right food choices as per our personal preferences, he was spot on. We asked about the authenticity of the dishes and recipes and he told us,

to the stomach. It’s the same unlimited food but served on your table in the quantities you want to eat. Reducing waiting time on the buffet as well as greatly reducing the amount of wastage. All you need to do is order whatever you want from the menu and the chefs will prepare it for you right in front of your eyes as the kitchen is open and in the centre of the outlet. An amazing concept in terms of the quality and variety of items on the menu.

The launch day was a very busy and happening afternoon with a DJ and huge screens around the restaurant displaying all the tweets and social media mentions of the launch event. The food was fresh, delicious and as good as home-made. Grills were a top choice for a lot of the diners including me. The restaurant is known widely for its tandoori specialities. The food definitely was top notch. A must visit with family once Ramadan is over.

“If you walk into the restaurant kitchen, the chefs are speaking Chinese amongst each other at the top of their voices, it’s like you are in China. Most of them also don’t speak very good English, so you really feel like you’re not in Duabi!” For our starters I ordered a Sweet corn soup which was just like what we ate at home! Although I’m not Chinese, however, the soup I eat at home tasted just like what I ordered that day! Very amazing and yes delicious. Our server recommended sipping warm white tea with our meal as white tea increases the metabolism, we sure needed a fast moving metabolism for the evening! For our mains, we ordered the Peking Duck which is by far the most authentic of Chinese dishes. It comes in two courses and was cooked and spiced to perfection with the tender meat falling off the bones. In the first course of this dish, we were served roast duck pancakes with hoisin sauce, the next course was the dish prepared with the remainder of the duck flesh. Very filling and scrumptious. By the time we finished with our mains, there was no room for dessert! Ba is most definitely recommended. JULY/AUGUST 2014 51


TOP CHILD FRIENDLY HOTELS

The best hotels for children Right in time for summer, Top hotel Middle East brings to you a selection of beautiful, child-friendly hotels from around the world. Hotels generally go the extra mile to make their guests feel at home but these hotels are extra special in providing younger guests that many more stars in their eyes! Holiday Inn Edinburgh, Scotland Holiday Inn Edinburgh is an ideal place to take your children for a weekend break. While only a couple of miles from the city centre the main attraction has to be the zoo which is directly opposite the hotel. The hotel has a special Zoo Package for tickets to so it’s easy to see the Giant Pandas Tian Tian and Yang Guang. When not at the zoo, children can splash around in the indoor pool while adults can relax in the sauna.

Mövenpick Resort and Spa Tala Bay, Aqaba, Jordan Could we say this is home away from home with extra special people looking after children’s every need. The hotel’s 145 family rooms are 42 sq metres in size and consist of a master bedroom and an adjoining room with two single beds, the rooms are separated by a sliding door. There is Dana Children’s Activity Centre which is a fully furnished kids club with both indoor and outdoor playing areas, a shaded children’s pool, a nap area with theme beds and special kid’s toilets. With fun-filled daily activities painting, games, water games and pastry cooking classes. Restaurants have separate Kids’ menus which include Power bite - a funny and healthy kids menu where food is presented in an innovative and engaging manner to attract the kids and pique their curiosity and wonder. For example: a tiny farm girl raking spaghetti from a tube; a small bear peeking from a mug. There’s also a children’s movie night every Tuesdays from 8pm until 10pm as well as Friday kids disco night at Bop Bar from 7.30pm until 8.30pm. 52 JULY/AUGUST 2014


InterContinental Davos, Switzerland InterContinental Davos is set in the spectacular Graubünden Alps, 1,600 metres above sea level, with 216 well-appointed and spacious rooms that boast mountain and valley views. The hotel offers the Globini Creche and Kids Club that provides children a rollercoaster ride of all that Davos has to offer. Activity programmes include toddler snow experience sessions and hosted ski instruction for children aged four years and up with the Swiss Ski School. Professional care and a sincere passion for Davos will give children an exceptional and unique experience every day allowing parents to truly discover Davos. During peak school holidays the hotel also operates SixTeenHundred: An exclusive social scene for teens aged 12 – 17 years, who can also ‘hang out’ in the hotel’s Teen Club lounge equipped with X-box and a billiards table. All children can also enjoy the hotel’s very own private cinema.

Cheval Blanc Randheli, Maldives Not only is this hotel one of the most beautiful beach properties, it even has numerous activities to keep the entire family relaxed and entertained. There’s the Le Carrousel Kids Club which is nestled among palm trees and just steps away from the beach, it is literally a mini paradise for children. An expert and caring team of ambassadeurs welcomes children aged three to 12 years old daily from 10am to 6pm and offers a fun and educational range of arts and crafts, nature and sporting experiences that are sure to open little ones up to new discoveries and friendships.

The club features an indoor playroom and extensive outdoor areas including a lovely pool for children with a dedicated area for infants. Fully equipped with all the toys and games any young child could dream of, children can also enjoy -mid-morning and midafternoon- delicious snacks prepared by our Chefs.There’s even the Le Paddock Teens Club where teenagers can relax, play and socialise in their dedicated hideaway. Ideally located right next to the beach, it allows teens to enjoy the pristine natural setting of Randheli in all freedom. There’s a lot more for all the family. JULY/AUGUST 2014 53


Rosewood Abu Dhabi, UAE Rosewood Abu Dhabi’s Rose Buds is the resort’s programme for kids. It is designed to provide children with a unique playtime experience in the UAE’s capital, offering a range of special services, amenities and convenience items aimed directly at their interests. The Children’s Centre in Abu Dhabi is the hub of all creativity. Encompassing an arts and crafts area, games room and reading centre, it is led by experienced, fun-loving and caring staff, and provides a special emphasis on environmental appreciation. Here, children will learn about the heritage of the UAE, participate in UAE folk art and literature-sharing sessions, as well as make crafts and prepare local food. As fun and international as it is educational, this offers a treasure trove of memories for every child. Rose Buds Friday Brunch The children have their own brunch! Nestled in the Aqua Lounge, the Rose Buds brunche is a little piece of heaven

where parents can leave the children to enjoy their own selection of gourmet stations. Mini burgers and pasta, 30 types of Haribo candy, a chocolate fountain, and cupcake and donut area are just some

Salalah Rotana Resort, Oman A 20 kilometre drive from the Salalah airport, the hotel has a host of activities for its younger guests. The ‘Flipper’s Kids Club’ will keep the children busy whilst parents can take some time to themselves and relax on the beach or in the spa. The ‘Flippers Kids Club’ is over 450 square metres of indoor and outdoor play areas, with two designated areas which cater specifically to two age groups, one for ages between 4-7 years and the other for 8-12 year olds. Each area has been designed in a variety of fun colours and filled with games, arts and crafts and Lego stations to inspire imaginations whilst LCD televisions and play stations promise plenty of indoor and outdoor excitement such as a shaded sand pit and swing set. For nap times, relaxation areas have been included to offer a peaceful space for kids to rest. There are treasure hunts, water balloon fun, sand castle making, Karaoke, bowling, Wii Sports fun, dancing competitions and many more activities children can choose from. 54 JULY/AUGUST 2014

The homely Family Suite is 143 sq metre space with a master bedroom, twin bedroom, private terrace or balcony, two bathrooms, a separate toilet and only a stone’s throw away from the resort’s pool.

of the delicious treats the Chefs have specially prepared for the little ones. Little Chefs jackets and hats are also available for children to help the Chef decorate the cupcakes and donuts.


TOP CHILD FRIENDLY HOTELS

Holiday Inn Resort Phuket Mai Khao Beach, Thailand Located along Mai Khao beach, which is Phuket’s longest stretch of sand, is this family-friendly hotel. The hotel features a well-equipped kids’ club that includes an indoor ball pit, outdoor playground and a variety of fun activities to keep little ones entertained. The hotel also organises a number of entertaining activities for the whole family, including origami lessons, bicycle tours, kids’ Muay Thai (kick boxing), kite flying and cooking lessons. The hotel’s 84 sq metre Family Suite allows parents to relax in the comfort of their own deluxe room that conveniently connects to the specially designed room for kids. Children’s rooms come equipped with a flat screen TV, DVD player, games console and a bathroom with special child friendly bathtubs and vanity counters.

Mandarin Oriental Sanya, Hainan, China For the last four years the hotel hosts the popular and exciting children’s summer camp. This year from July 1 until August 31, the resort will be offering children aged 4 to 12 the chance to join the exclusive MO Kid’s Summer Camp. Taking advantage of the resort’s nationally protected coral bay, landscaped pools and gardens, the resort will host fun filled days of games, educational activities and creative arts and crafts.

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TOP CHILD FRIENDLY HOTELS

Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, Abu Dhabi, UAE The hotel has a very charming and family-friendly restaurant, Nahaam. Along with a casual and chic environment, Nahaam Restaurant offers a relaxed pool side dining for family and friends. Nahaam is famous for its kids friendly menu introduced by our resident Joey the Turtle take home bath toy found in every room, which consists of nutritious pizzas, burgers and smoothies. Besides the private beach and pools, a highlight for all families is a visit to the Observation Deck at 300. Located on Level 74 at 300 metres above the nation’s capital, offers visitors panoramic views from Tower 2 of the Etihad Towers complex with its uninterrupted bird’s-eye perspective of the city’s skyline, Corniche and Arabian Gulf. For visitors wishing to enjoy the vistas in detail, observation binoculars allow for close-up viewing of the nation’s capital below.

The Address Dubai Marina, Dubai, UAE If you are planning on spending the summer in Dubai, UAE, why not head to the Address Dubai Marina on Saturdays for their special Saturday family brunch at Mazina.

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Natura Bisse’s beauty drink – Beauty and Go

Elemis’s pure ingredients

Spa products for summer skin


Cult products Natura Bisse is a home-grown company that started humbly in 1979. The secret to its international success lies in the fact that the same drive, passion and commitment with which it began, that motivation to deliver products that really are effective and show results remains constant till date. Ricardo Fisas Verges, Senior Vice President, International Division Natura Bisse Group and CEO, Natura Bisse Middle East spoke to Top hotel Wellness exclusively announcing new initiatives for the region through this interview as well as informed us about the philosophy of the brand and what makes it the success it is today.

I

f one goes to notice the number of products and launches of new breakthrough cult skin care creams that have been introduced by Natura Bisse, you would notice that these happen on a more than regular basis. Ricardo say to this, “We sometimes feel we cannibalise our own products by introducing new innovative and breakthrough technology in each new cream sometimes yearly or even a few months later at times.”Why would a brand do that? Instead of getting the maximum results out of that one launch.“Well, some brands actually do that, they hang on to a new product’s launch for a couple of years or even more. Natura Bisse isn’t like any of those brands.” To know the essence of the brand we’d have to go back to the origins. How it all started way back in 1979. Ricardo Fisas Mulleras, the founder of the brand and Ricardo Fisas Verges’

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father used to work in a company that hydrolysed elastin and collagen into smaller molecules in order for the skin to absorb them easily. The company he worked for was bought by another company and Mulleras found himself out of a job. He was 50 years old, his entrepreneurial spirit disallowed him for working for someone else. He decided with a chemist friend of his to start his own company doing the same work he was already doing in the company he used to work for - hydrolysing proteins. When the time came to test their product, they found they had to formulate it into a cream for people to try out the the absorption results. Samples were given to 150 women. The results were a resounding success. And the brand was born. From not knowing anything or having any inclination to get into women’s skincare industry here they were, a Spanish skin care brand. Most definitely a sore thumb.

“From the time we started the company till today, our success is due to teamwork. We work very closely with beauty therapists, suppliers, medical professionals, marketing professionals as well as our research team. All of us together formulate the way forward to address the needs of our target audience.” Being a family owned company also adds to the speed with which work gets done.“Approvals are swift, as there are not too many layers,” continues Ricardo.

The breakthrough ingredient In working closely with medical professionals, they realised that most medicines have an ingredient called magnetite which is the vehicle for delivering the ingredients of a particular medicine into the bloodstream for quick and efficient absorption.“We wondered that if it could help in medicine why not in cosmetics? And we began looking for something natural with this ingredient that we could use for better absorption in our products. We found our answer in Munich, Germany.” For the last 15 years or so, some cardiologists in Munich were researching magnetite from the River Rhine.“And once we started researching this naturally occurring magnetite, we were surprised with the results. Not only was it a spectacular


NATURA BISSE

vehicle to carry all the ingredients to the skin, it also had an abundance of beneficial properties that would enhance the overall impact of any cream that had this in it.”

The beauty drink – Beauty and Go The company continues it work in researching and formulating new products to keep up to date and ahead of the demands from its consumer. At the same time, it is diversifying into a new breed of revolutionary and effective beauty juices extracted from the macro oxidants that are present in many of the fruits peels.“This company we’ve recently signed a joint venture with has a worldwide patent on something that is present in the skin of the fruit, the macro oxidant, which we have put in our beauty drink - Beauty and Go. This has recently launched in Spain and is available for a retail price of around three Euros. We are going to launch it soon in the UK followed by other parts of the world.”The drink comes in four

Natura Bisse for Cance

r patients

h these “When we came out wit as Natura Fis o ard doctors and Ric d the che of t roa As a par products and app iative, the init to help these n’s ve atio iati nd init Fou our se h Bis hospitals wit ing giv of licy po ate inn t tha although company has an patients, we were told gs to its nin ear its of e tag ducts there cen pro back a per we have created the ted to women in rela ses to handle cau to ists s, rap yee the emplo are no qualified a to name a few. n created the We m. the ter Spain, Bolivia, Mauritani and adminis cer can h wit rks wo o tra als we in these The foundation a training facility where n care ski h wit m the ing re are 500 vid the patients pro therapists and today ul even as their utif bea k working in loo m ists the rap p to hel of our trained the chemotherapy. ls in Spain. pita hos 12 tely bodies are ravaged by approxima d late mu for are cts du pro cess to be These skin care This initiative is under pro harsh the h wit e rfer in different parts inte ts ien not in order to available to cancer pat cleansed with ng bei is dle East. dy bo Mid the the als ing lud chemic of the world inc . to remove the cancer

flavours targeting different needs of the consumer – hydration, collagen and firming. In terms of products that we can expect from Natura Bisse. The next half of this year will see the launch of the Diamond Life Infusion treatment. The Diamond White has just been launched, its professional treatment will be launched soon.“It’s very popular and effective, it will be very well received here.”

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SPA REVIEW

A relaxed state of mind Whoever could say no to a deeply relaxed couple of hours where you are primped and preened to look your very best. Top hotel Middle East Wellness brings you the top, must-try treatments of the season. Clean Slate Facial, Ahasees Spa, Grand Hyatt Dubai The Spa is a voluminous part of the hotel, with the fitness centre, separate gents and ladies steam and jacuzzi areas, massive indoor temperature controlled as well as outdoor pool, it provides guests with the opportunity to completely relax at their leisure while taking in the

Elemis Visible Brilliance Facial, Mandara Spa, H Hotel As the name suggests, I was looking forward to new, fresh, tight, relaxed and rested skin and I got a lot more that just that. The facial lasted 75 minutes and was a thorough ritual in cleansing the skin leaving it softer, shinier, plumper and with hardly any pores in sight! The ritual began with a detailed chat with my therapist while she cleansed my feet using two different types of cleansers one a foaming cleanser and the other a scrub. This was followed by cleansing the face to remove

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beautiful surroundings and amenities. Walking into the appointment I was ushered into the consultation room where I went through a brief Q&A with the consultant who would recommend an appropriate treatment based on my skin concerns. My biggest concern at that moment was my heavily clogged pores especially on my forehead, she

recommended I try the Clean Slate Facial, which was a deep cleansing facial using professional strength lactic acid and without any blackheads extraction. The one hour treatment began with my Balinese therapist cleansing my feet using June Jacobs products. My treatment began with an extensive cleansing of my face removing all traces of make up. This was followed by a gently scrub, the therapist not only targeted cleansing the face but also blended in gentle massage pressure points all over the face, neck and upper back while she did her magic with the treatment. Following the cleansing came the deep cleansing mask which was left on for a few minutes before a last cleansing and application of a serum, eye cream, day cream with SPF and was advised to strictly stay out of the sun whenever possible and never step out without applying the sun block. A totally blissed out experience with smooth, glowing skin to show for it.

all traces of makeup, a toner and then followed by the Papaya Enzyme Peeling mask, this product was quite a star according to my therapist who had been using it herself in order to get more even skin as well as improve its tone. This was followed by a toner and the Visible Brilliance Serum and another peel off mask. More cleansing and toning followed along with massages for the scalp, the shoulders, upper chest as well as upper back and neck. The complete treatment was a very relaxing and rejuvenating experience. The resultant skin did look visibly cleaner, shinier and also newer. Mandara Spa is a Balinese company with therapists that are trained and tested before being assigned to different Mandara Spa locations around the world where they are retrained after completing a certain number of hours on the job. As with time rituals may lose some essential steps and hence need to be revised regularly in order for them to stay fresh in the minds of the therapists.


ELEMIS

Pure, natural and robust How is sustainability and concern for the environment worked into the plans of creating your products? With high demand for Elemis products around the world, we understand the importance of reducing our impact on the environment wherever possible from product concept through to product on shelf. Every part of our business has its role to play when creating and delivering products. Our scientists and technical teams are challenged to find a balance between creating a beautiful and effective end product with the technical need, environmental impact and biodiversity of each plant, extract or material. Not an easy task. Today my teams and I work ever more closely with local farmers who cultivate and process ingredients closer to home for a reduced carbon footprint, whilst still utilising the wonderful ingredients from around the globe, that are often vital sources of income for some of the world’s poorest and most in-need communities. Our manufacturing sites conform to environmental standards, setting

This is a definite description of all the ingredients that go into creating each and every exclusive Elemis product. Used in a multitude of spas all over the world, the brand has an aesthetic in every aspect of product creation, production and testing. Noella Gabriel, Director or Product and Treatment Development at Elemis tells Top hotel Middle East more

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improvement targets and key milestones. Through the use of low energy manufacturing processes we have reduced our CO2 emissions, we have upgraded water systems to enable us to decrease water consumption, where possible we compost plant waste in surrounding land and recycle leftover liquid matter that after treatment is used to water gardens that are committed to bio-diversity. In 2011, we moved our distribution centre to a high-tech energy efficient warehouse, which also gave us quick and easy access to the international transport network. From here we work with small and large freight suppliers who have clear targets for carbon efficiency and optimised transport routes. In training we have invested heavily in online learning, reducing the amount of travel for our trainers and therapists travelling to training sites. Elemis uses its global brand awareness to give back to communities through charitable donations in projects from Gavi Alliance – vaccines to immunise over 38,000 children in Africa. What ingredients are used in order to enhance your commitment to the environment? Where are they sourced from? Elemis uses the finest ingredients from nature but never takes resources that are endangered, that would damage their environment through removal or take precious plant matter that would affect local communities. Rare or protected plants are not harvested from their native environment but grown and harvested under control. Plants are harvested once a year allowing small animals to live and thus participate in the biodiversity of the environment. For example: Grown and pressed in East Anglia, we are creating stunning natural Great British plant oils including Elderberry, Starflower, Wheatgerm and Oat which travel as little as

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nine miles from field to the press, reducing the carbon footprint and supporting local agriculture and manufacturing systems. Additionally these ingredients help to maintain the population of British bees which are fundamental to a healthy eco-system and our food supply. With beehives sited around the fields, these indispensable bees are said to increase some harvests by up to 25 per cent each year. Plant stem cell technology is by far one of the most important developments in sustainability and I feel privileged to be involved in some of the first major developments to bring plant stem cells to our industry. This green biotech procedure uses highly efficient extraction methods. Taking a small amount of plant tissue from the plants meristematic cells, these are are then cultivated in sterile conditions and scaled up to create larger quantities without having to harvest large volumes of the plants themselves. By using minimal plant extracts to kick-start the process, there is a huge reduction in the space occupied in fields (which can be then be utilised for food crops) and a drastic reduction in water consumption. The end result delivers highly active concentrations with minimal impact on the environment. Another major sustainability projects for us was Padina Pavonica - naturally found off the coast of Great Britain but highly protected, Elemis worked tirelessly to find partners in sustainability to help prevent the stripping of UK reserves and we work with partners who have created a safe and protected farm off the Mediterranean coast Some of our more exotic ingredients are sourced from around the world and I truly take great pride in reaching out and supporting local communities. Discovering the beautiful Monoi Oil was a real turning point for me and Elemis was at the forefront

sourcing this now widely used ingredient. Monoi has now grown into an important industry for the Tahitian community and is tightly regulated to support the many local growers. With this in mind, Elemis has lent support to the development of a new cooperation that will also be a main source of monoi for us in the Maquesas Islands to help prevent over-harvesting in Bora Bora and extending its growing season. What are the testing procedures you undertake? Elemis invests heavily in clinical trials, research and development. Our scientists continually strive for new discoveries in medicinal skin science, focusing on finding cutting-edge technologies to enable Elemis to unearth and formulate the most active ingredients from nature. Every product created must achieve a purpose with proven efficacy. Whether for fighting high colour, minimising wrinkles or helping to reduce dark circles, the product must achieve what it promises. Instead Elemis invests heavily in independent clinical trials to see the physical effect on the skin whilst using the product, which is much more accurate and realistic. In all independent clinical trials, products must achieve a ‘statistically significant’ effect on the skin, otherwise they will go back into re-formulation and re-efficacy trials. Elemis genuinely believes that if the product has no affect whilst in use then it cannot be launched into the market – the proof is in Elemis’ customer results and feedback which are constantly monitored. What kind of research and development helps you zero in on the right ingredients to create the final skin care product? Please give examples. Every new product goes through a rigorous


ELEMIS

the synthetic base of a formulation will simply be used because it feels pleasant on the skin with no therapeutic benefit. The base makes up a large proportion of the product, so Elemis insists that it too must have a positive natural impact on the skin, either to nourish, protect or to help other ingredients penetrate deep down. All ingredients are derived where possible from organic extracts, revolutionary Absolutes, first extraction pure Essential Oils, natural emulsifiers, skin softening emollients, medicinal herbs and clinically proven collagen boosting Seaweed extracts, transferring the purest form of living energy to your skin.

research and development programme. From day one, the concept of the product is challenged to ensure it answers the brief, pushes the boundaries of skincare and delivers real results, beyond expectation. From field to face, Elemis scientifically controls every aspect of the product formulation, ensuring quality, efficacy and exceptional integrity. From the seeds selected and the type of soil, to the selection of extraction process – Elemis ensures that

all formulations have maximum therapeutic activity. Natural ingredients provide every resource necessary for creating powerful products that can truly benefit and enhance the skin. Every ingredient Elemis uses in its formulations must have medical grade actives of real therapeutic activity. Elemis is seen as the most innovative leader in advanced phytotherapy and aroma-therapeutic spa and skincare formulations. In many products on the market,

What is being introduced in the near future? Ingredient-wise, a favourite of mine for next year is Borage honey, made by the bees that pollinate our Starflower crops. A beautiful ingredient that adds a unique texture and skin care benefits in formulation. Borage honey is collected from the hives that surround our crops which will then be used in a number of new formulations for 2015 and beyond. By supporting a healthy ecosystem for bees, as well as creating beautiful borage honey, we are helping to prolong the bee colonies during the late summer months when there is little else for the bee colony to live on until new crops emerge. It is a true example of the importance of supporting the bio-diversity of our countryside. Plus, watch out for some phenomenal product launches in 2015 and beyond, including our ground-breaking BIOTEC homecare range which pioneers the next generation of skincare technology. By approaching the skin’s biology from a new angle and combing it with latest ingredient innovation has enabled us to take bio-electrical skin stimulation technology from our in-spa treatment into the client’s homecare routine for what I believe will deliver the highest level of anti-ageing results seen to date.

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The Exclusives

DERMALOGICA MULTIVITAMIN POWER SERUM: Cream based this is the stealth warrior and works like a miracle. Can be used both morning and night under moisturising cream. AED348, available at select stores all over the Middle East.

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There are skin care brands and then there are Spa skin care brands that are known to give you that much extra tlc. Top hotel Middle East Wellness intends to bring to you a selection of the most exclusive products created with scientific research and development that have pure ingredients gathered from the farthest parts of the planet that have been wellresearched to blend with other potent components to give you creams and serums that provide that much more radiance, firmness and really just beautiful looking skin in its natural state. The way it’s meant to be. This issue we look at the basics of summer skin care - cleansing, toning and moisturising plus serums, sun protection and masks for that extra glow!

EVE LOM CLEANSER: The ritual of this cleanser makes it all that more extra special. Skin looks and feels extremely clean, refreshed and with the use of the muslin cloth the skin is cleansed, exfoliated and the circulation improves regeneration of cells. A true experience of luxury morning and night. AED288, available at eight outlets across the Middle East

COMFORT ZONE SUN SOUL BODY CREAM SPF30+: A thicker texture than the face cream, absorbs instantly and leaves a fresh scent with a glossy finish. AED167, available at select stores all over the Middle East.

DERMALOGICA SPECIAL CLEANSING GEL: light cleansing gel that gets the dirt off easily without the skin feeling taut. Two washes are desirable and a little goes a long way. AED149 for 250ml, available at select stores all over the Middle East.

DERMALOGICA ULTRA SMOOTHING EYE SERUM: Miracle fluid that promotes collagen production to the delicate eye area. Fine lines disappear instantly. AED285, available at select stores all over the Middle East.


PRODUCTS

COMFORT ZONE SUN SOUL FACE CREAM SPF15: Glides on smooth provides protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Smells fresh too. Dab off extra sheen before adding more products. AED162, available at select stores all over the Middle East

DR DENNIS GROSS SHEER MINERAL SUN SPRAY BROAD SPECTRUM SPF 50+: The perfect product to wear under everything. Shiny on application but mattifies instantly for a natural look. AED355, available at select pharmacies and spas across the Middle East

ELEMIS SKIN SOLUTIONS SOS EMERGENCY CREAM: Willow, myrrh, amino acids and lavendar for skin needing an instant care solution. You’ll love your skin the next morning. AED424 for 50ml, available in leading stores all over the Middle East. JUNE JACOBS CREAMY CRANBERRY CLEANSER: A thick, creamy, luscious smelling cleanser that glides on smooth and releases all traces of makeup. A luxurious texture.

AROMATHERAPY ASSOCIATES MATTIFYING PURIFYING FACIAL SCRUB: The corn granules in the creamy base of this scrub create a highly effective treatment that cleanses pores and natural clay draws out excess oiliness. AED220, available at over 20 outlets across the Middle East

JUNE JACOBS CRANBERRY HYDRATING TONER: The beautiful smell of cranberry lasts on your skin even after you’ve applied other layers of products on the skin. This toner literally binds the pores closed.

RODIAL STEM CELL SUPER FOOD DAY CREAM SPF 15: This cream has a beautiful smooth texture that is gently absorbed into the skin and gives it a natural sheer look. Colour correction in this cream provides a natural glow and illumination. AED252, available at five outlets across the Middle East

ELEMIS CELLULAR RECOVERY SKIN BLISS CAPSULES: A gentle boost to the skin, these capsules, lavendar for the morning, and rose for the night, are the perfect extra jab of firmness. Currently discounted at AED670 each, available in leading stores across the Middle East JULY/AUGUST 2014 65


All round view

Here’s a round-up of a few events happening at many hotels around the Middle East IHG’s “Celebrate Service” week For a whole week, work was a place of celebration and appreciation for employees in IHG hotels across the world. InterContinental Hotels Group held its annual“Celebrate Service” week from June 9 to 13 to thank all colleagues for their service and hard work. Created five years ago to acknowledge that the success of IHG’s brands and hotels is a direct result of the quality of service front-line teams deliver. As part of the week-long celebrations, IHG employees from corporate offices and hotels around the world participated in various activities including a dragonboat race, beach outings and karaoke lunches. Corporate office colleagues also showed their appreciation for their hotel counterparts by serving them lunch.

Pascal Gauvin, Chief Operating Officer, India, Middle East and Africa, IHG said,“At IHG, our brands represent our promise to our guests and it is our people who deliver that promise and bring each brand to life. We often don’t take enough time out to say

‘thank you’ to the people who work tirelessly to deliver great experiences to the guests that walk through our doors, so this is our way of appreciating our colleagues on a week when we make it all about them. This is the fifth year we are holding our ‘Celebrate Service’ week and we are pleased to be able to take the chance to thank our colleagues and have some fun along the way.” IHG hotels in the Middle East planned an event on each day throughout the week to get into the spirit of “Celebrate Service”. Interactive activities such as a karaoke lunch, “Housekeeping Talent and Dart Competition” and a gala dinner were organised by Holiday Inn Bur Dubai – Embassy District, while Holiday Inn Dubai – Downtown Dubai planned a “Movie Afternoon” and an awards dinner to recognise the efforts of their colleagues.

ONYX Hospitality Group’s environmental best practices ONYX Hospitality Group’s Second Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Report highlights a number of key achievements including the group’s conscientious effort to reduce the levels of energy consumed throughout its hotel operations. Commenting on the report, Peter Henley, President and CEO, ONYX Hospitality Group said, “Through the CSR report we are able to examine all areas of our CSR impact and also develop strategies for future advancement. The latest report illustrates the increased emphasis we are putting on reducing our environmental impact. We are conscious of the adverse influence the hospitality industry has and we encourage all of our properties to be good stewards of their natural resources, striving to ensure that all negative impacts of their operations are managed. In Thailand, we partner with CSR Together, a programme designed to encourage companies to reduce the usage of energy, water and chemicals. 66 JULY/AUGUST 2014

Together we are working hard to reinforce our commitment to protect the environment in several areas of our hotel operations, especially through energy, chemical and water reduction. We acknowledge that we can do more to integrate sustainability into the core of our business so it will be a key priority for us as we strive to meet our target of becoming a leading Asian hospitality provider by 2018.”

street cleanings, as well as essay and painting competitions. Another initiative known as Plan BEE, which first launched in 2013, has allowed ONYX to diversify its support of the Asian honeybee with a new rural beekeeping project. Plan BEE honey products will be introduced to ONYX properties for use in hotel restaurants and Breeze spas as a supply chain initiative that will also support the community and help sustain the project.

Environmental protection and conservation First introduced in 2010, ONYX’s 20/20 Green Vision is a 10-year plan to progressively rethink how to reduce the ecological footprint created by the group’s hotel operations. ONYX’s ‘green’ standard practises are employed across all properties with initiatives that include introducing and promoting ‘green’ values and practises amongst team members and guests, raising awareness on environmental issues through community activities such as beach and

Water and other resources In order to reduce water usage, in 2013 water recycling plants were installed at Amari Boulevard Bangkok, Amari Pattaya and Amari Hua Hin. In 2014, Amari Watergate Bangkok and Amari Palm Reef Samui will also follow suit. It is estimated that the plan at Amari Watergate will save the hotel 100,000 litres of water per day. In addition, ONYX properties have also implemented initiatives to reduce unnecessary washing of towels and linens, decrease paper consumption and also cut down on the use of plastic

bottled drinking water by switching to drinking water in reusable glass bottles in guestrooms in Thailand. ONYX is planning to implement the replacement of the glass bottle programme throughout the group in 2014. Energy The hospitality industry uses substantial amounts of energy for providing comfort and services to its guests. ONYX has been taking a number of steps to reduce the group’s energy consumption, including investing in more energy efficient equipment. These steps produced tremendous improvements in 2013, where the end of the year results showed that whilst ONYX generated significantly more room nights than at the same point in 2012, they still managed as a group to reduce the amount of electricity used by four million units. This resulted in the carbon footprint per occupied room night falling by more than 6.8 per cent (over 2.2 million kg of carbon).


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TOP HOTEL MIDDLE EAST JULY AUGUST 2014  

Top Hotel Middle East is a bi-monthly business journal for senior level hoteliers, hotel owners,...

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