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july/august 2016 Issue 14

Essential reading for hotel operators, owners, developers and investors

The Middle East

hospitality’s fastest growing region

Oman

there’s a lot to explore

Corinthia Dubai property coming soon

Riyadh’s icon Al Faisaliah

Top hotel Wellness A dedicated look at the regional wellness industry


a quantum leap in classic banquet chair design...

Inicio

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www.burgessfurniture.com


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

Evaluating the customer experience 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: Tamara Eger ravi@signaturemediame.com 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 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.

Customer experience and feedback is essential to every hospitality establishment. How it is captured is where the challenge lies. Our Guest column on page 26 is all about this concept. Khaled Mkahal, VP of CEM & Digital Practice, PCCI Group says, it is important to understand that the customer experience is holistic and cannot be segregated, and hence the challenge in capturing it. In the CEM (Customer experience management) world, this is referred to as measuring customer experience throughout the customer life cycle, and against all touch points. For example; the experience of a customer who wants to stay in a particular hotel starts from the time he visits the hotel’s website to book a room, until he checks out of the hotel. This includes his experience at the time of check in, while using the facilities of the hotel, and finally when he makes the final payment. The question that now arises is how to measure his experience and ensure that the customer would not only return to the same hotel, but also share his experience and recommend the hotel to his friends and colleagues, which, in turn, would translate to more business for the hotel. Digital: To explain this simply, digital is the form of the data that customers generate during their interactions with different touch points. It also denotes the channels that the customer has used to transfer this data. It is definitely advantageous to have data captured in digital form as it helps improve the process of collecting the data, thus increasing the ability to process it further. This is a major aspect of evaluating the customer experience. Besides this we have a destination report on Oman, our very beautiful neighbour and all it initiatives to attract a larger number of tourists moving forward (page 35). We’ve also got a very insightful report on the region’s hospitality industry (page 40). For our cover article ThME spoke with the CEO of Corinthia, Simon Naudi, about their entry into the hospitality market in the country. All this and so much more. We’ll see you in September. Till then our entire team wishes all of you a blessed Eid!

Munawar Shariff Managing Editor munawar@signaturemediame.com

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Contents

march/april 2016 Issue 12

30

20 06 Top hotel Undercover

Elegant and luxurious - The Waldorf Astoria

A world of unending pomp and luxury

10 News All the latest from hotels in the region 20 cover

Corinthia comes to the region

Simon Naudi, CEO, Corinthia Hotels, talks about their foray into the region

35 Destination report

Oman - there’s a lot to explore

Salem Al Mamari, Director General of Tourism Promotion, Ministry of Tourism, Oman, talks about the country’s plans to promote tourism

40 The Middle East

hospitality’s fastest growing region

In 2015 the Middle East and North Africa continued to witness turmoil and instability

26 guest column

46 Tophotelprojects.com

As Saudi Arabia looks to become more independant from oil, it has plans to open 137 new hotels to attract more visitors

The ambiguity of CEM, Digital and Big Data

Khaled Mkahal, VP of CEM & Digital Practice, PCCI Group, discusses the three important buzzwords trending today

28 Technology

Bringing technology to the forefront

Hospitality Technology Forum’s second edition

30 GM Interview

Riyadh’s icon - Al Faisaliah

A chat with Alexander Blair, GM, Al Faisaliah Riyadh

4 july/August 2016

50 62 A boost with oxygen Natura Bisse’s O2 Facial releases pure oxygen into your skin

64 Spa Products review

Exceptional daily skin care

The creams and serums you use daily are the stars that add the glow and attraction to the skin

68 Community

Living up to their responsibilities

Hotels around the region are doing their

Regional and international hotel investments

50 The best Iftars this Ramadan

Almost all hotels have a fantastic Iftar spread around the country at this time

58 brand focus

Beauty tech - LPG The changing the face of beauty in the region, and the world

62


Top hotel Undercover

Elegant and luxurious The Waldorf Astoria

The Waldorf Astoria, the name itself has a charming ring to it. As if you’re stepping into a world of unending pomp and luxury. The Palm Jumeirah property is all of this and more. Stepping inside the lobby is reminiscent of being inside a very posh American hotel. Which, incidentally, it is!

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 fivestar 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-star 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.

(c) 2016 Waldorf Astoria

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Top hotel Undercover

The expansive lobby is grandiose - leather couches, different, intimate areas of seating all around, the grand piano, the unique and huge chandelier, the very glamorous and domineering clock, ever-smiling staff. The time being summer add to that the Holy month of Ramadan, there weren’t too many guests around. The hotel had taken this opportunity to rework the main entrance and a few rooms. A note in the room said there could be some disturbance from 11am-6pm due to this.

Reservation Many of the popular OTAs were offering rooms in this property at an affordable AED675 including breakfast. I always think it’s a good idea to call the hotel and get their opinion on prevailing rates as they usually match them (the rates being offered by OTAs or even sometimes offering a better rate or more benefits) and prefer revenue and guest bookings directly through their websites rather than through other portals. I was instantly transferred to a reservation agent who informed me that the rooms at AED 675 were currently unavailable and what he could offer instead was a Deluxe Skyline Sea view room which was for AED 750 not including taxes and other charges. With breakfast and taxes he offered me a full and final price of AED 900. The rest of the formalities were done instantly. Evaluation: Excellent

(c) 2016 Waldorf Astoria

July/August 2016 7


Top hotel Undercover

Check-in The room was ready from 11am and I was informed about it a day in advance, however I was only able to reach by 2pm. Once I entered the property an attendant on the gate asked me if I was checking in and if so my last name. Once I informed him he let me in and radioed the reception about my arrival. So when I reached the valet a lady from check-in was at the door to meet me and escort me into the check-in area all the while addressing me with my name. Very slick and systematic! The process itself was smooth and I was led to my room by the lady who checked me in, briefly showing me around and informing me of timings of all facilities and amenities while she led me to the room. Evaluation: Excellent

Room 370 The rooms are huge, opulent, airy, bright and spacious. 592 sq feet of luxurious space. The room opened into a passage with a changing room on the left as you enter followed by the bathroom also on the left. Once the passage is over, you are in the room. It’s not your average hotel room size. Afterall, it is the Waldorf. The room had parquet floors, the bed on the left after which was the seating area by the balcony and opposite the seating was the study. Opposite the bed was the television and the mini bar under it. Evaluation: Excellent

Bathroom Marble all the way. And white marble invokes a different feeling altogether. On entering the hower area was on the right followed by the tub. Facing the bathroom entrance was a 2 basin vanity with the left side being an enclosed space for the water closet. Amenities were by Ferragamo. Evaluation: Excellent

Suhour in the room Since it was Ramadan when I had visited, the breakfast was replaced by the night time meal for muslims. So this was offered at the Mezzerie restaurant on the lower ground floor from 9pm-12am or in your room as per your choice from the In -Room dining menu. You could order in the room at anytime. The food that I ordered came before the requested time and was scrumptious, fresh, delicious and gone very soon. Evaluation: Excellent

Check-out 11.45am Smooth and quick. The car was out in no time and I was on my way! Evaluation: Excellent

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Top hotel Undercover

Hilton, Fujeirah Reservation: Excellent

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

Check-in: Excellent Room 370: Excellent Bath: Excellent Floor service: Excellent Landscaping: Excellent Breakfast buffet: Satisfactory

Top hotel Undercover opinion:

81-100 Excellent

Fitness: Excellent Corridors, elevators, stairs: Excellent

Total: 91%

Housekeeping: Satisfactory Check out: Excellent 0

20

40

60

80

100

July/August 2016 9


Middle East hoteliers accelerate digital transformation Hotel owners in the Middle East are embracing digital transformation initiatives to create unparalleled guest experiences, and stand out from competitors, Avaya announced today. With occupancy levels and average daily rates declining across the region, hoteliers are tapping solutions from Avaya to modernise their services, produce new revenue streams, and enhance operational efficiency. Avaya’s regional hospitality business grew 40 per cent in the first half of the company’s fiscal year, even as the Middle East and Africa were the only

regions worldwide to post declines in occupancy and average daily rate (ADR), according to research firm STR Global, with ADR in the Middle East dropping 10.8 per cent in April. Weak oil prices, geopolitical instability and reduced demand are weighing on results, leading to hoteliers seeking solutions that can reduce total cost of ownership while still delivering superior guest experiences. In the GCC, more than 80 per cent of all local hotel brands work with Avaya, and globally, eight out of every 10 hospitality brands use Avaya solutions.

Frederick Sabty, Vice President-Hospitality Solutions, Avaya

Batuta launches its ‘everyday one free stay’ giveaway campaign In celebration of the Holy month of Ramadan, batuta.com, which caters to an Arabic-speaking audience, launched its ‘everyday one free stay’ giveaway campaign. The campaign constitutes of a draw that will take place on a daily basis during the holy month, including the names of all of those who made a booking through Batuta a day before. Participants get a chance to get their respective bookings for free, as long as their bookings are made through Batuta’s website. Website visitors can double their chances of winning by encouraging their friends and family through their social media platforms to book and enter the draw.

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Dubai wins bid to host World Real Estate Congress in 2018

HE Sultan Buti

Dubai Business Events (DBE), the city’s official convention bureau and a division of Dubai Tourism, in partnership with the Dubai Real Estate Institute (DREI), announced that the Emirate will host the 69th World Real Estate Congress in 2018. The annual event, organised by the International Real Estate Federation, FIABCI, will make its debut in the Middle East, and is expected to attract more than 1,000 real estate professionals from over 60 nations to explore the ‘Future of Cities’. Jointly led by DBE and DREI, and supported by host venue Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, among other local industry partners, the successful bid to host another influential world congress underpins Dubai’s strong international reputation as a vibrant and diverse destination for business events. The announcement also boosts the city’s growth as a leading global hub for investment, and contributes towards its maturing real estate market that strives on innovative develop-

‘Innovation Meets Thai Hospitality’ aims partnership between Canadian University Dubai and Dusit Thani Dubai Dusit Thani Dubai, in partnership with Canadian University Dubai (CUD), conducted a design competition specifically for the students from the school of architecture and interior design. Fifteen freshmen students from the prestigious university have accepted the challenge to redesign the hotel’s employee cafeteria otherwise known as ‘Lumpini’. Students’ creativity will be put to test as redesign entries must only use existing furniture and kitchen equipment with a sustainable approach. The completed plan should include two perspective visualisations, and a mood chart with colour palette. A panel of judges from the university and the hotel will be judging all submitted entries.

ments and a healthy regulatory environment. FIABCI has been working closely with the United Nations since 1954 and is considered to be the only International Real Estate Association to hold NGO special consultative status at the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

Issam AbdulRahim Kazim- CEO of Dubai Corporation for Tourism & Commerce Marketing

New Dusit Thani College President Named Dusit International has announced Dusit Thani College’s key leadership succession as its College Council Committee recently appointed Dr Sarote Phornprapha (PhD) President of Dusit Thani College, effective July 1st, 2016. His appointment follows the resignation of Veera Pardpattanapanich. Dr Sarote holds a doctorate in Management Studies (Organisational Behaviour) from The School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, the University of Surrey, UK. He is well regarded as an education management specialist covering Thailand and ASEAN. Prior to joining Dusit, Dr Sarote held many roles at Chulalongkorn University, including that of Assistant Professor, Management Studies; Executive Director – Head of Executive MBA Programme at Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration; and the principle lecturer in managing for productivity and organisational behaviour. He brings with him 20 years of extensive international teaching and research experience in organisation behaviour, especially focussing on the tourism and hospitality industry, as well as business consultancy experience, for both private and public organisations.

July/August 2016 11


Thai tourism projected to show good growth in first half of 2016

From left: Charoen Wangananont, President of the Association of Thai Travel Agents; Supawan Tanomkiatipume, President of the Thai Hotels Association; Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, and Ittirit Kinglake, President of the Tourism Council of Thailand

The Thai tourism industry projected to record international visitor arrivals of 16.67 million in January-June 2016, which will be up 13 per cent over the same period of 2015. Projected earnings are estimated at 824 billion Baht (85734339447.74), up 17 per cent. The announcement was made by Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, when talking about the Thailand Tourism Situation in the 2nd and 3rd quarters of 2016. Both the first and second quarters of 2016 recorded strong increases. In the first

quarter, international visitors were up 15 per cent and tourism receipts were up 19 per cent. The second quarter is projected to have recorded nine per cent growth in international visitors and 14 per cent growth in tourism receipts.

Thailand’s top tourism executives at the media conference

Thailand named as host Emirates Airline country for Destination and TAT sign new Wedding Planners Congress agreement to 2017 boost tourism The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and Emirates Airline signed a Memorandum of Understanding last month, with the aim to utilise the airline’s global network to further boost inbound tourist arrivals to Thailand, by focusing on the growth of key niche markets and luxury destinations within the kingdom. Under the MoU, Emirates, together with TAT, will put into effect a range of joint promotions to mutually increase tourism and visibility for Thailand through the Emirates Airline Global Network. The promotions will focus on niche tourism markets such as: Green Tourism, Sport Tourism, Luxury Tourism, Weddings & Honeymoons, as well as Medical Health & Wellness. The agreement also involves the possibility of launching a new route from Dubai to other key tourism destinations in Thailand such as Chiang Mai and U-Tapao in Pattaya.

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The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s (TAT) and QNA International have signed an agreement recognising that TAT’s bid for Thailand to host the 4th Annual Destination Wedding Planners Congress 2017 (DWP Congress 2017) had been successful. This event is scheduled to be held in Thailand from 2-4 May, 2017, and is expected to attract 450 delegates from around the world. DWP Congress is an avant-garde initiative, and a unique concept in the world. This spectacular congress has raised the bar of the destination wedding industry, as the crème de la crème across the globe from the wedding industry converges under one platform. The first DWP Congress took place in Greece in 2014, and has grown from strength to strength spreading its wings to Mauritius in 2015, and Florence, Italy, in 2016.

Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of TAT (left), and Ackash Jain, Director of QNA International (right)

Yuthasak Supasorn and Ackash Jain exchange a warn handshake after the agreement signing ceremony.


GCC in prime position to maximise Muslim visitor arrivals during Ramadan from 2023 The InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) is expecting to record more than 40 per cent growth across the Middle East in the next three to five years, with 25 new hotels in the pipeline. Currently, the group operates 78 hotels in GCC, Levant, and Egypt alone, following a well-rounded 2015, when it added five new hotels to its books, including the world’s largest Holiday Inn® in Saudi Arabia with 5,154 rooms. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states are set to benefit from the growth in Muslim travellers during the holy month of Ramadan, according to new research released by MasterCard and CrescentRating. The inaugural MasterCardCrescentRating Ramadan Travel Report 2016 analysed a total of 50 destinations across the globe, and benchmarked across three criteria - average daytime

temperature, fasting duration and Global Muslim Travel Index 2016 scores - over the next 15 years until 2030. It is the first ever report of its kind to provide destinations and businesses in the tourism industry with useful insights on how they can develop medium to long-term strategies to attract and cater to Muslim travellers during Ramadan over the coming years. The report also shows that Malaysia remains the top ranked destination for most of the years until 2026. The report also takes into account the special place that Makkah and Medina (Saudi Arabia) hold as the top destinations from a religious perspective, irrespective of the criteria used for this analysis. As such, the Kingdom is excluded from the ranking, and has been addressed separately on how Ramadan travel can help boost efforts towards achieving Vision 2030.

Mövenpick Hotel JLT wins the Best Hospitality Establishment Award Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Lakes Towers was awarded the Best Hospitality Establishment Award at the DMCC Members Awards. The event was hosted by Dubai Eye presenter, Richard Dean. The hotel was hailed by the judging panel for its desire to offer a contemporary hotel experience, an urban setting, while maintaining sustainable practices. As part of the whole guest experience, the hotel delivers sustainable business by enforcing energy saving initiatives, using locally sourced ingredients and recycling materials. Open to over 12,000 companies based in its Free Zone, DMCC launched the Members Awards to recognise top performance, innovation and growth across 21 awards categories, which were assessed by an independent judging panel.

Left to Right Bernard Mehawech, DOSM; Cybelle Daou, Marcom Manager; Chadi Gedeon, GM; Krysta Fox, Free Zone Director

Movepick hotel JLT

July/August 2016 13


Starwood Hotels & Resorts continues Asset-Light Strategy Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc revealed that it has closed on the sale of The St Regis Florence and The Westin Excelsior Florence to Nozul Hotels & Resorts, the owner of The Gritti Palace, Venice, and W Doha Hotel, and a wholly owned subsidiary of ‘Jaidah Holdings’ for €190 million (approximately USD 213 million / AED 782380950). Starwood will continue to operate the hotels under the St Regis and Westin brand flags, under new long-term management agreements.

The Westin Excelsior Florence

The St. Regis Florence

HÄFELE & INTEREL announce world’s first Bluetooth-based door lock & guest room control integration for hospitality HÄFELE and INTEREL have announced the integration of HÄFELE’s Dialock electronic locking system with INTEREL’s guest room management solution in a world’s first for the hospitality industry. Utilising INTEREL’s connectBsmart Bluetooth Low Energy IoT infrastructure, which is part of every INTEREL Guest Room and Energy Management solution, the HÄFELE Dialock door lock is able to exchange information with the Dialock server in complete end-to-end security, tunnelling data from the lock to the server. This is enabled by INTEREL’s proprietary protocol, allowing the door lock to communicate efficiently into the network over Bluetooth Low Energy, a world’s first for the hospitality industry.

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This permits hotel operators to reap all benefits of an online door lock system, such as remote battery monitoring

and room change functions, while building on the lock’s built-in Bluetooth capability, which is already in use for Smartphone Key in many properties. This negates the need to purchase and manage a separate dedicated network and its hardware components for the lock system, resulting in significant cost savings both during installation and ongoing maintenance. In addition, the two systems are able to exchange relevant information about the interaction on either system with each other, facilitating advanced energy savings and improved guest experience.


An upgraded movie experience for guests at The Address Dubai Marina

Machine learning boosts customer satisfaction and revenue for luxury travel club

The Address Dubai Marina is offering its guests an unprecedented entertainment treat. For the first time, they can now watch movies in 3D high-definition as well as access movies on Netflix. As part of Emaar’s path breaking in-room service, iGENIE, with the touch of a button, guests can explore a world of exciting entertainment options including a selection of 3D movies. By choosing from over 70 blockbuster films all guests will be able to watch this from the comfort of their rooms – all movies of which are complimentary. They can also log on to their Netflix accounts to keep up to date with their favourite series and movies. Further, they can indulge in a

Voyage Privé has adopted the technology behind Dataiku, maker of Dataiku Data Science Studio (DSS), to create an analytics platform that enables them to leverage multiple data sources to develop in-house predictive solutions effectively. For one of their use cases, Voyage Prive wanted to increase customer satisfaction by providing users with personalised offer selections, while simultaneously boosting the total transaction value by customer. With Dataiku DSS, Voyage Prive effectively created and implemented an application that continuously learns from historical customer data to provide highly personalised offer and travel package selections to its users. Implementing this predictive solution has improved customer satisfaction and boosted transactional value by six per cent.

variety of dedicated Movie Snacks Menu featuring anything from nachos to fries to chicken wings, all of which can be ordered in advance or during the show.

The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh welcomes Gerrit Graef as General Manager The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh appointed Gerrit Graef as the property’s new General Manager to overlook the operations of the hotel. He joins The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh from his most recent position as Hotel manager for The RitzCarlton Jeddah, and brings with him 30 years of hospitality experience. Gerrit began his career in 1997 at Marriott International as Director of F&B at Renaissance Cologne Hotel. After moving to Dubai as Director of F&B at the JW Marriott Hotel in Dubai, Gerrit was later promoted to Director of Operations at the same hotel. After five years in Dubai, Gerrit relocated to Doha where he took on the role of Hotel Manager at the Renaissance Hotel, Courtyard and Marriott Executive Apartment Complex. In 2014, Gerrit relocated to Bangkok as Multi Property General Manager to launch the Bangkok Marriott Sukhumvit & Marriott Executive Apartment, Sukhumvit-Thoglor.

Checking-In to the future of luxury travel IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) has announced that its InterContinental® Hotels & Resorts brand has sought the expertise of Fortune 500 Futurist, Faith Popcorn. The collaboration comes as the InterContinental brand celebrates 70 years of pioneering luxury travel, and looks ahead to the next 70 years. Looking at luxury travel trends of the future, Faith focused specifically on the guest experience, service, destinations as well as hotel design. She believes that Virtual Reality (VR) escapism and immersive brand experiences will shape service and guest experiences in the future of luxury travel. Described as ‘The Trend Oracle’, Faith Popcorn has worked with leading Fortune 500 companies to help them accurately predict consumer trends. With a documented 95 per cent accuracy rate, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts teamed up with Faith as part of the brand’s ongoing commitment to remain at the forefront of luxury travel.

July/August 2016 15


Radisson Blu Resort Fujairah earns 2016 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Radisson Blu Resort Fujairah revealed that it has received a TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence. Now in its sixth year, the achievement celebrates hospitality businesses that have earned great traveller reviews on TripAdvisor over the past year. The Certificate of Excellence recipients include accommodations, eateries and attractions located all over the world, which have continually delivered a quality customer experience. Reflecting the consistently great reviews earned on TripAdvisor and actually ranked fourth among the hotels and resorts of the Emirate, Radisson Blu Resort Fujairah has been selected for the 2016 Certificate of Excellence for Superior Service.

The Ajman Palace Hotel appoints new EAM

The Ajman Palace Hotel has appointed Mahmoud Haggag as the new Executive Assistant Manager for the hotel. An Egyptian national, Mahmoud’s most recent posting was at Mercure Centre Hotel, Abu Dhabi, where he worked as Rooms Division Manager in-charge of the hotel operations since 2014. Mahmoud has spent over 27 years in the hospitality industry beginning his career at Semiraamis Intercontinental Hotel and Intercontinental Hotel – Hurghada, Egypt. Over the years, he gained outstanding experience serving landmark properties in different capacities such as Hilton Abu Dhabi, Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel and Resort.

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AVANI Hotels & Resorts to launch first hotel in the Middle East Minor Hotels has announced that, effective July 1st, 2016, it will be taking over the operation of the 216-room Mövenpick Hotel Deira in Dubai. The property will operate under the group’s dynamic AVANI Hotels & Resorts brand as the AVANI Deira Dubai Hotel. This represents a milestone for Minor Hotels as the first AVANI hotel in the Middle East. The change comes after the hotel’s parent company, Bin Sulayem Investments, signed a management agreement with Minor Hotels. Located in one of the most diverse and culturally rich parts of the city, the property offers 216 guest rooms and two unique dining concepts, meeting rooms, an outdoor pool and a fully equipped gym.


Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar supports Omanisation efforts in the Sultanate As Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas moves closer to opening its first resort in the Sultanate of Oman, Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar, they have employed over 70 local Omani nationals to make up the pre-

opening team. Set to be the highest five-star resort in the Middle East, Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar will offer indigenous experiences and authentic luxury, with a commitment to supporting the local community by providing career opportunities and the necessary training so they can grow and develop within the company. Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar aims to employ over 95 Omani employees in the coming years, which will represent 35 per cent of the 291-strong team. Led by Director of Human Resources, Sami Al Balushi, an Omani national, the resort works closely with government

entities such as the Oman Tourism College and National Hospitality Institute to recruit newly graduated Omani citizens, looking to learn the art of hospitality. Moreover, and in cooperation with the Ministry of Manpower, Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar held a successful Anantara Career Fair at the Nizwa Ministry of Manpower Hall, where candidates were selected and sent to be trained at the Oman Tourism College, before joining the resort. The resort will be employing Omanis to fulfil hospitality roles across all functions, from housekeeping and concierge to sales, marketing and HR departments. With an unsurpassed knowledge of the area, employees from the surrounding region are able to provide guests with an authentic taste of local life, a key component of Anantara’s brand ethos.

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Makkah Clock Royal Tower, A Fairmont Hotel named an Icon of Tomorrow Redefining luxury, the Fairmont Hotels and Resorts group is recognised internationally for its innate sense of what should be preserved, restored, updated and developed. The release of the 2016 Fairmont Luxury Report sees the group name Makkah Clock Royal Tower, A Fairmont Hotel, as one of the Five Icons of Tomorrow. Located adjacent to the Masjid Al Haram, the property boasts a prime location as the closest hotel to Kaaba and the best for Umrah and Hajj, making it an iconic symbol of hospitality in the Holy City. Substantial investments made by Fairmont in restoring

historic properties to reflect a location’s energy, culture and history through locally inspired cuisine, spirited bars and distinctive design and dÊcor, and of course, unforgettable luxury develop the icons of tomorrow.

Ja Manafaru voted one of Maldives Best Hotels The people have spoken, and JA Resorts & Hotels’ stunning island beach resort, JA Manafaru, has been voted as one of the most popular hotels in the Maldives on TripAdvisor, whose popularity ratings are considered one of the most authentic accreditations in the hospitality industry. The resort, which is a favourite amongst

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honeymooners and family holidaymakers alike, is currently ranked in the top five out of 192 hotels and resorts in the Maldives. JA Manafaru has also been awarded the Certificate of Excellence from the renowned travel site for the consistently great reviews it has received from travellers. JA Manafaru offers guests a unique

and exquisite holiday experience through activities such as a Maldivian cooking classes, a castaway experience on a private island and some of the best dolphin sightings in this part of the Indian Ocean. It is also the perfect haven for families looking for relaxation and action in the sunshine.


Unlock a new way to stay In Fall 2014, Starwood started a revolution in the travel industry with the launch of the ground-breaking SPG Keyless, the first truly mobile and keyless entry system, which allows guests to use their smartphone as a key to their hotel room doors. Now, Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG®) has announced the next generation of SPG Keyless, with even wider access to this leadingedge technology. SPG Keyless is now extending this functionality to select Le Méridien, Westin, Sheraton, and Four Points properties worldwide, including Le Méridien Parkhotel Frankfurt, Le Méridien Hamburg, Le Méridien Columbus, The Westin Westminster, Westin Palo Alto, Westin Camino Real Guatemala, Sheraton Bloomington, Sheraton

Mirage Port Douglas, and Four Points Cupertino. Many additional properties will be going live with SPG Keyless on a rolling basis in the coming months. These distinct lifestyle brands join Aloft, Element, and W properties already providing access to SPG Keyless, currently available at more than 160 properties in over 30 countries. The wider roll-out of SPG Keyless acknowledges the role mobile is playing as the remote control for travellers’ stays across a broader range of brands. Now even more guests can share in the SPG Keyless experience by unlocking their doors with their smartphone. Starwood is also expanding SPG Keyless to enable multiple guests sharing the same

Loveable Mr Burj marks debut to enthral little ones Young visitors to Burj Khalifa will be excited to meet none other than the loveable Mr Burj, the new official mascot of At The Top, Burj Khalifa SKY and At The Top, Burj Khalifa, the two popular observation deck experiences in the tower. A replica of Burj Khalifa, Mr Burj is effortlessly flexible and wears a heartwarming smile at all times. It is born from the wish of Omar, a fictional Arab boy, to have his toy come to life. Mr Burj arrives and takes him on some leisurely, adventurous, entertaining and educational experiences. The adventures of Mr Burj and Omar, who is joined by his friends, are represented in comic strip teasers now available on Burj Khalifa’s social media networks. Mr Burj will make an official appearance to welcome young ones and families to At The Top, Burj Khalifa, as they celebrate the summer vacation, with personal meet-and-greet sessions.

room to take advantage of keyless entry. All they need is an SPG account and the SPG app. In this upcoming product update, SPG is also expanding mobile check-in capabilities on the SPG app, rolling out over the next few months.

ONYX Hospitality Group appoints Simon Dell as VP and Area General Manager for Sri Lanka Thailand-based ONYX Hospitality Group has appointed Simon Dell as its new Vice President and Area General Manager for Sri Lanka. In his new role, Dell will oversee ONYX’s growing presence in Sri Lanka, and will be responsible for the operations of the three hotels managed by ONYX, including OZO Colombo, OZO Kandy, and Amari Galle, opening late 2016. Prior to taking on this role, he held regional responsibility across Hong Kong and China as the Vice President of Operations for ONYX North Asia. Commenting on the new role, Dell said,“The appeal of Sri Lanka as a travel destination for business and for leisure continues to rise, and I look forward to the launch of the first Amari hotel and the third for ONYX Hospitality Group in this country. I am committed to establishing Amari Galle as the hotel of choice for travellers to this beautiful part of the island, and continuing the success of our two existing OZO hotels in Colombo and Kandy.”

July/August 2016 19


coveR story

Corinthia comes to the region

Simon Naudi, CEO, Corinthia Hotels, talks to TH about their foray into the region, and what they bring along

C

orinthia, an owner, developer and operator of luxury hotels and real estate, boasts of a business worth some € two billion (AED 8.3 billion). Says Simon Naudi, CEO, Corinthia Hotels,“We own 11 hotels, of which one, the Corinthia Grand Hotel Astoria in Brussels, was very recently acquired, and will now undergo a two-year redevelopment. We also operate and develop hotels for third parties, with seven such

20 July/August 2016

hotels in operation or under development across the world.” In Dubai, the Corinthia group has recently entered into a strategic agreement with Meydan Corporation, who are developing a luxury beachfront resort, to be named hereon as the Corinthia at the Meydan Beach Resort. Meydan is the developer of this project, and they plan to create a uniquely elegant and luxurious resort. “On our part, we are proud to be part of this journey as a key part of the


cover story

Corinthia Hotel London Twilight Exterior

London - Trafalgar Suite Lounge

London - The Lobby Lounge

design and operational development phase, and on completion, as operators of the resort,” says Naudi. Much has been said and written about Dubai’s ever-growing and ever-successful tourism infrastructure, and there is little to add to that discussion.“At Corinthia, we are fully committed to be part of this success. We have been patient in awaiting the right opportunity for us in Dubai, and this patience has paid off in that we are now in the company of visionary

owners, as well as specifically, part of the creation of an architecturally beautiful resort in a phenomenal beach front location,” he adds. This is Corinthia’s first foray into the region, and Naudi believes in looking ahead.“This is our first step. I am sure many more will follow, not only in Dubai, but across the region. Right now, however, our focus is on ensuring the Corinthia at the Meydan Beach Resort is successfully designed and delivered. We do have exten-

We are who we are - we provide a sincere, dynamic, hands-on approach to hotel development and hotel ownership July/August 2016 21


coveR story

Corinthia Hotel Budapest

Budapest - Executive King Room

They are now in the process of adding resources to their group’s customer-focused guest services team, with a focus on two areas: luxury and innovation 22 July/August 2016

Budapest room

sive manpower to handle multiple projects, as we are, after all, not only operators, but developers with fullfledged owned subsidiary companies specialising in design, development and project management,” he states. Naudi believes that Corinthia enjoys a special relationship with owners and investors, because they own several of their hotels as well. “We understand the owner’s concerns and their aspirations, because these reflect ours too. We make absolutely no distinction between owned and managed hotels - how can we? The same people working on one project could be assigned to another, where

third party money is involved, and we cannot suddenly change attitude or style. We are who we are - we provide a sincere, dynamic, hands-on approach to hotel development and hotel ownership. We will always act in the best interests of the owner, whoever that may be,” he asserts. Which is why the Corinthia Group welcomes and embraces a fully engaged owner, as this ensures that challenges are well understood and faced together.“We have no secrets, and it is in our interest at all times to ensure that our partners and owners are totally immersed in the business as much as we are, everyone bear-


cover story

Corinthia Hotel St’ Petersburg

Corinthia Palace Hotel and Spa Malta

Corinthia Lisbon - Executive Twin Room

Malta -Dining Villa Corinthia

ing his or her responsibilities,” Naudi explains. Even though the Corinthia Group is a publicly listed company benefitting from a corporate governance infrastructure [www.ihiplc.com], they still remain a family-inspired business. Which means that they put great stock in upholding their positive values and looking after their colleagues and partners.“That spirit of relationships, borne out of sincerity, coupled with an ability to take entrepreneurial decisions, is what underpins our success,” he smiles. “We want to remain at the forefront of trends, but never as a betrayal to July/August 2016 23


coveR story

our core values and sincere style of operations,” adds Naudi. Their latest completed project, the Corinthia in London, has been a huge success, and introduced Corinthia to a broader and more discerning customer base. Long hours were spent discussing everything, from the big plans to the finer details, in that hotel, and a process of continual self-assessment, in addition to customer feedback, has helped. They are now in the process of adding resources to their group’s customerfocused guest services team, with a focus on two areas: luxury and innovation. This applies to their style of operations, use (or not) of technology, restaurants and bars, bedroom set-up, check-in procedures, and more.“On all fronts, the key is to continually review everything from the point of view of our customers,” he concludes.

Corinthia at Meydan Beach

About Simon

Corinthia Prague - Room

Prague Castle night 24 July/August 2016

Simon Naudi is CEO of Corinthia Hotels’ operating business and an Executive Director on the main board of International Hotel Investments plc. (IHI) - The owner, developer and operator of Corinthia Hotels. Naudi joined Corinthia in 1997, and was appointed to the IHI board in 2005. He has been responsible for the company’s business

development, real estate acquisitions and project developments; most recently in London, where the group has developed the flagship Corinthia Hotel & Residences at Whitehall Place. Since 2012, he is also responsible for the company’s hotel operating business as CEO of CHI ltd. Naudi was born in 1967, and is a Maltese citizen.


Guest column

The ambiguity of CEM, Digital and

Big Data

Khaled Mkahal, VP of CEM & Digital Practice, PCCI Group, discusses the three important buzzwords trending today

26 July/August 2016


Guest column

W

ithout any doubt, the world has gone the digital direction, becoming more focused on the customer experience, while trying to map customer interactions and generating useful information that will increase satisfaction, leading to continuous business growth. In line with this trend, you will notice that people are more involved in exploring and researching what I like to call the ‘three words’ - Big data, Digital and Customer Experience Management (CEM), especially if they are working in service-oriented sectors like Telecom, Banking and Travel and Tourism. Keeping in mind the size and amount of information being exchanged daily brings up an important question -“Is there any clear common understanding that defines the Three Words? And can they really be separated?” Unfortunately, there is none at the moment, as this area is considered as a growing non-mature space. Definitions and concepts keep evolving with new approaches, strategies and best practices. We will try to address these areas from our understanding, hoping it will help better understand and hence embrace these new trends. Starting with the Customer Experience (CX): It is the perceived experience by a customer to a certain product or service - the experience can be good, bad or normal. The ability to measure customer experience and manage this information, ie, analyse it, improve it, and reuse it to derive new

services and products personalised to the customer is what we call Customer Experience Management. It is important to understand that the experience is holistic and cannot be segregated, and hence the challenge in capturing it. In the CEM world, this is referred to as measuring customer experience throughout the customer life cycle, and against all touch points. Let me give you an example. The experience of a customer who wants to stay in a particular hotel starts from the time he visits the hotel’s website to book a room, until he checks out of the hotel. This includes his experience at the time of check in, while using the facilities of the hotel, and finally when he makes the final payment. The question that now arises is how to measure his experience. and ensure that the customer would not only return to the same hotel, but also share his experience and recommend the hotel to his friends and colleagues, which, in turn, would translate to more business for the hotel. Digital: To explain this simply, digital is the form of the data that customers generate during their interactions with different touch points. It also denotes the channels that the customer has used to transfer this data. It is definitely advantageous to have data captured in digital form as it helps improve the process of collecting the data, thus increasing the ability to process it further. If we go back to our hotel example, we can consider the hotel website that the customer used to book his room as

the digital channel, and the information that he was required to fill and the online payment he made are in the form of digital data. Big Data: This is the data that is generated by all customer transactions for each and every product/service they have experienced. Let’s go back to the hotel example to understand this a little more. Here, ‘big data’ is the data generated by the customer (his profile, the country he is travelling from, number of days of stay, the room type, the means of payment, utilities access in the hotel like pool, gym, restaurants, feedback, complaints if any, etc). It is, of course, easy to collect this type of data from one customer, but imagine the size of the same data when collected for all the customers of the hotel over a long period of time. This cumulative data of all customers is what we call ‘big data’. In fact, in reality, customers can use multiple services at the same time, generating more data. It is important to be able to define and distinguish the different meanings of the ‘three words’ distinctly, and although we believe they all come together in one gigantic process while working back to back, as one of them is the input (Big Data), the second is the form and channel of the data (Digital), and the final one (CEM) is the engine and processes, which, when applied to this data, helps improve both customer satisfaction and business growth.

It is definitely advantageous to have data captured in digital form as it helps improve the process of collecting the data, thus increasing the ability to process it further

july/august 2016 27


Technology

Bringing

technology to the forefront The second edition of the Hospitality Technology Forum promises to offer businesses the opportunity to present their expertise, while allowing decision makers to network and win some awards

28 May/june 2016


Technology

I

f you enjoyed it the first time round, the Hospitality Technology Forum is back. Quintessential 4 Media has announced that the 2016 edition of the event will be held on October 27th, 2016, at the Burj Al Arab Hotel, Dubai. The second edition of the Hospitality Technology Forum will feature latest topics, trends and ideas in the field of innovations and technology, driving customer engagement and interactions in the Hospitality Industry. The CEO and managing director of Quintessential for media, Peter Ayo Mapuri, said,“HTF 2016 will build on the success of last year’s event by engaging key decision makers across the entire spectrum of the hospitality industry and hospitality technological vendors to share latest ideas and best practices and technological innovations, which will help the industry keep rising to the ever changing customer’s taste and behaviours.” As the GCC Hospitality industry continues to grow, with Dubai currently standing out with around 612 Hotels with 85,000 rooms, and plans to deliver an additional 140 Hotels with 30,000 rooms in the emirate by the end of this year, according to data from the Dubai Corporation for Tourism & Commerce Marketing, continuous embrace of technology to control operational costs and customer engagement, experience and satisfaction will no doubt ensure that this growth momentum is sustained. The Hospitality Technology Forum

2016 will therefore create a platform for key senior decision makers in the Hospitality sector and Technology vendors to connect and network, as business owners and managers find the growing need to prioritise their investment on product innovation and quality, and renovation of existing technology. The event will host over 150 delegates, consisting of General Managers, Chief Information Officers, Chief Technology Officers, Director of Head of Engineering, IT Directors, Purchasing, AV Managers, Procurements, etc, from across the hospitality sector, IT/ technology companies, suppliers, government and hospitality consultancy firms. HTF2016 will cover important subject areas that are important to the industry through its general sessions, workshops and B2B round table sessions, as they engage leading experts and speakers in each subject using their industry expertise and experience to share insights to help participants maximise the use of technology in their businesses. Some of these topics include: POS Management, Cloud Computing, Security (Advanced Persistent Threat), Mobile App Solutions, Green Technology, AV and Imaging Solutions, Wi-Fi Road Map, Revenue Management / Payment, Workforce Management, Guestroom Technology, Big Data (Store, Manage, Secure). The Hospitality Technology Forum 2016 will be held in conjunction with

the Hospitality Technology Awards (HTA), which will recognise and celebrate innovation and excellence best practices displayed by distinguished hotels and industry players in the use of technology to deliver a great experience to their customers. The award categories include: Best Use of Technology as Marketing Platform, Hospitality Innovator, Customer Engagement Innovator, Best Green Technology and Sustainability, Most Technology-Friendly Venue, Favourite Technology Supplier-Hotels, Favourite Technology SupplierRestaurants and Best in Digital Technology. Some of the 2015 winners include Courtyard by Marriott Abu Dhabi, Masdar Institute of Technology, ARMANI Hotel, First Central Hotel Suites, Cisco, Zomato and Raviz Centre Point Hotel. HTF 2016 presents an excellent platform for multiple networking opportunities to position one’s business as a thought leader, highlighting their core competence, generating genuine leads and references, sharing insight and expertise on industry challenges and opportunities, and reaching the target audience. For more information about the event, please visit www.hospitalitytechnologyforum.com.

The event will host over 150 delegates, consisting of General Managers, Chief Information Officers, Chief Technology Officers, Director of Head of Engineering, IT Directors, Purchasing, AV Managers, Procurements, etc.

july/august 2016 29


GM Interview

Riyadh’s icon

Al Faisaliah With the competitive hospitality market in Riyadh and low oil prices, hotels are doing their utmost to manage occupancies. Alexander Blair, GM, Al Faisaliah Riyadh, tells Top hotel Middle East about what makes his property unique in the industry

30 July/August 2016


GM INTERVIEW

We recently embarked on an exciting and ambitious upgrade programme, which, over the next two years, will see all 224 guest rooms and suites transformed by global interior and architectural firm HOK

Al Faisaliah Riyadh is among a number of established brands in the city. How has the hotel managed to capture maximum business? At present, Al Faisaliah Hotel has a new loyalty programme to retain returning guests and captivate new ones. The Discovery programme puts us at par with other leading international hotel brands, and indicates that we offer authentic experiences that are unmatched in the city. Al Faisaliah Hotel continually strives to offer the best products and services. With this in mind, we recently embarked on an exciting and ambitious upgrade programme, which, over the next two years, will see all 224 guest rooms and suites transformed by global interior and architectural firm HOK. Their impressive hospitality design portfolio includes The Peninsula Shanghai and St Regis Hotel and Residences Bangkok. Other landmark designs include the 385m CMA Tower in King Abdullah Financial District, Riyadh. Internationally acclaimed design house Super Potato are working their artistic magic on the space formerly occupied by La Brasserie to create the consummate restaurant design, which, along with the first phase of 120 new rooms, will debut in summer 2017. What is the difference in the experience for the business guest or leisure guest at the hotel? We offer a range of services that cater to both business and leisure guests the difference lies in their request. Al Faisaliah Hotel is the only dedicated suites hotel in Riyadh, making it the finest and most sought-after property in the kingdom. Families can relax in July/August 2016 31


GM Interview

Wedding decor

Usually, our brides work with leading wedding and event planners from Lebanon and Europe to create a special design, which, coupled with Al Faisaliah’s award winning service, makes for a truly memorable occasion

comfort in one of the many spacious suites or connecting rooms. The hotel’s central location is ideal for both business and leisure guests, and our other services complement that. For ladies looking to receive the Royal treatment, we have the Al Faisaliah Spa by ESPA, and for men, we have leading-edge facilities in their Men’s Health Club. What are the new initiatives in place when it comes to promoting a different F&B experience at Al Faisaliah, be it for business or otherwise? F&B is at the heart of everything we do. It is very important to us that our outlets are popular with the local community. Globe is the most coveted spot in the city, with panoramic views of Riyadh. La Cucina offers a truly authentic Italian experience, 32 July/August 2016

Wedding decor Prince Sultan Grand Hall - Royal Wedding decor

with Italian chefs and restaurant management. Our All Day Dining is currently undergoing a transformation, with designs by Super Potato, a renowned interior design firm, and will debut in summer 2017. At present, we are exploring collaborations with celebrated chefs and restaurateurs for the space currently occupied by Cristal and other spaces within the hotel. How is the property poised to stay on top of the competition during busy months such as September – March, in terms of meetings and events? We have a well-established Conference, Event and Outside Catering business. Al Faisaliah is recognised for the quality of food and service. We have 6,300 sq metres of flexible space, including the largest column free


GM INTERVIEW

La Brasserie

banquet hall in the Kingdom, Prince Sultan Grand Hall, which is 4,655 sq metres. Our experienced team tailor-makes bespoke events, which can accommodate from two to 4,000 guests, inferring everything from small meetings/interviews/intimate dinners up to large scale exhibitions and gala dinners, etc. What about weddings? Is that an attraction that the hotel promotes too? Having the largest pillar free banquet hall in the Kingdom gives the bride a blank canvas to create a truly unique wedding. Usually, our brides work with leading wedding and event planners from Lebanon and Europe to create a special design, which, coupled with Al Faisaliah’s award winning service, makes for a truly memorable occasion.

How have occupancy rates in your hotel changed from the time the hotel opened till date? Despite growing competition Al Faisaliah is proud to achieve the highest RevPAR results in the city. How have you managed to cut the fat in terms of spending without altering the guest experience from the time the property opened till date? We are continually looking for ways to improve the guests experience and remain unique. However, having such a large operation, our procurement team work hard to ensure that we are getting the best possible purchasing deals, particularly on our high volume items. We look to partner with the companies that are able to provide us the best quality proposition.

Internationally acclaimed design house Super Potato are working their artistic magic on the space formerly occupied by La Brasserie to create the consummate restaurant design, which, along with the first phase of 120 new rooms, will debut in summer 2017 July/August 2016 33


GM Interview

Al Faisaliah Hotel - Presidential Suite - Bedroom

Superior Room Bathroom

Superior Room

How good is your team? What are challenges you face in terms of the people that work with you in making the hotel a success every day? The team exceptional and truly sets Al Faisaliah apart from our competitors; we have 1,000+ ‘Memory Makers’, which is the term we use for our employees, who are committed to creating lasting memories for all our guests. How is the hotel being promoted in other parts of the world? Which international market is the biggest target audience for your hospitality? In addition to KSA, key markets for Al Faisaliah are the GCC, and particularly the UAE, which is home to the Regional HQ’s for many of our key corporate accounts. Europe, especially the UK and Switzerland, are also important markets for us.

34 July/August 2016

Al Faisaliah Hotel is the only dedicated suites hotel in Riyadh, making it the finest and most soughtafter property in the kingdom. Families can relax in comfort in one of the many spacious suites or connecting rooms

Al Faisaliah Hotel - Royal Suite Bedroom Royal Suite Lounge


Destination report - Oman

Oman

- there’s a lot to explore Oman is a large country waiting to be explored; with a rich, cultural heritage and many unique points of interest. Salem Al Mamari, Director General of Tourism Promotion, Ministry of Tourism, Oman, tells Top hotel Middle East about the country’s plans to promote tourism

Omanmer, by Christophe Migean July/August 2016 35


Destination report - Oman

Jebel Akhdar, Nizwa - ®Steve Graham

Oman’s National Tourism Strategy for 2040 has the ambition of ensuring that the tourism sector contributes six per cent of GDP in the future. The Sultanate also hopes to employ over 500,000 people in the tourism sector in 25 years 36 July/August 2016

O

man has a long history of political and economic stability, and more recently, the government has been looking at economic diversification to reduce its reliance on oil. In this regard, the growth and development of the tourism industry in Oman is a vital part of the country’s long term economic strategy, and will play an increasingly important part of its overall GDP in the next few years. “Travel and tourism contributes a significant amount to the GDP of Oman. Oman’s National Tourism Strategy for 2040 has the ambition of ensuring that the tourism

sector contributes six per cent of GDP in the future. The Sultanate also hopes to employ over 500,000 people in the tourism sector in 25 years – with 70 per cent of these jobs filled by Omani nationals,” informs Salem Al Mamari, Director General of Tourism Promotion, Ministry of Tourism, Oman. Oman saw about 2,470,760 tourists visit the country in 2015. Around one million were from the GCC. The Ministry of Tourism, Oman, has a representative tourism office in Dubai, which is actively involved in promoting travel and tourism to the Sultanate. “Given the geographical proximity, the UAE is one of our key markets from within the GCC for regional tourism into Oman, and our representative offices’ objective is to position Oman


Destination report - Oman

Historical and Modern Oman, Sultan Qaboos mosque

Omani Culture

as a standalone destination for visitors from across the GCC and the UAE, over and above the traditional two-day weekend getaway segment, which has been growing every year,” says Al Mamari. In order to attract tourists from the region, The Ministry of Tourism, Oman, has been working with its partners – including airlines, tour operators and hotels to launch a number of initiatives. As part of its 2040 National Tourism Strategy, the Ministry of Tourism, Oman, has revealed that up to USD 35 billion (AED 129 billion) will be invested in the tourism industry of the Sultanate over 25 years, and up to 80 per cent of that investment will come from the private sector as the country plans to double the number of

international visitors Oman attracts to five million. “Recently, we have seen significant growth in visitor numbers with a 17.7 per cent increase in tourists in 2015, with over 2.4 million people visiting the Sultanate from around the world. We hope to increase this number in 2016,” smiles Al Mamari. Through these initiatives, Al Mamari’s primary target remains the GCC – specifically the UAE and Saudi Arabia.“Internationally, we remain focused on emerging economies – especially neighbouring India and China – both of which have flourishing economies. We are aggressively promoting MICE in Oman in these markets through roadshows, travel trade fairs, and through our

Given the rising disposable income among several Middle Eastern and Asian countries, there is definite potential to attract the luxury and affordable luxury segment of traveller

trade and airline partners,” he adds. Oman seeks to attract a discerning traveller across segments – including adventurers, boomers, millennials, empty nesters, MICE and families. Given the rising disposable income among several Middle Eastern and Asian countries, there is definite potential to attract the luxury and affordable luxury segment of traveller. According to Al Mamari, the industry is prepared to manage the increase in the number of tourists.“We are actively involved in improving tourism infrastructure, from adding new hotels to the launch of the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre. The Oman Convention Bureau is one of our July/August 2016 37


Destination report - Oman

Given the geographical proximity, the UAE is one of our key markets from within the GCC for regional tourism into Oman, and our representative offices’ objective is to position Oman as a standalone destination for visitors from across the GCC and the UAE

Wadi Shab

Internationally, we remain focused on emerging economies – especially neighbouring India and China – both of which have flourishing economies. We are aggressively promoting MICE in Oman 38 July/August 2016

most ambitious projects to boost the MICE sector. Set to open in August 2016, the centre offers over 22,000 sq metres of exhibition space,”he explains. The tourism industry in Oman has also seen growth in terms of the employees. The table below indicates this growth.

Currently, Oman has 16,691 hotel rooms, ranging from across the luxury to budget categories.“Occupancy at the moment is good; we have seen interest from quite a few of our target markets, and expect this to get better over the summer and later on in the year,” he informs.

2015: Total

Omanis

Males

Females

Expatriates Males

Females

126857

14713

10825

3888

112144

107893

4251

2014: Omanis

Expatriates

Males

Females

Total

Males

Females

Total

Total

9429

3362

12791

98425

4123

102548

115339


Destination report - Oman

Oman waters Sultan Qaboos mosque

Recently, we have seen significant growth in visitor numbers with a 17.7 per cent increase in tourists in 2015, with over 2.4 million people visiting the Sultanate from around the world. We hope to increase this number in 2016

Oman is currently home to 315 hotels with 16,691 hotel rooms. This number is expected to increase by 40 per cent by adding 10,000 hotel rooms by 2018. These hotels will range from six-star luxury hotels, such as the Anantara Resort, to three-star budget hotels. Oman is also converting a number of self-contained apartments and farm houses to accommodate tourists, giving them the experience of actually living the Omani way – the ideal way to experience their culture. A few of the hotels that are expected to come up soon are the Saraya Bandar Jissah ITC, W Hotel and Kempinski, The Wave in Muscat, Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar in Al Dakhiliya and Anantara Al Baleed in Dhofar.“We have also invested in a 13,000 sq foot space for the National Museum in Muscat, which contains some of the richest and oldest pieces of Omani heritage,” concludes Al Mamari.

July/August 2016 39


Middle East Hotel Survey

The Middle East - hospitality’s fastest growing region

In 2015 the Middle East and North Africa continued to witness turmoil and instability, with conflicts in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen causing extensive damage. The perceived lack of safety across the region was further enhanced by terrorist attacks, of which some targeting tourists in places like Tunisia, Kuwait and Egypt. HVS’s Hala Matar Choufany and Christina A Zegrea have compiled this regional hotel survey

40 July/August 2016


Middle East Hotel Survey

Atlantis the Palm hotel, Dubai

C

hallenges were faced also by politically stable countries such as the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, on the back of falling oil prices and undiversified economies. As a result of the historically low oil price, geopolitical instability and weak global economic recovery, the regional economic growth in 2015 decelerated, with the GDP expanding only by 2.6 per cent, the lowest growth rate reported since the 2009 financial crisis. With the oil price forecast to average at around US$ 50-70 up to 2020, economic prospects for the region remain somber for 2016, with analysts adjusting downwards the growth forecast in the short to medium term. As such, growth for 2016 has been revised for the fourth consecutive month down to 2.6 per cent. The impact of the falling oil price has been considerable for the oil-dependent economies, triggering subsidy cuts, cancellation of key infrastructure projects, and downward revisions of government budgets. With the effects of the oil price migrating also into the non-hydrocarbon sector, the governments are urged to seek alternatives in balancing their budgets. As such, GCC countries are currently working on a plan to introduce a five per cent value added tax in 2018. In light of these challenges, the question remains: how was travel and tourism impacted and what were 2015 regional performance results? The Middle East Hotel Survey

2016 strives to constitute a reference guide by offering a brief analysis of the overall economic performance of the region, with particular focus on the tourism industry. Our tourism analysis is based on data originating from more than 611 internationally branded hotels in the region, representing roughly 150,000 rooms. Drawing upon resources in the hotel industry, the survey covers a total of 42 cities in 13 countries, and spans over a history of 20 years. Moreover, the current edition includes a brief performance analysis of KPIs pertaining to major cities in the region. It is essential to note however that the analysis is strictly based on data from established hotels pertaining to 18 participating international hotel chains. Therefore, the performance of

As a result of the historically low oil price, geopolitical instability and weak global economic recovery, the regional economic growth in 2015 decelerated, with the GDP expanding only by 2.6 per cent, the lowest growth rate reported since the 2009 financial crisis

the branded hotel market is likely to differ moderately from the performance of the destination as a whole, which typically includes both branded and independently operated properties across all asset classes. In recognition of the need to better understand the operational performance differences across major regional destinations, HVS provides in this year’s publication an indicative total revenue breakdown pertaining to a typical upscale property for each destination. Moreover, in a scenario where majority of the regional markets witnessed a decline in 2015, we have included a Gross Operating Profit analysis pertaining to a number of selected key destinations.

Middle East in Figures 54 million – tourist arrivals in the Middle East in 2015

78 million – passenger movements at Dubai International Airport in 2015 355 million – national and resident population of the Middle East USD 143,532 – GDP per

capita of Qatar, the highest

in the world 24th worldwide – UAE’s rank in the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index

USD165 billion –

investment worth of projects in GCC in 2015

USD140 billion –

investment worth of projects in GCC forecast for 2016

USD194 billion – regional tourism total contribution to GDP in 2015 USD328 billion – regional tourism forecast total contribution to GDP by 2026

5.9 million – jobs sustained by the tourism and travel sector in 2015 USD41.8 billion – travel and tourism investment in 2015 july/august 2016 41


Middle East Hotel Survey

Emirates Palace hotel lobby, Abu Dhabi

A Macroeconomic Perspective In spite of the regional volatility and weak oil prices witnessed in 2015, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) remains one of the fastest growing regions worldwide. It is necessary to note however, that growth forecast is predominantly on account of an exceptional growth expected to be reported by Iran, following the reintegration of the country to the global economy, as a result of economic sanctions being lifted. This prospect has already triggered a series of foreign investments in the country. However, the growth outlook remains subject to a series of factors including regional conflict, a continued decline in oil prices, slow global economic recovery, as well as Iran reporting a lower than forecasted economic growth. For the Gulf Cooperation Council economies, 2015 has been a challenging year, and the outlook for 2016 remains somber, with growth forecast to slow to 2.7 per cent, down from 3.0 per cent in 2015. Prolonged oil price disturbance will most probably result 42 July/August 2016

Dubai International Aiirport

The impact of the falling oil price has been considerable for the oildependent economies, triggering subsidy cuts, cancellation of key infrastructure projects, and downward revisions of government budgets

in further government budget cuts and downward revision of the growth forecast past 2016. Overall, the regional growth is expected to remain below its real potential, as improvement of sociopolitical stability, regional conflicts, safety threats and the price of oil are not expected in the short term.

Regional Tourism Overview In spite of global security threats, as well as political and economical challenges, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNTWO) reported an additional 6.2 per cent growth in world tourist arrivals in 2015. As in the previous year, Americas and Asia Pacific witnessed the strongest growth, at 9.8 per cent and 5.8 per cent, respectively. It is essential to note the decline in tourist arrivals in Africa and the marginal growth reported by the Middle East region. While preliminary estimates for 2016 are positive, the forecast remains dependent on the stability of the region and reflects the

uncertainty associated with countries facing political unrest. In spite of the marginal 0.6 per cent growth in tourist arrivals reported by the Middle East, the passenger traffic in 2015 at major destinations in the region reached new milestones. Muscat, Abu Dhabi and Dammam airports witnessed impressive growth of 18 per cent, 17 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively. Meanwhile, Dubai International Airport managed to maintain its position as the world’s busiest airport for international passengers for the second year, having exceeded 78 million in 2015, representing an 11 per cent growth over 2014. Overall, Middle Eastern travel and tourism reported a positive performance in 2015, with travel & tourism contribution to GDP outpacing global economic growth. At 5.9 per cent growth in 2015, the Middle East ranks second only to Southeast and South Asia, which reported growth of 7.9 per cent and 7.4 per cent, respectively in 2015. The slowdown of economic activity and the weaker growth when compared to initial forecasts is attributed largely to localized crises and pressure


Middle East Hotel Survey

Emirates Palace hotel, Abu Dhabi

on the oil industry’s reduced growth. Notwithstanding, the 5.9 per cent growth in the contribution of travel and tourism to GDP exceeded in 2015 growth of GDP itself in percentage terms, in spite of the adverse effects of the sanctions in Russia and European currency fluctuations. The contribution to GDP was fuelled mainly by leisure tourism and domestic spending. Domestic spending increased in 2015, accounting for roughly 45.6 per cent of total spend, with business tourism spending remaining relatively stable at 17.7 per cent of total spend. The major share of annual travel & tourism spend is attributed to leisure tourism, constituting more than 82.3 per cent of annual spend. While softer growth rates have been projected for 2016, travel and tourism contribution to GDP, as well as tourism capital investments are projected to grow over the next ten years at an average rate of 4.9 per cent and 5.4 per cent, respectively, testament of the region’s untapped potential.

Abu Dhabi –

Brief Performance Overview In spite of new addition to supply and challenges faced by the region, the Abu Dhabi internationally branded hotel market witnessed an upswing in 2015 in terms of visitation, driving occupancy, which exhibited 3.4 per cent growth. Historically a corporate and MICE orientated market, the additional demand is attributed to leisure visitation as a result of increasing number of resorts and leisure attractions such as Saadiyat

Yas Marina hotel, Abu Dhabi

Island, Du Arena, Yas Waterworld and Yas Mall. However, increased competition in the market, shrinking corporate and government demand as a result of low oil prices, and weak currency in six of the main source countries placed pressure on the average rate, which exhibited a 3.1 per cent decline. Nonetheless, on the back of strong occupancy levels reported, RevPAR witnessed a 2.5 per cent year-onyear growth. While forecasts indicate that the short to midterm oil price will remain suppressed and currency exchange rates are expected to remain soft, there is a need to develop leisure and MICE visitation in order to maintain sustainable levels of performance. In recognition of the same, the authorities are putting forth efforts to reinforce Abu Dhabi’s profile as a MICE and leisure destination. However, with some of the key leisure projects delayed and in light of considerable addition to supply there is a real possibility that demand needs will not be met in the short term.

For the Gulf Cooperation Council economies, 2015 has been a challenging year, and the outlook for 2016 remains somber, with growth forecast to slow to 2.7 per cent, down from 3.0 per cent in 2015 july/august 2016 43


Middle East Hotel Survey

Madinat Jumeirah hotel

Dubai –

Brief Performance Overview Dubai is undeniably one of the most resilient hotel markets, with performance levels remaining at comparable levels with leading international markets such as London and New York. This remains in spite of year-onyear reported declines in occupancy and ADR. The overall hotel market in Dubai faced challenges in 2015, as demand was adversely impacted by a weak Euro, Russian sanctions, and additional macroeconomic factors. In spite of the 7.5 per cent year-on-year increase in overnight visitors, the aforementioned factors, coupled with supply growth outpacing demand growth, led to a two percentage point drop in occupancy and roughly 7.4 per cent drop in ADR. The branded hotel market, on the other hand, proved to be more resilient, reporting a five percentage points increase in occupancy levels. However, this was achieved at the expense of a softer ADR, which declined by 5.5 per cent , most likely as a result of a shift in demand from unbranded hotels on the back of increased affordability. As a result of strong occupancy levels, the RevPAR improved by 1.3 per cent, reaching USD 180. In the meantime, it is likely that Dubai will face a softer performance in 2016 as growth in hotel supply, weak currencies in source markets, as well as macroeconomic 44 July/August 2016

Overall, Middle Eastern travel and tourism reported a positive performance in 2015, with travel & tourism contribution to GDP outpacing global economic growth. At 5.9 per cent growth in 2015, the Middle East ranks second only to Southeast and South Asia

conditions continue to exert pressure on the average rate and occupancy. Nonetheless, adjusted occupancies of 70 per cent - 75 per cent still render the hotel sector as one of the most sustainable worldwide supported by excellent tourism infrastructure and market efforts that will continue to enhance the attractiveness and popularity of Dubai. Excerpt from HVS’s Middle East Hotel Survey. Full report on www.hvs.com


www.tophotelprojects.com

Abraj Al-Bait Towers, Mecca, Saudi Arabia. 46 May/june 2016


www.tophotelprojects.com

Regional and international hotel investments As Saudi Arabia looks to become more independant from oil, it has plans to open 137 new hotels to attract more visitors – that’s an additional 50,000 rooms and 70 restaurants, as well as a helicopter landing pad, reports Tophotelprojects.com

R

amadan started with some good news this year - at the beginning of the Holy Month, the Government of Saudi Arabia published new plans to strengthen tourism. With new attractions and hotels, the previously state-supporting oil business should become less important. According to tophotelprojects. com, currently 137 top hotels with almost 50,000 rooms are in the pipeline. According to a development business plan of the Saudi crown prince and chief strategist, Mohammed Bin Salman, the number of tourists should increase in the next four years to about 1.5 million. The revenue from tourism should grow by 18 per cent in the next 14 years. To achieve this, the travel offer for pilgrims to Makkah and Medina will be expanded, and new attractions, such as a great Islamic Museum, will be built. In the Kingdom, tourism is considered as one of the new key industries for them to become more independent of the ailing oil business. According to a study, 167 direct and indirect jobs will be created in the tourism industry with every million US dollars of investment. Thus, a multi-billion dollar investment fund is now to be specially set up for tourism. Number of hotel projects in Saudi Arabia by selected cities Riyadh – 45 projects with 10,200 rooms Makkah – 20 projects with 23,500 rooms Jeddah – 37 projects with 8,300 rooms

The largest hotel construction projects in SaudiArabia Abraj Kudai Towers – Makkah - 10,000 rooms Holiday Inn Makkah Abraaj Al Tayseer (phase 2) – Makkah – 3,512 rooms Four Points by Sheraton Makkah Al Naseem – Makkah – 1,139 rooms Hilton Riyadh Hotel & Residences – Riyadh – 864 rooms Hilton Bab Makkah South, Jabal Omar – Makkah – 764 rooms

Hybrid class of hotel industry opens up new market opportunities Comfort, residential feel, and a little luxury: The success factors of serviced apartments are obvious. Since the (terrific) success of Airbnb, with the rental of private apartments, the hybrid hotel class is on the rise internationally. Investors and operators have discovered the fragmented market of boarding properties for themselves. Renowned hotel groups such as Starwood Hotels, Citadines, and Adina have enhanced their portfolio with serviced apartments. With its Element concept elegant city apartments - Starwood Hotels & Resorts has 40 global projects in the pipeline. The French Citadines group is currently building 24 new properties. Australian Adina Apartments is currently planning six new boarding houses. Europe’s leading hotel group Accor is developing 14 new apartment buildings with Adagio. The secret to the success of serviced apartments is excellent concierge services around the clock, such as at the new luxury apartment hotel, The Doorman, in Frankfurt. The basic equipment of the apartment includes fully equipped kitchens with modern cooking appliances, and luxury furnishings. Extendable services on the network could be a co-operation with gyms, and wellness and beauty salons, recommendations of selected restaurants and bars in the neighborhood, as well as a directory of professional interpreters. Travel services such as limousine services and car rental are also attractive. The marketing for serviced apartments opens new avenues. The aspiring Novum Hotel Group from Hamburg has a twoway interface to Airbnb in development. The group‘s serviced apartments in Germany are already bookable via their platform at just three per cent commission.

According to a study, 167 direct and indirect jobs will be created in the tourism industry with every million US dollars of investment

may/june 2016 47


www.tophotelprojects.com

Burj Al Arab, Dubai sunset

Futuristic hotel concepts: Living lobby is a must-have Lame lobbies are out: future hotels will welcome their guests with ‘living lobbies‘. A warm welcome, breakfast, business centres with high-speed WiFi, and football evenings together in front of the flat - this is the new, or rather, rediscovered Melting Pot of the smart hospitality industry. The latest aspirant here is the still-young hotel brand, Tru by Hilton. With ‘The Hive‘, the brand will create a new, active encounter zone in the budget design hotels. These will include relaxed working stations in shielded areas, entertainment and fun with video games, casual relaxation on lounge furniture, and a supply of snacks and cool drinks. Accor already implemented this new concept for its Ibis budget hotels. The reception desk is remarkably small, the breakfast buffet for the tightly calculated price / performance ratio is abundant, WiFi is accessible, and long benches and casual armchairs lend an urban-modern feel – the Living Lobby is also media-friendly with several large TV screens. Another such example is the new Steigenberger concept Jaz in the city. It’s first hotel in Amsterdam is characterised by live performances in the restaurant and bar. The numbers confirms the success of this unusual concept - shortly after the opening, the occupancy rate was 65 per cent, far above target. In a hotel of this new, ground-breaking class, you cannot stay in the room, you are making connections and finding inspiration in the lobby. The spirit of ‘living lobbies‘ is being developed further by innovative hotel concepts such as Moxy, element Prizeotel, Citizen M, Mama Shelter, etc. The hotel industry will reinvent itself with smart non-chalance (Work hard, play hard). This follows pioneering hosts such as César Ritz, where every guest received a Grande Entrée in its Grand Hotels - only now in jeans and without a tie.

The latest super hotels The fast-growing tourism industry demands more top hotels. On an average, two new hotels or resorts from the leading 48 May/june 2016

brands opened every day during the first quarter of this year, worldwide. Within the next few months, until the end of the year, another 1,500 hotels will celebrate their inauguration. In total, far more than 1,800 hotels are put into operation internationally. But the sustained boom pressurises the large hotel chains: On one hand, the expansion must proceed faster. Which means even more new locations are obtained in a shorter period. On the other hand, new employees for the new jobs are needed, and have to be educated and trained constantly. Leading hotel groups must occupy the positions in the lower and middle areas of work several times a year, as the world’s leading job portal, Hospitality Leaders, reported. One of the new top hotels and resorts is the Loisaba Lodge in Kenya, Africa. Out of the very comfortable tent village, you can watch numerous wild animals – as well as from the luxurious infinity pool. Among high-end luxury hotels, the newly opened St Regis Kuala Lumpur is a talking point - with generous walk-in closets in every guestroom, and an exquisite gourmet restaurant by a Japanese three-star chef. The new Four Seasons Abu Dhabi - exclusively located on an island in the Arabian Gulf – appreciates privacy - there are separate, fully-equipped fitness centres for men and women. One of the highlights of the global hospitality market also includes the new Grand Hyatt in Rio of Janeiro, a true landmark hotel for the Summer Olympics this year, which features, among other amenities, three restaurants at a worldwide peak level and a Leading Spa. In the Katamama Hotel in Bali, a hideaway with just 58 suites, only exclusive, hand-crafted furniture, and conveniences of regional craftsmanship find a place. Furthermore, the art-loving guests will be inspired with vegan delicacies and a rich offer of fresh juices. In the Maldives, guests can enjoy the endless Indian Ocean with the largest Infinity Pool at the new Amari Havodda resort on the Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll, a holiday hotel with 120 private beach villas and overwater bungalows.

Renowned hotel groups such as Starwood Hotels, Citadines, and Adina have enhanced their portfolio with serviced apartments

New superlative hotel in Las Vegas More than 1,200 new top hotels are in the pipeline in the US – each one


www.tophotelprojects.com

Al Falsailah hotel, Riyadh

Al Falsailah hotel, Riyadh - Lobby lounge

larger than the other. Steve Wynn, the casino king of Las Vegas, wants to expand his empire of resorts. In the glamorous metropolis, he plans a new hotel complex, with no less than 1,000 rooms, nightclubs, trendy restaurants, and a huge, man-made lagoon. This will even surpass ambitious hotel construction projects in Macao. Overall, there are currently more than 1,200 new top hotels and resorts in the pipeline in the United States. This data has been revealed by tophotelprojects.com. Wynn Paradise Park wants to score with an artificial beach resort in the desert city: a white sand beach, and a promenade are planned at the artificial lake. Guests will have the possibility to try water skiing, canoeing, and paragliding. Every night, a firework display will be set off from the artificial island. The complex will also feature a spacious conference centre, attracting international conferences. The start of construction for the new major project is still undecided. Their project partner is Crystal Lagoon, which have already established a number of artificial lakes worldwide. The new goal now is to create the largest water park in the country. The current plan covers an area of approximately one hundred Olympic pools. In addition, an equally spacious Golf Course is being planned. In Las Vegas, six other top hotels are currently being built, including a stylish W Hotel with 298 rooms, a new casino resort by Genting Group, with around 3,500 rooms, and the iconic Lucky Dragon Hotel Casino, with 201 rooms and suites.

New hotel world records

But the sustained boom pressurises the large hotel chains: the expansion must proceed faster. Which means even more new locations are obtained in a shorter period

Size is not everything when it comes to world records. The luxurious JW Marriott Hotel Shanghai at Tomorrow Square was honoured for its world’s highest library, and therefore will get an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records. The library, with over 2,000 books in English and Mandarin (Putonghua), is located at the 60th floor, 230.9 metres above ground. For the hotel tower, it is a welcome, exclusive award to emphasise their excellent service.

The Guinness Book of World Records currently presents 193 entries on hotels. A selection: • Largest hotel in the world: First World Hotel in Pahang Darul Makmur, Malaysia with 7,351 rooms • Smallest Hotel in the World: Eh’häusl in Amberg, Germany with 53 square metres total • Oldest hotel in the world: Nisiyama Onsen Keiunkan in Yamanashi, Japan opened 705 BC • Largest hotel suite in the world: Royal Suite at the Grand Hills Hotel & Spa in Broummana, Lebanon at 4,131 square metres Hotel Construction Projects in the Middle East United Arab Emirates – 183 with 54,849 rooms Oman – 36 with 7,087 rooms Qatar – 47 with 13,323 rooms Saudi Arabia – 143 with 50,643 rooms

About

www.tophotelprojects.com Tophotelprojects.com is the leading data provider for hotel projects data worldwide. The database contains more than 5,500 hotel construction projects, with detailed information and contact data for the supplying industry. The multi-lingual team of Tophotelprojects gathers project data and detailed information from around the globe directly from developers, hotel operators, architects and interior designers. Learn more: tophotelprojects.com

may/june 2016 49


The

Best Iftars

this Ramadan Almost all hotels have a fantastic Iftar spread around the country at this time so finalising the best of what the hospitality industry has to offer in the holy month of Ramadan is always a difficult thing to do. But we’ve managed! Here are a few of the unique iftars to try before the month concludes this week

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Iftars 2016

The Palace Downtown Dubai

Iftar and Suhour at The Ramadan Tent at Ewaan It’s always a fabulous evening spent at this Ramadan tent. The food is endless, delicious and sumptuous and this year the hotel has a special air conditioned lounge area that extends right into the The Palace Gardens. Time: Iftar - Sunset until 9pm. Suhour - Weekdays, 10pm to 1am; Weekends 10pm to 2am Price: Iftar - AED 240 per person, inclusive of Iftar buffet, Ramadan juices and water. Suhour - AED 160 per person for buffet and water Children under 6 dine complimentary. Between 6 and 11 years, a charge of 50% applies, while the regular price applies for children over 12. Iftar Corporate Packages at Ewaan Starting from AED 240 per person. Minimum of 80 guests. Suhour is available both a la carte or as a set menu. Time: 8pm to 2am Price: AED 250 per person, set menu. A la carte menu also available. Lakeside Tents minimum spend of AED 600 per cabana. Children under 18 are not permitted to dine in the smoking section.

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Iftars 2016

Grosvenor House Dubai

Sloane’s

With it’s very renowned buffet, Iftar at Sloane’s is generous fare. Also, not being limited to Middle Eastern cuisine adds a lot more appeal. The variety of food options almost seems endless and this is before setting sights on dessert. While all the traditional Ramadan staples are available, there’s a lot more to choose from here. Iftar is available from sunset to 8.30pm daily. Pricing: Iftar for adults is AED 260 per person inclusive of soft beverages. For children from 6-12 years old, the price is AED 130.

Grand Hyatt Dubai

Iftar at al Ameera Ballroom The ballroom looks magical and festive all decked out for the month of Ramadan. With the traditional call of the Middle Eastern marketplace ringing out from time to time by the traditional Tamar Hindi drink seller making his rounds throughout the venue and dispensing his sweet and tangy drink to all patrons. The atmosphere is worth experiencing. The food is abundant and as per Grand Hyatt tradition finger lickingly delectable. And it’s always full, so you would need to book much in advance. Grand Hyatt Dubai has also partnered this year with Al Jalila Foundation, donating one dirham for every Iftar meal bought. Grand Iftar in the Ballroom – Every day from sunset to 9:00pm AED195 per person including soft drinks. AED95 per child aged 6-12; children under the age of six dine complimentary. For reservations, please call 04 317 2222.

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Sohour Sohour in Laylati Café (Ramadan tent) - Every day from 9:00 PM to 2:00 AM (Saturday to Wednesday) and from 9:00 PM to 2:30 AM (Thursday and Friday) À la carte menu ranging from cold and hot mezze to manakish saj Cover Charge AED35 per person on weekdays / AED50 per person on weekends Set menus are available upon request Private Iftar With function rooms capable of accommodating private groups, guests will find that every requirement is fully catered to and will enjoy the Ramadan marquee for the ideal ending to a perfect Iftar. The hotel’s Events team will be delighted to arrange for an extravagant Iftar buffet. For more information and bookings, please contact please contact events.grandhyattdubai@hyatt.com or call 04 317 2618.


Iftars 2016

Atlantis The Palm

Asateer

Asateer is an iconic Ramadan experience. You have to try it each time. As for the last five years, this year, too, Arabian Automobiles has partnered with Atlantis The Palm to sponsor the Asateer tent throughout Ramadan. Infiniti’s QX50 and QX60 will be on display at the Asateer tent throughout the month. Iftar At Asateer Tent Sunset To 8:30pm Iftar Buffet: AED 205 per person including water and Ramadan juices. Non smoking during Iftar.

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Iftars 2016

Sufra Iftar, Hyatt Regency Creek Heights

Hyatt Regency Creek Heights

Sufra

Headed by Chef Carlos Hannon, the iftar at this all day dining restaurant is superlative. His team has recently been enhanced by the arrival of a talented Moroccan Chef who has helped add to the charm of the Iftar menu at Sufra. Chef Hannon being hands on and having extreme attention to detail is perhaps the only Chef who is involved even during the Iftar as it is in progress. Whether it is assisting guests, explaining the nuances of ingredients or even bringing his specials directly to his guests’ tables. His expertise and passion definitely enhances the experience. Iftar: AED140 per person including Arabic juices, soft drinks and water. AED70 for children between 6 and 12 with those under six dining complimentary.

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Iftars 2016

Le Meridian Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre

Mahec

The restaurant which has been a popular spot for a long time, recently reopened with even better food and ambience. This time legendary chef Satish Arora is also consulting with the restaurant’s menu and the food as a result is fantastic. Their menu for Ramadan is extensive and has all the regulars and then some. Iftar Buffet Timings:18:30 - 21:00 pm ( weekdays) & 18:30 - 21:30 ( weekend ) Restaurant Timings during Ramadan: 18:30 pm - 1:00 am (weekdays) & 18:30 pm - 1:30 am (weekends) Iftar Buffet priced at AED 139/- per person. Children 5 – 11 years AED 75/- per child. Children below 4 eat complimentary.

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La Collection de Grasse

Jasmin & Bergamote Your guests would experience the finest L’OCCITANE creation…and bring back home a souvenir as an unforgettable moment spent in your property… La Collection de Grasse by L’OCCITANE EN PROVENCE amenities. Jasmin-Bergamote available in 30 ml, 50 ml, 75 ml and 50g soap bar. Honoring the heritage of Grasse, the perfumerie capital of the world, this inspiring collection brings together ingredients from close & distant lands to create exceptional fragrances, with superior Grasse expertise. L’OCCITANE created the refreshing Jasmin floral range inspired by selected refined ingredients: bergamot essential oil from Italy and jasmine absolutes from Grasse (France). Top noTe: Bergamot, Mandarin Middle noTe: Jasmin, Lemon leaves Base noTe: Santal, Cedar. An eco-friendly paraben free range (certificates available), satisfying your VIP guests, adapted to all genders from all over the world, with special ingredients, reassuring gentle formulas for all skin types ensuring sensorial textures and experience. To come: Turndown, VIP gifts, Green Tea scented range.

Contact: Myriam Redouane / 048128300 / 055a 710 4252/ Myriam.Redouane@mailmac.net / http://www.chalhoubgroup.com/

loccitane-me.com


Brand focus LPG

Natura Bisse’s O2 Facial

Luxe products daily


Brand focus

Beauty tech -LPG

TH talks to Ludovic Loffreda, CEO, LPG Bella Concept LLC, about how technology is changing the face of beauty in the region, and the world

I

n 1986, LPG, a French company, launched the first natural and non-invasive solution to help men and women live in harmony with their bodies, through its principle of MÉCANO-STIMULATION*, the process wherein the skin’s surface is stimulated to generate deep biological responses. Through the years, LPG has invested in numerous scientific research and developments to upgrade the LPG machines so these can deliver the highest performance, be versatile, and with new patented innovations and features that make the anti-aging and body slimming treatments even more effective and easy to use. After a major car accident in mid1970, Louis Paul Guitay (from which

58 july/august 2016

the name LPG came from) suffered from a lot of scars and bruises all over his body, and 70 per cent of his skin was burned. For many years, he had therapeutic massages at home to repair his skin, but it took time with the manual massage to see visible results. He thought of ways to speed up the process, and unknowingly it led him to this fantastic discovery. “This is how he was inspired to pursue the idea of creating a machine with a gentle vacuum and roller to stimulate the skin and underlying tissue, to make the treatment more systematic, and which has lasting visible results in making the skin smoother, minimising the appearance of scars. The medical breakthrough has led to the growth of LPG, which has also grown into beauty, health/


Brand focus

wellness, sports and fitness,” narrates Ludovic Loffreda, CEO, LPG Bella Concept LLC. LPG’s Body Endermologie Treatments refine women’s and men‘s bodies, and has become a standard in beauty. This treatment for the body is focused on reducing excess fat, improving blood circulation and lymphatic flow, smoothing the appearance of cellulite, and treating and oxygenating the skin. The treatments are 100 per cent natural, non-aggressive and very relaxing. The Body Endermologie technique also effectively releases diet and exerciseresistant fat.“You will see visible fatrelease results from the sixth session of 35-minutes each,” informs Loffreda. The technique aims to firm the skin (skin densification: +240 per cent), re-sculpt the figure, smooth cellulite (reduced by 20 per cent), and slim down fat cells (acceleration of lipolysis: +70 per cent). “Face Endermologie Treatments are LPG’s technique for re-densifying the thin tissue of the face, also a 100 per cent natural, high-tech beauty regime, which is the only anti-aging

solution for the production of collagen and elastin, giving you responsible beauty, with effectiveness and quick results. With this technique, you can have visible, fresh and youthful skin results from the first session,” explains Loffreda. Loffreda claims that 95 per cent of their clients are very satisfied with their LPG treatments. The other five per cent actually need to adjust their lifestyle habits, such as eating whole, fresh vegetables, and exercising regularly and being active.“They should also commit to respect their LPG schedules, and come thrice a week for their sessions to see really good results,” he adds. LPG’s R&D team in France is continuously investing in research to upgrade the LPG machines and bring them up-to-date with state-of-the-art features. To date, LPG has developed over 125 different scientific studies that prove that the company takes research, innovation and technology at the heart of its operations. At the first LPG session, the therapist evaluates the clients/patients to check what their main concerns

For many years, he had therapeutic massages at home to repair his skin, but it took time with the manual massage to see visible results

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Brand focus

are, their personal motivation for undergoing the treatment, their lifestyle habits, their age, medical conditions, and if they have any contraindication, before they start their treatment. Proper assessment / evaluation is a must to have a good treatment protocol, and to customise the treatment according to each individual’s morphotype and needs. “LPG also has a dedicated skin care line called The New LPG Soins Technique Skincare Range, which works well with the various LPG treatments, and, at the same time, they can also be used at home to enhance one’s beauty routine. It is the only skincare line you need to take good care of your skin, look younger, and have supple, firmer skin for your face and body, using natural ingredients which are free of paraben. These cosmetics products have to be used twice a day (morning and evening time) to optimise the result,” explains Loffreda. 60 july/august 2016

To date, LPG has developed over 125 different scientific studies that prove that the company takes research, innovation and technology at the heart of its operations

Some of the new range, which consists of five slimming and firming products and ten anti-aging face products, include the following products.

Body Care Line

LPG Glowing Revitalising Cream - This restorative treatment nourishes, firms and smoothens skin made fragile by age for a ‘new skin’ effect day after day. Thanks to its hyaluronic acid-based, exclusive LPG anti-aging Complex, it works efficiently on the synthesis of collagen and elastin, and prevents their degradation. AHAs (fruit acids) accelerate cellular renewal, creating a gentle micro-peeling effect that has visible results: smoothing small skin imperfections, skin radiance, stretch

mark prevention and reduction. LPG Detox Draining Serum Enriched with LPG Exclusive Slimming Complex, this cosmetic care helps to quickly and efficiently eliminate bulges from the body as a whole. It is combined with Escine, whose draining effect efficiently reduces aqueous cellulite. It can also refine your figure, and bring comfort and well-being back to your legs.

Face Care Line LPG Intense Hydrating Serum Recover skin hydration and fill in wrinkles and fine lines instantly and durably. With its complex of active ingredients based on low molecular weight hyaluronic acid, this serum helps to protect the skin’s water reserves. Durably hydrated, the skin regains its plump and smooth aspect. Its non-occlusive hyaluronic acid film also protects the skin from external aggressions.


Brand focus

LPG Complete Correction Fluid Naturally beautify your complexion while protecting your skin from UV rays. Complete Correction Fluid is the all-purpose must-have care for beautiful skin. Enriched with hyaluronic acid, it enhances deep skin hydration and favours collagen and elastin production for the skin to regain its plump and smooth aspect. Using patented Chromacare™ technology, this care also smoothens imperfections and corrects blemishes and red spots for a uniform and perfect complexion. Finally, its urban solar filter (SPF 15) protects the skin from daily aggressions to prevent sign of aging. LPG therapists are trained in the use of machines and products.“The training session for new therapists usually takes two-three days, depending on the LPG device. It is

then followed by an evaluation after a week by the LPG trainers,” he explains. After completion of the full initial training, the therapist must practice hands-on to be more confident and comfortable in handling the machine. During the follow-up and evaluation, the LPG trainer will give a written and practical exam and if the therapists pass the given test, only then will they be allowed to handle a client and will be certified. Refresher training is also conducted every three-six months to make sure their skills are up-to-date, and are at par with industry standards. “Happy clients always return, thus our philosophy is to make sure the LPG therapists are very knowledgeable and very adept in administering the different treatments,” he smiles. There are approximately more than 200 locations with LPG machines

Happy clients always return, thus our philosophy is to make sure the LPG therapists are very knowledgeable and very adept in administering the different treatments

in the UAE and GCC/MENA. “The brand was introduced around 14 years ago in the UAE, and has been growing quickly since, because people always opt for an effective and natural treatment, which respects ‘Responsible Beauty’,” says Loffreda. Loffreda informs that there is always a high demand for LPG services in the UAE, not only because of the beauty benefits, but also for health/ sports and fitness benefits.“The highest demand is in Dubai, as this emirate represents a huge chunk of the beauty market in this region. We are also expanding in the other GCC countries, which offer great potential in growing our LPG business,” he concludes.

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Spa review

A boost with oxygen Natura Bisse’s O2 Facial releases pure oxygen into your skin and 60 minutes later you look fresh and radiant. A mix of exceptional products, massage and complete relaxation of the mind leads to such results

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Spa review

The O2 Relax by Natura Bisse at the Spa at the Ritz Carlton JBR The Spa at the Ritz is a beautiful space with a number of treatment rooms, relaxation area, separate women’s and men’s plunge pools, steam and sauna. It also has an exclusive open-air private pool. Always a good experience visiting this spa. Once I had filled in the form talking about allergies and lifestyle habits. I was led to the relaxation area to wait for my therapist. She arrived soon enough and I was taken to the treatment room. I was informed about the steps of the treatment and asked about my music and temperature preferences. The treatment began with a thorough cleans-

ing and toning in order to prepare the skin for the glycolic peel exfoliation. This is a two step process and leaves the skin cleaner, hydrated and line-free. Following this was the application of the oxygen concentrate and mask. While this was applied the therapist massaged the limbs and the scalp to complete the relaxation experience. She then removed the mask and applied the sun protection cream, eye cream, moisturiser and lip balm. I was ready to get back into the daily grind but with better looking skin. Duration: 60 minutes Verdict: Excellent!

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product review

Exceptional

daily skin care

The creams and serums you use daily are the stars that add the glow and attraction to the skin. Here we have a number of high performing products that really work hard to make the skin look and feel fabulous Elemis Biotec Skin Energising Cleanser, 200ml, AED 333: This revolutionary range of products work extremely well together. The cleanser cleans face of all makeup and impurities and prepares it to receive the day and night creams. Reviews of those are below. A fantastic set of products. You will love your skin with these three star products.

Dermalogica Hydrablur Primer: This product is a dream come true. Having combination skin this really adds the relevant amount of mattifying to the nose and forehead area and simultaneously adds moisture to the cheeks. No pores mean smooth flawless beautiful looking skin.

June Jacobs Pore Purifying Facial Bath: This deep pore cleanser removes make-up effectively without the taut feeling afterwards. Not only does it just clean the face but it feels smoother as excess dry skin is eliminated and it closes pores so the skin feels moist and radiant.

Omorovicza Copper Peel, 8 peel paste tubes and 8 activator tubes: Enough cannot be said about the results that you see on your face after trying this fantastic product. The skin is clean, smooth glowing. The application process goes like this you first put the peel paste green colour paste on the skin and gently rub it on the skin this is followed by the application of the activator which helps pull out dead skin and impurities leaving the skin clean smooth soft, amazing! The best at home peel ever. 64 july/august 2016


product review

Elemis Biotec Skin Energising Day Cream, AED 629: As mentioned above this cream is a part of the Biotec range and works well after the application of the cleanser. It is quickly absorbed and leaves skin supple, soft, line and pore free. The face really looks rested and relaxed. All due to the ingredients of this gorgeous cream.

Clarins Super Restorative Hand Cream, 100ml: Love this hard working hand cream. It glides on smooth and is absorbed instantly without any oily sticky feel or residue. Hands are soft, supple, well looked after and your nails will also get beautiful healthy and strong.

Guerlain Terracotta Sunprotect 15 UVA&B Sun Moisturiser and Tan Booster: Dubai’s harsh summer means skin protection all the way. Guerlain’s exceptional sun protector/ moisturiser as well as tan booster is an amazing multi tasking cream for achieving the healthy glow. It works fast and a little goes a long way. You’ll be complimented for the summer glowing look instantaneously.

June Jacobs Pore Purifying Toner: The first thing about this toner is its refreshing smell. It removes excess oil and soothes the skin reducing pores and basically preparing the skin to receive the rest of the skin care products. Jane Iredale Beauty Prep Face Cleanser, 90ml: This is a magic face cleanser. Being a high performance micellar water, the results will amaze you. The best part is you don’t need to rinse this off. This also reduces the morning and night routine time drastically. A definite must have product. Your face will thanks you for it. march/april 2016 65


product review

Omorovicza Queen of Hungary Mist: This toner is really divine. The smell and feel of it on the skin is very luxurious. It can be used in multiple ways, as a hydrating spray before applying serum and make-up or even to set the make-up after application. It’s a wonderful product that does not make your make-up look cakey in this summer heat.

Jane Iredale Beauty Prep Face Toner, 88.7ml: This toner really smoothes the kin, reduces pore size and prepares the skin for moisturiser and make-up. As a result, makeup goes on smoother and stays on longer.

Clarins Super Restorative Decollete and Neck Concentrate, 75ml: This is one hard working product. Can be applied from the chin down till the top of the chest for reducing crepey and dry skin. It tightens the skin and visibly smoothes rough areas.

66 july/august 2016

Guerlain Terracotta Sunprotect 30 UVA&B Sun Moisturiser and Tan Booster: This much like it’s sister product (reviewed above) gives you a natural summer tan but has a higher sun protection factor meaning you could use this for longer times spent in the sun. Very effective in adding that summer glow to the skin.

Clarins Multi Active Night Cream: This cream is intensely moisturising. And as with the day cream a little goes a long way. The morning after, the skin looks and feels radiant, glowing and hydrated. A must buy for dealing with extremely dehydrated skin.


product review

June Jacobs Pore Purifying Mud Masque: The ingredients in this nutrient dense mud pack are intriguing. It has lemon peel and rosemary for removing dead skin cells and natural anti inflammatories like arnica to soothe and refine the skin complexion. So the results are unforgettable. It makes you eagerly await the time of its next application!

Dermalogica Overnight Repair Serum: This is a fabulous product which works hard on the skin while you sleep. It repairs, rejuvenates and enhances the complexion. The skin really looks wow the morning after.

Elemis Biotec Skin Energising Night Cream, AED 713: This night cream is great. It replenishes moisture, enhances skin nourishment and vitality. The complexion looks renewed and beautiful.

Omorovicza Instant Plumping Mask: As the name suggests, the skin is instantly and delightfully moisturised and plumped. The application of the Omorovicza Peel followed by this mask and the spray of the Queen of Hungary Mist is one of the best things you could do for your skin before a special occasion, or even anytime you want the skin to look and feel extra special.

Clarins Multi Active Day Cream: This is one of those creams that the skin drinks up and feels literally plumper. Not many creams have that kind of an effect on my face. The fact that you need a very little amount means the jar will last you for a while. A good investment for great skin everyday.

july/August 2016 67


Community

Living up to their responsibilities Hotels around the region are doing their utmost to give back to their societies. Corp Amman Hotel, Jordan and JA Resorts & Hotels, Dubai embody the spirit of giving this Ramadan with their initiatives

Corp Amman Hotel, Jordan

Corp Amman Iftar

JA Resorts & Hotels In the UAE, JA Resorts & Hotels took a different route, by providing Iftar meals to 500 workers in Dubai, through funds raised from charitable contributions by its associates. JA Resorts & Hotels matched the amount raised by its associates to add to the donation, and ensured that more workers were fed. The meals were specially prepared at JA Jebel Ali Golf Resort and served by their associates. Otto Kurzendorfer, General Manager at JA Jebel Ali Golf Resort, said,“At JA Resorts & Hotels, we encourage a culture of care for our guests, staff, and the wider community. Ramadan is a time of compassion and giving and we believe in doing our part in embracing the spirit of this holy month.”Added David Thomson, Chief Operating Officer of JA Resorts & Hotels, “We appreciate the dedication and hard work of the workers in this city and strive to do what we can to support them through the month and beyond.” 68 july/august 2016

In an initiative to give back to the community, Corp Amman Hotel, Jordan, organised a special Iftar for orphaned children from Mabarrat Um Al-Hussein in Jordan last month. Over 60 children were welcomed to enjoy a delicious meal caringly prepared by the chefs at the hotel. Said Nizam Bou Antoun, General Manager of Corp Amman Hotel,“Ramadan is a month of sharing our blessings with one and all, especially the less fortunate and vulnerable kids. We are delighted to support and welcome children from Mabarrat Um Al-Hussein, which is doing a phenomenal job for society. It is wonderful to see the beautiful smiles on the innocent faces of those children who have gone through enormous hardships, and have been deprived the love and care of their parents. It is our privilege to have had them as our very special guests.” Aside from the Iftar meal, the children were kept entertained with an array of exciting activities. Mabarrat Um Al-Hussein was established in 1958 as a learning and care institution for orphans and children living in hardship. At the centre, these orphans, or kids coming from broken homes or impoverished families, are provided with a safe environment and learning opportunities.

At the centre, these orphans, or kids coming from broken homes or impoverished families, are provided with a safe environment and learning opportunities

JA’s Ramadan Iftar for 500 workers


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Top Hotel July August 2016 Issue  

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

Top Hotel July August 2016 Issue  

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

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