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May/June 2014 Issue 01

Essential reading for hotel operators, owners, developers and investors

IN THE MIDST OF THE FUTURE How technology is shaping the hotel experience

The cost factor

Detailed report on property construction costs

Ultra posh hideaway LVMH Hospitality in the Maldives

The Address to live in Checking in at The Address Marina

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

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Welcome to the first issue. Top hotel Middle East is happy to be back in the market. The tourism and travel industry is at the top of its game currently in the region and even internationally. And what’s more is as per all economic indicators, the regional market is only going to get bigger. The industry is buzzing, steadily preparing itself for all that is to come. UAE’s Expo 2020 is the biggest occasion to look forward to but it’s more than that as the country prepares to expand as it will in the years leading to 2020 and beyond. What is very interesting is all the activity in secondary cities such as Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah that are also establishing themselves as a destinations offering a lot more at a lot less without compromising on the luxury factor which is synonymous with properties in the country and region. As the market expands, and demand for building materials increase, indicators predict short term increases in construction costs, currently the highest being in Qatar. Top hotel Middle East aims to be the voice of the industry, we want to bring to you the real picture and the best way to get that is through you - the hoteliers. As we commence our journey, we are excited to be a part of this ever-expanding industry and need your support and feedback. I look forward to hearing your comments.

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. May 2014 1

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MAY 2014 Issue 01



21 38

04 Top hoTel Undercover

Hardly the luxury we’re used to Top hotel checks-in at Danat Al Ain Resort to get an idea of its service and property status

08 news

All the latest from hotels in the region

16 operaTor inTerview Reimagining luxury

Rosewood, the international hotel chain, sets itself apart with its relationship hospitality culture

21 owner inTerview A grand vision

Abu Dhabi’s TDIC owns ultra luxury developments in the capital

26 cover sTory

In the midst of the future

Technology is steering the way the world sees itself, even more so in the hospitality industry

35 ToUrism 20 million

Dubai’s tourism board, DTCM, is executing the federal plan of receiving 20 million visitors annually

38 desTinaTion reporT

Destination Ras Al Khaimah Secondary city Ras Al Khaimah is actively promoting itself as a destination in its own right

42 hoTel review

The ‘Address’ to live in

The luxurious hotspot right in the midst of the Dubai Marina

46 dream locaTion

Ultra posh hideaway

A look LVMH Hospitality’s ultra luxurious Cheval Blanc Randheli, Maldives

50 Food and beverage Will travel for food

Jumeirah Etihad Towers’ GM says today’s travellers even travel the world for exceptional food

52 inside bUsiness The cost factor

HVS Middle East analyses hotel development cost data

59 leTTer From london A tale of two cities

A look at the hotel investment landscape in Europe

60 opinion

The human resource

How to retain the hospitality industry’s single most impactful tool

61 happenings

All round view

A round-up of community events happening at hotels around the region

64 lasT word

Gary’s Top hotel

Gary Rhodes tells us about his favourite hotels in the regio

May 2014 3

About Top hotel Undercover

Not five star at all Danat Al Ain Resort nestled in the Garden city of Al Ain, is a pleasant property, one which is popular with a lot of travellers and has won many Trip Advisor accolades as well. However, it pales in comparison to its more luxurious counterparts around the country

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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-start hotels in Europe and beyond; we now pledge to carry on that tradition in the Middle East. We hope that by highlighting the good and the bad, we can help to raise standards across the region and recognise the properties that have clearly got it right.

Top hoTel Undercover

ReseRvation: Wednesday, 3.41pm The phone was answered immediately and I was connected to reservations once I told the lady that I wanted to know about room rates. The person who answered at Reservation was also very efficient and ready with all the answers to my questions. When I asked about the best room rate he suggested I come by on a Saturday as they have the lowest rate. However since I wasn’t able to go on Saturday I booked to stay on Sunday. The room rate was AED 649 with breakfast and wifi (which if not included in the room rate is AED 75 per day) not including service charge which was AED 103.84. This charge included the newly established Tourism Dirham. He asked me for my credit card number not to block any amount but because this reservation was non-cancellable and in the situation of a no-show, I would be charged the full room rate of AED 753.

He booked for me a deluxe room for one night, informed me of the check-in (2pm) and check out (12 noon) times and hung up. The conversation was handled in a professional manner and the gentleman had all the information I required. evaluation: excellent

CheCk-in: sunday, 3.25pm When I got to the property the exterior facade is not very impressive looking, it looks like an old-style hotel property. I was met at the entrance by a valet attendant who was dressed in a casual hotel t-shirt and trousers. He asked me about how many bags I had and asked me to proceed inside. The interior main entrance to the hotel is good-looking enough. There are a number of seating areas, near the checkin desk as well as a 24-hour Tea Shop at the back. (This property is being managed by Danat Hotels and Resorts for the last three years, before that this hotel was an

Intercontinental Hotel. The property was renovated a year ago. This information came from a conversation I had with one of the members of the staff later that evening.) The lady at check-in pulled up my reservation and asked for a deposit amount. She informed me that she would refund the change (once she deducted the room rate) to me on check-out. She informed me about the breakfast restaurant location and timings, gave me the the room key and directions to get to it. evaluation: satisfactory

Room 604 The room was bright and spacious but had low-ceilings and walls that weren’t soundproof at all as all throughout the day I could hear my neighbours and their children. There wasn’t any welcome note or message on the television. The room had tea and coffee making facilities and complimentary water.

May 2014 5

The room was very clean, there was no coating of dust anywhere, all lighting, except the bed-side lamp, was working fine. The tv was kept on a large table by one of the walls and so had space to be a work desk as well as the tea/coffee making area at the corner. There was a comfortable arm chair with a foot rest and a floor lamp and small table beside it by the balcony. Yes, all rooms came with balconies. That is the exterior facade of the property - all the balconies. The view from Room 604 was of the very large pool area, perhaps the most beautiful part of the entire hotel. The curtains and carpets were beige, however the carpets must have seen better days. The safe deposit box, mini-bar (I’ll get to it in a minute) and a mini fridge was in one of the closets. Strangely, though, the fridge was locked and couldn’t be opened. The mini bar, since it was just a basket of nuts and biscuits with a one litre bottle of Evian, could hardly be called a mini bar and had a hand written check list on the side. Looked very last century! The furniture in the room, was overall okay, nothing out of the ordinary or anything that would evoke a five-star property appeal. All the tables in the room were glass-topped, but the glass wasn’t fastened to the wood so it moved around! A few minutes after my bags were dropped in the room, two little welcome platters were brought in one was a few local dates (delicious!) and the other was a few fruits. Evaluation: Just okay

ThE BaThroom The bathroom was clean, adequately sized had a green granite-topped counter with a single wash basin, a tiny shelf on the left held two glasses and a vanity mirror. At the bottom of the vanity mirror there usually is another smaller mirror offering even closer close-ups, however this was missing from the mirror. The fittings worked well, there was a digital weighing scale showing the wrong weight (I mean, it gave me a start as it added three kilos). The tub was larger than regular size the shower head was the regular one at every home and the fittings and fixtures in the bathroom looked quite used. The toiletries were from a brand called Organic. Amenities on the wash basin counter included shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, vanity kit, shower cap, sanitary bag and sewing kit. Evaluation: Just okay

6 May 2014

Top hoTel Undercover

Room SeRvice 4.15pm

The i-Pad, however connected as soon as he tried it. He left me without a laptop connection! I had loads to get done. A few minutes later though I was connected to the internet and finally everything was sorted.

The wifi on both my devices - the laptop and i-Pad wasn’t working. I called the operator and informed her that I couldn’t connect to the internet. She said she would send someone over to check. 4.45 pm: It was a very long half an hour after which the IT technician arrived. Apparently, there was a problem with the wifi that afternoon and lots of guests had issues connecting. The IT technician tried three to four times to connect the laptop, troubleshooting all the while but was also unable to connect.

yoghurt, muesli, hot old-fashioned porridge, cereal, labneh, asian breakfast options, tea, coffee, fresh juices, the works. Attentive service and sumptious food. evaluation: Good

evaluation: Satisfactory

check oUT: 11.45am BReAkfAST BUffeT, ARABeSqUe: monday, 10.10am This was by far the best experience I had in the hotel, the breakfast buffet was the regular huge variety one is used to in UAE hotels. Eggs to order, pancakes to order, fruits, a huge assortment of danish pastries,

I was asked for my room details, the lady checking me out was very friendly and we chatted away all the while she gave me the change, receipt, got my signature. Everything was swift and efficient. And I was soon on my way. evaluation: Satisfactory

Danat Al Ain Resort Reservation: Excellent

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

Check-in: Satisfactory Room 604: Poor Bath: Poor Floor service: Satisfactory Landscaping: Good

Top hotel Undercover opinion:


Fitness: Satisfactory Corridors, elevators, stairs: Satisfactory

Total: 55.45%

Housekeeping: Satisfactory Check out: Good 0






May 2014 7

Hospitality Management Holdings firms presence in Sudan

With tWo new hotels due to open this year, Hospitality Management Holdings (HMH) recently announced its firm commitment to consolidating its presence in Sudan. Addressing

an exclusive press conference in Khartoum, Laurent A. Voivenel, CEO, HMH, said,“Sudan is part of our ‘Go Africa’ strategy.With three hotels in operation and two under development we are

DTCM wants more Emiratis in tourism At the recently held Careers UAE 2014 fair DTCM called out to young Emiratis to consider careers in tourism Ibrahim Yaqoot, Executive Director of HR and Training Solutions at DCTM, said,“The number of UAE Nationals working in the hospitality sector is approximately 3,160 and we plan to increase this number by 15 per cent on an annual basis. DTCM’s ‘START’ programme aims to prepare and educate young Emiratis to work in the sector.” Yaqoot further commented that 40 hotels were participating with the DTCM in this initiative including Atlantis, The Palm; Shangri-La; Armani; JW Marriott; Accor; Fairmont; Conrad; and The Address. Through the fair there were opportunities to work at the DTCM too. Mariam Al Maeeni, Director of HR at DTCM, said,“Several of the Emirati employees who currently work with us were appointed through previous career fairs.”

8 May 2014

strongly positioned in Sudan and well-placed to contribute to the growth of the local hospitality and tourism industry. We have got a strong portfolio of brands and are in intensive discussions with Sudanese Kuwaiti Hotels Company to consolidate and build on our strategic cooperation.” HMH has deepened its presence in North Sudan since it took over the management of Coral Khartoum Hotel in 2009. The group has quite rapidly expanded its footprint in the country with five hotels in a relatively short span of time. Opening this year will be EWA Port Sudan Hotel and Apartments and EWA Khartoum Hotel and Apartments. HMH has introduced several new initiatives this year including the brand revitalization of Coral Hotels & Resorts and extensive technology upgrade including new e-commerce friendly, multilingual websites. Dr. Abo Bakr Mohammed Abo Bakr, General Manager, Sudanese Kuwaiti Hotels Company, said,“Sudan has tremendous potential to

be developed as a tourism destination but there is a lot of catching up to do. Once known as the bread basket of the Arab world, Sudan is the third largest yet one of the least visited countries in Africa despite rich history, diverse culture and incredible scenic beauty.There are many ancient pyramids all over Sudan, attracting many tourists from the region and abroad. Sadly, much of the country’s natural and architectural treasures have remained hidden from the world’s tourism industry. The travel and tourism infrastructure in Sudan needs to be developed. There is a shortage of hotels, particularly outside the capital Khartoum, with many key tourist attractions completely lacking suitable accommodation. HMH – Hospitality Management Holdings is among the few reputable hospitality groups present in the country and has been playing an instrumental role in the development of the industry. There are many fabulous opportunities under consideration and we look forward to an exciting future together.” The government of Sudan has pledged US $1 billion a year to boost the country’s tourism industry. Air transportation in Sudan has grown tremendously over the recent years. Flights to and from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are increasing largely due to the expansion of low-cost carriers in the region. Benefiting from the growing number of flight connections, inbound and outbound tourism to and from the Middle East is growing too. According to a report issued by Ministry of Tourism and Wild Life 591,350 tourists visited Sudan in 2013 spending US $735,501 million. The world’s first known Karma Civilization is located in Sudan as also the Meroe Civilization. In terms of wildlife, Sudan is rated among the world’s top 10 countries.

Westin survey reveals high sense of well being among UAE travellers A GLOBAL well-being survey conducted by Westin Hotels and Resorts has found that although work-related stress has increased over the last few years, nearly two-fifths (38 per cent) of UAE respondents feel that their overall sense of wellbeing is ‘excellent and could not be better’. A further 25 per cent felt that their well-being was ‘good but that a couple of things could be better’. The Westin brand’s global well-being study was unveiled on the heels of the launch of the Westin Well-Being Movement, a multi-million dollar initiative designed to enhance the well-being of guests and associates around the world. Well-being at work An overwhelming 63 per cent stated their well-being was either ‘good’ or ‘excellent’, however the level of workrelated stress for the majority of respondents has either

significantly increased (39 per cent) or somewhat increased (29 per cent) over the past few years. The majority of respondents believe that work-related stress can cloud their judgement for everyday life decisions (62 per cent) Over a third of respondents need two to three (34 per cent) or four or more (26 per cent) mental breaks during a typical working day to recharge Not surprisingly, competing priorities between work and personal life is one of the biggest barriers to well-being for over half (54 per cent) of those surveyed. More than a third (33 per cent) find that when travelling it is hard to maintain their well-being routine When it comes to food options while travelling, respondents are most concerned about gaining weight from eating unhealthy food (43 per cent),

and limited access to healthy food options (28 per cent) Stressed out Survey results also show that stress continues to be an enemy of achieving a balanced sense of well-being. Virtually no one escaped work stress over the past year with only a third saying their stress levels decreased or remained the same. According to the survey, travellers continue to look to contribute to their well-being through a variety of activities to help them unwind after a stressful workday: In terms of combatting stress most respondents feel that meditation is either a good (32 per cent) or excellent (29 per cent) resource to alleviate stress Two of the top things that respondents do to unwind after a stressful work day are meditation/yoga (37 per cent), and eat comfort food (25 per cent)

“The results of this survey made one thing crystal clear: citizens of the globe are ultra-aware of their state of well-being and are interested in what they can do to maintain it and improve their health and balance - even when faced with accelerated stress,”said Brian Povinelli, Global Brand Leader, Westin Hotels and Resorts.“Westin is proud to be the global leader in hospitality well-being, and we are excited to utilise these results to better meet the needs of our guests through our brand-new Westin Well-being Movement.” Westin Hotels recently announced the global launch of the Westin Well-being Movement, an ambitious US $15 million brand-wide campaign that will introduce a string of innovative partnerships and programmes across Westin’s six brand pillars: Feel Well, Work Well, Move Well, Eat Well, Sleep Well and Play Well.

Armani Hotel Dubai celebrates fourth anniversary ARMANI HOTEL Dubai, the flagship property under Emaar Properties PJSC and Giorgio Armani S.p.A’s collaboration, celebrated its fourth anniversary last month with a unique four-day global culinary campaign. Four of the hotel’s five criticallyacclaimed restaurants featured a special anniversary menu created exclusively in honour of the occasion. The hospitality centerpiece of Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest building – and a luxury pioneer in the urban heart of the city, the hotel was named ‘World’s Leading Landmark Hotel’ at the 2013 World Travel Awards, following a successful first four years of operation. Armani/ Ristorante and

Armani/Amal recently clinched the honours for ‘Best Italian’ and ‘Best Indian’ restaurants, respectively, at the TimeOut Dubai Restaurant Awards 2014.

MAY 2014 9

Mövenpick Hotels Jordan receive multiple awards

Jordan’s Prime Minister, Dr. Abdullah Ensour honoured two Mövenpick properties in Jordan for their creativity and excellence in the field of tourism during 2013. Mövenpick Resort and Residences Aqaba won“Best Five-Star Hotel”in the Red Sea port of Aqaba, while Mövenpick Resort Petra received the award for“Best Five-Star Hotel”in Petra. Organised by the Jordan Society of Travel and Tourist Agents, the “Creativity and Excellence in Tourism Awards” recognise outstanding efforts by institutions and individuals that support the tourism and antiquities sector in the country.

10 May 2014

Winners were measured against criteria such as leadership and involvement in tourism development projects, guest satisfaction, hospitality services and socially responsible activities. Mövenpick Resort and Resedences Aqaba has 296 rooms, suites and apartments overlooking the Gulf of Aqaba, eight restaurants and lounges, four swimming pools and extensive wellness facilities. Mövenpick Resort Petra is just steps from the historic Rose City, with oriental architecture, authentic antiques and artwork, 183 rooms and suites as well as

seven dining options offering views of the Rift Valley. Both winning properties are Green Globe certified and support environmental and socially responsible activities. Mövenpick Resort and Residences Aqaba also has Blue Flag status and is certified by Green Key, the international programme that promotes sustainable tourism initiatives worldwide. The awards, the first to recognise excellence, innovation and creativity in Jordan’s tourism sector, were held in cooperation with the Chairman of the Parliamentary Tourism

and Antiquities Committee MP Amjad Al-Maslamani. Ministers, members of the parliament, tourism-related and public figures, media representatives and officials attended the awards ceremony, which was held under the patronage of the Prime Minister. The awards paid special tribute to the Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Dr. Nidal Katamine, for his efforts in boosting tourism. In his address he lauded the country’s ‘open-air museum’ status. He added that the country’s tourism sector accounts for 13 per cent of Jordan’s GDP and is expected to witness an upturn during 2014.

DTCM launches third cycle of Dubai Green Tourism Award The DeparTmenT of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) recently announced the launch of the third cycle of the Dubai Green Tourism Award aimed at recognising the contributions of hotels and the hospitality industry towards better environmental practices. This year’s initiative is expanded to include categories for one-star hotel and tourist desert camps to the existing two to five star hotels, and both standard and deluxe hotel apartments. Till midnight (GMT +4) on July 31, 2014, hotels and tourist desert camps can register their applications via www. The Dubai Green Tourism Award was initiated by DTCM in 2009 to improve and encourage conservation of our resources

and reduce the carbon footprint of the tourism industry. The awards are currently run on a bi-annual basis and 140 applications are expected to participate this year, 34 per cent higher compared to the participants registered in 2011. This year, as well as increasing awareness of environmental issues in the tourism industry, Dubai Green Tourism will continue its work with industry partners to improve the environmental and sustainability performance of Dubai’s tourism industry; and encourage and reward hotels and desert camps as well as service providers in the hospitality industry to invest in comprehensive green programmes. The Dubai Green Tourism Award includes four main criteria which

the assessors will be evaluating the applicants on: Environmental strategies; Performance and Results; Education/ Training & Awareness; and Awards and Recognition. In 2012 participating hotels reported reductions in the consumption of electricity (by 20 per cent) and water (by 27 per cent) following the last cycle of the awards in 2011. The programme has also seen positive impact on carbon emissions reduction by 20 per cent in the same year. Applications received for this year’s cycle will be evaluated by DTCM, DEWA and Dubai Municipality who will select shortlisted companies. The next phase will involve site visits carried out by Dubai Municipality, DEWA, DTCM, Emirates Environmental Group (EEG) and Emirates Wildlife Society-World Wide Fund (EWS-WWF) after which, the finalists will be chosen. The winners of this years’ cycle will be announced early next year.

Chef Wolfgang Puck’s CUT to debut in Dubai CUT moDern American steak restaurant by legendary chef and restaurateur Wolfgang Puck, will open at The Address Downtown Dubai, the flagship property of The Address Hotels + Resorts. Featuring some of the most enticing culinary destinations in the city, The Address Downtown Dubai is further defining its distinctive edge as the must-visit dine-in venue with the addition of CUT. “Dubai, an international city, brings together leisure and business travellers to one dynamic destination,” said Wolfgang Puck. “The Address Downtown Dubai is a phenomenal venue with unparalleled views and is the perfect fit for our goal to establish CUT as the best steak restaurant in the city, and the UAE.” Mirroring the hugely popular and widely known CUT restaurants in Beverly Hills, Las Vegas, Singapore, and London, CUT will deliver innovation at every level through its unique

cuisine, beverage, service, and design combination. Internationally renowned hospitality designer Tony Chi will create the Dubai branch of CUT, and will craft an innovative, elegant, and refined interior. CUT will feature Wolfgang’s signature contemporary interpretation on the traditional American steak restaurant. From prime dry- and wet-aged beef, including selections from the United States and Australia to true 100 per cent Japanese Wagyu Beef, CUT will cater to the palette of true meat connoisseurs. The menu will appeal to a broad audience through an additional array of seafood and shellfish entrees. With 23 fine dining restaurants around the globe, Wolfgang brings a culinary flair like no other. His award-winning restaurants and distinct concepts are distinguished by exceptional food, genuine hospitality, and phenomenal design aesthetics.

May 2014 11

Dubai gets Royal visitors Dubai Cruise Terminal recently rolled out the red carpet for Cunard’s two largest cruise liners, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth that made calls in Dubai. This was the first time that two ‘Queen’ liners docked at Mina Rashid on consecutive days, and also was the first time that either vessel stayed in port overnight. The first ship to arrive was Queen Elizabeth bringing with her a total of 1,888 passengers and 983 crew. Major passenger nationalities on board were British, American and Canadian. This signature class ship, the second largest vessel in the Cunard Cruises fleet, made her first overnight stay in Mina Rashid following her maiden visit to Abu Dhabi April 17 the previous day and before departing for Aqaba, Jordan on April 19.

12 May 2014

Two days later, came Queen Mary 2, Cunard’s biggest liner and the largest ship ever to make a call in Dubai. Carrying a total of 2,459 passengers and 1,249 crew, she too made her first overnight call at Mina Rashid, having left from Colombo in Sri Lanka before heading on for Muscat, Oman on April 21.

Dubai Cruise Tourism arranged welcome ceremonies for both ships on arrival with traditional music and dance performances by local bands. The Department, in conjunction with its partners including DP World, DNRD, Dubai Customs, Dubai Police, RTA, DMCA, and the Ports and Free Zone Security made

arrangements for the safe and swift handling of the ship calls. The double Cunard liner visit were of great significance to Dubai Cruise Tourism, an agency of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) and the body tasked with growing the cruise tourism sector as part of Dubai Government’s Tourism Vision to attract 20 million annual visitors by 2020. DTCM recently announced a partnership with the Oman Ministry of Tourism and the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, Cruise Arabia which will maximise the Arabian Peninsula’s cruise potential. Dubai, Oman and Abu Dhabi together boast an excellent and evolving tourism and hospitality infrastructure and cruise trips with the opportunity to explore the many sights, rich culture, and romantic history of the Arabian Gulf.

Burj al arab offers unforgettable weddings Burj Al ArAB is taking romance to new heights offering weddings in the sky, 212 metres above the azure Arabian Gulf on the famous Burj Al Arab helipad. Each ceremony will be specially designed by a wedding architect, responsible for every detail and available 24/7. The experience has a starting price of AED 200,000 (approximately US$55,000) and can include: arrival at the hotel by air in Italian twin engine Augusta 109 or by road in Rolls Royce Phantom, exquisite accommodation in one of hotel’s 202 suites ranging in size from 170-780 sq metres, private tasting sessions with the hotel’s award-winning Executive Chef Maxime Luvara, consultations on wedding cake design, structure, flavour and composition with Executive Pastry Chef Johannes Bonin, beverage sampling and advice with Head Sommelier Dimitar Dimitrov, beauty treatments and private sessions with celebrity personal trainers at the

Talise Spa, specially designed wedding scent developed by leading perfumist, shopping and styling sessions with the hotel’s personal stylist, access to top haute couturiers, private after-hours access to top luxury fashion brands, consultations with the hotel’s awardwinning team of florists, exclusive access to Dubai’s best jewellers, private lessons in etiquette and dance. The Burj Al Arab helipad has a history of hosting unique activities. In 2004 Tiger Woods teed off the helipad and in 2005 Roger Federer and Andre Agassi challenged each other to a game of tennis there. In 2011 Rory McIlroy performed a hole-in-one from the helipad pad. Burj Al Arab General Manager, Heinrich Morio, says,“We’re always looking for new and special ways to delight our guests. We believe a once-in-a-lifetime event deserves a one-of-a-kind venue and are thrilled to add this special location to our ultimate experience collection.”

May 2014 13

This is the Place

Receiving guests from today - May 1, Hyatt Hotels’ newest edition in the hospitality market, The Hyatt Place, is set to cater to the uber traveller who wants it all … add to that the very appealing price point Hyatt Place is a unique concept created by Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, with signature touches that provide uncomplicated experiences for the business and leisure traveller. This brand is specially created for the ebb and flow of busy, blended lives where guests can progress seamlessly from work to play, from business to pleasure, from frenzied to relaxed. Located in Dubai’s Al Rigga area, the hotel is designed with today’s upwardly mobile, modern traveller in mind, offering a fluid and convenient service for those who travel regularly or who are looking for style and comfort at a more attractive price. Hyatt Place’s motto is “Welcome to a Different Place” and this mantra runs through the whole of the property, most

14 May 2014

apt in the concept of the ‘Gallery Hosts’, who are specially trained staff members on hand to help guests with all their needs. Gallery Hosts are available 24 hours a day to check guests in, take their 24/7 Gallery Menu order, help plan their meetings, make their coffee and anything else guests may need. There’s also a special Odds and Ends menu, full of items a guest may have forgotten to bring that they can buy or borrow and enjoy for free. This is designed for

travellers always on the go and includes nail polish, a universal mobile phone charger, toothpaste and more. Although this is the first Hyatt Place portfolio in the Middle East; the concept has proved very popular in other international locations in the USA, Europe, Asia and South America. “We felt the time was right to bring the concept to the region, as the needs and habits

of travellers have changed. Guests are increasingly looking for comfort and convenience at a more attractive price, but the market in the UAE is saturated with very expensive, luxury hotels, which aren’t suitable for a regular business traveller or someone on a smaller budget. Hyatt Place caters to this, but does not compromise on quality,” says Tareq Daoud, Regional Vice President Global Sales Middle East at Hyatt International. As well as free WIFI and remote printing available throughout the hotel, Hyatt Place also offers free public computers with high-speed internet access, meaning guests can always be connected. The launch of Hyatt Place in the UAE is in line with the local governments’ strategy for the Dubai Expo 2020 to offer an extended variety of hotel options to cater for the influx of travellers expected to travel to Dubai for the event, as well as in the years leading up to it, and for the years which will follow.“We expect to see the hotel industry in the UAE to evolve accordingly and we aim to play our part in this,” adds Daoud.

EverStyle Trading L.L.C., PO Box: 103869, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Tel: +971 6 531 4106, Fax: +971 6 531 4460 Dubai Showroom Tel: +971 4 388 3812,

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EverStyle Trading L.L.C., PO Box: 103869, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Tel: +971 6 531 4106, Fax: +971 6 531 4460 Dubai Showroom Tel: +971 4 388 3812,

The Mobile-Pack will change the way you think about housekeeping carts. This stylish solution to traditional housekeeping trolleys brings ease, order and visual appeal to guest room cleaning. Tailored to the service industry, our room attendant trolley’s sleek design combines function and form for optimal staff performance and a seamless experience for your most discerning guests. The Mobile-Pack® housekeeping trolley’s polished profile blends into its surroundings and opens corridor space to create a positive impression of your day-to-day operations. Highlighting its orderly appearance and aesthetic value, Mobile-Pack earned recognition on the famous hospitality TV show “Hotel Impossible”. The MobilePack is crafted for top performance. Lightweight durable construction and strategic internal compartments provide lasting quality, reduce employee strain and enhance staff productivity. Let Mobile-Pack make a significant difference in your operations.

OpeRatOR InteRvIew

Rosewood properties are one-of-kind experience for guests. Radha Arora, CEO, Rosewood, spoke to Top Hotel Middle East about how their ‘relationship hospitality’ culture is their core identity

Reimagining 16 May 2014

What is your current growth strategy? How many projects are you handling currently in the region and how many are going to happen in this year? Rosewood has embarked upon an ambitious global expansion with a particular focus on Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Last year, Rosewood Abu Dhabi opened to great acclaim and is the fourth property we manage in the region. Later this year, this number will increase to five with the opening of Al Faisaliah at Durrat Arriyadh, a Rosewood hotel which will be a stunning luxury resort spread over

28 acres just outside Riyadh. We have also announced Rosewood Dubai which will open in 2015 and will be housed within the Dubai International Financial Centre. We are also currently looking at a number of other projects in the Middle East but they have to be the right opportunities for Rosewood. What is your opinion on the hospitality landscape in Saudi Arabia in the Middle East and Dubai, Abu Dhabi, primary cities in the UAE as well as secondary cities Ras Al Khaimah and Sharjah? We have successfully operated in the

region since the mid 1990’s and it is a part of the world which is vital to our company’s success. In that time, as throughout the world, there have been changes in the hospitality landscape. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are now seen as destinations for both leisure and business travel and both offer a wealth of attractions and experiences to visitors. Developments such as the forthcoming Louvre and Guggenheim Museums in Abu Dhabi will only serve to attract even more visitors especially those looking for ultra-luxury accommodation. But at the same time, May 2014 17

OperatOr IntervIew

our hotels are also a social centre for residents, who often look to hotels to set new standards for hospitality and to offer the very lounges and restaurants. It’s something we were very aware of in opening Rosewood Abu Dhabi and is evident from the range of cuisines that are available in the hotel’s nine restaurants and lounges. The pace of development in the region is extremely fast and we are watching with a keen eye to spot any interesting opportunities in other cities outside Dubai and Abu Dhabi. How are relationships with owners/investors managed? We have extremely strong relationships with the owners of the properties we manage and this is illustrated by the duration that many of these properties have remained in the Rosewood portfolio. Rosewood is not a collection of cookie-cutter hotels. All our of our properties are one-of-a-kind and very much of their location. We approach our owner relationships in the same way. Each relationship is individual and each is extremely personal to us. Our corporate team provide constant support to our hotels and as a company we proactively seek out the very best people to work in our hotels – people who are leaders in their fields and passionate about the industry. 18 May 2014

Do regional investors/owners of family businesses want a to be more involved in your management style? How is the owner / investor of the Middle East different? Our management style is one of the qualities which sets Rosewood apart from other hotel companies. We focus on ‘relationship hospitality’ which prioritises relationships whether they be between our associates and our guests or between our company and our owners. For example, we issue our hotels with service guidelines but these are very much meant to be guidelines and not a set script. We encourage our teams to pick up and act on hints that guests invariably drop during their stay. It’s a successful philosophy that works well for us and has established loyal Rosewood guests who return to our properties time and time again. How are you as an experienced and highly successful management company able to stay on top of forecasted trends, in keeping the guest

engaged and satisfied and having the edge over the competition? I am always wary of trends – they come and go relatively quickly. For us, the relationships with our guests are much more important and much more successful in giving guests a truly memorable experience. For me, having a hotel team who is able to subtly pick up on the level of service that a guest wants is the mark of a great hotel. Our hotels should be places that people want to return to again and again not somewhere that they feel they have ticked off before moving on the next trendy destination. What is your take on all the new players in the market? New players and the innovation that they can bring is a good thing. The worst thing for any industry is stagnation. A little healthy competition helps keep everyone on their toes and the hotel industry is definitely not a place to rest on your laurels. For example, in September last year we relaunched the Rosewood brand with a completely new visual identity, an advertising campaign, a reimagined website and some exciting new hotel initiatives, such as our Rosewood Curators. It has enabled us a company to stay relevant and at the forefront of the luxury market.

‫ثوب جديد‬ ‫الرفاهية في ٍ‬ ‫ُتوفر منشآت روزوود جتربة‬ ‫فريدة من نوعها لنزالئها‪.‬‬ ‫وفي هذا الشأن‪ ،‬حتدث املدير‬ ‫التنفيذي لفنادق روزوود‪ ،‬رادها‬ ‫أرورا‪ ،‬إلى مجلة توب هوتيل‬ ‫ميدل إيست حول ثقافة «العالقة‬ ‫القائمة على حسن الضيافة» التي‬ ‫ُتثل جوهر هويتهم‪.‬‬ ‫ما استراتيجية النمو التي تتبنوها في‬ ‫الوقت الراهن؟ وكم عدد املشروعات‬ ‫حاليا في املنطقة‬ ‫التي تعملون عليها ً‬ ‫وكم منها سيدخل حيز التنفيذ هذا‬ ‫العام؟‬

‫شرعت روزوود في وضع خطة توسعية‬ ‫عاملية مفعمة بالطموح‪ ،‬لكنها تصب جل‬ ‫حتديدا في أوروبا وآسيا الشرق‬ ‫اهتمامها‬ ‫ً‬ ‫األوسط‪ .‬وفي العام املاضي‪ ،‬لقي فندق‬ ‫روزوود أبو ظبي حفاوة هائلة‪ ،‬وهو املنشأة‬ ‫الرابعة التي نديرها في املنطقة‪ .‬هذا العدد‬ ‫سيزيد إلى خمس منشآت هذا العام‪ ،‬وذلك‬ ‫بافتتاح فندق الفيصلية في درة الرياض‪ ،‬وهو‬ ‫أحد فنادق روزوود‪ ،‬الذي سيكون منتج ًعا‬ ‫فاخرا خال ًبا ميتد على مساحة أكثر من ‪28‬‬ ‫ً‬ ‫فدان خارج مدينة الرياض‪ .‬كذلك أعلنا عن‬ ‫روزوود دبي والذي سيجرى افتتاحه في عام‬ ‫‪ ،2015‬على أن يحتضنه مركز دبي املالي‬ ‫العاملي‪ .‬كما أننا في الوقت الراهن‪ ،‬نتطلع‬ ‫إلى التخطيط لعدد من املشرعات األخرى في‬ ‫فرصا حقيقي ًة‬ ‫الشرق األوسط‪ ،‬بشرط أن مُتثل ً‬ ‫لروزوود‪.‬‬

‫ما رأيك في األماكن الطبيعية التي‬ ‫تتمتع بحسن الضيافة في اململكة‬ ‫العربية السعودية‪ ،‬والشرق األوسط‪،‬‬ ‫ودبي‪ ،‬وأبوظبي‪ ،‬واملدن الرئيسية في‬ ‫دولة اإلمارات العربية املتحدة إضاف ًة‬ ‫إلى املدن الثانوية مثل رأس اخليمة‬ ‫والشارقة؟‬

‫جناحا في هذه املنطقة‬ ‫لقد حققت أعمالنا ً‬ ‫منذ منتصف التسعينات‪ ،‬وهي جزء من‬ ‫‪May 2014 19‬‬

‫دورا حيو ًيا في مسار جناح‬ ‫املترفة‪ .‬وفي نفس الوقت‪ ،‬تمُعد فنادقنا مرك ًزا‬ ‫العالم يلعب ً‬ ‫تغيرات‬ ‫طرأت‬ ‫ذلك‪،‬‬ ‫غضون‬ ‫شركتنا‪ .‬في‬ ‫اجتماعيا للقائمني فيها‪ ،‬الذين يسعون‬ ‫ً‬ ‫على األماكن الطبيعية التي تتاز بحسن‬ ‫لإلقامة في الفنادق التي تتبع معايير جديد ًة‬ ‫الضيافة حول العالم‪ ،‬فقد أصبح العالم‬ ‫حلسن الضيافة‪ ،‬خاص ًة التي تضم صاالت‬ ‫ينظر إلى دبي وأبوظبي باعتبارهما وجهات االستراحة واملطاعم‪ .‬ولقد أدركنا هذا منذ‬ ‫مناسبة للسياحة الترفيهية ولرحالت‬ ‫جليا‬ ‫افتتاح روزوود أبوظبي‪ ،‬والذي بات ً‬ ‫العمل‪ ،‬فهما يغدقان على زوارهما بالعديد من خالل األطباق الرئيسية املتنوعة واملتاحة‬ ‫من أماكن اجلذب والتجارب الكثيرة‪.‬‬ ‫في املطاعم التسعة بالفندق والقاعات‬ ‫كما ستعمل مجموعة املنشآت اجلديدة‬ ‫اخلاصة به‪ .‬مما ال شك فيه أن مسار التنمية‬ ‫املتجاورة املمُقرر إنشاؤها مثل متحفي اللوفر الذي تشهده املنطقة سريع للغاية‪ ،‬لذا‬ ‫و جوجنهامي في أبوظبي‪ ،‬على جذب املزيد فنحن نراقب ما يحدث بشغف‪ ،‬في انتظار‬ ‫من الزائرين خاصة أولئك الذين يبحثون‬ ‫أي فرصة سانحة تتسنى لنا في املدن‬ ‫عن أماكن اإلقامة التي تعمها أجواء الرفاهية األخرى خارج دبي وأبوظبي‪.‬‬

A D V E R t o R i A l

Software for the Growing Hospitality Industry in Middle East To work smart, hotel’s need robust software that automates maximum hotel functions, optimizes use of manpower and raises the benchmark on service. IDS Next is a pioneer in providing hospitality software. Our enterprise class solutions are used by hotels in 40 countries. We also have a large presence in the Middle East, namely Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, United Arab Emirate and CIS region. Manage Your Hotel Better with IDS Next Hotel ERP We have 4 versions of our Hotel ERP -FortuneNEXT 6i Enterprise for large, full service and hotel chains, FortuneNEXT 6i Professional for independent and boutique hotels and resorts, FortuneNEXT 6i Express for midsize hotels and FortuneNEXT 6i Genie for small hotels. Our FortuneNEXT 6i Suite of Hotel ERP’s are highly integrated and run on a single database. With data theft on the rise, all versions of the Fortune Hotel

20 May 2014

ERP are PA DSS Certified. Thus, guest related payment card details are encrypted and disposed of within a predetermined timeframe. Modules in the Hotel ERP include front office management, finance, accounts receivables, pointof-sale, inventory, maintenance, banquets and conferences, sales and marketing, HR & payrolls and F&B costing. The ERP’s also integrate with add on solutions like centralized

solutions for chain properties, mobility solutions, third-party solutions and interfaces with RezNext – a room distribution and intelligence platform. Grow Room Occupancy with RezNext Through RezNext, hotels access a host of room distribution channels, business intelligence solution, revenue management and online reputation management solutions, OTAs and GDS connect, access non-traditional channels, web booking engine and more. Grab this opportunity to grow your hotel’s profitability, reach our sales team by emailing or visit


A grand vision How has TDIC evolved as a company since it was formed in 2006? Since its inception in 2006, TDIC’s vision has been to develop cultural and tourism assets that enhance Abu Dhabi’s local, regional and international reputation as a destination of choice for travellers. One of our flagship developments is Saadiyat, and the resulting master-plan features a diverse mix of properties representing culture, hospitality, leisure, residential and education. Furthermore, as many of our developments have been completed, TDIC’s role has evolved to include asset management and operation for projects like as Sir Bani Yas Island, which comprises of hospitality and leisure offerings in addition to wildlife conservation programmes, Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort, St. Regis Resort Saadiyat Island and many more.

vision and how is that aligned with Abu Dhabi’s tourism promotion strategies? TDIC’s vision is to bring internationally renowned brands to Abu Dhabi, enhancing the quality of offerings available across various hospitality niches while also targeting other sectors, including leisure and retail. This is reflected in our successful mixed-used developments such as the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort, Eastern Mangroves complex and St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort complex. Since their launch, their wide range of offerings which includes hospitality, leisure and retail have attracted not only guests and visitors but residents as well, turning these developments into bustling ecosystems.

Abu Dhabibased Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC)’s Deputy Managing Director, Ali Al Hammadi, speaks to Top Hotel Middle East about the company’s growth strategy and current traveller trends

TDIC’s portfolio of hotels and resorts is a collection of exclusive properties, what is the company’s

MAY 2014 21

Owner IntervIew

These partnerships have helped enhance Abu Dhabi’s presence on the world tourism map and across all tourism platforms, and which ultimately helps support the government’s 2030 vision to turn Abu Dhabi into a highly developed locale that will attract discerning visitors, residents, businesses and investors.

Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. These will undoubtedly complement the current hospitality and entertainment avenues within the Emirate, such as the Qasr Al Sarab desert resort and Sir Bani Yas Island in the Western Region in addition to the Yas Marina Circuit and Ferrari World on Yas Island, amongst others.

How is Dubai’s hosting of Expo 2020 going to impact the hospitality industry in the country? What preparations are underway? Dubai’s hosting of the Expo 2020 is a great achievement for the country and we have already seen some positive reactions as the UAE’s international profile grows ever-stronger as a destination of choice across all sectors, be it for business, investment, tourism, culture and more. Currently, the UAE enjoys an expanding presence in the tourism sector with five-star hotels and luxurious resorts, as well as competitively-priced hospitality offerings, hosting guests – whether local, regional or international – in addition to event participants, business travellers and investors. As the Expo’s date grows closer we expect that a wide range of projects, especially those that are hospitalityrelated, will become ready in order to meet the demands of the surging influx of visitors throughout its run. It is common that visitors will explore other locations and attractions in the UAE during their stays and in Abu Dhabi we expect to welcome Expo visitors, partners and participants to our rich offerings on Saadiyat, including the three museums located in its Cultural District – the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Zayed National Museum and

As an investment company, what are your biggest priorities when new properties are being considered? Our biggest priority has always been ensuring that any new property or

22 May 2014

development reflects TDIC’s core values that include environmental sustainability, bespoke finishes and top-quality services. This is followed by the expected return on investments and how each property will enhance not only TDIC’s portfolio but Abu Dhabi’s landscape across all sectors. What criteria do you take into account when you select an Operator or Management company? A key element that TDIC takes into account when approaching any partnership is the reputation and brand

Owner IntervIew

awareness of the incoming operator or management company as well as how aligned the core values of both parties are prior to engaging in any project.

from our collective expertise while also ensuring that both visions are incorporated in a harmonious method across all levels.

At what stage in hotel development do you bring the management company on board and what are the benefits of this strategy? TDIC’s strategy has always been to bring in management companies from the very beginning – concept stage – all the way until the development is complete and fully operational. This strategy allows us to mutually benefit

If the management company is involved from the development phase, what role does it play in the development/design of the hotel? We value the observations and input throughout the development process. Based on our experience to date, each management company brings its own vision and execution method that has translated into highly unique properties that we are proud to have featured within our diverse portfolio. Our main aim throughout this collaborative phase is to ensure that the project’s design meets the expectation of its stakeholders, as well as delivering it on schedule and in budget. Furthermore, a project’s design may undergo an evolutionary process from its concept stage to delivery, and this requires the efforts of TDIC representatives as well as architectural and construction consultants, along with project managers.

reflected the country’s international appeal through providing high-quality hospitality offerings and services for both residents and visitors - we have seen a rise in boutique hotels and niche experiences that aim to provide guests with unique, immersive stays. This is evident in the growing number of travellers who are looking for edutainment type of stays, where they can learn more about the history and rich heritage of the UAE; discover its culture while enjoying luxurious amenities and top-quality services. For example, Sir Bani Yas Island has been receiving awards from various international guides and reputable publications, such as Lonely Planet and Conde-Nast Traveller which are based on readers’ votes, and which reflects what today’s traveller is looking for.

What other international chains would you like to work with in the future? TDIC is constantly conversing with world renowned and reputable brands to possible collaborations within our portfolio, whether for existing or upcoming developments. What are current challenges / trends in the hotel investment landscape in UAE and the Middle East region? While the UAE is home to many fivestar hotels and resorts - which has May 2014 23

‫رؤية شاملة‬

‫يتحدث نائب املدير العام لشركة التطوير واالستثمار السياحي‬ ‫(‪ )TDIC‬الكائنة في أبوظبي‪ ،‬إلى مجلة توب هوتيل ميدل إيست‬ ‫حول استراتيجية النمو في الشركة وامليول الحالية للمسافرين‪.‬‬ ‫تطورت شركة التطوير‬ ‫كيف‬ ‫ّ‬ ‫واالستثمار السياحي منذ‬ ‫إنشائها عام ‪2006‬؟‬ ‫منذ إنشائها في عام ‪ ،2006‬وقد اجتهت‬ ‫رؤية شركة التطوير واالستثمار السياحي إلى‬ ‫تطوير األصول الثقافية والسياحية مما يعزز‬ ‫ودوليا‪،‬‬ ‫محليا‬ ‫ً‬ ‫وإقليما ً‬ ‫من شهرة أبوظبي ً‬ ‫بصفتها إحدى الوجهات التي ُيفضلها‬ ‫املسافرون‪ .‬وتُعد جزيرة السعديات أحد أهم‬ ‫منشآتنا‪ ،‬إذ متتاز اخلطة الشاملة التي نشأت‬ ‫عنها‪ ،‬مبزيج متنوع من اخلصائص التي جتمع‬ ‫بني الثقافة وحسن الضيافة والرفاهية وأغراض‬ ‫اإلقامة والتعليم‪ .‬وعالوة على ذلك‪ ،‬كلما‬

‫انتهينا من العديد من منشآتنا‪ ،‬كلما تط ّور‬ ‫دور الشركة لتشمل إدارة األصول والتخطيط‬ ‫للمشرعات مثل جزيرة صير بني ياس التي‬ ‫تتمتع بعروض حسن الضيافة والرفاهية‬ ‫باإلضافة إلى برامج احلفاظ على احلياة البرية‪،‬‬ ‫ومنتجع قصر السراب الصحراوي‪ ،‬ومنتجع‬ ‫سانت ريجيس جزيرة السعديات وغيرهم‪.‬‬ ‫يعج امللف الخاص بالفنادق‬ ‫واملنتجعات لشركة التطوير‬ ‫واالستثمار السياحي‬ ‫بمجموعة من املنشآت‬ ‫الحصرية‪ ،‬فما هي رؤية‬

‫الشركة‪ ،‬وكيف تتناغم مع‬ ‫استراتجيات تطوير السياحة‬ ‫في أبوظبي؟‬ ‫تهدف رؤية شركة التطوير واالستثمار‬ ‫السياحي إلى جلب عالمات جتارية معروفة‬ ‫على الصعيد الدولي إلى أبوظبي‪ ،‬مما يعزز‬ ‫من جودة اخلدمات املتاحة في مختلف‬ ‫األماكن املالئمة حلسن الضيافة‪ ،‬إضاف ًة‬ ‫إلى استهداف القطاعات األخرى مبا في‬ ‫ذلك مجاالت الرفاهية وجتارة التجزئة‪.‬‬ ‫وينعكس ذلك على منشآتنا الناجحة‬ ‫ومتعددة األغراض مثل منتجع قصر السراب‬ ‫الصحراوي ومجموعة منغروف (القرم‬ ‫الشرقي) ومجموعة منتجع سانت ريجيس‬ ‫جزيرة السعديات‪ .‬ومنذ إنشائها‪ ،‬لم تعمل‬ ‫مجموعة اخلدمات العريضة فيها على‬ ‫جذب النزالء والزائرين وحسب‪ ،‬والتي‬ ‫ضمت حسن الضيافة والرفاهية ومجال‬ ‫ّ‬ ‫جتارة التجزئة‪ ،‬بل إنها جذبت املواطنني‬ ‫أيضا‪ ،‬مما ح ّول هذه املنشآت إلى بيئات ال‬ ‫ً‬ ‫تكل وال تهدأ‪.‬‬ ‫ساهمت هذه الشراكات في تعزيز‬ ‫حضور أبوظبي على خريطة السياحة‬ ‫العاملية‪ ،‬ووعلى كل األصعدة في مجال‬ ‫السياحة‪ ،‬والتي في النهاية تدعم رؤية‬ ‫احلكومة لعام ‪ 2030‬الهادفة إلى حتويل‬ ‫أبوظبي إلى مكان متطور للغاية يعمل على‬ ‫جذب الزائرين واملواطنني احملليني والشركات‬ ‫واملستثمرين ممن يتحل ّون بالتم ّيز‪.‬‬ ‫بصفتكم شركة استثمارية‪،‬‬ ‫فما أهم األوليات التي‬ ‫تضعونها في اعتباركم عند‬ ‫التفكير في إقامة منشآت‬ ‫جديدة؟‬ ‫ترتكز أهم أولوياتنا دو ًما على أن تعكس‬ ‫أي منشأة أو مجموعة منشآت جديدة‪،‬‬ ‫القيم األساسية لشركة التطوير واالستثمار‬ ‫السياحي والتي تشمل االستدامة البيئية‪،‬‬ ‫والطابع النهائي الذي ُيناسب ذوق كل‬ ‫عميل‪ ،‬واخلدمات فائقة اجلودة‪ .‬كل هذا‬ ‫إيجابيا على عوائد االستثمار كما‬ ‫يترك أثرا‬ ‫ً‬ ‫هو متوقع‪ ،‬ويظهر جليا في إمكانية كل‬ ‫منشأة ليس فقط على أن تضيف إلى امللف‬ ‫اخلاص بشركتنا‪ ،‬بل وإلى املشهد العام‬ ‫ألبوظبي في جميع القطاعات‪.‬‬ ‫‪24 May 2014‬‬

n the midst of

factor in Today technology is the only deciding terms of which hotel is on top of its game. With

the control in the hands of the hotel guest, hotels literally have all the information about their guest

in their system. How they use this information is what sets them apart from the rest We might be, as they say, in the midst of witnessing a complete new way of arranging our travel itineraries. While currently we are still in the mid-way spot of old and new, technology is quickly approaching and making all other ways of travelling the world obsolete even as you read this. While researching this story, many technology service providers spoke about of how in the future the traveller will not need to interact with the hotel staff at all and have everything he needs on his / her mobile device. No more waiting times and trying to be civil till you get to that all important pillow. Until then, let’s examine how the hospitality industry fares in terms of technological advancements in the UAE and Middle East region. Three hotels and a service provider give us their insights.

SAP – technology service provider Amir Sabry, Industry Director, Travel, Transport and Logistics, SAP MENA says,“On an aggregate level, the MENA region is lagging behind in technology adoption within the travel and hospitality industry when compared to other regions. “While some countries like UAE are quite advanced in technology adoption across the value chain others like Egypt and KSA are still behind despite the higher volume of business. On the base or core operational systems e.g. the Global Distribution System (GDS) or the 26 MAY 2014

Property Management System (PMS), most of the countries are on par as these platforms have been pushed on for more than a couple of decades by mainly the hotel brands and/or the property managers. However things vary significantly on the customer facing part.” This observation does not affect travellers in the UAE as they can find up to date information on almost all the new channels (web, mobile, social) and he/she is able to have adequate two way

interactions with the different players within the ecosystem e.g. hotel, tour operator, airline, etc. In KSA and Egypt, however, traveller enablement is driven mainly by individual efforts initiated by the younger (web literate) generations entering the industry. “On the infrastructure level, again, there is a lag in adoption of key disruptive technologies like mobile and cloud,”continues Sabry.“While everybody acknowledges the significant improvements realised at the operational and financial level, yet adoption is slow. Technology adoption is an area that


the future

governments can help with. New cloud and mobile platforms are key enablers for more SMEs to not only enter the sector but also have the right to compete with faster time to market and cost efficient and agile operations. This fits perfectly in line with the governments’ priority in job creation and income generation.”

Trends The focus for travel and hospitality business is shifting from operational excellence to customer centricity. Operators, managers, and owners are realising how strong the customer is becoming with the availability of

information and communication means. Booking channels are changing for the customer with more focus on internet, network websites and mobile. Booking and purchase decision lead times are becoming shorter with the increase in price transparency and bargaining power. “There is a more of a need for tailored, personalised and flexible offerings,”adds Sabry.“Increased competitiveness is also another trend that is visible with the varying business models – low cost hotels, eco-tourism, halal hotels etc – all of which are mainly driven by tailored customer needs and the low barriers of entry,”he says. “Operations will still remain of importance

on the agenda of all stakeholders and this is again where technology will continue to support in reducing the total cost of operation (TCO).” Travel and transport is one SAP’s top industries.“We cannot ignore that we are co-existing with some of the world’s largest and fastest growing industry conglomerates e.g. Emirates, Etihad, Jumeirah, Travco … in countries where travel and tourism has always been a key contributor to the GDP. Since the launch of our growth plan in 2010, we went straight ahead to work with a number of airlines in the region as our key priority. In 2013, we decided to MAY 2014 27

Cover story

expand our focus and start working more with hotel, tour operators and caterers.” Three of UAE’s top hotel chains Hospitality Management Holdings (HMH), Emaar Hospitality Group and Mövenpick Hotels and Resorts spoke to Top Hotel Middle East about embracing new technology at their properties and what the future holds. Let’s start with the front desk. This is a major topic of conversation in terms of the customer experience, hoteliers are contemplating self check-in kiosks, floating staff with tablets that can check guests in wherever they may be in the hotel reception area and the traditional front desk. There may or may not be queues … guests are usually tired after a long travel itinerary, what is your take on simplifying the guest checkin experience? How much should technology be a part of this? What is the status at your hotel group? Laurent A. Voivenel, CEO, HMH: The hospitality industry is no doubt moving towards more automated check-in systems. This is primarily to speed up and simplify the process of checking in guests while cutting down on queues. Customers are used to doing it at banks and airline counters and therefore expecting the same from hotels. In fact, a lot of hotels in the US, Europe and Asia have implemented it with a great deal of success and it is only a matter of time when we will see it rolled out across more and more hotels in the Middle East (Some are already doing it). After all, not only does it facilitate a smooth check-in for guests leading to increased customer satisfaction but also helps hotels to save on staffing. Typically, guests can check-in online, get a bar code that they scan at a kiosk on arrival at the hotel and the machine assigns a room with a key card. Of course, when it comes to luxury hotels guests are given a more personalised experience with floating staff welcoming guests on arrival, seating them in exclusive lounges while checking them in with tablets. This is already quite widely prevalent in high end hotels in the Middle East including the 28 May 2014

Ajman Palace that is one of our flagship five-star properties in the UAE. Talking about rolling out similar technology across other hotels under HMH we will certainly be considering self check-in kiosks at ECOS Hotels that is a budget brand we are keen to develop with several projects under consideration in the UAE. All said, the human touch is an important part of hospitality and we believe it is essential to find a balance between the two i.e. technology and hospitality. Lijo Mathew Kankapadan, Director of IT, Emaar: Although the industry has started skewing towards the process of self-check-ins, at The Address Hotels + Resorts we follow a ‘one-size-fits-one’ philosophy, where our service is personalised to tailor to each guests’ needs. This is something we also take into consideration, given regulatory requirements of paperwork, we lean more towards front desk and in-room check-in. At The Address Hotels + Resorts, we are working on offering check-in services at the airport and within our limousines for guests who prefer to not queue in line. Roger Macfarlaine, Vice President Technology, Middle East and Asia, Mövenpick: The front desk and hotel lobby should morph themselves into a hub for social exchange. With this social exchange our hotel lobbies should be offering elements of relaxation, entertainment and information, with a sense of immediacy and an interactive approach, both human and digital. Technology is the key enabler to help hotels rejuvenate the traditional notions of hospitality – that is - to provide a personalised approach for our guest’s prior, during and long after their stay. I do believe the hospitality industry needs to look at changing the way we welcome and service our guests. Floating staff with tablet devices are far more appealing in providing a more personalised approach during the check-in experience. Many hotels in certain markets are implementing ‘self check-in’ kiosks as an option to ensure a speedy check-in. With

check-in kiosks, guests have the option to bypass the front desk if needed allowing a more independent and selfpaced approach. In Mövenpick Hotels and Resorts trials have been done with applications like the Pre-Arrival Tool and Check-in via the Kiosk/iPad; however we are still evaluating guests’ acceptance of such functionality. Recently you must have heard about a hospitality management company introducing a virtual room key for all of its checked in guests at a couple of properties in the US. This key is in the hotel app and is compatible on the iPhone 4s and newer models and on Android phones running 4.3 and higher. How is this going to benefit the customer, what advantage do you see in this as well as shortcomings? Do you imagine this becoming the norm? How advanced are hotels in the UAE and the region in terms of adapting to international technology standards? L A V: Well, my former company, Starwood Hotels and Resorts has implemented this pilot programme in a couple of hotels in the USA where guests will be able to access their rooms with smart phones. It is definitely a revolutionary step and is all about the way digital technology is transforming our world in keeping with the customers’ expectations. The rest of the brands worldwide are undoubtedly moving in that direction but there are some concerns that need to be addressed when it comes to security issues. Talking about hotels in the UAE we are at par with international technology standards and are moving in the right direction. L M K: This technology is still in the early stages and would require extensive testing before implementing the same to hotels, especially keeping security risks in mind. Virtual keys once implemented successfully could definitely enhance check-in time, while assisting in online check-in. In the UAE, Dubai is at the forefront of adopting modern technologies, and the virtual key system is one that can be easily integrated into the current framework. R M: Having the virtual room key and combining it with a hotel specific app helps speed up the check-in process. Rather than waiting at front desk to check-in, guests can provide their preferred method of payment and

Cover story

SAP supports the hospitality market by providing best-inclass industry specific solutions across the value chain. Solutions are customised to enable core and specific hotel management and operational business models.

digitally receive their room key prior to their arrival. Upon arrival they can immediately go directly to their room and open the door with their smart phone. The shortcoming of such a system at this stage is the battery life of your smart phone or digital device. If these fail, then a guest would not be able to get into their room – an emergency override would need to be provided by the hotel staff. The PMS in your hotel enables all systems to work together. For example - the spa, or restaurant reservations, or guest check-in/check-out in order to consolidate guest charges. Have you already adapted to this cloud-based architecture that integrates for example front desk-free check in or the door lock system? If not, how immediate is the need to replace the current PMS and related up-front hardware investments? L A V: The PMS no doubt serves as a nerve centre for hotels, and properties are increasingly adapting and adopting cloud-based hardware and software given the fact that computers and smart phones are becoming more and more dependent on cloud-based systems. In the Middle East, we have the tendency to be little bit conservative when it comes to embracing technology. There is no rush to replace the

current PMS, although it would be prudent to install the latest versions in new and upcoming hotels and upgrade in existing ones as soon as possible. It allows us to cut back on IT infrastructure, maintenance costs and personnel while automating the entire system with ease of use of the network. L M K: The ‘Cloud’ PMS system is relatively new to the hospitality industry, but we do see potential and interest from operators and owners, who are looking to reduce lead time and increase profitability. At Emaar, we operate on a private cloud service that enables cross-promotions and selling opportunities, and supports shared practices across the group. Personally, I do believe that the Cloud PMS solution will influence front-desk free check-in as it allows connectivity from anywhere. R M: We are currently analysing and identifying potential projects for PMS Cloud Based computing. Cloud computing is the future for small to large sized organisations. Third party clouds provide accessibility to a ready-made infrastructure that is affordable and quick to deploy, with scalability. What kind of investments would the hotel owner need to make in order to have a state-of-the-art property? (This

At the back office level, SAP delivers its core financial, billing, procurement, and supply chain management solutions with procurement running on the cloud “Ariba” making use of the global supplier network linking more than five million suppliers. For people management, a large number of hotels worldwide are running SAP HR cloud platform “Success Factor” to manage the entire employee life cycle. For operations, SAP Enterprise Asset Management solutions provides end-to-end, integrated, functionality to manage physical assets over the entire lifecycle offering enablement beyond maintenance and housekeeping. In addition to that SAP also supports several large caterers in the core operations of planning, producing and billing of catering services and products SAP’s customer facing platform can cover marketing management, campaigning, e-commerce, personalisation, sales, customer management, call centre, B2C mobile enablement, social media integration, sentiment analytics and loyalty programmes. SAP’s most prominent areas are the customer facing platform - Hybris, our marketing and e-commerce platform in addition to the HR Cloud based platform “Success Factors”. SAP can help hoteliers be ahead of competition by enabling three key business priorities: 1. Strengthening the brand: Using insight to make brands the first choice, advanced customer segmentation and targeted campaigning. 2. Drive innovation: faster idea-to-cash hence enabling new business models and staying connected through all channels e.g. mobile, social, web and networks. 3. Operational excellence: Full integration of business areas with enablement of agile and mobile operations. May 2014 29

last question may be the case for a property refurbishment.) Or what would the cost be to just even update the system? L A V: Investment in technology must bring value to business and customers. For every property a detailed study needs to be done in order to identify the major issues and requirements be it in terms of technology or facilities. The cost would vary from property to property based on its size, upgrade of applications and systems needed, the time frame as well as the country where the hotel is located. Talking about HMH, 90 per cent of the CAPEX in 2014 has been allocated to technology upgrades. Once these are approved and implemented at the HMH headquarters, these will be rolled out across the hotels. L M K: With the increase in internet penetration, especially through mobile devices, high bandwidth internet is key to any hotel technology. Tablets are being deployed on the service delivery end points, such as restaurant menus, check-in/out, guest feedback, room automation, and in-room services. Hotels are expected to make major investments on this matured platform. R M: The strategy for new hotels should be to implement greater levels of integration of services between the property management systems and the room environmental control system including temperature control, air circulation, lighting, and curtains. This not only allows for personalisation but actually saves the hotel operating costs by way of more efficient use of room lighting and air conditioning. Such designs are more cost effective and achievable in ‘new builds’. Retro fitting an existing an older or established hotel and trying to bleed in such architecture would work out to be more expensive if you take into consideration the original cost of the technology and architecture. Where should the focus on technology purchasing be? Is it the front desk or perhaps the guest room, or in providing guests with devices such as iPads in their rooms or the cost of developing your own app which will be on the device provided or available online? L A V: The desired objective of upgrading or installing the latest technology is to ultimately make the 30 May 2014

whole system more efficient, flexible and agile offering greater convenience and value to guests. When it comes to assessing where the technology investment must be made first, it must without doubt begin with essential services progressing to other areas. R M: The focus should be on guest centric technology covering all aspects of the guest’s experience. Technology that provides a personalised approach to a guest’s stay and gives a wow factor, only further aids in creating guest loyalty – it also provides us with a differentiator from those in our competitive set. What percentage of hotel costs are devoted to technology enhancements? L A V: It all depends on the size of the hotel, its age and classification. L M K: A significant portion of investments are dedicated to technological enhancements, and is likely to increase as the industry evolves. The current trend is for consumers to book their hotel stays through Online Travel Agencies (OTA), how are you attracting your guests back to your own hotel websites? L A V: We are in the process of upgrading and developing new e-commerce friendly multi-lingual websites to make the booking process easier and simpler for our users as well as to provide a more compelling user experience. The new websites will allow visitors to experience our brands in the most optimum setting that in turn will ensure the ideal outcome for our business. In addition, we are rolling out a strong e-commerce strategy focusing on the following: Boosting online presence through search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) in order to increase the number of bookings through the brand website. Design and execution of cohesive social media strategy focusing on f-commerce. Implementation of key marketing performance metrics for gaining deeper insights into the market dynamics and consumer’s changing demands. Extensive e-campaigns in key feeder markets as well as countries and segments where we have the best chance to secure biggest profit margins such as the emerging BRIC countries.

Creation of value-added special offers for our websites. Integration of rapidly advancing mobile travel technology that enables guests to book rooms through smartphones. Launch of guest loyalty programmes designed to offer greater value when bookings are made through hotel websites. L M K: We do encourage our guests to make their reservations through our various channels including our websites and in-room iPads. We keep the momentum through post-stay communication, room orientation that highlights the booking features on our in-room iPads. Through the all-access WiFi, each hotel’s landing page leads to booking links, enabling us to keep the cost of reservations lower. How much is the focus on social media management in enhancing and adding to the guest experience?

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the region, as a result of which we have come across extremely IT-savvy associates, making it easier for us integrate any service seamlessly. R M: In general, our hotels’ technology is relatively intuitive in design, therefore it has never been a challenge to train our staff to learn and glean a strong understanding of the technology or software entrusted to them. What unique ways are in place to personalize the guest experience using technology at your property? L A V: We know that ground-breaking advancements in technology are transforming the guest experience enabling us to deliver more personalised, efficient and consistent service. With the help of technology we are able to understand the preference of travellers more precisely and tailor our offerings accordingly. Creating real value for guests means embedding technology into the entire customer journey that is placing virtually everything at their finger tips. Right from convenience of booking to check-in, connecting anytime anywhere, offering greater comfort, customised menus, pre-setting the TV to their favourite channel, etc.

What trends are most prominent (regionally and internationally) in terms of social media marketing? L A V: Social media is a rapidly evolving communication network and a fantastic way to connect with guests both locally and internationally. We all acknowledge the importance of the social media in our business and have therefore outlined a cohesive approach integrating social media very closely into all marketing initiatives. We are also working on integration of CRM with our social network pages including hotel reviews and opinion sites, which will enable us to get an honest feedback on our products. L M K: We are currently in the process of working on various projects that will integrate social media into our core marketing initiatives, having seen success through smaller projects that were rolled out. Given social media’s relatively new presence in the region, and how active guests are on various

social media platforms, it is imperative for us to look to integrate these platforms into our outreach strategies. How much of an effort (financially and in terms of time) is employee training as systems update and hotels adapt to new technology? L A V: Training is an ongoing process. We can proudly say that we provide both beginners and established workers world-class training / cross training with the necessary opportunities and environment for career development. Our demanding and rigorous training programmes are designed to enhance the guest experience while helping employees reach a high level of competency. It is mandatory for all our staff to undergo three hours of training per month. However, this could go up when there are system upgrades or installation of new technology. L M K: Information technology has seen a significant growth spurt in

L M K: Several initiatives have been undertaken to enhance guest experience starting from the hotel limousine used for the guest pickup whereby the location of the limousine can be tracked by the front office team so that they can be prepared to receive the guest upon their arrival at the hotel. When the guest registers using the iPad registration app, ensuring accurate details, our PMS system, Opera9, can track back to details such as their birthdays, and automatically generates a greeting from the hotel to the guest. Returning guests are identified and services are personalised upon arrival based on the system alerts generated. The CRM system is being implemented for preference and guest history tracking. R M: We have implemented“Cherish”; an efficient guest recognition programme allowing repeat visitors to enjoy the services, facilities and benefits they prefer most. This programme is implemented across all hotels in the Middle East region and its procedures and processes directly align themselves to how we capture guest preferences in our PMS system and Guest Service Centre in a hotel. May 2014 31

‫ساب ‪ ،‬مزود خدمات‬ ‫التكنولوجيا‬

‫ُيصرح أمير صبري‪ ،‬مدير شركة ساب‬ ‫الشرق األوسط للسفر واملواصالت‬ ‫واإلمدادات في الشرق األوسط وأفريقيا‪،‬‬ ‫قائال‪« :‬إذا نظرنا نظرة شمولية إلى منطقة‬ ‫اً‬ ‫الشرق األوسط وأفريقيا‪ ،‬سنجدها تتخلف‬ ‫عن الركب الذي يتبع التكنولوجيا في‬ ‫مجالي السفر والضيافة مقارن اًة بغيرها‪».‬‬ ‫«فبينما تشهد بعض الدول مثل دولة‬ ‫اإلمارات العربية املتحدة تقد اًما إلى حد‬ ‫ما من حيث إتّباع التكنولوجيا في مجال‬

‫سلسلة القيمة‪ ،‬ال تزال دول أخرى مثل‬ ‫مصر واململكة العربية السعودية تسير‬ ‫خلف الركب بالرغم من احلجم الهائل‬ ‫لألنشطة التجارية بهما‪ .‬أما بالنسبة لنظم‬ ‫املعلومات التشغيلية األساسية مثل نظام‬ ‫التوزيع العاملي (‪ )GDS‬أو نظام إدارة‬ ‫امللكية (‪ ،)PMS‬تتساوى جميع الدول‬ ‫من حيث الزج بهذه األنظمة األساسية‬ ‫في هذا املجال منذ أكثر من عقد ّين على‬ ‫يد العالمات التجارية العاملية التي تدير‬ ‫الفنادق‪ /‬الرحالت السياحية وشركات‬ ‫اخلطوط اجلوية وغير ذلك من مديري‬ ‫املنشآت‪ .‬إال أن املعايير تختلف اختالفاًا‬ ‫ملحوظاً ا من حيث التجارب التي مير بها‬ ‫العمالء‪».‬‬ ‫ورغم ذلك فهذه املالحظة ال تؤثر‬ ‫على املسافرين إلى دولة اإلمارات العربية‬ ‫املتحدة‪ ،‬وذلك ألنهم يستطيعون احلصول‬ ‫تقريبا من خالل‬ ‫على أحدث املعلومات اً‬ ‫جميع القنوات اجلديدة (أعني الويب‬ ‫والهاتف اجلوال والوسائل االجتماعية)‬ ‫وبالتالي يتمكن كل فرد من التفاعل مبا‬ ‫يكفي مع مختلف اجلهات املشاركة في‬ ‫هذا املجال داخل الوسط احمليط مثل الفنادق‬ ‫واجلهات املنسقة للرحالت السياحية‬ ‫واخلطوط اجلوية‪ ،‬وما إلى ذلك‪ .‬إال أن‬ ‫هذه اإلمكانية ال تتوفر بشكل رئيسي‬ ‫للمسافرين في اململكة العربية السعودية‬ ‫ومصر‪ ،‬إال بجهود األجيال الشابة التي‬ ‫دخلت املجال حدي اًثا (أعني ممن لديهم‬ ‫دراية مبجال الويب)‪.‬‬ ‫وأضاف صبري‪« ،‬وبالنسبة للبنية‬ ‫التحتية‪ ،‬مرة أخرى‪ ،‬ال تزال تقف املنطقة‬ ‫عند مرحلة متأخرة من حيث إتّباع‬ ‫األساليب التكنولوجية األساسية والتي‬ ‫تشهد تغيرات شتى مثل تطبيقات اجلوال‬ ‫واللوحي واحلوسبة السحابية‪ .‬بالرغم من‬ ‫أن اجلميع ُيق ّر بالتحسينات امللحوظة على‬ ‫الصعيد ّين التشغيلي واملالي‪ ،‬إال أن إتّباع‬ ‫التكنولوجيا ال يزال يسير ببطء‪ ،‬وال شك‬ ‫أنه مجال ميُ كن أن تساهم فيه احلكومات‪.‬‬ ‫كما تعمل املنصات اجلديدة للحوسبة‬ ‫السحابية والهواتف اجلوالة على متكني‬ ‫الشركات الصغيرة ومتوسطة احلجم‪ ،‬وذلك‬ ‫ليس فقط للدخول في هذا القطاع‪ ،‬بل‬ ‫لتكتسب احلق في املنافسة بشكل أسرع‬ ‫في السوق وحول األنشطة قليلة التكلفة‬

‫وسريعة التنفيذ‪ .‬وهذا يتفق متا اًما مع أحد‬ ‫أولويات احلكومة فيما يخص خلق فرص‬ ‫العمل وتوليد الدخل‪».‬‬ ‫يحتل مجالي السفر واملواصالت أحد‬ ‫أهم املجاالت التي تشغل شركة ساب‪،‬‬ ‫«ففي منطقة الشرق األوسط وأفريقيا‪ ،‬ال‬ ‫نستطيع أن نغفل حقيقة تعايشنا مع بعض‬ ‫أكبر الشركات متعددة األنشطة في املجال‬ ‫منوا على الصعيد العاملي ومنها‬ ‫وأسرعهم اً‬ ‫شركات طيران اإلمارات واالحتاد للطيران‬ ‫واخلطوط اجلوية العربية السعودية و جميرا‬ ‫وترافكو… في الدول التي ُيعد فيها‬ ‫مجالي السفر والسياحة أحد أهم العوامل‬ ‫املساهمة في إجمالي الناجت القومي لها‪.‬‬ ‫ومنذ انطالق خطة النمو التي تبنيناها‬ ‫في ‪ ،2010‬اجتهنا مباشر اًة إلى العمل‬ ‫مع عدد من شركات اخلطوط اجلوية في‬ ‫املنطقة باعتبارها أحد أهم أولوياتنا‪ .‬وفي‬ ‫عام ‪ ،2013‬قررنا توسيع نطاق تركيزنا‬ ‫ليشمل الفنادق واجلهات املنسقة للرحالت‬ ‫السياحية واألخرى املو ّردة لألغذية‬ ‫واملشروبات‪« .‬‬

‫‪32 May 2014‬‬

‫‪Cover story‬‬

‫في قلب املستقبل‬ ‫ُتعد التكنولوجيا اليوم هي‬ ‫العامل الوحيد الذي ُيقرر أي‬ ‫الفنادق التي تحتل أعلى‬ ‫مرتبة في هذا املجال‪ .‬فبفضل‬ ‫البراعة في التعامل مع نزالء‬ ‫الفنادق‪ ،‬أصبح لدى الفنادق‬ ‫جميع املعلومات التي تخص‬ ‫نزالئهم على النظم الخاص‬ ‫بهم‪ ،‬وذلك بكل ما تعنيه‬ ‫الكلمة‪ ،‬وكيفية االستفادة من‬ ‫يميزها‬ ‫هذه املعلومات هو ما ُ‬ ‫عن غيرها‪.‬‬ ‫‪May 2014 33‬‬

‫إننا‪ ،‬كما يقولون‪ ،‬في خضم املرحلة‬ ‫جديدا متا ًما من إعادة‬ ‫مسارا‬ ‫التي تشهد‬ ‫ً‬ ‫ً‬ ‫التخطيط لبرامج السفر اخلاصة بنا‪ ،‬وال‬ ‫نزال في الوقت الراهن في منطقة وسطى‬ ‫بني القدمي واحلديث‪ ،‬وفي نفس الوقت‬ ‫تقترب التكنولوجيا سري ًعا م ّنا‪ ،‬حُ‬ ‫وتيل كل‬ ‫األساليب األخرى في مجال السفر على‬ ‫مستوى العالم إلى أساليب عتيقة‪ ،‬حتى‬ ‫في تلك اللحظة التي تقرأ فيها هذه املقالة‪.‬‬ ‫وعند البحث في هذه النقطة‪ ،‬تدّ ث‬ ‫العديد من مقدّ مي اخلدمات التكنولوجية‬ ‫عن فكرة أن املسافر في املستقبل لن يحتاج‬

‫إلى التعامل مع طاقم الفندق على اإلطالق‪،‬‬ ‫بل إنه سيتمتع بكل ما يحتاج إليه من على‬ ‫وداعا ألوقات االنتظار‬ ‫منت هاتفه اجلوال‪ً .‬‬ ‫والعناء الذي تبذله للحفاظ على أسلوب‬ ‫الئق إلى أن تصل على كل هذه اخلدمات‬ ‫املهمة‪.‬‬ ‫وحتى ذلك احلني‪ ،‬دعونا نرى كيفية‬ ‫ازدهار صناعة الضيافة فيما يتعلق‬ ‫بالتطورات التكنولوجية في دولة اإلمارات‬ ‫العربية املتحدة ومنطقة الشرق األوسط‬ ‫وأفريقيا‪ .‬وفي هذا الشأن‪ ،‬حُيفصح لنا أحد‬ ‫مقدمي هذه اخلدمات التقنية عن آرائه‪.‬‬


16,700 More than 16,700 attendees at the last event


Hotel buyers, decision makers & visitors attended from 98 countries


Almost $4bn in new business was generated as result of The Hotel Show 2013

$400K Visitors at The Hotel Show on average spend more than $400,000 each

20 Tourism

Dubai’s Department of Tourism and

Commerce Marketing (DTCM)’s tourism vision to prep for

establishing visitor

numbers to 20 million per year is well and

truly underway. H.E.

Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General of DTCM explains

million Dubai is on a favourable and stable growth trajectory, what are the stepping stones set out by DTCM in order to get to that 20 million visitors per year mark? Is this a target number you are aiming to reach before the year 2020? The Tourism Vision for 2020 will be achieved by two means: firstly by increasing Dubai’s ‘destination offering’ across events, attractions, infrastructure, services and packages and secondly by showcasing Dubai to an even wider audience and focusing on turning awareness of Dubai into flight and hotel bookings. The target may seem ambitious but Dubai has been built on ambition and we believe it is achievable. Dubai’s hotels welcomed more than 11 million guests in 2013 – an increase of just over one million on the 2012 numbers and a 10.6 per cent increase year-on-year in hotel establishment guests. We believe with a continually enhanced tourism offering and marketing strategy which is focused on in depth research and on targeting specific markets with specific messaging, we will be able to achieve our target of 20 million tourists a year.

Recently the UAE has established visa free travel to 13 more countries from the EU and it expects to attain visa-free access for UAE citizens for a total of 100 countries soon, how is this a strong part of the Destination Dubai agenda? Ease of access and the lifting of visa restrictions is always one of the top three subjects discussed in the global travel industry so this is a very positive announcement from the UAE Ministry of

Foreign Affairs. It will have a significant positive impact on the attractiveness of Dubai as a destination for tourists from the 13 countries included in the exemption and with the opening of Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central bringing more low-cost airlines to Dubai, the two factors will combine to contribute to bringing more midmarket travellers. European countries have traditionally featured prominently in our top 20 source markets for visitors and the lifting of visa restrictions provides for easier travel arrangements from across the continent. In terms of hotel rooms to match up to these increased visitor levels, what are plans for the hospitality industry? How is the government facilitating the industry? In order to achieve our headline objective of 20 million visitors per year by 2020, we need to both increase the overall stock of hotel rooms in Dubai across all price points and widen the range of options for visitors. For example, in recent years the number of three and four star establishments has increased, but it’s vital that we continue to engineer the growth of this range while continuing to enhance our already exceptional luxury offering. In October last year, the government launched an initiative designed to incentivise hotel owners to bring forward their construction timelines, creating more three and four star hotel rooms in Dubai more quickly. It is the result of collaboration between government partners DTCM and Dubai Municipality and part of DTCM’s strategy to achieve Dubai’s Tourism Vision for 2020. At present, Dubai has 612 hotels and almost 85,000 hotel rooms but in the pipeline up until the end of 2016, there are another approximately 140 hotels and 29,000 and this pipeline continues to increase. With regards to Dubai’s or the UAE’s tourism industry contributing to UAE’s GDP, what are the official statistics for this year and how is this figure set to change year on year?

With a continually enhanced tourism offering and marketing strategy which is focused on in depth research and on targeting specific markets with specific messaging, we will be able to achieve our target

36 May 2014

It is very difficult to accurately calculate the share of the Dubai tourism industry but we estimate that tourism generated was in the range of US $20.4 billion (AED 75 billion) towards Dubai’s GDP in 2012. Our target is to triple this so that by 2020 the industry is contributing around US $58.562.6 billion (AED 215-230 billion) again, it’s important to stress the complexities of accurately calculating a figure such as this. How will the Tourism Dirham contribute in funding Expo 2020 projects? What has been the dialogue you have received regarding this new levy? What immediate effects are you expecting to see? Contrary to some reports, the introduction of the Tourism Dirham is not connected

to Expo 2020. The Tourism Dirham will contribute towards the work of the new Corporation, announced January 26, 2014, which will use the funds solely to support development of the Emirate’s tourism and trade sectors, both in terms of investing in the destination offering and investing in the marketing and promotion of Dubai as a destination. This will have a positive impact on Dubai’s tourism and commerce sectors by increasing travel and trade arrivals and it has been largely welcomed by the industry. The Dubai Government’s decision to introduce the Tourism Dirham is based on global benchmarking – such tourism fees are customary in a number of the world’s top tourist destinations.


Considering long staying guests in Deluxe Hotel Apartments who may not be visitors at all but residents, how does this – Tourism Dirham – resonate with this category of people using hotel apartments as residences? The Tourism Dirham is applied per night, per room, and is a levy applicable to local, regional and international tourists and residents if applicable, and is relevant to all hotel establishments operating in the Emirate. However, long staying guests will only pay for 30 days of the stay – following the thirty day period the stay is exempt from the levy. As per World Travel and Tourism Council’s 2013-23 (WTTC)

estimates, Asia is going to be leading as a region in the growth of travel and tourism, what are your operatives going forward, in attracting more tourists’ post 2020 and maintaining numbers? Asia has always been a key market for Dubai and will continue to be a focus towards 2020, with the focus predominantly being on the Indian subcontinent – which is currently our second biggest source market; and China, which is one of the fastest growing markets in the world and worth in the region of US $100 billion (AED 367.3 billion). In 2013 China was our 10th biggest source market for hotel guests, continuing a recent trend of showing significant increases, with visitors up by 11 per cent.

To help continue this growth, last year we opened a fourth DTCM office in the country, to stimulate further increases in the number of visitors travelling to Dubai. The opening of the Chengdu office provides an important resource to grow visitors from the Sichuan region and for our partners in the city to access this market. Targeted destination marketing campaigns led by DTCM and our partners in Dubai’s tourism industry – such as Emirates and Jumeirah also help to spread the Dubai message in the region. As we work towards delivering our tourism vision of welcoming 20 million annual visitors by 2020, emerging markets such as China will be of increasing importance. May 2014 37

Destination Ras Al Khaimah Ras Al Khaimah is not a secret hideaway in the UAE anymore. The emirate ’s Tourism Development Authority is heavily promoting it based on its clear vision of being one of the most exclusive beach destinations in the region with a lot more that just that to offer tourists 38 May 2014

DesTinaTion reporT


ill a few years ago, Ras Al Khaimah was a little known secondary emirate of the UAE. But as mentioned earlier, that was till a few years ago. Today, the emirate is growing in a big way. A lot of people are interested in visiting Ras Al Khaimah, it’s on an immense growth curve. Once people realise all that it has to offer it becomes quite a unique destination what with all its natural assets in terms of heritage, history, nature its mountains and desert landscapes and the overall tranquil atmosphere. Steven Rice, CEO, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAK

TDA) says,“We are pushing these assets forward as a reason for tourism. Ras Al Khaimah is a quality, value-for-money holiday destination. The weather is great, the beaches are unbelievable.”

The technology tool Built on these foundations is the tourism authority’s marketing plan. “We are using cutting-edge technology to market ourselves. We’ve recently commenced a strategy called retargeting where in we intelligently target potential people online who are interested in Ras Al Khaimah using different types of cookie technology. We’re also increasing our use of advanced analytics to get

better granular data and use the data to get better in touch with potential visitors,”adds Rice. Between 2011 and 2013, Ras Al Khaimah’s growth in visitor numbers was 49 per cent and till date that number has increased by 17 per cent. Hotel revenue in the same period has increased by 38 per cent and this year alone that number has increased by 29 per cent. Hotel average daily rates (ADR) in the period from 2010 to 2013 have increased by 41 per cent and RevPAR (revenue per available room) has jumped even more significantly in the same period by 61 per cent.

Destination report

“We’re currently doing a lot of work on developing a new customer value proposition. The four main areas of focus in this are 1) that it’s a fantastic beach destination, offering a really good value, luxury experience. We are promoting the emirate as it was traditionally known in the entire GCC region for being the centre of all history, culture and learning. 2) The emirate’s natural bounty is unmatched. Ras Al Khaimah is the only emirate with a significant mountainous landscape. The Hajar mountains have a beautiful view from the top. We want to promote the destination for mountain biking, trekking, rock climbing activities. Also for its fabulous desert landscape. We have a very wide expanse of desert land which is extremely beautiful, extremely photogenic. 3) Then there’s the peacefulness and tranquillity factor. Dubai is great, but its very fast, very hectic, whereas in comparison we are peaceful, tranquil, non toxic, nonintimidating. If I had to use an analogy I would say that if Dubai is New York, Ras Al Khaimah is more California. It’s a completely different experience.” The tourism authority is pushing its marketing plan to key channels.“We’re building more and more events, we have a very innovative PR initiative, we are using social media heavily - Twitter and Instagram. Especially Instagram as we are keen on promoting the visual aspect. Another key part of our marketing strategy is search engine 40 May 2014

optimisation. As a lot of search engines rely on social media cues and we are busy making sure that we’re doing a great job of social media not only so that people can see us there but also for search engine optimisation. “And the fourth area, as I mentioned earlier, is retargeting, where we follow people’s behaviour on the Internet and look for certain things that will indicate that they will be interested in a destination like Ras Al Khaimah.”

Hotel rooms At the beginning of 2013, there were about a little over 3,000 hotel rooms in the three, four and five-star category. Now there are about 4,400 and very soon that number is set to become 4,800.

“The opening of the Waldorf Astoria last year was a huge event for Ras Al Khaimah. This year we’ve had three hotel openings in March. All of them are on Marjan Island. There’s the Doubletree by Hilton, The Rixos - which by the way is a very unique concept. It’s a five star ultra luxury, all-inclusive property which means when you stay there as a part of the price you pay, everything else is complimentary. The 14 restaurants, bar, entertainment is all complimentary as it’s included as a part of the price. The third hotel is the Marjan Resort and Spa. This is a very traditional Arabic hotel, very well appointed and beautiful. All of these three properties predominantly cater to the UAE market.

Destination report

tourists arriving directly to the emirate. Air Arabia operations will commence on May 6 with direct routes to eight destinations. Rice continues,“The Federal plan to improve the road infrastructure was in place even before Expo 2020 was announced. There are plans to expand the 611 highway.”

“So when these hotels are all open and reach their full capacity, we will have almost 5,000 hotel rooms. Another hotel we hope to open by the end of the year is the Santorini. When that will be open we will have exceeded 5,000 hotel rooms and if we do that by the end of this year then we will go on from 3,000 to 5,000 in two years which is a 60 per cent increase.”

Brand UAE The Island Marjan Islands is a series of four islands that have been built on the southern coast of Ras Al Khaimah. It’s reclaimed land. The construction began a number of years ago but it’s really just this year that the island has been opened for tourists.“So I think that from an infrastructure point of view, from a prominent attraction point of view, this is the main thing we’re doing at the moment. As I said at the end of last year we didn’t have any hotels open now we have three hotels with 1,500 rooms between them (the island has around 20 km of beach on it). There are roads being built and there’s a lot of landscaping work that is still ongoing at the moment, there is another hotel being built and there are several other plots that are either under the initial development stages or are about to be developed. So this a massive project which is a huge asset to Ras Al Khaimah and a prominent attraction that is one of the main things that we will be focusing on over the next few years to try and

develop the island and make it the destination in its own right as a part of the emirate’s offering.

Connectivity The emirate is mainly receiving tourists through the UAE and GCC road network. In terms of air connectivity, Ras Al Khaimah airport recently announced closure of the emirate’s airlines RAK Airways. However, Air Arabia is now the designated carrier of the emirate. This means only good news for Ras Al Khaimah as the airline comes with a multitude of connections, which will eventually result in more

Rice says that a total of 30 per cent of tourists coming into Ras Al Khaimah are UAE point of origin customers.“And that is our biggest market.” The tourism promotion of the UAE as a whole then significantly contributes to Ras Al Khaimah’s overall visitor improvement figures.“The hubs that are Dubai and Abu Dhabi as a region their ports and airports contribute a big chunk to our tourism figures. UAE is located in a strategic spot in the world and the airports and airlines are doing a tremendous job of marketing UAE across the world. “The World Economic Forum produced a paper last year which looked at the travel and tourism competitiveness (TTCI) and the UAE is proudly number one in the Middle East and Africa region. So, yes in terms of marketing and promoting itself, nothing compares to the federal marketing strategy. They are doing a superlative job of promoting the country in the rest of the world. And repercussions of that are a big bonus for us.” May 2014 41

The ‘Address’

To live in Top hotel Middle East recently checked in at The Address Dubai Marina for a mini staycation. The hotel, right in the centre of the Dubai Marina, is a business and leisure hotspot with all the luxury one can lap up in a top notch hotel experience


he Address Dubai Marina is a beautiful, luxurious property right in the centre of the Marina. While access is convenient from the main road, the hotel views are all facing the other side which is the beautiful marina itself. Even though

42 May 2014

the approach to the hotel is from the main bustling highway, once you are in front of the hotel entrance, the noise and hustle seem to disappear. The interior of the entrance is very opulent with a huge, elaborate flower arrangement right in the centre, the checkin desk on the right and the entrance to the Marina Mall to the left. Right before

the flower arrangements there are two or three hotel staff waiting to greet the guests coming in. Once you’re in the property, literally the staff take over, I was ushered onto one of the couches, while refreshing drinks were brought for me together with refreshing towelettes. The staff at the check-in desk were quick and efficient checking me in after taking down all the

hoTel review

May 2014 43

Hotel review

necessary documents, details and signatures. I was then escorted to my suite. The lady who accompanied me first took me around the property to show me all the restaurants, the pool, the Club Lounge before taking me to the room. The suite I was to stay in was at the end of the 10th floor corridor. It was a spacious one-bedroom suite which had a seating area with a television, work desk, couches and arm chairs, all looking out into the balcony. A voluminous long passageway led to the bathroom and ahead onto the bedroom. The bedroom was as luxurious as expected, with a large king-size bed, large closet, television and seating area. The biggest thing in the entire room were the windows, floor to ceiling views of the Marina. We had a beautiful welcome basket of very exotic fruits as well as handmade chocolates fashioned to look like luggage as well as the regular gourmet variety of chocolates waiting for us in the room as well as a note from the General Manager. The hotel is quite the centre of the 44 May 2014

entire marina area. The balcony in the seating area was an enjoyable spot on its own. Looking out from the 10th floor there were boats, parked and bobbing peacefully with the movement of the water, some pretty yachts lazily streaming down from one side to the other, people happily sipping cocktails in the pool area below, children

shrieking at the water fountain area under the mall, moms pushing their babies in their strollers, some people jogging around the marina, you could literally spend all afternoon looking out the balcony as it looked out into the hotel premises, the mall as well as a large part of the marina area. This was a very beautiful and welcoming home away from home. Now, let’s get back to the bathroom. First of all it was as big as the bedroom and It was stunning to say the least. Possibly the best part (a very difficult choice nonetheless) of the entire suite! It reminded me of a Las Vegas hotel I had stayed in. The floor to ceiling window concept continued here as well and the view is striking to say the least be it morning or night. It had a separate bathing area with its own tub and separate shower. In short delightful. The hotel experience overall was faultless, I felt the needs of the guest are anticipated even before the guest perceives them. Another thing which was terribly convenient was the i-Pad. This had all the information a guest would possibly need at his/her fingertips. (See box item). The welcome message was also on the I-Pad as I realised once I looked at it.

Dining options Shades. In the evening, I went down to try the pool side lounge dining at Shades. The weather was still pleasant to sit outdoors when I visited and barbeque was the special of the night. Again, I was welcomed and sat at one of the main pool facing tables. The options presented to me were unique. I could barbeque whatever I wanted to on the table myself and the rest of the order would be done by the chef and brought to the table. I was piqued to try to barbeque a steak all by myself, the waiter encouraged me to try it. It was so easy anyone could have done it, honestly. The table top barbeque grill was brought to me and I had to just monitor the steak and turn it around from time to time to oversee the cooking. The food, as expected, was delicious the marinade of the steak was so subtle you could taste the simple ingredients that must have gone in to get such a lightly flavoured steak. I was also served garlic buttered prawns with freshly crushed black


pepper (divine) as well as shish taouk (extremely flavourful). The ambience at Shades was one of relaxed lounging in front of the pool with a fabulous menu to choose from and attentive and interactive staff. A total winner. I went in around eight and by the time I left the place was full of laughing and chattering guests enjoying the food and their time by the pool. Their dining specials keep changing with the season.

Mazina. The next evening, I went down to try dinner at the all day dining restaurant Mazina. It was really chilly inside the restaurant so I chose to sit outside at a table looking out to the Marina. I noticed how all the guests were really given a lot of attention and that all the staff be they waiters, or staff at the entrance or the housekeeping staff, they were all conversationalists. I had a lot of pleasant conversations around the hotel! It was time to order and I started off with Smoked Salmon Crab Cakes with Lemon Mayonnaise. The crab cakes were crisp, crumbly, delicately spiced and the lemon mayonnaise made it complete.

They were gone in seconds. For my main course, I ordered Garlic Shrimp and Scallops served with sun dried-tomatoes and bucatini pasta. The scallops were cooked to perfection, hence they melted in your mouth and had just the slightest hint of black pepper. The shrimps were fresh and lightly cooked and added to the entire pasta dish. Again, gone just as fast as the plate had arrived. I was stuffed by now. However the server wouldn’t let me go without trying out a special dessert. He chose it for me and it was perfect. It was the Chocolate Fondant with salted caramel popcorn ice cream. What a combination and a truly decadent dessert indeed.

face immediately as she had applied the serum and moisturising cream to the face and eyes which should ideally be left on for at least four hours. When I looked at myself in the mirror it literally seemed as if a layer of skin had peeled off to reveal squeaky clean, shiny, pore free skin! It was indeed The Cure. I was amazed and wanted to know what the products were that were used on my skin. All the products used in the Spa are Natura Bisse and the ones used specifically in this treatment are also called The Cure skin care range. Written by: Munawar Shariff The Spa at the Address Dubai Marina has won a number of awards – the Best Luxury Hotel Spa 2012 at the World Luxury Spa Awards as well as Runners Up for the Best Spa Design Award at the Middle East Spa Awards 2011. Reason enough to try it out. Located on the third floor of the property the spa and fitness area are on the same level. I went in at my appointed time, the spa smelled like a lush, green, fresh garden. It was lemon grass oil which was being used all over the spa to give off that fresh and earthy fragrance. The tranquil background music immediately takes over the senses and kicks off this exclusive, relaxing time notion, doesn’t it? I put my phone on vibrate so as to not get disturbed during my treatment. I waited for my therapist in the relaxation area which had little tea pots of different types of herbal teas as well

as bite-sized biscuits to munch on and plenty of magazines to look through. My therapist arrived soon enough and took me to the treatment room. It was dimly lit and I was totally relaxed just looking at it. Before we began she asked me about any concerns I had about my skin, we discussed all the problem areas and she explained to me the entire process of the treatment she would give me. And the treatment began. The treatment was called The Cure and focussed on thorough face cleansing, clearing blocked pores (extractions) and building overall hydration through a unique foaming mask. The cleansing and extraction made up a large part of the treatment. Once the extraction was done, the therapist oiled and massaged my arms and palms as well as administered a very relaxing head massage. Once we were done, she suggested to not wash the

The i-Pad had the following information: Messages In-Room Dining Guest Services Service Directory Promotions Internet Radio Newspaper Attractions & Recreation – able to book movie tickets at the Marina Mall theatre and more. Another sub section in this was Utilities; which enabled the guest to know the prayer direction, set alarms, know about the weather, book and reschedule flights and find out exchange rates. View Bill

MAY 2014 45

Ultra posh ldives is The Cheval Blanc Randheli in the Ma

LVMH Hospitality Group’s second maison in its global collection of top quality, luxurious and extremely exclusive properties. Looking at these

images is sure to put you in a relaxed state of mind and craving a holiday

Open just under six months ago on November 15 last year, the Cheval Blanc Randheli portrays to its guests the very best of the Maldives through a collection of bespoke and surprising experiences, tailor-made to create an unforgettable holiday. Let these pictures do the talking.

46 May 2014

Dream location


Ultra posh hideaway

48 May 2014

Dream location

May 2014 49


Will travel for food

Jumeirah at Etihad Towers’ General Manager, Doris Greif, talks about how gourmet experiences are driving people to travel far and wide for a taste of real food. Reinventing classics and surprising the guest are on top of her F&B agenda Gourmet experiences have very much become an important way modern travellers experience different destinations, cities, cultures and hotels,”says Doris Greif, General Manager, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers.“I believe its attraction comes from the involvement of all the senses, so it’s a very personal experience which is made more pleasurable and 50 MAY 2014

heightened when shared.”Given the sensory experiences at both the personal and shared level, gourmet offerings provide a meaningful opportunity for hotels to provide a tangible brand experience that communicates their values and philosophy. Known as the gourmet capital of the capital, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers makes sure with all the diligent work that,“we fulfil that promise into the continuum. To do that we must constantly remain at the head of the field with regards to innovation, quality assurance, freshness, reinterpretation


and ultimately the creation of taste sensations,”adds Greif. Additionally, as a luxury hotel the food and beverage outlets and gourmet offerings must reflect modern luxury lifestyles and expectations.“We believe we have struck this balance well with contemporary high quality experiences that are simultaneously relaxed and inviting.” With regards to luxury gourmet experiences hoteliers must look at the constantly changing concept of what ‘luxury’ means to the modern traveller. “Today we see modern urban travellers seeking individualised attention, competency, craftsmanship, authenticity, creativity, new experiences that delight, moments of humour and a relaxed and welcoming luxury that is not pretentious but quietly confident and striking. All of these elements are carefully interwoven into our culinary experiences, which is not only reflected in the food, but holistically included in the interior design of venues, tableware, ambience and service.

Challenges Getting to the top is as much of a challenge as is maintaining that position.“There are always challenges when wanting to remain at the top of one’s field. However these are essentially challenges that must be faced personally by each individual within the culinary and F&B teams as they strive to take their skills and offerings to the next level while remaining fresh, creative and innovative. The advantage of this challenge however is that it can be personally managed and therefore overcome without external influences that might otherwise be out of our control. Naturally external challenges do exist, especially with regards to produce sourcing, but everyone in the Middle East is generally faced with these same challenges and it is just a matter of being creative, focused and having excellent produce knowledge and networks,” she says. “With regards to the challenges of the self-development of individuals,” continues Grief,“we are extremely fortunate as colleagues provide

a constant source of inspiration and learning. Passion and a pride in one’s job and what one can contribute is at the core of our teams’ ethos, and it is a positive value that is both infectious and self-perpetuating. Naturally we have also introduced international best practice and the latest F&B training techniques and educational courses so that the road to self-development and improvement is formalised and carefully measured to ensure we all remain on track.”

USP The property is undoubtedly a gourmet’s delight.“We are unique not only because of the large number of outlets (totalling 12), but because they all provide unique quality experiences. The food is an essential pillar of the total experience, its role is not only to provide for guests of the hotel, but to be an integral epicurean gathering point for our tower residents, people who work in the vicinity, visitors and residents alike. There’s always a buzz from an eclectic crowd that truly represents the modernday Abu Dhabi experience, and we are quite unique as a hotel to provide this.

At the end of the day it always has to be value. If a guest understands what they are experiencing and willing to pay and leave positive and with a sense of enrichment, then the outlet will do well

Revenue “Reflective of the importance of F&B at the property, the revenue derived from our outlets is significant to the overview total, providing a well-balanced additional revenue stream that complements our rooms, conferencing and banqueting portfolios.

AWARDS TripAdvisor 2013 Certificate of Excellence – Quest Restaurant Abu Dhabi Gourmet Regional Chef of the Year 2013 – Chef Jouni Ibrahim, Chef de Cuisine, Li Beirut What’s On Black Hat Guide 2013 (Jumeirah at Etihad Towers is the most ‘hatted’ hotel in the UAE!) Brasserie Angélique x 3 hats Li Beirut x 3 hats Quest x 3 hats Scott’s x 3 hats BiCE x 2 hats Rosewater x 1 hat TimeOut Abu Dhabi Restaurant Awards 2013 Best New Restaurant Abu Dhabi – Brasserie Angélique Best MENA Restaurant – Li Beirut Highly Commended Best Italian Restaurant – BiCE Highly Commended Best Brunch – Nahaam Highly Commended Best Contemporary European Restaurant – Brasserie Angélique What’s On Abu Dhabi Awards 2013 Best New Restaurant Abu Dhabi – Brasserie Angélique Best British Restaurant – Scott’s Best Seafood Restaurant – Scott’s Best Japanese Restaurant – Tori No Su Additionally, the hotel constantly ranks extremely highly in Trip Advisor’s list of top restaurants in Abu Dhabi. The property covets the top three positions, and five of its restaurants make up the top six.

MAY 2014 51

THE COST FACTOR This report prepared by HVS Middle East looks at the most important hotel development cost elements. Using data from 2010 till 2013, the report is a comprehensive look at all the factors excluding land and their fluctuational effect on price

52 MAY 2014



he markets presented in this report are the UAE, Saudi Arabia (KSA), Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman. This study reports per-room hotel development costs and considers data for the following hotel classifications: luxury; upper-upscale; upscale; midscale; upscale serviced apartments. For the purpose of this report, the elements of a hotel development budget are broken down into five general categories: land; construction costs and site improvements; soft costs; furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E) and operating supplies and equipment (OS&E); and pre-opening and marketing. These categories provide general ranges for analysing and compiling hotel development budgets on a per-room basis. The classifications are broad enough for professionals with

different areas of expertise to work with and understand. The data represents a wide array of geographical locations within each market. The development costs of the same hotel classification, for example an upscale hotel, can vary substantially between two different locations in the same market. This is because development cost budgets are heavily influenced by building design, spatial planning, site conditions, project delays, as well as the individual aspirations of the owner/developer. Market conditions between 2010 and 2013 also changed, which impacted the prices of building materials and prices being charged by contractors.

HOTEL SUPPLY TRENDS The growth in hotel room supply illustrates the level of construction

activity in a market, considering that the vast majority of hotels in the Middle East are new builds and that conversions of existing properties are rare. The change in supply also takes into account expansions and contractions of existing inventory. In more mature hotel markets, older and functionally obsolete properties are removed from inventory. We note however that the markets covered in this study are relatively nascent in terms of the average age of their branded hotel supply, and therefore the amount of removed inventory is negligible for the purpose of the ensuing analysis. As illustrated in Figure 1, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman have all experienced double digit growth percentages in branded supply between 2010 and 2013. Supply growth in the UAE remained the

MAY 2014 53

InsIde busIness

Branded Rooms Supply in 2010-2018 (figure 1)

90,000 80,000 70,000 Number of Rooms

highest with approximately 14,300 rooms that were completed despite the challenging economic climate that slowed construction activity during the initial part of that period. Qatar saw the highest percentage growth in rooms supply of 89 per cent as the country embarked on a rapid expansion, partly due to its preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The total pipeline of branded hotel rooms scheduled to open between 2014 and 2018 would increase the total inventory by 57 per cent across all markets. Saudi Arabia is expected to see the highest increase in supply of almost 26,900 rooms across its primary and secondary cities, with sizeable plans especially in Makkah. The UAE will receive approximately 21,800 rooms, half of which will be in Dubai. Construction activity in Dubai received a jolt in 2013 after the city won the bid to host the Expo 2020, which revived a number of

60,000 50,000 40,000 30,000 20,000 10,000 0 UAE

Land - Not included in this study Hard construction and site improvements Building Coasts Contractor Overhead Site improvements Landscaping Coasts Parking Subcontractor’s Bids Engineering Coasts Building and Monument Signage Construction Contingency Soft Costs Financing Coasts Architectural/Design Fees Interior Design Fees Other Professional Fees (Legal, Conultants, etc) Fixtures Furniture and Equipment (FF&E) and Operating Supplies and Equipment (OS&E) Guestroom Furniture and Fixtures Bathroom Furniture and Fixtures Public Space and Meeting Room Furniture and Fixtures Kitchen and Laundry Equipment Softgoods including Carpets, Drapes and Rooms Accessories Supply Inventories – Lines, Operating Supplies, Initial Purchases Pre-opening and Marketing Technical Sevicer Fees Pre-opening Recruitment, Staffing, Training Operating Reserves Marketing Expenses Source: HVS; Hotel Devolopment Cost Survey 2013/14 (HVS San Francisco)

54 May 2014

2010 KSA

2013 Qatar

2018 Bahrain

Oman Source: HVS

hotel projects that had previously been on hold. Qatar will continue to strengthen its efforts to meet its commitments for 2022 as Doha is scheduled to receive approximately 7,000 additional rooms. Both Oman and Bahrain are expected to witness robust growth with the majority of proposed supply focused in Muscat and Manama respectively. We note that the total branded hotel supply expected to open by 2018 is subject to change due to delays in construction and hotel management companies signing additional deals to expand their presence in the region. Strong economic and tourism growth outlooks, coupled with relatively abundant land availability, are the primary drivers for new hotel development in these markets. The large pools of high net-worth equity investors in this region (private or institutional) with strong balance

InsIde busIness

figure 2

120 100 80 % of Suppy per Classification

sheets are gaining easier access to debt at comparatively low rates. Banks are expected to gradually increase their overall level of lending too and a growth in construction financing is therefore expected in order to support and facilitate the expansions in hotel supply. The persisting political turmoil across many Middle Eastern countries continues to benefit the more stable economies, such as the markets presented in this study, which will attract more regional foreign direct investment, notably in real estate. Opportunities for new-build projects remain ripe across all five markets, especially in secondary cities and B-grade locations within primary cities suitable for midmarket hotels. Figure 2 provides a breakdown of proposed hotel room supply between 2014 and 2018 by hotel classification for the benefit of the reader. Looking at the total of the five markets, we notice that almost half of the new supply will be Upper-Upscale and Upscale hotels, while the smallest percentage will consist of Budget hotels.

60 40 20 0

UAE KSA Luxury Serviced Apartments


Bahrain Oman Upper=Upscale Budget

Total Upscale Midscale

figure 3

110 108 106

Trends in consTrucTion cosTs

104 Cost Index

We provide in the following paragraphs an analysis of building material costs. The principal building materials used in construction include cement, concrete, sand, steel, wood, plastic and fuel, and their prices vary upon the amount of supply and demand in the market. Building material costs are therefore tied to the amount of construction activity in a market and further beyond. Construction activity also includes sectors outside of real estate such as transport, power, and other infrastructure. Markets that are experiencing construction booms across multiple sectors are more likely to encounter shortages in supply of materials, which would drive material

102 100 98 96 2010





2012 Bahrain

Oman Source: HVS

input prices upwards. In addition to the shift in costs is the increasingly global sourcing of materials, where transportation costs and currency exchange rates play an important role.

Supply and demand influences are magnified by the challenges of procuring materials due to changes in global availability, pricing, quality, and delivery. Figure 3 illustrates a cost index of the main building materials used in construction which includes cement, concrete, sand, steel, wood, plastic, and fuel. Through our research and use of existing benchmark reports, we have compiled costs for these various items in all five markets over a three year period. The building material costs have been indexed to base values in 2010. The UAE saw a sharp drop in building material costs in 2012 as a result of fewer projects being awarded in 2011, which caused a construction slowdown and less demand for materials. With the construction sector having re-gained its momentum in 2013, the UAE is expected to spend over US$300 billion by 2030, which is the highest amount in any GCC country. As the country will witness further growth in real estate, with many ambitious projects and overall infrastructure development to accommodate the Expo 2020, we expect an upwards trend in material costs in the short term. A great deal of construction planning took place in Saudi Arabia between 2010 and 2012, with record high numbers of projects being awarded. However, delays in the execution of many of these projects caused material costs to remain relatively stable. Large public spending commitments from the government to invest in transport infrastructure, expanding the capacities of their holy cities, and further developing residential real estate will boost construction activity in the short term. With total construction expenditures projected to exceed US$200 billion by 2030, the increased demand for building materials is likely to exert upwards pressure on costs.

Standard Room Hotel Classification Luxury

Gross Area per

No. Keys

Size (m )

No. F&B Outlets

Meeting Space (m )



Key (m2)

Built-up Area (m2)






Single Basement











Single Basement









Single Basement









Single Basement



Upscale Serviced Apartments






Single Basement



Source: HVS Assumptions

May 2014 55

InsIde busIness

Hotel Classification

which account for 69 to 76 per cent of the overall development budget, depending on the hotel category. As a hedging strategy against the anticipated price increases, hotel developers can consider locking into forward contracts on material prices to control budget overruns. Other key factors to consider are the increasing labour costs in the region, which are causing contractors to downscale and adopt more technologically advanced systems that require higher capital infusions but have cost benefits in the long term. An increasing move towards“Green� designs is also likely to increase the demand for new materials, the use of renewable energy sources like photovoltaics, and other energy saving

public and private investment. Its ambitious transport infrastructure plans, growth in oil and gas projects, and a strong focus on tourism development will provide sustained levels of demand for construction materials. In summary, construction activity across all sectors in the GCC is rising which is likely to cause a demand and supply imbalance in building materials, leading to an increase in prices in the short term. Hotel developers in the above markets need to consider these trends in building material costs and their likely impact on development budgets in the future. Material costs directly influence Construction/Hard Costs

As the construction boom continues and the country races to prepare for the FIFA 2022 World Cup and beyond, construction expenditures are estimated to exceed US$150 billion by 2030

Luxury (figure 7a)

Upper-upscale (figure 7a)





450,000 300,000


Development Cost per Key (US$)

Development Cost per Key (US$)

Qatar was witnessing a full construction boom between 2010 and 2012, with the face of its capital Doha rapidly changing. Sharp economic and demographic growth has spurred high levels of activity in all construction sectors. This in turn has already influenced material costs, which are currently the highest in the GCC. As the construction boom continues and the country races to prepare for the FIFA 2022 World Cup and beyond, construction expenditures are estimated to exceed US$150 billion by 2030. Qatar is likely to encounter shortages in building materials due to the heightened demand, which will exert further pressure on costs. Bahrain was historically the most expensive country in the GCC for construction materials before it was overtaken by Qatar. Bahrain witnessed a slight drop in material costs in 2011, mainly in cement and concrete. With political uncertainty still in the picture, and a weaker economic outlook compared to its GCC neighbours, Bahrain is expected to struggle to compete in attracting investment. The country is supposed to receive infrastructure grants from its GCC neighbours, which is likely to increase demand for materials. Costs in Bahrain are expected to remain high as the country relies almost entirely on imports of construction materials. Data on Oman was not available for 2010. The country witnessed a rise in material costs in 2012 with a healthy construction industry underpinned by

350,000 300,000 250,000 200,000 150,000 100,000

250,000 200,000 150,000 100,000 50,000

50,000 0





Bahrain Oman Regional Average FF&E and OS&E Soft Cost Hard Cost Pre-Opening and Marketing Total




Bahrain Oman Regional Average FF&E and OS&E Soft Cost Hard Cost Pre-Opening and Marketing Total

Source: HVS

Source: HVS

Hard Costs

FF&E and OS&E

Soft Costs

Pre-Opening and Marketing

Total per Key*

Total per m2*

317,400 69%

87,400 19%

46,000 10%

9,200 2%



224,400 68%

59,400 18%

39,600 2%

6,600 2%



159,600 70%

36,500 16%

27,400 12%

4,500 2%



121,800 74%

19,700 12%

19,700 12%

3,300 2%



152,000 76%

26,000 13%

18,000 9%

4,000 2%



Luxury Cost per Key % Allocation Upper-Upscale Cost per Key % Allocation Upscale Cost per Key % Allocation Midscale Cost per Key % Allocation Upscale Serviced Apartments Cost per Key % Allocation

Source: HVS *Cost per key and per m2 based on room count and total built up areas presented in Figure 5

56 May 2014

InsIde busIness

Upscale (figure 7b)

Midscale (figure 7b)


200,000 175,000 Development Cost per Key (US$)

250,000 Development Cost per Key (US$)

systems. The UAE is already slowly introducing regulations for minimum standards on new buildings in line with the Estidama programme. Hotel operators are incorporating more environmentally friendly aspects into their brand standards to meet guest requirements and more importantly as part of their CSR initiatives. A gradual push from regulators and end-users towards more environmentally friendly buildings will affect construction costs. While ‘green’ constructions usually cost more, the buildings benefit from lower operating costs, and the use of more durable materials tends to improve asset lifecycles.

200,000 150,000 100,000 50,000 0

125,000 100,000 75,000 50,000 25,000





Bahrain Oman Regional Average FF&E and OS&E Soft Cost Hard Cost Pre-Opening and Marketing Total





Bahrain Oman Regional Average Hard Cost Soft Cost FF&E and OS&E Pre-Opening and Marketing Total

Source: HVS

installation of their own water treatment facilities and power grids to support a hotel development. Sometimes accessibility to the site can be a challenge, which is likely to require additional road construction. The general topography can pose design challenges while soil conditions will dictate the level of depth and method needed to lay the building foundations. Hotels that form part of mixeduse developments can benefit from shared facilities where costs are divided between different components of the development. Resort developments are typically built at lower densities over larger surface areas, hence requiring higher landscaping costs. Room sizes are usually larger, and the properties will offer a wider variety of facilities.

Source: HVS

Procurement strategies are different methods of realising a construction project. Developers can choose to differ from the traditional approach of appointing the designer and contractor separately. The Design-build method for example, appoints a single entity for the design and contracting, which can shorten delivery timelines and reduce costs, while also reducing the development risk. Changes in regulatory requirements for hotels to qualify for different classifications, such as minimum room sizes and number of food and beverage outlets, can increase development costs if the regulations stipulate larger facilities and higher standards. We therefore recommend that users of the HVS Middle East Hotel Development Cost Trends consider the material presented here as a general guide, and that no investment decision should be based purely on these estimates without seeking validation of development budgets from specialised cost consultants. All individual property information used by HVS Consulting and Valuation for the development cost publication is provided on a confidential basis and is believed to be reliable. Data from individual sources are not disclosed.

The uAE is expected to spend over

us$300 billion by 2030

Upscale Serviced Apartments (figure 7c) 250,000 218,750 Development Cost per Key (US$)

This publication provides indicative hotel development costs per market based on differences in material and construction costs between markets. These estimates assume “typical”hotel designs under each hotel classification. Properties that are designed with numerous food and beverage outlets, extensive meeting and banqueting space, extensive wellness or other facilities with unusual dimensions will immediately be subject to higher development costs than the amounts featured in this publication. Determining the appropriate mix of facilities and their built-up areas must be done through a detailed study of a hotel market to understand the demand potential that will justify the level of investment. Efficient building designs with careful space planning can maximise the ratio of revenue-generating area to total built-up area in a hotel and minimise the amount of wasted space, which will benefit the overall returns of a project. There are other factors, unique to each hotel project, which will influence the development costs. The following list is not exhaustive but highlights some of the most relevant factors in this region: Owner aspirations and personal reasons for developing a hotel are not always entirely motivated by financial returns. These types of investments, which are known to be more common in this region, will typically see hotel projects being developed at much higher budgets than the norm: Site conditions - Certain sites in remote locations will require the


187,500 156,250 125,000 93,750 62,500 31,250 0




Bahrain Oman Regional Average Hard Cost FF&E and OS&E Soft Cost Pre-Opening and Marketing Total

-Hala Matar Choufany and Yasin Munshi.

Source: HVS

May 2014 57


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Letter from London

‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,’ –Charles Dickens from A Tale of Two Cities. Conrad Bigham returns with his column with a look at the hospitality business market in Europe in the years since 2009

A tale of two cities lmost five years have elapsed since I composed a Letter from London for Top Hotel. Back in 2009, as the recession took hold and the global financial crisis continued to dominate the headlines, short term prospects for the European hotel industry appeared to be bleak. Whilst many observers expected hotel markets universally to experience material drops in demand, leading to reductions in values, I subscribed to the minority view that the underlying strength of both visitor and investor demand for quality hotel assets in key European gateway cities such as London and Paris would “vouchsafe premium prices being required to secure high quality properties”. Subsequent events have borne out the accuracy of this minority view. Indeed, the sheer vibrancy of operational performance of hotels located in London and Paris over the period concerned surprised a number of commentators, whose bearish expectations were coloured by historic correlations between movements in national GDP and the performance of the hotel industry. Events from 2009 onwards, however, have demonstrated that the hotel industry in truly global cities is able to draw upon worldwide feeder markets which compensate for any “little local difficulty”. Thus the burgeoning middle classes across India and the Far East, which not only aspire to travel internationally but can also afford to do so, augur extremely well for the continued rude health of major European cities and their hotel markets. John Donne wrote that,“no man is an island”, but city states such as London and Paris have developed hotel markets proven to be insulated from the trials and tribulations experienced by their provincial brethren.

Whilst transaction levels did drop considerably, the number of distressed hotel sales taking place fell well short of the expectations harboured by many a disappointed vulture fund. Investors faced limited prospects of acquiring high quality properties in London and Paris unless they were willing (and able) to pay premium prices. Looking ahead, the number of billionaires globally continues to grow rapidly with investors from a number of countries, such as Russia and China, yet to make serious incursions into the London and Paris hotel markets. This factor alone suggests that, given the prevailing constraints on property development in the cities concerned, values of luxury hotel product will continue to rise. What about the impact of bank lending? Borrowing costs are low in

absolute terms and expected to remain so in the UK for at least two more years, although the speed at which UK unemployment has reduced to circa seven per cent (a level identified by the Bank of England as a trigger for considering raising interest rates) coupled with fears spawned by a booming housing market, might accelerate a modest increase by the end of this year. After several years of separating “lenders” from “pretenders”, it`s now encouraging to note that real and sustainable appetite for funding deals is being demonstrated by a number of lending banks across Europe. Due to a lack of competition during the last five years, potential borrowers have had little scope to negotiate terms. Now the pendulum has swung back towards healthier middle ground and with many borrowers content to countenance deals at relatively modest loan to value levels, competition amongst the banks on the pricing front is likely to intensify. What does this all mean for investors seriously interested in acquiring quality upscale hotels in major European cities? First, if your investment model does not work at yields in the range of four to six per cent, then either adjust your expected returns downwards or look outside central London and Paris (and possibly central Amsterdam). If, however, you are prepared to accept yields at this level and have sizeable cash resources, then a number of banks are likely to be willing to fund deals in the region of 50 per cent loan to value. And investor competition for high quality hotels in major European cities is likely to increase substantially over the next five to 10 years. Carpe diem. -Conrad Bigham is one of Europe’s leading specialists in providing investment and debt advisory services to investors in the hotel industry. May 2014 59


Karyn Williams-Sykes talks about the hospitality industry’s single most impactful tool – the human at the other end. All our expectations - from the guest’s perspective and from the management’s perspective – rest on him

The human resource ’m the product of a very academic family – my mother was a primary school senior teacher; grandfather was a school principal; aunts taught at high school; elder cousins teach as university lecturers – we were taught to put ‘books first’ from day one. So, I believe in the value of books and in doing book work. When you understand HOW and WHY things are done, you are able to DO it so much better and you are also able to look for better ways to do it. When we only train people onthe-job, we run the risk of teaching them ONE way to do things. When we truly educate people, then we release their creativity and change their perspective. The hospitality industry is so dynamic and competitive, you have to constantly be reinventing yourself and tweaking what you do in order to keep ahead of the game; this creativity can come from anywhere, if we prepare our people to really understand the importance of what they do. The need for investing in training and development in the hospitality industry is not always apparent to all. One of the comments I hear all the time from managers in this industry is -“Why should I train and invest in my staff? I train them and they leave!” So I ask: What do you think would happen if you did not train them? Well, they might still leave, but wherever they go they will take your name and reputation along.

Reputation is everything In this business, your reputation is 60 May 2014

EVERYTHING! You get just that one chance to make a good impression or to mess up. This responsibility is carried on the shoulders of every single member of your team. So how can you not train? How can you think it is ok not to have an on-going, comprehensive learning and development plan for every single member of your organisation? How can you think that this is not worth investing in? When you invest in your team, you are investing in your business in a very tangible way, as they are the persons meeting your customer, face to face on a daily basis. They are gaining your customers and building your reputation in a positive way. Which do you think is more cost effective: a) firing the waiter who messes up the order and then is rude to the guest or b) training that waiter in the first place to deliver the service you would be proud of? And training cannot be viewed as a one-off injection that gives immunity forever. It is an on-going, developmental process. We train for basic foundation skills then later we need to develop cognitive skills in all our team members. Do you want them to keep coming back to you with insipid questions? Or would it be better for them to think of answers and solutions for themselves? We need to empower our teams, and for this kind of responsibility we must prepare them sufficiently. Training is also a powerful motivational tool. When you show that you believe in your associates enough

Training is also a powerful motivational tool. When you show that you believe in your associates enough to invest in their development, you can change how they feel about themselves and their self-worth. They begin to see a future and not just today’s job but an actual career with you.

to invest in their development, you can change how they feel about themselves and their self-worth. They begin to see a future and not just today’s job but an actual career with you. There is a great deal of flexible and multi-dimensional training options for the hospitality industry today: online, distance learning, part-time programmes, modular deliveries, cross department exposure. A plethora of learning and development options that work within the never closing demands of the hotel business. There are options for internationally accredited certifications, with lapel pins and laudable titles that, again, can motivate your team members and give them a real zeal for more learning and more ideas for individual job improvements. Remember, the option not to train is simply not an option. Your competition is training every day. All the hotel groups with the highest reputations have solid, focussed Learning and Development departments, with on-going training programmes and professional development courses. If you run a small or independent establishment, you may not have the resources for a full scale training department, but there are good, hospitality focussed training providers in the market who can work with you and within your budget, to support your developmental needs. Invest in your most important resource – your Human resource! -Karyn Williams-Sykes is Director of Professional Training and Development at The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management, Dubai, UAE


All round view

Here’s a round-up of a few events happening at many hotels around the Middle East

Football tournament

s Saadiyat The final match of TDIC’ tball (SAV) Foo e lag Accommodation Vil 27, 2014 rch Ma on d hel Tournament of SAV’s own was played between one Lightning low participating teams, Yel

ernational and Drake and Scull Int tch, Drake ma d rite spi PJSC. After a mpions cha ed wn cro re we ll and Scu p from Cu at and received the Saadiy ector of Dir s IC’ TD , Jassim Al Hammadi ry. live De and Infrastructure

Celebration time! Every month a team from Movenpick Resort and Spa Tala Bay, Aqaba, joins children from Jordan’s SOS Children’s Village Association to celebrate the birthdays of the month. The SOS Children’s Village Association is a local, private, non-political, non-governmental and independent social development organisation which was established in 1984 and cares for 345 orphaned and abandoned children in its three villages - Amman, Aqaba, Irbid and seven youth houses in Amman, Irbid and Aqaba. SOS Jordan cares for the largest number of disadvantaged children in the Kingdom. SOS pioneered a family-style approach for the long-term care of the needy children. This concept is based on four principles: the mother, brothers and sisters, the house and the village. SOS Amman and Irbid Villages consist of 12 family homes, and SOS Aqaba Village consists of eight family homes. May 2014 61

Happy birthday W Doha W Doha Hotel and Residences celebrated its fifth year anniversary on March 3 in signature style with a cake cutting ceremony that took place in the vibrant Living Room

A picture story A month-long photography exhibition (March-April 16) at The Ajman Palace featured a new generation of photographers. Titled Seen and Unseen the pictures were about the many attractions of the UAE with a

62 May 2014

lobby. General Manager, Safak Guvenc, invited staff to take part in the special day that also highlighted the hotel’s position as the first luxury lifestyle hotel in Qatar. Congratulations!

major focus on Ajman. Aptly titled ‘Contrast’, it captured the heart of the ever-changing face of the emirates with a random mix of images ranging from street photography to landscapes, wilderness, portraits and architectural marvels.


Industry events around the world May 2-3 World Travel Market (WTM) Africa Capetown, South Africa

Outdoor fun Grand Hyatt Dubai played host to thirty orphans from the Dar Al Birr Society for Orphans on April 9 ‘Fun Day’ at our outdoor leisure facilities. Aged between eight and 15 years old, the children were warmly welcomed by the hotel’s leadership committee and associates. A magic show,

water sports, lawn games, fish and duck feeding and interactive flower arrangement lessons were some of the many highlights of the day. Each child went home with a special custom designed goodie bag full of gifts. They enjoyed a delicious lunch meal prepared by our Executive Chef, and spent the

afternoon chatting and playing games together. This activity is part of Hyatt’s ongoing Global Month of Community Service around the world. The month of April each year is when Hyatt collectively “shares the care”with our communities and 2014 marks the fourth year of this global initiative.

May 4-5 Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) Dubai, UAE May 5-8 Arabian Travel Market (ATM) Dubai, UAE May 5 Brazil Hotel Investment Conference (BHIC) Sao Paulo, Brazil May 5-6 Canadian Hotel Investment Conference Toronto, Canada May 12-13 Boutique Hotel Summit 2014 London, UK May 14-15 China Hotel Marketing Conference Shanghai, China index_en.aspx May 14-16 Hospitality Design Expo Las Vegas, USA May 2014 63

Last Word

Gary’s Top hotel Restaurateur, OBE and celebrity chef Gary Rhodes, is also a traveller. Spending as much time as he does away from home, we thought he would be the best person to ask about hotel preferences. Here they are

Last hotel you stayed in? Yas Island Rotana

The best - discovering the hotel has a sensational restaurant.

Best hotel experience you can recall ... which hotel was it? St.Geran Hotel, Mauritius. We stayed in the private villa with a private beach, pool and nine staff looking after us! It all began with lunch on the beach – lobster and high end bubblies.

In your well-travelled opinion, which hotel holds your ‘Top hotel’ title and why? The Grosvenor House, Dubai, of course. Outside the UAE, Trump Tower, New York . Having a three Michelin star Jean-Georges Vongerichton Restaurant is more than a bonus to accompany quality service with great views over Central Park, NY.

What is the best part of staying at a hotel? And the worst? The worst - no iron and ironing board, plus no coffee making facilities.

64 May 2014

What have you found missing or lacking in your hotel room if at all? Sadly, it’s quite often lack of space, tiny wardrobe and tiny bath towels.

What do you look forward to most after checking-in? Hopefully a bottle of bubbly on ice!! How do hotels in the UAE compare to those internationally? Hotels within the UAE generally offer a higher level of luxury than so many around the world. If you had to move into a hotel for a year, which one would it be? Why? The one I’ve lived in for two years The Grosvenor House Hotel, Dubai.

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


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