Hotel & Catering News ME - August 2021

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Hotel&Catering NEWS Middle East

AUGUST 2021 | HOTELNEWSME.COM

A L L T H E L AT E S T F R O M T H E M I D D L E E A S T H O S P I TA L I T Y I N D U S T R Y

LEADING MAN MAHMOUD SAKR REGIONAL VICE PRESIDENT UAE MANAGED ASSETS & GENERAL MANAGER JUMEIRAH ZABEEL SARAY ON HIS 35 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE AND PASSION FOR HOSPITALITY

ALWAYS POPPIN’

HEALTHY POPSICLES AND SUSTAINABLE SNACKING

CATERING IN THE KINGDOM NESTLÉ PROFESSIONAL’S SUCCESS IN SAUDI ARABIA

CATFISH

REAL-DEAL AFRICAN CUISINE ARRIVES IN DUBAI


HERITAGE

DESIGN

GASTRONOMY

FASHION

The Lifestyle channel by 100% subtitled in English and Arabic On Arabsat - Badr 4 East - Transponder 19 - Frequency 12072 © Thinkstock

For more information, contact hotels@tv5monde.org style.tv5monde.com


IN THIS ISSUE

34 COVER FEATURE

A LIFE OF LUXURY

MAHMOUD SAKR Regional Vice President UAE Managed Assets & General Manager, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray

HCNME

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MEET THE GM

TALKING POINT

EMIRATE FOCUS

READY TO ROLL

“A DAY AT THE BEACH”

STUART BIRKWOOD, Curator (aka General Manager) at Radisson RED Dubai Silicon Oasis

JOHN RIAD, General Manager of Hampton by Hilton Marjan in Ras Al Khaimah

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THE BUSINESS

OPINION

RESTAURANT SECRETS

BALANCING HYGIENE, SUSTAINABILITY, AND ROI: A TIGHTROPE FOR HOTELS IN THE NEW NORMAL

GABRIELLE MATHER, a seasoned restaurateur, operator and as a trusted F&B consultant she has been incubating F&B businesses since 2001

30 SAUDI FOCUS

CATERING IN THE KINGDOM DANY CHAHINE, KSA, Nestlé Professional

NARAYANAN RAGHAVAN, Known in UAE hospitality circles as “Dr. Linen”

46 F&B FAR AND NEAR

AFRICAN EATS WITH A TWIST GBEMI, Millennial Entrepreneur at Catfish, the youngest African restaurant in Dubai

MAKING THE MOST OF ABU DHABI’S TOP HOTEL STAYS Here are some of the best 5-star hotel offerings

52 THE BUSINESS

ALWAYS POPPIN’ Marcela Sancho, Co-founder of House of Pops, reveals her secret ingredients to a successful healthy food business

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INDUSTRY INSIGHTS

TAKING LUXURY SERVICE INTO THE DIGITAL AGE DANIEL GATES, Executive Vice President at Staytus

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Ab

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blend of lifestyle & luxury in a timeless elegant atmosphere

sbe.com/sls-dubai @slsdubai

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Hotel&Catering NEWS Middle East CEO Wissam Younane wissam@bncpublishing.net

DIRECTOR Rabih Najm r abih@bncpublishing.net

GROUP COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR Samer Alloush samer@bncpublishing.net

CREATIVE LEAD Odette Kahwagi design@bncpublishing.net

DESIGN Eliane Elias MARKETING EXECUTIVE Aaron Joshua Sinamban aj@bncpublishing.net Images used in Hotel & Catering News ME are credited when necessary. Attributed use of copyrighted images with permission.

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EDITOR’S NOTE

RECOVERY in Times of Pandemic

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ccounting for 10.3%1 of global gross domestic product (GDP), the travel and tourism (T&T) industry is vital for many economies, including the UAE – KPMG studies have found. With the global outbreak of Covid-19, the T&T industry suffered its worst year on record in 2020, experiencing a 74% drop in international arrivals. Around the world, pandemicrelated travel restrictions are expected to impact an estimated 100-200 million direct jobs in the industry. In the UAE, the number of visitors traveling to Dubai decreased by almost 67%: from 16.7 million in 2019 to 5.5 million visitors in 2020. After nosediving to less than 25% in April 2020, Dubai’s occupancy rates have steadily improved as a result of various hygiene and safety measures. December 2020 marked a

twelve-month high of 69%, followed by a slight decrease to 59.4% in April 2021 due to Ramadan. The emirate’s occupancy levels are significantly higher than the Middle East and Africa region’s 2020 rate of 49%. Revenue per available room (RevPAR) in Dubai grew by more than 550% during 2020, experts at KPMG have found. After hitting a low of USD 17.2 at the start of the pandemic, RevPAR reached a peak of USD 114. In December Exploring occupancy, RevPAR and ADR, it becomes clear that the emirate’s hospitality industry is in the process of recovering after a significant drop across indicators. However, while luxury, beachfront and desert resorts were able to reduce cost and attract domestic guests, budget and business hotels have struggled to maintain occupancy and ADR. As of April 2021, RevPAR for the emirate stood at USD 92. Average daily rate (ADR) for hotels in the emirate also gained momentum toward the end Current travel restrictions applicable to key source markets (i.e. India and the UK) will put pressure on occupancy in the summer months. We are hoping for a better future for the industry and recovery is already on its way.

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In addition to our print edition, we’re bringing you all sorts of industry news on our web mediums. We’re looking forward to interacting with our readers on all of our social media and web platforms. See you on the web!


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HCNME NEWS

RATIONAL WITTENHEIM SAS ON A WAVE OF SUCCESS A great day for Rational Wittenheim SAS: The 50,000th iVario was delivered at the end of June. A great success and proof of the steady growth of the order volume, which in turn brings the need to expand production capacity. Rational has already begun work on this as demonstrated by the laying of the foundation stone for the new production plant. From spring 2023, the production facility, offices, training centre and company restaurant at the Wittenheim/Alsace site will be housed in a 10,000 m2 sustainable building. iVario “Having already expanded production in 2015, we now need to adjust capacity again to meet growing demand,” explained Peter Wiedemann, Chief Technology

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Officer at Rational, at the ceremony for the laying of the foundation stone. Products from the Wittenheim site are now delivered to over 120 countries. The company will invest a total of 30 million euros in the new building, creating a production capacity of 25,000 units per year. In addition, the building will also house an office complex with approx. 100 workplaces, the training centre, the company restaurant with 300 seats and a small museum. At the same time, Rational is taking advantage of the unique opportunity and will be constructing a sustainable building. For example, the efficient, slim and materialsaving steel construction will be highly insulated and thus extremely energy-efficient. In addition, the building will be heated and cooled by a heat pump, intelligent, daylight-

dependent LED lighting control with separate lighting zones to save energy and the high proportion of glass in the façade will ensure the best possible working conditions. “The production of the 50,000th iVario proves that we are already producing outstanding products,” explained Wiedemann at the celebrations for the iVario Pro 2-S milestone unit, which is going to Elodie Louvet at her Bistro d’Elo in Verdun, France. Everything will be installed in time for the opening of the bistro on 1 July. Ms Louvet said on the subject: “I’m looking forward to using my new iVario for the first time and feel like I’m waiting for my Christmas present.” Since she is alone in the kitchen, she has opted for a combination of iVario and iCombi Pro and already knows that her work will change fundamentally.


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HCNME NEWS

TIME HOTELS’ INNOVATIVE CSR 2021 PLAN RIGHT ON TRACK UAE-headquartered hospitality company, TIME Hotels has delivered on its commitment to staff welfare and the environment, steadfastly supporting local community initiatives, after a half-year review of the group’s 2021 CSR strategic plan. The annual campaign, which is based on TIME Hotels’ four CSR pillars of the workplace, marketplace community and environment, has been the backbone of TIME Hotels’ commitment to improving social awareness amongst its stakeholders and its peers in the rest of the corporate world. “CSR is not a random project it must be an integral part of every corporate strategy. It is an ongoing plan, a corporate state of mind. “And that is as true today as it has ever been. In economic terms, although the hospitality and travel sector has been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, charities and those less well off in society have suffered as well. It is our duty as good corporate citizens to help whenever we can,” said Eddie Ignatius, Corporate Director of Quality & Business Excellence, TIME Hotels. Each month, TIME focuses on a different theme and kicked off in January with team building and strengthening bonds within the workplace. A range

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of health initiatives followed in the first half of the year, with a clean-up drive to support environmental goals and a focus on female employees as part of International Women’s Day. In terms of supporting the local community, TIME Hotels employees collected and donated over 60kgs of aluminium cans to the Emirates Environmental Group can collection drive. Employees also volunteered to pick up trash and clean the hotel surroundings.



HCNME OPENINGS & LAUNCHES

IHG HOTELS & RESORTS’ CROWNE PLAZA DUBAI JUMEIRAH OPENS IHG® Hotels & Resorts has announced the opening of Crowne Plaza Dubai Jumeirah in partnership with Ishraq Hospitality. Established as one of the world’s largest upscale and fastest growing hotel brands, Crowne Plaza has presence in over 60 countries, with locations in busy cities, airport and resort locations; everywhere modern travellers want to stay. Being a brand designed for people who are more digital, more mobile and more connected than ever before, Crowne Plaza Dubai Jumeirah offers modern business travellers the perfect blend of balancing work and life so guest feel fulfilled and successful. The 252 room and suites hotel offer guests a distinct sense of place with stunning views or the Burj Khalifa, Jumeirah beach and the city. Located in the heart of

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Jumeriah 1, Crowne Plaza Dubai Jumeirah’s excellent location enables its guests to be within reach of Dubai’s key leisure and business areas. Crowne Plaza Dubai Jumeirah is an ideal choice for business and leisure travellers alike as guests can enjoy a relaxing day at Jumeirah Beach or visit nearby lifestyle or shopping landmarks. The renovated rooms and suites include 32 family connecting rooms and come with several technologydriven features to provide guests with a harmonious stay experience day and night. From USB outlets throughout the hotel, to unlimited highspeed Wi-Fi and Chromecast TVs, the generously sized guestrooms are brimming with technology-led features designed to blend the 9-to-5, 5-to-9 day. Accompanied by IHG’s Sleep Advantage program, which includes

plush bedding, pillow menus, aromatherapy spray, sustainably sourced amenities and a bedtime ritual guide, the guestrooms are there to restore, inspire and rejuvenate. Crowne Plaza Dubai Jumeirah offers a more social take on traditional business hotels, complete with four unique dining concepts including the unique

welcoming experience, The Plaza, located at the ground floor, includes a coffee lounge and diverse areas for coworking or small catch-up meetings. Guests can visit one of the signature restaurants, Cuisines, all day dining restaurant for business lunch or Ginger, serving authentic Pan-Asian cuisine, and The Docks, a classic British pub.


OPENINGS & LAUNCHES

DUBAI-BASED KING GROUP HOSPITALITY EXPANDS PORTFOLIO TO HELP BOOST THE UAE’S AED 55 BILLION FOODSERVICE SECTOR King Group Hospitality, a Dubai-based international hospitality brand engaged in the foodservice and retail sector, is all set to expand its chain of restaurants in the UAE and Thailand, which will help expand the UAE’s US$15 billion (AED 55 billion) foodservice sector King Group Hospitality (KGH), which owns Amritsr chain of restaurants, currently operates five outlets – two in the UAE and three in Thailand. These restaurants are located in Al Nahda and Al Karama in Dubai and two outlets in Bangkok’s popular tourist spot Sukumvit and one in Phukhet. Sales at full-service restaurants in the UAE is expected to grow from US$1.94 billion in 2018 to US$2.34 billion in 2022, while the total sale at the fast-food restaurants is expected to grow from US$3.66 billion in 2018 to US$4.51 billion in 2022, according to Statista.com, a global market intelligence provider. KGH is all set to launch its new chain of restaurants – a completely new dining concept that will change the way families eat out – and will help the industry expand. The total number of operational restaurants and cafes in Dubai reached 11,813 at the end of 2018, according to the Business Registration and Licensing (BRL) sector in the Department of Economic Development (DED), Dubai.

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HCNME APPOINTMENTS

New commercial leadership team joins Hilton Cairo Heliopolis New commercial team leaders have recently joined Hilton Cairo Heliopolis: Cluster Commercial Manager Hossam Shehata, Cluster Director of Groups, Conferences & Events Mariette Magdy, and Cluster Director of Marketing Eihab Attia – all under the leadership of Hala Sabry, the hotel’s Cluster Commercial Director. With over 25 years of hospitality experience within luxury hotel chains of IHG, Marriott, Fairmont and Kempinski to Hilton, Cluster Commercial Director Hala Sabry is a driven force of commercial expertise leading the sales, marketing, events and revenue functions at Hilton Cairo Heliopolis. Utilizing her vast relations and strategic campaigns locally and regionally, the GCC region is Hala’s primary market, now that the tourism and travel sectors are resuming gradually. Cluster Commercial Manager Hossam Shehata brings over 20 years of commercial and sales experience to the team. Hossam is no stranger to top hotel brands having worked with Hyatt, Accor and IHG in Egypt. Hossam’s key strengths include attracting new accounts, managing revenue streams, and maintaining

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solid account relationships. He is leading the sales team with its different segments. Mariette Magdy; Cluster Director of Groups, Conferences & Events has been in the hospitality field for over 20 years working with high-end hotel chains including Sofitel, Fairmont, Le Meridien, and JW Marriott as well as Sheraton Dubai before her current role at Hilton Cairo Heliopolis. An experienced hotelier in events-selling, driving revenue, and handling social events such as weddings, Mariette is leading the events team promoting Hilton Cairo Heliopolis as a unique MICE-destination. Flying from Muscat to Cairo; Eihab Attia; Cluster Director of Marketing joins Hilton after nine years of hospitality experience in marketing and communications with the luxurious Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa and Royal Tulip Muscat by Louvre Hotels Group. A passionate marketer very much acquainted with the GCC business trends, Eihab leads the marketing team repositioning Hilton Cairo Heliopolis as one of Cairo’s top luxurious hotels. The GCC market is one of Egypt’s vital markets attracting millions of travellers from the Gulf countries every year for what Egypt has to offer from historical attractions to complete seclusion in the country’s beautiful staycation spots.


APPOINTMENTS

Sofitel Dubai the Palm announces new director of Rooms Sofitel Dubai The Palm is pleased to announce the appointment of Bianca Virkus as the new Director of Rooms. Bianca previously held various Rooms Division positions and brings a wealth of experience to the hotelier industry. Originally from Germany, she started her hospitality career as a Front Office Agent in Germany in 2001, after graduating from a vocational school for hotel management. She moved to the United Arab Emirates in 2003 as Revenue Sales Supervisor for JA Resort, Dubai and in the years that followed, Bianca advanced in her career and became the resort’s Director of Front Office in 2012. In 2016 she moved to Abu Dhabi as Director of Front Office and her most recent role was Director of Rooms at Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort, Dubai. Bianca holds a Hotel Revenue Management Certificate from Cornell University and as an avid believer of teamwork, Bianca attributes her success not just to hard work but also healthy collaborations with her team members and peers.

Anantara Dubai The Palm appoints new chef de cuisine for The Beach House Anantara Dubai The Palm has announced the appointment of Giorgio Minone as the hotel’s new chef de cuisine at The Beach House. With a career spanning over 8 years of experience, Minone is dedicated to instilling the highest standards in gourmet cuisine and will thus bring forth his passion for culinary excellence to the Palm. Born and raised in Italy, Minnone never ceased to pursue his passion for food. He began his career at his hometown working and learning about the abundance of seasonal Italian products in the local restaurants. A diploma holder in culinary and hospitality, He completed his studies in Gastronomic Studies at his home country and even opened his own venue “Camogli” before

venturing abroad to develop his culinary skills. The young chef possesses over 5 years of fast-paced Dubai experience and is looking to expand his tenure at the iconic Thai-inspired resort. Minonne will be spearheading culinary operations served at one of the resort’s most picturesque,

award-winning venues, The Beach House. “It brings me great joy to represent Anantara in such a unique property encompassing elements of the sun, sand, and Thailand. I look forward to sharing my expertise and embarking on my learning journey, crafting authentic dishes for guests to cherish,” he says. HOTELNEWSME.COM | AUGUST 2021

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HCNME MAKING DELICIOUS POSSIBLE

What are you cooking up today? Tell us more about the dish. Seabass with green lentils and okra crisp, and Thai red curry sauce. The fish is nicknamed “sea wolf” in the South of France because of its versatility; it goes very well with lentils, which are low in calories and rich in iron. It is a popular Thai dish consisting of red curry paste cooked in coconut milk. As a chef, what are the top ingredients and products you’re using these days? Techniques are important, but the most important thing is having goodquality ingredients. It’s all about our ability to be flexible and work with available produce. Some of the ingredients I like experimenting with include balsamic, miso, wasabi, truffle, and green peppercorns.

RAJESH SANIL EXECUTIVE CHEF

AN INDIAN NATIONAL, SANIL HAS 15 YEARS OF CULINARY EXPERIENCE, SIX OF WHICH ARE IN THE UAE. Can you give us a glimpse of your career journey so far? I started my culinary journey in London as a trainee in 2005. During my career, I have worked in the hospitality industry for some of the biggest hotels under Hilton, Marriot and The Ritz-Carlton in England and the US. I worked in different fields at 5-star hotels, restaurants, and cruise ships, in addition to flight catering operations. I moved to Dubai six years back, and I am currently the Executive chef for Foodings

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restaurant, and a new upcoming project named “Zacafe”. What’s your favourite dish to eat and why? I am big fan of grills, from meat to seafood, with a great salad on side. As a variety of rubs and marinades can be used, I would never say no to grills. I also like a good breakfast, especially with flavours like coconut and banana; Mangalore buns just make my day.

What are some of the most recent important food trends you can tell us about? Yearly trends in dining and cooking can be difficult to predict, and 2021 food trends have been no exception. But after a stressful 2020, many people have turned to food more than ever as a means of comfort, wellbeing, and community. The food trends of 2021 point towards an overall goal of better health for our bodies, planet, and wallets. Immune boosters, healthy diets such as keto and flexitarian, carb alternatives, and fusion cuisine are all trending. What would you advise suppliers and foodservice professionals who are looking to offer their best to the market and meet demand? The purchasing process is an essential part of every foodservice operation. Buying the right ingredients, in accurate amounts, at the right time, and at the best price is important. My advice would be to introduce products which are cost-effective and help reduce wastage without compromising on quality, using local produce


INGREDIENTS

SEABASS WITH GREEN LENTILS, OKRA CRISP, AND THAI RED CURRY SAUCE. SEA BASS • 4 Seabass fillets • 3 tbsp Vegetable oil • Sea salt • Black pepper CRISPY OKRA • 1/4 tsp Turmeric • 1/2 tbsp Chilli powder • 3/4 tbsp Coriander stalks • 10 Okras • 1/2 Lemon • 4 tbsp Flour • Vegetable oil • Salt

LENTILS • 2 tbsp Olive oil • 300 g Puy Lentils • 250 ml MAGGI® Vegetable or chicken stock • Salt & pepper • 50 g Spinach • 1 Handful parsley • 1 Lemon RED CURRY SAUCE • 1 tbsp Vegetable oil • 1 tbsp Ginger & garlic paste • 5-6 tbsp Red curry paste • 800 ml MAGGI® Coconut Milk Powder • 2 Kaffir lime leaves • 2 tbsp Fish sauce

• 1 tsp Brown sugar • 1/2 Small pack Thai basil • 1 Red chilli, sliced diagonally

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HCNME MAKING DELICIOUS POSSIBLE

“Desserts and Coffee are our key focus.” worked at Grand Hotel in Goa before I moved to Dubai to become Head Bakery and Pastry Chef. What’s your favourite dish to eat and why? It’s a fresh mixed vegetables gravy with Indian flatbread (naan); I find it to be a great mix of nutrients, which gives enough energy for the whole day, along with many more benefits. What are you cooking up today? Tell us more about the dish. Coconut and Pineapple Mousse: The base contains Nestlé Coconut Milk Powder and Cream with a centre of caramelised fresh pineapple bites as and an outer shell made of dark chocolate and KitKat Mix-In. As a chef, what are the top ingredients and products you’re using these days? Desserts and Coffee are our key focus. We always focus on getting premium brands and high-quality ingredients. Some of the main ingredients we use are Valrhona Chocolates and Nestlé Sweetened Condensed Milk.

SHISHU PAL HEAD BAKERY AND PASTRY CHEF AN INDIAN NATIONAL, PAL HAS FIVE YEARS OF CULINARY EXPERIENCE, THREE OF WHICH ARE IN THE UAE. Can you give us a glimpse of your career journey so far? I have pursued my diploma in baking and pastries right after graduating in 2014. Soon after, I began my training at

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the Radisson Hotels chain, and then started my first job at the ITC group of hotels in Goa, India in 2015. Later, I joined a cruise ships company in Goa, India for two years and, finally, I

What are some of the most recent important food trends you can tell us about? Chewy melt cookies, chocolate spring rolls, rainbow cakes, peanut butter chocolate cake, and hot fudge brownies. What would you advise suppliers and foodservice professionals who are looking to offer their best to the market and meet demand? I would advise them to always be aware of new products and market trends, and purchase according to the seasons, festivals; also, they need to make sure that they keep in touch with chefs.


INGREDIENTS

COCONUT AND PINEAPPLE MOUSSE IN A DARK CHOCOLATE AND KITKAT® SHELL • 100 g Fresh pineapple • 100 g MAGGI® Coconut Milk Powder • 100 g Whipping cream • 150 g Cream cheese • 50 g Nestlé® condensed milk • 30 g Nestlé® cream • 100 g Vanilla sponge cake • 300 g Valrhona chocolate (Milk & Jevera) • 20 g KITKAT® Mix-in

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HCNME MEET THE GM

READY TO ROLL

“INSPIRED BY ALL THINGS ART, MUSIC, AND FASHION, RADISSON RED OPTED FOR A CURATOR INSTEAD OF A TRADITIONAL GM.”

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efore joining Radisson Hotel Group, Stuart has held numerous positions in the hospitality industry - for the last 11 years he has been based in the Middle East. His most recent roles were Cluster General Manager with Marriott in Dubai and General Manager roles with Starwood in Abu Dhabi & in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This is his first position within Radisson Hotel Group. He chose the company due to its dynamic growth and innovative spirit, alongside a long history of teamwork and collaboration aligned with an entrepreneurial approach to doing business. This will be the 10th property Stuart has been a part of with regard to either opening, rebranding or reopening. Stuart makes ‘Every Moment Matter’ to guests by personalising the service his team and himself strive to deliver on a daily basis. His philosophy is to empower the team around him to be the best that they can be. His highlight moment was the opening of KidZania Jeddah - the first Edutainment venue in KSA.

STUART BIRKWOOD CURATOR (AKA GENERAL MANAGER),

RADISSON RED DUBAI SILICON OASIS Please tell us a bit more about the properties you manage. Inspired by all things art, music, and fashion, Radisson RED opted for a curator instead of a traditional GM. My job consists of curating the perfect hotel experience for both our guests and our creatives alike. In Feb 2020 my crew and I opened the first RED in the Middle East, #8 worldwide, within Dubai Digital Park Dubai’s first smart city. It’s a mixed-use development of rooms and branded, serviced apartments complemented by the RED vibe of the REDRoof and OUIBar+Terrace venues. In addition to all of the above, I would like to mention our state-of-the-art Meeting HUB covering over 1,300 square metres and featuring 13 indoor and 3 outdoor venues for 1000 pax++. What were some of the greatest stops along your journey? I’ve been so very lucky to work in quite diverse locations ranging from Warsaw to London, Helsinki to Riyadh, Dubai to Brussels. Each one has many great memories – pretty much aligned to the amazing colleagues I’ve worked alongside and the fabulous people I’ve been lucky enough to meet.

Radisson RED Dubai Silicon Oasis Exterior

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What are your secrets to a stellar property and motivated team? The secret for me is simple…it’s keeping it simple. Our business is all about people, so if you take good care of your teams - then they will take good care of your customers. Create the right environment and it’ll all take care of itself…


STUART BIRKWOOD | RADISSON RED DUBAI SILICON OASIS

“Our business is all about people, so if you take good care of your teams - then they will take good care of your customers. Create the right environment and it’ll all take care of itself…”

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HCNME MEET THE GM

How do you respond to guest feedback, especially complaints? Turn those complaints into loyal guests. The most loyal guests are very often the ones you first met due to the biggest complaints. Solve the issue and they become your most fervent cheerleaders. How do you see recovery so far? As a business that opened during COVID, I only have only good things to say to be honest. We’re ramping up well and apart 24

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from Meetings & Events and corporate travel bookings, we’ve seen consistent growth month on month. Dubai, through the fantastic approach of its leadership, has really ensured that especially in hospitality we’ve been able to survive and build during these challenging COVID times.

What are some new features and offerings? We’ve got some great deals for the sum-

mer on our apartments, and we continue to lead the way with our furry friends pet offerings. We’re also showing all the LIONS games on our big screen and looking to enhance our monthly art exhibitions.

What can we expect in the coming months? I expect Dubai to continue to close the gap to the numbers produced in 2019, especially with EXPO starting in Q4.


STUART BIRKWOOD | RADISSON RED DUBAI SILICON OASIS

IN THE NEWS Radisson RED launches staycation packages with pets in mind Radisson RED Dubai Silicon Oasis has launched staycation packages with rooms kitted out with a pet bed and food bowl. Each pet will enjoy a treat at OUIBar + Terrace, a one-hour unlimited beverages package on the house for humans and a free Hugo & Celine pet ice cream and “pawsecco” for furry friends. Every pet will receive their very own “loyal-tail” card – giving them the chance to redeem a free Hugo & Celine ice cream on their 10th RED visit. Located at Dubai Digital Park, in Dubai’s first ever smart city project built with the latest AI and IOT technologies, Radisson RED Dubai Silicon Oasis opened earlier in 2020. Guests can expect culinary hangouts with a casual feel, social scenes, integrated technology and bold design personality, across 104 pet-friendly rooms, eight suites and 59 apartments made with millennial nomads in mind. The hotel’s signature dining outlets include the ‘grab and go’ Foodtruck Lobby and DELI. Just off the lobby on the ground floor, OUIBar + Terrace delivers a casual chic dining space with live sports screens plus a sprawling alfresco area for the cooler months. As vaccines around the world support more travel opportunities and countries open their borders, I’m sure corporate travel will resume.

As vaccines around the world support more travel opportunities and countries open their borders, I’m sure corporate travel will resume.

What would you like to tell budding GMs? I can only relay my personal experiences, but I’ve always found that treating your team as you’d wish to be treated is key. Plus, taking calculated risks in both business

and your career goes along to way to helping you succeed. Always learning from your mistakes – which are many if you’re trying to make a real difference… and lastly getting out of your comfort zone.

“INSPIRED BY ALL THINGS ART, MUSIC, AND FASHION, RADISSON RED OPTED FOR A CURATOR INSTEAD OF A TRADITIONAL GM.” HOTELNEWSME.COM | AUGUST 2021

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HCNME THE BUSINESS

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abrielle has led the development of over 300 F&B concepts with 360 degrees hands on experience in BOH and FOH experiences with expertise in concept creation, menu development, interior design and brand development. Her leadership oversaw the rebranding and operational turnaround of four prime Emaar properties: La Serre Bistro & Boulangerie, The Loft at Dubai Opera, Taikun, and Distillery Gastropub in the 2019 acquisition of the 100 million Capex venues by Restaurant Secrets Inc. With a Business degree in Marketing from the University of Hartford, she is also a BVQI - ISO certified Quality Auditor and trained in luxury product development at the University of London.

Restaurant Secrets GABRIELLE MATHER HAS LIVED IN THE UK, SINGAPORE AND UAE, AND ALL OF HER DIVERSE INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCES ARE ILLUSTRATED IN BOTH HER BUSINESS AND PERSONAL LIFE. SHE IS A SEASONED RESTAURATEUR, OPERATOR AND AS A TRUSTED F&B CONSULTANT SHE HAS BEEN INCUBATING F&B BUSINESSES SINCE 2001. 26

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Where did your passion for F&B begin and what led you to paving a career in this industry? I’ve always been a reader, `dreamer, and die-hard entrepreneur. Weaving ideas and visualizing them into reality is my Godgiven gift. I am also very logical, and process driven, and this balancing talent has helped tremendously in my chosen career. I am blessed that in F&B, my passion and creativity has found meaningful purpose as I get to build real businesses and leadership through ideas and visions. My earliest memory of the desire to be part of this industry is the scene in the movie Titanic when Rose walks down the stairs to meet Jack, with the sounds and sights of an elegant dining room. That was a moment that stayed with me and I knew I wanted a piece of the glamour of hospitality. In brief, talk us through what type of services RSI offers to clients. We are a 360 F&B consultancy, offering turn-key services needed to open a successful restaurant or F&B business that has been established for almost two decades now. We bring value while incubating an F&B business model as well as while operating it and marketing it. We are brand builders not just from the outside in but from the inside out. We create a foundation of concept and product, then build operational and marketing strategies to take that into a real business launch.


GABRIELLE MATHER | RESTAURANT SECRETS

La Serre Bistro - Dubai

Over the years, you’ve helped with the launch of hundreds of restaurants in the UAE. Reflecting on this, what are your fondest memories of RSI’s journey so far? My fondest memories are the people I’ve met, worked with, laughed with, spent challenging work moments with and the stories I can tell today of those years. Above all, I have enjoyed and will be eternally grateful for the personal and professional growth that Restaurant Secrets brought to my life as well as to so many who came to it as part of its team and clientele. I’ve seen it bring prosperity, opportunity and bring dreams to life for so many of us and I am profoundly and gratefully overwhelmed every day to have been part of this amazing journey. The Hamptons Café remains my fondest project. Perhaps because it is

an extension of my own personality, my home, lifestyle and was one of my earlier creations that found its way into so many hearts. As we begin to see the restaurant industry recover, what are you witnessing in terms of trends and demands from clients? Some things are still the same, while much has inevitably changed. I see the same desires and motivators from entrepreneurs today as over the last two decades – it starts with a dream to create a beautiful space with amazing food, ambience and profitable business. The difference today is that with evolution, our tastes and trends change and wise businesses will adapt and pioneer those inevitable changes. Not only has pandemic brought in more digital revolution into our industry leading to more

remote dining and ordering, another reality is that the millennials that were once our consumer profile are now our client profile. The way they want to do business is radically different and that excites me as it pushes me to continue thinking out of the box, push out of the comfort zone of past success and embrace the opportunities ahead with renewed perspectives.

Since the pandemic began, how has RSI adapted to service its clients? We have continued with our core business of turn-key projects, building concepts, and launching business in totality. It remains our most demanded service. In addition, we have been busy helping struggling restaurants reassess their business strategies through business audits and we find ourselves working with a new breed of clients on re-building what’s broken. We have also adapted via technology to offer services like menu development that traditionally requires a physical presence, tastings, trainings across closed borders. We have recently completed a few menu development projects for KSA while in UAE over Zoom & other digital resources.

“I LOVE SUCH CREATIVE VENTURES WHEN OLD MEETS NEW AND WE CAN MINDFULLY BLEND THE BEST OF BOTH INTO FOOD AND SERVICE.”

Dubai Opera exterior

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What are some of the most common and interesting service requests from clients at the moment? The most common service is concept development followed by menu development. Food being the core product of this business and with our reputation of multiple launches with signature dishes created over the years, we are busiest in this area. An interesting one this year is a project in Al Qana, for the developers of Al Qana where we are exploring the traditions of Jerusalem bakeries and bringing to the UAE the heritage of that region including artisanal bakers. I love such creative ventures when old meets new and we can mindfully blend the best of both into food and service.

“RESTAURANT SECRETS HAS ALWAYS CELEBRATED THIS DAY BY CELEBRATING OUR EMIRATI WOMEN CLIENTS. ” Are you working on any exciting projects now or upcoming that you can share with us? Abu Dhabi is experiencing a renaissance in F&B and we find ourselves leading it with seven projects signed up, two already launched (Montauk Boutique Café, and Tapas) and the rest to follow. We interestingly have with more projects in Abu Dhabi this year than Dubai for the first time in many years. The Al Qana project I mentioned earlier is something to look out for as it also has a focused specialty coffee offering. I am equally excited about a Southern European concept we are launching in the same development as well as a unique multistoried café, restaurant, lounge coming to the luxurious Bateen area later this year. In Dubai, we have delivered a Japanese concept called Sushi Library for the Apparel group that is due to open multiple units in KSA & Dubai simultaneously. I have enjoyed working on this as its their first home-grown concept amid their gigantic portfolio of franchises.

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The loft at Dubai Opera

There’s currently a lot of exciting talk about openings penned for Abu Dhabi. What are your thoughts on this? Why do you believe restauranteurs are choosing to open in the capital – is it set to be the new food hotspot for the country? Abu Dhabi is ready and ripe for its F&B renaissance, reason being the growing investor confidence in developments being announced as well as the natural organic maturity of the market to want in their own neighborhoods what they have enjoyed in Dubai and other parts of the world. The closed borders also created more incentive for entrepreneurs to look within and build businesses in their hometown rather than eyeing Dubai as the first choice F&B destination. It will be interesting to watch this evolve over the coming months and years. Dubai is an established foodie destination as well business destination and AD has a lot to

learn and live up to. If investors approach this opportunity with passion as well as smart partnerships & consultants on board, they have the resources & space to create the next foodie hotspot. You’ve worked with many Emirati women on the opening of their restaurants in the UAE. As this month sees Emirati Woman’s Day on August 28, please share with us how RSI celebrates these women and their accomplishments. Our clientele is 80% UAE nationals of which to date, a whopping 40% is Emirati women. I have called the UAE home for 25 years myself and being a woman-run business, Restaurant Secrets has always celebrated this day by celebrating our Emirati women clients. We usually showcase our Emirati women led projects on this day. This year too, the team is developing something special, so be sure to keep an eye out for it.


100%

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RAYYANUTRI.COM

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SAUDI FOCUS

CATERING IN

THE KINGDOM

S

audi Arabia’s catering services market is expected to experience significant growth over the coming years. Under the Saudi Vision 2030, the government plans to spend heavily on its non-oil sectors such as infrastructure development, healthcare, education, and several others. This, in turn, will generate demand for catering services in the Kingdom. Furthermore, the increase in demand for religious tourism will also drive the catering industry.

DANY CHAHINE

BUSINESS MANAGER KSA, NESTLÉ PROFESSIONAL. 30

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Please tell us more about your role. I have assumed different roles in Nestlé since 2011, in both retail and Out Of Home divisions. Currently, I overlook Nestlé Out-of-Home business serving HORECA channel, Travel, Workplace & Education. At Nestlé Professional, we continuously strive to become an Inspirational & Trusted Partner for our Out-ofHome customers, enabling them to delight their consumers . We see it as our mission to utilise our expertise in providing efficient, innovative food and beverage solutions to all our business partners and helping them win by Making More Possible. We continuously invest in fostering our understanding of customer and consumer tastes, experimenting and innovating to enhance product performance, and relentlessly developing solutions to the latest nutritional and sustainability commitments. What are some of the unique advantage points of your brand and how does it stand out in the Saudi Hospitality/Catering landscape? For Food products, we use our local and global industry insights along with our branded culinary & dessert solutions to create and deliver profitable business solutions for our partners through great taste, consistency and convenience. This is the expertise we put in the hands of chefs, operators, restaurants and entrepreneurs across the OOH sector.

Our portfolio includes many established brands such as MAGGI®, KITKAT®, NESTLE®, NESTLE DOCELLO®, and NIDO®. When it comes to Coffee, from its beginnings in the 1930s to the present day, NESCAFÉ® is known to be the #1 global and most popular coffee brand. NESCAFÉ® brand grown respectfully; guarantees the future supply of coffee through responsible farming and sustainable production. Today, we are delighted to have a STARBUCKS Branded Solution as part of Nestlé, having a richer black cup and variety of white cup selections, delivering consistent quality cup after cup. How have you evolved this year and how has the pandemic transformed your strategy? The next normal is going to be different. It will not mean going back to the conditions that prevailed in 2019. In 2021, there’s no going back. The great acceleration in the use of technology, digitization, and new forms of working are going to be sustained and we are leveraging on e-commerce and the rise of cloud kitchens to accelerate our Recovery in the OOH channels. As part of our Transformation journey, we have recently launched SWEET EARTH, plant-based burgers and schnitzel targeting consumers with increasing awareness for meat alternative products and high demand on healthy offerings. Plant-based diets are no longer just for vegetarians and vegans. More and more people are


DANY CHAHINE | NESTLÉ PROFESSIONAL

becoming flexitarian in their eating habits –choosing to reduce their meat consumption at some or even all their meals and lowering the environment footprint of their diet. We are also entering the world of Beans with the Nescafé brand to address growing consumer demand, as they are becoming more sophisticated in their coffee knowledge. Millennials are developing more advanced tastes in terms of coffee quality, diverging from basic soluble coffee towards consumption that is more oriented towards beans and specialty coffee.

Nestlé® - Sweet Earth

As travel and tourism recover, what are you expecting to see and how are you aligning with regional and global shifts? The tourism industry in Saudi Arabia is changing drastically, with public and private sector efforts focused on diversi-

fying the tourist base and purpose of travel to the Kingdom (away from business and religious tourism). In the long run, this is expected to result in a significant shift in the Kingdom’s retail and F&B landscape as part of the government’s modernization and economic diversification efforts. Planned investments in the entertainment sector will also have a major impact on the quality and diversity of Food & Beverage concepts in the Kingdom. From another angle, the pandemic played as well a major role in the industry landscape; the crisis sparked a wave of innovation and disruption creating a space for new entrepreneurs: think of the restaurant chef turned caterer to survive and he succeeded, then he became an entrepreneur. Vision 2030 envisages that household spending on domestic entertainment will increase from 2.9% of total expenditure in 2015 to 6% by 2030. The planned increase in the number and size of sporting events and concerts will also have positive implications on the foodservice sector. This is already resulting in a proliferation of mobile food and beverages businesses and food trucks.

“AS PART OF OUR TRANSFORMATION JOURNEY, WE HAVE RECENTLY LAUNCHED SWEET EARTH, PLANT-BASED BURGERS AND SCHNITZEL” HOTELNEWSME.COM | AUGUST 2021

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“A day at the beach” with Hampton by Hilton Marjan in Ras Al Khaimah

John Riad, general manager of Hampton by Hilton Marjan in Ras Al Khaimah, discusses the property’s distinctive features, the hotel’s recommended restaurants, and the trends affecting the hospitality industry.

Tell us about your journey. How did it all start? No stranger to the Hilton brand, I began my journey in 2002, at the breathtaking Hilton Pyramids Golf Resort in Egypt. Working with the Hilton brand has been delightful, I have grown with the group and gained extensive industry experience which is why I’m proud to be leading the opening of Hampton by Hilton Marjan Island as general manager 19 years later. I’m excited to welcome guests to the brand’s latest vision, and the first-of-its kind in the UAE. Tell us about the property’s distinctive design features. Inspired by “a day at the beach” this property is the largest Hampton by

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Hilton in the world, featuring 515 guest rooms – half of which are interconnected to accommodate larger groups. The hotel’s design features promote positive energy throughout with colourful boat paddles hung in the guest rooms and surfboards adorning the restaurants and public areas. How much do you depend on wordof-mouth and social media? A property that caters to a youthful, tech-savvy generation, we expect social media to be one of our primary platforms for our guests to share stories and experiences at Hampton. With lots to see and do at the property, we look forward to seeing our guests post their fun-filled stay all over social media and enjoy our signature Hamptonality service. Which of the hotel restaurants do you recommend the most here? Every Hampton by Hilton guest

can start the day with the brand’s signature free breakfast at Flavors, the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant. Other dining options include the Surfs Up beach food truck, the H2O pool bar and The View lobby café. We have also partnered with two exciting F&B offerings that are completely new to the Emirate. From CLAW BBQ, a BBQ eatery noted for its delicious seafood grills, to Karma Kafe, a pan Asian restaurant with an award-winning concept – coming October 2021. What are the main challenges you face in hotel management? The Hampton by Hilton brand is noted for its Hamptonality program ensuring that every guest is satisfied through proactive, friendly service. As a new hotel, we need to take note that we’re not just meeting – but exceeding expectations across all nationalities and ages that visit our hotel.


JOHN RIAD | HAMPTON BY HILTON MARJAN, RAS AL KHAIMAH

What do you think it takes to succeed in this industry? Teamwork is key to successfully running a hotel regardless of size. Streamlining communication between departments and ensuring clear communication strategies creates synergy between departments. In addition to having our hotel positioning set from the start, we at Hampton have a very clear target and we work harmoniously to achieve it. What are some of the trends you see impacting the hospitality industry? Digital lifestyle now is offering everyone the freedom of expressing and sharing experiences authentically. As a result, this has increased communication and the response rate between hoteliers and their guests, as we’re able to accommodate them based on the interests portraited online. Technology is part of the success of great hospitality. Can you tell us about some of the technologies that go into creating your guest experience at this new property? To make the experience all the more personal, we have implemented the digital key, where the guest can use their phones instead of the key cards. In addition, we’ve now included a large digital screen in the lobby 9x4.5m that creates a great communication tool for all our offers. By installing a large video screen, we’re noticing

higher guest engagement as well as maintaining social distancing. How do you see the Middle East’s hospitality industry evolving in the midst of these unusual pandemic times? Countries are slowly lifting their quarantine regulations and opening their borders, which puts the idea of travel and tourism

back into the spotlight. However, travellers are still taking precautionary measures which is why we have noticed a surge in staycations and guests from neighbouring countries. What is your vision for the future of the hotel? Following a successful opening, we aim to position Hampton by Hilton as the one-stop destination for

young adults looking to experience the whole Ras Al Khaimah package, whether it is entertainment, dining, or enjoying touristic attractions. With Hampton by Hilton Marjan Island universally recognised for their signature service, we look forwarding to not only meeting, but exceeding expectations ensuring guests come as a guest and leave as family.

“Inspired by “a day at the beach” this property is the largest Hampton by Hilton in the world”

Hampton by Hilton Marjan Island

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A Life of

Magnificent Hospitality MAHMOUD SAKR

REGIONAL VICE PRESIDENT UAE MANAGED ASSETS & GENERAL MANAGER, JUMEIRAH ZABEEL SARAY Originally from Egypt, Mahmoud Sakr has 35 years of experience in the industry and is one of Jumeirah’s most experienced business leader. Sakr is a seasoned hotelier and has played a pivotal role in the company’s journey over the last 22 years. With strong market and operational knowledge and a passion to provide a personalised guest experience, Sakr is currently leading as the Regional Vice President UAE Managed Assets & General Manager at the award-winning resort on Palm Jumeirah, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray. Prior to joining Jumeirah Group, Sakr worked for Le Méridien for 13 years across Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Senegal. Jumeirah Group is a global luxury hotel company and a member of Dubai Holding operating a world-class portfolio of hotels and resorts, to name a few Burj Al Arab Jumeirah; Jumeirah Beach Hotel; Jumeirah Creekside Hotel; Jumeirah Emirates Towers; Jumeirah Zabeel Saray and Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai in addition to an international portfolio of prestigious hotels. HOTELNEWSME.COM | AUGUST 2021

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JUMEIRAH | MAHMOUD SAKR

Left: Jumeirah Zabeel Saray Talise Ottoman Spa Thalassotherapy pool

How has your journey started and what were some key milestones that you would like to share with our readers? I have been blessed to be working in the hospitality industry for 35 years, during which time I have gained significant experience in the Middle East’s hotel sector. Recently I was deeply honoured to be awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by Leaders in Hospitality Awards. I commenced my career with Jumeirah Group in 1999 as Director of Rooms for the group’s flagship hotel, Burj Al Arab Jumeirah. I was promoted to Executive Assistant Manager – Rooms Division, then to Resident Manager, before becoming Hotel Manager. After eight years working at the iconic Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, I was appointed General Manager of the neighbouring Jumeirah Mina A’Salam in 2008, a position where I lead the day-to-day management of the luxury hotel and its five-star facilities. In 2012, I joined our sister property Jumeirah Beach Hotel as General Manager, a role where I successfully positioned the five-star family hotel as a leading tourist destination. My remit expanded to include General Manager of the adjacent Wild Wadi WaterparkTM. Before moving to Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, I was responsible for developing and running the commercial and operational strategy for Jumeirah Emirates Towers hotel, including the management of 400 rooms and suites and 530 members of staff, and for overseeing Jumeirah’s other city hotels. In my current role as Regional Vice President UAE. Managed Assets & General Manager of Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, I am responsible for evolving the experiences of guests and strategically driving the future growth of the iconic Ottoman inspired resort. I am passionate about hospitality and providing a bespoke and memorable guest experience to all our guests. Prior to joining Jumeirah Group, I worked for Le Méridien for 13 years. Upon graduating from Sadat Academy for Management Sciences in Cairo in 1986, I joined Le Méridien Al Khobar in Saudi Arabia, followed by Le Méridien Bahrain before relocating to Senegal to open Le Méridien Hotels in Dakar. In 1999 I moved from Africa to the UAE to join Jumeirah Group, where I am proud to continue this journey and play a key part in the global luxury hotel company’s success story.

“TO DELIVER A TRUE LUXURY EXPERIENCE, LEADERS MUST ENGAGE WITH GUESTS AND EMPLOYEES CONSTANTLY AND IMPROVE ACCORDINGLY. ” HOTELNEWSME.COM | AUGUST 2021

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HCNME COVER FEATURE Opposite page: Jumeirah Zabeel Saray Entrance

“MANY GUESTS RECOGNISE OUR HOTEL FROM THE ‘MISSION IMPOSSIBLE; GHOST PROTOCOL’ MOVIE WHICH WAS FILMED IN THE HOTEL AS WELL.” In your opinion, is a love for hospitality something that you developed early on? How important is the passion for the job? My team and I are passionate about establishing direct relationships with guests in the resort despite the busy schedule. I love to get to know our guests and take feedback so we can continually enhance our offerings and ensure a satisfactory experience for our guest on each visit. We pride ourselves in knowing our guests and their preferences and creating memories for our guests that they can remember for a lifetime. When our guests experience the resort they automatically feel included as part of the family. Dubai has given a unique opportunity to hoteliers in the region with continuous support and innovation to manage any type of market condition and we continue to adopt this progressive ideology in all our strategies. How have your previous experiences shaped you and how did you progress to where you are now? My hospitality career has taught me that change should be constant. To deliver a true luxury experience, leaders must engage with guests and employees constantly and improve accordingly. I always strongly encourage guest as well as employee feedback and my success has been through continuous learning and enhancements based on changing customer needs. When you listen to feedback you can convert a unique guest into a repeat guest and eventually into a brand loyalist. What are your secrets to motivating your team? We at the resort continuously deliver exceptional experiences to our guests from our hearts, thus encouraging them to come back to their home away from home at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray. We train and reward our colleagues to constantly listen and anticipate the needs of our guests, whether it’s revised food and beverage offerings or the creation of tailored packages, we put our guests experience first. We work as one team, striving towards achieving a common goal by ensuring all colleagues are passionate and driven in all their interactions with our guests. Any special guest stories or experiences at the resort you can share? Jumeirah Zabeel Saray has been a preferred choice for many regular guests over the past few years. We have also hosted several memorable events for our guests, including romantic

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proposals in our private cinema, romantic anniversary dinners on the beach, which is extremely popular, as well as weddings in our magnificent grand rooms such as Imperium and our spacious garden lawn. Many guests recognise our hotel from ‘Mission Impossible; Ghost Protocol’ movie which was filmed in the hotel as well. Keeping the promise of being ‘The Most Remarkable Family Resort’ we put special care in hosting our little guests, which means having all day activities at the Sinbad’s Kids Club, entertainment by the beach for as well as dedicated kids’ menus in all of our restaurants. We also have an onsite falcon for the amusement of our guests and an Oudh player performance in the lobby every day to uphold our Arabic as well as Turkish traditions of enjoyable evenings. We love to celebrate their special occasions with our guests which involves everything from room decoration to special VIP amenities as well as customized desserts prepared by our pastry chefs. From anniversaries to birthdays our colleagues make sure that guests remember us in their fond memories of their holiday. On the other hand we also love to celebrate monumental occasions, such as UAE National Day, Eid, Festive season, New Years’ Eve as well as other occasions such as Mother’s Day, Halloween, etc. Every Festive Season we plan a grand arrival ceremony for Santa Claus. Last two years we partnered with Dubai Skydive and to the amusement of our little guests, Santa arrived from the sky! All in all we can comfortably say that Jumeirah Zabeel Saray is always on the lookout for a reason to celebrate. Jumeirah Zabeel Saray personifies luxury; what makes this hotel unique? Jumeirah Zabeel Saray is the most remarkable family resort catering to the needs of everyone within the family. The three words to describe the hotel are Luxurious, Palatial and Family friendly. Last year we were successfully accredited with the Bureau Veritas Safeguard audit, making Jumeirah Zabeel Saray one of the coveted hotels to be recognized as compliant with highest hygiene standards. We are home to 403 Rooms & Suites and 38 lavish Royal Residences amidst lush landscapes. We are an opulent- family friendly resort which celebrates an overarching theme of the Tulip Era within the Ottoman Empire. The resort offers something for everyone, from Sinbad Kids’ Club and the mini waterpark for the children, to nine award-winning international dining venues. Our theme is brought to life through our architecture, hand-painted finishing, artworks, murals and a stunning Bohemian crystal chandelier displayed in the central hall (comprised of 750 lamps and weighing 4,500kg). The resort is also home to Talise Ottoman Spa, one of the largest and most luxurious spas in the Middle East with over 8,200sqm of facilities. It offers 42 individual treatment rooms, spread across two floors including a VIP Couple’s area and a spectacular authentic Turkish Hammam, snow rooms, Thalassotherapy pools, etc.


JUMEIRAH | MAHMOUD SAKR

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children, and further building on this, our culinary team unveils new additions to the menu frequently. Most recently we relaunched the new and refreshed concept of The Rib Room as a British Eatery, offering a delectable menu of scrumptious dishes to be enjoyed for dinner. Over the coming months we will also be partnering with globally renowned wine makers around the world to host dinners in collaboration with acclaimed vineyards from various countries. We are also excited for partnerships in the pipeline, hosting celebrity guest chefs who are set to bring to life a series of tempting fusion menus Can you tell us more about the dining offerings at the resort? We take guests on a culinary journey around the world with over 9 restaurants & lounges with cuisines offerings such as Mediterranean, British, Turkish, Indian, and Lebanese to name a few. We have a rich calendar of offerings, and our chefs work round the year to create offerings suited to a variety of palates. Recently we celebrated the mango festival at Amala, our signature Indian restaurant, which was a big hit. Our 38 exclusive and award-winning Royal Residences (4 and 5-bedroom villas) also set us apart as they capture the spirit of the Ottoman era using Turkish marble, rich dark wood and ceramics from Iznik in Western Anatolia. Also catering to family fun, is the 29-seat cinema with luxurious sofas, delicious snacks and beverages, that screens movies suited to guests of all ages What are some of the most innovative packages and offerings you have created? For our little guests we anticipated a need that many families are facing when trying to opt healthier, added nutritious food options for their children while travelling and we wanted to have scientific, well-informed insights that will

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inform our efforts to cater to this need. Therefore, we asked over 5,500 families in the UAE, KSA, UK, US, Germany and Russia how they felt about eating out with their kids when on holiday. Our finding was that 58% of parents found encouraging their little ones to eat healthy on holiday to be a real challenge. Of the parents we spoke to, 77% thought that hotels around the world need to provide more healthy options on kids’ menus and 79% said that appealing varied and healthy food menus for their kids would enhance their holiday experience. Hence we became one of the of Group’s hotels to roll out the exciting new FoodieKiDS menu, a fun and imaginative food experience for children with a healthy twist. The menu features healthy options that is a hit with the

Any dreams for the property? To continue being the most remarkable family resort in Dubai. You are home to the largest spa in the Middle East, tell us more about that? Our multi award-winning Talise Ottoman Spa is a destination in itself. It has won over 100 world renowned awards and has over 8,200sqm of luxury facilities which includes 42 treatment rooms, Turkish hammams, thalassotherapy pools, sauna, steam rooms, snow rooms, thai gardens, heated marble beds, sauna, steam room and much more. What people might not know is that the spa was actually the first in the UAE to offer a traditional Turkish Hammam and we pride ourselves on maintaining that philosophy of community.


JUMEIRAH | MAHMOUD SAKR

With a range of treatments and fitness classes, it really is the perfect place to unwind, relax and enjoy an indulgent experience; whether that’s as part of a stay or indeed just for the day. Most importantly, our in-house guests have complimentary access to all the luxury facilities within the spa providing guests with the opportunity to rejuvenate in an endless bliss. Your interiors are very inspirational, tell us more about the arts of craftsmanship? The main inspiration behind the facade and interior design is the city of Istanbul itself. The Ottoman

architecture emerged in 15th and 16th centuries and was heavily influenced by the Islamic Mamluk traditions, following the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans. Overall, Ottoman architecture has been described as a synthesis of architectural traditions from all over the world: North Africa, Europe and particularly the Mediterranean including the Middle East. The Ottomans mastered the technique of building vast inner spaces confined by seemingly weightless yet massive domes and achieving perfect harmonies between inner and outer spaces, as well as articulated lighting and shadows.

“WE TAKE GUESTS ON A CULINARY JOURNEY AROUND THE WORLD WITH OVER 9 RESTAURANTS & LOUNGES WITH CUISINES SUCH AS MEDITERRANEAN, BRITISH, TURKISH, INDIAN, AND LEBANESE.”

Opposite page: Jumeirah Zabeel Saray Royal Residence Left: Aerial View

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8 INSTAGRAMABLE SPOTS IN JUMEIRAH ZABEEL SARAY 1. Thalassotherapy pools under a starry ceiling 2. Ladies relaxation area in Talise Ottoman Spa 3. 59m infinity pool with Marina views 4. The lobby chandelier, surrounded by 8 gold

pillars and a crescent chandelier with hand painted ceilings

5. The Grand Imperial Suite bathroom. Within the resort’s grand imperial suite lays the golden imperial bathtub which measures 2.68sqm, can fit approximately 20 people inside and hold 2000 litres of water 6. The luxuriant red and gold interiors of

Imperium restaurant recapture the breathtaking essence of the Red Room of Dolmabahce Saray in Istanbul

7. Domes of Jumeirah Zabeel Saray. Domes are an architectural achievement that is predominantly glorified in Ottoman architecture. Inspired by the rich tapestry of Turkish paintings, a dedicated team of 22 students from the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University created intricate hand-painted murals inspired by Michael Angelo, in the concave areas of 28 domes in the resort 8. Ottoman art featured throughout the resort in

the form of lavish murals as well as the black and white marble floor of the lobby, which depicts 13 turquoise Ottoman stars, seen frequently amidst Ottoman art

Above: Jumeirah Zabeel Saray Wedding Aerial Pool View Restaurant - Lalezar

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Opposite page: Aerial View Talise Ottoman Spa Treatment Room Talise Fitness - Yoga

Looking forward to welcome you to the most remarkable resort, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray.


BUCKET LIST

THINGS TO DO AT JUMEIRAH ZABEEL SARAY Biggest thali on the Palm Jumeirah. Weighing a whopping 13kg with over 35 delicacies in one gigantic Thali, the ‘Shahenshahi’ thali is available at Amala, the esteemed Indian Restaurant. Reflecting on the timeless delicacies of the Mughal Dynasty, guests are in for a trip to the culinary journey of the Mughals. Priced at AED 150 per person, the thali is unlimited and includes Amala’s prominent and new Royal Mughlai dishes Experience at the Royal Residence with a lagoon pool and 24-hours private butler service. Built to the highest specifications and with impeccable attention to detail, every residence offers access to a private pristine beach with a dedicated gazebo and a myriad of five-star facilities provided by Jumeirah Zabeel Saray Treat yourself to a spa day at the largest spa in the Middle East, With luxury spa facilities

including sauna, jacuzzi, steam room and pool combined with snow rooms, thalassotherapy pools and relaxation gardens to create a haven of tranquillity and indulgence. At the heart of the spa is a grand Turkish Hammam, where guests can experience centuries-old treatments and exceptional products that will leave them feeling fully restored Award-winning grass fed dry aged Irish cattle meat at the Rib Room. The Rib Room offers an array of premium meat cuts including succulent Irish and Wagyu beef, made to order. The restaurant offers a delightful selection of expertly prepared beverages, promising guests a unique dining experience Guests at the resort can enjoy the ultimate family friendly movie experience in a 29seat The Private Cinema

Surprise your loved one with Romantic Dinner by the beach. Dine under the stars in a private gazebo on the beach, as you spend your evening with loved ones, indulging in a five-course set menu paired with a bottle of grape beverage. A dedicated butler service add a special touch to your evening An ultimate staycation where kids stay and dine on complimentary basis! For little ones, Sinbad Kids’ Club with a dedicated kids’ splash pool, play area and a whale pool. Also, we have a resident juggler who is seen amusing the guests by the pool and beach every day Take a picture with Mission Impossible 4 memorabilia in the lobby. In a bright protective case we have the original suit on display, worn by Tom Cruise himself

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HCNME OPINION

Balancing hygiene, sustainability, and ROI:

a tightrope for hotels in the new normal

F

or the hospitality industry, navigating the new normal means responding and adapting to customer expectations around safety, efficiently. Added to that, there is the imperative to manage the operational and financial implications of doing business in the prevailing environment. While it seems a tall order, those who do so effectively will be well-positioned to overcome the challenges, and seize the emerging opportunities in a changing economic climate. Maintaining high cleanliness levels has always been a top commitment for the hotel industry. But post-pandemic, this relatively invisible aspect has been thrust into the spotlight. With new safety regulations to adhere to, finding a sense of equilibrium between sanitation and sustainability, while keeping a lid on operating expenses, has become a sort of high-wire act for the industry.

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So with prospects of a travel rebound already strong, can eco-consciousness be adequately weaved into the unique requirements of the new normal? Clean and environmentally friendly spaces for guests There is no questioning that ecologically sound business models are now an indispensable part of the 21st century. While the hospitality sector has been seeking to make steady gains in this area, the pandemic has stalled some of these efforts, given the increased chemical usage and cleanliness regimes, which are part of the enhanced precautionary measures. But the newly reimagined customer experiences don’t necessarily have to forego environmental concerns. Weaving a multifaceted approach into daily workings can help the industry achieve its SDG goals, while prioritizing the health and safety of its employees and guests. Here are four areas in


BALANCING HYGIENE, SUSTAINABILITY, AND ROI | NARAYANAN RAGHAVAN

which eco-consciousness and enhanced hygiene can be reconciled, while optimizing hospitality operations: Product selection Instead of toxic chemicals like chlorine, look towards eco-friendly agents or even dry steam cleaners, which are a lot less polluting and more resourcefriendly, while still delivering on strict sanitation standards. Water Conservation Look beyond just water-efficiency practices, and towards innovative linen made from sustainable and ethically sourced fabrics, which provide superior comfort and save up to 30% of water use per article. This type of sheeting and terry platforms last longer than conventional cotton fibers. The material is unfavourable to growth of bacteria on its surface and also holds up well to industrial washing, in turn reducing replacement costs in the long run and generating less waste for the facility. Additionaly, there are pillows available in the market, which are sealed and protect against viruses, pathagones and allergens. These pillows doesn’t need to be washed, and come with a warranty. Use of Technology The time to go digital is now! Contactfree electronic alternatives lead to less paper consumption and provide more transparent and efficient processing. Smart-Controls can be used for regulating energy usage and lowering the running cost for HVAC and lighting. Logistics is another aspect of operations, in which technology can enhance efficiency. Transporting linen, from the hotel to the laundry and back, can play an important role in the green supply chain. To increase efficiency, drivers are equipped with an app that records the schedule and makes suggestions for trip optimization. This should lead to a reduction in fuel consumption. Collaboration is critical Expenditure on enhanced sanitation procedures, in areas such as linen management, can be reduced using

out-sourced and rental models. This strategy ensures hotels get access to innovative methodologies from thirdparty sources, without inflated operating costs. In this scenario, linen could be processed at the nearest laundry facility. As events unfold, hospitality businesses need to manage the unique practical realities of the new normal. This means finding the proper harmony between investment and conservation, one that achieves the highest ROI in the near to medium-term, but still ensures long-term goals are well taken care of. Navigate uncertainty with operational agility In a business outlook being defined by lower revenues, high fixed costs, less than optimal asset returns, and the demand to conserve capital, it is understandable that hotels have to be selective about what they prioritize and invest in. Especially since these circumstances are set to continue, for some time yet. However, there are also significant opportunities for this embattled industry. Especially in terms of a chance to “reset” back to the core values of the guest experience, while discovering leaner operational models. The current scenario can be leveraged to purge all nonessential layers and reevaluate what is integral to consumer expectations, through the lens of social distancing, increased cleanliness, and sustainability. In fact, this recovery phase could serve as a catalyst for the sector to become an even better and more agile version of itself. A convenient time to build a balance between circularity and ROI Today, hotels have the ideal opportunity, to balance what’s appropriate environmentally, and what’s needed for the business to thrive. The ‘new normal’ isn’t wholly unfavourable. Instead, it’s a chance to refresh and re-invent, as an industry. It’s an excuse to create more relevant alliances that collectively heighten client satisfaction, in a manner that is both consequential and rewarding for the property.

Narayanan Raghavan

As footfall increases, and events like the World Expo provide an opportunity for a robust recovery, the hospitality sector is uniquely poised to take existing initiatives, combine them with innovative and collaborative protocols, and scale greater heights than before. About the Author Narayanan Raghavan Known in UAE hospitality circles as “Dr. Linen”, Narayanan Raghavan is an Electrical Engineer who spent 14 years as part of General Electric US, having begun his career as a trainee engineer, in an engineering construction company in South India, in 1990. After working for large corporates for more than two decades, Raghavan began his entrepreneurial journey in 2010, by setting up a Business Consulting and Training organization in Dubai. He ventured into the hospitality linen business in 2015, creating a rental laundry service model for the industry. Raghavan’s engineering background led to innovative use of technology, with RFID wash tags as an IOT application, and a proprietary tech platform called Internet of Towels (IoTowel). His company has developed a brand called “Rent -A- Towel”, and a linen product called Dr. Linen™, which features a special blend of cotton with TENCELTM lyocell fibers, that have unique hygiene and sustainability properties. HOTELNEWSME.COM | AUGUST 2021

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HCNME F&B FAR AND NEAR

African Eats with A Twist

Catfish is the youngest African restaurant in Dubai and is on a mission to bring the joy of African food and flavour to Dubai residents. The 100% female-led team is committed to exploring authentic dishes from across Africa. Gbemi wears many hats as a millennial entrepreneur, and is behind brands like @catfishdxb, @thegbemiskitchen, @dancebodydxb and @dubaifitfoodie. Over the years, she has built an award-winning career in the wellness space spanning across content creation, food, fitness and dance. African food is very on trend now; why has Dubai suddenly gone crazy for the cuisine? To be honest, when I see the word “trend” associated with the food I grew up on, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I’m happy that there is a positive buzz around it and that people around the world are beginning to appreciate the 46

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mouthwatering distinctive flavors that define African cuisine, but on the other hand the word “trend” makes this all feel like a passing fad that will be over in the next two seconds, and as an African business owner, it is a bit disturbing seeing as how this food has been around and sustained millions of Africans for thousands of years. I’ve lived in Dubai for 11 years, and for 3 of those years I have documented my experience of the Dubai food scene as a blogger, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the Dubai food scene is very nuanced; we are always on the hunt for something new and shiny. So, we’ve travelled through the Mediterranean, all of Asia and South America. Even all things Hawaiian and Poke have had their big moments, so I think it’s only right that we’ve finally landed on the African continent. African culture is so rich and incredibly diverse, and our cultural exports have supported industries for years. The recent wave of Afrobeat music, dance and much more has inadvertently shone light on the multiple cuisines of the continent and Dubai is loving it. What are some of the top characteristics of African food? It’s a bit hard for me to put the food of an entire continent in a box as we really do have so much variation


CATFISH | GBEMI

“Freshly made” is a common theme that runs through every Nigerian kitchen. ” across the entire continent, and even more so within individual countries. I can mostly speak for the cuisine of Nigeria, where I am from, and where most of our menu stems from. I will say that “freshly made” is a common theme that runs through every Nigerian kitchen. We pride ourselves on making fresh condiments, soups and stews and we use a variety of leafy greens, herbs, pepper, spices, and local palm oil to accomplish this. Grains & tubers are often dried, ground into flour, then made into fufu, a kind of dough if you will, to accompany these rich stews filled with local meats and seafood. Most Nigerian dishes are layered in flavours and cooking, as most dishes will have multiple ingredients that have been processed by drying, smoking or fermentation. These practices are very common in preserving condiments and intensifying their flavors. Scotch bonnet is a hot pepper which is present in varying quantities in most dishes as we tend to love the heat and aromatic flavour it adds. Methods of cooking are also ways we add flavour; charcoal cooking is a must for special occasions and parties. Rice is also very commonly used across the country with multiple variations of the grain. What are some of your most popular dishes? Our most popular dish by far is the Dancing Waist with contains our famous Hot Honey Chicken, Jollof Rice, Sauteed Amarth Greens, Plantains and Cherry Tomatoes. This dish really highlights what we do at Catfish by combining the flavour of West African cuisine in a balanced wholesome bowl that contains lean protein, carbs, healthy fats, and a ton of greens. We have similar warm bowls built with the same nutritional method as well as our newly launched Fufu bowls, which feature the more traditional food combinations like Efo Riro, Egusi and so much more. Our grills also include the famous Jerk chicken, blackened salmon with summer veggies, all of which make for a flavourful, light and refreshing meal. What is the ambiance you promise diners at your venue? We are a vibe-y fun venue. In winter our park location allows guests to pick up their food at the counter and eat in our green jungle- like enclave. Over the summer we’ve refurbished to hold additional guests in a cosy, air-conditioned leafy green space with a view of the park.

How have you evolved and what are your plans? As a brand that started in a shared kitchen with a 1- metre long tabletop, I’m incredibly proud of how we’ve grown to having our own physical space and a dedicated team working towards a shared vision; making healthy flavoursome food that people eat every day. We also made the decision to hire an all-female team, as the old African proverb says “If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family (nation)” A pillar of our brand ethos is to educate and indoctrinate as many people as possible into the values of African culture and exports. What would you like to tell diners about African food? I would say be open minded. Forget what you think you know because I bet you don’t know enough. The cuisine is so rich, so flavoursome and varied, there is always something new to try and explore. HOTELNEWSME.COM | AUGUST 2021

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HCNME EMIRATE FOCUS

MAKING THE MOST OF ABU DHABI’S

TOP HOTEL STAYS W

hether it’s pampering or unforgettable experiences, guests are spoilt for choice at Abu Dhabi’s luxury destinations. From gourmet gastronomy and private island retreats to palatial splendour in the desert or the ultimate in glamping, as well as the highest of high teas and the most thrilling F1™ action, here are some of the best 5-star hotel offerings:

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MAKING THE MOST OF ABU DHABI’S TOP HOTEL STAYS

Gold Eats at Emirates Palace Emirates Palace, an architectural landmark in the heart of Abu Dhabi, is the third-most expensive hotel ever built. It’s easy to see why. There’s a helicopter landing pad, a ballroom, and 1.3km of private beach and marina. There are also two huge pools, a waterpark, football fields, tennis courts, gyms, and more. The palatial hotel features glittering chandeliers and a series of domes, the grandest being meticulously decorated with gold, mother-of-pearl and crystals. The plush suites have private balconies with calming views of landscaped gardens, pristine pools or the bay. The three-bedroom palace suite offers 24-hour butler service. Penthouse suites, meanwhile, are exclusively reserved for VIPs like royalty. Over ten dining options include BBQ Al Qasr, for seaside dining in private gazebos; Mezlai, for decadent Emirati cuisine; and Le Café, offering an al-fresco high tea. Don’t forget to try the signature Palace Cappuccino and infamous camelmeat burger, both of which glitter with 24-karat-gold flakes. Decadent, or what? Boho-Chic at Zaya Nurai Island For a luxury beach escape, you can’t go wrong with the boutique private island resort of Zaya Nurai Island. It’s just a 12-minute boat ride from Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island, but you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a plush paradise far, far away. Spacious sea-facing villas feature private terraces and temperature-controlled rim-flow pools, from where you can gaze at the private beach, a white-sand beauty that has everything you need for perfect Insta shots that whisper, “Wish you were here - but not really”. Think swings over the sea, cool teepees, shaded day beds, and hammocks on land and in the water. Wellness options include a personal trainer, yoga at sunrise and sunset, and the ocean-side Nurai Spa. Dining options include Frangipani, offering seasonal produce blending Middle Eastern, Asian and the Western influences; Hooked, marrying Levantine flavours with fresh sea fare and jaw-dropping views; Dusk, a playfully designed Mexican restaurant, and Ginger Mermaid for sushi and seafood. Or pick a hammock, swing or beanbag to sip cocktails in and share a pizza at the boho-chic cocktail bar, Smokin Pineapple. Desert Dunes at Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara What’s a trip to Abu Dhabi without a desert adventure? Do so safely and luxuriously from the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara. The luxury hotel rises like a mirage among the endless dunes of Rub al Khali (the Empty Quarter), the world’s largest uninterrupted sand mass just 90 minutes from the city. Rooms have wrap-around sun lounges and comfortably appointed terraces, for stunning sunset dune views. Family villas with private plunge pools are ideal for larger groups or longer stays. The most exclusive are the Royal Pavilion Villas, ten standalone pool villas in an adults-only environment half a kilometre from the main resort where you can arrive by helicopter or camel procession. For magical meals, the Suhai rooftop lounge, bar and grill offers a surreal dining experience overlooking the dunes. Dining by Design, meanwhile, sees you seated at a private candlelit table set on a luxurious rug right in the desert. Active types will love the dune adventures, including sandboarding, cameltrekking, dune walks and rides, and saluki and falconry shows. Wellness enthusiasts can take fitness classes, do yoga, work out at the gym, or enjoy exclusive spa treatments.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: EMIRATES PALACE QASR AL SARAB DESERT RESORT ZAYA NURAI ISLAND 24K GOLD ICE-CREAM - EMIRATES PALACE

HOTELNEWSME.COM | AUGUST 2021

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HCNME EMIRATE FOCUS

Dome - Jebel Hafit Desert Park

Stargazing in Jebel Hafit Desert Park You don’t need to ‘rough it’ to explore the one-of-a-kind wilderness around Jebel Hafit Desert Park in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi’s lush garden city about one and a half hours from the capital. In 2011, UNESCO recognised the park as a vital World Heritage Site, with the area being rich with heritage attractions. To enjoy a five-star outdoor camping experience, there are two options to choose from, both of which feature transparent ceilings so you can fall asleep while stargazing. The parks eight air-conditioned dome tents are beautifully furnished like hotel suites, with fridges, wardrobes, sofas, TVs and coffee tables. There’s a patio with stunning mountain views, a fire pit and a telescope. Private bathrooms have organic toiletries and hairdryers, and room service is available. The five bubble tents have more minimalist interiors that are no less comfortable. They feature a fourposter bed, a terrace with a firepit, a private bathroom and outdoor shower. 50

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Grape Tasting at Rosewood Abu Dhabi For a gastronomic city indulgence, head to the Rosewood Abu Dhabi on Al Maryah Island, which is connected to The Galleria mall. The hotel has a contemporary design, glittering lobby, and stunning pool area overlooking the Arabian Gulf. You would be forgiven for never wanting to leave your room with it’s media centre, iPad room navigation system, Pratesi Egyptian cotton linen, floor-to-ceiling views and Villeroy Boch bathtub. But the hotel’s eight restaurants and lounges will tempt you out. There’s Glo, a swanky poolside lounge; and Hidden Bar, where guests can sample from a collection of 150 gins and 10+ tonics. Then there’s La Cava, an exclusive cellar accessed via a circular wooden staircase, where you can enjoy a private wine tasting among cabinets housing 1,000 premium labels. The hotel’s Sense Spa offers a range of Sense Journeys, such as the Arabian Nights ceremony. It begins in an exotically scented milk bath,

includes a ninety-minute massage with Arabian oils, and is recommended for two. Understandably, couples seeking RR love the hotel. Rosewood Explorers, the resorts programme for kids, will keep children busy.

Rosewood Exterior

Spot Dolphins at The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort Looking for a luxury beach escape with the chance to spot some of Abu Dhabi marine life? Head to Saadiyat Island, a 14km drive away from the Abu Dhabi Corniche. Hawksbill sea turtles, the original guests on the island, continue to nest on its sweeping beachfront, which is a protected habitat. Stay at The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort for worldclass service and direct access to a private beach. The accommodation boasts elegant Mediterranean-style décor, with top-notch bedding, a freestanding bathtub and large his-and-hers sinks. For dining, there are six restaurants and bars. Sontaya serves Southeast Asian fare overlooking the sea, while the Buddha-Bar Beach Abu Dhabi is renowned for its exotic interiors and signature music.


MAKING THE MOST OF ABU DHABI’S TOP HOTEL STAYS

The resort is next to the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, an 18-hole golf course designed by Gary Player. The meandering, ecoconscious course provides stunning sea views, with the chance to spot dolphins at play in the glistening Arabian Gulf.

Watch from your room, one of the many viewing areas, or book a long and lazy trackside brunch. Dining and drinking options include Garage, the hotel’s contemporary collection of restaurant concepts, or the Wet Deck rooftop bar. If racing’s not your thing, there’s plenty more on offer. The W Abu Dhabi features two rooftop pools and a spa designed as a traditional hammam. Stay here and you also have easy access to an 18-hole golf course nearby, Yas Links Abu Dhabi, as well as complimentary access to Yas Beach, just a shuttle drive away.

Infinity Pool - Park Hyatt

Large Pools at Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas Friendly staff, 9km of pristine private beach and spacious seaview rooms make the Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas the perfect spot for a quiet romantic retreat on Saadiyat Island. There’s a health club with an outdoor, sea-facing pool − one of the largest in Abu Dhabi. Claim a luxurious lounger set on a decking platform, and let the layers of blue calm your soul. After a day on the beach and by the pool, there are three in-house restaurants to choose from. For al fresco dining with Asian influences, the hotel’s signature restaurant, The Park Bar Grill, offers steaks and seafood. The Beach House, meanwhile, serves home-made dishes inspired by Mediterranean coastline. Extras include the Atarmia Spa which features nine large treatment rooms, an outdoor lap pool, a fitness room, and a dedicated stretching studio and a Business Centre and library offering state-of-the-art business facilities and round-the-clock services. Camp Hyatt will keep kids entertained. Watch F1™ Racing Action at the W Abu Dhabi - Yas Island Hotels on Yas Island - home to theme parks, adventure parks and the Yas Marina Circuit - are hot locations come race weekends, especially since F1 hotel packages often combine stays with F1 tickets and access to after-race events. Since the W Abu Dhabi hotel is the only one in the world built over an F1™ racetrack, it’s the hottest property of them all.

Etihad Towers Hotel

The Highest Of High Teas at Jumeirah at Etihad Towers Hotel You’ll feel like a celebrity when you stay at one of Abu Dhabi’s most architecturally impressive landmarks on Corniche Road. The hotel is part of the gleaming, glass-clad sentinels of the fivepart complex that look like something out of a movie. Which they are. Jumeirah at Etihad Towers featured in the Hollywood action film Furious 7. Facilities include landscaped gardens, a gym, pool, full-service spa and private beach. The rooms, which have fabulous views of the city or sea, are contemporary yet opulent. Think chaise lounge chairs beside floor-to-ceiling glass and spacious marbleclad bathrooms. The hotel boasts five casual eateries and two for fine dining, including VaKaKa. This unique Latin American concept was developed by award-winning celebrity chef Richard Sandoval. But the highlight is free access to the Observation Deck at 300, the highest vantage point in Abu Dhabi. Enjoy high tea and dazzling views at the city’s highest restaurant on the 74th floor. For more on Abu Dhabi: visitabudhabi.ae.

Yas Marina Circuit HOTELNEWSME.COM | AUGUST 2021

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HCNME THE BUSINESS

“WE ARE THE ONLY PLASTIC-FREE ICE CREAM IN THE REGION. OUR PACKAGING IS MADE OUT STARCH, WHICH IS COMPOSTABLE, SO THERE IS LESS IMPACT ON EARTH.” We decided to take up the challenge to fill this gap, and this is how House of Pops was created. A 100% natural fruit pops, with no preservatives, no refined sugar or food colourings. Our mission was to provide consumers an option to delight themselves guilt free.

Always Poppin’ MARCELA SANCHO, CO-FOUNDER OF HOUSE OF POPS, REVEALS HER SECRET INGREDIENTS TO A SUCCESSFUL HEALTHY FOOD BUSINESS. Tell us when you started, and what the motivation was behind launching the company Food has always played a big role in my life. Ever since I was a child. I was always curious and loved experimenting with new ingredients, and recipes, and so it was just natural for me to study culinary arts. My partner, who has extensive experience in the ice cream business in the region, and I, found that there was a gap in the market for a refreshing healthy proposition.

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House of Pops is a little different to most dessert/snack/treat brands, right? Can you tell us why? We are a disruptive proposition from many angles: From the ingredients we use to our packaging, our pops are 100% natural, clean label, no E numbers, vegan, refined sugar free; we use organic agave to sweeten them. They are allergen-free, so everyone can enjoy them regardless of any food intolerance. We believe healthy and natural can be tasty. Why did you want House of Pops to be healthy? Ice cream is always about happiness, so we wanted to provide people a better option, natural happiness. And option where you can indulge or treat yourself without any guilt. And when I talk about guilt, we are referring to the quality of the ingredients and nutritional value that we are consuming, to the packaging of our products. We are the only plastic-free ice cream in the region. Our packaging is made out starch, which is compostable, so there is less impact on Earth. A more holistic approach to a product… Am I correct in understanding there’s just five ingredients? Yes, they are a combination of only: natural fruits, water, organic agave, fresh


HOUSE OF POPS | MARCELA SANCHO

lime Juice and vegetable fibres. We don’t add any preservatives, food colouring, or flavouring to our pops. We incorporate vegetable fibres to our recipes, as they assist us on maintaining a healthy gut function and healthy blood glucose as well as cholesterol levels. Our vegetable fibres come from chickpeas and corn; they also help give this nice texture. Clearly, with a healthier product, you will attract more healthy consumers – have you found that to be true? The health and wellness is a rapidly growing segment in the food industry. Specially after the pandemic, consumers gave much more importance towards healthier eating habits and the quality of products they consume. Our clientele varies in background, from the person that is taking the first step on making a healthy choice when having dessert, a person who is lactose intolerant, to a person that as part of their lifestyle, only consumes natural products, with no refined sugar but loves ice cream. We are the solution for all these scenarios. Why have you avoided sugars and artificial ingredients - and doesn’t this make products more expensive? We want to deliver to the customer the best product possible. When using only quality ingredients, there is no need to use artificial flavourings and such, as the true flavours and colours derive directly from the fruits. There is an impact in the costing, but we believe the pops are not expensive for the quality that we offer.

There’s more than one range now, correct? Can you take us though the ranges? We our offering 4 collections, these are: 1. Happiness Collection – 80 ml pops We currently carry 12 flavours, among the best sellers are Mighty Mango, Fancy Chocolate, Galactic Lime and Crazy Coconut. 2. Royal Collection – 123 ml pops– 4 flavours of pops, they are a bigger in size proposition, with fruit inclusions. 3. Keto Collection – 80ml pops – This range is dedicated for the keto diet followers, which want low carbs and high fat content. We sweeten the pops with Xylitol. 4. Choco Dipped Collection – 80ml pops– Mango, Chocolate, Coconut and Strawberry, dipped in 72% single origin Madagascan chocolate. Again, why launch a keto range? We want to accompany consumers in their healthy lifestyle. We want to be their ice cream partner, even when following a keto diet. We want to provide a product that is in line with their choices, a low in carbs and high in good fats ice cream, which most of the time is not available in the market. And is it important to you that the bars are vegan, or was that just a happy coincidence of being healthy? When we first spoke and conceive the brand of House of Pops, we had a 360 approach. We didn’t only want to create a product that is good for the person that

is directly consuming it, but as well for the environment. That’s why we go the extra mile, when sourcing ingredients and packaging to minimise the impact we have on Earth. What about sustainability? Are you concerned about that? We are the first ice cream in the region with plastic free packaging. So, sustainability is part of our company culture and is a topic that is permanently on our agenda. We constantly strive and look on ways to optimise resources and reduce wastage in every step of our production line, as well as in our logistics and distribution chain. We believe that we can guide by example, and graduality more companies and people will adopt this path. What’s next for House of Pops? You have your carts, kiosks, fridges – what’s next? We recently launched our franchise model. Our aim is to find partners that share our vision. The model is simple, and it requires a relatively low investment, while delivering a high return. We have a well-structured proposal, developed by the world’s leading franchise consultancy. We want to bring through franchising our pops to as many people as we can in UAE the gulf, Middle East and why not the world. HOTELNEWSME.COM | AUGUST 2021

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HCNME OPINION

Expert Piece grubtech How to franchise your restaurant brand virtually Virtual franchising exploded during the Covid-19 pandemic as restaurants had to adapt to fielding online orders, and servicing multiple deliveryonly brands to make up for loss of revenue from dine-in. While the pandemic accelerated the trend, globalization and the unification of consumer consumption for new food trends through social media channels means that similar demands need to be met, regardless of if a customer is in San Francisco or Amsterdam to Dubai and Tokyo. Virtual franchising is an innovative approach to franchising that does away with the need for physical storefronts. Instead, it connects content creators such as restaurants and virtual brands to cloud kitchens or micro cloud kitchens with underutilized capacity to service new or underserved markets. With virtual franchising, relatively new brands can scale rapidly and reduce the risk associated with capital intensive brick and mortar locations. Instead, franchisees can focus on servicing imported delivery-only brands which leverage much

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of the same ingredients, equipment and supply chain of their existing operations. This makes it easy for big and small businesses alike to benefit from the franchise industry at a low cost. Tamara Dabbas, Head of Revenue, grubtech shares some guidelines on how to get started on your journey to virtually franchise your brand. Curate a menu that is optimised for delivery It is imperative that you build a menu with well-researched items and offers. Every big franchise started with a great menu. And since your virtual brand doesn’t have to invest in setting up branded locations, you can afford to spend more time and resources to curate a bestselling menu that is optimized for delivery. Some of the guidelines to follow when setting up your menu include: • Keep it simple, don’t overwhelm the customer (and your franchisee) with too many options • Offer popular meals • Identify the right price point for your meals • Make sure the selected menu items travel well • Create an appealing brand identity around your menu

Develop a training model for brand SOPs It is essential that you develop a training model for the cloud and micro cloud kitchens to learn how to cook, package and present your meals. This step is significant as it reduces the burden on the franchisor to travel and train the cooks in person. It also helps you match your brand’s taste and service quality (consistency) across different locations.

While there are platforms that can help you get your training materials across to your cloud kitchen partners, they cannot do much about the quality of your materials. Make sure to include specifics like which equipment to use for what process and any other specific instructions that are needed. You may also include relevant materials like videos and ingredient sheets to ease the cloud kitchen’s process of adopting


GRUBTECH | TAMARA DABBAS

your menu. The less complicated the virtual training process is, the easier it is for your virtual franchise to scale. Decide which markets you want to target It is imperative that you have a market strategy in place before you begin looking for cloud kitchens to partner with. Do some research to find out which markets have an appetite for your brand’s offering. Engage with food aggregators who have greater visibility on demands and gaps for cuisines across various locations. Leverage cloud kitchen management platforms to connect you to underutilised kitchens within the global network. Engage operators and select one (or more) to service your brand Speak to a number of operators; develop a deep understanding of their existing operations and ways of working. Inquire about their health and safety standards. Assess online reviews of brands they currently operate, and their existing marketing activities. Learn more about their processes for ensuring quality and consistency and gain a better understanding of their supply chain. Once you have narrowed down your options to your selected franchisee(s), execute a franchise agreement, and begin training. Find the best management platform for you In the past, monitoring the performance of franchisees was always a manual process, heavily dependent on the integrity of reports submitted by franchisees, and spot checks conducted by franchisors. Cloud kitchen management platforms on the other hand, not only help you scale your brand effectively, but also empower you to monitor the performance of franchisees through access to sales and operations data in real time. Such unparalleled transparency enables you to calculate your share of the profits, identify issues or trends early on and make necessary adjustments accordingly. HOTELNEWSME.COM | AUGUST 2021

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“We look at both audiences - guest and hotel - and ensure everything we do meets real needs for both.”

TAKING LUXURY SERVICE into the digital age

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DANIEL GATES THE EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, CUSTOMER OPERATIONS, WITH THE RESPONSIBILITY OF DRIVING SUCCESSFUL, PROFITABLE SERVICE DESIGN AND OPERATIONS FOR ALL STAYTUS CUSTOMERS. OVER HIS CAREER, GATES HAS HELD A VARIETY OF SENIOR POSITIONS IN MARKETING, COMMUNICATIONS, OPERATIONS AND SERVICE DESIGN.


DANIEL GATES | STAYTUS

Tell us about your company’s journey in the hospitality industry. It’s been interesting to say the least. If you look through the lens of digital marketing to guests there have been many tech “fads” that have come and gone - those range from IPTV to iPads to “my hotel” apps. It takes a while for the industry to trial and then pass on technology that’s ultimately not adapted to guest needs or effective at generating revenue. Meanwhile we’ve remained focused on personalized, easyto-use digital solutions that guests actually want to engage with. The pandemic and its aftermath are creating conditions to accelerate our growth. What makes Staytus unique? We’re exclusively focused on luxury hospitality. This allows us to design solutions from the users out, not the technology in. We look at both audiences - guest and hotel - and ensure everything we do meets real needs for both. We don’t just say “hey this is a great messaging tool for food delivery or hospitals, maybe we could sell it to hotels too.” As a result all our products are best-in-class. From SmartArt (in-room display programming specifically adapted to the guest profile) to askthehotel.com (the world’s only multilingual, web-based chat for guests and staff) Staytus tools offer robust digital capabilities specifically adapted to the luxury environment. Guests are increasingly techno-savvy - are hotels in the Middle East region adapting to the digital shift? There’s some movement but it’s often not adapted to the needs of the guest or the hotel. Look at hotel “apps” - there was a first wave where every hotel wanted to have their own app, but these apps had very little functionality and offered little value to the guest… hence guests didn’t use them. Then the corporate brands deployed apps across the brands… but those apps are mainly for loyal road warriors and functionality is focused on booking rooms and managing points. They offer little for the guest during the stay who just wants to know what’s happening and to interact with the hotel in real time. And the hotel wants to interact with that guest, and upsell to maximize revenue. It’s a major gap that needs filling. How has the pandemic shaped the way guests want to communicate with hotels? The pandemic has revealed something that we’ve probably known for a long time but were afraid to say… a lot of guests don’t actually want to talk to you! Studies show that if given the choice between texting and calling over 70% of millennials would prefer to text. Guests want to text you, they don’t necessarily want to see you. And at the same time, luxury guests still expect the same level of service, so hotels need the tools and protocols to provide luxury experiences via digital channels.

“STAYTUS TOOLS OFFER ROBUST DIGITAL CAPABILITIES SPECIFICALLY ADAPTED TO THE LUXURY ENVIRONMENT.” What’s more, guests that can interact easily will also book, buy and spend easily. We see that about 75% of chat traffic is about reservations and purchases. So there’s a lot to gain from the hotel side too.

What are some of the challenges hotels in the Middle East are facing when it comes to guest communications? Language comes to mind. The Middle East is unique since both guests and hotel staff may be from a different country than the one the hotel is in. So a language bridge that allows both parties to communicate in their preferred languages reduces mistakes and enhances service. Another challenge is the expanding number of communications channels. Having different staff with different skills managing Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Telegram and so on is unsustainable. Funneling all communication into a single, easy-to-use “meta-channel” is the way forward. HOTELNEWSME.COM | AUGUST 2021

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How has the pandemic helped shape/accelerate contactless communication at hotels? One accelerator is the ubiquity of QR codes. Guests are now familiar with them and they are used to scanning and getting instant gratification on their own mobile. If this behavior is leveraged correctly it can really boost guest engagement. At Staytus we believe the QR code should not be a dead-end to a document - a menu, a map, a timetable - it should be an on-ramp to a full suite of services like chat, ordering, utilities, experiences. This accelerates guest engagement AND generates incremental revenues.

But a service that allows relevant staff, managers and subjectmatter experts to chat with the guest directly, at any time, for any reason, in any language, before, during or after their stay - that is how you use a digital channel to surprise and delight guests, and blow away their expectations.

How can digital media increase revenues at hotels? In the same way that the digital media enabled yield management for rooms… that was a revolution and it’s surprising that most hoteliers don’t look at their restaurants the same way. Instead of saying “we’re doing ok because 40% of the guests at my restaurants are in-house guests” you need to ask “are 40% of my in-house guests at my restaurants”. They probably aren’t. We believe that whenever there is a free seat at any restaurant hoteliers should be using targeted yield management and targeted offers to fill it. With digital, there’s no need for “one size fits all” promotions anymore. Clients using Staytus see +15% to +30% increases in guest on-spend with this approach.

Make yielding in-house guests as high a priority as yielding rooms - it’s high-margin business and guests that use the outlets are more satisfied, have more rave about and are more likely to return. How can you lose?

How can hoteliers leverage digital media to increase guest satisfaction? There is still a priori in the industry that digital communication is somehow less personal. That comes from experiences with the wrong tools: a chatbot is less personal. A texting service managed by the hotel operator is less personal. Ordering a meal on your phone in a five-star hotel restaurant is less personal. 58

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If you could give 3 pieces of advice to the general manager of a hotel, what would that be? Listen to your guests and give them what they want - they want to use chat to reach you, they want to use their own device, and they want great service, not a switchboard. It’s that simple.

Don’t be afraid to be an innovator - many hoteliers want to wait to see others adopting a technology before they do. Why make the same mistakes as everyone else? If you know it’s right, and it’s what the guest actually wants, do it now! What’s next for Staytus? The company has great growth ambitions. We believe if we stay focused on matching guest needs and hotel needs, we will become the ubiquitous platform for luxury in the coming years. Stay tuned!

“LISTEN TO YOUR GUESTS AND GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANT.”


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