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5-6 2017














Top hotel Wellness A dedicated look at the regional wellness industry

— A 5 star experience Smart Buildings of tomorrow…

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

SIGNATURE MEDIA FZ LLE P. O. Box 49784, Dubai, UAE Tel: 04 3978847/3795678 Email: Exclusive Sales Agent Signature Media LLC P.O. Box 49784, Dubai, UAE Publisher: Jason Verhoven Sales Manager: Sunil Ross Managing Editor: Munawar Shariff Sub Editor: Umaima Tinwala Art Director: Tamara Eger Production Manager: Roy Varghese

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

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

IT transformation With technology changing and advancing daily, hoteliers are definitely being offered a variety of options by service providers and IT vendors. Sifting through and gaining the knowledge and troubleshooting as to which option is future proof and has promise. Technology ideally should be able to enhance the real aspect of the service hotels provide to guests - a comfortable place to rest for the night with exceptional service that ensures the guest comes back. And this real aspect should also be the hotelier’s top priority. With the arrival of the open interface architecture vendors can only add value to already running property management systems at negligible or no extra cost. This is a huge win for hoteliers. These systems now are able to readily connect to and work with software from other developers without fear of another cost. Our cover article on page 26 even speaks to two mid range hotels about their insights into technology in hospitality today and achieving guest engagement and loyalty. We spoke with the GM, Pascal Dupuis, of the swanky new Address property in Downtown Dubai - The Address Boulevard about the property, it’s beautiful interiors and new concepts in design, wellness and hospitality. Besides these, we have a round up of integral hospitality events - ATM, AHIC and the Global Restaurant Investment Forum. It’s as if all the major events are now happening in April! Hope you enjoy the issue. And we will be back in July, until then enjoy the upcoming holy month and Eid festivities. Munawar Shariff Managing Editor

MAY/JUNE 2017 3







Eastern elegance at the Shangri La Qaryat Al Beri

A beautiful property with touches of the east mixed with regional influences

How to Ramadan-proof your f&b revenue

Tips on adapting your F&B business for the Holy Month of Ramadan

10 NEWS All the latest from hotels in the region


20 What’s new in hospitality

around the world brings us the highlights of what’s happening in the global hotel industry


32 MUST TRY IFTARS ThME brings you the best iftar deals

A chat with Chef Fernando María Rey Golfarine, Head Chef at Fogueira, Ramada Plaza Hotel, JBR, about what it takes to make good food and his definition of success

41 ATM & AHIC 2017 A compilation of the news and

announcements made this year ...

4 MAY/JUNE 2017


Turtle power

Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman, has celebrated the first turtle hatching of the season

Traiteur, Park Hyatt Dubai talks to Munawar Shariff about the major influences in his life, and his unique take on food


The Address Boulevard is a unique new property in the heart of Dubai’s Downtown

Summer lovin’ skin care

Simple and effective skincare

52 CREATING A MELTING POT Omar Basiony, Chef de Cuisine at


A posh new Address

a successful restaurant in today’s competitive market

offered in the city


50 TOP 10 RESTAURANT TIPS Here are the top 10 tips for running

IT transformation

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have been gaining relevance among hoteliers

Starting with the basics



Thanani is all set to be Ajman’s finest culinary gem


Pure oxygen energy

Natura Bisse’s Oxygen Facial at the Amara Spa, Park Hyatt Dubai




Find the perfect shade to suit you at:


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

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Eastern elegance at the

Shangri La Qaryat Al Beri

The very glamorous hotel Shangri La Qaryat Al Beri located in between the two bridges of Al Maqta and Al Mussafah in Abu Dhabi is a beautiful property with touches of the east mixed with regional influences. The hotel is simple enough to get to and has a souk attached to it with its more business-stay sister property, the Trader’s Hotel, next to it The Shangri La Qaryat Al Beri is one of Abu Dhabi’s most charming hotels, with it’s own eastern character. The property is beautiful and expansive as it has attached alongside its main building, the villas, the residential apartments, the spa and health club as well as it’s more business-stay sister hotel the Trader’s Hotel. The Souk Qaryat Al Beri is also just a short walk or abra ride away. The property was easy to get to being a bit away from the main city of Abu Dhabi and quite near to the entrance of the emirate. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is also a short 5-minute drive away. The malls are all, however, a 20-minute drive from the property.

RESERVATION After checking online to get an idea of rates, we called the property. The response was good with full information on all our queries. The rate was the same as the online site we checked on. Including breakfast and taxes and the Tourism Dirham, the rate was AED 1,011 per night.

Evaluation: Good

CHECK-IN We arrived a bit later than check-in time and our room was ready and waiting for us. We were given a beautiful beach facing room on the second level. The view of the private beach was serene. However, it was a very small area for a beach. The property has two beaches on either side so perhaps the other beach is a larger area.

Evaluation: Good MAY/JUNE 2017 7


ROOM 230 The room was large. It had a spacious entry way with the bathroom on the left as you entered and a floor to ceiling mirror at the end of the passageway by the closets which were opposite the entrance. The room was on the right. There were arched entryways to the room area asn well as the bathroom area which had its own french doors making the entry to the bathroom rather grand. The room was simple yet beautiful. A large headboard and bed on the right and opposite it the television was placed on a large cabinet that held the minibar, kettle and other refreshments. Beside this cabinet was the study area with a mirror above it. The huge balcony beside it with ample seating outside was also very well placed.

Evaluation: Excellent

BATHROOM The bathroom behind the french doors was really big. However there was only one vanity on the left as you entered. The bathtub was facing the entrance to the bathroom and the wc area was beside the bathtub and beside that on the right of the entry way was the separate shower area. Amenities were by Shangri La’s own in house amenities brand.

Evaluation: Excellent

BREAKFAST AT SOFRA BLD ON LEVEL 1 The breakfast buffet from 6am-10.30am had everything expected from a five star breakfast experience and so much more! There were a wide range of Asian dishes that would be eaten at breakfast heartwarming clear chicken noodle soup and miso soup to name a few - along with everything you would expect to see at a five star breakfast buffet. The restaurant was huge and the best part was there weren’t too many people when we arrived and we got a very beautiful table for breakfast. The desserts were also above and beyond what we usually get at breakfasts, with chocolate fountains, ice creams and sorbets, creme brulee, panna cotta, cheesecake, amongst the usual baked items - danish pastries, muffins etc. There was also a very large selection of gluten free items - breads, cakes, rolls.

Evaluation: Excellent

CHECK-OUT 11 AM Check-out was smooth and swift.

Evaluation: Good

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









Floor service:




Breakfast buffet:




Corridors, elevators, stairs:




Check out:

Good 0








MAY/JUNE 2017 9

Cheval to open in Qatar MOHAMMED S ALMARZOOQI, Group Managing Director for Cheval Property Management Ltd and Cheval Residences Ltd, said,“We are delighted to confirm Cheval West Bay ApartHotel Doha will be a flagship development for us; our first property outside London, and a milestone in our company vision to build a strategic portfolio to suit the demands of our affluent well-travelled guests. We are honoured to be working with QIMC and look forward to supporting the Qatari strategy of building business and leisure tourism to Qatar.” Cheval West Bay ApartHotel on the Doha exclusive Corniche waterfront is part of QIMC’s Headquarter mix use Development ‘Abraj Al Tahwiliya’, and will include 350 keys, including stylish open-plan studios, and elegant one, two and three-bedroom options. Cheval West Bay ApartHotel, Doha will offer breath-taking views over the sea and city, and will be close to the central business district and the Doha Exhibition Centre.

From left to right - Mohammed S Almarzooqi, Group Managing Director, Cheval Property Management and Cheval Residences, Abdul Rahman AlAnsari, CEO of QIMC, and George Westwell, Director, Cheval Residences.

QIMC Tower

Qatar Airways ranked best regional airline by Money magazine’s 2017 ‘Best in Travel’ QATAR AIRWAYS WAS named ‘Best Regional Middle East/Africa Airline’ in Money magazine’s 2017 ‘Best in Travel’, and was named runner-up for the title of ‘Best Overall International Airline’. These latest awards join a number of distinguished accolades the airline has recently received; including the ‘Airline of the Year’ title at the 2017 Air Transport Awards, one of the highest honours in the industry. The Money magazine Best in Travel awards is an established annual ranking that highlights the best in the travel industry where quality, cost and value intersect.

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Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor receives prestigious Golden Peacock Lifetime Achievement Award KHALAF AHMAD AL HABTOOR, Founding Chairman, Al Habtoor Group was honoured with the Golden Peacock Lifetime Achievement Award for Business and Social Inclusiveness at a ceremony at the Grand Hyatt in Dubai. The coveted award recognised Al Habtoor’s exemplary leadership, which has contributed significantly to the stellar growth trajectory of the UAE. Al Habtoor was credited for being

‘an outstanding pioneer in the world and beyond’. The award was presented to Khalaf Al Habtoor by His Highness Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture & Knowledge Development. Also present on stage was His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, CEO and Chairman, Emirates Group; Dr Tayeb A

Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor

Kamali, Chairman, IOD India, UAE Chapter Director General, Ministry of Interior, UAE; and Lt Gen J S Ahluwalia, PVSM, Managing Director, Institute of Directors. The Golden Peacock Awards, instituted by the IOD, India in 1991, are now regarded as a benchmark of Corporate Excellence worldwide. Previous winners of the Golden Peacock Leadership Awards include Sir Adrian Cadbury, Daniel Vasella, Chairman, Novartis, Azim Premji, Chairman, Wipro, and Dr Ola Ullsten, former Prime Minister of Sweden, among others.

UAE Hospitality Sector Tops USD 10 billion by 2020 CONNECTED VISITOR TECHNOLOGY will drive the UAE’s hospitality market to top US$ 10 billion by 2020, meeting the needs of millions of Expo 2020 Dubai visitors, experts announced at the Arabian Travel Market. With 25 million visitors set to attend Expo 2020 Dubai, Dubai aims to double the number of hotel and serviced apartments, according to a recent report by Alpen Capital. As hoteliers jostle for position, they are aiming to stand out from their competitors through disruptive technologies to save time and money, and meet the preferences of Millennials. The UAE’s

hospitality sector is rapidly adopting digital solutions to streamline hospitality administrative processes and enrich the guest experience. Increasingly, hotels are offering remote check-in, card-free room access, and Big Data analytics to monitor customer preferences both in-room and from partners. In the UAE, Condo Protego is seeing strong demand for solutions such as Dell EMC converged infrastructure, Isilon network-attached storage, XtremIO all-flash storage, and VERITAS information management and data protection solutions.

Savita Bhaskar

MAY/JUNE 2017 11

Dusit International expands global footprint with first hotel in Bangladesh’s Capital City DUSIT INTERNATIONAL IS set to expand its global footprint once again with the opening of DusitPrincess Dhaka, the company’s first property in Bangladesh, under a long-term arrangement with a subsidiary of Lakeshore Hotels Limited. As the capital and largest city of Bangladesh, now the second-fastest growing economy in the world, Dhaka is home to thousands of businesses, and has one of the largest concentrations of multinational companies in South Asia. Located in the north of the city, only five minutes by car from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport,

the upper-midscale business hotel will open under Dusit’s newly developed franchising model, which has been designed to give owners maximum returns while operating under a global brand. The hotel will comprise 80 stylish guest rooms and 10 well-appointed suites set over 13 storeys. All rooms will feature a modern yet comfortable design, while facilities will include an all-day-dining restaurant, a grab ‘n’ go outlet, a meeting room, and recreational amenities such as a rooftop swimming pool. DusitPrincess Dhaka is slated to open at the end of 2017.

Signing ceremony-DusitPrincess Dhaka

Rendering of Dusit Princess Dhaka

Millennium Hotels and Resorts debuts new ‘You Loyalty and Rewards’ Programme IT’S ALL ABOUT You at Millennium Hotels and Resorts, Middle East and Africa (MEA), as they unveil a new and enhanced loyalty programme, tailor-made especially to suit the local market. The ‘You Loyalty & Rewards’ programme has been developed following insights from guests across the Middle East, allowing them to effortlessly turn points into memories at a broad choice of hotels in the region. With the Group firmly on track to have 100 hotels in the Middle East by 2020, this will quickly result in it becoming one of the region’s largest loyalty programmes.

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With a new three-tier reward system - Red, Silver and Gold - members of the scheme have access to exclusive privileges, including complimentary stays, late check-out, room upgrades, free internet access, and a host of dining and lifestyle treats, with further activations to be incorporated throughout the year. Offering complete flexibility, it allows guests to redeem at any time and at any hotel, and providing the ability for guests to part pay for hotel rooms with points. Designed for a digital era, no cards will be

issued, with members able to manage their account, consult their points balance, and redeem on the mobile-friendly website. A second phase, due to be announced in the coming months, will incorporate a Bookers Loyalty programme, designed especially for corporate guests.

Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort wins two prestigious awards

ANANTARA AL JABAL Al Akhdar Resort in Oman has been recognised as one of the world’s best new hotels by editors and contributors of two leading US travel publications. The only resort in Oman to be included on both lists, it secured a place on Travel + Leisure’s 2017 It List earlier this year, closely followed by inclusion in Conde Nast Traveler’s 2017 HOT List. \Both the Travel + Leisure 2017 Hit List and the Conde Nast Traveler Hot List 2017 recognise the best properties around the world that have opened their doors in the last year. Each list is compiled by discerning editors and writers, selecting from over 500 major hotel openings to choose their favourite properties, which provide an outstanding guest experience and are likely to stand the test of time. Magnificently perched 2,000 metres above sea level on the rocky contours of Oman’s ‘Green Mountain’, Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort is the highest five star resort in the Middle East, and second highest in the world.

Deluxe Canyon View Room Balcony

Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort

Cliff Pool Villa Bedroom

New GM at Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach SOFITEL DUBAI JUMEIRAH Beach has announced the appointment of a new General Manager, Marc de Ruijter, for the award-winning five-star property. With more than 20 years’ experience in the hospitality industry, de Ruijter will be in charge of overseeing the entire operation of the hotel. De Ruijter is no stranger to the Sofitel brand or Dubai, having previously been Hotel Manager at Sofitel Dubai The Palm.

With a wealth of hospitality experience gleaned from positions in the USA, Belgium, France, Mauritius and the United Arab Emirates, de Ruijter brings his global mindset to a highly competitive market. From his very first role as an intern in Orlando, Florida to now residing the position of General Manager of Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach, he is sure to bring an abundance of energy and insight to the hotel.

Marc de Ruijter

MAY/JUNE 2017 13

Preferred Hotels and Resorts enhances iPrefer Hotel Rewards Programme IN RESPONSE TO consumers’ increasing desires to manage travel plans directly from their smartphones – and make sure they are getting the best deal while doing so – Preferred Hotels & Resorts launched a mobile app and member rate programme as major enhancements to its points-based

hotel rewards programme, iPrefer. According to a 2016 study conducted by Google in regards to how people use their phones for travel, 60 per cent of smartphone users stated they prefer using a mobile app versus a desktop to manage their loyalty programme activities, and 41 per cent prefer using an app to book their hotel accommodation. Catering directly to this growing preference for on-the-go travel planning, the iPrefer mobile app is designed to provide time-saving, value-rich functionality that will enhance the overall iPrefer experience – before, during, and after every stay. Through the app, which was built in collaboration with American Express, members can search and book stays at more than 600 iPrefer participating hotels worldwide, access exclusive offers such as member rates, and the iPrefer Last-Minute

Escapes, update their profiles, view past/ upcoming stay history, and related points earnings, and immediately access and redeem Reward Certificates. iPrefer members using the app will also receive push notifications regarding special offers, and American Express cardholders will have the ability to enjoy an expedited process through American Express Checkout. The iPrefer app is available for iOS and Android devices in the Apple App Store and Google Play. Further enhancing the rewards of iPrefer, Preferred Hotels and Resorts has also launched a member rate programme that invites iPrefer members to access savings of three per cent or higher on top of the best available rate whenever they book stays at hundreds of participating hotels directly through iPrefer channels.

FORM Hotel integrates advanced middleware HotOIL™ FORM HOTEL IS integrating an advanced proprietary enterprise application system - HotOIL™ (Hotel Operational Intelligence Layer), designed and developed by Smartotels with MKG Group. FORM’s unique concept is based on a retail operational model of customisation and personalisation. The brand will use the middleware tool, integrating new and high-value operations workflow algorithms, enabling data-driven decisions to deliver on its promise to guests and investors; the system boosts Gross Operating Profit (GOP) by up to 10 per cent. Hotels are typically equipped with multiple systems that operate autonomously creating gaps between service delivery and operations. HotOIL™ is a system that fills these operational gaps by bridging communication flows between mutually-interacting software applications, enabling data optimisation, efficient workflow management, and systems agility using one central interface to pilot both the guest experience and operations. This connection between front- and back-end systems facilitates real-time

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data generation, allowing FORM to make informed decisions while maintaining cost control, and offering a new level of service personalisation and efficiency. FORM Hotel, the flagship brand of

Smartotels, recently launched in the UAE, promising consumers ‘everything they value, nothing they don’t’. FORM Hotel Dubai is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2018.

Executive Chef Dennis Kammerzell leads inspired dining at Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara AL BALEED SALALAH by Anantara brings a new level of luxury and refinement to the region, providing discerning guests with five-star style as well as a plethora of dining experiences to suit every taste bud. With recently appointed Executive Chef, Dennis Kammerzell at the helm, the collection of three restaurants offer understated style and a commitment to the highest levels of service and authentic flavours. Under his leadership, guests are invited join him on a gastronomy journey through the beautiful beachside resort. Guests visiting the resort can choose from an array of dining options including Sakalan, which translates to ‘The Land of Frankincense’, the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant, with open kitchens and deli counters serving an array of cuisines from near and far. The resort’s signature restaurant, Mekong, takes

guests on a voyage along South East Asia’s mighty river. The relaxed beachside dining restaurant Al Mina, which translates to ‘The Port’ in Arabic, captures the Mediterranean’s zesty flavours. Meanwhile, guests desiring privacy can order from the extensive in-room and in-villa dining menu, or indulge in Anantara’s signature Dining by Design. Another Anantara specialty, the ‘Spice Spoons’ experience, allows guests to discover the secrets of cooking Thai or Omani cuisine, with a specialised cooking course, performed under the watchful eye of Chef Kammerzell. Dennis Kammerzell - Executive Chef

Viceroy Hotel Group unveils Viceroy Palm Jumeirah Dubai

Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara

VICEROY HOTEL GROUP (VHG) raised the curtains to unveil Viceroy Palm Jumeirah Dubai, a stunning beachfront resort at the centre of Dubai’s thriving hospitality landscape. Viceroy Palm Jumeirah Dubai is home to 477 rooms and suites, including 352 guestrooms, 85 suites and 40 hotel apartments located across 16 floors. Designed by Yabu Pushelberg and NAO Taniyama and Associates, this Icon Collection masterpiece showcases sweeping, unobstructed views of the surrounding city, from the Dubai Marina to the Burj Khalifa. The arrival of Viceroy in Dubai marks the modern luxury hospitality group’s second foray into the UAE, bringing a fusion of California cool with Dubai sensation. The opening of Viceroy Palm Jumeirah Dubai marks the next step of VHG’s aggressive and expansive growth strategy over the next few years, with forthcoming properties slated for Argentina, Chicago, Colombia, Panama, Portugal and Turkey.

MAY/JUNE 2017 15

Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts’ Pakistan presence blooms as firm signs new property in the ‘city of gardens’ MÖVENPICK HOTELS & Resorts has expanded its footprint in Pakistan after

finalising an agreement to operate its third property in the country. The Swiss hospitality firm has signed a deal with the Orient Group of Companies to manage the 310-key Mövenpick Hotel and Apartments Lahore, part of a new mixed-used development the government has earmarked as the city’s new commercial hub. Set to be one of the tallest buildings in Pakistan when it opens in

Meraas announces four new hotel brands MERAAS HAS ANNOUNCED the launch of four exciting new hotel brands called EVADO, RE VERA, VIVUS, and MQ, as part of its objective to establish the company as a world-class hotel operator. The hotels also aim to widen the hospitality offering in Dubai, and present guests visiting the emirate for business or leisure, a plethora of novel experiences. Meraas established its hotel operating arm in December 2015 to complement Dubai’s strategic roadmap of becoming a global destination of choice. The newly launched hotel brands are carefully curated to cater to the specific needs of travellers and visitors to the city and offer best-in-class design and the latest technology. The brands will target travellers in the boutique luxury, luxury, upper upscale, and upper midscale segments, with hotels set to be situated in prime locations. The first of the new hotels to be operated by Meraas are Re Vera and Vivus branded resorts located at Bluewaters. The hotels are on schedule to open their doors in 2018, and will be a short walk from Ain Dubai, the world’s tallest and largest observation wheel, being built the island. Mövenpick Resort Petra’s Executive Chef Suliman Mashaleh has taken extra care to select and prepare dishes utilising the finest and purest olive oil the valley has to offer. They include traditional Jordanian dishes such as mushakhan (roasted chicken with onions and bread dipped in olive oil), zaatar manakeesh (a thin thyme and dough breakfast dish), labneh balls (dried yoghurt for breakfast, snacks and dinner) and makdous (walnut-stuffed mini-eggplant for breakfast, snacks and dinner).

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2021, the property will be the focal point of the high-profile Finance and Trade Centre project in Johar Town. The hotel will also be close to the Lahore International Expo Centre, the Bank Square financial precinct, and several corporate and government offices, as well as new and upcoming theme parks and shopping malls. Known as the ‘city of gardens’, Lahore is the Punjab province’s capital and its commercial and banking centre. Mövenpick already operates the 407room Mövenpick Hotel Karachi and is scheduled to open the 361-key Mövenpick Hotel Centaurus Islamabad in 2018.

Ladies membership offer at NYSA spa and club, Dubai BENEFIT FROM THIS exclusive ladies’ gym membership, which offers flexible hours, along with designated parking space, attractive discounts and added privileges for referrals. Enjoy with unlimited usage of the Spa wet area, including steam room and sauna, changing, lockers and relaxation zones. Additionally, a 20 per cent discount will be offered at La Vida Beauty Salon at Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek Heights, as well as the restaurant venues (excluding The Veranda). The offer includes: Three months – AED 2,000 (Nysa ladies gym) Three months – AED 3000 (Nysa unisex gym, ladies gym and pool access) Book by and start the membership before June 30th, 2017 to avail the offer. For further information on the offer, as well as the referral privileges, please contact the Spa team at +971 4 553 1259 or email nysa.

Ras Al Khaimah announces boost in international arrivals In Q1 RAS AL KHAIMAH has reaffirmed its position as the region’s fastest growing tourism destination for international travellers following increased year-on-year visitor numbers during the first quarter of 2017. New figures reported by Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) reveal that overall visitor arrivals to the emirate in Q1 grew by 8.3 per cent year-on-year. With domestic tourism still the single largest contributor to Ras Al Khaimah’s tourism performance, the record arrivals in Q1 of this year were largely driven by growth from international source markets, which recorded a 11.3 per cent year-on-year rise over the first three months of the year. Ras Al Khaimah’s core international source markets continue to deliver increasing numbers of visitors. Russian arrivals increased 141 per cent year-on-year in Q1, while the UK reported gains of 35 per cent. With RAKTDA also

prioritising emerging markets as strategic growth avenues increasing in importance, visitor numbers from destinations such as Kazakhstan (which grew 90.3 per cent), Poland, which grew 157 per cent, Czech Republic (111 per cent), and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which reported Q1 gains of 29.5 per cent.

sbe and Marcel Wanders unveil exclusive Mondrian Doha design details at Milan Design Week 2017 SBE HAS REVEALED further details of the extraordinary design of Mondrian Doha at a press conference in Milan, Italy, hosted by the group’s chief brand officer, Michele Caniato, in collaboration with Marcel Wanders and South West Architecture (SWA). The preview of Mondrian Doha and its highly-anticipated design aptly took place during the world’s biggest design fair, Salone del Mobile, which happened last month. The lavish 270-room Mondrian Doha hotel is set to be an exceptional lifestyle offering for the destination when it opens at the end of quarter two, 2017, and becomes sbe’s first hotel in the Middle East, as well as Marcel Wanders’ first hotel for the region. Further information on the hotel’s entertainment offering was announced for the first time, including details of the hotel’s eight restaurants and lounges, dedicated nightclub zone, expansive ballroom, and rooftop pool and bar, complete with stained glass dome. A fantasy-like environment, true to the Marcel Wanders design and the Mondrian ethos, is waiting to be explored by guests. Each day at Mondrian Doha will offer a new discovery and create a new memory – with enlightening scenes from the iconic lobby arrival through to the mesmerising stained glass dome skylight on the 27th floor.

Haitham Mattar

The successful launch of the region’s first commercial Via Ferrata and RAKTDA’s investment in developing further products to attract active adventurers remains a key focus throughout this year with further announcements expected in the coming weeks which will enhance the appeal of Ras Al Khaimah for both domestic and international travellers.

New executive housekeeper for Centro Capital Centre, Abu Dhabi SURJIT SINGH, WHO previously held the role of Assistant Director of Housekeeping for Al Murooj Rotana, has now been promoted to Executive Housekeeper at Centro Capital Centre. An Indian national, Surjit started his Surjith Singh hospitality career in 2005. His extensive experience in the hospitality business has established him to work in several upscale hotels, part of well renowned International Chains. In his new role, he will lead the Housekeeping department comprising of 45 colleagues. Together with the hotels management he will work towards enhancing the guest experience, and ensuring the overall upkeep of the Hotel in compliance with Rotana Brand Standards.

MAY/JUNE 2017 17

Swiss-Belhotel International firms up presence in Middle East, Africa, and India

Tech-Savvy Aloft brand enters Al Ain and expands in the UAE

IN THE REGION’S most high profile appointment, global hospitality group Swiss-Belhotel International has named Laurent A Voivenel as Senior Vice President, Operations and Development for the Middle East, Africa, and India. Swiss-Belhotel International currently manages a portfolio of more than 145 hotels, resorts and projects worldwide and is targeting the Middle East, Africa, and India region as a key growth market. Laurent will be based in the group’s regional office in Dubai. He has over 30 years of outstanding international hotel and asset management experience with some of the world’s leading and most prestigious hospitality brands, including Starwood Hotels and Resorts and Hilton Hotels and Resorts. Prior to joining Swiss-Belhotel International he was the Chief Executive Officer of HMH – Hospitality Management Holding

MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL ANNOUNCED the opening of design-led Aloft Al Ain, the brand’s first property in the city of Al Ain, and second in the UAE. It marks a rapid expansion for the Aloft brand, which plans to open 10 new hotels across the Middle East over the next five years. Owned by the Abu Dhabi based developer, Al Qattara Investments, Aloft Al Ain is an integral part of the city’s iconic Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium Mixed-Use Development. Delivering urban-influenced design and an energetic guest experience, Aloft Al Ain offers 175 loft-like guest rooms and suites with ultra-comfortable plush platform beds, large walk-in showers, and complimentary Bliss amenities. With design-led innovation in the brand’s DNA, all rooms and suites are equipped with SPG Keyless - the industry’s first truly mobile check-in system, where guests can utilise their mobile phones as room keys.

Laurent A. Voivenel

Seven Tides to charge Tesla owners in Dubai LUXURY RESIDENTIAL AND hospitality property developer Seven Tides has installed Tesla Destination Charging connectors at three of its Dubai properties – Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort, and DUKES Dubai on Palm Jumeirah, and at the Mövenpick Hotel Ibn Battuta Gate. Located at the entrance of each hotel, the two Tesla charging stations offer ease and convenience for Tesladriving residents and guests, who can simply pull up and plug in, adding up to 90 kilometres per hour range to the battery. Abdulla bin Sulayem, CEO of Seven Tides, said: “Sustainability is integral to every area of our organisation. We

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want to reduce our carbon footprint and help others to do the same. So to promote a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle and transition to alternate transport solutions, we are happy to offer these charging stations across our properties for free.”

Other Seven Tides green initiatives include replacing all light bulbs in its property portfolio with LED lights; the development of solar power systems for future implementation; and an ongoing project to use building waste as fertiliser.

New General Manager for Corinthia Hotel, Khartoum BERNARD MERCIER HAS joined Corinthia Hotels as General Manager for Corinthia Hotel Khartoum. He joins Corinthia from his previous role as Managing Director, Trump Hotel Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Mercier is an internationally

experienced hotelier with senior roles in renowned hotel chains and groups, including InterContinental, Sheraton, Orient Express, Kempinski, and members of The Leading Hotels of the World. Swiss by birth, Mercier attended the Hotel School in Lausanne. His senior positions have taken him to Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, China, Mexico, French Polynesia, the Philippines, and Hong Kong, resulting in a deep understanding of diverse and distinct cultures. Khartoum is a gateway to Central Africa, and the five-

star Corinthia Hotel Khartoum is located in the heart of the city’s commercial district. With 230 bedrooms, eight meeting rooms, six restaurants and cafes plus a spa and gym, it is the leading hotel in the city and overlooks the confluence of the Blue and White Nile rivers.

HH Shaikha Amna Abdulaziz Bin Humaid Al Nuaimi launches Lava

New Asst Director of Sales at Millennium Airport Hotel Dubai

ADVOCATING METICULOUS CRAFTSMANSHIP and exquisite fragrances, Lava—a high-end, lifestyle brand specialising in luxurious candles with a royal Emirati design—launched three exclusive candle collections. The Lava brand was born from the passion and vision of HH Sheikha Amna Abdulaziz Bin Humaid Al Nuaimi. HH leads Lava’s candle designers, who have been educated and mentored by a worldclass candle designer. He joined Lava’s launch to accompany his multi-media wax paintings, which complimented Lava’s luxurious candle collections. The launch was attended by HH Sheik Abdulaziz Bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, Chairman of Ajman Tourism Development Department, and number of visitors and media representatives. Lava products made are first of its kind in the UAE. The name Lava was inspired by nature and its eclectic elements. Remnants of these whimsical wonders are possessed

in each of their artisanal products. The brand is a reflection of the creative spirit of HH Sheikha Amna. Lava’s launch featured three unique collections; The Signature Collection, The Sea Collection and The Ramadan Collection. Established in 2016, the candles at Lava come with a promise of purity. The fragrances are created by experts in the United Kingdom, who source exceptional ingredients from around the globe. All of Lava’s products are currently available through

Bernard Mercier

MILLENNIUM AIRPORT HOTEL Dubai has appointed Azel Casianan as the new Assistant Director of Sales. Casianan has more than 10 years of experience in the hospitality field. During Azel Casianan her career, she has worked with many renowned international hotels such as Rotana Hotel Management Corporation, Accor Hotels and Starwood Hotels. In her new role, Casianan will mainly be in-charge of strengthening business ties with the existing clients, as well as generating leads for new accounts. She will also assist the Director of Sales and Marketing in carrying out the various sales activities to maximise business opportunities and revenue for the property.

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NH Hotel Group reinforces its leadership of the urban hotel segment in Spain, and new hotels come up in Hong Kong, reports

NH Hotel Group agrees with Grupo Inversor Hesperia - a commitment to rebrand and invest in repositioning its hotel portfolio NH Hotel Group has signed the final contract documents, after completion of the conditions precedents as indicated in the Letter of Intent, unanimously approved by the Board of Directors in December 2016. The 28 Hesperia hotels included in the agreement have 4,000 rooms and represent 30 per cent of the portfolio, operated under management contracts by NH Hotel Group. The portfolio includes six five-star hotels, sixteen four-star hotels and six three-star establishments. According to the terms of the new agreement, NH Hotel Group will integrate a total of 24 Hesperia hotels under its urban brands. This will reinforce the strong presence of the NH 20 MAY/JUNE 2017

Hotels brand in Spain, and consolidate the positioning of the upper upscale NH Collection brand in the country’s top city destinations, offering a clearcut upside in operational terms. Furthermore, the four resort hotels will continue to operate under the Hesperia brand. These establishments, three of which are located in the Canaries, and one in the Balearic Islands, have increased their revenue by 50 per cent and doubled their operating profit over the past three years. For this reason, NH Hotel Group will benefit from managing a portfolio of representative resort hotels, which will serve as platform for adding new properties under management agreements in this segment in Spain. The new management agreement, which replaces and extends the old agreement from 2009, is expected to make an estimated net contribution of Euro 7.2 million this year.


This will reinforce the strong presence of the NH Hotels brand in Spain, and consolidate the positioning of the upper upscale NH Collection brand in the country’s top city destinations, offering a clear-cut upside in operational terms

NH Hotels

Hyatt Centric

The impact of holiday infrastructure and sustainability on the tourism industry

Traveling in 2017 has almost never been easier. With airlines going to ever more destinations, low cost carriers operating cheaper flights, and the rise of the sharing economy, people are seeing more of the world than ever before. But with recent global upheavals, such as the ill-fated US travel ban sending people into a tailspin of worry, travellers are beginning to seek certain assurances from both their modes of transport and their tourist destinations. The World Economic Forum recently released its 2017 Travel and Competitiveness Report, which outlines some of travellers’ concerns, and also what they look for when booking a holiday. Interesting, the environmental situation of a country was a determin-

ing factor in many people’s holiday choices. The report found that tourists were more likely to travel to countries that took greater care of their environment. Travelers also seem to choose destinations based on the quality of tourism infrastructure. Western Europe takes the lead with 16 countries making it into the top 20. source: UNWTO

Hyatt Place Zurich

The Amsterdam Airport Hotel of The Hyatt Place was recently awarded a Green Globe certification, which is an internationally recognised award for sustainable operations. The measures adopted by The Hyatt Place Amsterdam Airport include effectively auditing and measuring reductions in energy consumption, an innovative heating and cooling system that

employs the use of soil under the hotel as a storage for energy, a carbon assessment programme, and energyefficient TVS, minibars, and lighting in guest rooms. It’s all part of a larger effort called Hyatt 2020, which seeks to, ‘Use Resources Thoughtfully, Build Smart, and Innovate and Inspire’. AccorHotels is also acknowledging a new generation of travellers. This new generation is not as interested in brand consistency as those who came before them, but rather in authentic and local hotels that are shaped by sustainability, character, and the traits that make local destinations desirable in the first place. For this reason, AccorHotels has launched a new lifestyle division, which will be made up of the Jo&Joe youth hostel concept, Mama Shelter, and 25-hour Hotels.

Get to know the unique Hyatt Centric

All of the major names in the global hospitality have lent their consistency and reputation to smaller brands as part of larger efforts to attract changing demographics of travellers. These efforts can take many forms, but for Hyatt, a key brand is the blossoming and evolving - Hyatt Centric, which bills itself as ‘unique hotels for MAY/JUNE 2017 21


It’s all part of a larger effort called Hyatt 2020, which seeks to, ‘Use Resources Thoughtfully, Build Smart, and Innovate and Inspire’ unique travellers’. This is a fitting motto for the brand, which has so far kept its imprint limited, with locations in only two of the major regions that make up the global hospitality industry: Latin America and North America. The brand, however, is working on expanding its global imprint, with six new projects slated to be completed in the coming years. Once completed, these hotels will create a total of 1,283 new rooms, according to information from’ database. Let’s take a look at some projects currently underway by Hyatt Centric:

Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach

The Waikiki Trade Centre will be turned into a boutique hotel, according to the centre’s owner. The upscale hotel, tentatively being called Waikiki Trade Center Hotel, could become a Hyatt Centric-branded property, targeting business travellers primarily. It will include a pool and an entertainment deck.

Hyatt Centric Hobart

The hotel will include one restaurant, a bar, and meeting facilities. With construction planned to start mid2017, Hyatt Centric Hobart is expected to open in early-2019, joining Hyatt’s Australia portfolio of hotels.

Whether that is to take advantage of unspoilt landscapes, or to avoid negative environmental effects like pollution or refuse, isn’t clear, but places where visitors had access to sites of environmental preservation ranked high on travellers’ lists 22 MAY/JUNE 2017

Hilton China

Hyatt Centric Ginza Tokyo

The Hyatt Centric Ginza Tokyo will be located in Ginza, the prominent luxury fashion and entertainment centre of the city on Namiki-Dori, and will occupy the top 10 floors of the 12-story commercial building tentatively known as the Ginza Asahi Building.

Hotel Notes, by Mary Gostelow

With more and more adults travelling with their children, and with tighter local regulations, there is obviously extra demand for operators to have at least one high chair for little ones. To solve the issue of matching the restaurant design, the Bloom Fresco has no upholstery at all. This makes it much more hygienic as it is simply wiped clean. The chair also becomes a work of art in its own right. Bloom was started by its current owner, four new fathers who say they were determined to create an elegant design that would last from birth up to about three years – the chair has a fully-reclined position for the new-born, plus two seat positions. Jumeirah Al Naseem at Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, has these chairs in all outlets. They serve their purpose, and when they are simply being stored they look as good as art works or sculptures.

Hilton opens its 100th hotel in Greater China

Hilton announced the opening of Hilton Quanzhou Riverside, Hilton’s 100th hotel in Greater China. Hilton Quanzhou Riverside is also the first Hilton Hotels and Resorts property in Fujian, and the brand’s 40th in Greater China, a 25-story, 296-room riverfront hotel. “Hilton is strengthening its footprint across China in locations that attract business and leisure travellers,” said Bruce McKenzie, senior vice president, operations, Greater China and Mongolia, Hilton. Hilton Quanzhou Riverside’s guests can expect views of the river and the city skyline, modern décor, and in-room amenities such as Wi-Fi and 49 to 60-inch LCD televisions. Guests who stay in executive rooms and suites will also enjoy access to the Executive Lounge, which offers 180-degree views, complimentary breakfast, afternoon tea, and happy hour drinks. The hotel’s heated indoor pool on level six affords river views, while an underwater sound system enables guests to enjoy music while they do their laps. Hilton Quanzhou Riverside’s guests can also relax in the hotel’s steam rooms, or they can work out on the Italian-made Technogym equipment at the 24-hour fitness centre.


More than meets the eye

Mobile Acces compatible

Online capability (wireless)

New stylish reader design

RFID reader with improved reading distance

Powered by

When it comes to smart security, less is more. With the new VingCard Essence, you get more advanced technology in a clean, minimalistic design that blends with any hotel decor. And now the industry’s most uniquely beautiful and functional locking system is even smarter. Available with wireless online capabilities, VingCard Essence is now also available with ASSA ABLOY Hospitality Mobile Access, powered by secure Seos technology. This revolutionary solution allows guests to bypass the front desk, using their smartphone or watch as a secure digital key. Learn more today *US patent number 8047030

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With more than 230 hotels in the pipeline, we will provide guests with more choice and more opportunities to experience our best-in-class service, wherever they travel to Hong Kong

The innovative food and beverage concepts at Hilton Quanzhou Riverside include: –Kitchencraft, an all-day dining restaurant that features an open kitchen, and Western and Asian cuisines. –Gu Xiang is a Chinese restaurant that takes inspiration from its name, which means ‘hometown’. –The Horizon is the place to unwind or conduct informal meetings over afternoon tea, featuring local snacks and a wide variety of premium Chinese teas. Let’s take a look at other hotel projects from Hilton Hotels & Resorts taking place in China:

Hilton Huangshan

This hotel will be the part of the Huangshan Grand View. It is now still in construction, in the stage of internal decoration. The whole project comprises with residential apartment, shopping centre and hotel.

Hilton Lanzhou

Facilities at the Hilton Lanzhou will include three restaurants, a lobby

lounge, and bar, three function rooms, 16 meeting rooms, a ballroom, health club, spa, and indoor swimming pool. The hotel’s rooms will offer views of the Yellow River.

Hilton Jiuzhaigou

The hotel is now under construction and with a total area of 60,000-sq metre the hotel is invested by Luneng Group. The hotel is a mixed-use one and the hotel is in the first phase of this huge project Hong Kong continues to attract tourists and developers as shown by 2017 growth In 2014, the Chinese territory of Hong Kong was crowned the 11th most popular tourist destination in the world, boasting a total of 27.8 million visitors, apparently making it twice as popular as it’s nearest competitor for the title of best tourist destination, Macau. So it’s no wonder that the hospitality industry in the region continues to grow. According to www., Hong Kong currently has 22 new projects in the works, with

the family-friendly Disney Explorers’ Lodge recently opened, welcoming guests into its 750 rooms set within its themed surroundings. A number of hotels are in the pre-opening stages, including the iclub Ma Tau Wai Hotel, a four-star, 350 key new build hotel overlooking Victoria Harbour, and the Kerry Hotel, a 546 room property operated by the Shangri-La group (it will be the group’s fourth hotel in Hong Kong). Some of the hotel industry’s biggest names are also set to invest more into Hong Kong, with Marriott planning on opening two new projects, which are currently under construction. The Four Points by Sheraton Hong Kong is set to open in the latter half of 2018. Let’s take a closer look at the projects mentioned above:

Disney Explorers’ Lodge

Designed to be a respite for adventurers, surrounding them with the wonders of nature and diverse cultures. Guests around the world can stay at

If a high chair is in use, or if it is temporarily stored, there has been incongruous lack of colour-co-ordination: for years, upholstery on high chairs has been in garish patterns Bloom Fresco high chair for children

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Hong Kong currently has 22 new projects in the works, with the family-friendly Disney Explorers’ Lodge recently opened, welcoming guests into its 750 rooms set within its themed surroundings

the hotel and become explorers themselves, embracing the lodge motto of ‘ad explorandum et somniandum’ (to explore and dream).

Kerry Hotel, Hong Kong

The Hotel, which will become ShangriLa’s fourth property in Hong Kong, will be under the brand of Kerry, and will feature spacious guestrooms with a minimum size of 32 square metres, most of which will offer direct views of Victoria Harbour. Facilities will include three restaurants, a 1,000 square metres health club, an outdoor swimming pool facing the harbour, and a 700 square metres ballroom.

Ocean Hotel Hong Kong Marriott

The hotel will be located in front of Ocean Park’s main entrance with an area of about 17,000 square metres. It will feature three separate hotel wings of up to six storeys, with a total gross floor area of approximately 34,000 square metres. The middle of the three wings will from a central courtyard with a themed lagoon pool, children’s play area, and alfresco dining sections. The Fullerton Hotel is another hotel project to be constructed in Ocean Park.

Texas reaches dizzy heights with new glass-bottomed pool

A high-end residential tower in downtown Houston, Texas allows visitors the chance to walk on air…kind of. The Market Square Tower has located a new glass-bottomed swimming pool 40 floors above the ground on its highest floor. The dizzying water feature is not for the faint hearted – users of the

The Market Square Tower, Texas

pool can actually walk along the glass floor to be suspended 40 floors above the city. A promotional video of the ‘Sky Pool’ shows a guest walking over what appears to be a ledge onto nothing, until the viewer sees the glimmer of water reflected in the playback to realise that it is in fact a swimming pool. The video has since gone viral, displaying the wide-reaching effects of social media marketing. Completed towards the end of 2016, the pool was one of the main selling points of the new tower, and gained a lot of attention in the immediate wake of the opening. It was modelled on a rooftop pool in Dubai. Swimming pools are a natural selling point of any hotel, resort or residence, as the Market Square Hotel has proven. The idea of a pool immediately conjures up relaxation and holidays, and the ability to capitalise on this by attaching your brand to an innovative swimming pool that will capture the public’s gaze is an opportunity not to be missed.

The Market Square Tower has located a new glass-bottomed swimming pool 40 floors above the ground on its highest floor

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transformation Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have been gaining relevance among hoteliers to transform their business and develop their digital capabilities for some time, but have they truly been harnessed to their full potential? Jos Schaap explains how open APIs are transforming the hotel industry

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s the ‘digital glue’ that links applications together, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) foster collaboration with both internal and external partners and resources, and ultimately optimise operations and guest experiences. There is certainly a beneficial impact on the hotel industry when technology providers can integrate with other systems using proprietary or Open APIs to assist hoteliers in cutting costs, driving revenue, and delivering exceptional service. However, with the vast number of vendors floating around the hotel technology industry, the utilisation of APIs to drive results has become a driving force in hotel

software selection. When one looks at the complexity of hotel operations, the complex nature of inventory distribution, and all of the other touchpoints that affect a hotel, it’s no wonder that systems need to communicate effectively with each other. In a Phocuswright research paper, titled, APIs: A Strategic Imperative published in April of 2016, Bob Offett, the writer of the article stated that there is a growing API economy, where there are a number of businesses solely focused on being providers of APIs. The growth of APIs has been surging, and this is a very good thing. It levels the playing field and enhances the decision-making process when looking at purchasing hotel PMS systems.

Being a GM/Owner of a hotel today is incredibly more complex than it was 20 years ago. Hoteliers need to look at companies that enable them to focus on the real aspect of why hotels were built in the first place

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The real transformation is happening with primary systems, systems that are imperative to have, in order to run hotel operations at the highest level

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In the paper, Offett writes that “APIs are the digital glue that enables new revenue for exciting business, and provides for new ecosystems, many of which have yet to be defined.� The hotel industry is at a technological expectations crossroad. Hoteliers are inundated with a vast number of service providers, technology vendors/partners, and distribution challenges. Hoteliers have to deal with all of these issues, and, on top of this, they have to ensure that their guests are happy. Being a GM/Owner of a hotel today is incredibly more complex than it was 20 years ago. Hoteliers need to look at companies that enable them to focus on the real aspect of why hotels were built in the first place. To offer a guest somewhere comfortable to rest, and to deliver excellent service, ensuring

that the next time the traveller returns, they choose to stay at your hotel. Of course, it also comes down to running a profitable property. Getting back to basics on-property should be a hotelier’s top priority, leaving the technology to take care of itself. Many APIs are now trending towards open interface architecture, whereas in the past, technology companies looked at these types of integrations as revenue sources. Companies would keep the data behind private iron curtains, practically holding the hotelier hostage. The introduction of Open APIs is forcing technology vendors to add value to their primary offerings rather than trying to rely on revenue from interfaces. Ultimately, this is a huge win for hoteliers. By working with technology partners that have


a clean, Open API, which other developers can readily connect to, hotels can implement other systems without limitations and the fear of yet another cost. The technological beating heart of any hotel is the property management system (PMS). In the past, it was likely stored in the basement of a hotel, possibly connected to another ‘parent brand system’, and also connected to other on systems such as the POS, a PBX, a Call Accounting system, a spa system, and so on. These connections would have been serial, and though they functioned and served their purpose, the hotel’s technology infrastructure was unable to scale in concert with new platforms that no longer needed to reside on-premise. So, fast forward a few decades, and we are now in a time when new solutions for the hospitality industry are launched virtually daily. Many of these products are cloud-based, and not handcuffed by antiquated

technologies. Most of these systems seen as periphery systems –systems that are important such a guest engagement solution. However, if a hotelier does not implement one of these types of periphery systems, they may not be detrimentally impacted in the short term. The real transformation is happening with primary systems, systems that are imperative to have, in order to run hotel operations at the highest level. The main system, as stated earlier, is the hotel’s PMS. Choosing a PMS that has the flexibility to deliver an Open API is key, and will help make viable future technology investments. Being able to implement a cloud-based PMS, with a Software as a service (SaaS) delivery model that enables a hotel to instantly connect with guest service applications, as well as many other applications, is finally a reality. As guest expectations continue to change and the technology that surrounds our industry keeps

Guest engagement and CRM tools, such as Guest folio, help properties collect and make sense of comprehensive guest data, to deliver highly targeted guest communications that help turn customers into loyal direct bookers

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evolving, decisions related to transitioning to new platforms and solutions can seem daunting. Fundamentally, hoteliers need to look for systems that provide technological flexibility by using Open APIs, and ultimately, select innovative systems that deliver on their promises.

About the author: Jos Schaap, CEO – Founder of StayNTouch Schaap has a 20+ year track record in hotel software technology. He began StayNTouch with the vision of re-inventing the hotel PMS technology; making it simple, mobile,

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and transitioning the software to the cloud. Prior to StayNTouch, Schaap spent 17 years at MICROS Systems Inc (Now Oracle Hospitality), as a Senior Vice President in charge of global product development and strategy for the Lodging and eCommerce divisions. During his tenure, MICROS’ hospitality products became the global market leader growing the company’s revenues from less than US$ 300 million to US$ 1.1 billion. Schaap was responsible for introducing a number of new products enabling MICROS to enter all hospitality segments from limited to full-service hotels. Connect with him on

Armed with this kind of intelligence, hotel operators have the power to personalise service and target communications much more seamlessly and effectively


Mr. Siddharth Mehra, General Manager of La Verda, Dubai Marina Suites & Villas

The apartment hotels’ opinion ThME spoke to Siddharth Mehra, General Manager of Aparthotel, La Verda Dubai Marina Suites & Villas and Wael El Behi, General Manager of Aparthotel First Central Hotel Suites for their perspectives on system integration, moving to the cloud, increasing customer engagement to bring them back from OTAs, revenue management software and other technology trends. Can you tell us how you are working on system integration and data consolidation in between connecting your PMS to other core systems, such as CRM, online distribution channels, revenue management, point of sale, payment processing software, etc? Siddharth Mehra, General Manager, La Verda Dubai Marina Suites & Villas - Integrating the PMS with various guest engagement tools such as CRM software increases presence on guest marketing platforms. Loyalty programmes further help the Hotel to get enhanced guest insight to personalise the guest experience. Wael El Behi, General Manager, First Central Hotel Suites - With all of these networks connected together, it allows for a seamless communication and integration process for our internal and guest communications. After fine tuning the processes and personalising it for First Central Hotel Suites, we come up with a harmony of systems that run in automation. How long, and perhaps challenging, is this process? What are the benefits of such an integration? Mehra - When these systems talk to each other, accurate and detailed guest profiles are automatically created, using data collated across systems that goes beyond simple stay history to include guest requests, preferences, travel preferences, receptiveness to promotions, feedback, etc. Armed with this kind of intelligence, hotel

operators have the power to personalise service and target communications much more seamlessly and effectively. El Behi - The actual integration process can take from a few minutes to a few days, depending on the technology that is being linked together, and how many interconnecting processes need to be developed. Once all is done and set, the ongoing processes should run like clockwork. Tell us about how the cloud makes this integration easier and more economical. El Behi - Since some of the technology solutions are web-based, this makes it easier for us to access the data and system from whichever workspace we are using. What advantages are there in moving to a cloud hospitality software system, besides the cost factor? El Behi - Easier accessibility. We use some systems that require operations only through a web browser, some can even be accessed with a mobile phone. Hoteliers are focusing more on increasing direct bookings even though OTAs continue to dominate this scenario. What tools can be used to enhance guest engagement online? Mehra - There are a variety of tools available to help hotel operators in improving direct conversions. Guest engagement and CRM tools, such as Guest folio,

help properties collect and make sense of comprehensive guest data, to deliver highly targeted guest communications that help turn customers into loyal direct bookers. How critical is your revenue management software in determining the right room rate? Mehra - A good revenue management will help you to determine the most appropriate pricing in every situation, accurately forecast business demand, accept the most valuable business mix, account for lost revenues through cancellations and no-shows, effectively distribute your strategy across all distribution channels. How realistic is mobile messaging as a way of communicating with customers, especially in this part of the world? Mehra - The convenience of mobile messaging motivates guests to be proactive in requesting information and services to enhance their stay, improving the guest experience, and boosting sales. It also offers guests with complaints a convenient and less confrontational avenue through which to voice their concern in the moment —rather than very publicly online after their stay. If managed right, mobile messaging has the potential to increase customer satisfaction and reduce negative guest experiences by helping hotels build trust with guests, learn more about them, and develop stronger customer relationships.

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Iftars ThME brings you the best iftar deals offered in the city as the Holy Month begins in a few weeks

Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach


This Ramadan, COYA Dubai continues its third year of association with the Humanitarian society to run a food drive, and introduces their very own take on the iftar menu. Working with the Humanitarian society, COYA Dubai’s employees, volunteers, and even guests, prepare, package, and deliver delightful dishes from COYA Dubai’s kitchen to each individual employee at the labour camps across Dubai. This year, COYA Dubai aims to reach 1,500 compared to the 800 distributed the previous year. Open to all guests that would like to come down and lend a hand, the drives will take place every Sunday and Wednesday as of the 28th of May. Due to popular demand, from 7.00 to 8.00 pm during the month of Ramadan, COYA Dubai will be serving up signature iftar menus with a Peruvian twist. Especially designed for the outlet, COYA Middle East’s award-winning Executive Chef, Benjamin Wan delivers a sumptuous, four-course menu to break your fast. The experience starts with dates and a selection of soups, followed by starters, mains, and desserts.

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Dubai World Trade Centre


During the Holy Month of Ramadan, Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) invites guests to experience authentic Middle Eastern hospitality at the Majlis, located in DWTC’s Za’abeel Hall 6. Guests can enjoy a vast and delectable selection of the finest Arab cuisine, ranging from appetising starters and satiating mains, to refreshing beverages and delightful desserts, all within a stylish Arabesque setting. Get together with family and friends and indulge in a variety of mezze, soups, gratifying mixed grill, an assortment of local sweets, and thirst quenchers. A popular location for Suhour, the Majlis also provides lounge areas, as well as VIP majlises and gazebos for smaller gatherings or private occasions for up to 24 guests. The Majlis will host Iftar every day from sunset to 9.00 pm at AED 150 per person. Suhour will begin from 9.00 pm until 3.00 am on weekdays, and until 4.00 am on weekends.

Fairmont Dubai


In celebration of the holy month of Ramadan, Fairmont Dubai unveils authentic Iftar offerings in an exclusive and elaborately decorated Ramadan tent. Inspired by the voyage of many famous Arabian travelers and explorers, the all-day dining restaurant, Cascades is transformed into a traditional tent under the hotel’s soaring atrium. From eight influential cuisines (The Arabian Peninsula, Egypt, former Ottoman Empire, Levant, Southeast Asia, Morocco, Persia and Mughal) prepared in time-honoured traditions and complemented by authentic Arabian hospitality, Cascades will serve the city’s finest traditional fare in a true culinary style. Led by the skilled Executive Chef Tuomas Heikkinen and his team, guests will be treated to an unforgettable taste of Ramadan with the traditional lamb Ouzi, Lebanese mix grill, chicken shawarma, shrimp biryani, Arabic fish with a spicy sauce, and a genuine crowd pleaser - Umm Ali. Each dish from the eight influential regions will be prepared by talented chefs, who hail from the respective countries, ensuring that Fairmont Dubai’s Iftar will have a truly authentic dining experience. Iftar Buffet is available daily at Cascades during the holy month of Ramadan from sunset until 9.30 pm, and is priced at AED 210 per person, including Ramadan juices.



Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach


Gather with family and friends during the Holy Month of Ramadan at Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach and experience an Iftar featuring Arabic, Moroccan, and Turkish cuisines as well as favourite dishes from all over the globe. Diners can enjoy soothing melodies from the Santoor player and experience the traditional art of henna. The iftar buffet will be available daily for AED 140 per person, including Ramadan juices and water. Beginning at sunset until 10.00 pm, you can break your fast with a range of traditional dishes and desserts. Iftar will be complimentary for children up to the age of 12, with two children free per paying couple, and half price from 13 to 17 years old. Shisha - A range of flavoured shisha is on offer, starting from AED 75, and will be available from sunset to midnight on the Arabian themed Plantation Terrace with mist fan cooling facilities, as well as at the Infini Pool Lounge overlooking the sea. Throughout the Holy Month of Ramadan, Plantation Restaurant and Terrace will remain open 24 hours, and will offer the popular All Day Breakfast promotion as well as the à la carte menu with recently launched new dishes.

Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek Heights

AL MANZIL, AND SUFRA Throughout the holy month of Ramadan, this place will feel like an extension of home. For the first time, Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek Heights has dedicated Al Manzil solely to Ramadan. Reflecting the ambience of a private mansion, this intricate setting features a dedicated entrance, swift valet service, dedicated prayer rooms, and a large lounge for gathering and connecting, all ultimately leading to a collection of individually styled dining rooms and two interactive open kitchens at the venue’s heart. An array of native and regional dishes from the Orient and Levant will span the two kitchens, exuding freshness, as many of the items will be prepared à la minute, just like at home. Live cooking stations will offer fattoush salad, shawarma, fatteh, falafel, saj, pastas, grilled items, and fresh fruit, with fruits being prepared according to guests’ preferences. An abundant variety of cold and hot mezze will sit alongside tagines and ample vegetarian options, as well as whole lamb ouzi and an extensive dessert buffet. The venue’s dining rooms will offer a multitude of options, including two private dining rooms that can accommodate large families of up to 14 people, with the option to open or close the sliding doors depending on the privacy requested by guests. Two

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larger dining rooms with high ceilings and warm décor will provide a comforting sense of peace and harmony. Iftar will also be served in Sufra, the hotel’s destination restaurant that offers bright and contemporary interiors overlooking the neighbouring Creek Park. The menu and pricing will be the same in both the Sufra and Al Manzil dining venues. In Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek Heights has again partnered with Al Jalila Foundation, donating one dirham for every Iftar meal bought. Al Jalila Foundation is a global philanthropic organization dedicated to transforming lives through medical education and research, founded by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Ruler of Dubai in April 2013 to position Dubai and the UAE at the forefront of medical innovation. Iftar at both venues will be served from sunset to 10.00 pm, and is priced at AED 155 per person, inclusive of soft drinks. Children ages 6 to 12 years old can dine for 50 per cent off, while children younger than six can dine complimentary when accompanied by a paying adult.




DDRESS The Address Boulevard is a unique new property in the heart of Dubai’s Downtown. Connected to the Dubai Mall and equipped with all the amenities and facilities imaginable, this property is definitely the talk of the town. Munawar Shariff spoke to the GM, Pascal Dupuis, about its fashionable interiors, art and more

MAY/JUNE 2017 35



Pascal Dupuis, GM, The Address Boulevard 36 MAY/JUNE 2017

How does this property differentiate itself from the many other hotels in the vicinity? First of all we are very excited to have a new Address property after a gap of seven years. We are in the downtown area, which is the centre of everything. Where everything happens. We are connected to Dubai Mall - there is a link bridge going directly to the mall from the lower Lobby. Our architecture is magnificent. This new building is a

new landmark, a new iconic structure in the downtown area. As with most Address properties, we have a hotel area and a residential area. It is a mixed use property with 196 rooms and 532 residences. Our interiors, as you may have noticed, is very classical, Parisian, much more private, has high ceilings with a lot of art everywhere. The idea is to create a cosy homely atmosphere. The same theme runs through our unique


Club Lounge food

Club Lounge food display

Swimming Pools

restaurant concept where life happens. Our goal was to really make the guest feel at home. The restaurant concept is also in the same residential theme. It’s like stepping into your friend’s apartment. There are many different rooms, there’s the living room, the lounge, the dining room, the collection room, the kitchen area, the dressing room which is literally like a walk-in wardrobe, there’s the study room and there’s even a secret

room! You can dine anywhere depending on how you feel when you arrive, your mood or who you are with. If it’s a formal affair you could sit in the study room. The bar area is made up of three themes - the music room which has a lot of instruments, the game room where you could play backgammon, dominoes, chess, cards. And lastly, the library, where we have huge collection of books. All of these lead to the outdoor terrace. The food here is again very family style, very casual, very European. You could also just tell the chef whatever you feel like eating if the menu doesn’t appeal to you. Our property is a beauti-

ful lifestyle resort in the city where you can come for a holiday yet stay connected with the Mall being next door. We have three pools, there is the main pool, the family pool with the kids play area, slides, river, waterfall, cabanas, there’s the ice cream van which comes calling every afternoon. It’s a family friendly hotel, we have a number of connecting rooms which we can allot for families. Then we have the spa which on it’s own dedicated level. It’s a wonderful experience right from the start from the time the guest arrives, goes to the changing area, the wet area, the sauna, Jacuzzi, the plunge pool. We have an amazing new tropical shower MAY/JUNE 2017 37


going out in a big way for India and Russia. We can create and curate innovative experiences for them. As well as reaching out to other new markets. How much is this a wedding destination? We have an amazing ballroom with facilities for a very beautiful wedding. Again, the Mall is connected for any last minute purchases, we have beautiful rooms, suites, with hand-made chandeliers. It makes for a great destination for a wedding. There is a dedicated valet and a dedicated entrance to the ballroom and there is a separate Majlis in case the groom and the bride wants to have a separate area to meet in before they enter the ballroom. There is even a study in this Majlis. For meetings and events, we have an informal meeting venue called the Atelier. It’s an open kitchen, like a

The Restaurant at Address

where you choose from three or four different programs and literally you feel like you are in the middle of a jungle with birds singing, thunder, different water pressure. So, you can experience all of this before your treatment and afterwards you can use the outdoor pool. Everything is very private. We have made sure to keep everything very unique, very exclusive in terms of our brand standard, service standard. We’ve been open for three weeks now and the feedback we have received is very welcoming. Everyone is very surprised with the design, with the details, with our unique restaurant concept. Who is your customer? Obviously because of the location we’re catering to the corporate client. We have a great meeting space, with space for hosting very innovative, lifestyle events, we have boardrooms as well as a beautiful ballroom. Our focus is also on the leisure market, again the location is very attractive. People can come for a couple of days and stay in the very centre of everything. The GCC market remains very strong for us. We can sense the impatience from guests all around the GCC to stay and experience the new Address. We have a huge clientele from Saudi, Qatar, the UK, Germany, Europe is also our area of focus. We are also 38 MAY/JUNE 2017

Secret Room - The Restaurant at Address

The Collection Room - The Restaurant at Address


Suite life at the Address Boulevard It’s always exciting to have the privilege to stay at a property so soon after it has opened. Everything and everyone is excited around you. And as the GM said above, there is a lot of adrenalin to ensure the guest experience is better than the best The newest Address Boulevard opened in the first week of April. The Emaar brand of hospitality is very Dubai. In the sense, there is this exceptional product which the guest is bound to love anyway couple that with that unforgettable service. There is extreme attention to detail in taking care of anyone staying at an Address property. For me, Imane Guennioui, Senior Manager, Marketing and Communications, ensured my every need was met before I even expressed it. Yes, literally!

The Spa, Couple Treatment Suite

It was fabulous being treated like a VIP, first I was allotted the Boulevard Suite, which is 1,000 sq feet of exquisite interior space, the check in for which is done in the Club Lounge. So I was whisked off to the Club Level and Imane met me there, we had a leisurely afternoon tea while photographing the Burj and chatting about the property. She was gracious enough to spend her weekend at work just to ensure there were no hiccups in my experience. She said, she did that because she was ensuring operations were going smooth as guests checked in and stayed because they were in their third week of operations and hence there had to be a more microscopic effort in ensuring the hotel operated without any glitches and that staff was able to run the show on their own. Fair enough! Like the GM said above, this wasn’t a job for the team he selected. This was their passion, their life! It was very visible.

The Address Suite, Bathroom

My room was ready and I went to get refreshed and changed and head to the spa for a few hours of muchneeded pampering. The Spa is on it’s own entire level and has a number of experiences, facials and massages to choose from. I chose a deep tissue and lymphatic drainage massage. The spa rooms are voluminous, have heated spa beds, soothing music, a relaxing refreshments menu and whatever else you could wish for. The therapist was fantastic too. She did a great job and I wanted to just go to sleep once she was done. But dinner awaited! The Address Suite, master bedroom

social hub, so coffee breaks can really feel different, as we have the regular refreshment areas plus we have say the Chef doing a demo, or you could sit at the Chef’s table … so it’s a creative innovative area. Let’s talk about the art all over the place here. We have created a journey as a part of the entire interior design. We have 251 pieces of art be it sculptures, paintings, artefacts, on the entrance you must have seen the sculpture called

Wings, which is a representation of the UAE lady and gentleman. We have hand-made glass chandeliers made in the Czech Republic. Forty eight artists from around the world have worked on the art a lot of the inspiration has come from Dubai. Different pieces of art is everywhere around the hotel and each one has a story. We have a mappa mundi - a medieval style map of the world - of Old Dubai made from 24 carat gold. Behind the concierge is another map of Dubai. So yes different pieces all around the hotel.

The Restaurant at the Address, is a must experience place. The many different rooms look like you could be in a very posh Parisian home. The vibe is homey, relaxed, chic and friendly. The menu expansive and you could eat whatever you wanted whenever you want. It’s all about your personal preference. So very refreshing. We had a large variety of items from the menu and they were delicious. The Chef even made changes to the dishes as per our wishes. You have to go around the entire restaurant to take a look at how all the areas have been done up. It’s stunning, there’s even a secret room, that opens up behind a very normal looking bookshelf. Enough cannot be said about this new property that is the talk of the town. You have to experience it to know how much you are going to fall in love with this hotel. MAY/JUNE 2017 39


— A 5 star experience with ABB Writing the future of buildings today In today’s world the hospitality industry is ever evolving and so are its guests. Hotel operators are increasingly focused on reducing their energy consumption and enhancing the customer experience for discerning guests, who expect to tailor their own environment, with automated lighting, temperature, blind control and preferences. And with ABB’s portfolio of Building Automation solutions, it allows you to intelligently network your building - providing increased levels of comfort, flexibility, safety and energy savings of up to 30%. Energy efficiency has become a top priority for the hospitality industry as hotels are high energy consumers and have to cope with the new rules for energy efficiency in buildings. Guests are looking for maximum benefits and the best possible experience, whereas the management want everything to run smoothly and the investors focus on the income. Building Automation by ABB is governed by its core values and meet the highest requirements in terms of technology, management and the end user. These values are: Economic efficiency, safety, Energy efficiency, Durability, Design and Sustainability; all of which play an important part in creating the perfect hotel. There are always new solutions – for the increasing demands of guests and the increasing expectations in terms of profits. Management and operators can count on ABB for everything. Each individual product provides exactly what is needed both now and in the future – for every concept, for every hotel. However the whole package is greater than the sum of its parts and ABB can supply a hotel with an entire solution from source to socket. First impressions count and guests not only judge their experience on how the comfortable the bed is but how personalized their stay is. And thanks to the KNX standard, of which ABB products are proven, everything which uses energy can be controlled precisely, automated in a complex

way and consistently checked. The KNX technology covers the complete spectrum of applications: from lighting and blind control to heating, ventilation, air conditioning, energy management, security and surveillance; and offers its users uncompromised comfort and flexibility. Nowadays, guests expect to select their own preferences and enter into the same bespoke environment each time they frequent the property. It’s an emotional experience that ABB’s KNX solutions, in cooperation with DigiValet offers. DigiValet is a state of the art software and hardware solution for luxury hotels and integrates seamlessly with ABB guest room management systems. With a single touch on its simple and sophisticated interface that is available in various languages, hotel guests can adjust the room conditions according to their personal preferences. The easy to use interface for guests to use room controls, Television control, Movies on Demand, Order Food and much more. Safety is a constant requirement: all functions must be guaranteed at all times so that investors and the management can be sure of having a profitable property without any malfunctions. Hotel guests enjoy their stay and don’t notice the technical expertise in the background and are certain to be left in peace, even in the event of a power failure. ABB is a global leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve performance while lowering environmental impact. They have been present across the Middle East since 1926, with its first office in Cairo, Egypt. Today it is one of the largest multinational organisations operating worldwide in the field of electrical engineering.

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2017 1_ Magnificent seven win at ATM awards

The hotly anticipated winners of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2017 Best Stand Awards were announced at a photo-call on the show floor on April 27th. Launched in 2015, the Best Stand Awards were created to recognise the design creativity and business-friendly appeal of exhibiting companies’ physical presence at ATM. The judging panel comprised a line-up of top industry and design professionals: Leo Fewtrell, Managing Partner, Gulf Reps; Fiona McAndrew Sharp, Sales & Marketing Director, TTN; Nicholas Hall, Managing Director, Digital Tourism Think Tank, and Daniel Pearce, Managing Director, TTG Media. The four-strong panel had toured the largest Arabian Travel Market to date, to identify the stands with the biggest ‘wow’ factor. The winners are: 1. Best Stand Design: Kerzner International Resorts 2. Best Stand Design Highly Commended: South Africa 3. Best Stand for Doing Business: Rotana Hotels and Resorts 4. Best Stand Personnel: Al Rais Travel 5. Best Stand Feature: Etihad Airways 6. Best Stand within the Travel Tech Show at ATM: Sabre 7. Highly Commended within the Travel Tech Show at ATM: Jetclass The judging criteria for the Best Stand Design award focused on identifying an eye-catching stand with a creative design that made the best use

What a whirlwind those few last days of April were. Running around ATM and AHIC, here is a compilation of the news and announcements made this year...

of available space and attracted a high level of visitor traffic. The winners were then put to the public vote on the ATM Facebook account, for the chance of walking away with the People’s Choice Award. With twice as many votes as the runner up and 40 per cent of the total vote, Etihad Airways - the best stand feature, was declared the winner.


_ HMH’s 2017 ATM the most successful ever On the occasion of its 14th year participating at the Arabian Travel Market, Hospitality Management Holding reflects on what was a hugely successful week for the Group with a series of significant announcements. The highlights of the show for the group included the appointment of a new CEO, launch of a new luxury brand, as well as the addition of a superb property in Port Sudan. Over the years HMH has established a solid reputation as a fully integrated hotel management company.

3_ Dubai Tourism unveils innovative

training tool for travel agents

Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism), announced the launch of“Dubai Expert”, an innovative online educational game that has been created exclusively for travel agents. Created in collaboration with the Dubai College of Tourism (DCT) and KTM Advance, a specialist in e-learning, the learning tool


ATM 2017, Best Stand Award, Kerzner International Resorts


HMH ATM Round-Up

is a marked departure from traditional training programmes. ‘Dubai Expert’ operates as a turnbased card game, where participants will need to select the best cards – each with an attraction in the city – from an automatically generated deck, to create an ideal itinerary for a traveller. Various traveller profiles make up the 30 ‘missions’ of the game, with the best combination of activities earning higher scores. Participants can become a ‘Dubai Expert’ by completing 20 successful missions and watching all 25 expert videos, with a higher ‘Dubai Expert’ level achieved by completing all 30 missions MAY/JUNE 2017 41



Essa Bin Hadher General Manager of Dubai College of Tourism

Issam AbdulRahim Kazim CEO of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce

and answering all pop-up questions about the city. In order to maintain this status, players are required to return to the game every year, and complete updated missions and watch newer expert videos. The tool will first be launched in English across multiple key markets and will then be translated into various languages, including French, Mandarin, Russian, German, Italian, Bahasa, Korean, Japanese, Polish, Czech, and Spanish.

4_ #FollowMeTo Arabian Travel Market (ATM)

Russian photographer Murad Osmann and wife Nataly Zakharova, the couple behind the iconic #FollowMeTo Instagram series, were back in Dubai for this year’s edition of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM). The duo hosted an exclusive session for a key group of local influencers on the first day of the event, in collaboration with Dubai Tourism’s MYDUBAI team. The Instagram sensations provided insights into their journey to becoming social media sensations, as well as disclosing their development and analytic processes, and discussing how user generated content now drives global marketing trends.

5_ Shurooq announces AED 60 million Mleiha Desert Resort

Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) has grabbed the headlines with the announcement of 42 MAY/JUNE 2017



Murad and Natalie - Follow me to ATM 2017

UNWTO and ATM Ministerial Forum - RAKTDA CEO Haitham Mattar & UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai

its Mleiha Desert Resort, the first five-star desert resort at the heart of Mleiha, and news that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Al Wanis, a Qatari tourism company established in Sharjah, to develop the AED 60 million (US$ 16335865) project. Mleiha Desert Resort will offer a range full hotel services, restaurants, cafés, a health club, swimming pool and many other hospitality facilities associated with a world-class resort. The new luxury hospitality project encompasses a total area space of 300,000 square metres, of which the Mleiha Desert Resort will encompass a total area space of 60,000 square metres. The resort is scheduled for completion towards the end of 2019.


_ Sustainability and inclusion remains key driver for Ras Al Khaimah’s Tourism industry Haitham Mattar, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) has reaffirmed the emirate’s commitment in promoting a sustainable tourism industry

during this year’s United Nations World Tourism Organisation and Arabian Travel Market Ministerial Forum. Held under the patronage of H E Eng Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, Minister of Economy of the United Arab Emirates, the forum focused on tourism’s contribution to sustainable and inclusive economic growth and diversification in the MENA region. The Ministerial Forum was moderated by Becky Anderson from CNN International, with opening speeches by Mohammed K Al Muhairi, Undersecretary for Tourism, Ministry of Economy, United Arab Emirates, and Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General, United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). RAKTDA is also investing in the expansion of the its highly-successful Jebel Jais Via Ferrata (Iron Path) adventure challenge in the Hajar Mountains, the only commercial product of its kind in the UAE. Since its launch in December 2016, strong demand for the experiential tourism product, which has seen 1,500 enthusiasts climb, trek and zipline almost 400 feet above sea level on Jebel Jais, has led to the extension of the inaugural season until the end of May. The decision to renovate and expand the capacity for the product, which will re-open in October 2017, will enable


RAKTDA to cater to the increased demand from corporate and group bookings. Ras Al Khaimah’s kilometre-long Via Ferrata is unique in that it comprises three individual start and finish points, and three zip-lines ranging from 165 feet, to 195 feet to 985 feet, to expand possibilities for various age and fitness capabilities. Adventuregoers, who are offered complimentary transfers from the Tulip Inn Ras Al Khaimah, are able to choose from the three routes, in twice-daily organised and supervised tours. The beginner course, the Ledge Walk, takes the average group of eight around four hours to complete. The middle, technical route – the Middle Path - takes around 3.5 hours and the higher, vertical route – Julphar Scare - takes around 1.5 hours.


_ TAG Heuer announces its partnership with Dubai In the ultimate tribute to Dubai, TAG Heuer announced the launch of a unique timepiece it has designed in collaboration with the Dubai Department of Tourism & Marketing (Dubai Tourism). Senior Dubai Tourism representatives and Philippe Roten,

Commercial Director of TAG Heuer, were present for the occasion. The Dubai Special Edition was exhibited during ATM. The Dubai Special Edition timepiece is mounted on a brown calfskin strap with rubber lining with an exclusive ‘DUBAI’ embossing. The piece also has a spare strap in the unmistakable shade of blue associated with Dubai. A special case back has been created with an engraving of the Dubai logo. The partnership between TAG Heuer & DUBAI has also resulted in the creation of three innovative digital watch faces that will be animated throughout the day. The 200 timepieces, priced at AED 8,000 each, will be made available to the public from the third week of June.


_ “Technology and education are critical to building a sustainable, competitive travel sector,” says Amadeus, during UNWTO and ATM Ministerial Forum Antoine Medawar, Vice President MENA, Amadeus, discussed the sustainable future of the travel and tourism sector at the UNTWO and Arabian Travel Market Ministerial Forum, held

during ATM, under the patronage of H E Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy of the UAE. Medawar emphasised the importance of collaboration between stakeholders, and, in particular, between the public and private sectors, to ensure that students and the labour force are fully equipped to deal with what will be the technology-driven future of the sector.


_ Emaar Hospitality Group unveils six new hotel projects Emaar Hospitality Group unveiled six new hotel projects as part of its regional and international expansion plans. The new hotels and serviced residences in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Egypt add to a portfolio of upcoming properties under the three hotel brands of Emaar Hospitality Group – the premium luxury Address Hotels + Resorts, the upscale lifestyle Vida Hotels and Resorts, and the contemporary midscale Rove Hotels. With 10 operational hotels and three serviced residences already, Emaar Hospitality Group now has a pipeline of 26 upcoming projects, a testament to the home-grown competencies of the Group and its expansion strategy to operate hotels in key locations in highgrowth markets.


_ Japan National Tourism organisation exhibits for the first time




Address Dubai Creek Harbour


Vida Dubai Marina

Aoi Matsuri Festival will be held on May 15th, 2017 in Kyoto

The Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO) participated at ATM for the first time as part of the organisation’s strategy to proactively reach out and welcome more visitors from the Middle East, and help it achieve its objective of 40 million international visitors by 2020. In just three years since 2013 the number of international visitors to Japan has more than doubled, resulting in over 24 million visitors travelling to Japan in 2016 compared to the 10.3 million experienced in 2013. When targeting Middle Eastern guests JNTO is keen to highlight the country’s unique heritage, modern pop culture, luxury experiences, tax-free shopping, and Japan’s traditional ‘washoku’ cuisine - which has been designated as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. Many hoMAY/JUNE 2017 43



Sheraton Oman Hotel, The Deluxe Room

tel, hospitality, and restaurant partners throughout Japan have made extensive efforts to make available various services and offerings that are Halal or Muslim-friendly - http://muslimguide.


_ Sheraton Oman hotel and Ministry of Oman affirms growth The Sheraton Oman Hotel, which recently opened its doors following an extensive renovation, showcased them at the Ministry of Tourism, Oman, stand. Featuring 230 modern and spacious rooms, including 27 suites with panoramic views of the Al Hajar mountain range, the Sheraton Oman Hotel has been a symbol of Omani hospitality for more than three decades. The renovation resulted in the addition of 38 Sheraton Club rooms, which offer exclusive access to the Sheraton® Club lounge with complimentary Wi-Fi, daily breakfast and a premium selection of beverages and hors d’oeuvres. The hotel also features a range of leisure facilities such as the state-of-the-art Sheraton Fitness & Spa featuring four treatment rooms, an indoor and an outdoor pool, a Kinesis Studio, and a separate gym for ladies. The Ministry of Tourism’s marketing strategy aims to promote Oman internationally as a quality destination for responsible tourists. The Ministry is working to develop tourism as a sustainable socio-economic sector of the Sultanate of Oman in a manner that reflects the Sultanate’s historic, cultural and natural heritage and ethos of traditional hospitality. 44 MAY/JUNE 2017


Museum Casa Enzo Ferrari

12_ Italy’s Emilia Romagna Region

tourist board to target visitors from the Middle East

Emilia Romagna, the Italian region that is home to Italy’s most iconic brands, and classics such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Moschino, Max Mara, Sergio Rossi, Parmigiano-Reggiano, lasagna and tortellini, to name just a few, launched its push to promote the region’s lifestyle, craftsmanship and culture to visitors from the Middle East at ATM. A delegation of 16 representatives from the region’s major tourism and hospitality entities, exhibited and conducted seminars and one-to-one meetings with the UAE’s and Middle East’s leading travel professionals and companies, with the aim of creating awareness and special Emilia Romagna travel packages that highlight the region’s many experiential offerings. A key focus of the packages will be Emilia Romagna’s authentic gastronomy and culinary experiences, culture and landscapes, design and fashion boutique and outlet shopping, and unique factory, museum and driving visits with some of the world’s most adored auto-brands such as Ducati, Lamborghini, Maserati, Pagani, Bugatti and Ferrari. Since the launch of a direct daily flight by Emirates from Dubai to Emilia Romagna’s regional capital city of Bologna, the number of visitors from the Middle East in 2016 reached 14,292; an increase of 12.5 per cent compared to 2015. The prospects for future increased travel looks promising for visitor numbers coming from the Middle East.



1_ Demographics and digitisation

identified as two major Catalysts of Change impacting the global hotel industry at AHIC 2017 Catalysts of Change, including the shift in global economic powers, demographics, and ageing populations, and the impact of digitisation were some of the hot topics discussed live on stage during the opening sessions of the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference 2017 (AHIC), held at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai last month, and organised by Bench Events and MEED. Now in its 13th year, the annual knowledge and networking platform for the global hospitality investment community, AHIC, attracted more than 700 delegates eager to learn more about the Catalysts of Change influencing the evolving persona of the hotel guest and driving innovation among hotel owners and operators alike. Jonathan Worsley, Chairman, Bench Events, Board Director, STR and CoFounder of AHIC, introduced AHIC with the assistance of a robot co-host, created by Isukashi, setting the scene for discussions on Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and other technological breakthroughs. The topic of technological breakthroughs, such as AI, was identified as one of the top five megatrends by PwC Middle East’s Partner and Deals Real Estate Leader Dr Martin Berlin, who unveiled the new PwC Report Global Mega-


trends and their impact on Hospitality in the Middle East at AHIC. On the subject of planning and preparation, speaking from the investor’s perspective, Robert Welanetz, CEO, Majid Al Futtaim Properties, said he believed owners and operators faced a big challenge considering the vast investment technology required versus the risk of its“shelf-life until the next best idea”. Here, Stefan Leser urged the industry to focus predominately on the impact of the technology, not the timing of it. The conversation at AHIC also included discussions centred around topics like the mid-market, asset management, overseas investment, F&B, brands, third-party management, and alternative investment models.

2_ AHIC 2017 Awards celebrate two respected leaders in the Middle East

Chairman and CEO of Emirates Airline and Group. The AHIC 2017 Awards are nominated and voted for by the AHIC Advisory Board, a panel of 40-plus hotel owners, investors, operators, and consultants with extensive knowledge and experience of the Middle East hotel industry.

3_ AHIC 2017 reveals strong potential

in the mid-market hotel sector, with supply set to match that of luxury hotels in the GCC by 2021, reports STR

The economy and mid-market hotel segment was identified as presenting a significant opportunity for hotel owners and operators alike at AHIC 2017. Expert speakers also identified a gap in the market for more experiential accommodation and entertainment attractions, especially in Dubai, as the market continues to diversify its hospitality offering. In an exclusive presentation, STR

Managing Director Robin Rossmann provided insight into the midscale pipeline and performance in the GCC, revealing that mid-market supply is set to match luxury in the GCC by 2021. According to STR, the ‘Midscale’ has out-performed the ‘Upscale & Upper Mid Classes’ and ‘Luxury & Upper Upscale’ classes since 2011 across the GCC. Rossmann observed that midmarket hotels are under-penetrated and pointed to significant growth potential underpinned by growing intra-regional travel and demand for affordable travel. In a separate session focused on Dubai and The Next Five Years 20172022, Gurdish Bassi, Economist at GRMC Advisory Consulting, revealed insights into tourist spend patterns in Dubai. He predicted that total tourist spend in Dubai is expected to reach AED 144 billion (US$ 39203942400) by 2021, compared to AED 113 billion (US$ 30764204800) in 2016, and that the largest spending increase would be in the Entertainment sector.

On the final day of AHIC, H E Sheikh Mubarak Al-Abdullah Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah, Founder and Non-Executive Chairman, Action Hotels, and Ghaith Al Ghaith, Chief Executive Officer, flydubai, were announced winners of the prestigious annual AHIC Awards. The AHIC 2017 Awards were presented by AHIC Patron, His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Airports, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and



CEOs discuss Catalysts of Change at AHIC 2017

His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Airports, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman and CEO of Emirates Airline and Group, presents H E Sheikh Mubarak Al-Abdullah Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah, Founder and Non-Executive Chairman, Action Hotels, with the AHIC 2017 Industry Pioneer Award. Also seen are Jonathan Worsley, Chairman of Bench Events and Richard Breedan, CEO of MEED.

His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Airports, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman and CEO of Emirates Airline and Group, presents Ghaith Al Ghaith, Chief Executive Officer, flydubai, with the AHIC 2017 Leadership Award. Also seen are Jonathan Worsley, Chairman of Bench Events and Richard Breedan, CEO of MEED.

MAY/JUNE 2017 45


How to Ramadan-proof your f&b revenue Abdul Kader Saadi, MD and Owner of Dubai-based hospitality solutions provider, Glee Hospitality Solutions provides his top tips on adapting your F&B business for the Holy Month of Ramadan

46 MAY/JUNE 2017


ow can restaurants region-wide continue to bring in a healthy revenue during Ramadan? “There is no doubt that the loss of daytime business can have a huge impact on revenue, and affect an operation’s bottom line. It is, of course, quieter during the day. However, for most food and beverage outlets, we can increase volume during Iftar and Suhour time,”says Abdul Kader Saadi, MD and Owner of Dubai-based hospitality solutions provider, Glee Hospitality Solutions. “For some outlets, halting service can be beneficial. Whilst business may decrease, limiting or halting service during

the day does see costings balance out to an extent. Halting service means you are saving on electricity, gas, and labour costs,”he explains. However, Abdul points out that for independent outlets, Ramadan holds various other challenges.“Restaurant owners must create Iftar and Suhour menus that include elements of Arabic and Emirati flavours to cater to their target audience.” Saadi has helped launch more than 20 restaurant concepts, and operates over 40 dining outlets across the GCC. With more than two decades of expertise in the hospitality industry, and having worked with top brands in Europe and the UAE, he is an expert on


There is no doubt that the loss of daytime business can have a huge impact on revenue, and affect an operation’s bottom line. It is, of course, quieter during the day what it takes to maintain a successful restaurant business in today’s tough market conditions, and offers these tips:

The early bird catches the worm • For the food and beverage world, it is crucial to start preparing around three months before Ramadan begins. Restaurateurs must communicate their Ramadan plans with suppliers early on, as they are also fasting and working reduced hours. Getting stock in hand and confirmed in advance is vital for smooth operations during this month. • All marketing and communications materials must also be prepared well in advance – allowing a healthy lead time to promote your Ramadan offering. As soon as the plan is confirmed, send the details to key corporate and business contacts.

Play it safe or experiment? • Several outlets now offer traditional buffets with a plethora of choices, featuring fresh ingredients and an array of cuisines, as well as brilliant entertainment, so there is a lot of pressure on managers to ensure their offering stands out from the crowd. • A big part of deciding what an outlet’s Ramadan offering should comprise depends on the demographic it is targeting. • Although it is important to introduce new and relevant menus, it is also vital that an outlet stays true to

its identity. • Always play to your strengths, and don’t try to be ‘everything’ to ‘everyone’. Look at your current menu and the most popular options and give them a twist.

Adaptation • The restrictions and different requirements during Ramadan mean significant changes. When it comes to suppliers, beverage orders certainly take a big hit, with opening hours limited, and many operations closing for the duration. • Another issue that outlets must adapt to is food wastage, which is standard element from buffets.

Gift packaging • Ramadan is a key month for socialising for the Muslim community as families and friends meet for Iftar, and are invited to each other’s homes. If an outlet can adapt a dessert offering to make it suitable for takeaway, and offer gift packaging, it can be a hit. People are constantly looking for new gift ideas for gatherings.

Operations • Utilise this quieter period and promote staff vacations during the month of Ramadan, since the working hours are shorter and can be managed by single shift staff. • Ensure the outlet is licensed for deliveries during fasting hours, and is open for delivery and takeaway. MAY/JUNE 2017 47


Starting with

the basics

Munawar Shariff talks to Chef Fernando María Rey Golfarine, Head Chef Fogueira, about what it takes to make good food and his definition of success

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hen it comes to making a career, the role of a mentor cannot be ignored. In fact, according to Chef Fernando María Rey Golfarine, Fogueira, the mentor is essential for developing a chef’s career, as they have the skills to guide and motivate you to constantly prepare better dishes.“Of course, the mentor also needs to have their own cooking techniques that they can pass on. If you look at many of the top chefs in the world, at some point in their careers, they have worked with the best,”he explains. For Chef Golfarin, when it comes to food, his philosophy is simple – that the food you cook is only as good as

the ingredients you use.“Which is why I always work with fresh and top quality products,”he says, adding,“I am a simple chef who loves to work with beef, and can always add value to dishes with the perfect amount of seasoning and mixing techniques. I love what I do in the kitchen, so I am always very passionate with my approach to cooking.” Culinary trends are constantly evolving, and it’s important for chefs to keep up with the latest developments. If you can incorporate healthy products that look great, and satisfy the taste buds at the same time, you have the winning formula. For Chef the ideal meal includes three courses - starter, main course, and dessert. “The entrees should include


ingredients that get the taste buds going. The main dish should give the true character and cuisine style of the restaurant, and the dessert should end the guest’s experience on a high note, by providing them with an indulgent sense of satisfaction,” he explains. In order to create this experience for the guest, a chef needs to be supported by his team.“The whole team is hugely important for the performance and operation of a kitchen. The team gives support to one another, while learning to progress from their superiors. Working in a kitchen is a high-pressure environment, it starts when you put your apron on. Every kitchen’s aim is to please the guests that they are cooking for, so chefs are under pressure to prepare perfect dishes, and there is no margin for error. Good

communication, and having a team that works well together is essential to minimise pressure,”he advises. When it comes to success though, everyone has their own standards for defining it. While some may consider the Michelin star as the pinnacle of success, and most Chefs dream to achieve it, Chef Golfarine believes that this alone cannot define what makes a truly successful chef.“We find ourselves in different situations every moment. Every chef always thinks about the future, and longs for the recognition of his guests, both in the quality of dishes served, and the progression of the restaurant. The chef is only as good as the food he produces,”he states.

Every chef always thinks about the future, and longs for the recognition of his guests, both in the quality of dishes served, and the progression of the restaurant

As mentioned earlier, Chef Golfarine believes good food comes from good ingredients, which is why he is the one who orders the food supplies for Fogueira Restaurant & Lounge. He also provides support to the Executive Chef, who is responsible for purchasing F&B items for the hotel. Chef Golfarine himself idolises chefs like Gordon Ramsay (England), Alberto Chicote (Spain), and Fogaca (Brasil). For aspiring chefs, he has this to say: “The kitchen and dishes should be prepared with care to achieve the quality a guest is looking for, so close attention to detail is important. You must also be passionate about what you are doing, and this will reflect in your dishes, and ultimately lead you to success.” MAY/JUNE 2017 49



restaurant tips GRIF2017 Day1

Here are the top 10 tips for running a successful restaurant in today’s competitive and cutthroat market. James Hacon, Development, Growth and Brand Strategist and MC at this year’s Global Restaurant Investment Forum compiles this very useful list

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he Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF) 2017 welcomed over 300 industry professionals last month to Fairmont The Palm, Dubai. Several key trends dominated the conversation over the three-day event, from key growth areas, such as restaurant delivery, online ordering, and digital technology, to the need to invest in talent and focus F&B businesses around people, as highlighted by keynote speakers, Stuart Gillies, Chief Executive Officer, Gordon Ramsay Group; Amir Nahai, Chief Executive Officer Group Food and Beverage, AccorHotels, and Martin Morales, Managing Director and Chef, Ceviche and Andina Peruvian

Restaurants in London. Here are the top 10 highlights, as identified by the GRIF MC, James Hacon, Development, Growth and Brand Strategist.

1Delivery dilemma -

It’s undoubtedly the biggest consumer trend affecting the industry right now, but raises lots of debate and questions. Get into a good deal with one of the big delivery players, and you get the best percentage deal - share the love and you’ll probably drive more volume or - invest in your own peddle power, taking the risk, but perhaps reaping the rewards. Whatever you choose, be sure to make certain you’re not reliant on it, and be aware that investors are con-


The number of brands customers visit is on the rise, with new launches and interesting products elsewhere turning their heads - but it’s your job to make sure they don’t steal the heart too GRIF2017 Day2 - James Hacon and Stuart Gillies, CEO, Gordon Ramsay Group

cerned about what ‘giving away your customers’ means to your business.


Brand promiscuity - It’s time

to face it, your customers are cheating on you! They’re going elsewhere - even to your direct competitors. The number of brands customers visit is on the rise, with new launches and interesting products elsewhere turning their heads - but it’s your job to make sure they don’t steal the heart too. Figure out what you do, what you stand for, and make sure you deliver against your brand promise consistently - keep it simple!


Keep it realistic - In addition to inflated value expectations, brand owners are often overly ambitious in their business plans, with investors only remembering one or two occasions when a company has over-delivered. Keep it realistic when planning your roll out, you’re not going to open 100 sites in five years!

a franchise partner in another market, it’s all about the chemistry. Make sure you’re upfront, clear in your expectations from the outset, and share values. People do business with people - your books and brand could be amazing, but you or your leadership team could cost the transaction.

open. Customers are no longer just keyboard critics - they’re photographers too. Make sure your proposition stands-out from the crowd, but don’t over complicate things. When posting your own content, share a story, not just another food photo.

levels of competition 8Crazy -

There’s very few markets where the competition in the restaurant space isn’t fierce. Brand and site growth is explosive across most of North America, Europe, and the Middle East. Expect a five-year return on investment, not the three many brands have come to expect, and make sure you cut through the noise by building a multi-faceted lifestyle brand, driving greater awareness and loyalty. Get creative and think differently - if you’re lacking inspiration, just think about how a former Apple executive, turned chef, is taking his brand on a national tour as a stage show!

9Troublesome travel hubs -

the latest food trends, it’s a mixed bag; sweet and decadent is in - but so is healthy and sugar-free. It’s all about the occasion. Plant-bias continues to rise, with vegan and vegetarianism becoming increasingly popular, as well as chefs experimenting more with creative vegetable dishes.

Although attractive on paper, with the massive footfall and big revenues, travel hubs are far from an easy option for an operator. The commercials are difficult, operations challenging, and deals often tied up as multi-site packages. Even the most well respected brands have struggled, but don’t let that put you off. Do your homework, take advice, and consider a partnership.

7Instabragging rights -

10Have fun -


Poles apart - When it comes to

With even the French fine dining establishments allowing photography at the table now, the flood-gates are very much

It might look like all glitz and glam to the outside, but it’s hard work as you know. Remember to find the joy in what you do.

4 Know when to walk away -

When you’re on a roll-out, it’s almost inevitable that you’re going to fail from time to time, it’s human nature. Closing a site is the hardest decision to make, but you’ve got to make it, and quickly, for the sake of your business and brand. Investors understand, and would prefer to make a commercial decision rather than a sentimental one.

5It’s all about the chemistry

- Whether you’re talking about finding an investor in your business, or

GRIF2017 Day2 - Exhibition area MAY/JUNE 2017 51


Creating a melting pot Omar Basiony, Chef de Cuisine at Traiteur, Park Hyatt Dubai talks to Munawar Shariff about the major influences in his life, and his unique take on food


hen it comes to food, every chef has his own vision, his own philosophy. This, when applied to his dishes, defines what his food is all about. For Chef Omar Basiony, Chef de Cuisine at Traiteur, Park Hyatt Dubai, respect for the ingredients he’s working with, no matter what they are, is of utmost importance.“Being cognizant of how much work and effort, and sometimes, even sacrifice, it takes to get that product into your hands, I think that instils a certain amount of focus and appreciation that you have to carry over into your work,” he muses. Chef Omar Basiony, who admits he has a keen focus on fine dining, and a strong desire to travel, has gained experience at Michelin star restaurants throughout Chicago, Boston, Paris, and now Dubai.“Through my travels, I immersed myself in local cultures, and discovered new culinary techniques, developing my own unique culinary style, blending tradition with my passion for originality,” he smiles. Along the way, he has been helped by many chefs, who he believes have been his mentors in different ways. “I think a mentor is one of the most important figures in a chef’s career. The misconception, I think, is that a 52 MAY/JUNE 2017


I’ve personally felt like I’ve been fortunate enough to meet so many amazing chefs that have shared so much with me, taught me, and helped me along the path of my own professional development at so many different stages of my life mentor can only come into play at the outset of your career. But really, I’ve personally felt like I’ve been fortunate enough to meet so many amazing chefs that have shared so much with me, taught me, and helped me along the path of my own professional development at so many different stages of my life,” he states. Travelling around the world, he has also kept tabs on global food trends, but feels that is not reason enough to put something on a plate.“If there is a practical reason for the presence of something on your plate, then it should have a place,” he says, adding, “You can be completely full after three courses, or make your way through five, and still feel hungry. In the end, I think it’s all about how the chef designs that menu. You cater to the customer as well. If someone comes for a nine-course degustation, then they are looking for an experience

- it’s not just about filling their stomach.” The kitchen teaches you many things, the most important of which are empathy and understanding.“I think that, in the end, is what helps to make you a better manager overall, as you have first-hand knowledge in all areas,” he explains, adding,“It can be stressful, but, for me, most of my pressure, is self-imposed. I have an ideal for what I would like to achieve, and I push myself and my team as hard as I can to achieve that.” Chef Basiony works closely with the hotel when it comes to the ingredients.“Dubai is a unique place for ordering, because so much produce is either being flown or shipped in, which puts a huge emphasis on constant forecasting. Here, at Park Hyatt Dubai, every outlet places their own orders, and on a pretty much daily basis. However,

each order is reviewed and approved by the head chef before they can be fulfilled,” he explains. On days off, Chef Basiony goes and explores the city, looking for hidden gems. His latest favourite is Noodle Bowl in Satwa, where he finds the flavours deliciously authentic, and asserts that they have the most refreshing lemon iced tea. His own cooking has been influenced by his mentors, and chefs he has admired.“I’ve had the good fortune, in my career, to work with so many chefs that have all taught me so many invaluable lessons through the years, and continue to be a sort of mental measuring stick that I hold myself up to on an almost daily basis. Of course, there are also those famous chefs out there whose books you read as a glimpse into another mind and another world,” he says. Ask him to offer some advice MAY/JUNE 2017 53


Dubai is a unique place for ordering, because so much produce is either being flown or shipped in, which puts a huge emphasis on constant forecasting though, and he says,“Make sure this is what you want to do. I know this is the most cliché thing anyone can say, but really be sure. This job is almost entirely composed of hard work, sacrifice, and commitment. You owe it to the work to give it your all.” Success doesn’t come easy though, and, while an accolade like a star from the Michelin guide would be amazing, for Chef that’s only in the professional realm. “Success for me is a bigger word, and has more to do with balance than with awards. I don’t want to feel like I’m achieving professionally, but am letting areas of my personal life down, it is vital to be happy and successful in both,” he explains, concluding,“I think I still have a long way to go, but it’s been a fun journey so far.” 54 MAY/JUNE 2017

S QUICK BITE Best meal you’ve eaten: Too many to list. But the one that pops into my mind; last winter, I was visiting Spain with a friend of mine, and we ate at this little restaurant Xaia in a town called Getaria. It was a truly amazing experience. Worst meal you’ve eaten: I grew up in Chicago, and was part of the Chicago public school system. Anything I ate during that time can easily be grouped into the category of the worst meal of my life. Best hotel experience: My wife stayed in a little guest house when we were visiting the Seychelles last January. You could sleep in a hammock, a stone’s throw away from the ocean, and the hospitality was so warm and genuine, it just reminded me of the personalised service we at Park Hyatt Dubai are famous for. All-time favourite comfort food: Noodles! Any kind, usually spicy, always saucy. Your favourite spice: I have a childhood attachment to the smell of cardamom and cloves simmering in chicken broth, always reminds me of home. Why you became a chef: Well, I was never terribly good at math.


New menu at Traiteur D

ubai’s very stylish and exclusive French restaurant recently revamped its menu directed by new Chef de Cuisine, Omar Basiony. Top hotel Middle East was invited to dine at the restaurant to experience the new spread It was a balmy Monday evening at the Park Hyatt Dubai. The property really evokes a feeling of being in a very magical and mysterious place with its round-shaped, dimly lit lobby, bringing to your ears parts of conversations happening around you. Busy yet private. Walking through the lobby to the restaurant, there aren’t too many people around - advantages of being such a large, expansive property. Traiteur restaurant with it’s open layout and see-through kitchen has a lively atmosphere and there’s even a live music performance happening on most evenings. I was joined by Claire McDonald, Marketing and Communication Manager, Park Hyatt Dubai. She recommended a number of items and her recommendations are always spot on. So I went along with her recommendations for our starters. We chose our mains based on our dietary preferences. For starters we ordered the Salade Des Onzes each which was a green salad with white balsamic dressing, fine herbs, avocado, sunflower seeds and wild mushrooms. We also ordered one Baked Goat‘s

Cheese salad to share. This came topped with confit datterino tomatoes and an heirloom tomato salad. In between our conversation, the salad arrived and was polished off in no time. Exceptional tastes, as the greens salad had fine herbs I even tasted a lemongrass leaf among such a mix of flavours through the mixed greens and dressing! It was just salad, but such fantastic flavours. For our mains, I ordered the Norwegian King Crab Leg, which comes lightly grilled in its shell and is cooked in a salt crust with the meat inside the shell ready to eat and is served with roasted butter. It was delicious and just the right portion size. Claire ordered the Risotto A La Provencale which comes finished with roasted eggplant puree and sweet pepper agro dolce. She gave me some to taste and it was phenomenal. Definitely going to have that next time. For dessert, our server asked us if we liked chocolate, the answer was a resounding yes! And hence he said there was only one dessert he would recommend and which would have a variety of forms of chocolate - the La Maison Du Chocolat! It was a glamorous, satiating and a fulfilling finish to a fabulous dinner! Thank you Park Hyatt, Dubai, for having me! A gorgeous menu true to the French restaurant’s reputation. MAY/JUNE 2017 55


The perfect ingredients T Thanani is all set to be Ajman’s finest culinary gem, finds TH

56 MAY/JUNE 2017

hanani, the muchawaited contemporary restaurant in Ajman’s idyllic Al Zorah Pavilion, opened its doors recently to an enthusiastic response. Head Chef Ricardo Menta treated diners to a sumptuous array of specialities that allow the natural flavour profile of every ingredient to take centre stage. Tucked away against the stunning backdrop of the Al Zorah Creek, guests have the chance to soak in enviable views of one of the region’s

most prized natural mangrove forests and flamingos, while savouring a unique European ‘grazing’ style menu. The dishes featured on the menu at the launch were all designed to be shared, and were complemented by a well-crafted beverage menu. Speaking about the launch of the restaurant, Amy Siviter Smith, General Manager, Thanani, said,“Thanani is poised to change the existing landscape of culinary offerings in Ajman, and with good reason too. We have a world-class food and bever-


age menu, an innovative grazing style concept, and all of this is enhanced by a captivating view. We are looking forward to welcoming both residents from Ajman, as well as diners from neighbouring Emirates, who are eager to retreat from the bustle of everyday life.” Thanani prides itself on using only the finest quality seasonal ingredients, apparent in signature delicacies like a bespoke Burrata trolley brioche, focaccia sliders with slow braised wagyu beef cheeks in a tarragon sauce, and

Kataifi prawns marinated in garlic olive oil and parsley, with a sweet and sour apricot puree. Marwan Al Mazrouei, Vice Chairman, Maz Investments, the founding group of Thanani, said,“Thanani strives to enhance Al Zorah’s sophisticated positioning. The terrace, which overlooks the scenic fairways of Al Zorah’s 18-hole golf course, makes it the perfect spot to unwind with family and friends while indulging in good food and a selection of exclusively crafted mocktails.”

We have a worldclass food and beverage menu, an innovative grazing style concept, and all of this is enhanced by a captivating view

MAY/JUNE 2017 57


CYBER SECURITY & HOSPITALITY Ettiene Van Der Watt, Regional Engineering & Training Manager Middle East & Africa, Axis

What are the solutions to problems such as ransomware? How big of a threat is this particular ‘business disruption’ in the country and region? Ransomware is any malware that prevents a business from running its daily connected systems and that will have drastic implications on businesses, regardless of country or region. As the name indicates, ransomware is designed to hold individuals/organizations hostage till a monetary amount is gained by the attacker. This is done through blocking access to computers or encrypting files. Essentially, the attacker has hijacked your machine or device and will force you to pay an amount to release the device or provide you a with a password to do so yourself, which again is not guaranteed post payment. With a growing demand and acceptance of e-commerce worldwide, ransomware is a threat we need to consistently keep a watch on. 58 MAY/JUNE 2017


Solutions and Preventions: • Always use a reputable security suite. For e.g. when making an online payment, ensure your payment portal is operated on a HTTPs instead of HTTP. • Implement a cyber security policy at business operational levels and invest in educating and training employees across the board. • Update your security protocols and refresh training every quarter. We live in high and extremely fast connected times. Therefore, our proactiveness to such threats must also match the evolving attacks. Could you tell us about the steps and preparations that should be taken by hospitality businesses to guard their operations from such cyber-attacks? • Start with a risk analysis: Identify assets, properties and characteristics • Identify threats and vulnerabilities that pose a risk to assets • Risk mitigation, address the risks by transferring, eliminating or accepting it Once you have accomplished the above steps, it’s important to always be aware on current trends and regularly educate employees across the board. How should employees be trained to handle a cyber security attack? Every employee has a role to play in warding-off cyber-attacks. Therefore, everyone needs to be trained and be

made aware of the different types of cybercrimes/attacks. • Ensure that a cyber policy is drafted and focus on education with regards to the possible risks when cyber security is breached • Educate employees on hardening guides and procedures to mitigate additional threats. • Take advantage of Axis Academy sessions where we focus on educating about Cyber Security with a prevention and deterrence focus. • Continue to educate, educate and educate. How does a cyber security attack affect the working of a hospitality system? There are many ways an attack can affect hospitality businesses. • On the CCTV, video security side there can be legal ramifications when videos are leaked to social media. Disabling an entire video system can disrupt operations and create havoc • Any malware that prevents a business from running its daily connected systems will have drastic implications on businesses, regardless of country or region. • If customers are targeted for their transactions, they can lose confidence in carry out future plans with the organization • Many hospitality organizations also depend on 3rd party portals for their bookings. If these portals are attacked along with a hotel, an entire

ecosystem is affected and eventually crashes. What is the level of awareness in the hospitality industry here of risk to their systems? Hospitality has a large public database and education/awareness is of utmost importance to any industry that stores large amounts of client intel. Currently, most organizations are adequately protected. However, staying current with new types of attacks and ensuring a contingency plan in case of a situation, as well as constant education will ensure in curbing large scale disruptions. How much does a security breach affect the health of an established hospitality brand? What are the repercussions in the short and long term? Anytime an organization is under cyber-attacks, there are short and long term repercussions. Short Term • Panic and cancellations of prebooked services • Chaos and disgruntled customers • Loss of revenue • Negative word of mouth messaging on Social Platforms Long Term • Impact on company image • Liabilities • Internal costs for additional security checks and systems. MAY/JUNE 2017 59

Your Roadmap to Success 100+ Suppliers

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17th - 18th May 2017, Doha - Qatar For more information mail on or call on +44 12353 30073


Oxygen boost

Summer Skincare




The effect of pure Oxygen on the skin is exhilarating. Natura Bisse’s Oxygen Facial does just that. After an hour of interacting with pure oxygen, the skin is energised, exfoliated, moisturised, detoxed and ready to face the world

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The Oxygen Facial by Natura Bisse at the Amara Spa, Park Hyatt Dubai Time: 60 minutes

The Amara Spa at Park Hyatt Dubai, is one of the most luxurious spaces to relax, unwind and rejuvenate. It’s always the spa that enhances the experience and effects of the treatment. Because the moment you enter the spa, you are transported into this zone of relaxation and unwinding. However short or long the duration of your stay there. Amara Spa has been up there with the best spas in the city when it comes to giving the user a fantastic experience. The fact that the space feels private and as if it’s all yours despite being a busy Thursday afternoon is an added bonus. I was welcomed and asked to fill out a questionnaire about my general health and wellbeing. The I was led into the changing area and shown where to wait for my therapist. The changing area gave me an idea of how busy the spa was that afternoon. However, nowhere else did I see another guest all through my time there. I soon met my therapist and we went into the therapy room with my own private garden and relaxation area, outdoor shower as well as indoor shower and relaxation area. While I sat in the outdoor space the therapist scrubbed my feet in a

small pool of warm water, salts and fresh flowers. We then proceeded inside to begin the treatment. The therapist did a thorough cleansing and toning in order to prepare the skin for the glycolic peel exfoliation. This is a two step process and leaves the skin cleaner, hydrated and line-free. Following this was the application of the oxygen concentrate and mask. While this was applied the therapist massaged the limbs and the scalp to complete the relaxation experience. She then removed the mask and applied the sun protection cream, eye cream, moisturiser and lip balm. I was ready to get back into the daily grind only with better looking skin. After the treatment I sat back in the private outdoor area while the therapist brought me some refreshments and readied the room for the next client. I think the privacy and a relaxed outdoor vibe really adds to the experience of disconnecting from our daily lives. Luckily this was during the last days of good weather so sitting outside was still doable in the early evenings.

Verdict: Excellent! MAY/JUNE 2017 63


Summer lovin’ skin care

Spa skin care is exceptional without a doubt. This edition we have brightening masks, brightening serums and face washes as well as a bunch of cute, trendy and clever travel size favourites that are meant for one-time use! Simple and effective

Elemis Dynamic Resurfacing Serum: This previously known as the Tri Enzyme Resurfacing Serum, is now renamed and in new packaging and the product is new and improved, too. The effects after the first use are astonishingly soft cheeks and smooth, clean, shiny skin. You wish this bottle would never get over. A single pump is usually good for the face so yeah it does last a while. You need this in your life.

Dermalogica Stress Positive Eye Lift, 25ml, AED 285: This product turns stress into a positive working hard to make the stress from around the eye are disappear. This is a brightening eye masque that reduces dark circles and puffiness. Leaving it in the fridge makes it all that more refreshing on application. It has a metal-tip applicator. Can be used as a masque of daily under your regular eye cream

June Jacobs Age Defying Ultimate Overnight Copper Marine Masque, 15 ml (travel size), AED 57: This is a powerful masque. The texture looks creamy and heavy, but once you have it on the skin it dries up to feel powdery and not sticky on the face, makes keeping this on the entire night even more easier. And the results are fantastic, poreless, hydrated, beautiful skin. Copper is the magic ingredient here!

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Guerlain Orchidee Imperiale The Imperial Radiance Mask, 4 masks, AED 1,047: Yes, the price is eye-watering, however the masks are what dreams are made of. The skin that you see the morning after is ridiculously beautiful. You need to do this weekly over a month to see the best skin. Cleanse, exfoliate, apply serum and then this mask and leave on overnight. The mask can be used under makeup as well. So if you have a special occasion, you could apply this mask, leave on for sometime, apply makeup and go out. You will see results instantly.

June Jacobs has come up with innovative On-The-Go Masque Rituals. So all their best seller masques are now available in innovative, re-sealable and travel-friendly pouch packaging:

Cranberry pomegranate moisture masque, 30ml, AED 86: It’s a wonderful experience putting on this masque, so having this as a travel size means you can enjoy a little bit of luxury from home even on your travels. Al always this mask leaves skin soft, supple and hydrated.

Papaya purifying enzyme masque, 30ml, AED 86: This is definitely an all time must-have. It literally makes the skin hold moisture. When you wash your face water droplets linger around on the skin making skin look and feel immensely soft and hydrated. Best left on overnight and then rubbed gently the next morning to remove surface impurities.

Mandarin moisture masque, 30ml, AED 86: This masque smells divine. Citrusy and fresh, the gel like texture seeps into the skin immediately and disappears. The skin looks filled with moisture and revitalised.

Perfect pumpkin peeling enzyme masque, 30ml, AED 86: Powerful masque that works hard to dissolve surface impurities to reveal, cleaner, even toned, bright and beautiful skin.

MAY/JUNE 2017 65


Elemis Skin Soothe Shave Gel: Elemis always thinks of everything. Here, too, the product softens the skin and sharp hair bristles for a softer, easier, closer shave. Ingredients are also very smart, calming arnica, jojoba oil and camomile work together to make shaving easier and menthol give the skin a boost of freshness and energy. Making it an unforgettable morning ritual.

June Jacobs Green Tea & Cucumber Body Balm, AED 240: This luxurious body cream is thick, hydrating and extremely long lasting. It literally lasts all day. The unexpected ingredients make for a refreshing and interesting fragrance.

Elemis Deep Cleanse Facial Wash for Men: One of Elemis’s first few products for men, this is now more than a decade old. The product is also new and improved over the years. What hasn’t changed is it’s ability to dazzle the skin, invigorating, fresh fragrance and the thick texture means a little goes a very long way.

Elemis Rehydrating Rosepetal Cleanser: Removes all traces of makeup while simultaneously making the skin look soft and radiant. The texture of this cleanser is really unique, glides on easily and removes the most stubborn of makeup applications.

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June Jacobs Advanced Cell Repair Serum, AED 375: The texture is gel like, yet the amount of moisture this serum contains is quite phenomenal. Skin feels hydrated, protected and pore-free. Quite a powerful product.

Elemis Rehydrating Ginseng Toner: Ideally to be used in conjunction with the Rosepetal Cleanser, this toner literally puts the moisture back into the skin. It nourishes, refreshes and rehydrates the skin. Works best for extremely dry skin.

Elemis White Brightening Even Tone Serum: This skin tone correcting serum is the second step after using the White Brightening Even Tone Cleanser. It helps diminish pigmentation, Vitamin C helps reduce dark spots and the skin appears brighter, clearer and more even.

June Jacobs Cooling Cucumber Cleanser, AED 215: Ideal for dry and damaged skin, this cucumber cleanser manages to remove the cakiest of makeup in a single application. Skin feels light, clean and ready to receive other products.

Elemis White Brightening Even Tone Cleanser: Part of a 3-step programme, this cleanser starts things off by preparing the skin by removing impurities, evening out the complexion and mattifying the face. You need to use a hig powered SPF while using this cleanser or programme.

MAY/JUNE 2017 67


Turtle power Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman, has celebrated the first turtle hatching of the season with the release of 174 sea turtles


he beach at Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa saw a lot of action recently. Hotel guests gathered on the beach, as the resort’s Turtle Ranger Mohammad Al Hassani and his team guided 55 Hawksbill and Green Turtle hatchlings to the water. On Sunday, April 16, an additional 19 turtle hatchlings were released, while Monday saw 20 more turtles hatch. Prior to the scheduled releases, a nest on Shangri-La Al Husn Beach hatched, producing 80 sea turtles, who naturally found their way to the sea over the weekend. Speaking about the Turtle Care Programme, Juergen Doerr, General Manager of Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa, said,“We are fully committed to the care and protection of turtles in Oman, and it is our privilege to provide a sanctuary for mother turtles, care for the hatchlings, and protect these endangered species. The hatching and release of these tiny creatures is a very special moment, and we are pleased to share this experience and create lasting holiday memories with our hotel guests.” In Oman, turtle season falls between January and August. There are just five nesting sites in Oman, and Shan-

The area has always been a turtle nesting site, and, every year, approximately 100 turtles return to the resort’s beach to lay their eggs, with each nest containing up to 120 eggs

gri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa is one of them. The area has always been a turtle nesting site, and, every year, approximately 100 turtles return to the resort’s beach to lay their eggs, with each nest containing up to 120 eggs. Most recently, 92 nests produced 4,181 hatchlings in 2016. Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa has a dedicated turtle ranger, Mohammed Al Hasani, who has been taking care of turtles for many years. He patrols the resort’s beaches at night to ensure that mother turtles can nest in peace, and that hatchlings make it to the sea. Al Hasani and the team work tirelessly to raise awareness, share information, provide a sanctuary for turtles, care for hatchlings, and protect these endangered species.

Turtle ranger releases new batch

Turtle release 68 MAY/JUNE 2017

Al Waha and Al Bandar beach

3D precision, exceptional comfort...



Dubai Showroom P.O. Box 500466, Design House, Al Sufouh 1, Dubai, UAE Tel: +971 (0)4 430 7465 Fax: +971 (0)4 430 7469 Email: Web:


Top Hotel Middle East May June 2017 Issue  

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

Top Hotel Middle East May June 2017 Issue  

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