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11-12 2017












Top hotel Wellness A dedicated look at the regional wellness industry

Busch-dynasty.. a class of its own

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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 Art Director: Tamara Eger Production Manager: Roy Varghese

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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.

Luxury’s changing definition What was luxurious yesterday is not necessarily that today. Today, the consumer does want it all but without having the guilt of damaging the environment in the process. This is the right way of being. Today, the guest wants to feel the sand in their toes, they want to not have the stress of not having the right outfit for dinner because they can come in whatever is most comfortable as dinner is served in the open, under the stars. And dinner is prepared using the freshest of ingredients that were perhaps until the morning growing in the soil. Is this luxury? It most definitely is! We chatted with Sonu Shivdasani, CEO, Soneva properties about the various sustainability initiatives in place at his many resorts where not only luxury for the guest is important but their peace of mind, their sense of freedom and security and their health and wellness is on the top of the agenda. More on page 26. We’ve caught up with two busy GMs in this issue Alex Schneider, General Manager, Nikki Beach and Samir Arora, General Manager at The Retreat Palm Dubai on the uniqueness of their properties. Nikki Beach is a fantastic spot in Dubai with a laid back, trendy and super cool vibe. It’s a must visit. Doesn’t feel like anything you’ve seen here before. The Retreat has just opened last month and it is a breath of fresh air being a completely healthy hotel. You won’t find colas, fries or sugar here! Yes, you read that right. Being the first of its kind wellness retreat, there are special packages tailored upon request that will help guests in their wellness journeys. Besides this, there’s a chat with the Receptionist of the Year winner, a detailed piece on how to begin your wellness journey, all about the dine-in-the-dark concept restaurant Noire at the Fairmont on Sheikh Zayed Road and so much more.

Munawar Shariff Managing Editor







06 TOP HOTEL UNDERCOVER 45 F&B TRAINING Charming and iconic

Eastern Mangroves by Anantara is a majestic hotel in the middle of the Abu Dhabi city

10 NEWS All the latest from hotels in the region 20 TOPHOTELPROJECTS

Hotels - upping the standards everyday

Luxurious + sustainable

A luxurious hospitality business which is also sustainable? Sonu Shivdasani, CEO Soneva, shows how

34 KITCHEN SECRETS All the work happening behind the

New kid on the block

Alex Schneider, GM, Nikki Beach, speaks about competing with other properties and being on 85 per cent occupancy in Summer!


Chef Vusumuzi Ndlovu won S Pellegrino’s Young Chef semi-finals at ICCA Dubai

The wellness revolution

Samir Arora, GM at The Retreat Palm Dubai, speaks about the Middle East’s first holistic wellness resort


UAE’s receptionist of the year

Mabi Rajbhandari, Receptionist at the Palazzo Versace Dubai, is UAE’s Receptionist of the Year 2017


Who’s the fairest of them all? Rutu Tawde, Ahasees Spa & Club Manager, speaks about this game changing treatment


The night ritual

The night skin care ritual is extremely important when it comes to beautiful, youthful skin


Millennium Hotels and Resorts joins forces with Al Jalila Foundation


scenes for Noire at Fairmont Dubai


In a league of his own


Global hospitality happenings



Health is of great importance. Wellness practitioner, Myriam Redouane, shares her insights


A healthy assistant

LPG’s many slimming treatments are a natural assistant to your weight loss regime




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.



Charming and iconic Eastern Mangroves by Anantara, Abu Dhabi

Eastern Mangroves by Anantara is a majestic hotel in the middle of the city overlooking the mangroves in Abu Dhabi. It is true to the Anantara style when it comes to design, decor, and welcoming guests Located in an exclusive Eastern Mangroves community, this hotel is in the centre of this development which has a mix of residential and commercial aspects. The architecture and interiors are a mix of Middle Eastern and contemporary giving a off an opulent look with chandeliers and velvet couches and armchairs in the marble-floored reception area.

RESERVATION After checking online to get an idea of rates, we called the property. The response was comprehensive providing all the information on all our queries. We were informed that booking online provided a discount on all room rates which were far better than what was advertised on all the leading online travel agency (OTA) sites. Including breakfast and taxes and the mandatory overnight room charge of AED 15 in Abu Dhabi, the rate was AED 975 per night.

Evaluation: Good

CHECK-IN We arrived at half past five in the evening. The lobby is plush and luxurious and we were taken to the check-in area while conversing about the drive and weather. Our room was still unavailable even though we were two and a half hours late. The lady helping us, Merina, informed us. We were a bit surprised as being so late it was odd the room wasn’t still ready. Once this was communicated to Merina, she instantly assigned another room to us on Level 5 which was the Executive lounge.

Evaluation: Good



ROOM 536 The room was large. A spacious 57 sq metres. It opened into a passage with the closets space and space for luggage on the left and the bathroom facing this. Going through this passage you entered into the room which had a huge king bed on the right and a long table with a mirror on one side the television in the centre and a study table right at the end of it on the left side of the room. Opposite the room entrance was the balcony facing the city.

Evaluation: Excellent

BATHROOM The bathroom was spacious with a single sink and mirror right opposite the entrance of the bathroom with a large bath tub on the left and separate shower area and wc on the right. The shower area had a large rain shower head and amenities were by Elemis.

Evaluation: Good

BREAKFAST AT INGREDIENTS The restaurant is huge with multiple seating locations scattered all over the restaurant as well as outside seating facing the waterfront mangroves. The only dampener being some dredging work which was currently in progress in the mangroves sticking out like a sore thumb in what would have been a great view. The buffet timings were from 6.30am till 10.30am and the items on the menu were numerous. Food was fresh and multiple live stations and the best part, not too many guests. Although by the time it was 10.15 the restaurant was quite full. One of the friendly servers told us that the hotel has reduced its rates in order to achieve 90 per cent occupancy which it was running at during our visit. He said it was common practice for the property to do this. However, he added, the next few weeks they were going to be at full capacity. He volunteered this information while we ordered our drinks.

Evaluation: Excellent

CHECK-OUT 15.00PM Check-out was smooth and swift. We had requested for a late check out and our request was accommodated.

Evaluation: Good



Eastern Mangroves by Anantara, Abu Dhabi






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




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Cultural hub Manarat Al Saadiyat to relaunch this November

THE DEPARTMENT OF Culture and Tourism, Abu Dhabi will relaunch Manarat Al Saadiyat this November. With a diverse new programme tailored for children, youth, adults and families, Saadiyat Island’s cultural centre will offer a wide range of interactive initiatives and programmes focusing on art, design, music, film, innovation, and lifestyle. MAS Art Zone HE Saif Saeed Ghobash, Director General, Department of Culture and Tourism, Abu Dhabi said,“As Saadiyat Island’s first multidisciplinary creative space, Manarat Al Saadiyat has mirrored the development of a vibrant cultural community in the capital. As our audiences have grown, we have responded to MAS Pavillion create additional artistic and interactive cultural spaces. We are opening the newly renovated Manarat Al Saadiyat to reflect the growing public interest in the culture of the Emirate. The new space and its diverse programme will offer a vibrant and interactive platform for the community to engage with a variety of artistic activities that bring the vision of Saadiyat Island

to life. Manarat Al Saadiyat aims to provide a focal point for all audiences to connect in a community where artistic creativity is actively welcomed and celebrated.” Manarat Al Saadiyat will now include an Art Studio specifically designed to engage visitors in a variety of creative processes, a Photography Studio offering the highest levels of technical expertise, and The Garden Pavilion, an outdoor area, which will provide the perfect space to host a multitude of events. There is also the new Larte restaurant, to sit alongside the already established central events space, as well as a 250-seat auditorium and three gallery spaces for temporary exhibitions. All of which underlines Manarat Al Saadiyat as the cornerstone of the Saadiyat Cultural District and the perfect place for the annual Abu Dhabi Art, which opens this year on November 8th. Set in the heart of Abu Dhabi’s Cultural District, Manarat Al Saadiyat is regarded as the haven for art and culture lovers in the capital to explore a diverse range of cultural expressions. The venue has been the central location for its annual anchor event, Abu Dhabi Art, which has been held at Manarat Al Saadiyat since its inception.

Abu Dhabi Week in China initiative set for Shanghai ABU DHABI IS leading a tourism delegation to Shanghai this month as part of a new initiative to encourage even more visitors from China to explore the Emirate. China is currently the largest international source market for hotel guests staying in Abu Dhabi, with more than 242,000 Chinese checking into the Emirate’s 166 hotels and hotel apartments in the first eight months of

AD Week in China - Dance


this year, a year-on-year increase of 68 per cent. The delegation, under the banner of ‘Abu Dhabi Week in China’, will visit Shanghai, one of the world’s largest cities by population, joined by representatives of national airline Etihad Airways,Yas Island, Louvre Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and Emirates Palace. “With our Chinese visitors now granted visas on arrival since the start of the year, simplifying the arrival process, we have witnessed a tremendous surge in the numbers of Chinese coming to the Emirate for both leisure and business. China has now overtaken India as our largest international source market and we are proactively seeking out new ventures and business partners to further encourage this growth,” HE Saif Saeed Ghobash, Director

General, Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, said.“Abu Dhabi Week in China is an excellent vehicle for us to promote our unique destination to a burgeoning market that has been identified as delivering excellent growth opportunities, both short-term and long-term. We have an ambitious, yet realistic target of attracting 600,000 Chinese visitors a year by 2021.” Abu Dhabi is also working hard to develop a wide range of products and packages that meet expectations for Chinese travellers. Numerous tourist attractions have received the China Tourism Academy’s Welcome Chinese Certification, awarded to distinguished hospitality establishments and destinations that offer high-quality services to Chinese visitors, including Mandarin-speaking staff members. Multiple destinations and attractions in the Emirate also now accept China Union Pay bank cards, making it easier for Chinese visitors to pay for goods and services.

Fossil Rock Lodge: a luxury stay-in at Sharjah’s desert LOCATED IN SHUROOQ’S Mleiha Archaeological and Eco-tourism Project, the Fossil Rock Lodge is a luxury hospitality facility sited adjacent to a magnificent natural feature, it is named based on the prominent peak in Mleiha. Conceptualised by multiple Award-winning architectural firm (ANARCHITECT), the architecture and interior aspects of the Fossil Rock Lodge have been purposely designed to contrast the original fabric of the existing buildings. The juxtaposition emphasises the additional layers that have been introduced to repurpose and extend the spaces in order to accommodate the buildings’ new luxury hospitality function. Each of the five-bedrooms features a skylight for star-gazing, as being located far from the pollution of city lights means that the area is the perfect environment to view the night-time firmament in all its glory. For guests wanting an even more luxurious experience, the lodge’s premium ‘luxe’ room also has a private roof terrace.

The Fossil Rock Lodge’s other premium features include a visitors’ office, restaurant, dining room, reception room, library, outdoor terrace, fire-pit and public roof terrace. An upscale café with 42 indoor and outdoor seats will allow visitors to take in the breathtaking natural scenery and magnificent desert landscapes as they enjoy their meals. A purpose-built spa building covers 430 sq m and houses an open-air saltwater pool. Perfect for relaxation or reinvigoration, the pool offers three spa experiences; heat, water and salt therapy. Fossil Rock Lodge is part of Shurooq’s ‘Sharjah Collection’ that comprises several prestigious hospitality projects that have been designed to establish Sharjah as an elite, niche tourism destination. The authority is committed to creating worldclass hospitality destinations in some of the Emirate’s most striking areas of outstanding natural beauty. The Fossil Rock Lodge is on track to open its doors to guests in the first quarter of 2018.

Philippines Department of Tourism launches ‘Bring Home A Friend’ program in the Middle East THE PHILIPPINES DEPARTMENT of Tourism (PDOT) launched“Bring Home A Friend”(BHAF) program in a colourful and festive event on October 21 at Boracay Club, Asiana Hotel Dubai. The new campaign aims to encourage all Filipinos living in the Middle East to help promote the Philippines to their friends and colleagues as their next holiday destination. The program will run for six months starting from October 15, 2017, up to April 15, 2018. “We would like to close the year strongly for the tourism industry in terms of visitor arrivals and carry the momentum into the coming year,”said DOT Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo. Major prizes awaiting the sponsors include a condominium from Megaworld Corporation, a brand-new Toyota Vios, and a PHP200,000 gift certificate at Duty-Free Philippines while their foreign guests can

win round-trip international flight tickets and tour packages to Palawan, Cebu, and Davao. To join, the sponsor must duly register via the“Bring Home A Friend”web page accessible via DOT’s website ph. Registration may also be accomplished at BHAF booths soon to be set up at selected international airports in the Philippines. The more foreign friends the sponsors invite, the more entries they can submit. The Philippines has seen a consistent growth in tourist arrivals from the Middle East. In 2016, the Philippines received a total of 83,546 tourists from the region, growing by 9.69 per cent over 2015. Tourist arrivals from Saudi Arabia and UAE, the two largest markets out of the region for the Philippines, reached 50,884 and 16,881 respectively. The PDOT aims to achieve 7 million tourists by the end of 2017.


Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel unveils new contemporary Thai-inspired guestrooms ANANTARA SIAM BANGKOK Hotel has unveiled its new contemporary Thai inspired guestrooms, offering discerning leisure and business travellers even more luxurious style at the brand’s Thai flagship property. Designed by Jeffrey A. Wilkes of LTW Designworks, the new interiors of the 307 new 42 sq m Deluxe and Premier guestrooms inject a fresh sense of luxury by infusing a more contemporary aesthetic, greeting guests with a subtle Thai character remaining true to the ethos of the Anantara brand. Using elegant regional undertones, typical Asian details were eschewed with the design instead paying homage to Thai palaces that have been constructed with European influences. Thai silk has been used as wall panels to give a simple and elegant finish, a refined reflection of Thailand, and an antique map of Bangkok in the Deluxe rooms provides an interesting conversation piece. Ideal for business travellers, some of the Deluxe and Premier guestrooms are located on the hotel’s exclusive Kasara Floor where, at a daily fee, guests are afforded access to the Kasara Executive Lounge with all-day dining; dedicated concierge and business services; and private meeting facilities.

Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel - Premier View Room

Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel - Premier View Room

Anantara Handy Smartphone

The addition of a complimentary Handy smartphone in every room allows guests to keep in touch with family and friends with unlimited international calls and texts to 25 countries, and 4G and preloaded popular apps to explore Bangkok with ease. The refurbishment of its Deluxe and Premier guestrooms completes a US$14 million project that also saw the upgrade of Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel’s suites and public spaces.


Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel - Deluxe View Room

NYU Abu Dhabi re-imagines agricultural tourism in UAE for Solar Decathlon Middle East 2018 A DEDICATED TEAM of students and faculty from NYU Abu Dhabi is set to unveil their design for the first-ever Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)certified sustainable agricultural tourism destination in the UAE at the 19th edition of the Water, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition (WETEX) from 23 to 25 October in Dubai. Comprised of 20 students from 16 countries, Team NYUAD has tackled the aims of the Solar Decathlon Middle East 2018 by combining new opportunities in desert farming with the ambitious food security goals of the UAE to redefine sustainable living while utilising the natural beauty,

Team NYUAD (photo courtesy Koh Terai)

local materials, and emerging designers of the Emirates and designing a revolutionary model of energy-efficient accommodation. “The Solar Decathlon is a multidisciplinary construction project, spanning two years, which allows the students to address some of the most pressing issues facing the construction industry today, including how to create sustainable, aesthetically pleasing and technology-enabled buildings,” said Matthew Karau, faculty advisor for the project. NYUAD’s design for a LEED-certified accommodation incorporates passive design strategies, future-ready infrastructure, and low-impact modular prefabrication to incorporate diverse technologies and achieve energy self-sufficiency without compromising overall comfort. The design is being revealed shortly after the appointment of Mariam Al Muhairi as the Minister of State for Future Food Security of our Nation, with respect to research, planning, and technology.

Plaj at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray unveils a new Mediterranean twist

Chocolate toffee tart

PLAJ, THE CHIC beachside restaurant at the luxurious Jumeirah Zabeel Saray resort unlocks its doors to new Mediterranean offerings, from the kitchen to the menus and the venue itself. With an a la carte menu of over 35 new delicacies,

Plaj has also introduced unique offerings that include hand-tossed sourdough pizzas prepared in a wood fire oven, and more. From the delectable BlowTorched Tiger Prawns to the succulent Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb, al fresco diners are in for a gastronomic delight. Diners can enjoy a fusion of sundowners and breathtaking views with the gradients of sunset silhouetting the skyline Blow-torched tiger prawns and glistening waters.

INTEREL Appoints Alana Witte as VP Global Key Accounts INTEREL, A LEADING provider of Internet of Things (IoT) solutions for the hospitality industry, has appointed Alana Witte as the company’s VP Global Key Accounts, responsible for leading INTEREL’s strategic relationships with global hotel brands and driving large-scale projects. Prior to joining INTEREL, Alana led the global growth of Revinate, a Software as a service (SaaS) start-up that built one of the hospitality industry’s leading online reputation and guest satisfaction technologies, in the Middle East & Africa, where she launched Revinate’s Dubai and Cape Town offices. “INTEREL’s solutions are available in more than 30 countries and used by 20 million hotel guests. We aim to grow our reach further by developing strategies that lead to large-scale rollouts with our key accounts, thus maximising utility and staff efficiencies for our hotel partners,”Florian Gallini, Group CEO of INTEREL, said.“Alana’s experience working with hundreds of hotels means she is perfectly placed to champion these partnerships and accelerate our global expansion.” “The one consistent thing I’ve learned working with scores of hotel groups is that every hospitality brand is completely different; I’m committed to working with our largest, strategic key accounts to support their distinct IoT and energy management strategies with bespoke solutions,”Alana said. “I’m looking forward to supporting not only our partners with this collaborative approach but also our regional teams, as together we strive to ensure we’re a preferred technology partner for all our clients.”

Alana Witte


Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts signs third Muscat hotel MÖVENPICK HOTELS & Resorts’ Oman expansion strategy is gathering pace with the company revealing plans to operate its third property in the Sultanate’s capital, Muscat. The global hospitality company has inked an agreement with Oman’s Golden Group of Companies to manage the 370key Mövenpick Hotel Muscat Airport, part of a new upscale mixed-use project under


Rise and shine with At the Top, Burj Khalifa

BEGINNING FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2017, the At the Top, Burj Khalifa sunrise sessions give early risers access from 5:30 am, each Friday and Saturday throughout winter; and at an altitude of 456 m, there’s no better start to your day! Adult tickets are AED 125 per person, with children AED 75 per person; with both options including access to Burj Khalifa’s observations decks on Levels 124 and 125, as well as a delightful light breakfast at The Café. A favourite from last winter, tickets are already on sale for the sessions starting November 10.


development near Muscat International Airport, which will also feature retail and commercial space covering 3,000sqm and 10,000 sq m respectively when it opens in 2021. It expands Mövenpick’s inventory pipeline to almost 1,000 keys countrywide after deals to operate Mövenpick Hotel & Apartments Al Azaiba Muscat and Mövenpick Hotel Bausher Muscat was recently signed. The three properties will capitalise on Oman’s growing importance as a regional hub for business and leisure tourism, spurred by the development of new infrastructure that ranges from conference centres to cruise terminals. At the same time, Muscat International Airport is undergoing extensive renovations and expansion that will

boost its annual capacity from 12 million to 48 million passengers when the redevelopment project is fully completed. “Adding a third property to our Muscat portfolio cements our position as a prominent hotel operator in the Sultanate’s capital and supports our cluster strategy for the city, with each hotel offering a unique product, design and location to target different guest demographics,”explained Andrew Langdon, Chief Development Officer, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts. The property, which is located at the intersection of two major roads, Sultan Qaboos Highway and Al Mouj Street in the residential districts of Mawaleh and Seeb, will feature 245 rooms and suites and 125 serviced apartments, 2,450 sq m of conference and banqueting space, one specialty restaurant, an all-day dining outlet, a lobby lounge, executive lounge and 24-hour room service.

Abu Dhabi Fund for Development Allocates US$50 million for development of Velana International Airport in Maldives ABU DHABI FUND for Development (ADFD), the leading national entity for development aid, extended an AED183.65 million (US$50 million) concessionary loan to the Maldivian government to develop the Velana International Airport in Malé. The project includes the construction of a new 3,400-metre runway with a breakwater and Maldives airport runway rehabilitation of the old runway. In addition, loan aims to promote socio-economic developthe funding will help build a new west passenment in the Maldives through upgrading the ger terminal and a maintenance building, and airport’s facilities and expanding its operating complete phase-1 works of the south terminal. capacity to 26 aircrafts in order to cope with The loan agreement was formalised in the presence of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid the steady growth of the tourism sector. As Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister an added benefit, this crucial project will go a long way in creating new jobs and reducing of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai during the unemployment.” official visit of His Excellency Abdulla Yameen For his part, His Excellency Mohamed Saeed, Abdul Gayoom, President of the Maldives. “This new collaboration further solidifies the Maldivian Minister of Economic Development, praised the UAE’s sustained support for the strong and close bilateral ties shared between national development goals of the Maldives. the UAE and the Maldives. Over the past four Furthermore, he commended ADFD for its decades, ADFD has financed infrastructure, strategic approach to development and for its telecommunications, transport, housing and efforts in tailoring funding mechanisms across energy projects in the Maldives valued at more key socio-economic sectors to drive lasting than AED109 million.”HE Mohammed Saif Al growth in developing countries. Suwaidi, Director General of ADFD, said.“Our

Ras Al Khaimah on course for 900,000 visitor target for 2017 RAS AL KHAIMAH is edging closer to its 900,000 visitor target for 2017 after producing record arrivals in the first nine months of this year – the January to September 2017 international arrivals reveal nine per cent growth on the same period in 2016. The latest results released by Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA), which develops and regulates the Emirate’s tourism infrastructure and initiates its domestic and overseas promotions, show nine-month growth in key categories including arrivals, hotel occupancy, guest nights and length of stay. “While growth in all KPIs was satisfying, we Haitham Mattar are particularly pleased with the extended length of stay which we attribute to development of our events calendar and products, such as the highly successful Via Ferrata around Jebel Jais in the Hajar Mountains. As the first regional product of its type, the Jebel

Jais Via Ferrata has done much to establish the Emirate as a credible leisure activity and adventure destination,”explained Haitham Mattar, CEO, RAKTDA. Germany, Russia, the UK, India and Kazakhstan came in as the Emirate’s top five international source markets, with the most prominent growth from Russia, with arrivals growing 66.34 per cent. Aside from the domestic UAE market, which still contributes to more than a third of

from the Kingdom increasing 3.3 per cent in the first nine months compared to the same period last year. With its 2017 target of 900,000 visitors in sight, RAKTDA has a target of attracting

RAK- Jebel Jais

RAK- Historical Dhayah Fort

overall visitors, Saudi Arabia was the Emirate’s largest regional market with arrivals

Launch of FCS Analytics provides hoteliers with total business intelligence solution FCS COMPUTER SYSTEMS, a leading global provider of comprehensive hospitality guest services applications and solution design services, announces the launch of FCS Analytics V1.1, the latest addition to the company’s growing portfolio of hotel technology solutions. A new state-of-the-art business intelligence platform, FCS Analytics offers a comprehensive overview of a hotel’s entire operation through a single interface that fully integrates vital data from FCS and third-party property systems. By providing complete customisation of the data that is presented in user-friendly analytical reports, FCS Analytics V1.1 ensures that hotels are equipped with the precise information needed to make informed decisions that maximise property efficiency and revenue. “Because of the large amount of information required by hoteliers to operate effectively is not easily consolidated and analysed, hotels often find themselves missing critical opportunities for improvement. FCS Analytics V1.1 ensures that all relevant data is seamlessly brought together in a way that is easy to understand and that allows hoteliers to quickly implement any necessary changes,”said Richard Leong, Product Manager for FCS Analytics.

one million visitors by the end of 2018 and the Emirate is expecting an influx of new hotel inventory to cope with increasing demand. Hotel capacity is expected to number 15,000 to 20,000 rooms by 2025. The Emirate expects to grow its accommodation stock by 4,400 rooms over the next three years with a mix of 3 to 5-star properties.

Palace Downtown appoints David Simon as General Manager DAVID SIMON HAS been appointed as the new General Manager of Palace Downtown, a palatial destination managed by Address Hotels + Resorts. Formerly the Hotel Manager, David will play a key role in driving the hotel’s ongoing growth strategy as well as staff leadership, recruitment, and management. He will continue to direct all aspects of daily operations, revenue generation and guest retention. With more than 20 years of hospitality experience, he has worked in the USA, India, South Korea, Hong Kong and Dubai, among others, with renowned hotel brands in a variety of managerial capacities. Olivier Harnisch, Chief Executive Officer of Emaar Hospitality Group, said,“David’s appointment is representative of our forward-thinking for our premium luxury hotel and serviced residences brand, Address Hotels + Resorts, and for Palace Downtown.” “Our hotel stands apart for its highly individualistic architecture and its commitment to offer the highest levels of service to guests from all over the world. As part of the Address Hotels + Resorts portfolio, the hotel has set its own remarkable niche with its inimitable design and superior location,”Simon said.


HMH Appoints New Director of Technical Services HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT HOLDING (HMH) announced the appointment of Hala Al Ramadhi as the group’s new Director of Technical Services. Al Ramadhi brings over 15 years of outstanding experience and expertise in managing and delivering multiple hotel projects. Making the announcement, Aboudi Asali, CEO of HMH, stated,“We are delighted to welcome Al Ramadhi to our team. She will play an instrumental role in supporting our existing and upcoming projects defined by high standards of design excellence and unique brand differentials. We are committed to offering the highest quality of service and expertise to our owners and associates and every aspect of the hotel experience is designed with our guests in mind.”

In her new role, Al Ramadhi will liaise with various project teams including all required consultants, contractors and suppliers to provide technical services input across the group’s various projects. Drawing on her knowledge and experience she will ensure that all projects are developed in compliance with HMH and internationally recognised standards and procedures. A British national, Al Ramadhi holds a degree in Architecture from De Montfort University in Leicester in the UK. She completed a thesis project in Tailoring & Architecture from University College Dublin in Ireland followed by a professional diploma in Architectural Practice, Construction Legislation, Procurement and Contracts from the same institute. Al Ramadhi has a strong interest in how sustainable practices can be incorporated into all architecture and qualified as a Certified Passive Designer by the Passive House Institute (PHI), Darmstadt in Germany.

Ras Al Khaimah ready for busy outdoor season THE JEBEL JAIS Via Ferrata, which sees enthusiasts climb and trek almost 400 feet above sea level on Jebel Jais, the country’s highest peak soaring 1,934 metres, has earned media and fan plaudits for being one of the most thrilling experiences in the UAE. Earlier this year it made it to the shortlist for the much sought-after ‘Innovation of the Year’ award by the highly acclaimed Adventure Travel Awards. The only commercial product of its kind in the UAE was devised by the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) as part of its strategy of developing the emirate’s adventure sports


offerings and targeting one million visitors by the end of 2018. “The speed at which Jebel Jais Via Ferrata has made its mark on top review sites, is as breath-taking as the mountain views that adventurers get when they take on the challenge,”commented Haitham Mattar, CEO, RAKTDA.“The second season beginning in November, will run through to April next year, we anticipate heavy pick up for the product as word spreads locally, regional and internationally of the quality of the experience. Additionally, we are nearing the launch of the world’s longest zip line, which will be another showpiece product.”

Millennium Hotels and Resorts appoints new Vice President of Operations MILLENNIUM HOTELS AND Resorts has appointed Hussein Kahil as Vice President of Operations, Middle East and Africa. Reporting directly to COO, Kevork Deldelian – he will oversee hotel operations, property performance and owner engagement across the group’s current portfolio of 32 hotels. With over 20 years’ experience of operational leadership, most recently as Senior Director of Operations MEA for the Wyndham Hotel Group where he was responsible for more than 50 properties, Kahill brings considerable expertise to the role. From his Bachelor of Science degree in Hotel Management at Concordia University in Montreal to roles at ACCOR Hotels, IHG and FRHI in Canada and the Middle East, he has carved out an impressive international career. COO, Kevork Deldelian says, “We are pleased to welcome Hussein to Millennium Hotels and Resorts Middle East and Africa. With his years of experience working with global hospitality giants and extensive knowledge and understanding of the region, we are sure that he will be a valuable addition to the team.”

Address Residences Jumeirah Resort + Spa appoints Multiplex Constructions as main contractor ADDRESS RESIDENCES JUMEIRAH Resort + Spa, an iconic development strategically located on the last available plot to be built on Jumeirah Beach Walk skyline, has awarded its main construction contract to Multiplex Constructions LLC. Multiplex has commenced mobilisation for the construction of the mixed-use 77-storey twin tower development with an effective built-up area of approximately 257,000 sq m. The project specifications include three basement levels, ground and podium levels, and 77 upper floors inclusive of the roof level. The development will feature Address Jumeirah Resort + Spa hotel with 217 rooms and suites, Address Residences Jumeirah Resort + Spa serviced ‘La Dolce Vita’ inspired furnished apartments, and The Residences Jumeirah Dubai, Managed by Address, the unfurnished residential apartments. The towers, set in an elegantly landscaped natural environment with direct beach access,

will also offer signature Address Spa facilities, high-end food & beverage outlets, retail and other lifestyle and entertainment amenities. Marcus Truscott, Managing Director of Multiplex Middle East, said,“It is an honour to Address Jumeirah appoints Multiplex Construction play such an imporlong-term outlook for real estate in the UAE tant role in the construction of this iconic remains positive and Address Residences Judevelopment. We look forward to working meirah Resort + Spa raises the bar in luxury closely with the existing team to ensure the hospitality and residential developments,” successful delivery of Address Residences said HE Khedaim Al Darei, Managing DirecJumeirah Resort + Spa.” tor of Al Ain Properties. “We remain steadfast in our commitment With enabling and piling works completto excellence. The appointment of Multiplex, ed, the construction works commenced this a leading international contractor is a further month. The development is scheduled to be testament to our continual strategy of delivcompleted in the fourth quarter of 2020. ering a world-class iconic development. The

Marriott Marquis Dubai appoints New Director of Weddings and Events Sales, Nicola Hands DUE TO THE outstanding performance of the Events Booking Centre (EBC) at JW Marriott Marquis, and driving more than US$ 27 million of business in 2017; Director of EBC Nicola Hands will now head both the newly rebranded Marquis Sales Office and the in-demand catering sales segment at JW Marriott Marquis. Nicola began her career with Marriott in 1996 as a Banqueting waitress during her studies at Marriott Breadsall Priory Country Club. Nicola’s many achievements include winning the 2015 Middle East and Africa Presidents Award Winner for Sales Excellence, a team member in the 2016 Chairman’s Circle. She is also a Certified Marriott Trainer in Core Sales & Service, supporting and developing newcomers to the Marriott style of selling. The new role will see Nicola take on the responsibility of driving Catering Sales as well as leading the Marquis Sales Office team. An experienced business leader, with extensive property and Cluster sales management experience spanning across all segments of the industry -she will oversee both teams to ensure success in this challenging market. The team will also handle wedding enquiries, an area which continues to grow at the 5 star JW Marriott Marquis Dubai.

AVANI Hotels & Resorts appoints Daniel Kipping as Director of Sales AVANI HOTELS & Resorts announced the appointment of Daniel Kipping as Director of Sales for the upscale lifestyle brand. Kipping will be responsible for the strategic direction of sales for the brand which spans 12 countries, with a portfolio of 18 properties and a pipeline of new hotel and resort openings within the next 3 years in South East Asia, New Zealand, UAE, Australia, Maldives and Africa. Kipping will be based in Bangkok and he will play a key role in the brand’s leadership team, with the aim to optimise opportunities, drive business, find new regional synergies and support hotel’ sales teams. A leader in the hospitality industry with more than 30 years’ experience Kipping has held senior positions with hospitality operators in Europe, Asia & Middle East, including InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott and The Ritz-Carlton. Alejandro Bernabé, Vice President of Operations of AVANI Hotels & Resorts said,“With his extensive experience in property specific and regional sales, Daniel is the ideal candidate to increase revenues and boost bookings for AVANI. He brings a new perspective to this demanding corporate position and we are excited to have him on board.”


W Dubai – The Palm reveals full management team, with Anne Scott As General Manager SET TO SHAKE up the global gateway of Dubai, on the iconic Palm Jumeirah, W Dubai – The Palm will be led by General Manager, Anne Scott. Premiering in 2018, the first W Escape will disrupt the idea of traditional luxury by offering guests no comprises to having it all. Anne Scott joined W Dubai – The Palm after eight years in Asia Pacific, where she held the role of General Manager at the St. Regis Kuala Lumpur Hotel & Residences, St. Regis Sanya Yalong Bay, The Andaman, a Luxury Collection Resort and Le Meridien Chiang Rai Resort. She was the first female that held General Manager posts across three luxury Brands of the former Starwood Hotels & Resorts and brings with her 25 years of hospitality experience. Scott’s efforts in Asia earned her the designation of “Asia’s Leading Woman in Hospitality” 2011 from the Women in Leadership Forum, as well as Starwood President’s Award 2012 for “Outstanding Team” on the launch of a coral nursery. Prior to Asia, she also held the role Hotel Manager of The Park Tower, Knightsbridge, London – a member of The Luxury Collection. “As the first foray for Marriott International on Palm Jumeirah and the first W Escape (Resort) in the UAE,

I am proud to be the fearless leader of this luxury rebel Brand. The team’s international and eclectic backgrounds, coupled with their passionate lifestyles is electric. I have no doubt that this winning combination will be key to bringing the W Brand to life. W Dubai – The Palm will steal the scene with its innovative design, dynamic programming and limitless style.”, said Scott. As the opening General Manager,

Anne Scott will be tasked with bringing W Hotel’s distinctive blend of contemporary luxury to the iconic Palm Jumeirah and delivering the signature W mantra, Whatever/Whenever service philosophy, providing guests with whatever they want, whenever they want it. She will also be instrumental in delivering a full calendar of exclusive W Happenings that showcase what’s new and next in design, fashion and music to guests and local trendsetters alike.

Sri Lanka tourism targets GCC with tourism promotion SRI LANKA TOURISM Promotion Bureau is set to launch a promotional roadshow that will see a delegation of Sri Lanka Tourism officials, as well as Sri Lanka’s leading hotels and tourism stakeholders,

Tea plantations


visit the cities of Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar, as part of an ongoing effort to develop the number of tourists visiting the emerald island from the four GCC cities. This Tourism Promotion kicked off Kuwait and will continue to other GCC cities until October 18, 2017

Stilt fishing in Sri Lanka

and is expected to attract up to 50 of the leading travel and tourism companies in each of the cities. Madubhani Perera, Director/Marketing said,“With our rich nature, heritage and culture, year-round schedule of festivals and special events, numerous parks and eco-centres, luxury resorts and wellness centres, Sri Lanka has many reasons for GCC families to return to Sri Lanka again and again.” During 2016, Sri Lanka received a total of 107,635 tourists from Middle East region. Saudi Arabia makes up the largest number of G.C.C. tourists to Sri Lanka followed by Oman and UAE as second and third largest number of GCC tourists to Sri Lanka.

Meet the travel-tech innovators DUBAI’S DEPARTMENT OF Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism) announced the names of the winners of the Dubai Tourism Futurism Competition, launched in partnership with GITEX Future Stars. The competition, held for the first time this year, featured two key categories – hospitality services and visitor experience – for which over 130 entries were received from around the world. Under the hospitality services category, the first place was awarded to Twister (UAE) where they won AED 100,000, the second position was held by Arrive Suite (UAE) and the total prize money awarded was AED 60, 000. The third place was won by HotelDoorie (Romania) who took home AED 20,000. Speaking at the awards ceremony held on 16 October at Dubai World Trade Centre, Yousuf Lootah, Executive Director - Tourism Development & Investments, Dubai’s Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing said,“The competition received over 130 submissions in its first edition. This is a testament to the importance of such platforms in catalysing innovation and facilitating future growth of the hospitality and tourism

sectors. We would like to congratulate each winner, and are positive that their solutions will enable further evolution of Dubai’s travel and hospitality sectors.” 30 start-ups were initially selected to exhibit their innovations at GITEX Future Stars this year, 10 of these start-ups were further shortlisted to pitch their submissions live onground to an expert panel. The top 30 entries represented 11 countries and were awarded exhibition space at this year’s edition of GITEX Technology Week, which provided them with a platform to showcase their innova-

tive solutions to attending corporate buyers, investors and venture capitalists. In addition to the prize money, the three winners selected in each category will receive access to Dubai Tourism experts, as well as industry leaders to help transform their vision into reality. Following the competition, Dubai Tourism aims to continue encouraging innovation within the tourism sector and has launched a platform for individuals and start-ups to submit ideas and innovations that can positively impact Dubai’s hospitality services and visitor experiences.

H. E. Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General of Dubai Tourism and Yousuf Lootah, Executive Director - Tourism Development & Investments, Dubai’s Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing

Radisson Blu Resort, Sharjah receives the first Safehotels Certificate Level awarded by Safehotels Alliance AB SAFEHOTELS ALLIANCE AB, a Swedish company founded in February 2001 with a home base in Gothenburg, is the originator of The Global Hotel Security Standard and provides independently verified security and safety certification for hotels and meeting venues with regards to hotel facilities and safety services process, procedures, training and management, security equipment, fire equipment fire procedures & training risk prevention and crisis & recovery management.

“This is another milestone for Radisson Blu Resort, Sharjah adding this achievement to our existing Green Key and HACCP certifications. I’m proud of my team for working hard to attain such accomplishments. The safety and security of our guests and employees is our top priority,”said Rabih ZEIN, general manager for Radisson Blu Resort, Sharjah. Safehotels has evaluated the hotel’s existing self-assessment internal hotel security programme through monitoring, reviewing and reporting on the self-assessment hotel database and submittals. The hotel goes through a number of criteria including security equipment, staff awareness & training, fire security and first aid. “By reaching the level of Safehotels certification, it shows the hotel focuses on key elements of guest security relating to personal property and has the right response if ever there’s an accident or any kind of emergency. The certificate shows the hotel is sincere in its guest’s personal well-being. Being audited and certified yearly by a third party strengthens the value of that communication immensely. The Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group has taken the already high level of internal precautions one step further by signing with Safehotels for a global certification of its hotels,”said Hans Kanold, CEO of Safehotels Alliance AB.



Global sustainability


Hotels around the world are incorporating the awareness for the environment into all parts of the hospitality experience. That is what hotels do best. Here is a look at the hospitality happenings around the world courtesy

Sustainability at the heart of hotel design in the future

Parkroyal Hotel, Singapore


Hoteliers have been latching onto the idea of sustainability for the last few years. Not only is it a response to an increased awareness of climate change and the impact we as humans, especially those working in one aspect of the construction industry, have on the planet, but it is also a response to client demand, with guests desiring sustainable tourism as a requirement in their holidays. An annual competition run by hotel consultancy firm the John Hardy Group called Radical Innovation Award takes submissions for innovative hotel designs that reimagine the hospitality experience, and this year’s entries and winners point to a significant upswing in sustainable hospitality that could well be the future of the industry. The award has singled out a number of visionary projects as finalists, but many of the entries proposed radical ideas that threw out the rulebook of hospitality design. A common theme was that of sustain-


ability, both in an environmentally friendly sense, but also in a cultural sense, where local culture and art is celebrated and promoted. This also points to recent trends in hospitality where local experiences are being sought by guests wishing to engage more with the place and people they are visiting. The pick of the lot was Canadian firm Arno Matis Architecture, which proposed a project entitled the “Vertical Micro-Climate Hotel”, whose concept is to make the outdoor areas of hotels located in the harsh climates of North America habitable all year round. One of the features of this hotel was the use of heliostat technology, a mirroring system which reflects sun back into certain parts of the building as required so as to make them habitable even in colder weather conditions. The culturally sustainable aspect came in the form of the currently-operational Play Design Hotel in Taiwan, which champions local artists and designers by installing their creations

Uber UK

into hotel rooms and encouraging guest to interact with them. The idea came about after the developer noticed a lot of his artist friends were having to go abroad to showcase their designs, and he thought that it would be better to not only exhibit the work locally in hotels so that international guests could see them.

London’s Uber ban could spell bad news for AirBnB

Last month it was announced that controversial carpool site Uber would be banned from operating in London. Transport For London refused to renew the ride-sharing site’s operating license, saying that “Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications,” and that the ban would come into place on September 30th. However, as predicted Uber immediately moved to appeal the ban

One of the features of this hotel was the use of heliostat technology, a mirroring system which reflects sun back into certain parts of the building as required so as to make them habitable even in colder weather conditions under the court’s 21-day appeal procedure, and it will continue to operate while the appeal is being processed. This was a major blow for the taxi-alternative, that has faced controversy worldwide for their business model, staff treatment and ruthless behaviour. The ban prompted the abrupt resignation of the Uber’s UK and Ireland director Jo Bertram at the beginning of October, just ten days after the ban was announced. AirBnB has already made moves to placate British regulators in London, with the site limiting rentals to a maximum of 90 days unless they have been granted permission from the city council. Since they have started to enforce the ban, 90 day-plus bookings have drastically decreased. However, unlike cities like Barcelona, which is suffering from an over-saturated tourism market that is angering locals and forcing a crackdown on AirBnB’s rental properties, London has seen a 6 per cent increase in tourism in the past year, and with tourism contributing US$167 billion annually to the British economy, crackdowns like the one in Barcelona are less likely NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 21


Holiday Inn Exporess, Cologne, Germany

to happen in the English capital. Increasingly it seems like councils and business owners alike will have no choice but to embrace the sharing economy instead of trying to fight it.

IHG opens Europe’s largest Holiday Inn Express in Cologne City Centre

The newly-opened property boasts 323 rooms all featuring the next generation Holiday Inn Express design which balances home comforts with smart design features. Guests can enjoy sound absorbing headboards, bedside USB ports and flexible inroom working spaces. Free Wi-Fi and a continental breakfast buffet are also included in the room rate. Ideally located, the hotel is walking distance to the Old Town or a short U-Bahn ride to the famous twin spires of Gothic Cologne Cathedral tower. Within a short distance of Poststraße and Severinstraße U-Bahn stations, as well as Cologne Central railway station. If flying in or out, Cologne Bonn Airport is only 25 minutes’ drive away. Mike Greenup, Vice President, Brand Management for Holiday Inn Express said,“At Holiday Inn Express we know what matters to our guests. Successfully delivering on that brand promise has enabled Holiday Inn Ex22 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017

press to grow rapidly across Europe in recent years, and particularly in Germany. In 2017 alone we have opened five, and signed 11, new Holiday Inn Express properties in Germany. The Holiday Inn Express Cologne City Centre is a great addition to that portfolio.” There are currently 32 Holiday Inn Express hotels in Germany, and a further 29 in the development pipeline. In Europe, there are 239 Holiday Inn Express hotels with 60 in the development pipeline. Across all brands, IHG now has a total of nearly 120 hotels open and in the development pipeline in Germany.

Hotel St. George set to open in Helsinki

The first quarter of 2018 will see the opening of Hotel St. George, a property that is setting the bar for a new generation of hoteliers and grand hotels of the future. Dating back to the 1840s, and once home to the Finnish Literature Society and the

printing house for the first Finnish national newspaper, the building that will house Helsinki’s most hotly anticipated hotel has played a crucial role in Finnish culture. Hotel St. George features 148 rooms and five suites, and an array of public spaces including a wine room, poetry room, and a winter garden. Restaurant Andrea, headed up by the dynamic duo Mehmet Gürs and Antto Melasniemi, will offer a mix of the best of Finnish and Turkish cuisine, and St. George Bakery & Bar will play host to a deli and coffee shop. Gracing the street level lobby, Tianwu, the giant silk and bamboo dragon kite by leading artist Ai Wei Wei will greet guests as they enter. Originally designed by renowned Finnish architect Onni Tarjanne, best known for his work on the Finnish National Theatre, the building at Yrjönkatu 13 spans seven floors and is being meticulously restored to its glory days. Each of the rooms and suites will feature thoughtfully cu-

Transport For London refused to renew the ridesharing site’s operating license, saying that “Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications

Hotel St George, Helsinki

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AirBnB has already made moves to placate British regulators in London, with the site limiting rentals to a maximum of 90 days unless they have been granted permission from the city council Six Senses focusing on sleep as essential part of guest experience

Six Senses hotel

rated furniture and art, all handpicked by Creative Director and Design Hotels™ Original Mirkku Kullberg. Kullberg spent the last 20 years working in fashion and design, most notably as CEO of Finnish furniture company Artek, where she worked for close to a decade. Hotel St. George is Kullberg’s first foray into the hospitality industry. When the hotel opens its doors in 2018, it will be the first in the Nordic region to offer guests an integrated wellness concept known as Care. This concept encompasses outdoor exercise, seasonal massage treatments, meditation sessions, and detoxification programs—all designed to alleviate stress—as well as the use of the hotel’s two saunas and pool. Complementing the services for physical wellbeing, The Playground is an intimate gym where the customer experience includes new perspectives on the wellbeing of the mind, heart, and body. This ethos is continued throughout the hotel through a collaboration with Hintsa Performance, a multidisciplinary philosophy practiced by world-champion athletes to top business executives across the world. 24 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017

Luxury hotel brand Six Senses is just one of the big names that are capitalising on sleep as a means of enhancing the customer experience. As with many other hotels whose design endeavours to cover all aspects of the visitor’s time in the hotel, rooms in Six Senses resorts are often equipped with dimmers and blackout curtains, but this is no guarantee of some solid shuteye for the guest. Being that many of these hotels are situated in exotic locations that take a while to get to, many of Six Senses’ guests are often exhausted by the time they arrive, meaning that one of the first things they do is go to their room to take a nap. Which is possibly one of the reasons why the brand has identified sleep as an area that perhaps needs more consideration. As part of their plan to make decent sleep a priority, Six Senses has created a new sleep-orientated package entitled Sleep With Six Senses. This package involves an online consultation with a sleep ambassador who prepares the client’s room for the perfect sleep upon arrival. Guest will also receive a wellness bag filled with sleep-friendly items including

bamboo-fibre pajamas, earplugs, jasmine room spritzer and nasal neti pots. This goody bag, combined with the luxurious amenities Six Senses is known for, is sure to lull any guest off to the sleep of their dreams with little effort. Six Senses aren’t the only ones reimagining how sleep can be promoted in their hotels. Hyatt-owned Miraval Resort and Spa in Arizona is continuing their sleep program, which they initiated in 2012, and MGM Resorts International has created the Stay Well hotel room concept which also puts an emphasis on sleep.

For tourism-driven Austria, the hotel project pipeline is key to the economy

Austria has long had a strong economy, driven by industries such as metallurgical products, textiles, and machinery. In recent decades, the country has become well developed with a high standard of living closely tied to the other economies in the European Union. One industry, however, is more important than all the rest in Austria — tourism and hospitality. Due to its bucolic cities and

As part of their plan to make decent sleep a priority, Six Senses has created a new sleep-orientated package entitled Sleep With Six Senses. This package involves an online consultation with a sleep ambassador who prepares the client’s room for the perfect sleep



At present, there are 75 projects in development that once completed will yield about 9,148 rooms. The projects are, of course, most heavily concentrated in the country’s largest and most famous city, Vienna, which will be host to 16 new hotels

wonderful natural vistas, Austria is one of the most popular countries in Europe to visit, which puts it high on the list of most popular tourist destinations worldwide, and while its current hotel project pipeline is not nearly as large as global hospitality industry behemoths such as the United States, China and the United Kingdom, there are still some marquee properties that are very much worth knowing. Before we get into the top projects currently in Austria’s hotel pipeline, however, let’s take a broad look at the country’s overall numbers. At present, there are 75 projects in development that once completed will yield about 9,148 rooms. The projects are, of course, most heavily concentrated in the country’s largest and most famous city, Vienna, which will be host to 16 new hotels. Other Austrian markets with multiple projects in the pipeline include Salzburg, Linz and Graz. Austria’s project pipeline also skews long-term, with only 32 of its projects slated to be completed in 2020 or later, while 17 are set for 2019, 19 for 2018, and 7 for the waning months of 2017. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 25


Luxurious+ sustainable

Soneva Fushi Villa 41 by Richard Waite 26 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017


A luxurious hospitality business which is also sustainable? What’s not to love? Add to that the fact that achieving a sustainable operation is also good for the accounts books. Win, win, win! Munawar Shariff converses with Sonu Shivdasani, CEO Soneva, about the definition of luxury today

Define luxury in hospitality. My definition of luxury differs. We have pursued “intelligent luxury”: our desire is to challenge and to fully understand true luxury, not an outdated version which is commonplace in the luxury industry. The last 30 to 40 years has seen a major shift in consumer geography. The modern luxury consumer no longer comes from the countryside but from the city: London, Paris, New York, Tokyo … where he or she lives in a variety of boxes; apartment box; car box; office box and so on, and all the while surrounded by pollution. One dines at restaurants where one eats imported Wagyu beef, with a chemically enhanced salad. One walks on metal, plastic, and concrete with leather-bound feet. With this in mind, the experience we have created for our guests is as far detached from an urban scenario as possible and it allows them to indulge in things they rarely ever get to do in their urban or suburban lifestyles, our intention is to provide“real luxury”. In other words, experiences that are rare and which at the same time touch a chord in their hearts. The first thing we do with our guests is to take away their shoes. Our fondly observed No News, No Shoes mantra grounds our guests – both to nature and also socially. Rather than a dress code, at Soneva we encourage our guests to go “bare”– when it come to their feet. With our F&B offering, our most popular dish is our signaNOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 27


Soneva Fushi villa11 unken Sala by Bruno Aveillan

ture Rocket Salad. The organic leaves are lovingly grown by our gardeners on our island. Absolutely no detrimental impact on the environment and our guests savour their meals with the knowledge that all the tasty food being consumed is free of chemicals, is fairtrade, and is sustainably sourced. This simple salad for the urban ĂŠlite becomes rarer and more cherished than caviar, foie gras, wagyu beef or another gourmet food item. Our rocket salad is the perfect example of where the healthiest and more sustainable choice is also the more luxurious. Other such examples are the fair trade dark chocolate in our Chocolate Room or the biodynamic wines that dominate our wine lists. Some of my favourite features of both our resorts are our outdoor cinemas, our observatories, and the large open bathrooms. These are signature Soneva. We believe that they are true luxury. Expense, we would argue, is not indicative of luxury. Rarity, however, is. 28 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017

Private Reserve Sunken Dinning by Bruno Aveillan


The features in our hotels I just mentioned, are seldom found in any of the best hotels or Michelin-starred restaurants in any large city across the world. Sustainability and health are hallmarks of something that our guests rarely experience in their home cities. It is rare to enjoy oneself and not harm one’s body. It is rare to enjoy oneself and not damage the environment. It is a luxury in which we too rarely indulge. So, we have combined apparent opposites and found ways in which apparent opposites can live hand in hand. The future’s definition of luxury will slowly be more in line with our philosophy of intelligent luxury. More and more luxury brands will be heavily invested in sustainability initiatives, with sustainability becoming a core part of many luxury brands’ philosophy. The UN declared this year as the Year for Sustainable Tourism for Development, how are hoteliers around the world incorporating sustainability into their businesses? We are fortunate to be a member of the International Tourism Partnership (ITP), and our Group Conscience, Arnfinn Oines, has been very active in working together with the Chairman of ITP to establish an understanding amongst the partnership on four of the key sustainable development goals. Our focus at Soneva was to support the hospitality industry on the sustainability goal. I attach a copy of the announcement.

The modern luxury consumer no longer comes from the countryside but from the city: London, Paris, New York, Tokyo … where he or she lives in a variety of boxes; apartment box; car box; office box and so on, and all the while surrounded by pollution

3 Bedroom Water Reserve at Soneva Jani 2 by Jack Brown

Villa 11 Sunken Seating by Richard Waite NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 29


Soneva Kiri, Villa 63 Pool deck by Richard Waite

Crusoe Suite, Outdoor bathtub, Soneva Fushi by Cat Vinton

The experience we have created for our guests is as far detached from an urban scenario as possible and it allows them to indulge in things they rarely ever get to do in their urban or suburban lifestyles, our intention is to provide “real luxury” experiences that are rare 30 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017

So Starstruck at Soneva Jani by Burak Issevan

How do you see the way hospitality businesses change the way they run trying to keep the environment in mind. Is it more economical to adapt to this way of operating? If yes, why? If no, why? I have seen a huge growth within the eco-tourism luxury segment in the past few years, not only within the Maldives but also globally. I think this is because owners and Directors understand that it makes a lot of business sense to be more focused on sustainability, as the demand for environmentally and socially responsible travel is increasing. It also makes sense financially if you do it in the right way … having said that, I do think that sustainability is here to stay and won’t disappear like other trends sometimes do. Our earth’s resources are finite and we all need to be better guardians to protect the world we live in.

Being sustainable does not have to be expensive. For instance, we grow our own vegetables which saves us a lot of money related to buying and flying in fruit and vegetables into our resorts. Our Waste to Wealth centre (at Soneva we recycle 80 per cent of our waste which is quite remarkable when one considers that the city of Hong Kong only recycles about 45 per cent. Also, waste management is a huge challenge in the Maldives. At our Waste to Wealth centre our cardboard and leftover food is turned into compost, the branches that fall off the trees are put into a pyrolysis oven where we create charcoal, 83 per cent of our nonstructural building blocks are made from waste materials, we are producing a very fine cold-pressed coconut oil from our waste coconuts, and of course in Glasscycle, our state-of-the-art glass blowing workshop, we recycle all our


Some of my favourite features of both our resorts are our outdoor cinemas, our observatories, and the large open bathrooms waste bottles and turn them into works of great beauty. This is why we call it the Waste to Wealth centre.) is now self-sustaining in that the cost of its operation is refunded by the savings we generate. The major challenge we had was that people couldn’t understand how we could open an ultra luxury resort that was also sustainable. People couldn’t understand how the two concepts could work together. But that is changing now.

Soneva Fushi Sandbank Dinner bt Richard Waite

Farm to table is something all your resorts practice. Has it ever been limiting in your experience? In the beginning it was very difficult. Today, after many years and having established considerable knowledge in growing food in remote environments by experts with first-hand practical knowledge about 70 per cent - 80 per cent of the food we serve comes from the Baa Atoll, where operate, whether it is from our own vegetable gardens or the surrounding seas. We have also developed a great network of suppliers that are passionate about the food they create. What are the top five factors that attract travellers to sustainable luxury resorts? 1. Unique experiences 2. Immersion into the environment 3. Gourmet food 4. Authenticity 5. The satisfaction of knowing that they are supporting worthwhile causes and projects.

Cinema Paradiso at Soneva Jani by Stevie Mann

What role does food, wellness, nature play in the experience at sustainable luxury resorts for the guest and operationally for the hotelier? We believe in bringing out the beauty



Hospitality industry’s global commitment to sustainability In September this year The International Tourism Partnership (ITP) announced the four goals supported by ITP member companies as the major industry reference point to drive progress towards sustainability. The ITP Goals are a carefully constructed and a practically achievable response to four of the core sustainability issues impacting responsible hospitality providers globally. At a glance, they include: • Youth employment: Collectively impact one million young people through employability programmes by 2030, thereby doubling the industry’s current impact on youth unemployment. • Carbon: Embrace science-based targets, and encourage the wider industry to join in reducing emissions at scale. • Water: Embed water stewardship programmes to reduce the number of people affected by water scarcity; also improve water-use efficiency and identify ways to address water scarcity. • Human rights: Raise awareness of human rights risks, embed human rights into corporate governance, and address risks arising in the labour supply chain and during hotel construction. ITP’s goals send a clear call to action to the wider industry about the critical importance of using the SDGs (also called the Global Goals) as a focal point to drive responsible business in hospitality. The launch also recognises the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, which calls on the industry to coordinate to tackle issues and share best practice. ITP is an official ‘Friend’ of the initiative. ITP is a global industry organisation, bringing together the world’s most powerful hotel companies responsible for over 25,000 hotels, in an alliance focused on a single ambition: to lead the industry through example with clear and quantifiable commitments to sustainability. In a written endorsement, Dr Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) said: “For 25 years the hotel industry under ITP’s leadership has advanced sustainable tourism; developing tools and resources for hotels and lodgings around the world, sharing knowledge and working together for a more responsible future. ITP’s Goals

Pool by Richard Waite 32 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017

are the next step to ensure continued sustainable development in our sector, setting clear aims for 2030, and bringing the hotel sector together to align with the Global Goals.” Wolfgang M. Neumann, ITP Governing Council Chair and industry thought-leader, commented: “We have agreed on a total of four core Goals, with two addressing environmental issues (climate and water), and two supporting the people who work in the hotel industry and its supply chain. This even balance between planet and people reflects the passions and dedication of ITP members to make a real and lasting difference to a broad range of issues against which commitments can be agreed. “ITP believes that the hotel industry can be a force for good and make a positive contribution to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and to the COP21 climate agreements. Our vision for 2030 is for sustainable growth and a fairer future for all. We understand that bigger impacts can be achieved faster through the industry working together at scale; for this reason we invite other hotel companies to join with us in our commitment to these four critical goals.” Fran Hughes, ITP Director, commented: “This cross-industry alignment to a single set of Goals is a fantastic achievement for the International Tourism Partnership. It is also a reflection of the increasing importance that the hospitality industry attaches to sustainability issues. As we move into the second half of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, business leaders have put competition to one side to create an ambitious vision for the future and a rallying call to the whole industry. By working together, I feel certain that these businesses will create a more sustainable future for the entire hospitality industry.” Sonu Shivdasani, CEO and Founder of Soneva, commented: “Soneva is fully behind the four core Goals of the International Tourism Partnership. The goals are completely in line with Soneva’s own initiatives and will only motivate and strengthen our drive for sustainable luxury. While we already have initiatives dedicated to Carbon, Water and Youth Employment, there is always room to do more. This commitment is one of many positive signs that the hospitality industry is determined and dedicated to supporting sustainable and balanced development.”


Soneva Fushi Fresh in the Garden Restaurant by Richard Waite

of nature and this sets us apart. Intelligent luxury is about combining the traditional opposites of sustainability and wellness with luxury. We believe that these things actually complement each other. At our resorts, we insist that one does not have to destroy the planet or their body in order to indulge in luxury. When guests arrive at one of our resorts, we take their shoes and put them in a bag. Having no shoes and no news is very healthy and grounding. A lot of our competitors apply a dress code, whereas at Soneva, you don’t have to wear shoes or trousers anywhere. Not only does that distinguish us from other places, but it allows our guest to feel at home without the worries and obligations of their everyday lives. In our concept of luxury, a fresh salad from our organic garden becomes more appealing than a Mouton Rothschild and is certainly healthier. Open air cinemas, an

observatory and outdoor showers are all things that urban dwellers, however wealthy they may be, are deprived of. Our bathrooms may not have marble or gold taps, but our guests can take a shower while gazing at a full moon. When it’s not raining, all of our guests dine outside. One restaurant is actually in the trees, with a cable car for guests and a zip wire for our waiters to service tables. Also, we do not serve imported water. Instead, our water menu offers six kinds of purified water, each with a different healing crystal in it. We deliver wellness from a mental point of view. When we live in our urban boxes, we start to believe that a few neighbourhoods of Manhattan or Mayfair are all that there is in the universe, but the reality is: there are more planets in the sky than there are flecks of sand on all the beaches of the earth.

Expense, we would argue, is not indicative of luxury. Rarity, however, is



s t e r c e s n e h Kitc

Fairmont Dubai Mikhaiel Al Mari

Munawar Shariff talks to Mikhaiel Al Mari, the Assistant Director of Food and Beverage at Fairmont Dubai, and Noire’s Chef de Partie, Chef Rakitha Wijesiriwardana about the restaurant’s incredible concept and how they manage to work together to pull something so unique off




As the Assistant Director of Food and Beverage at Fairmont Dubai, Mikhaiel Al Mari’s main role is to ensure that a high-quality food and service is being delivered to the hotel’s guests.“Most of the people who come to Noire are there for the first time and therefore find it challenging to anticipate, what exactly to expect from such a unique concept, due to the fact that Noire is consequently the first and only outlet of its kind in the region,” Mari said.“It is our utmost aim to ensure the guests’ comfort throughout their

dining experience, whilst delivering consistently great service.” Of course, a large portion of one’s dining experience comes from the food. That’s where Noire’s Chef de Partie, Chef Rakitha Wijesiriwardana’s expertise comes in. The maverick chef who joined Dubai’s Fairmont team in May 2015 demands utmost care when managing the textures and the flavours at Noire.“Mainly because the dining experience takes place in pitch darkness and our guests trust one of their most important senses – vision, to our hands,” Wijesiriwardanan said.“My core

responsibility is to come up with an innovative menu on a weekly basis and to oversee the operations at Noire kitchen. I start my day in the kitchen at two in the afternoon, firstly ensuring that the entire back-of-house area is operationally ready for cooking and then taking a look at the number of reservations for the night and start preparing accordingly.” The novel Noire concept has been a raging success in the Emirate.“The key is to ensure that the entire service team

It is our utmost aim to ensure the guests’ comfort throughout their dining experience, whilst delivering consistently great service



The entire service is carried out by waiters, who are wearing night vision goggles, which makes the entire process more complex, as the objects appear closer than they actually are has tried the experience themselves, which will then enhance the guest experience, and to consequently understand their expectations,” said Mari.“It is important to get feedback from servers and constantly work on the introduction speech, this, in turn, helps us guide our guests.” Introducing something new is never as easy as it’s made out to be. Disruption may sound fancy and revolutionary, but it seldom picks on as easily.“The entire service is carried out by waiters, who are wearing night vision goggles, which makes the entire process more complex, as the objects appear closer than they actually are,” Mari said.“When we first started, it was challenging for our servers to even smoothly walk around the room and to successfully follow the sequence of the service. It’s taken practice.” Mari and Wijesiriwardanan; both understand that they have a gem on their hands. With Noire, they have a concept that is exclusive to the region. That’s where Fairmont Dubai stands out. It also helps that fair Fairmont Dubai is one of the key food and beverage destinations on the Sheikh Zayed road, offering a diverse range of 13 different restaurants and entertainment venues. The Exchange Grill and Turkish rooftop lounge Dokuz are seeing competition but Mari is certain Fairmont will continue 32 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017


Noire, waiter

to stay ahead of the competition.“The industry is challenging due to the high competition in the market and has tremendously changed during the past years. The market has gone through economic changes, which have consequently impacted the clientele. A lot of guests have become more conscious about their spending,” he said. In order to stay ahead of that curve, Wijesiriwardanan needs to be on top of his game every day he comes into work. The Sri Lankan native is also particular about the food purchasing process.“The purchase request is

done through a computer system, which then directs the request for an approval to our Executive Chef, Tuomas Heikkinen,” he said.“Once he has approved the products, our purchasing department is reaching out to the suppliers to order the products. If the desired food item is not available, we will go for an alternative, as the menu at Noire is nothing like in any other restaurant – we have the freedom to come up with our own menu and can do the changes as per our liking.” Mari is just as persistent when it comes to kitting out the restaurant.

The key is to ensure that the entire service team has tried the experience themselves, which will then enhance guest experience

“The suppliers in the market are able to provide a locally sourced premium product, which consequently comes with a price and supplies consistency, which is often difficult to attain,” he said.“Majority of the items in this part of the world are exported and the delivery time of a certain product might be up to a few weeks, which in turn creates challenges in service.” NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 33


Dining in the dark Noire, located on the ninth level at the Fairmont Dubai is a unique food and beverage option that is one-of-a-kind in Dubai. Dubai has it all but no other restaurant that offers diners the option to dine in pitch darkness. So yeah, you can tick this experience off of the list too being in Dubai. The restaurant which opened in 2013, has a straightforward concept where in guests don’t really know what they will be eating as there isn’t any menu to choose from and they eat what they are served. This makes the Chef’s job all the more challenging as he has to be on top of trends and popular likes and dislikes in order to surprise and satisfy guests and have them come back again.

The experience You can’t be prepared enough for the darkness that you will experience when you enter the restaurant. It is blacker than black and you can’t see the palm of your hand even if you placed it right in front of your eyes. You can’t see a thing, it is pitch, pitch dark. It is unnerving being unable to see anything at all. Your other senses do get heightened trying to figure out your surroundings and keep a mental note of where things are placed in front of you. A downside is a slight headache which surfaced from trying to keep all the senses tuned in all at once just because the biggest sense of sight was disabled. The servers mention before we begin that

Dining in the Dark - Noire - Fairmont Dubai 34 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017

a percentage of proceeds from the dinner is always donated to a charity supporting the blind. And that fact that you get a first hand idea of how it is to see nothing but darkness temporarily is truly humbling. You are also disconnected from your lifeline - your phone - for an hour and a half: the duration of the meal. So pictures from a Noire experience aren’t going to surface on any social channels anytime soon. On the lighter side, dining in the dark offers many options to really play some fun games with your partner, like eating their food without them knowing it as well as moving things around from where they have been placed to gather a few laughs. The food itself is very good and all the time is spent isolating flavours and trying to figure out the ingredients that have come together as a meal in our mouth. It’s an engaging experience as all other senses are working hard to make up for the lost recognition of the food on the plate. Servers face a bigger challenge as their night vision goggles show them sights that are closer than they appear so that sense of distance needs some getting used to and they go through vigorous training to get things right and to get around easily and guide guests correctly all through the meal. A truly unique experience which helps the Fairmont stand out in the midst of all the other properties in its vicinity and in the city.


URITE THINGS A FEW OF CHEF’S FAVO Best meal you’ve eaten: Every meal that’s cooked by my mother back home in Sri Lanka. Worst meal you’ve eaten: I consider every meal to be an experience, and therefore I can’t recall any bad experiences yet. Best hotel experience: Heritance Hotel in Negombo in Sri Lanka. All-time favourite comfort food: Any home-cooked meal. Your favourite spice: Coriander. Why did you become a chef: I have been inspired by my dad, who was surrounded by a lot of friends, who were chefs themselves. They had always exciting stories to tell, which ultimately inspired me to become a chef as well myself.

Chef Rakitha Wijesiriwardana

It may seem a tad over the top but Mari believes you have to be on top of things like these however trivial they seem. His doggedness stems from the fact that he believes all this will help promote the experience to guests who eventually recommend the restaurant. “Word of mouth recommendations are crucial, especially if it’s of a positive nature,” Mari says. That’s not to say he doesn’t believe in the power of social media. In fact, Mari believes online presence should be one of the first priorities when opening a new outlet.“It’s very important to speak about the experience, as the positive feedback often tends to spread only amongst a few people, whilst the negative feedback spreads way faster.” Gives you something to think

about, doesn’t it? Then again, it’s easy for him to say that. It’s Wijesiriwardanan and his team who need to make this happen. In a world where allergies getting all too common, that can be quite the task. “At Noire, dietary restrictions and food allergies are something which we are paying a very close attention to,”Wijesiriwardanan said.“During the booking process, our food and beverage reservations team inquires detailed information about the guests’ allergies, in order to prepare special meals for them, taking into careful consideration the preferences of our guests. People are becoming more health-conscious and therefore paying even closer attention to the food they eat.”

As the menu at Noire is nothing like in any other restaurant – we have the freedom to come up with our own menu and can do the changes as per our liking



NEW KID on the block

Hotel Front entrance

Munawar Shariff speaks with Alex Schneider, General Manager, Nikki Beach, about how the fairly new resort is competing with the more established ones in the city. They closed the summer at 85 per cent occupancy by the way! Alex Schneider 40 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017



he fairly new Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Dubai was opened with the motive of breaking the mould of the existing resort concept in the UAE. With 132 rooms, villas and suites, it is one of the smallest resorts in the UAE, however, its unique location on Pearl Jumeirah gives it exclusive access to potentially the most beautiful open water beach while its guests are only 15 minutes away from Downtown Dubai and Dubai International Financial Centre. “We offer a journey of experiences throughout the resort,”said Alex Schneider, General Manager, Nikki Beach.“We, at Nikki Beach, believe that the real luxury lies in the fact that we let the guest decide on how to better spend their time at the resort. Freedom of choice is the real luxury nowadays. The combination of a serene resort paired with one of the most happening Beach Clubs in the Middle East gives guests the unique opportunity to migrate between different levels of entertainment and energy.” Those aren’t mere words. As soon as you enter, the hotel lobby area features a bar and a cosy, casual social place. The in-room experience is suitable for

tech-savvy individuals with a mood light system, entertainment wall and interactive TVs. “Dubai features a unique combination of leisure and business drivers that allows us to benefit from various feeder markets and segments,”Schneider said.“We are proud to be off the beaten track from the known tourist attractions and to provide an entirely different perspective on a new area of Dubai.” The complex is home to five food & beverage outlets, namely the world famed Nikki Beach Dubai Restaurant & Beach Club, the all-day urban bistro Café Nikki, Soul Lounge, Key West Bar & Grill and Nikki Privé.“A common denominator for all our F&B outlets is, beyond the venue concept, is the great level of service that is provided – we

The combination of a serene resort paired with one of the most happening Beach Clubs in the Middle East gives guests the unique opportunity to migrate between different levels of entertainment and energy

Beach Club View



The rule of thumb at the Nikki Beach brand is “Celebrate Life”. More accurately, celebrate its luxurious offering, exceptional entertainment and elite clientele.“We put together special themed events almost every week at the Beach Club, which truly make a huge difference to our clientele in such a vibrant market like Dubai,”Schneider said.“One of our secrets is that we never stopped delivering on our brand promise and this is what make makes our guests coming back. Due to our great beach location with uninterrupted views of the Arabian Gulf, we become a more and more popular destination for weddings on the beach.” Schneider claims the resort has proudly closed the summer on 85 per cent occupancy and have continued to remain fully booked almost every weekend ever since the property opened its doors.“We have managed

Caffee Nikki

We are proud to be off the beaten track from the known tourist attractions and to provide an entirely different perspective on a new area of Dubai believe it is not enough to have a great product, but how you deliver the experience is most important to make a real impact e.g. Chefs from St. Lucia and Chile welcoming guests at the new Key West Bar & Grill, collaborating with Greenheart Farms UAE to supply all the organic produce for our Café Nikki menus, etc,” Schneider said. Having said that, Schneider claims that special events are the resort’s speciality.“Due to the size of the hotel, we only host a few events at a time, which means that the client has the event space exclusively for themselves – for example, private villas, which means they have the highest level of service and dedication from the team,”he said. “Our concept and approach work great in an environment like the UAE because it allows our guests to relax and unwind and eventually it will slowly move them back into the party mood.” 42 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017

Pool view

Ultimate Vila living room


One of our secrets is that we never stopped delivering on our brand promise and this is what make makes our guests coming back

Luux suite living room beach view

Lux room bathroom

to deliver great levels of service during very high occupancy months and our TripAdvisor, and Holiday Check rankings are a good testament to our performance,”he added. He also went on to say that since the resort engaged in smart purchasing at the pre-opening stage, it didn’t have to manage its spending and thereby alter guest experience after it was in the thick of business. In terms of performance, Nikki

Luux suite bedroom beach view

Beach is widely considered one of the best-performing new resorts in Dubai. “We continue to adopt and implement an aligned brand positioning and sales strategy in coordination with the other three hotels and resorts already open i.e. Bodrum, Porto Heli and Koh Samui and also by permanently sharing opportunities (sales, marketing, PR) with the other Beach Club locations worldwide,”Schneider said rather proudly. And why shouldn’t he be?

A common denominator for all our F&B outlets is, beyond the venue concept, is the great level of service that is provided – we believe it is not enough to have a great product, but how you deliver the experience is most important to make a real impact NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 43

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IN A LEAGUE OF HIS OWN S. Pellegrino recently held its Young Chef semi-finals for the Africa and Middle East region at ICCA Dubai. Chef Vusumuzi Ndlovu from Johannesburg won


ast month, Chef Vusumuzi Ndlovu, Sous Chef at the Saxon Hotel Villas and Spa, Johannesburg, South Africa, successfully outwitted and out cooked nine other uber-talented chefs from Africa and Middle East – all hand selected by the ALMA, the world’s leading international educational and training centre for Italian cuisine – to be crowned the winner of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 Africa and Middle East semi-final with his own concoction dubbed ‘Isicupho’. The maverick chef will now advance to the global finals round to take place in June 2018 in Milan, Italy. The regional challenge took place at the International Centre for Culinary Arts, a world-class culinary training centre in Dubai. A distinguished jury of chefs, including Sascha Triemer, Marthinus Ferreira and Dominique Grel representing Dubai, South Africa and Mauritius respectively, tasted and evaluated

Chef Vusumuzi wins SPYC Africa and Middle East challenge NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 45


While cooking in a challenging environment, the chefs employed interesting variances of techniques and ingredients; and played well with textures and combinations

Chef Vusumuzi in action

each of the semi-finalists prepared signature dishes based on their adherence to the competition’s five “Golden Rules”: ingredients, skill, genius, beauty and message. Alongside Sous Chef Vusumuzi, other regional semi-finalists were Chef Aditya Kumar Jha from Tamba Abu Dhabi, Chef Mario Christianto from The Exchange Grill Restaurant in Dubai and Chef Nigel Lobo at The Eloquent Elephant, Sous Chef Jorge Alexis Falcon Valera from Cantina Kahlo in Bahrain, Sous Chef Georgios Spandos from Palm Hotel & Spa; and from South Africa Chef de Partie Bianca Strydom from The Restaurant at Waterkloof, Chef de Partie Garth Raubenheimer from Restaurant Mosaic at the Orient, Chef de Partie Paul Prinsloo from The Restaurant at Waterkloof, Chef Sheldon Raju from Sheldon Raju Consultancy and Har46 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017

ringtons Cocktail Lounge in South Africa. “We are very pleased to see a fierce competition put up by the semifinalists. While cooking in a challenging environment, the chefs employed interesting variances of techniques and ingredients; and played well with textures and combinations,” jury member Sascha Triemer, Vice President, Food & Beverage - Atlantis, The Palm said.“They also demonstrated higher levels of creativity, which is reflective of the inspiration behind selecting their dishes. Congratulations to Chef Vusumuzi on representing the region at the final event, and to the semi-finalists who competed with exceptional attributes.” He also added,“S.Pellegrino Young Chef Award provides young chefs with a great platform for exchanging ideas and sharing knowledge. Un-

doubtedly, exposing young chefs to a competition of this calibre is crucial for their professional growth in a highly competitive F&B industry.” “I’m proud of what I have achieved in Dubai - I couldn’t have achieved all of that without the great minds around me. As much as I’ll be representing the region, I’m representing all of these people too. So, it’s a win for them too,” said Chef Vusumuzi. The local competitions round will continue from June to December 2017, where semi-finalists from across the world will compete for a chance to move on to the global finals in Milan. By the end of December 2017, 21 Young Chefs will be announced as official finalists, who will each be assigned a “Mentor Chef” from their regional jury. The Mentor Chefs will support the young chefs leading up to the Grand Finale, providing them guidance on how to improve their signature dishes.

I’m proud of what I have achieved in Dubai - I couldn’t have achieved all of that without the great minds around me. As much as I’ll be representing the region, I’m representing all of these people too


By the end of December 2017, 21 Young Chefs will be announced as official finalists, who will each be assigned a “Mentor Chef” from their regional jury

Ten most talented rising chefs from Africa and Middle East

S.Pellegrino Young Chef is a global competition realized in four phases: PHASE I – Online Application (February 2017 – April 2017) From February 1 to April 30, 2017, any young chef in the world will have the opportunity to submit an application and their signature dish at www.sanpellegrino. com. Applying chefs must be 30-years-old or younger and have at least one year of experience working in a restaurant as a chef, sous chef or chef de partie. The complete list of competition requirements will be available on the application website.

PHASE II – Global Shortlist (June 1, 2017) All qualified candidates will be divided into 21 regions* according to their geographic origin. Submissions will then be evaluated by ALMA,

the world’s leading international educational and training centre for Italian Cuisine (www. alma.scuolacucina. it), which will select the top 10 semi-finalists for each geographic region, according to five “Golden Rules”:

d. Beauty: Dish presentation, giving an aesthetic enhancement of its contents.

a. Ingredients: Ability to select the best ingredients that the market can offer in terms of quality, freshness and uniqueness, in order to achieve an excellence of taste.

PHASE III – Local Challenges (June 7th – December 2017)

b. Skill: Ability to work with raw materials and turn them into a dish that respects their original essence. c. Genius: Ability to explore new, challenging, and innovative perspectives in relation to the culture of fine cuisine with a personal and contemporary style, while maintaining a perfect equilibrium of taste.

e. Message: Ability to communicate a clear message through one’s work and vision.

The 10 selected semifinalists from each of the 21 geographic areas will compete in a Local Semi-finals round, where live competitions will be held in each region from June 7 to December 31. During these events, the semi-finalists will cook their signature dishes for an exclusive regional jury, composed of independent top chefs who will evaluate the presented dishes based on the five Golden Rules and select a winner. By the end of

December 2017, the 21 Young Chefs from around the globe will be announced as the official finalists, who will move on to the world finals in Milan, Italy. Each finalist will be assigned a “Mentor Chef” (a member of their regional jury), who will provide guidance on how to improve their signature dishes and support them in their preparation for the finals.

PHASE IV – S.Pellegrino Young Chef Finals (June 2018) In June 2018, the 21 Young Chef finalists will gather in Milan for the Grand Finale event, hosted by S.Pellegrino. The chefs will compete for the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 title, with the winner selected by the international Seven Sages panel of judges.

*THE 21 GEOGRAPHIC REGIONS 1. Italy 2. France 3. Germany-Austria 4. Switzerland 5. Spain-Portugal 6. UK-Ireland 7. Russia/CIS (ex-Soviet Union) 8. Scandinavia/Baltics 9. East Europe 10. BeNeLux 11. Mediterranean Countries 12. USA 13. Canada 14. Africa-Middle East 15. Central America– Caribbean 16. South America 17. Pacific (Australia/NZ/ Pacific Islands) 18. China 19. Japan 20. North-East Asia 21. South-East Asia



The wellness revolution Munawar Shariff speaks with Samir Arora, General Manager at The Retreat Palm Dubai, about the Middle East’s first holistic wellness resort

Samir Arora

The Retreat Palm Dubai Mgallery by Sofitel 48 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017


he Palm Jumeirah already boasts a proverbial cap full of feathers. The last addition to that crowded cap is The Retreat Palm Dubai MGallery by Sofitel, the Middle East’s first holistic wellness resort. Providing 360-degree wellness solutions designed to help guests achieve their personal transformation goals, The Retreat Palm Dubai MGallery by Sofitel offers a variety of treatments and retreat packages with varying levels of immersion into the wellness experience. We could continue to wax lyrical about the property, but we’d rather have someone on the inside take us through the place. “At the Retreat Palm Dubai MGallery by Sofitel, we offer a range of tailormade health and wellbeing programmes and packages at our Rayya Wellness Centre,” says Samir Arora, General Manager at The Retreat.“The wellness centre houses a number of DHA-endorsed wellness experts including nutritionists, a naturopathic doctor, wellness and lifestyle coaches as well as a luxury spa, state-of-the-art fitness centre and a gym, clinic and a variety of recreation facilities including a designated kids club.” The Retreat Palm Dubai MGallery by Sofitel even houses the first ever

We have a fully licensed Glenville Nutrition Clinic as part of our hotel offering over 200 trademarked wellness products



The Retreat Palm Dubai Mgallery by Sofitel

Rayya Wellness Centre, born from a philosophy of wellbeing and personal transformation of body, mind and spirit.“We also have a fully licensed Glenville Nutrition Clinic as part of our hotel offering over 200 trademarked wellness products, setting us uniquely apart from other established hotel brands in the city,”Arora adds. Each guest at the hotel – irrespective of whether they’re there for business or leisure – is welcome to personalise their own wellness journey.“Prior to the stay our wellness experts work with each guest to design the elements of the journey – from the diet, to exercise to wellbeing activities; but of course, if a guest would like to simply enjoy the facilities and not a retreat package they are welcome to do so,” Arora says. We’re told that corporate visitors eager to integrate a wellness experience into their hectic business travel itineraries can avail of the hotel’s meeting rooms equipped with state of the art technology. A key to any wellness regime is the diet. The staff over at The Retreat understand this and hence offer an abundance of organic, vegan and healthy options. In fact, the hotel’s food and beverage outlets contribute a significant 30 per cent to overall earn-


Prior to the stay our wellness experts work with each guest to design the elements of the journey – from the diet, to exercise to wellbeing activitie

R-HOTEL king suite bedroom


We promote healthy living and wellbeing ‘Juice by the Hour’ – a juice offered to guests on the hour, every hour that’s beneficial to that time of day

We host a series of world-class wellness seminars, led by our highly experienced Lifestyle Consultants to educate our guests further ings.“We also promote healthy living and wellbeing ‘Juice by the Hour’ – a juice offered to guests on the hour, every hour that’s beneficial to that time of day,”Arora says.“We specialise in customised diet plans to help our clients reach their health goals. Some of our initiatives including our expert Wellness Chef and Nutritionists are on-board to aid our guests in reaching a healthy body, a sound mind and a tranquil spirit. We aim to convert the usual unhealthy cravings into healthy delicious treats such as mayonnaise replaced by avocado paste and roasted sweet potatoes instead of French fries.” Staying on the subject of making money through health, Arora mentioned that about 10 per cent of

the hotel’s earnings were generated via meetings, conferences and events. Given the corporate nature of these events, they did well throughout the year, irrespective of the weather.“The Retreat Palm Dubai created customised corporate wellbeing programmes that will make a difference to the quality of employees and will inspire personal development,”Arora said. “We also host a series of world-class wellness seminars, led by our highly experienced Lifestyle Consultants to educate our guests further.” Another big part of the business – as it is for most hotels – is the wedding industry. The Retreat Accommodates small weddings up to a maximum of 50 guests. Arora says the hotel will

dive deeper into that industry next year with the introduction of a Bridal Wellness Package so that brides-to-be can stay at the hotel one month prior to prep for the big day ahead. That’s not to say they will be neglecting the groom. Grooms will have consultancy sessions focused on diet, beauty and image consultation during the run-up to the big day. “Our business model is very flexible as we optimise our resources as per the guest’s needs and requirements in order for every guest to experience a complete holistic experience and utmost relaxation,”Arora said.“We are strategically planning on constantly improving and enhancing our services for our guests.” Of course, Arora understands that those services can only be great with a great team behind it.“Our team has been carefully selected to promote and create a holistic atmosphere across both service and delivery,” he said. “Challenges are part of any successful business and we as a team face these challenges in a positive manner, helping us improve our standards.” Arora says the hotel considers KSA, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman amongst GCC countries and Europe with a focus on Germany, Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland as its main markets. The hotel is currently being promoted via tour operators including wellness operators and also via taking part in international trade and road shows. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 51





of the

Mabi Rajbhandari, Receptionist at the Palazzo Versace Dubai, speaks to Munawar Shariff after notching up the UAE’s Receptionist of the Year Award 2017



wish I could hold this feeling for as long as possible. Allow me to use this cliché – it’s a dream come true,” said Mabi Rajbhandari, Receptionist at the Palazzo Versace Dubai.“As a young professional, being recognised and appreciated it’s the best motivation and now, having received this accolade, I believe more than ever that I can be better.” Going into the competition, Rajbhandari was quietly confident of his chances. He was certain he would make the finals.“For me, it was not about the title, it was all about giving my 100 per cent,” said Rajbhandari. His managers could not have been more supportive. To them, he was already a winner.“Their positive thinking and support encouraged me to aim high and focus on the training. Before the winner announcement, I was humbly hoping to be the 1st runner-up, because the competition was challenging, especially role play. Hearing that I had won was a shock, but extremely exciting.” Rajbhandari started as an intern at a five-star resort in Malaysia in 2011. There, he was exposed to all the operational departments, and that was when he discovered his passion


I was humbly hoping to be the 1st runner-up because the competition was challenging, especially role play for being behind the desk at reception. He joined Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara as a butler shortly after graduating from hospitality school before joining the Palazzo Versace Dubai. “My experience helped me prepare for the competition,” Rajbhandari said. “However, I dedicated a lot of time to researching. The hospitality world is so dynamic and keeping up with the changes is crucial. I took advantage of having an incredibly talented management team who were there to advise and guide me in my research.” Rajbhandari claims the best part about being a receptionist is that you never know what to expect.“Even in the toughest situation, your final goal is to put a smile on your guests’ faces,” Rajbhandari said.“Palazzo Versace Dubai is a place that not only

Mabi Rajbhandari and the first runner-up of AICR UAE Receptionist of the Year Krystel Nurmist from Park Hyatt Dubai and the second runner-up Natalia Gecziova from Jumeirah Zabeel Saray

allows me to be the best version of myself but also encourages me to stay true to my values. I genuinely feel I found my voice in the culture designed by our management at Palazzo Versace Dubai.” They say the future is uncertain and full of possibilities. Rajbhandari follows that school of thought.“I am open to whatever comes my way. I

am convinced though that I will still be dedicated to the art of hospitality,” he said.“I enjoy living in the moment. Perhaps the secret to my success is being happy with what I do - if I am happy, I consider myself fortunate.” Recognition tends to sometimes go to a winner’s head. Rajbhandari doesn’t believe he’s one of them, he’s hungry for more.“Having experienced this incredible moment in my life made me believe that there is no limit to how much one can dream and what one can achieve,” he said.“These glimpses of happiness are not eternal – I am learning to be grateful for everything life has given me. I also realized that ambition and hard work could and must go hand in hand with generosity and kindness.” After conquering the domestic sector, Rajbhandari will now head on to Switzerland for the international leg. “I am excited about visiting Europe for the first time, and I think this is a great opportunity to find out legends of the industry and build a worldwide network,” he said.“I am also proud to be representing Palazzo Versace Dubai and UAE, and I commit to representing hospitality in the UAE at its true value.”

Even in the toughest situation, your final goal is to put a smile on your guests’ faces

Mabi Rajbhandari and Palazzo Versace Dubai’s team – Shirish Shrivastava (Head Butler), Olga Velceva (Assistant Front Office Manager), Sebastian Fleig (Front Office Manager) and Sandra Tikal (General Manager)


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The future is health

A healthy assistant

Who’s the fairest of them all?




health is

Or we could say that because of health there is a future. Whichever way you look at it, health is the most important part of the equation. And health comes from taking care of the mind as well as other factors. This introductory article is by , who gives the right pointers to begin your journey towards wellness, health and treating yourself in the best way possible 56 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017

he recently concluded annual Global Wellness Summit dealt with the main topic of the growing consumer interest in living a well life. It also identified a number of interesting trends in the wellness industry. Four of them were - silence, mental health, how the wellness industry treats cancer patients and the wellness environment. So we commissioned our resident wellness expert Myriam Redouane to talk about her outlook and ideas on these four topics. She elaborates below.


Silence and its perception is varied depending on what the person seeking silence is really after. Usually it is to find a space for clarity of thoughts and to give the brain a well-deserved break. The act of remaining silent is actually a challenging exercise for most of us, and silence retreats can be transformational when immersed into deeply.Getting into this observatory space, digging into our inner world, and observing which direction the mental activity takes is a journey worth exploring. Meditation is a great way to find inner silence. Meditating for a few minutes is great for calming down the pace of thoughts and for find-


ing clarity in the present moment. A simple meditation exercise could be to focus on the sounds and sensation of the heartbeat. Then allow the thoughts that occur to happen while bringing the mind back to the motion of breaths and the chest. A few minutes of this is possible in our daily routines just to initially observe one’s reactions. The change in mindfulness will be profound with regular practice. Another method could be walking meditation in nature with the weather getting better these days. It is very effective, if one is able to establish a strong connection with the elements and sounds of nature. Being around nature allows the system to deeply calm down, and find the silence and space in between thoughts in order to be more productive and creative. Relaxing music can also be of help

to initiate a lasting state of relaxation. One has to allow the silence to take the space in our mind, and listen to it. It is powerful. Silence can be deeply meaningful and have a strong voice when it comes to life and relationships; it gives one a space to think, reflect and understand.

Mental wellness

importance to pay attention to the chemicals entering the body through the food we eat and through the cosmetics we use on the skin and hair. The best nutrients for the body are from the base of the food pyramid - vegetables, fruits, seeds, and then healthy fats. Carbohydrates should be eaten in moderation as they are responsible for tiring insulin peaks on the liver. An interesting thought to ponder over is the fact that even though we consider ourselves modern, evolved beings, living in a sophisticated and educated society, the truth is the human anatomy today is the same as our prehistoric ancestors were born with. Physical activity is also an immense contributor to optimal mental health. For example: in the practice of Ashtanga Yoga the body either presses a gland or stretches a gland which soothes the parasympathetic system (subconsciously controlled system). Practiced right, a strong physical workout, deep breathing exercise maintained throughout the whole session benefits not just the outside but the insides as well. Understanding the self is as complex as getting to know and understand another person. This journey inside takes courage, patience, and remembering to be non-judgmental of what could come out. Also, there are no guidelines as to how to understand oneself, just like we all react to life events individually. Achieving mental wellness comes after a complete understanding of how we function, by reconnecting with our emotions, acknowledging them, acknowledging our reactions to get a deeper understanding of what triggers those reactions. Mental health is an investment which is as important as investing in material assets. Starting to identify the ‘why’ of all our actions is a good way to begin. Is one doing it for the self or to fit into societal frames.

The act of remaining silent is actually a challenging exercise for most of us, and silence retreats can be transformational when immersed into deeply

In our multi dimensional lives, mental wellness is essential to performance and speed of achievements. And mental wellness can only be achieved through healthy food intake. Food massively influences the body, the way the hormonal system balances itself and hence the behaviour of glands such as the thyroid. It is of paramount



In our multi dimensional lives, mental wellness is essential to performance and speed of achievements. And mental wellness can only be achieved through healthy food intake

Wellness industry and cancer

Meditation is a great way to find inner silence. Meditating for a few minutes is great for calming down the pace of thoughts and for finding clarity in the present moment

Healing cancer patients is a sensitive affair. Everything has to be customised to eradicate the disease. Today, doctors increasingly realise that they are only curing patients’ symptoms and not healing the root cause of the disease. The power of the right nutrition and how far this can heal the body is an effective approach to introduce to all cancer patients. Through my own experience, I have understood how the body naturally and amazingly heals itself constantly, just needing the right ‘fuel’ for it, such as a highly nutritious, raw diet. Lots of patients choose to go the alternative medicine route. It is as effective as chemotherapy. A good idea would also be to balance between the two. Again physical activity remains 58 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017

important in the healing process as it enhances the detox process. Breathing re-oxygenates the body, and replaces dead cells faster. Hence a gentle regular yoga practice is a good bet. Unfortunately cancer awareness these days is more of a business oriented marketing activity for many institutions. That is the last thing a cancer patient would want: no stigmas nor noise on social media but to feel love deep inside, to feel cared for and to be around people who act as normal as possible. Not being judged nor being marginalised is the best treatment. I encourage everyone to make it happen on his or her own scale, even with small actions. If a cancer patient is in your entourage, spend quality time with that person; bring a smile, love, calmness, and patience. He/She

will do the rest in healing and feeling better on the inside and the outside.

The wellness environment

Our wellness lies in our own responsible choice of lifestyle which we willing to adopt, and that which corresponds best to our values and perspectives. Many professional options are available today to those wanting to improve their physical and mental health. The holistic approach to it is less and less taboo and there is a rise of energetic healers offering Reiki, Theta healing, past life regression therapies, access bars to cure past traumas, fears and anchored negative emotions. Being an intelligent consumer has a great impact from a small to a bigger scale on our surrounding neighbourhood and environment.


About Myriam Myriam Redouane started her career in France as a TV Presenter and moved to Dubai in 2009. In 2013, at 28 years of age, she was diagnosed with stage 3 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Her inner journey started through her treatments as she discovered a strength within that helped her maintain positivity and a normal busy life, choosing her career and going to work daily. Intuitively, she knew this would accelerate her body’s healing pace. In 2014, Myriam built within her company a major CSR project helping other female cancer patients to keep up courage, positivity, to feel beautiful on the inside and the outside. These regular free workshops were held in hospitals or beauty

shops bringing trainers from several areas such as style, make-up, fitness and nutrition to other cancer sufferers. These became tremendously successful and famous luxury brands such as L’Oreal and Estee Lauder supported this cause. In 2015, Myriam was awarded a CSR ExMyriam Redouane cellence recognition by her company. Today, Redouane constrength and positivity through her siders herself extremely lucky and successful blog, and by inspiring grateful to be a cancer survivor. She her clients some of who belong to is now certified in Yoga, Meditation, the country’s ruling family. Theta healing, Hypnotherapy and Myriam can be contacted on: is continuously learning. Myriam conveys her message of self-love, +971-55-7104252

Understanding the self is as complex as getting to know and understand another person. This journey inside takes courage, patience, and remembering to be non-judgmental of what could come out



A healthy


LPG’s many slimming treatments are a natural assistant to your weight loss regime. When you are regular with your daily fitness routines, LPG’s slimming options could speed up the process ost of the time stubborn fat that is the last to go is the one around the stomach. And strengthening the core is of utmost importance. LPG’s natural and painless slimming treatment which is specifically targeted for the stomach helps increase diet-and-exerciseresistant natural fat release by 70 per cent. Each session lasts about 30-35 minutes and during that time all you feel is a targeted suction which pinches slightly depending on the intensity of the machine. This treatment helps firm and tighten and definitely helps release gases and bloating as well. Also focussing on draining the lymphatic system, circulation is reportedly increased by 400 per cent. This helps in flushing away excess water retention in the body. The therapist measures you before and after each treatment hence you get a clear picture of what a session has help you achieve. I was told that the treatment will also enhance the quality of sleep. The treatment helps redensify sagging skin so is quite appropriate for anyone going through post-baby, postdiet or post-liposuction. The number of sessions you will need depends entirely on how hard you work out and how committed you are to achieve weight loss and a toned body.

Dispersing muscle cramps

Getting muscle cramp is due to a variety of reasons. One of which may be caused due to dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, injury, overuse muscle, not 60 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017

having enough potassium, calcium, and other minerals in your blood. LPG’s latest Body Endermologie prepares and mobilises the tissue to improve the blood and lymphatic circulation and the visco-elasticity of the muscles. It increases fluid exchange in the capillary network to assist the movement of fluids back into the vascular and lymphatic system, therefore increasing oxygen and delivery of nutrients and detoxification. This system has an optimised system of

suction, rolls and/or flaps, which helps stimulate deep skin tissue and muscles, rejuvenating and loosening bands of hard tissue, soothing pain, relaxing tensions and restoring mobility. It aids in correcting muscular problems as well caused by constant pressure, trauma or injury and removes lactic acid build up and other inflammatory toxins. A trained LPG therapist assesses the body and customises a treatment that best suits you. The procedure normally last 30 to 40 minutes.



the fairest of them all?

Munawar Shariff talks to Rutu Tawde, Ahasees Spa & Club Manager about the hotel spas incorporation of the Hydrafacial MD. An exceptionally effective treatment that is not your usual spa treatment

ou know the drill with traditional facials. You start with a consultation, head into preparation, cleansing and skin analysis. A little later comes exfoliation and/or extractions with external applications of steam or exfoliants, toning, massage, masque application and finishing touches with homecare recommendation. To sum up, it’s a lot of work. Having said that, the uber-effective HydraFacial MD is changing the game. The Advanced Resurfacing procedure is noninvasive, non-surgical, no downtime and immediate result oriented.“It gives reinforced cleansing, exfoliation extraction and ample hydration working with its proprietary skin solutions and HydraFacial’s patented hand-piece and HydroPeel Tips that uses superior resurfacing and delivery systems required for our skin,” says Rutu Tawde, Ahasees Spa & Club Manager.“The unique spiral design of the HydroPeel Tips used in conjunction with the HydraFacial MD proprietary vacuum technology and serums creates a vortex effect to easily dislodge and remove impurities while simultaneously introducing hydrating skin solutions with potent antioxidants. This multi-step process includes Vortex-Exfoliation, Vortex-Peel, VortexExtraction, Vortex-Boost, and Vortex-Fusion.” This makes HydraFacial an anomaly on the grooming circuit. It’s essentially an immediate result oriented bespoke facial. Here’s NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 61


The Advanced Resurfacing procedure is non-invasive, non-surgical, no downtime and immediate result oriented the best part: you can have a targeted facial depending upon your skin conditions. The treatment is soothing, moisturizing, non-invasive and non-irritating. It delivers long-term skin health and can be tailored to meet the specific needs of all skin types. It offers instant, noticeable results with no downtime or irritation. In short, it’s here to disrupt everything you’ve ever known about facials.

Ahasees treatment room 62 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017

According to Tawde, Hydrafacial offers high-quality solutions that are infused with anti-oxidants, natural proteins, peptides, brightening agents and exfoliants with gentle acids. All these elements combine together to deliver the best visible result. “Some may require the treatment once a month, while others may require more than two depending on each individual skin con-

cerns,”Tawde adds. Luckily for us here in Dubai, Ahasees offers the treatment. In fact, it’s the only hotel spa that acquired Hydrafacial. How did it hit the proverbial jackpot, you ask? “Hyatt Treatments are selected based on concept designing and menu engineering,” Tawde said. “Our pillars of Hyatt Spas concept design are based on four pillars of zero base, cultural sensitiv-

Ahasees relaxation lounge


Mirror-like skin

The treatment is soothing, moisturizing, non-invasive and nonirritating. It delivers long-term skin health and can be tailored to meet the specific needs of all skin types

ity, authenticity, and guest-centric. We at Hyatt believe in being designers of memorable experiences.” Nothing done at Ahasees is random. The hotel spa does its due diligence behind the scene before adding – or removing – treatments to the spa menu. “There are certain factors we consider while making such a decision,”Tawde said. “Concept, the guest purpose of visit, geographical consideration and, of course, popularity and effectiveness.

Ahasees is one of the few spas offering the Hydrafacial MD in Dubai. This is also not your regular facial. But one that is an exceptional one. Looking at the skin post treatment, is delightful because it is glowing, shiny and looks squeaky clean. This is the preferred treatment chosen by many Hollywood actor just before a red carpet event. Yes, which means this treatment also has no downtime. You can leave the spa and head to an event almost immediately. Being a resurfacing treatment which cleans the facial skin thoroughly, the therapist begins with a complete face cleanse followed by a look at the skin under a bright light to judge and decide which concoction of serums would suit the skin best. Once that is decided, using the tools that are specific to this treatment, the therapist literally vacuums all the facial debris out of the skin. Starting at the base of the neck all the way to the forehead, the skin started feeling cleaner and cleaner as her hands applied the serum after the first round as she did this procedure thrice. This was followed by a lymphatic drainage massage for the face. Which literally sculpts and removes all traces of any water retention on the face.

A complete winner.

Ahasees Couple Suite NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 63


The night ritual

The night skin care ritual is extremely important when it comes to beautiful, youthful skin day after day and in light of the upcoming holiday season it is even more integral. This time we have here the cream of the top brands in the wellness skin care industry with their exceptional new launches that are on the cutting edge of innovation and technology

Elemis Peptide Night recovery cream-oil, 30ml, AED 444: Popularly known as beauty sleep in a bottle, this is a fabulous product that works wonders while you sleep. You will wake up to a plumped, rested, fabulous looking face. This is quite the acquisition, because it is all you need to be ready for the upcoming season. Guerlain Orchidee Imperiale Exceptional Complete Care The Rich Cream, 50ml: This cream is exceptional as its name. The best thing about this cream is that it does things for your face that you can see but cannot express! It’s one of the best things that can happen to your face! You need this in your life.


Guerlain Abeille Royale Black Bee Honey Balm, 30ml: The Black Bee Balm is a multi tasking essential in your beauty cabinet. Not only does it magically restore dehydrated skin, it works on all parts of the body, healing everything it touches! Another winner from Guerlain.

Dermalogica Nightly Lip Treatment, 10ml, AED 295: Technology is our best friend when it comes to delaying the signs of ageing. Not everyone wants to go the injectibles route and so here is an effective treatment for those lines around the lips that just creep in when you weren’t paying attention. Effective and a keeper, this lip cream cures the lines and delays ageing for all of us.

Natura Bisse Inhibit High Definition Patches, one pack of 5 patches, a box contains 4 such sets: Technology at its best, Natura Bisse’s newest skin technology is making all our lives easier. These 5 patches mimic a microneedling session giving the skin an exceptionally hydrated and plumped look which doesn’t wear off for days! Goodbye botox! At least for the time being for people in their thirties till even late forties. This treatment combined with the serum is targeted for people who have real wrinkles hence for younger people this definitely is the tool to have in delaying the effects of time.


Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine oil, 15ml, AED 584: The best thing you can do for your skin is taking preventive measures. But even if you’re already seeing a few fine lines, this products is all you will need to fight the appearance of fine lines, dehydrated skin and a sallow complexion. This oil works hard to boost moisture levels, can be used before the serum application as the lightweight texture ensures instant absorption and a non oily finish.

Natura Bisse Inhibit Line Minimising Serum, 60ml: This isn’t very economical as this is the cost of a part of a month’s rent. But as mentioned in the review of the facial patches, using this from an earlier age will definitely help ease the ravages of time. Also being a sizable 60ml means, this product will last the younger users a really long time.

Carol Joy Cleansing Cream and gentle touch rayon cloth, 150ml: British skin care brand Carol Joy’s cleansing cream cleans thoroughly and leaves the skin completely clean with no traces of make-up. There is no dryness/tautness, just soft, clean skin.

Guerlain Abeille Royale Youth watery Oil, 30ml: Guerlain’s skin care is most often faultless, this is another must-have product in your beauty closet. Not oily and not watery, this oil sinks into the skin and is a fantastic base for make-up for a luminous glowing look.

Elemis Life Elixirs Sleep Collection

Carol Joy Collagen Eye mask, one pair: Very effective treatment for under eye hydration and plumping all in a matter of 15 minutes. There were two patches in the pack one for each eye. Each patch had freeze dried collagen in it and an activating fluid which needs to soak the eye patch before they are applied under the eyes. Fifteen minutes later, skin is plumped and moisturised, perfect for long haul flights and / or just before an important event or as a weekly overnight treatment.

Sleep Deeply relaxing candle, 230g, AED 260: This aromatic candle helps relax the mind, calm the senses and prep the system to get a restful, deep sleep. Trying this candle out has been the single most enjoyable activity on most nights. As the aromatherapy oils work hard at getting the mind to shut off.

Sleep Bath and shower elixir, 100ml, AED 496: The fact that there is a sleep routine with three Elemis products is exciting enough and trying them out definitely keeps the adrenalin pumping. And the best part is, this three-step ritual manages to calm the most heightened nerves. Either run a calming and relaxing bath using 2-3 capfuls of this or use it on a loofah works well both ways.

Sleep Perfume oil, 8.5ml, AED 254: Therapeutic, calming, relaxing. We used this all day on pulse points and it helped centre the mind and calm the nerves. A great product. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 65


Festive special

Elemis Festive set 2017 Pro-Collagen collection: Elemis Pro Collagen Cleansing Balm, 50g: Luxurious balm that is perfect as a morning cleanser to get you off to a refreshing start to the day. Elemis Pro Collagen Marine Oil, 15ml: Exceptional hydrating oil that restores moisture and reduces fine lines and wrinkles.

Elemis Pro Collagen Marine Mask, 50ml: A musthave part to your skin care regime. Used once or twice a week, this mask is your best friend in these oncoming winter months, boosting the skin’s moisture levels and keeping the skin looking its best. Elemis Pro Collagen Hydra Gel Eye Masks, 2 sachets: Fantastic product for the eyes, this is something you need to use under your eyes once a week at least. A treat that will make your eye area look amazing for the holiday season and otherwise.

Elemis Pro Collagen Marine Cream, 100ml: Award-winning moisture boosting cream which will be a part of your beauty closet forever. Elemis Pro Collagen Oxygenating Night Cream, 30ml: Together with the marine cream, this night cream provides the skin with all round protective hydration meaning beautiful, plumped skin.

Guerlain Kiss Kiss Matte Collection: Guerlain Kiss Kiss Matte Lipstick: Intense, velvety smooth, intense lip colour that glides on effortlessly and stays put for a long time. All the colours are beautiful!

Guerlain Kiss Kiss Intense Liquid Matte: Hydrating with hyaluronic acid, it looks fabulous and leaves lips better than before its application. Lasts all day long.

Guerlain Kiss Kiss from Paris palette: A beautiful box that holds three creamy reds or pinks that will enhance your smiles and your appearance.



Guerlain Festive Collection:

Palette Gold: An exceptionally useful palette of six eye shades and two cheek shades that are super glam and can be applied lightly for day and enhanced for nights.

Meteorites Gold Pearl: A golden case holding the most glamorous pearls of illuminating face powder, lighting up the face in a radiant light.

Terracotta Gold Light: This collector’s edition piece gives the face a hint of a gentle sun kissed highlight for day or night.

Rouge G: Highly pigmented, creamy, plumping, this lipstick is intense and comes only in two exclusive shades one for brunettes and the other for blondes.

Gold Light Top Coat: A glam gold mascara to enrich any look you might want to go with for a special night out.



Working together

Millennium Hotels and Resorts joins forces with Al Jalila Foundation


illennium Hotels and Resorts have announced a partnership with non-profit organisation Al Jalila Foundation. Dedicated to furthering healthcare research and education, the foundation was founded by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The union aims to raise funds for children’s medical education and research through a series of fundraising activities across the Group’s current portfolio of 32 hotels. To mark the partnership, notable members of both organisations came together for the official signing on October 5 at Millennium Hotels and Resort’s head office in Dubai. Al Jalila Foundation’s CEO Dr. Abdulkareem Sultan Al Olama and Sulaiman Baharoun Director of Partnerships & Sustainability signed with Millennium

Emad Majid, Dr. Abdulkareem Sultan Al Olama


Al Jalila Foundation’s work saves countless lives here in the UAE through medical research, education and treatment, and we’re thrilled to be able to do our part to help them

Hotels and Resorts, Middle East and Africa Chief Operating Officer Kevork Deldelian and Chief Legal Officer Emad Majid a Memorandum of Understanding to celebrate the start of the partnership. “Al Jalila Foundation’s work saves countless lives here in the UAE through medical research, education and treatment, and we’re thrilled to be able to do our part to help them. The team is busy organising a series of events across our various hotels in the UAE and we can’t wait to get started,”said Deldelian. “The Millennium Hotels and Resorts guest donation initiative dedicated to mental health is a perfect demonstration of how organisations are able to champion a cause to improve lives, said Al Olama.“Sustainable philanthropy is the backbone to funding our healthcare programs and with these dedicated funds we can bring hope to those affected by mental health. This partnership also provides Al Jalila Foundation with a platform to reach the larger community, including international visitors to support a cause that affects millions of people around the world.”

From Left - Kevork Deldelian, Emad Majid, Dr. Abdulkareem Sultan Al Olama, Sulaiman Baharou

We are exhibiting at HITEC Dubai Nov. 14th & 15th

Visit us at booth 200 Lufthansa Industry Solutions – your preferred partner for digitalized hospitality solutions. Take a look at: Our guest experience apps, interactive digital signage solutions, app-based room control system, virtual keycard and service booking facilities. Take a seat and relax! Lufthansa Industry Solutions is the official lounge partner at HITEC Dubai

Contact us at our Dubai office: 2701, 27th floor Dubai World Trade Center Rashid Tower II, Sheikh Zayed Road + 971 4 802 7945


Top Hotel November December 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 November December 2017 Issue  

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