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how you impact the customer satisfaction and brand reputation,” he says. Desjardins’ optimism is not simply a case of wishful thinking, he points to recent trends in the markets to back up his view, saying that despite talk of “Dubai not being what it used to be” the fact that occupancy rates are still high is indicative of a robust market. He is even more upbeat when discussing the performance of his own hotel in Ajman, which is owned by HH Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa AI Nahyan “It’s been an extremely good year, on 1 May we just celebrated our second year anniversary,” he says. “We have a strong team in place to get the desired results for 2017, not only is the hotel in its peak performing year but the destination is growing rapidly.” He puts his hotel’s “double digit growth”, down to a number of factors – not least the location. “Ajman is continuing to grow as a destination and we are seeing great strides thanks to the team here as well as the support of AccorHotels and the Ajman Tourism Board which has just appointed a new general manager taking us to the next level,” he says. It’s clear that Desjardins has an affinity with Fairmont that goes beyond the typical employee and employer relationship. He has been working for the brand for 20 years, having completed school in Canada unsure about what to do with himself. “I got a summer job and the first hotel was the Fairmont Banff Springs which is a beautiful hotel in the middle of the Canadian Rockies about a five hours flight from my hometown,” says Desjardins. “I pretty much grew up with hos36


What’s on the menu? General manager Francis Desjardins is only too happy to tell Hotel News Middle East all about the F&B offerings at his hotel. “It starts with the well-known brand Spectrum, most people remember the name Spectrum from its days at Fairmont Dubai,” says Desjardins adding that a similar concept opened in Ajman with a large buffet section of different cuisines across the world including Indian, Asian and European. The signature restaurant is Kiyi which serves Turkish cuisine. Xolo Bar is aimed at sports fans, opening in the evenings to show the big European football matches. Other venues include pool bar Salt and Sea, Driftwood Beach Bar and the Badr Lounge – which Desjardins says is “something you haven’t seen before”. Describing it as bringing a wine-sommelier approach to shisha, he says: “What we do is arrive at your table with a cart and 16 different flavours of shisha and you can mix it, we encourage you to smell it and mix it in front of you, we explain the concept of shisha, what year it was made and where the tobacco is coming from.” pitality and fell in love with it. I was looking for something like a backpacking job, but I wasn’t expecting that.” After working in Canada, Desjardins spread his wings, helping to open the brand’s first hotel in Asia – the Fairmont Singapore in 2007. His next posting was the Fairmont

Baku in Azerbaijan before he came to the Middle East and Dubai in particular. “I am very thankful to have worked with some of the top hoteliers in the world and learning from each general manager and senior corporate executives I have worked with to get the best out of the organisation and the colleagues,” he says.

Hotel News ME- June 2017  
Hotel News ME- June 2017