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SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015 ISSUE 09

Essential reading for hotel operators, owners, developers and investors

St. Moritz

Heaven on Earth

La Tablita

Authentic Mexican

Alila Jabal Al Akhdar

Oman’s mountain-top retreat

IT’S ALL ABOUT

THE TEAM How the industry is prepping for future growth

Top hotel Wellness A dedicated look at the regional wellness industry


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

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

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

The hospitality industry is only expanding in the country and region. That directly means the industry needs a sizable number of trained employees at all levels. Training and vocational institutions too. Acquiring, retaining and upgrading staff are some of the key concerns of hoteliers today. Already, many hotels are now providing in-house vocational training to their staff, which is enabling them to work and study at the same time, while building the individual and academic portfolio. As the local industry is largely dependent on third world countries for workforce, it cannot afford to lose the focus on the Blue Collar staff that actually drives the economy. Vocation training thus enables these workers to get the skill sets they need. Given the growing need for qualified staff in the region versus availability, the region is yet to evolve and provide wholesome hospitality education that includes vocational, and managerial for hospitality and tourism sector. There has been a surge in native Arabs opting for a career in hospitality, with growing numbers of new corridors and sub careers. Students now think of tourism and hospitality as a ‘safe haven’. Our cover story on this is very insightful with opinion from independent hospitality consultants as well as hoteliers. This issue is actually quite a packed one there’s the review of the exquisite and luxurious property in the mountains of Oman - The Alila Jabal Al Akhdar. Enough cannot be said about not just the hotel but also the location, the people, the terrain, the culture. It’s fascinating. One trip is not enough! There’s also a preview of the Hotel Show happening later in the month. There’s a wonderful feature on St Moritz and so much more. Please enjoy the issue and let me know your thoughts.

Munawar Shariff Managing Editor munawar@signaturemediame.com

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015 3


OPINION

CONTENTS

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015 ISSUE 09

32

36

18 06 TOP HOTEL UNDERCOVER Dazzling – the Taj Dubai

Taj Dubai, is downtown Dubai’s hottest new hospitality destination

10 NEWS All the latest from hotels in the region 15 GM INTERVIEW

Catering to GenY

Richard Bleakley, General Manager at Courtyard by Marriott, World Trade Centre, Abu Dhabi, tells ThME how the property strives to offers guests a unique experience

18 COVER STORY

It’s all about the team

Top HR professionals in the region offer their perspective on the most important resource of a successful hotel, the employee

32 DESTINATION REPORT

St Moritz – heaven on earth

Speaking to Ariane Ehrat, CEO Tourism Organisation of Engadin, St Moritz, is like getting a first-hand experience of life in the beautiful Swiss valley

42 36 HOTEL REVIEW

A tranquil haven in the mountains – Alila Jabal Al Akhdar

Alila Jabal Al Akhdar, Oman, is a serene and enchanting property located high up in the mountains of Nizwa, 2,000 metres above sea level

42 CHEF INTERVIEW

La Tablita – real Mexican food

Bringing a new, and yet, traditional twist to Mexican cuisine, La Tablita, opening in October in the Hyatt Regency Creek Heights, is a restaurant to watch out for

48 THE HOTEL SHOW Aiming for 2020

Over 80 international experts and 18,000 attendees are expected to make The Hotel Show and The Leisure Show, happening from September 28-30, bigger than ever before

56 BRAND FOCUS – L’OCCITANE Beauty with responsibility

From research to production, testing to application, L’Occitane works on creating products that are gentle on the skin, and on the environment

60 SPA REVIEW

Damage control

Elemis’ Biotec facials show

4 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

61 PRODUCT REVIEW Summer blues?

Summer is not over yet but we’re all back from our holidays. Do you feel your skin to be darker / patchier / blemished / discoloured? Here are some solutions

64 TREATMENT REVIEW Refreshed skin

The Elemis Lime and Ginger Salt Glow is an effective and quick solution for rough, neglected skin

65 TREATMENT REVIEW

A’peeling’ texture and tone

Dr Dennis Gross’ products are very effective and do what they claim on the packaging. Professional treatments of the brand are even better

66 SUGAR – A SIN FOR YOUR SKIN!

Sugar is a treat for the mind, but an enemy of the body. And we are consuming unhealthy quantities without even knowing it

68 COMMUNITY

A kilo of kindness

Mövenpick launches the ‘Kilo of Kindness’ campaign, calling on visitors to donate food, clothing and school supplies to the needy


TOP HOTEL UNDERCOVER

Dazzling – the Taj Dubai Taj Dubai, is downtown Dubai’s hottest new hospitality destination. The hotel, backed by its legacy from its properties in India, has captured the meaning of the Dubai experience and created a masterpiece in design and service

6 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

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


TOP HOTEL UNDERCOVER

RESERVATION A call to the hotel was redirected to the reservations department. The gentleman on the other end promptly gave me room rates (they were exactly the same as those being offered on many online hotel booking portals). He also gave me the option of booking through him right away or through their website depending on my convenience. Smooth and quick. Evaluation: Good

CHECK-IN I reached the property a little before 4pm and was met at the entrance by a valet who took care of my bags. Check-in was smooth enough, and the person checking me in then also escorted me to the room on the 18th floor. All the while explaining about the facilities in the property as well as informing me about F&B options and about breakfast the next morning. Evaluation: Good

ROOM 1807 With 296 rooms, multiple event and meeting options, the Taj Dubai is a sumptuous, modern take on the Taj legacy. The hotel is modern yet classic with elements of both the UAE as well as India woven easily into its design, look and feel. The room was airy, brightly lit, spacious and welcoming. White doors had something to do with the feel of openness and extra space.

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015 7


TOP HOTEL UNDERCOVER

The room opened into a wide corridor with a dressing and luggage storage area, as you entered, on the left. Proceeding into the room, the bathroom was on the left followed by the also on the left. The television was on the right so was the work desk. The seating area was by the floor to ceiling glass window looking straight at the Burj Khalifa and fountains. The bed was on the left. It was a good looking room with beige walls and carpets. A few little things I’d like to mention here about the room, the television wasn’t working when I arrived. I called housekeeping and a technician came to fix that almost immediately. The television, once it was on, wasn’t the clearest, it had a dark horizontal shade on the top quarter of the screen. Also, it had a large variety of channels but only one channel for kids. The mini bar was in a closet-like cabinet by the bathroom and I found it to have an unpleasant smell all the while I hung out there making my tea throughout my stay. Also, it wasn’t as clean as I’d expected it to be. Evaluation: Good (ignoring the minor hiccups)

THE BATHROOM The bathroom was of a good size with the tub looking into the room on the right, the vanity with double wash basins and a wide mirror on top of it in the front and the water closet and the shower area

8 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015


TOP HOTEL UNDERCOVER

on the left. Of course these were separated. Guest toiletries were by Molton Brown. Evaluation: Good

BREAKFAST BUFFET AT TESORO This Peruvian restaurant had a wide variety of breakfast buffet options. I went in around 9.40am and there were not too many families, the fact that I visited in summer is the reason the hotel had a vacant feel to it. Coming back to the buffet, there was a wide array of all breakfast dishes, cakes, breads, muffins, doughnuts; waffles, pancakes and eggs on order; hot and cold continental, Indian, Middle Eastern breakfast items, juices, salads, condiments. Service, however, was a bit slow. Not initially when I came in but later on. Evaluation: Good

CHECK OUT: 10.50AM Very smooth and quick. Evaluation: Good

Taj Dubai Reservation: Good

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

Check-in: Good Room 513: Good Bath: Good Floor service: Good Landscaping: Good Breakfast buffet: Good

Top hotel Undercover opinion:

61-80 Good

Fitness: Good Corridors, elevators, stairs: Good

Total: 80%

Housekeeping: Good Check out: Good 0

20

40

60

80

100

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015 9


R Hotels unveil new property plan R HOTELS REVEALS another major development plan for the group with the new 182-key hotel in Ajman Corniche. With a total investment of AED 150 million (USD 40.9 million), the construction is expected to

commence in the third quarter of 2015 with the target opening date of Q1 2017. The new hotel will be located beside Ramada Beach Hotel Ajman, which is also owned and managed by R Hotels. Targeting both the leisure

and corporate segments, the property will feature rooms with sea views, a restaurant, spa and fitness centre and indoor swimming pool. The new hotel in Ajman Corniche will be the group’s seventh property in the UAE.

Four Seasons Resort chooses SweetBeam SWEETBEAM HAS announced their partnership with the newly-opened Four Seasons Resort in Dubai, whereby they are providing the resort with its full range of bespoke in-house guest communication services, including marketing strategy and advisory, guest analytics and intelligence, staff coaching & ‘T3’ tailored marketing services. The services allow hoteliers to increase guest spending by +10 to +30 per cent on average, delivering a new, highly profitable revenue stream. With this latest partnership, the fast-growing firm now offers bespoke marketing services to 15 hotels and resorts across the UAE, and an additional 14 properties in top global destinations. Said Simon Casson, Regional Vice President and General Manager at Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach, “To maximise in-house capture, we must deliver the right messages at the right time to the right guest; on arrival, in the room, throughout the resort and in the outlets. With SweetBeam as our partner, we get a detailed view of guest decisionmaking and can ensure that all of our guests enjoy the compelling experiences we have to offer.”

10 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015


Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts brings luxury to Tangshan

CONSIDERED THE ‘Treasured Land to the East of Beijing’, Tangshan has been a trove of history, lush parks and arts and culture for centuries. It is also the site for the 301-room ShangriLa Hotel, Tangshan, which opened on August 28, 2015. Located in the Phoenix New Town, a new eco-oriented urban area adjacent to the new financial and commercial hub, the hotel’s broad spaces serve as a gallery for its

custom pieces that include crystal chandeliers, embossed metal artwork, and marble and wood carvings. Located within the Tangshan Kerry Property complex, the city’s first integrated development, the hotel adjoins a shopping mall and landscaped park. Within the hotel are 34 apartments styled as studios and one- or two-bedroom apartments. All residents enjoy full access to Shangri-

La Hotel, Tangshan’s facilities and services. With its opulent interior, high ceiling, crystal lighting and the latest audio-visual equipment, the pillarless 1,800-square-metre Shangri-La Ballroom is Tangshan’s largest and an ideal venue for a variety of occasions. Together with eight other function spaces, the hotel’s banquet and conference facilities are the largest in the city.

Starwood and Mastercard offer delicious savings STARWOOD HOTELS & Resorts and MasterCard have announced a month-long promotion this September, where MasterCard debit and credit cardholders will enjoy savings of up to 30 per cent on food when they dine at over 100 venues at participating St Regis, Luxury Collection, Sheraton, Le Meridien, Westin, Aloft and Four Points by Sheraton properties in the UAE. The promotion features some of Starwood’s latest concepts including, China Grill (The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina), Zengo (Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa), Feast (Sheraton Grand Hotel, Dubai), Vivaldi by Alfredo Russo (Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel), Toro Toro (Grosvenor House, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Dubai), Market Kitchen (Le Royal Meridien Abu Dhabi), Sacci (Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa),Villa Toscana (The St. Regis Abu Dhabi), Turquoiz (The St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi) and Bab Al Bahr Beach Bar & Grill (Ajman Saray, A Luxury Collection Resort). The promotion is valid when dining with up to seven guests and cardholders are required to pay with their MasterCard credit or debit card to enjoy the discount. For more information, visit spg.com/mastercarduae.

HMH partners with Ethiopian Airlines’ Frequent Flyer Programme – ShebaMiles HMH – HOSPITALITY Management Holdings has entered into a partnership agreement with Ethiopian Airlines’ Frequent Flyer Programme - ShebaMiles. As part of the agreement, effective from July 25, 2015, all ShebaMiles members staying at any participating hotel within the HMH portfolio will be entitled

to earn two Miles per USD one spent for their qualifying service. Said Laurent A Voivenel, CEO of HMH,“Ethiopian Airlines ShebaMiles is one of the most successful frequent flyer programmes with over one million members from 200 countries, and is stated to grow at an annual rate of 20 per cent. Ethiopian Airlines flies to nearly

all destinations that we currently operate in, and we are therefore delighted to be a partner in this superb scheme, and look forward to welcoming ShebaMiles members to our hotels.” A Star Alliance Member, Ethiopian Airlines is the fastest growing Airline in Africa, and is the flag carrier of Ethiopia.

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015 11


Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts debuts in Riyadh THE BRAND NEW Mövenpick Hotel Riyadh is officially open, marking the debut of the Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts brand in Saudi Arabia. The five-star property, the result of a SAR 800 million (US$ 213.2 million/AED 783385112) investment, features 438 luxury rooms and suites, and commands a prime location, based in the business district on King Fahad Road. The property marked the occasion with a highprofile celebration under the patronage of HRH Prince Faisal Bin Bandar Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Governor of Riyadh, which was attended by many of the city’s prominent business leaders. “We are thrilled to be opening the first Mövenpick hotel in Saudi’s vibrant capital, which also marks another major milestone as our 10th property in the kingdom,” said Andreas Mattmüller, Chief Operating Officer, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, Middle East and Asia. The hotel also caters to the particular needs of women guests, teaming up with famous beautician Joelle Mardini to create its all-female Aurora Spa by Joelle. Additional property features include the Rio Health Club with modern fitness equipment, massage rooms, sauna, ice room and pool; 12 meeting venues including a 1,200-square-metre Grand Ballroom; and a Kids Club.

Grand Millennium Dubai appoints Director of Revenue THE GRAND Millennium Dubai has appointed Hassan Dana as Director of Revenue to ensure a continued focus on revenue management and hotel profitability. Dana will be monitoring demand trends, booking pace, and market trends, which will be translated into total hotel revenue management strategies to achieve revenue goals and increase the market share respectively. Before joining the Grand Millennium Dubai, Dana was working with Hospitality Marketing Concepts, Dubai, as Director of Sales Operations for Middle East, where he managed the sales forecast process, territory planning and strategic development plans of the region. He has also worked with Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts, Dubai, as Revenue Manager as well as Global Contact Centre Manager.

12 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

Abu Dhabi National Hotels appoints CEO ABU DHABI NATIONAL HOTELS (ADNH) has announced the appointment of Rutger Smits as its Chief Operating Officer. With a wealth of international experience spanning three decades and spread across four continents, Smits brings a unique blend of expertise in hospitality investment, development and hotel operations, in both senior management and advisory roles. Prior to joining ADNH, Smits was CEO of Al Rayyan Tourism Investment Company (ARTIC), based in Qatar. At ARTIC, he was responsible for the successful management and growth of a portfolio of luxury hotels and related business divisions, spread across the Middle East, Europe and North America. Before ARTIC, Smits held a series of executive positions in hospitality and real estate companies,

and he is a regular presence at prestigious hospitality and hotel investment conferences and events where he is invited as guest speaker, panelist or moderator. In his capacity of Chief Operating Officer of ADNH, Smits will oversee the operations of the Hotels Division, Retail Division and Sunshine Travel and Tours.


Turkish Airlines honours travel agencies for H1 2015 performance TURKISH AIRLINES, which recorded a positive growth of 6.1 per cent in passenger traffic from the UAE in H1 2015, celebrated the achievement by hosting the Annual Travel Agencies Appreciation Awards and gala dinner. The event, held at the Raffles Hotel Dubai, recognised partners for their continual support and contribution to driving not only the growth in passenger traffic from the Emirate, but also contributing to the 7.8 per cent total passenger growth in GCC markets compared to the previous year. Plaques of appreciation were awarded to the top 20 best performing agents for Turkish Airlines.

Great F & B linen

From left to right: Arif Pasha (Marketing Manager, Turkish Airlines), Nasir Jamal Khan (CEO, Al Naboodah Travel & Tourism), Erdem Ozan (Consul General, Turkish Consulate General in Dubai), Emre Ismailoglu (General Manager of Dubai & N. Emirates, Turkish Airlines)

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SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 13 9/6/152015 9:24


IHG® Culinary Journey Programme takes diners on a voyage of flavour INTERCONTINENTAL HOTELS Group (IHG) has launched its Culinary Journey promotion, a new initiative that features signature dishes from its panel of IHG® Culinary Ambassadors, offering diners the chance to sample exciting cuisines from renowned and celebrated chefs at restaurants across InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn hotels in Asia, Middle East and Africa (AMEA). From August 17 to November 15, 2015, a series of seven bespoke three-course menus crafted to feature the creations of each IHG Culinary Ambassador will be available at InterContinental and Crowne Plaza hotels and resorts. Within each of the seven set menus, diners will have a choice of one each of two appetisers, two main courses and two desserts.

Throughout the 13-week programme, restaurants at Holiday Inn hotels and resorts will offer a set menu featuring an exciting combination of dishes by Chef Theo Randall, Chef Sam Leong and Chef Vikas Khanna. Diners will be able to choose from a selection of three appetisers, three main courses and three desserts, with options such as Chef Sam Leong’s signature Wasabi Prawns, Chef Vikas Khanna’s Masala Chai Brulée and Chef Theo Randall’s Fish Stew. Launched in September 2014, the IHG Culinary Panel has grown to a total of seven IHG Culinary Ambassadors. The Culinary Ambassadors are award-winning chefs and represent a diverse range of cuisines to provide guests with truly international dining experiences.

Mövenpick Hotel Bahrain welcomes new Director of Sales THE AWARD-WINNING Mövenpick Hotel Bahrain has appointed a new director of sales, Rameez Shaikh. With numerous accomplishments and experience in strategic growth planning, Shaikh is the perfect man for the task of steadily strengthening the hotel’s competitive edge and helping build the hotel’s revenue.

14 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

Shaikh, 35, comes with nearly 15 years of experience in the hospitality industry, with previous roles at two prominent Mövenpick hotels in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. He is well versed in corporate and leisure sales in the Middle East, with particular focus on GCC market segments, including government and leisure.

Aiana Hotels & Resorts appoints Senior VP Operations IN LINE WITH its commitment to strengthen presence across key markets in the Middle East region, Aiana Hotels & Resorts has announced the appointment of Murlidhar Rao as Senior Vice President, Operations. The new appointment demonstrates Aiana’s commitment to create a globally respected hospitality brand that embodies the best of Indian hospitality by innovating fresh service, design and operating concepts. A seasoned hospitality professional with three decades of industry experience, Rao will be based at Aiana Hotel & Resorts’ regional headquarter in Qatar Financial Centre, Doha. In this new leadership role, Murli will be utilising his extensive global expertise in strategic planning, luxury project development, design, management and operations for bringing to life Aiana’s unique ‘Hospitality 2.0’ promise, aimed at offering innovative service in a smart, stimulating environment and delivering an intuitive hotel management model that resonates with the next generation of travellers. Prior to joining Aiana, Murli’s last project was The Sanchaya in Bintan, Indonesia, where he was instrumental in positioning the property as one of the best new luxury resorts in the world, garnering a host of industry accolades.


GM INTERVIEW

Catering to Richard Bleakley, General Manager at Courtyard by Marriott, World Trade Centre, Abu Dhabi, tells Top hotel Middle East how the property strives to offers guests a unique experience SEPTEMER/OCTOBER 2015 15


GM INTERVIEW

Courtyard by Marriott Abu Dhabi is a new property in the midst of a number of established brands in the city. What new do you bring to the market?

Marriott International is a global hotel brand that has maintained a reputable presence in the UAE since 1983. We are really proud to be one of 1,000 Courtyard by Marriott hotels across the world, and are the first Marriott-endorsed hotel in Abu Dhabi. It is a real privilege being the largest brand in the Marriott International’s portfolio, and there’s a large pipeline of properties under development across the MENA region. Courtyard by Marriott, World Trade Centre, Abu Dhabi, is an epitome of the brand’s tagline, ‘Make Room for a Little Fun’. We are well known for our fun, young and diverse people, as well as the offerings we have in the hotel. Our exceptional service stands out, which differentiates us from the other hotels available in the city. 16 SEPTEMER/OCTOBER 2015

Courtyard by Marriott World Trade Centre has everything young professionals need, with free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel to ensure they stay connected to the digital world

How is the hotel experience different for guests, both business and leisure?

Being centrally located for both business and leisure guests and packed with all the modern essentials, it’s a really fun and youthful brand, which is perfect for young business travellers who want to combine working on-thego with adding a little bit of fun into their busy schedules. For the business guest, we have everything young professionals need, with free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel to ensure they stay connected to the digital world, as well as the innovative and interactive GoBoard in reception, that allows travellers to have the information they need at their fingertips, round the clock. For our leisure guests, the hotel is in a fantastic location, adjacent to the World Trade Centre Mall, which has many global retail brands and is just an hour drive from Dubai, so a fantastic base to explore both Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Tell us a little about your F&B outlets and initiatives that contribute to providing a different experience at the property, whether for business or otherwise?

We wanted our food and beverage concept to be informal, relaxed and extremely welcoming to both residents and travellers. We have three different food and beverage outlets, the first being Fifth Street Café, which is a cool café hangout serving everything from homemade pastries and baked goods, through to hearty favourites such as the slow–cooked meatballs in tomato sauce. We then have our all day dining restaurant The Bistro, which offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, buffet style, and last, but not least, is our stunning rooftop bar and lounge, Up and Below, with exquisite views of the city and a really relaxed, chilled vibe. What about meetings, conferences and events? How much of the hotel’s earnings are through these channels? How is the hotel poised to cope with the upcoming busy season in terms of meetings and events?


GM INTERVIEW

The property has two meeting rooms, one boardroom and one break out area available, perfect for meetings, conferences and training purposes. We also have numerous intimate outlets/ spaces within the hotel with natural daylight to host events, including product launches, social events and business meetings. Does the hotel cater to weddings as well?

We have seen continuous incremental per month in our occupancy percentages, where we have exceeded our expectations. We have set targets for the remainder of the year that we expect to achieve and outperform. Even when we are running on 100 per cent occupancy, which we have achieved on numerous occasions, we absolutely do not compromise on guest experience.

Since we are city centre location, for someone looking for a wedding venue in the hub of Abu Dhabi with a relaxed feel, it would be a great option. Despite not having a ballroom, bespoke weddings can be accommodated at our rooftop bar and lounge, Up and Below, which is available throughout the year.

How have you managed to cut the fat in terms of spending without altering the guest experience from the time the property opened till date?We will never compromise our

How have occupancy rates in your hotel changed from the time the hotel opened till date? What is the optimal occupancy percentage at the hotel in which the guest experience is not compromised? Is there even such a thing?

Tell us a little about your team. What are challenges you face with regards to the people who help make the hotel successful on a daily basis?

guest experience. It is our highest priority to not only meet, but exceed customer satisfaction and expectations at all times.

We have an incredibly talented team here, made up of 37 different nationalities, with people from Japan

Even when we are running on 100 per cent occupancy, which we have achieved on numerous occasions, we absolutely do not compromise on guest experience

through to the United Kingdom, who are all united on the vision that we have for the property. Here we are all about the individual and personality – we don’t just employ staff. We want to create a great experience for our guests, and every single member of our team remains at the heart of this. We really wanted to create a different hotel experience, not what travellers are accustomed to. They are huge part of the hotel’s success and will continue to be so. How is the hotel being promoted in other parts of the world? Which market do you think, internationally, is the biggest target audience for your property?

The hotel is promoted via numerous channels around the world - through international Marriott.com, Marriott rewards, international exhibitions and sales missions, as well as echannels. At the moment, we’re focusing on the market in the GCC, including Saudi Arabia, as well as Western countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States of America. SEPTEMER/OCTOBER 2015 17


COVER STORY

It’s all about the region e h t ls in a n o i s s most profe e R h t H n sful ve o i s t Top e c c e c p s u of a s eir per e h c t r r u e f o f s o tant re r o ding, p n i m F i . e ploye m e e right h e t h g t n , i l n hote en retai h t d n a training sy, but with a e t o n is te a candid pproach, a e l b i x e fl n and a some visio xplores. e H T . e g n a h that can c

Masood Naik, HR Consultant, Glades Consulting The hospitality industry has experienced significant development in the past 4050 years from just travel-stay to casual dining, mass tourism, package travel, budget airline, as well as an increase in the number of hotel chains, theme parks, adventure and leisure spots. 18 JULY/AUGUST 2015


COVER STORY

As an industry in general, hospitality is one of the most dynamic and competitive sectors in the UAE, with hotels making a particular contribution to the economy. Says Masood Naik, HR Consultant, Glades Consulting, “The UAE is enjoying an impressive track record for its occupancy rates and capacity expansion is set for the next phase, aided by the Government’s

efforts with infrastructure. Trends show that travellers are now increasingly reliant on technology, from booking online to sharing their travel experience on social network sites. This impact means that the hospitality sector needs to focus on Resource Planning.” The back office systems used by companies in the hospitality sector are thus crucial.“For example, integration

should be a top priority to help deliver cross-channel distribution, making it possible to yield the last available room, whatever the point of sale, or enable the instant accrual or redemption of loyalty points at any customer touchpoint,”advises Naik. The same care has to be given to acquiring, retaining and upgrading staff. Hotels are now providing inSEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015 19


COVER STORY

house vocational training to their staff, which is enabling them to work and study at the same time, while building the individual and academic portfolio. As the local industry is largely dependent on third world countries for workforce, it cannot afford to lose the focus on the Blue Collar staff that actually drives the economy. Vocation training thus enables these workers to get the skill sets they need. “Recruitment for hospitality is getting tougher because of unattractive packages, as even hospitality graduates are seeking employment in other industries. Over the past few years, recruitment methods are adapting to new technologies - using social media for talent branding, job portals for sourcing, and use of skype/video-based interviews has totally revolutionised the entire process. Online recruitment activity in the hospitality and tourism sector has risen to 34 per cent, and recruitment for the hospitality industry is now growing faster than in any other sector in UAE,” he informs. Manpower service providers/vendors and associated Vendor Management Systems are helping in reducing the hiring cycle time. The trend of hiring those on dependent visa is catching up, beside employee referrals becoming the favoured way to source and hire.“There are no shortcuts in hospitality though – one needs to work through the ranks. Service excellence starts at the front lines and continues through to the top. This has to be a key part of the very structure and operation of the organisation. The people and system in the organisation must be constantly tuned to customer needs, and top management must build, facilitate and maintain a customeroriented culture,”advises Naik. As GCC governments gained a reputation as reliable economic stimulators, guiding steady economic progress in the consequences of the Arab Spring and global economic crisis, investment began to flow back into the region. This has been particularly true in the UAE, evident by the enabling environment formed by federal and local governments, which have set up a secure climate for business, a strong regulatory framework and a variety of civic assets, including better education and health infrastructure. “The creation of the UAE National Council for Tourism and Antiques 20 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

At Rezidor, we have a culture of spotting unique talent and then promoting people from within into careers that they might not envisioned themselves.

(NCTA), the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) setting a goal to itself to increase annual visitor numbers to over three million by the end of this year, the steady increase in hotel occupancy rates in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Sharjah promoting ecotourism, and the TRA establishing the ICT Fund to foster R&D in the telecom sector, has contributed to the growth of the industry,”says Naik. Given the growing need for qualified staff in the region versus availability, the region is yet to evolve and provide wholesome hospitality education that includes vocational, and managerial for hospitality and tourism sector. There has been a surge in native Arabs opting for a career in hospitality, with growing numbers of new corridors and sub careers. Students now think of tourism and hospitality as a ‘safe haven’.

Educational programmes from the international institutions such as Les Roches and Glion, Switzerland have been recognised by the UAE’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MOHESR) as one of the academies where UAE nationals can pursue an education in hospitality industry and get a full scholarship from the UAE government. “Educational institutes need to train students with real time challenges, and make sure they have realistic expectations of promotions. The industry needs people with the right attitude, so a focus on attitude development is needed as a part of the education process. Achieving excellence in service quality is a combination of attitude, commitment, right focus, a clear strategy, accurate perception of customer needs and


COVER STORY

employee-friendly delivery systems,” says Naik. Training and development cannot be ignored as hospitality business is all about people, by the people, and for the people. About 90 per cent of customer-interactions are handled by the front-liners. For these ‘moments of truth’ to be positive, the frontliners not only have to empower the management, they themselves have to understand what to do, and have the ability and the attitude to do it. But there are more than one challenges that are still left to overcome. The most important one, says Naik, is the political unrest in the region. Countries that are politically stable and safe remain attractive, and involve other neighbouring nations as well in boosting the growth. Travel between regions accounts

for 80 per cent of total travel, as the regional tourists also seek to explore and enjoy the attractions in the surrounding regions. “Despite providing 100 per cent scholarship to Emirati students, only a handful of them choose the hospitality sector. We need to get the right mix of local talent and qualified talent from abroad to make an impact. Also, shortage of skilled employees, and the inability to retain good talent, is another challenge,”explains Naik. But there are counter measures in place to combat these challenges. In the UAE, the law grants standards benefits, like annual leave, bonus, commission, overtime, insurance, accommodation, transportation, etc, to all employees. Now the international trend of reward and recognition is also catching up in the UAE. Participating

Internally, we’ve launched an Employee Value Proposition programme that incorporates routine communications and workshops to reinforce team spirit.

and winning corporate awards boosts the morale of the employee. Employee opinion surveys are also widely used for taking valuable inputs and co-creating solution for the challenges faced by the employees. Organisations are also hiring directly from hotel and business management institutes, offering scholarships and internships to potential hires. Institutes and industries are working very closely on developing the curriculum for the future, to produce better, employable talent. “There is also a deliberate effort to accommodate all generations in the workplace. Baby boomers are retiring, followed by Generation X, born i n early 1960s; Generation Y, born in 1970s, and eco-boomers, born after 1980. It is the last one that will change the game,”predicts Naik. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015 21


COVER STORY

Rezidor Hotel Group Aline Barhouche, Area HR Director, Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa The Middle East is often referred to as an ‘emerging market’, and efforts towards economic development lead to a demand in hospitality.“The key is to keep pace with the ambitious growth plans—be it from supplying hotels in the right places, to moving into new markets and providing the right services to existing properties,”says Aline Barhouche, Area HR Director, Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa, Rezidor Hotel Group. Another important element is bringing in the right talent. Barhouche believes that skilled talent is available in the GCC, and it’s simply a question of keeping a keen eye out to spot certain abilities that are required for different jobs.“Luckily, at Rezidor, we have a culture of spotting unique talent and then promoting people from within into careers that they might not envisioned themselves. In fact, Mark Willis, our area vice president Middle East and Turkey, first started out as a chef in one of the Radisson Blu properties, and then grew into this key position after honing his skills in several operational roles,”she says. While Rezidor tends towards hiring people from within into roles, they do fill in the gaps by hiring people who apply for jobs from outside the company, or through employee referrals. As with several aspects of business, social media has played a major role in how recruitment happens. This is a powerful tool that has helped recruiters engage with a larger audience, or find people through virtual job fairs.“You could say that the recruitment process is still the same, but social media energises it by giving us access to talent groups in many locations that we might not have had the potential to meet even five years ago,”explains Barhouche. Getting the right talent goes a long way in achieving the objectives of the industry. Because, at its heart, hospitality is a service industry, the needs and wants of the guests is always paramount. Given the high degree of competition, it is essential to meet the demands of the customers, which are as diverse as the people themselves. Figuring out who your guest is and 22 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

With a diverse mix of international guests visiting the Middle East, the hospitality industry requires a multicultural workforce to be part of the teams, in order to cater to such segments.

what s/he wants is crucial, and a strong focus on quality to deliver exceptional services can define one’s success. With markets like Saudi Arabia, or Oman, or the UAE, the leadership in the Gulf States is very motivated in diversifying their economies, and to create jobs for their citizens, whether it is in medicine, engineering, financial services, or hospitality.“What we’re experiencing is a shift into encouraging Gulf nationals into careers like hospitality, which is a positive, as it incorporates local cultures into hotels. After all, having Gulf nationals in your employee pool will help you understand the intricacies of the local market,”muses Barhouche. While there are local institutions that are well-renowned in teaching some subjects like business, which can be applied to the hospitality industry, overall, the level of education for careers in hospitality needs to

be developed to a higher standard, especially since there is an immediate need for skilled workforce in this sector. As it stands now, the hospitality industry is in a unique position: there is government support for the sector in most markets, the demand for hotels is high, and the investment exists. So the main challenge is, undoubtedly,


COVER STORY

the people aspect of operations. There is a ‘war for talent’ of sorts – for experienced, skilled and motivated people, and then the challenge for retaining the best employees. “Across the board, Rezidor is focused on hiring the best people from diverse backgrounds. We firmly believe that a person’s background, faith, language

or nationality can be an asset to our business, primarily because our guests are from these myriad backgrounds. Internally, we’ve launched an Employee Value Proposition programme that incorporates routine communications and workshops to reinforce team spirit. Another example of diversity is illustrated by our Women in Leadership campaign,

designed to increase the representation of women in senior positions across the entire company. Obviously, some markets will be more disposed to applying things like HR targets, but there is a genuine company culture to get more female employees involved in decision making. And, as a woman, I’m proud to be part of this,”smiles Barhouche. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015 23


COVER STORY

Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts Frances Smith, Vice President of Human Resources – Middle East & Asia Tourism to GCC countries is on track to hitting the 64.27 million mark by 2020, according to figures revealed by the statistics portal, Statista. This compares to nearly 41 million in 2010, and a predicted 53.64 million in 2015. With the number of existing hotels and those planned to open in the next five years, talented and qualified staff are not easy to find. “Our expansion plan coincides with the unprecedented growth phase of the hospitality industry in the region, fuelled mainly by an increase in public and private infrastructure investments, in addition to upcoming mega events such as the World Expo 2020 in Dubai and World Cup in Qatar,”says Frances Smith, Vice President of Human Resources – Middle East & Asia, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts. The Group currently has 7,800 employees in the region, and in line with their 2020 strategy, they expect to increase this number to 11,800. With a diverse mix of international guests visiting the Middle East, the hospitality industry requires a multicultural workforce to be part of the teams, in order to cater to such segments. Smith believes that Talent Acquisition and Talent Management are two of the key areas for the industry to aggressively work on, to achieve the desired business results. The hospitality industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the region. Smith feels that skilled talent is readily available for most departments. “However, as visa restrictions are less imposed than 10 years ago, it is very easy for employees to prematurely jump to a new opportunity – particularly with mass recruitment going on for pre-opening properties. Roles with specialist skills and that are in high demand, such as Revenue and Ecommerce, are more difficult to fill,” she explains. Professional networking platforms, such as LinkedIn and online recruitment, have opened up a new source of recruitment avenues. “Previously, if we wanted to fill a position, we had to pay for advertising or a recruitment agent to source 24 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

In the UAE, the law grants standards benefits, like annual leave, bonus, commission, overtime, insurance, accommodation, transportation, etc, to all employees.

suitable candidates – which can be very expensive. Now, we can directly access candidates worldwide,”she adds. However, it is not all that simple. Explains Smith,“It all starts with attitude. No matter how much experience a candidate has, I will not hire them if I don’t think they fit the company culture. Richard Branson says, ‘You don’t train attitudes, you have to hire them’. Once you have the right people on the team, they can do anything. To ensure the best service levels for our guests, we focus on the engagement of our people to the company. Pride in the workplace is the number one factor that drives engagement.” Career development is the next important factor. People won’t stay with you if they can’t see a future. “As our company has an aggressive development strategy, we want our

team to develop with us. In 2015, almost 80 per cent of appointments of our senior leaders within the region took place through our internal pipeline,”she adds. The hospitality industry is expanding significantly in the region, and the government and private sector have recognised this potential. This is proven by the major developments and infrastructure projects taking place across the region, in addition to upcoming mega events, such as the World Expo 2020 in Dubai and the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, and continuously implementing global marketing campaigns. This creates demand for qualified talent, which, Smith feels, is available in the Middle East.“There are a lot of highly accredited institutes providing certifications and degree programmes in the hospitality industry. Having international faculties and the highest education standards ensures educated talent is available for the industry. We have a strong relationship with Swiss hotel schools, particularly EHL. Every year, we hire a minimum of two trainees in our area offices, and offer exposure to Finance, Sales & Marketing, Development, and Food & Beverage. Our hotels around the region also support these hotel school students,”she says. Their Graduate Development Programme offers an extensive twoyear exposure and development in an operational department – Food & Beverage or Front Office. The calibre of talents of these graduates is exceptional, and the Group has several managers who have progressed through this programme, adding credibility to Smith’s approach. But it does not end there. Training the team at all levels is important. Classroom training is only the beginning, and in some cases, it does not deliver the expected results, as there is no follow up on the job, or no transfer of skills to the workplace.“A lot of employees attend one session, and, in their mind, they already know everything. However, employees who are lucky enough to have leaders who support their ongoing development in the workplace are going to be most successful. Theory must be transferred to the practical. Employees with a career development plan in place with


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COVER STORY

structured training and development activities give great results for the company,” says Smith. “Some of our key initiatives in Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts in terms of Training and Development that have proven successful include the Talent Development Centre. We are committed to identifying and building a pipeline of future General Managers from within the company, and our Talent Development Centre at corporate level works with our Executive Assistant Managers to prepare them for future General Manager roles. The programme combines in depth assessments, simulations and self-reflection that helps pinpoint development opportunities. As part of the process, each participant is partnered with a mentor who helps facilitate learning and progression,” she explains. 26 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

There are many differences between the skilled and unskilled talent, and skilled talent comes at a price.

In addition, they also offer a selection of hospitality-focused online learning courses in partnership with eCornell. The wide variety of courses available are intended to develop key management and leadership skills to support their overall business objectives. eCornell courses provide an engaging learning experience through a combination of rigorous and relevant coursework and enriching facilitation by subject-matter experts. Again, retention of the right workforce is the key to continued success.“I think flexibility is important. If, for example, an employee would like to live with their family, instead of the company accommodation, let’s see how we could help them. If an employee would like to buy a property instead of renting a place, let’s see how we could help them. We have an operation to run, but if helping

our employees won’t incur additional costs to the business anyway, then why don’t we come up with a win-win solution. We do whatever we can to create ‘moments’ for our guests, so we would like to also do this for our most important resource, our employees,” she says. There are also some companies that are paying cash instead of providing benefits. Setting up these new procedures and parameters can be difficult, but once in place, it can allow the employee to choose how to allocate money to their various living expenses. “The Middle East is a region where many employees have chosen to settle with their families. Buying properties and sending their children to local schools is all a part of committing to a certain lifestyle. People have more choices these days, and we need to respond accordingly,”concludes Smith.


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Kamlesh Bablani, Business Manager & HR Consultant, Dansult As the hospitality industry sees exponential growth, with more predicted in the coming few years, employer value proposition will be the defining difference for employees, feels Kamlesh Bablani, Business Manager & HR Consultant, Dansult. “Branding will be a real recruiting difference. Employees now understand the importance of brand vision and associating themselves with an organisation that cares about the society in which it operates beyond profits,” he states. With more advancements in technology, it is crucial to recruit individuals who will be able to manage the technology effectively. Social capabilities must be integrated into the platforms. Bablani feels that

in-house HR is expected to downsize, and outsourcing will increase.“HR will increasingly utilise analytic and big data to augment its value to the firm. Managing a remote workforce will be the new norm,”he adds. In the region, the term ‘Show me the Money’ is a strong concept. Most of the industry are more prone to move towards finding the right people, the right talent, the right candidate to do the job in hand. There are many differences between the skilled and unskilled talent, and skilled talent comes at a price. Which is why, in the last few years, a lot of companies in Dubai are hiring freelancers, or staff on a temp basis. This saves the company the cost of hiring a full time employee, and the stress that comes with benefits and such.“Some companies recruit only ‘skilled’ candidates, as they bring their experience into a new company, and form new ideas. There is also the idea of bulk recruitment, where companies hire a larger work force from abroad at a lesser salary than they would offer when hiring from their current country,”he informs. As companies grow, so does their workforce and competition, and employees are increasingly eager to learn and earn at the same time. “However, companies have to be careful as trained employees can also be ready to move to another company. This is where retention programmes come in, so your employees stay. These include benefits, more bonuses, etc, especially now, since competition in the hospitality sector is vast. As a customer, I too rely on the service rather than the look of the hotel when it comes to my experience. If the service is good, I am happy. If it is not, then I leave with a sour taste,”he says. Luckily for the industry, the UAE Government is facilitating its growth through various initiatives.“Dubai has started the Tourism Dirham, a charge of AED seven to AED 20 a night on guests staying at hotels, hotel apartments, guest houses and holiday homes to assist in the projects for Expo 2020. Dubai is now a worldclass brand, built up in part due to the government’s efforts to elevate its standing through the work of DTCM. The EXPO 2020 win, amongst others, continues to be a major pull factor for SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015 27


COVER STORY

visitors into Dubai,” muses Bablani. As tourism initiatives pull in the numbers, the industry needs to gear up with skilled talent. Bablani feels there are a lot of institutions in Dubai that are available for training and development, which maintain a roster of high calibre students.“There was a time when graduates from the UK, USA or Sweden had an impact, but nowadays, there are institutions here in Dubai who are very much involved in supporting and assisting students to choose the right career path. Universities also assist graduating students by funding programmes that allow them to study abroad for a year or two, and bring back new ideas to Dubai,”he explains. Once you find the right candidate, says Bablani, it is important to offer them the right incentives to stay. Corporate training should be designed to encourage employees to work hard in familiarising themselves with the process, and, at the same, pushing

28 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

Universities also assist graduating students by funding programmes that allow them to study abroad for a year or two, and bring back new ideas to Dubai.

them to develop their own individual aptitudes and skills. The goal is to train employees to be flexible, and able to work with minimal supervision. “Encourage your employees to figure things out on their own. Most managers don’t like to waste time on self-learning, while it is actually very relevant to achievement of objectives. The company needs employees who are capable of thinking on their feet so that they can quickly find solutions when a situation arises. No ‘spoon feeding’ for employees – it’s the job of the HR or TND to make sure that their workforce is better than their competitors,”says Bablani. When employees are in the right mindset and mood, they will be receptive, and will be able to process information quickly. Of course, they will also be able to exercise their own judgments as the shroud of formality is lifted.“By ensuring that employees are sufficiently well-cared for and, challenged enough, they will be able to

use their innate skills and capabilities, and you will build for yourself a highly engaged and productive workforce,” he adds. In the UAE, HR departments face a unique set of challenges, balancing nationalisation, a largely expatriate workforce, and a changing regulatory environment. Nationality plays a big role in salaries, as does experience, so it’s always tricky.“I would personally like to see nationals working handin-hand with expats, as they would learn and grow within the company,” says Bablani. At the end of the day, questions like what hotel brand it is, do they have a high turnover, what are the salaries, what is the housing, etc, determine where people choose to work. “As HR Managers, we are mother and father of all departments, and we teach. For me, personally, I teach my associates, and assist them in making the right choices. I keep an open door policy, and so should you,”he advises.


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‫على موظفني جدد من خالل‬ ‫توصيات املوظفني احلاليني الطريقة‬ ‫املفضلة للتوظيف‪ .‬كذلك يضيف‬ ‫مسعود بقوله‪« :‬ال توجد طرق‬ ‫مختصرة للترقي في قطاع الضيافة –‬ ‫وعلى املرء املرور من خالل الرتب‪.‬‬ ‫يبدأ التميز في تقدمي اخلدمة من‬ ‫اخلطوط األمامية ويستمر حتى أعلى‬ ‫مستوى‪ .‬هذا التميز يجب أن يكون‬ ‫جزءا أساسيا من الهيكل التنظيمي‬ ‫واإلداري في كل مؤسسة فندقية‪.‬‬

‫يجب ضبط القوى العاملة والنظام‬ ‫اإلداري في املؤسسة باستمرار وفقا‬ ‫الحتياجات العمالء‪ ،‬واإلدارة العليا‬ ‫عليها بناء وتيسير واحلفاظ على‬ ‫الثقافة املوجهة لصالح العمالء‪».‬‬ ‫بينما تكتسب حكومات دول‬ ‫مجلس التعاون سمعة طيبة باعتبارها‬ ‫توفر محفزات اقتصادية ميكن‬ ‫االعتماد عليها‪ ،‬وتعمل على توجيه‬ ‫التقدم االقتصادي املطرد عقب اآلثار‬ ‫املترتبة على الربيع العربي واألزمة‬

‫االقتصادية العاملية‪ ،‬بدأ االستثمار‬ ‫في التدفق مرة أخرى إلى املنطقة‪،‬‬ ‫وهو ما يبدو جليا بشكل خاص في‬ ‫دولة اإلمارات العربية املتحدة‪ ،‬بداية‬ ‫من البيئة التمكينية التي شكلتها‬ ‫احلكومة االحتادية واحلكومات احمللية‪،‬‬ ‫والتي وفرت املناخ اآلمن للعمل‪،‬‬ ‫ووضعت إطارا تنظيميا قويا‪ ،‬وبنت‬ ‫مجموعة متنوعة من األصول املدنية‪،‬‬ ‫وحتى حتسني التعليم والبنية التحتية‬ ‫الصحية‪.‬‬ ‫‪30 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015‬‬


‫‪COVER STORY‬‬

‫كل شيء مرهون‬ ‫بفريق العمل‬

‫يقدم كبار خبراء املوارد البشرية في املنطقة وجهة نظرهم حول أهم مورد‬ ‫في الفندق الناجح‪ ،‬أال وهو املوظف‪ .‬العثور على وتدريب ومن ثم اإلبقاء‬ ‫على املرشح املناسب ليس باألمر السهل‪ ،‬ولكن مع بعض الرؤية والنهج املرن‪،‬‬ ‫ميكن أن تغير ذلك‪.‬‬

‫مسعود نايق‪ ،‬مستشار‬ ‫املوارد البشرية‪ ،‬جاليدس‬ ‫لالستشارات‬

‫شهدت صناعة الضيافة تطورات‬ ‫ملموسة في السنوات األربعني –‬ ‫اخلمسني املاضية‪ ،‬من مجرد السفر‪-‬‬ ‫البقاء لتناول الطعام بشكل عارض‪،‬‬ ‫السياحة اجلماعية‪ ،‬سفر املجموعات‪،‬‬ ‫شركات الطيران االقتصادي‪ ،‬وحتى‬ ‫الزيادة في أعداد سالسل الفنادق‪،‬‬ ‫واملتنزهات‪ ،‬ووجهات املغامرة‬ ‫والترفيه‪.‬‬ ‫بشكل عام‪ ،‬صناعة الضيافة هي‬ ‫واحدة من أكثر القطاعات احليوية‬ ‫والتنافسية في دولة اإلمارات العربية‬ ‫املتحدة‪ ،‬مع املساهمة اخلاصة‬ ‫للفنادق في االقتصاد‪ ،‬ويؤكد على‬ ‫ذلك مسعود نايق قائال‪« :‬تتمتع‬ ‫دولة اإلمارات بسجل حافل ملعدالت‬ ‫اإلشغال‪ ،‬مع زيادة القدرة االستيعابية‬ ‫لتواكب الزيادة املتوقعة في املستقبل‪،‬‬ ‫ويساعد على حتقيق كل ذلك اجلهود‬ ‫التي تبذلها احلكومة في تطوير‬ ‫البنية التحتية‪ .‬تشير االجتاهات إلى‬ ‫االعتماد املتزايد للمسافرين على‬ ‫التكنولوجيا‪ ،‬من احلجز عبر اإلنترنت‬ ‫ملشاركة خبرات سفرهم على مواقع‬ ‫الشبكات االجتماعية‪ .‬هذا التأثير‬ ‫يعني أن قطاع الضيافة يحتاج إلى‬ ‫التركيز على تخطيط املوارد «‪.‬‬ ‫تلعب أنظمة الدعم اإلداري‬ ‫املستخدمة من قبل الشركات العاملة‬ ‫في قطاع الضيافة دورا حاسما للغاية‪،‬‬ ‫‪SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015 31‬‬

‫ويعبر مسعود عن ذلك بقوله‪« :‬على‬ ‫سبيل املثال‪ ،‬يجب أن يكون التكامل‬ ‫أولوية قصوى للمساعدة في حتقيق‬ ‫التوزيع عبر قنوات متعددة مبا يجعل‬ ‫من املمكن توفير آخر غرفة متاحة‪،‬‬ ‫بغض النظر عن طبيعة نقطة البيع‪ ،‬أو‬ ‫متكني االستحقاق الفوري أو استرداد‬ ‫نقاط الوالء في أي نقطة اتصال مع‬ ‫العمالء‪».‬‬ ‫الرعاية ذاتها يجب أن توليها‬ ‫الكتساب واحلفاظ على وتطوير‬ ‫املوظفني‪ .‬توفر الفنادق اآلن التدريب‬ ‫املهني الداخلي ملوظفيها‪ ،‬مبا ميكنهم‬ ‫من العمل والدراسة في ذات الوقت‪.‬‬ ‫حيث أن هذه الصناعة احمللية تعتمد‬ ‫إلى حد كبير على دول العالم الثالث‬ ‫إلمدادها بالقوى العاملة‪ ،‬فإنه ال‬ ‫ميكن أن تخسر تركيزك على العمال‬ ‫واملهنيني الذين يدفعون االقتصاد‬ ‫لألمام‪ ،‬وبالتالي يزود التدريب‬ ‫املهني هؤالء العمال باملهارات التي‬ ‫يحتاجون إليها‪.‬‬ ‫يستطرد مسعود قائال‪« :‬التوظيف‬ ‫في مجال الضيافة يزداد صعوبة‬ ‫بسبب العروض غير اجلذابة‪ ،‬خاصة‬ ‫وأن خريجي الضيافة اليوم يبحثون‬ ‫عن فرص عمل في صناعات أخرى‪.‬‬ ‫على مدى السنوات القليلة املاضية‪،‬‬ ‫بدأت أساليب التوظيف تتكيف‬ ‫مع التكنولوجيات اجلديدة – مثل‬ ‫استخدام وسائل اإلعالم االجتماعي‪،‬‬ ‫وبوابات الوظائف‪ ،‬واستخدام املقابالت‬ ‫عبر الفيديو الذي يوفره تطبيق مثل‬

‫سكايب‪ ،‬وكلها أدوات أحدثت‬ ‫ثورة شاملة في العملية برمتها‪ .‬حصة‬ ‫التوظيف عبر اإلنترنت في قطاع‬ ‫الضيافة والسياحة ارتفعت إلى ‪%34‬‬ ‫وينمو التوظيف لصناعة السياحة اآلن‬ ‫مبعدل أسرع من أي قطاع آخر في‬ ‫اإلمارات العربية املتحدة‪».‬‬ ‫يساعد مقدمو خدمات القوى‬ ‫العاملة ‪ /‬املوردين ونظم إدارة‬ ‫املوردين في تقليل زمن دورة‬ ‫التوظيف‪ .‬كذلك أصبح احلصول‬


DESTINATION REPORT

St Moritz heaven on earth Speaking to Ariane Ehrat, CEO Tourism Organisation of Engadin, St Moritz, is like getting a first-hand experience of life in the beautiful Swiss valley. And she gives you more than one reason to visit the place as soon as possible.

32 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015


DESTINATION REPORT

S

t Moritz is part of the Engadin region, which boasts of natural beauty and the opportunity for one to get close to nature. As the winter months come to a close and give way to spring, the deep white glaciers slowly turn green, intimating that summer is on its way. Flowering plants and blooming trees give off a wonderful fragrance that spreads around the region. You can smell the sweet taste of nature in the air. Switzerland is perceived as a rich country, what with their chocolates, healthcare and tourism industries being so successful. But, says Ariane Ehrat, CEO, Tourism Organisation of Engadin, like Dubai, this is not necessarily true.“The Swiss Franc is strong for a variety of foreign countries

The majority of people in St Moritz are tourists, so once the summer season subsides, most hotels close down for a few months, reopening at the end of November in time for the start of the ski season

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015 33


and people. And even though we are working towards bettering our services and our hospitality management, I’m sure that people do compare these services and the industry with other countries, where prices are high, given the exchange rate.” Tourism is the second most important industry in Switzerland, behind the industrial and services sector. In St Moritz though, tourism is the most important industry, generating more than Swiss Fr 857 million every year. About 99 per cent of the population is directly or indirectly affected by tourism. There are about 13 small communities in the St Moritz valley, and the entire population is 20,000. Of those, around 16,000 are tourism employees, who are 34 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

directly affected by the tourism industry – they could be working in hospitality, in the Mountain Railway train stations, or other tourism organisations. The majority of people in St Moritz are tourists, so once the summer season subsides, most hotels close down for a few months, reopening at the end of November in time for the start of the ski season.“But this time, when September begins, is when St Moritz is at its most beautiful. There are hotels that are open all year round because we think this is one of the most beautiful seasons, when the trees become golden, and the mountains are covered with snow – it’s a very special time. We want to tell everyone about this beautiful time, around September and October,

when the air is very clear and the trees turn many shades. People know about the Indian Summer in the East Coast in the US, but they do not know about the beautiful weather and climate in St Moritz, which is what we would like to highlight and promote,”she says. The beauty of St Moritz, however, is not a big secret. There are more than one million visitors each year, this number generates 1,600 overnight stays in hotels. If we add up apartments, this number goes up to 3,400 for the entire year. The GCC region accounts for only two per cent of this number, which is quite low.“We would like to have more visitors from this region. We do have plenty of space for more visitors all


DESTINATION REPORT

From September to November is when St Moritz is at its most beautiful. There are hotels that are open all year round because we think this is one of the most beautiful seasons, when the trees become golden, and the mountains are covered with snow – it’s a very special time year round, and even in winter, when the sun is a bit unusual - it sets very late and rises early. You can leave the windows open at night, the way we Swiss like to do, and trust me, once you sleep with your windows open at night in Switzerland, you will want to do it for the rest of your life,”she smiles, adding,“You can drink water from the lakes, and enjoy the natural waterfalls and fountains. When you smell the water, you can smell the grass, the trees in the water, and you can drink it. Also, the tap water is from the streams, so it is a great way to really connect with nature, which, I think, is very important for us as human beings.” One can learn more about this beautiful destination through the

Switzerland Tourism office in Dubai, but Ehrat hopes that someday they will have the budget to have their own representation here.“When we think about the advantages of our country and our region, and how we can increase visitors from this region, it begins with the colours - the green nature and blue skies. In Dubai, I find the climate a bit grey overall. No doubt, the hotels here are fabulous, and clients from the GCC have high standards, but we also have some wonderful properties, and offer the unique combination of nature and hospitality. In terms of infrastructure, I think we offer a completely wonderful experience, very apt and suited for the GCC culture and lifestyle,”she says.

When it comes to choosing a vacation spot each year, people like to make informed decisions. There is a lot of competition as more and more destinations vie for travellers from the region. Which is why, feels Ehrat, it is important for them to constantly remind people of their existence.“It is important for us to be present on each and every tourism promotion platform in the GCC and MENA region to meet with the media, to collaborate with tour operators, to occupy catalogues, etc. Basically, use many different channels to promote and display what St Moritz can offer. Travellers from this region are well-educated and well-travelled, so they know exactly what they want from their holiday. It is thus important to ensure they get the whole picture of the destination, and not just bits of information, enabling them to make their choice wisely,”she says. An advantage that St Moritz now has, over competition, is that UAE Nationals no longer need a visa to travel to the Schengen countries.“This is a very important development for the future. People today lead busy lives, and want easy access to destinations. We have an airport just two kms from the St Moritz valley, and you can fly directly from Dubai or Abu Dhabi to our airports, so all other formalities are also smooth. We also have many Russian clients who come directly from Moscow, and I think the same applies to regional visitors. At the moment, we cannot cater to charter flights because we don’t have the right infrastructure, but we can work with private jets, which is good news for Middle Eastern visitors.” Currently, St Moritz boasts 12,000 hotel beds in 162 hotels in the region. It also has the highest number of fivestar hotels in all of Switzerland, which is indicative of the luxury the region offers. They also host the FIS Alpine ski world cup Championships every two years, and many other events for younger families. They also offer many budget options in four and three star categories for people who want to watch their spending, so you have no excuse not to visit. More information is available on the website www.engadin.stmoritz.ch. Arabic speaking tourists can go to their Arabic website www.stmoritz. com/ar SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015 35


A tranquil haven in the mountains Alila Jabal Al Akhdar

36 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015


HOTEL REVIEW

Alila Jabal Al Akhdar, Oman, is a serene and enchanting property located high up in the mountains of Nizwa, 2,000 metres above sea level. Open from the last quarter of 2014, being at this property removes you from the routine you know taking you into a fabulous new normal where all around you are rugged mountains, crisp clean air and serene nature. It’s also a chance to see first hand the exemplary Omani hospitality and observe their way of life when out in the neighbouring villages. ThME visited and came away enamoured

L Accommodation - Jabal Terrace, Alila Jabal Akhdar

anding at Muscat International Airport on a sultry June afternoon, I was met with my hotel pick up as soon as I exited the airport. In fact, he was the only person waiting outside arrivals! Summer months do really mean very few visitors coming into the country. The car thermostat showed an very hot 47 degrees centigrade. I was really looking forward to the cooler temperatures at the property. Being 2,000 metres above sea level, the Alila Jabal Al Akhdar is a mountain top retreat and temperatures are usually SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015 37


Accommodation - Bathroom

Alila Jabal Akhdar Exterior

20-25 degrees lower than anywhere else in Oman. The Alila Jabal Al Akhdar is a two hour drive from Muscat International Airport to the Nizwa township where the mountain is located. Abdullah salem Al-Shreaqi who was driving me wasn’t hotel staff, but worked with the property handling their guest airport transfers when the hotel vehicle wasn’t available. His transport company is based in the village of Barkat Al Mouz right at the bottom of the mountain. From Barkat Al Mouz to the hotel is about a 30 minute drive and only four-wheel drive vehicles are allowed. We changed our car at Abdullah’s office and took a more comfortable Land Cruiser, we also picked up 38 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

Its refreshing to be in such a pleasant outdoor climate just a few hours away from home right in the middle of Summer!

Abdullah’s cousin who needed to be dropped half way up the mountain to tend to his herd of goats and look after his other farm animals. He did this on a daily basis Abdullah told me. Most of the people of the village are goat shepherds and farmers. And as I was about to find out in my stay, this country has a fascinating link with its past with a very steady vision for its future. We reached the property in about 30 minutes, the way it has been built, the external facade of the hotel is made using the same rocks from the mountains so until we are inside the gates, one cannot really see the hotel buildings, they blend in so effortlessly with their surroundings.

The hotel looks like a fort, a palace from the past (poetically), grand, magnificent, a magical and secret place high up in the mountains. It’s breathtaking … enchanting. The weather was also a pleasant 23 degrees. This hotel was indeed a very good idea. Walking towards the hotel the entrance doors are huge, wooden with studs like the doors seen in forts in architecture around the region. There were two large incense burners burning a woody, strong frankincense. The entrance and lobby is huge, high ceilings, interiors have the same use of wood and rock, there is a huge fireplace and the view! A very different kind of paradise in the desert. The outdoor area has water features built in the


HOTEL REVIEW

Alila Jabal Akhdar - Horizon Suite

Alila Jabal Akhdar - Pool

traditional Omani aflaj style - narrow irrigation channels. Its refreshing to be in such a pleasant outdoor climate just a few hours away from home right in the middle of Summer! My room was a Mountain view suite an immense 560 square foot of minimalist, traditional Omani design. It had a king size bed, television, work desk, lavish seating area and an enormous bathroom. Bathroom amenities are produced by Alila using natural, local ingredients such as juniper and rose. In fact, juniper is so much a part of the hotel that the wood from juniper trees has been used as decor to invoke a feel of being inside an old Omani house. The juniper wood beams on the ceiling add character

Alila Jabal Akhdar - Bathroom

inside all of the 84 suites and two villas. Perhaps the best part of the room lay in what was beyond it - in the balcony! The fantastic and jaw-dropping view of the mountain. The balcony was also very large with a comfortable couch and coffee table. Sitting there hearing nothing at all except a few birds chirping or the sound of their wings flying overhead is probably the most precious feeling in the world. I never imagined that hearing no sound, absolutely nothing at all would be so therapeutic, healing, addictive and unforgettable. That is truly something worth experiencing. And I have found this nowhere else in the world I have travelled to. The hotel has two restaurants

Juniper and the Rose Lounge. While Juniper offers all meals from breakfast to dinner, the Rose Lounge is for light bites and drinks.

Exploring the mountains The hotel’s Leisure Concierge, Ali Al Abri, is a resourceful person and key asset for the hotel. He has immense knowledge of the mountains being from the area. He hosted the excursion around the mountains to show me around the ruins of an abandoned village (which throws light on the way of life of the people from the area) as well as took me to a beginner’s level trek to see a few neighbouring villages. The soil in Oman is very fertile and very like the Mediterranean region SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015 39


HOTEL REVIEW

meaning an abundance of fruits, nuts, vegetable and flowers. The pomegranates of Nizwa are highly sought-after as per Ali. He was saying that buyers from the UAE pay unasked for prices to acquire the pomegranates from Nizwa going as far as to have the fruits now auctioned at peak seasons! Another popular crop of Nizwa is the damask rose. And the smoked rose water that is derived from it. This is also famous for being one of the best and purest kinds of rose water in the world. Ali took me to villages that have only a few families still living in them. One village had only one old rose water manufacturer still living in it! Ali said that as kids grow up they want to move out of the villages and find jobs in companies, their parents meanwhile cannot think of another way of life besides the one they are used to. We came across a few women walking in between their homes flasks in hand around 11am (their ladies’ coffee-mornings!). I asked Ali if he could take some pictures of me with the ladies. He cautioned me to not approach them at all as they were a very private people who do not like to be disturbed by visitors who come to see their villages. Ali told me that being hospitable was deeply ingrained in the Omani culture and way of life, so while they do not mind people coming and visiting their villages, they expect their privacy to not be disturbed. All around the villages were orchards belonging to the villagers growing peaches, myrtle, walnuts, pomegranates, papaya and guava, Ali said they trust the people who visit their village to not spoil their property as they viewed them. Ali took me to see new villages with modern homes and in everything showed me how life used to be in the valley only a few years ago. He told me that the Omani government wanted to attract tourists but also did not want its nation to be filled with them. They were doing things steadily and in the right way. The experience was very enriching and a great learning experience about the Omani characteristic which is very noble, humble, hospitable with a very strong sense of self. The experience at Alila Jabal Al Akhdar was unique indeed, a complete disconnect from the world I was used to. Exactly as a vacation is meant to be. 40 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

A gorgeous boutique resort GM of the property Julian Ayers shares his insights about the property The Alila Jabal Al Akhdar is a new property in a unique location in Oman, how have initiatives at the hotel managed to capture maximum business? Aside from the stunning views and amazing weather offered in Jabal Akhdar – as Muscat is a sweltering 48 degrees, we sit at a pleasant 30 degrees – our location provides endless activities that guests can enjoy during their stay at Alila Jabal Akhdar including seeing the harvesting of peaches, dates, figs and pomegranates; production of rose-water; walks and hikes over the mountain; and the exploring of abandoned villages. How much are your F&B outlets contributing to the overall earnings? What are the new initiatives in place when it comes to promoting a different experience at The Alila, whether for business or otherwise? One of our core values is to buy locally as we have a co-operative of farmers who supply us with fresh produce on a daily basis, from herbs and salad leaves to local honey and goat meat. Chef Daniel is continuously changing the menus to highlight the seasonal goods. What about meetings, conferences and events, how much of the hotel’s earnings are through these channels? These months starting September are very busy times in terms of meetings and events and even leisure, how is the property poised to stay on top of the competition? We host quite a few exclusive MICE events, board meetings and corporate retreats - the fresh mountain air provides an inspiring setting for companies and staff. The MICE sector is key for driving weekday bookings. How have occupancy rates in your hotel changed from the time the hotel opened till date? What is the optimal occupancy percentage at the hotel in which the guest experience is not compromised? Is there even such a thing? There has been a steady increase of occupancy rates at Alila Jabal Akhdar from when it opened until now. As a boutique resort we don’t compromise the guest experience even when it is fully booked, as we believe there is always plenty of space and tranquillity for everyone.

How have you managed to cut the fat in terms of spending without altering the guest experience from the time the property opened till date? Being in a remote location means we have always had to run a tight operation as the cost of getting supplies up to the resort and storing them is high. How good is your team? What are challenges you are facing in terms of the people that work with you in making the hotel a success everyday? My team is phenomenal! They are incredibly guest-focused and the main key to the resort’s success. We are very much like a close-knit family; we work, live and play together. How is the hotel being promoted in other parts of the world? Which market do you think internationally is the biggest target audience for your hospitality? Alila Hotels & Resorts has a super network of GSA representatives in all our key source markets who drive the business through our travel partners. Our extensive global PR network has been our primary driver, and has had amazing results in communicating our messages.


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real Mexican food Bringing a new, and yet, traditional twist to Mexican cuisine, La Tablita, opening in October in the Hyatt Regency Creek Heights, is a restaurant to watch out for. ThME spoke to GM Mathieu Greppo and Executive Chef Carlos Hannon for details

M

exican cuisine is known for its intense and varied flavours, colourful presentation and the wide variety of spices used in preparing every single dish. Mexican gastronomy, in terms of diversity of appealing tastes and textures, is one of the richest in the world, with incredible vibrancy and fresh flavours, alongside taste. More and more people are beginning to realise the depth of Mexican cooking, beyond the ‘Americanised Tex-Mex’ approach. As people become more knowledgeable, the demand for genuine Mexican food is becoming more popular.

Which is why, when Hyatt Regency Creek Heights was setting up their property, they decided Mexican was the way to go, and La Tablita came into being.“Our physical location in Dubai presented a perfect opportunity for us to introduce an authentic Mexican restaurant, which is not currently available in the vicinity. A detailed market study was carried out, taking into account factors such as area demographics, before the theme was finalised. Particularly unique is that La Tablita takes inspiration from traditional tastes and recipes, as well as offering an ode to Mexican street food – presented in a contemporary, stylish manner,”says Mathieu Greppo,


INTERVIEW

General Manager, Hyatt Regency Creek Heights. Executive Chef Carlos Hannon, an award-winning chef who has left his culinary mark across the world, including his native Mexico, the Caribbean, New York and Spain, lead the planning, implementation and running of the restaurant. At La Tablita he revisits traditional Mexican flavours, respecting age-old recipes while updating the presentation. La Tablita will be a lively, festive and feel-good restaurant that aptly reflects Mexican cuisine and culture – perfect for celebrations or a good night out with friends. A great mix of authenticity in preparation and cooking, with

a modern approach to presentation and service, will be a key USP, all this brought to life by native Mexican staff who understand their cuisine and are passionate about sharing its heritage with guests. The menu is intended to be value-for-money, with authentic Mexican products used, carefully sourced by Chef Carlos. Every dish is perfectly curated to the very last detail, with each individual flavour distinctly exposed and emphasised. The total size of the restaurant is 543 sq mts, out of which 362 sq mts comprises the restaurant, which can seat 110 guests, while 181 sq mts is dedicated to the kitchen area. The kitchen has a brigade of 10 chefs. Apart from the regular flat tops, chillers and freezers, an authentic Tortilla Machine was brought in from Mexico, deemed to be one of the most important pieces of equipment in a Mexican restaurant. Explains Chef Carlos,“A taco is like the plate, napkin and spoon of Mexican street food. To make a good taco, you need good tortillas. Otherwise, it’s like running a sandwich shop without good bread. In my stints abroad, I have seen Mexicans bite into a tortilla and literally burst into tears – food is very emotive for us; it reminds us of our mothers, grandmothers – and of home. So trying to get our food to taste as authentic as possible is very important.” In addition, they have also sourced a Churros machine and Sous Vide machine from Mexico. The design company responsible for La Tablita is KCA, who have used a contemporary and modern approach to design, while retaining influences of a typical Mexican cantina.“Guests have the opportunity to see the live kitchen display as they enter, where they can view the delights of chefs ‘performing’ their culinary talents. The dynamic floor and ceiling design leads into a space that adds drama and surprise, and is for guests who enjoy active social eating and entertaining. The seating area has a good mix of private booths, commune

Mathieu Greppo

Apart from the regular flat tops, chillers and freezers, an authentic Tortilla Machine was brought in from Mexico, deemed to be one of the most important pieces of equipment in a Mexican restaurant.

tables, and a large bar area. A DJ booth will showcase live music during the weekends,” informs Greppo. As art consultants for La Tablita, Capsule Arts have worked with established and emerging artists who are locally based in the UAE. The artwork showcases contemporary Mexico, and is highly influenced by the culture and vibrant street art scene of the country. Amongst the artworks are original paintings on reclaimed wood, canvas, and murals covering the walls. They have also developed a unique metal cut artwork that will feature heavily throughout the interior design. La Tablita is essentially a contemporary Mexican cantina. The decor uses materials and fabrics such as wood and leather in colours such as deep red, orange and yellow to lend authenticity to the ambience. A builtin Ceviches Bar and Tacos bar act as focal points once someone enters the restaurant, drawing eyes immediately to the action taking place. The restaurant identity is depicted in four Mexican masks, but distilled into a cool urban style and paired with contemporary typography. Masks in Mexico are used in a wide variety of dance, ceremony, festivals and theatre, with the purpose of converting participants into other beings or characters.“Similarly, at La Tablita, we invite you to come and be someone else, forget your everyday life for a night. The buzz in the restaurant will be trendy and feisty, matched only by the creativity of the menu and drinks list,”smiles Greppo. To keep the authenticity of La Tablita intact, all the chefs that have been hired are Mexican, and have been hired through the Hyatt sister properties in Mexico.“Hence, they are not only native to the cuisine, they also understand the Hyatt culture very well. The chefs are being continuously challenged to create dishes that can bring out their character, while retaining the authentic flavours and ingredients,”says Greppo. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015 43


Executive Chef Carlos Hannon When did you join the Hyatt Regency Creek Heights?

I’m proud to share that I was handpicked for the role of Executive Chef at this new property by Pablo Graf, Senior Vice President of Operations Hyatt International South West Asia Ltd, and Mathieu Greppo, the GM. I had the pleasure of working with Graf in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, in the late 2000s, and we kept in touch over the years. After in-depth market research here in Dubai, it was decided that the new Hyatt Regency property would showcase a truly authentic Mexican restaurant. Graf immediately got in touch with me as he has always been appreciative of my passion for my native cuisine, and desire to share my culinary heritage with the world. I was excited by this unique opportunity, and joined the hotel in November 2014. 44 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

Amongst the artworks are original paintings on reclaimed wood, canvas, and murals covering the walls.

Tell us what a typical work day is like for you.

As Executive Chef, I am responsible for overall culinary operations in the hotel, including all restaurants, Room Service and banquets. A typical Executive Chef spends much of his time in the office, planning and co-ordinating. However, while also doing this, I like to be in the kitchens with my team. I am lucky to be able to live my true calling as a chef. Every day, I divide my time between the different meal periods to ensure I have my finger on the pulse of activities on the ground. I enjoy interacting with guests in the restaurants, getting their instant feedback, and even sharing some of the stories that inspire some of my dishes. I also continue to cook myself, especially when it comes to the menu for La Tablita. I encourage my team to be innovative and creative in the

kitchen. They know that they can come to me any time for advice and suggestions for improvement. In fact, it gives me great pleasure to see young chefs showing so much interest and passion, and being in a position of leadership, I can guide and nurture their talents. In my role, I also manage meals for all our associates in the staff cafeteria, which is itself a unique challenge. Together with my team, I need to ensure the food we serve to our associates is equally diverse, nutritious and tasty on a daily basis, six meals a day. What kind of research goes into creating new menus, and programmes related to food, for the hotel?

My research philosophy is actually quite simple - take advantage of the resources and expertise that is available right in front of you. My culinary team


INTERVIEW

One of the positive aspects about working with a company like Hyatt is that I am given the freedom to choose suppliers and products. The culinary and purchasing teams work closely together to ensure the right and best products are sourced. For example, in sourcing Avocadoes for La Tablita, which is a key ingredient in Mexican cuisine, I found the current supply to be unsuitable. I worked with the purchasing team to source different suppliers who could provide a different crop. While the eventual procurement turned out to cost more, management was very receptive towards this, so that I could maintain the authenticity and quality of the taste. How are guest demands changing with the rise of intolerances, such as gluten/celiac, or people eliminating food groups from their diets, such as vegans? How do you cater to the individual health food preferences?

We have the luxury of many options here in Dubai, and we don’t need to sacrifice the flavour and presentation of food to cater to dietary restrictions. Currently, on our menus, we offer gluten-free products such as pasta, bread, and corn tortillas, as well as other healthy items. I’m very proud of the fact that, for example, our breakfast

Courtesy of the artist Ruben Sanchez and Capsule Arts

members are my biggest sources of inspiration and learning. In Dubai, we are fortunate to have colleagues who are from extremely diverse backgrounds and influences. There is so much to learn from each individual – each person incorporates their own life story in the dishes they create, food is, after all, related to emotions and very personal. For example, when I was demonstrating some traditional Mexican dishes to my colleagues, an Indian chef pointed out that tortillas are actually similar to Indian chapattis and empanadas are like samosas! I was intrigued by the similarities, and how world cuisines are so different, yet innately similar. Discoveries like these lead to the exploration of which ingredients work well together, and how we can put a contemporary twist on classics. A lot of research insights also comes from guests. Today’s diner is

s

f’ Che

extremely well-travelled, and many are connoisseurs of fine food. Sometimes a guest will share with me details about a dish he tasted somewhere and inspire me to incorporate different ingredients and techniques in my cooking.

tes

ri u o v fa

How do you source the ingredients for the dishes you create, on an operational level.

There are a few factors to be considered when it comes to purchasing of food items: value-for-money, quality, and of course, price. We also keep a keen lookout for seasonal products, which are available at certain times of the year, for example, truffles, asparagus etc. When such seasonal produce is available, we try to include specialty dishes in the existing menus for a limited time. Generally, the Chef de Cuisine of each restaurant prepares his market list and consults me, since I am responsible for the final curation of all menus.

Best meal: Tacos in Guadalajara Worst meal: Anything instant Best hotel experience: In San Miguel de Allende All-time favourite comfort food: Tacos, ceviches and live BBQ grill Your favourite spice: Mexican Chillies. In La Tablita, I’ll be using a selection of 16 different types of chillies in different dishes, both savoury and sweet

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015 45


INTERVIEW

juices at Sufra and Market24 are freshly-squeezed daily. We even offer the ‘Verde Juice’, my mom’s recipe, which is super healthy, made with oranges, honey, spinach, parsley, celery and pineapple - our guests love it. Where did you train to cook?

I actually started with the school of life when I was growing up in Guadalajara! My earliest memories as a kid are of sitting on a stool in my kitchen, watching my grandma and mom as they cooked. Mexicans are very emotional when it comes to food, and a lot of occasions and festivals are synonymous with different dishes. I soon found myself chopping ingredients to help them out, and eventually moving on to making full meals. My grandma used to tell me: “Barriga llena Corazon contento”, which means“happy belly, happy heart”. This is a philosophy I hold close to me until now. In terms of professional education, I attended culinary schools at the Instituto Culinario de Mexico in Mexico, and Spermalie Hotel and School, in Belgium. How long have you been cooking professionally?

I started when I was 15 years old - my first job was in a Taco shop almost 21 years ago. What is your style of cooking?

My style remains the same as my Grandma taught me… with love and a lot of fun, Andale! On your day off, which restaurant do you like eating at?

I would say some comfort food made by my wife.

La Tablita – a preview

F

abulous hospitality, the freshest ingredients, delicious, authentic Mexican food and a Chef with an exuberant passion for his craft is what Top hotel Middle East’s experience of eating at La Tablita was. We were one of the few lucky guests to be invited by the hotel’s very gracious and hospitable Marketing and Communications Manager, Leenu Bablani, for a preview of the restaurant which opens its doors in October. That evening we were spoilt by Chef Carlos Hannon and his dedicated team of professionals who shared with us his passion for Mexican food. The table was Top left: Leenu Bablani, Marketing Communications Manager Hyatt set in the restaurant’s kitchen, Regency Creek Heights; Centre 2nd from left Munawar Shariff, Managing Editor ThME, front left Chef Carlos Hannon on the white board next to our table we read the menu for the day. It was an eight-course gastronomical journey! Yes, you read that right - Eight courses! Hospitable, friendly, engaging and approachable, Chef Carlos spoke about his restaurant, his passion for Mexican food and how the name of the restaurant is an integral part of everyday Mexican life. La Tablita meaning a small block or board of wood, Chef Hannon spoke of how if there was a window that needed to be covered you used a tablita, if you were in school you would use a tablita as a clipboard, or if your mom wanted to teach you a lesson for being naughty she’d use a tablita to spank you back to your senses!

Is there another chef you admire?

Churros

There are many…but my Grandma has always been my biggest inspiration. Her emphasis always remained on fresh ingredients, patience, understanding the flavour of each ingredient, and the love for her family, which radiated in every bite.

So here’s what we ate that day. Soft drinks: Hibiscus water, Tamarind Margarita with chili piquin. Homemade guacamole, corn chips Prawns ceviche, coconut, coriander, chili habanero Tortilla soup, pasilla chili Fish tacos, pickled onions, chipotle mayonnaise Glazed veal, roasted corn pure, mesquite smoke Mango sorbet, chamoy Grandma’s churros, artisan chocolate

What is your advice for someone who wants to become a chef?

Be yourself! Draw on your heritage and experiences. Be prepared for a long, hard but extremely satisfying journey. 46 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

Mango sorbet

We truly cannot wait to try the rest of the menu once the restaurant is open.


THE HOTEL SHOW - WHAT TO EXPECT

Aiming for

Over 80 international experts and 18,000 attendees are expected to make The Hotel Show and The Leisure Show, happening from September 28-30, bigger than ever before. ThME gets you the details

48 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

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he latest edition of The Hotel Show and The Leisure Show, to be held from September 28 to 30, 2015 at the Dubai World Trade Centre, is also going to be host to the third annual Vision Conference in Dubai. Over 80 international industry experts from PwC, STR Global, Tophotelprojects, Deloitte, and more, will speak on mega trends and developments in the hospitality and leisure industry in the UAE and globally at the three-day conference. The topics and calibre of speakers is expected to attract over 18,000 attendees across the three days.

Philip Shepherd, Partner, PwC Middle East Hospitality & Leisure Leader, a speaker on the ‘Mega Trends’ panel at the Vision Conference, says, “The UAE already rivals world-leading tourism and leisure destination, Orlando, in the scale of its transport links, hotels, F&B, and its central global location - within four hours flight of three billion people - which is unrivalled. By 2021, the UAE will have developed the other key ‘enablers’ to become a world-class leisure and entertainment destination and worldleading competitor.” “We forecast that by 2021, the addressable UAE leisure market will have increased by 70 per cent on 2015 figures to 45 million people, including 31 million international tourists, with residents, their relatives and friends, a further 14 million,” he continued, adding,“While the UAE has many of the ‘enablers’ in place or planned, ultimate success will depend on


THE HOTEL SHOW - WHAT TO EXPECT

Bedroom at The Hotel Show Dubai 2014

co-ordination between the Emirates, hotels, transport providers and the various UAE-wide attractions set to launch. If successful, UAE attractions can achieve 18 million theme park visits alone by 2021, in comparison to Singapore’s 6.7 million and Hong Kong’s 15 million today.” In the UAE alone, leisure mega-attractions in the planning, construction and pre-opening stages include Dubai Parks and Resorts (2016), Guggenheim Museum Abu Dhabi (2017) and Dream Island, Ras al Khaimah (2018). Phil Taylor, Managing Director of Team Leisure LLC, when asked to comment on ‘Dubai theme parks: boom or bust?’, mentions the massive undertaking of 10 major theme parks, two safari parks and three international museums being developed concurrently in the UAE at present. Says he,“The UAE in particular is at an interesting point in its

development as a global tourism and leisure destination. Not content with what it has achieved already, it h as set itself an even more ambitious vision for the future. The Vision Conference Dubai 2015 is an exciting opportunity for the leisure and hospitality industry to consider the vital role they play in delivering this vision and what lessons there are for the rest of the region.” Christine Davidson, Group Event Director of the dmg events hospitality portfolio, organisers of The Hotel Show and The Leisure Show, says, “The wealth of leisure development is matched by mass hotel construction to cater for projected increases in tourist arrivals for 2020 and beyond. The UAE is currently leading the region’s hotel construction with over 50,000 rooms in the pipeline. Major hotel projects opening soon include the luxury St

Vision Conference - Expo 2020 presentation at The Hotel Show Dubai

Canon at The Hotel Show Dubai 2014

Regis Dubai and Bab al Qasr in Abu Dhabi. However, the most prominent hospitality trend emerging from the Vision Conference programme for 2015 is the growth of mid-market hotel options catered for families.” Daniel G. During, Principal and Managing Director of Thomas Klein International is expected to discuss the necessity to develop and grow the mid-range sector at the Vision Conference. He says,“My presentation will address the lack of budget resorts in the Emirates. The growth of midmarket hotels is now essential to the success of the UAE’s tourism vision. With improved airport capacity and infrastructure, expanding airline networks with a focus on low-cost carriers, emerging source markets in Africa and Asia, and the addition of new family tourist attractions, there is huge demand for affordable options. Operators across the region are now looking at how they can do their part to attract new market segments, including younger families, millennials travelling in smaller budgets and younger travellers in general who will be drawn by the 2020 exhibition.” “The UAE hospitality market remains near-saturated with luxury resorts. With new mid-market and budget hotel options entering the market, the UAE will be more likely to realise its vision to become a leading world destination by 2020 with a variety of attractions, F&B outlets and hotels to cater to a variety of audiences,” he concluded. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015 49


THE HOTEL SHOW - WHAT TO EXPECT

Interel

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t this year’s show, INTEREL will be launching the world’s first IP-based water management system for the hospitality industry in the Middle East. For a number of years, hoteliers around the world have focused on reducing their properties’ energy consumption and cost to make their operations greener and more sustainable, and there has been good progress in this space. However, water consumption remains a huge challenge for hotels. On average, an overnight guest staying in a luxury hotel consumes 300- 1,400 litres of water. Through INTEREL’s new water management solution, a 300-bed hotel will be able to save very significant amounts of water every year, without impacting the

50 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

guests’ comfort and experience. This is a significant and strategic product portfolio expansion for INTEREL, and they expect the system to have a strong impact on hotels’ sustainability programmes with the opportunity to significantly enhance a property’s profitability. Named ‘Best New Product’ at the coveted HI Connect® 2015 People’s Choice Awards, their online room management system offers highly innovative and intelligent solutions for the modern hotelier. Through a combination of cutting-edge technology and elegant and uniquely simplified design, the system allows hotel operators to optimise their energy monitoring and consumption, and deliver a greater guest experience. Earlier this year, their latest innovation, the ‘connectBsmart’

Bluetooth beacon network, was voted the most innovative technology in the hospitality industry at the Hospitality Technology Next Generation (HTNG) 2015 TechOvation Awards. Their ‘connectBsmart’ Bluetooth beacon technology enables brands and hoteliers, when deploying the INTEREL guest room management solution, to seamlessly install and efficiently manage a future-proof, smart Bluetooth beacon infrastructure throughout the property, which provides a turnkey platform for their mobile hospitality service strategies and guest experience visions. Having participated as an exhibitor at The Hotel Show for many years, INTEREL has always found it to be a great business platform that gives them the opportunity to connect face to face with the market, and meet new people and build relationships with fellow industry professionals. Business platforms such as the Hotel Show Dubai provide the industry with the opportunity to exhibit and showcase their product and service offering. It is also a platform to launch new products and services, introducing these to existing and potential clients. As with any sales and marketing initiative, it’s all about the follow up after the event – ensuring connections and leads are followed up to maximise the return on the investment made in the show. The Hotel Show Dubai, because of its diversity in exhibitors and visitors, provides the opportunity to gather the latest information and updates about the industry, including trends, new products, new suppliers, etc. Also, the conference programme that runs alongside the exhibition provides valuable insights into a number of different areas of the industry. The Middle East is a fast growing market that continues to display strong growth in the demand for INTEREL’s products in the region, particularly in Dubai. Hoteliers are increasingly looking for smart guest room technology, including energy and water management systems that can help them enhance the hotel guest’s experience and reduce operating costs. The dynamic nature of the hospitality industry, combined with rapidly advancing technology, means that companies need to constantly innovate to meet the ever-changing needs of their clients.

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EXPERIENCE 100% HOSPITALITY AT THE LARGEST EVENT FOR NETWORKING, SOURCING AND LEARNING

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THE HOTEL SHOW - WHAT TO EXPECT

e r u it n r u F s s e Burg

B

urgess Furniture has a large range of products, and will be bringing a select range to The Hotel Show this year. Brand new this year is the Evosa chair, with a slim, chromed base, which can be supplied as a seat stacking or frame stacking chair. The unique design means that a lot of the weight has been taken off the chair, with most models being less than eight kgs, which, for a steel chair, is very light and a major selling point - any operator moving 400-500 chairs will confirm this. They will also be showcasing the powder-coated version of their bestselling C8 table, and several samples of soft seating and breakout furniture.

52 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

A veteran exhibitor, having been here every year for the last nine years, and every other year before that, Burgess Furniture believes such shows are important to meet not only new customers from the region, but also to showcase new products and designs to longstanding customers. They are happy to go home with a list of new potentials, enabling them to work on new and exciting projects for the following year and beyond. It also gives the company an opportunity to meet and discuss trends with people from around the region, giving them a good perspective on the market (good or bad). The market has evolved over the

years, and is very competitive, and price remains a major part of the decision process. Having said that, Burgess Furniture is talking to a lot of clients who want ‘value for money’, not just the cheapest. All the hotel operators know the brand, and what it stands for in terms of design and quality. In order to stay on top, companies need to have a clear strategy and stick to it. We have expanded the team in the UAE this year to ensure we have the resources to stay on top, we are very passionate about what we do and combined with a clear strategy means we are confident we can maximise the potential between now and 2020.


ADVERTORIAL

Safety at all times Their rebranding as ASSA ABLOY Hospitality is not the only news that VingCard Elsafe is sharing with us. Here’s a look at what to expect at the upcoming Hotel Show

T

he latest edition of The Hotel Show and The Leisure Show, to be held from September 28 to 30, 2015 at the Dubai World Trade Centre, is also going to be host to the third annual Vision Conference in Dubai. For over 40 years, the name VingCard Elsafe has been synonymous with innovation in hotel security technology. They have continually worked to provide the most advanced solutions to their hospitality clients around the globe, and to meet the unique needs of the industry. With that market-specific focus in mind, the company has now re-branded itself under a new identity, ASSA ABLOY Hospitality. Having been in the region for over 30 years already, you can still find some sites that have locks from VingCard Elsafe installed on their property. The company has a physical presence all over the world, and can provide local support 24x7.

With the region now growing and adapting the latest technology available, smart devices are in more or less all areas. Assa Abloy is leading in this space in their business. They are the technology and market leader in Mobile Access for the hospitality industry - they already have more than 30,000 mobile access operated VingCard hotel locks installed all over the world. Plus their solutions are tested and proven. VingCard Allure lock has eliminated the need for all external hardware on the door through the use of a futuristic signage panel that adds a host of additional benefits and functionality to the locking system. These include a higher degree of flexibility in design, as well as the ability to add guestfacing in-room features, such as ‘Do Not Disturb’ (DND) and ‘Make Up Room’ (MUR) notifications to hotel staff. This is accomplished through an interactive touch panel located inside the room. An LED light on the door lock alerts staff of the request, so that guests are not disturbed unnecessarily. With guests being increasingly more aware/ connected now, a high level of support is required to satisfy them. With revolutionary new ASSA ABLOY Hospitality Mobile Access, guests can skip the front desk interaction completely, and use their smartphone or watch as a secure key. At the upcoming Hotel Show, ASSA ABLOY Hospitality will showcase their Mobile Access Technology, integrated with various app providers, Allure, which has integrated DND/ MUR/ Door Bell/ Room Signage, and their Secured Mortised lock solution. In addition, they will also bring in a new range of Zenith safes.

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015 53


Consultancy

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L’Occitane – Beauty with responsibility

Top picks for Summer skin

Sugar- a sin for your skin!


Beauty with W responsibility From research to production, testing to application, L’Occitane works on creating products that are gentle on the skin, and on the environment. TH finds out what makes the brand and its products so desirable.

56 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

hen it comes to beauty, one name that springs to mind is L’Occitane. The popular French brand offers high quality beauty products and fragrances, developed by following the principles of phytotherapy and aromatherapy. What sets them apart is that they strive to use high-quality, traceable, natural ingredients in their formulas, and use a strict formulation charter to guarantee the best quality, efficiency, and an optimal ease of use, all while respecting people and the environment. L’Occitane uses over 200 botanical ingredients, a quarter of them organic certified, which are carefully selected for their effectiveness and their ability to give skin the elements it needs to be beautiful. At L’Occitane, the Research and Development (R&D) teams work


BRAND FOCUS - L’OCCITANE

Values

closely together – the former studies women’s needs and expectations by listening to their customers, and the latter is constantly on the lookout for new effective ingredients from the South of France and the Mediterranean region. They then together find the right ingredients for a specific skin need. This is an ongoing process as L’Occitane believes in staying on trend by launching new products every month. For example, while looking for a new whitening ingredient, the researchers at L’Occitane discovered the Reine des Prés (Meadowsweet), which has a proven effectiveness on melanin production. More recently in 2015, they also launched a new Perfecting Skincare line, which included a Peony extract, which, they discovered, has an action on skin refining and adding glow.

Petit Spa L’Occitane, JBR The Beach Mall, Dubai

Petit Spa entrance

The L’OCCITANE brand is based on three values: Authenticity: Their products use of high-quality, traceable, natural ingredients. Each collection tells a story, with products and ingredients that help perpetuate tradition. Sensoriality: Their products stimulate the senses, offering a moment of well-being and sensory delight. Respect: They respect the planet through the use of environmentally friendly materials, recycled and recyclable materials, etc. They respect people - customers, by offering clear and transparent communication; their employees, through the continuous improvement of their working environment; and their suppliers, by building long-lasting relationships. In the Middle East, the customer favorites make up the brand’s Best Sellers range, which features a variety of individual products across many different ranges. This includes products such as the Shea Butter Hand Cream (sold over 14 million units in 2014), Almond Milk Concentrate, and a number of products from their Divine range, such as the Divine Oil, Divine Extract and the Immortelle Divine Cream. These products can be experienced first-hand at any of the brand’s 62 spas across the world. Closer to home, the L’Occitane Petit Spa was launched in Dubai in October 2014. It is located in JBR and integrated into their retail store. L’Occitane SPA amenities are aimed at the most prestigious establishments worldwide, five-star hotels and luxury guest houses. Their range of Spa products are similarly formulated as those that are retailed. The therapists are duly trained at the L’Occitane France headquarters, ensuring they acquire the French know-how, the soft touches approach, and a deep understanding of the formulas, within a high intensity level training period, which is refreshed on a regular basis. As a brand, L’Occitane cares for the environment, and thus limits the environmental impact of each new product, from its initial conception SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015 57


BRAND FOCUS - L’OCCITANE

Harvest

environmental impact. Over 300 plant-derived ingredients are used in their formulas. Moreover, in 2013, L’Occitane created a ‘green technology laboratory’ to work on natural innovations.

through development, to its distribution in stores: this is a determining factor for a product’s launch. Priority is systematically given to natural ingredients with a lower

L’Occitane best sellers 58 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

Lavender in Provence, South of France

Additionally, to reduce the environmental impact of their packaging, L’Occitane has chosen an eco-design approach that selects least polluting or already recycled materials, using resources that


BRAND FOCUS - L’OCCITANE

Verbena plant

Almond blossoms

are renewable, or that come from sustainably managed forests. The brand has also stopped using outer packaging whenever possible, reduced the weight of primary packaging, and offers more and more eco-refills for their toiletries, as this type of packaging uses up to 90 per cent less plastic, and uses green plastic whenever possible. As further proof that the environment is at the very heart of the organisation, their production sites are certified ISO 14 001, an international environmental standard. When L’Occitane works with new plants, they make no compromises with regard to the protection of endangered species or the skills of communities. Thanks to the CITES* databases, they are able to verify that the plants they use are not at risk of extinction, and that the commercialisation of their products will not have any impact on the fauna and flora. As a result of these efforts, L’Occitane has set up over 70 traceable supply chains, representing 4500 hectares of cultivation, of which two thirds are certified organic. They have also developed partnerships with over

1,320 farmers and 157,000 pickers. Besides, in 2014, their commitments with regard to plant supply chains received recognition from the French Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. On May 12, 2014, it awarded Laure Pierrisnard – in charge of Sustainable Ingredients for the Group – with the Order of Agricultural Merit medal (an order bestowed for outstanding contribution to agriculture). For product safety, every ingredient is carefully studied to ensure that it is gentle on the skin (and/or eyes) immediately after application, and is safe over the long term, with no risk of a reaction, mutagenic effect or toxicity for the user. The products are then tested by volunteers, under dermatological supervision, in their new Clinical Evaluation Laboratory, which opened this year in Marseille. When creating a product, the researchers are guided by observing nature itself. The behaviour of plants often tells a lot about their properties, such as immortelle, the flower that never fades, which has exceptional anti-aging properties. After observing plant behaviour, they develop extraction processes that allow them to obtain the extracts concentrated

The products are then tested by volunteers, under dermatological supervision, in their new Clinical Evaluation Laboratory, which opened this year in Marseille.

in active ingredients: the real quintessence of the plant. A team of 100 researchers is constantly working to develop the best formulas and use the natural active ingredients in a unique and effective way. Their researchers are also guarantors of the good manufacturing of their products, which are mostly produced in their factory in Manosque, so they can carefully control all stages of creation and manufacturing of their products. L’Occitane has aggressive growth plans in the coming years. The Spa by L’Occitane concept can be integrated into five-star properties, where, apart from a comprehensive treatment menu, they offer their partners all necessary trainings on protocols, signage in stores, high visibility on social media platforms, high traffic and la crème de la crème of their loyal clientele. The Spa by L’Occitane concept is able to combine French know-how with local Middle Eastern traditions, such as the relaxing Hammam, or use of specific local ingredients as Oud or Jasmin. The brand is also going to launch a beautiful new range, ‘Oud & Rose’ Eau de Parfum, Shower gel, and Shimmering Body Lotion in retail sizes, exclusively for the region. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015 59


SPA REVIEW ELEMIS BIOTEC FACIAL

Damage control Elemis’ Biotec facials show immediate results. While they may not be your traditional time to unwind, results are addictive. ThME went to Jenny Rose Spa in Dubai Motor City to review this facial and came away transformed

60 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

Sonic Skin Resurfacing Facial at Jenny Rose Spa, Motor City Recently launched, Elemis Biotec Facials are potent facial therapies for women who need immediate results. Those considering cosmetic procedures should check these facials out first. So while there is the whole ritual of going through a number of steps, these facials are unlike traditional facials using only products applied by hand. The Biotec machine is an advanced piece of equipment that provides the tools for seven very specific skin solutions. The Elemis Biotec Facials are - the Sonic Skin Radiance Facial, the Triple-tec Antiwrinkle Facial, the Micro Firm-a-lift Facial, L.E.D Blemish Control Facial, O2 Sensitive Skin Soothing Facial and the Sonic Skin Resurfacing Facial. After a skin consultation with Bethan at the Jenny Rose Spa, Motor City, the Sonic Skin Resurfacing Facial was selected. This uses Elemis’ award winning tri-enzyme range, which is clinically proven to surface the skin and increase skin smoothness after just one treatment. The technologies in the sonic-skin resurfacing facial are ultra-sonic and light therapy. After a thorough makeup cleanse using the white flower eye and lip remover, the rehydrating rose petal milk cleanser and the tri enzyme facial wash, the skin was toned using the rehydrating ginseng toner. Bethan then did a mirror consultation, pointing out areas of concern and how the selected treatment would help. She then did the ultrasonic peeling using the rehydrating toner drawing out impurities and deep cleansing the skin. This gently exfoliates impurities and pigmentation stimulates collagen production minimising fine lines and accelerates blood and lymphatic circulation to aid healing. This was followed by toner, steam and extraction. She then applied the resurfacing activator followed by the tri enzyme peel off mask. Whilst this set she massaged the scalp. The mask left the skin soft, smooth with diminished imperfections. Another application of the toner and activator followed. It was time for the tri enzyme gel mask. Whilst the mask was on Bethan used the light therapy starting with the red light to stimulate collagen production and then the blue light which is anti-bacterial, minimises skin bacteria, calms and reduces redness. Another round of the toner and activator was followed by the application of the pro collagen advanced eye treatment, pro collagen marine cream and the liquid layer SPF 30. Protecting the skin which has been resurfaced is imperative to avoid reversing the benefits of the facial. Verdict: Excellent!


PRODUCTS SHOWCASE

blues? Summer is not over yet but we’re all back from our holidays. Do you feel your skin to be darker / patchier / blemished / discoloured? We all have some tell-tale sign of hanging out in the sun a little more than usual. Here are products that will help you combat these conditions

JANE IREDALE SMELL THE ROSES HYDRATION SPRAY: There can never be a better smelling toner for face hydration. Let me rephrase that. Not only does this divine spray smell good, it hydrates the skin leaving it soft and dewy. Highly addictive!

JUNE JACOBS BRIGHTENING SERUM: A much needed boost to sun damaged skin after summer, helps in evening out skin tone and improving overall complexion also leaving skin glowing just after a few applications. This one is definitely a keeper.

BLISS TRIPLE OXYGEN INSTANT ENERGISING EYE GEL AED 230.50, 15ML: On application, the gel cools the eye area immediately, it also makes the eye area look fresh and revived as it reduces puffiness and dark circles. DAVINES LOVE SHAMPOO: This smoothening shampoo is for making all the dry, frizzy hair go away. It helps make hair smooth, and immediately takes away frizz! You need this one.

DERMALOGICA MAP-15 REGENERATOR: If there ever was a summer product you have to have in your beauty bag, this is it. Not only does it make your dark spots, pigmentation disappear, it prevents any new spots from coming. A complete winner.

ELEMIS TRI-ENZYME RESURFACING GEL MASK, AED 399: A tingling feeling on application indicates that something is going on in the skin while the product is on. Once you wash it off, you will see clean, sparkling, shiny skin. Amazing! SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015 61


BLISS HOT SALT SCRUB AED 175: Amazing scrub, leaves skin clean, fresh and you feeling energised. The warmth and coolness created by the salt scrub and eucalyptus leaves behind an invigorating feeling.

MURAD BRILLIANCE WRINKLE AND PORE REFINING TREATMENT 30ML, AED 499: This is an effective serum that helps reduce dark spots, reduce pore size and make the skin brighter and lighter. A definite must have.

NATURA BISSE ESSENTIAL SHOCK INTENSE RETINOL FLUID: This powerful moisturiser has skin renewing, skin resurfacing, hydrating qualities. The results you see on your skin are tremendous. You’ll be obsessed.

DAVINES LOVE CONDITIONER: A thick consistency that makes this conditioner feel almost like a mask,it leaves hair extremely soft, frizz free and absolutely manageable. Extra points for the wonderful smell.

JUNE JACOBS RADIANT REFINING BRIGHTENING MASK: This is a very good mask to use weekly when you haven’t used any chemical exfoliation on your face. Because this also does an exfoliating job on the face leaving bright, tight skin. 62 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

CLARINS MISSION PERFECTION SERUM: This beautiful, light, shimmery serum fixes all the wrongs with your skin. Black spots disappear, acne scarring is reduced, overall complexion is brighter. While using this serum Clarins recommends using a UV Plus SPF either theirs or another one of your choice.

DERMALOGICA MULTIVITAMIN POWER FIRM: This is a very good eye and lip cream. The texture is a bit different than regular eye creams, it softer and silicone based and goes on well under makeup during the day.


PRODUCTS SHOWCASE

ELEMIS PRO-COLLAGEN LIFTING TREATMENT NECK AND BUST AED 631: This is definitely a good cream for the neck and bust area. Although my skin is firm and not in need of lifting and firming, it did feel moisturised and supple.

DERMALOGICA DAYLIGHT DEFENSE PROTECTION SPORT 50: Provides great and long lasting sun protection. The texture is light unlike many other high spf creams that leave an oily residue. It’s a must have year round. Fantastic product.

JUNE JACOBS EXFOLIATING SCRUB FOR MEN: Removes surface dead skin simultaneously unclogging pores and smoothing skin texture. Skin is fresh, clean and good looking.

CLARINS WHITE PLUS TOTAL LUMINESCENT: This light cream is quickly absorbed into the skin and is a good base on which to wear day time make up. As all Clarins products, this too smells awesome. A very good product for daily defense and moisturising.

BLISS CLOG DISSOLVING CLEANSING MILK, AED 129.25: Very creamy, milky, removes makeup in a flash. The back of the bottle says it also doubles as a instant hydrating mask. Haven’t had a chance to try that. An excellent cleanser though.

DERMALOGICA MULTIVITAMIN POWER SERUM: This hardly looks and feels like a serum, it is more of a cream consistency, but that does not undermine its potency. It is a fabulous, powerful product for skin moisturising, pore minimising and mattifying. Also great under makeup over moisturiser.

MURAD WHITE BRILLIANCE ILLUMINATING DAY MOISTURE SPF 30 50ML, AED 380: Complementing the serum - review number 8 - this moisturiser adds to the work done by the serum in reducing dark spots, skin brightening, as well as reinforcing with moisture. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015 63


TREATMENT REVIEW

Refreshed skin The Elemis Lime and Ginger Salt Glow is an effective and quick solution for rough, neglected skin. ThME reviewed this at the Elemis headquarters in Dubai and highly recommend the treatment

64 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

Elemis exotic lime and ginger salt glow This treatment is a fabulous way to get clean, soft, refreshed skin. It begins with a thorough yet gentle scrubbing with a body brush. Next the therapist drizzles a warm oil of Japanese Camellia on the body followed by the application of the Lime and Ginger Salt Glow scrub. This is a gently exfoliating scrub that works well when combined with the oil. It helps in enhancing blood circulation as well as lymphatic circulation, clearing the skin of surface dead cell buildup. Once both the sides of the body have been scrubbed, the therapist wraps the scrubbed area and moves onto the face. The face is cleansed and toned. Then the Elemis Skin Bliss Capsule is applied. After that the skin is exfoliated using the most appropriate exfoliator, the papaya enzyme peel in this case. Once the peel is on the face, the therapist readies the shower. Once the skin is clean, the therapist applies the Elemis Skin Nourishing Body Lotion all over. On the face, she applies the Maximum Moisture Day Cream and the treatment is done. This is a quick and effective treatment for successful skin exfoliation. Highly recommended. Verdict: Excellent!


TREATMENT REVIEW Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Deluxe facial

A’peeling’

texture and tone Dr Dennis Gross’ products are very effective and do what they claim on the packaging. Professional treatments of the brand are even better. ThME visited Spa Resources International to review this facial Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Deluxe facial This facial is possibly the best way to radiant, glowing, squeaky clean skin. As the name suggests the use of alpha and beta hydroxy acids help the facial skin in renewing quickly, effectively and with zero downtime. The treatment begins with a thorough cleansing of the face using the DDG All in one facial Cleanser followed by toner - the Hydra Pure Smart Spray. After this, the face is gently warmed using warm face towels in order to prep it for extraction. Following this the face is cooled with a cold compress and toned again. Once the skin is clean and ready, the alpha beta solution step 1 is applied followed by step 2 and step 3 in quick succession. After this the therapist applied the Hydra Pure Smart Serum (Vitamin C) and then the Age Recovery Mask step 1. This was followed by step 2. The therapist here used only half the packet and saved the rest for applying after a gap of about 10 minutes. While we waited she massaged the head and scalp. After this the remainder of the step 2 mask was applied and finally removed using warmed towels. To finish, the therapist applied the Lift and Lighten Eye Cream, followed by the Hydra Pure Oil Free Moisturiser and the all-in-one tinted moisturiser with the built-in spf. The facial is definitely effective as my very aggressive acne settled down right after. It is for all ages and helps improves skin density, texture leaving skin glowing and radiant. Verdict: Excellent! SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015 65


WELLNESS FOCUS

Sugar - a sin for your

N

ext time you’re about to put ketchup on your burger, tuck into a ‘healthy’ muffin, or drink a glass of juice, stop just for second and think about the consequences on your body of what seems like an innocent action. What seem like healthy choices are, in reality, loaded with sugar. And simply put, sugar is an enemy of your body, and ‘a sin for the skin’. After considerable research, it has been found that sugar is directly linked to causing premature skin ageing as well as other problems in the body, such

66 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

Sugar is a treat for the mind, but an enemy of the body. And we are consuming unhealthy quantities without even knowing it. With awareness and small changes in our diet and lifestyle, we can counter the effects of sugar. Emma Hobson, Dermalogica’s Education Manager, Australia, Asia and New Zealand, explains in detail

as diabetes, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and chronic renal failure. So how does sugar make us age prematurely? The collagen and elastin proteins within our skin are highly susceptible to an internal chemical reaction with sugar. This reaction is called Glycation, which, in turn, leads to a reaction called Advanced Glycation End-products or AGEs. This glycation reaction occurs without any intervention of enzymes. By the same token, our body does not possess enzymes that can reverse the reaction. Therefore, the same glucose that provides energy for

our cells can react with proteins such as collagen, making them ‘sticky’. They then stiffen and become brittle, the end result being, amongst many other things, lines and wrinkles. Sugar also fuels your brain.Your brain recognises sugar as a reward, which is why it keeps asking for more. If you eat a lot of sugary foods frequently, you’re reinforcing that reward, which can make it tough habit to break. The body moves glucose out of our bloodstream and into our cells for energy. This is done by the action of the pancreas, which makes the hormone


WELLNESS FOCUS

Tips to keep your skin and body safe: Decide to eat less sugar, processed sugars in particular Become a label reader. Know how to recognise the hidden sugars in your everyday foods When eating chocolate, choose dark over milk. Dark chocolate contains significantly less carbohydrates Make your own sauces and stay away from ketchup, BBQ sauce, sweet chilli sauce, etc Avoid foods with a high glycaemic index, such as white bread, corn flakes, and popcorn, as they can not only cause glycation, but also stimulate our hormones, resulting in breakouts Women should eat no more than six teaspoons of sugar a day; men no more than nine

insulin. As a result, your blood sugar levels may drop suddenly. This rapid change can leave you feeling weak, a little dazed and shaky, leading the body to look for a quick-fix solution, which is more sugar! Sadly, over the past 30 years, our sugar consumption has increased dramatically. In the US, the average person eats 19 teaspoons of sugar a day! Sugar is used generously and frequently, and in too many cases, hidden in foods one would not expect to find it in, just so they taste better. A common culprit are the sugars found in low fat diet foods, breakfast

approximately 50 per cent fructose or a fructose derivative. Fruits, of course, contain various amounts of sugar. You find elevated levels in dried fruit, as well as sweet tasting fruits like watermelon and bananas. So keep to the recommended dose of two pieces of fruit a day, and be careful of the high volume of sugars contained within smoothies, yoghurt fruit drinks, and natural fruit juice blends. And don’t forget how carbonated flavoured soft drinks are just loaded with sugar. In addition to the damage to our internal proteins causing premature ageing, sugar can also promote acne by elevating blood sugar levels, which can result in a cascade of hormonal effects, including increased androgens (acnecausing hormones), stimulating excess oil flow, which can lead to clogged pores and breakouts. To protect the skin from AGEs, you must use advanced treatment products that are specially designed to inhibit the action of glycation within the skin. There are some ingredients that have been shown to inhibit glycation from occurring, but exactly how all of these agents work is not understood just yet. These ingredients include glucosamine, soy proteins, the soy active genestein, and specific peptide molecules. Studies have shown that a peptide molecule known as Arginine/Lysine polypeptide can bind to sugar, preventing it from reacting with proteins and triggering the cross-linking of collagen. This peptide molecule acts as a sugar trap, binding to the sugar in the body, making it unable to react with proteins.

cereals, fruit juices, in many types of breads and sauces, including pasta, sweet chilli, and balsamic vinegar, which is about 47 per cent sugar, especially the caramelised version. Oh, and let’s not forget barbeque sauce! Don’t forget, complex carbohydrates are also found in starchy food such as white rice, chips/ French fries, white bread, and foods made from white flour like bagels. Simple sugars like fructose and galactose, often found in sugar substitutes, undergo glycation at about 10 times a higher rate than glucose. Many sweeteners are SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015 67


COMMUNITY

Mövenpick launches the ‘Kilo of Kindness’ campaign, calling on visitors to donate food, clothing and school supplies to the needy.

A kilo of

kindness C

harity, they say, begins at home, but that does not mean that your efforts have to be limited to that. Especially not when Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts makes it so easy. The firm has launched its ‘Kilo of Kindness’ campaign, inviting guests to make a donation for food, clothes or school supplies. Coinciding with the United Nations International Day of Charity on September 5, the campaign, ‘A Kilo of Kindness for a treat of ice cream’, invites everyone visiting the 16 participating hotels to give away at least a kilo of goods. Each person who makes a donation will get delicious ice cream as a ‘thank you’. The philanthropic initiative will run for one week, from September 5 to 68 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

12, 2015, with charities supported ranging from special needs schools to organisations that help orphaned children. “Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts is calling on the goodwill of our guests to make a small donation of goods,” says Gerard Hotelier, Vice President Operations, Middle East and South Asia. “We hope our ‘Kilo of Kindness’ campaign will inspire our visitors to contribute to worthy causes.” he said. The participating hotels and their respective charities are: Mövenpick properties in Jordan (Dead Sea, Tala Bay, Aqaba and Petra): Collecting clothing to donate to the Royal Hashemite Commission for Charity

Mövenpick Hotel Doha and Mövenpick West Bay Doha: Need school and art supplies for special needs children supported by Hope Qatar Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach, Dubai: Requires clothing and school supplies for special needs children attending the Senses Residential and Day Care Centre Mövenpick Hotel & Apartments Bur Dubai and Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Lakes Towers: Need clothing and school supplies for the Beit Al Khair Society, a charity that supports families undergoing hardship Mövenpick Hotel Apartments The Square Dubai: Will be collecting books to support the Books2Benefit project Mövenpick Hotel Deira: Will be collecting clothing and personal care supplies for the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children Anwar Al Madinah Mövenpick Hotel: Would like non-perishable food items and school supplies for Takaful, a charity that cares for orphans in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Mövenpick Hotel Jeddah: Collecting school supplies for the Disabled Children Association Centre and HOPE for Exceptional Needs Mövenpick Hotel Kuwait: Collecting clothing and school supplies to donate to the Kaifan Zakat Committee Mövenpick Hotel Karachi: Requires clothing, non-perishable food items and school supplies for two charities - the Karachi Vocational Training Centre and the Dar-ul-Sukun home for abandoned children Mövenpick Sukhumvit 15 Bangkok: School supplies, toys and books are needed for The Population and Community Development Association (PDA) The ‘Kilo of Kindness’ activity is part of Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts’ global sustainability programme, Shine, which aims to give back to the communities where the company operates properties. Shine focuses on three pillars - Environment, Employer and Sustainability - with Education the most important thread, common to each.


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Top Hotel September October 2015 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 September October 2015 Issue  

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

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