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MAKING A SPLASH Why Lava Beach club is a game changer for fujairah

THE MILLENNIAL MAN Leva boss on why he is targeting a new market

FEBRUARY 2018 | WWW.HOTELNEWSME.COM

How hoteliers are meeting demands for a personalised service


Contents

February 2018

Contents 10 | NEWS JA RESORTS APPOINTS NEW CEO/ JUMEIRAH LAUNCHES ZABEEL BRAND/ UAE FIRM BUYS FAMOUS SCOTTISH HOTEL FOR $120 MILLION 24 | TALENT ZULAL GUL, FAIRMONT GOLD MANAGER, FAIRMONT DUBAI 26 | CHECKING IN ALOFT PALM JUMEIRAH/ RADISSON BLU HOTEL, JEDDAH CORNICHE/ OAKS BEIRUT 28 | OPINION DARREN DARWIN ON WHY AUTHENTIC LUXURY MATTERS

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34 | COVER STORY THE PERSONAL TOUCH: HOW MIDDLE EASTERN HOTELS ARE ADAPTING TO PERSONALISATION

10 News

24 Talent

26 Checking in

78 On the spot

February 2018 HOTEL NEWS ME

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Contents

February 2018

Contents

CEO Wissam Younane Wissam@bncpublishing.net Director Rabih Najm Rabih@bncpublishing.net

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Group Commercial Director Samer Alloush Samer@bncpublishing.net Senior Sales manager James Stead James@bncpublishing.net Editor Patrick Ryan Patrick@bncpublishing.net Art Director Aaron Sutton Aaron@bncpublishing.net

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Marketing Executive Mark Anthony Monzon Mark@bncpublishing.net

c o n t ribu t o rs Marouane Al Mandri

Photography Hayder Al Zuhairi

SUBSCRIBE subscriptions@bncpublishing.net PO Box 502511 Dubai, United Arab Emirates P +971 4 4200 506 | F +971 4 4200 196

62 40 | CHAIN FOCUS THE CARLSON REZIDOR GROUP 50 | MAKING A SPLASH HOW LAVA BEACH CLUB IS A GAME CHANGER FOR FUJAIRAH

For all commercial enquiries related to Hotel News ME contact All rights reserved © 2014. Opinions expressed are solely those of the contributors. Hotel News ME and all subsidiary publications in the MENA region are officially licensed exclusively to BNC Publishing in the MENA region by Hotel News ME. No part of this magazine may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the publisher. Printed by UPP

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HOTEL NEWS ME February 2018


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Personally speaking T

patrick ryan Editor

@ThatPaddyRyan Follow us on our social media pages @hotelnewsme /hotelnewsme hotelnewsme

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HOTEL NEWS ME February 2018

here has never been so much choice when it comes to hospitality. Everywhere you look someone claims to be offering something that you cannot get anywhere else. The task then is how do you find the service that appeals to your own specific needs. That was the question that we put to our panel of experts for this month’s cover feature. We picked the brains of some of the leading hoteliers across the region and the results were fascinating to say the least. It’s no secret that many observers have criticised the hospitality industry for being slow to adopt new technologies, not without merit in some instances, but from talking to the members of our expert panel it is clear that hotels have had to adapt or run the risk of being left behind. Speaking of how the market has been forced to adapt, this issue features an interview with JS Anand, the brains behind the Leva chain of hotels. The new player on the block has launched the group with an eye on millennials and the mid-market – two trends that have caused the industry more than a few headaches in trying to get to grips with them. Elsewhere in the issue we took a road trip to the emirate of Fujairah. We were there to hear about how the launch of their new beach club Lava is going to be a game changer, not just for the property, but for the entire region.

It wouldn’t be February in the Middle Eastern hospitality sector without a mention of upcoming trade shows and conferences – that’s exactly what you’ll find with our previews of Gulfood, AHIC and the newly-launched SHIC. It’s a sign of how successful that the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) has been that a spin-off has been launched in Saudi Arabia (SHIC). We’ve got the lowdown on what to expect at what is a genuine first, for both Saudi Arabia and the industry as a whole. February also marks the welcome return of our chain focus feature with the spotlight shone brightly on the Carlson Rezidor Group. This is a group that has been very much in the spotlight and is renowned for its investment in the region. Only last year, the cover star of this magazine was the group’s Maram Kokandi, the very first female general manager in Saudi Arabia. I am nearly out of space, so I will leave you to enjoy the magazine and I look forward to seeing you again next month. Regards, Patrick Ryan


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NEWS

For News, features and more, Visit www.hotelnewsme.com Follow us on twitter for breaking news: @hotelnewsme Follow us on Instagram to see what we’re up to: @Hotelnewsme Follow us on Facebook for up-to-the-minute breaking news Read the latest issue on: issuu.com/hotelnewsme

JA Resorts & Hotels appoints new CEO

JA Resorts & Hotels has appointed Anthony Ross as the company’s new CEO. Ross has over 30 years’ industry leadership experience in the hospitality sector, spanning roles on multiple continents. Prior to joining JA Resorts & Hotels, he was CEO at the Indonesia-based Aryaduta Hotel Group and held the executive vice president position at Preferred Hotels & Resorts, where he oversaw 120 hotels in the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa region. 10

HOTEL NEWS ME February 2018

“The team has done a great job in delivering heartfelt hospitality and casual luxury across our diverse portfolio from the gorgeous JA Manafaru in the Maldives, to our Dubai resorts and Bateaux Dubai," said Ross. "We aim to enhance how our guests experience both brand values, expand and deepen our reach and eventually bring heartfelt hospitality to new destinations in the region and beyond." Ross pointed out that JA

Resorts & Hotels comprehensively rebranded itself five years ago and has since entered two new international destinations, now operating properties in the UAE, Seychelles and Maldives. Its portfolio covers hotels, resorts, restaurants, leisure and sports facilities, event venues and a catering division. As a former unit general manager, in addition to developing and operating his own luxury lodge in New Zealand, Ross also contrib-

utes an ownership approach and in-depth understanding of hotel operations. Apart from managing independent hotels in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Australia, he spent several years with Swire Hotels where he subsequently became the group’s area general manager for China. Ross holds a bachelor’s degree in business, catering and hotel management from Victoria University in Melbourne.


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Regional News

Jumeirah Group launches Zabeel brand Luxury hotel company Jumeirah Group has announced the launch of a new brand - Zabeel House by Jumeirah. The new brand has been created in response to the continuing and growing travel trend for exploration and enrichment through travel experiences. Jumeirah Group chief operating officer Marc Dardenne said: “The launch of Zabeel House by Jumeirah is a significant milestone in achieving strategic expansion and provides an opportunity for Jumeirah Group to access new localities and destinations. Zabeel House by Jumeirah is for the traveller who wants to enjoy our award winning hospitality, but experience it in a more relaxed and casual setting. "The brand has broad appeal, and we are confident that owners will be very pleased with its commercial strengths – not least the endorsement that comes as being part of the Jumeirah family of brands - and guests will be delighted by their Zabeel House by Jumeirah experience.” A spokesperson added that Zabeel House by Jumeirah will have a strong appeal for this increasing segment of travellers, from across a broad demographic, who want to connect meaningfully with their travel destinations.

"Designed for the curious traveller with an intrepid spirit, who wants to experience a city like a resident, discover lesserknown neighbourhoods or uncover a different version of the city that they already know well, Zabeel House by Jumeirah is a place to immerse into the local neighbourhood or use as a great jumping off point to discover more in cities round the world," said the spokesperson.

"Each hotel under the brand will have a price point, service attitude and fanatical attention to design to match this ethos." Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts manages properties in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, UAE, and Kuwait in the Middle East and The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management. Future openings include luxury hotels in the UAE, Bahrain, Indonesia, China, Oman, Jordan, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.

Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts appoints new president for MEA region Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts has promoted Marc Descrozaille to the position of president Middle East & Africa (MEA). Having joined the hospitality firm in 2017 as vice president operations Middle East & Africa, Marc will now take the helm from Andreas Mattmüller, who has retired from his role as chief operating officer MEA, a region where the company currently manages 50 properties, with 20 more under development. “Marc has become an invaluable member of the management team and his international experience is proving a real asset in enhancing the ongoing success of our MEA operations,” said Olivier Chavy, president & CEO, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts. “As we say a fond farewell to Andreas, I hand the baton to Marc, confident in his abilities to build on the remarkable momentum we have achieved in the region and to maximise the many opportunities we have identified to grow our footprint and brand presence.” Descrozaille joined Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts from Carlson Rezidor where he was area vice president for the firm’s Africa & Indian Ocean operations. He has

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significant experience working in the Middle East, having also been employed as regional director, UAE, Egypt, Jordan and Oman for the hotel group. He has also held key executive positions at several major hospitality companies including Hilton, Compass Group and London’s Claridge’s Hotel.


Regional News

Chinese tourists to the GCC on the rise by millions

Chinese arrivals to the GCC will increase 21% by 2021, rising to 2.5 million visitors annually, according to data released ahead of Arabian Travel Market 2018. Published by Colliers International, ahead of the event which takes place at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) from April 22 -25, the data predicts Saudi Arabia will experience the highest proportionate increase in arrivals from China, up 35% on 2016 figures. The UAE will follow at 20%, with Oman at 12% and Bahrain and Kuwait at 7%. Simon Press, senior exhibition director, ATM, said: “The outbound Chinese market represents a vast, untapped pool of affluent and adventurous travellers and the GCC has been a destination of choice for years. Owing to its many business opportunities and a new generation of leisure attractions, figures show the GCC is poised to further capitalise on these trends over the coming years as millions of Chinese make their first international trip. “Over the years, sentiment at ATM has reflected the growth in Chinese tourists to the GCC and today we have seen more businesses than ever before eager to capitalise on the opportunities presented by the Chinese market.” The Colliers data follows four years of steady growth in Chinese arrivals to the GCC, spurred by the business, leisure and religious tourism sectors. Chinese travellers today seek unexplored cities and cultures, with GCC governments courting them through roadshows, exhibitions and cultural exchanges. Further supporting this drive, over recent years, regional brands including airlines, hotels and tourism bodies have opened representative offices across China. Every year, almost 15,000 Chinese Muslims visit the two Holy Cities, and that number will increase as China’s Muslim population grows to account for 2.1% of the total population by 2030. Strengthening these ties, in 2017 Saudi Arabia loaned Arab artefacts from the pre-historic, pre-Islamic and Islamic periods to Chinese museums, further enhancing Chinese awareness of Arab culture. Press added: “Thanks to the work of the GCC’s tourism bodies and stakeholders, cultural attractions and new developments are already generating interest from China. As a result, the GCC’s tourism and hospitality industries are uniquely poised to capitalise on emerging trends and secure a greater share of this fascinating market.”

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Regional News

Hotels in Middle East report drop in annual room rate for 2017

Hotels in the Middle East reported negative 2017 room rate performance results, according to data that was posted by STR. United Arab Emirates • Occupancy: +0.5% to 75.1% • Average daily rate (ADR): -3.8% to AED599.58 • Revenue per available room (RevPAR): -3.3% to AED450.04 STR analysts note that supply growth continues to affect hotel performance in the country, especially with Dubai’s build-up to the 2020 World Expo and beyond. “Not only will the amount of new hotel supply continue to influence Dubai’s ADR, 16

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the type of new hotel supply entering the market will create a shift in the pricing landscape, with more offerings in the Midscale segment,” said a spokesperson. “The market has been historically dominated by the upper-tier hotel classes. Additional offerings in the middle-pricing tiers, however, has helped the market’s demand continue to rise, as a wider price range has made Dubai more accessible at various travel budgets.” Dubai continues to add new tourism attractions to stimulate demand growth, helping the market drive hotel demand as inventory expands. Abu Dhabi is following a sim-

ilar trend, but at a smaller scale due to a smaller market size. “Along with hotel supply developments, the market is adding several new cultural attractions, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi, which opened in November 2017, and additional museums slated to open in the coming years,” said the spokesperson. An expected increase in oil prices, combined with sustained growth in the non-oil sector, should drive economic expansion in Abu Dhabi in 2018, allowing the economy to rebound from relatively flat performance during the previous 12 months. That should be an encouraging signal that the hospitality industry will turn the corner.

Kuwait • Occupancy: +8.8% to 56.7% • Average daily rate (ADR): -4.7% to KWD62.17 • Revenue per available room (RevPAR): +3.7% to KWD35.23 Demand, up 12.0% in 2017, has continued to grow following the economic downturn caused by lower oil prices. However, room rates have now decreased for three consecutive years. December 2017 represented the first month with yearover-year ADR growth (+8.3%) in Kuwait since July 2016 and was just the fourth positive ADR month for the country since the beginning of 2015.


Regional News

UAE firm buys Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh for $120million Twenty14 Holdings, the hospitality arm of Abu Dhabi-based conglomerate Lulu Group International, has completed a $120 million acquisition of the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh - The Caledonian. The Caledonian joins a portfolio of $650m worth of luxury property across the UK, the Middle East and India that Twenty14 has assembled since 2014. Twenty14 Holdings intends to invest a further US$28 million to enhance and expand the iconic building on Edinburgh’s Princes Street. Adeeb Ahamed, managing director Twenty14 Holdings, said: “We are excited to add The Caledonian to the portfolio of Twenty14 Holdings. With more than 100 years of history, The Caledonian brings with it a rich heritage, character and unique opulence, which we intend to preserve. “Local perceptions and historical legacies are central to our acquisition strategy. We are honoured to be part of this Scottish

landmark that has a great significance for locals and visitors alike. We look forward to adding to the experience The Caledonian already offers.” A spokesperson described The Caledonian as a grand Edwardian railway hotel

that has epitomised Scottish hospitality for more than 100 years. Twenty14 Holdings, it was added, intends to sensitively renovate the building while retaining its rich heritage and distinctive architecture.

Solo female travellers on the rise

Solo female travellers could be the key to growth within the region's hospitality sector. That's according to The Ascott Limited, who has drawn together a report into guest demographics, specifically looking at the mix of male and female guests. The gender report shows that 86% of its guests in the Middle East are male. "Currently far more male than female guests stay at Ascott properties across the Middle East. Trends are changing though, with increasing numbers of solo female

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travellers and cultural attitudes, particularly in Saudi Arabia, moving towards more freedom for travel,” said Vincent Miccolis, Ascott’s regional GM for the Middle East, Africa and Turkey. That growth has been reflected in locations such as Jeddah and Muscat. Compared to 2016, Ascott Tahlia Jeddah experienced a 34% year-on-year increase in female travellers in 2017. At Somerset Panorama Muscat, the number of women visiting the property has trebled since its opening in March 2016. “We are seeing more growth in Muscat and KSA from female travellers and identify this from the leisure and business sector respectively," added Miccolis. "With the decree overturning the ban on female drivers in Saudi Arabia, we envisage a spike in domestic leisure travel as women become independently mobile. It means there is an opportunity for the serviced residence industry to tap in to the growing number of female travellers and provide tailored services specifically for women.” Recently, Somerset Panorama Muscat in Oman held a special celebration for Omani Women’s Day, showcasing its desire to support women at work and welcome a greater number of female residents to the property. Ascott Rafal Olaya Riyadh has a women’s only leisure floor consisting of an outdoor pool & deck, gymnasium, lounge, children’s playroom and day spa. “Women-only guest amenities are just one of the small differences we put in place throughout the region and with more female travellers, we will continue to develop initiatives to support this growth," said Miccolis.


Regional News

IHG Dubai Festival City appoints marketing and PR manager

InterContinental Hotels Group, Dubai Festival City has announced the appointment of Vanina Yordanova as the new marketing & public relations manager. Yordanova will oversee and develop the marketing and communications efforts and cultivate these efforts, inconjunction with the overall brand and hotel strategy. “I am delighted to welcome Vanina to our IHG Family and I am positive she will be a great addition to our seasoned and dynamic team at the Dubai Festival City cluster hotels," said Kevin Cavaco, director of marketing – InterContinental Hotels at Dubai Festival City. "Vanina’s remarkable passion and knowledge will provide

a fresh approach and will strengthen the communications reach and relationship with our stakeholders and partners in the vibrant city of Dubai." Yordanova brings more than four years of experience in the hospitality industry, having worked at Viceroy Palm Jumeirah in the UAE. She began her career at Grand Hyatt Berlin and continued to work with the Hyatt brand in Dubai. She also holds a Bachelor of Business Economics degree from the University of National and World Economy in Sofia Bulgaria and a Master’s degree in Corporate Communications for the Universita Cattolica Del Sacro Cuore in Milan Italy.

Jeddah experiences rise in supply despite negative growth

Preliminary December 2017 data for hotels in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, indicates significant supply growth and negative performance. Based on daily data released by STR, from December, Jeddah reported the following in year-over-year comparisons: • Supply: +7.0% • Demand: -2.0% • Occupancy: -8.4% to 45.1% • Average daily rate (ADR): -4.1% to SAR694.85 • Revenue per available room (RevPAR): -12.1% to SAR313.45. STR analysts note that while room demand has fallen, a jump in new supply continues to worsen occupancy levels and pressure rates. The absolute occupancy level would be the lowest for any December on record in Jeddah, while the ADR value would be the lowest for a December since 2010. February 2018 HOTEL NEWS ME

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Regional News

New GM for The St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi

Marriott International has appointed Marwan Fadel as the general manager of The St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi. The Lebanese national has nearly two decades of hospitality experience across the Middle East. In his new role, he will oversee all management functions, hotel operations, and new innovations, aiming to achieve planned goals for the resort. “The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi was the first official debut of bespoke St. Regis hospitality in the region, making Abu Dhabi the first city in the Middle East to be host to its rich heritage, and I feel especially attached to it, having worked here since the hotel was still under construction,” said Fadel. “As a passionate hotelier, 20

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I am committed to providing authentic hospitality and inspiring my team to deliver exquisite experiences to our discerning guests. I feel very privileged and honoured to take up the general manager position of this iconic resort and as we prepare for the launch of an exciting new destination venue, the first permanent Buddha-Bar Beach worldwide, I look forward to elevating the guest experience for our sophisticated clientele.” The five-star property features 376 guest rooms and suites include the 2,100 sq m Royal Suite, a duplex spanning the two uppermost floors. Fadel moved to the UAE capital in 2011 to oversee its launch and was promoted to the role of hotel manager in August 2016.

New CEO for Jumeirah Hotels and Resorts Jumeirah Hotels and Resorts has appointed Jose Silva as its new chief executive officer. Silva brings over 35 years’ experience in the hospitality industry, including almost 25 years with Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts. In his last role, he was regional vice-president overseeing France, Switzerland, Spain and Portugal as well as general manager of the highly acclaimed Hotel George V in Paris. As chief executive officer of Jumeirah, a spokesperson said, Silva will be responsible for its international expansion, continue to elevate the brand and its growing portfolio building on the "company’s extraordinary success over the years". Jose Silva, chief executive officer, Jumeirah, said: “I have always admired Jumeirah for its “dare to be different” culture and its forwardlooking vision. I am honoured to

have been appointed and fully committed to leading the business and the brand into its next level of growth. Jumeirah is one of Dubai’s most iconic brands and a symbol of the Emirate.” His Excellency Abdulla Al Habbai, chairman of Dubai Holding commented: “We are determined to continue developing Jumeirah into a globally recognised national champion; setting new industry benchmarks for world class service and quality. "Mr Silva has had a distinguished career in hospitality with some of the world’s leading brands. I am confident his passion for designing unique guest experiences and driving innovation in the sector will build on Jumeirah’s strong growth, as we continue to enter new markets and open new hotels both at home and abroad.”


Regional News

Significant growth for hotels in Abu Dhabi Hotels in Abu Dhabi showed significant growth in December 2017, according to preliminary data supplied by STR. Based on daily data from December, Abu Dhabi reported the following in year-over-year comparisons: • Supply: +1.5% • Demand: +9.6% • Occupancy: +8.0% to 79.4% • Average daily rate (ADR): +2.1% to AED496.70 • Revenue per available room (RevPAR): +10.2% to AED394.39 STR analysts attribute the month’s performance growth to the International Diabetes Federation Congress (4-8 December 2017), which helped push the market’s occupancy above 85% on four consecutive nights. The month’s absolute occupancy level would be the highest for any December on record since 2004.

Nakheel and RIU sign AED385m deal for hotel at Deira Islands Developer Nakheel and Spain’s RIU Hotels & Resorts have signed a contract worth AED385 million for the construction of their 800-room, joint venture beachfront resort and water park at Deira Islands in Dubai. Set for delivery in 2019, the resort, which has a total investment value of AED670 million, will be built by Bin Ladin Contracting Group LLC Dubai, who was chosen from a shortlist of 10 contractors who bid for the project. Construction will be completed in two years. Nakheel chairman, Ali Rashid Lootah, said: “Today marks a key milestone for the Nakheel Hospitality, Deira Islands and Dubai. Our first international joint venture will bring a new dimension to Dubai’s hospitality offering by providing a new concept in accommodation and

attracting a new market segment to the emirate. “The RIU resort at Deira Islands is a shining example of our commitment to delivering a diverse range of tourism-related projects that will help the government achieve its 2020 tourism targets, and I look forward to seeing this exciting resort come to fruition.” Under the joint venture,

Nakheel and RIU Hotels & Resorts will deliver a new hospitality concept for Dubai, offering mid-scale, family-orientated, all-inclusive beachfront accommodation. The resort, RIU’s first in the Middle East, will be one of Dubai’s biggest in terms of hotel rooms. RIU Hotels & Resorts has almost 100 hotels, with around 45,000 rooms be-

tween them, in 19 countries. Together, these welcome over four million guests a year and provide jobs for nearly 27,000 people. RIU is one of the most popular hotel chains in the Caribbean and the second largest in Spain in terms of revenue. Joan Trian, RIU’s financial director, said: “Today we are a step closer to the opening of our first hotel in Dubai. We are sure that our loyal clients will want to explore the new offerings of the city with us, and we look forward to attracting new customers to our joint venture hotel, too. “Nakheel has proven to be the best partner for our entry in to the Middle East market, and we hope it is the first of other projects to come. In fact, this is a great step forward in our long-term expansion strategy in the Middle East and South East Asia.” February 2018 HOTEL NEWS ME

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Talent

As good as Gold Zulal Gul, Fairmont Gold manager, Fairmont Dubai, tells us about her incredible journey throughout the industry…

Describe your first ever role in the hotel industry? I was given the opportunity to start my career in Turkey as a receptionist at the Six Senses Spa, at the Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay Bodrum in 2010. Initially, it was a job for just five months during the summer vacation, but turned out to become a passion for lifetime. Back then I had no thorough understanding of hotel operations, although at the same time I felt that immense passion for interacting with guests. Those summer months were treasured – I got to learn about all the spa treatments and had a chance to attend trainings together with our therapists. During that summer I was also noticed by the hotel’s guest relations manager, who then approached 24

HOTEL NEWS ME February 2018

me to join her front office team. I was positively surprised and gladly took on the new career opportunity a year after the college graduation. Who is the person who has inspired you most in your career? The person who has influenced my career the most is Darren Davis – currently holding a regional leadership position within Marriott International. Darren is an inspirational leader – he really walks the walk and inspired me as a mentor and a role model. During busy front office operations, he would always support his team. Darren is someone, whose guidance I will definitely follow throughout my career.

How do you view the hotel scene in the region? We are privileged to work in a region which offers great opportunities for everyone who is passionate about the industry. It’s such a dynamic playground, there’s always something new happening and the region is always moving forward, I believe it’s once in a lifetime opportunity for fresh graduates to get started. It would be challenging to get a similar work experience anywhere else in the world. What is the biggest challenge of your role? I wouldn’t call it a challenge, but rather consider it as something very particular to my nature. Namely, there are simply


Talent

not enough hours in one day, which would give me enough time to interact with every single guest at Fairmont Dubai. I wish one day would last for 48 hours – that would give me sufficient time to engage with all guests; to make sure I have spent enough time with my team of 15 colleagues; and ultimately take enough time as well for my regular daily tasks. What is your favourite aspect of your role? I simply love the guests – and learning about their journeys and life stories. We have guests visiting the hotel from around the world, everyone has their own story to tell. I am passionate about interacting with them and becoming their key contact person during the stay at Fairmont Dubai. Even if they won’t return, I am confident that they have left with a warm heart and a memorable experience in their mind, and that means

Work Experience

November 2016 - present: Fairmont Gold manager, Fairmont Dubai October 2014 - October 2016: Guest relations manager, Marriott Marquis City Centre, Doha October 2013 - October 2014: Guest relations supervisor, Intercontinental Regency, Manama August 2012 - October 2013: Front desk agent, Intercontinental Regency, Manama they willing to recommend us as well to their friends. If you could work in any hotel in the world which would it be? The Plaza Hotel in New York, managed by Fairmont. It’s such a fascinat-

ing landmark property in the corner of Central Park, with a rich history dating back to 1883 and with so many stories to tell. The Plaza has hosted a number of famous guests, been the movie scene for numerous world-famous films and if there’s a hotel in the world that’s been in my heart since I was a little girl – it’s definitely The Plaza. What tip would you share with new staff starting out in the hotel industry in the region? They should put their heart into it. It’s challenging to work at a hotel, if you are not passionate about it. We all have our best days and the ones that are not so good, but it is important to overcome challenges and move along with a smile, aiming to turn guests’ moments into memories. It’s one of those industries, where it’s important to be genuine, do things from the heart and believe that one day all the hard work and late nights will pay off.

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Checking in

Design-led Aloft Palm Jumeirah opens in Dubai Marriott International has announced the opening of the Aloft Palm Jumeirah - the first of the brand to open in Dubai. The design-led hotel will offer Aloft's signature combination of a lifestyle experience combined with a techforward approach. “We are thrilled to celebrate the opening of our first Aloft in Dubai, situated on one of the world’s most sought-after destinations – the Palm Jumeirah” said Alex Kyriakidis, president and managing director, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International. “We see a strong demand for Aloft properties in the region as the brand continues to re-define the traditional

hotel experience with its vision and innovation. In the UAE alone, the brand will double its portfolio in the next three years with five new openings.” Max Wiegerinck, Aloft Palm Jumeirah’s general manager, said: “Aloft Hotels are modern, tech-forward and design-focused, and allow value-conscious savvy travellers to stay connected, network openly, and relax in style. “The offering is unique to the Palm Jumeirah and brings a contemporary and independent vibe to the destination.” Aloft Palm Jumeirah is home to six dining and social spaces - East & Seaboard Restaurant; Afterdeck Lounge; Re:mix Lounge; Luchador and W XYZSM

Radisson Blu announces fifth hotel in Jeddah

Radisson Blu has announced the opening of its fifth hotel in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia - the 150-room Radisson Blu Hotel, Jeddah Corniche. The Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group has 38 hotels and over 10,000 rooms in operation 26

HOTEL NEWS ME February 2018

and under development in Saudi Arabia. Bassam Abu Laban, general manager Radisson Blu Hotel, Jeddah Corniche said: “We are delighted to open the newest Radisson Blu hotel in Jeddah with a stun-

ning location on the popular North Corniche. The hotel is next to many of the city’s most famous leisure attractions, making it the ideal destination for families visiting Jeddah. We are confident that guests will en-

joy a memorable experience at the hotel with our unique Yes I Can! service delivered by our talented team.” Tim Cordon, area senior vice president, Middle East, Turkey and Africa, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group said: “The Kingdom’s drive towards economic diversification has seen some recent high-profile announcements with its ambitious vision to create a worldclass tourism destination. "As one of the fastest growing hotel companies in Saudi Arabia, and with a diversified portfolio, we are committed to support this growth across all market segments. We are further pleased to strengthen the presence of our upper upscale Radisson Blu brand in Jeddah, one the region’s most prominent cultural and commercial centres.”


Checking in

Minor Hotels to launch Oaks Beirut Minor Hotels has announced it is debuting its Oaks brand in Lebanon later this year. The group has announced it has signed a management agreement with Allied Investment Group to operate Oaks Beirut. Scheduled to launch in mid 2018, the 110-key hotel will be located in Sodeco. Previously operating as Hotel de Ville Beirut, the hotel is currently closed for a full refurbishment and will relaunch as Oaks. “We are very excited to announce the forthcoming debut of our Oaks brand in Lebanon later this year," commented Dillip Rajakarier, CEO Minor Hotels. "For Minor Hotels adding Lebanon to our footprint has considerable strategic value and we are very pleased to be partnering with Allied Investment Group to launch our first hotel in the country. Beirut is a dynamic city with so much to offer and is widely regarded as one of the most influential trend setters in the region.” Joseph Nemer, owner and CEO of Allied Investment

Group, said, “Allied Investment Group is delighted to be partnering with Minor Hotels to bring their Australianrooted Oaks brand to Lebanon, which I’m confident will be a success in this vibrant market. The refurbishment of the property is well underway and we look forward to launching Oaks Beirut later this year.” Minor Hotels currently operates two Oaks properties in the United Arab Emirates – the 165-room Oaks Liwa Heights in Dubai and the 54-room Oaks Liwa Executive Suites in Abu Dhabi. In total across the Middle East region Minor Hotels operates 13 properties across four of its brands – Anantara, AVANI, Tivoli and Oaks.

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February 2018 HOTEL NEWS ME

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Opinion

Authentic Luxury – What does it really mean? Darren Darwin, general manager, Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort, returns to talk about about the value of luxury in a hotel

I

n my last article, I talked about one of our brand pillars, indigenous, and how that related to our resort. I decided to continue along a similar path and train of thought, now reviewing and discussing another brand pillar, authentic luxury, two of the most popular, yet overused buzzwords in the industry today.

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HOTEL NEWS ME February 2018

Authentic, fundamentally surmounts to trust, being unpretentious and genuine, whether it be product or service. Additionally, luxury is often defined as comfort, refinement and stylishness, usually involving great expense. Authentic luxury could in essence be summarised as the delivery of a

genuine, organic and reliable worldclass product and service, whereby the customer trusts in what they receive, even without visiting the chosen resort beforehand. In other words, the brand identity and brand equity will be so strong that wherever consumers are staying in the world, the customer will


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Opinion

trust in the brand to deliver premium touches with an energetic local spice, not faceless glamour. From Sydney to Shanghai, Muscat to Mumbai, the authenticity of the encounter, or to be precise, the whole customer journey should be unified. Furthermore, the experience should match the expense in relation to value proposition. However I do not consider authentic luxury to always be expensive, and here’s why. We’ve all heard the expression: “You get what you pay for”. For myself, authentic luxury really depends on the individual needs of the guest when they visit a luxury resort. It could be world class service with a variety of luxury products thrown in, be it fine Italian coffee or mature Japanese wagu beef. On the other hand, our guests don’t really care if the bath tubs are Italian marble or from the quarries of China, as long as they are luxurious in comfort and experience. They are more interested in the preparation and execution that follows. For example, we have slumber gurus to prepare various bath salts and oils, creating a very relaxing and soothing memorable encounter, which in turn creates an authentic luxury experience driven by care and attention, and the guru’s understanding of the discerning traveller’s needs. The key is to have genuine experiences. We’ve all been subjected to the, “have a nice day greeting” with a smile as false as the world is flat, after all we do not live in utopia. Idyllically, we want all of our time, especially our leisure time to be authentic. For sure we have all experienced less than authentic practices in our lives over the years. Remember, the brand reputation can only carry so much weight before you start to question, did that waiter or sales agent really care about what I want or how I feel? It is vital that we offer a service that feels natural and at ease with our surroundings, never affected and stuffy. At Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Re30

HOTEL NEWS ME February 2018

Diana's Point, Anantara Al Jabal Akhdar was named after the famous British Princess who stood at that very point

sort we have over 2000 reviews saying that we do it right, the majority of the time, nevertheless let’s keep our feet firmly on the ground. It is critical that we also listen to our guests and adapt. From baby boomers to millennials, our guest’s needs are evolving rapidly. We constantly need to think differently in how we approach the consumer, and really get a feel for what they want through engagement and asking them to try things without it seeming like a sales pitch. Even better if you’ve tried it yourself, you can attest to the authenticity of both the sell and the experience. I don’t talk about any of our activities unless I’ve tried them myself, the same goes for my team. When I ask my guests personally, they said, with Anantara we feel secure knowing that when we spend a lot of money in advance on a booking, we will never be let down. We will receive pampered unobtrusive service, excellent interior and exterior design that blends seamlessly with the local environment and culture, and a high-

end luxury quality product, irrespective of country or continent. However, we are not cookie cutters or pretentious but instead offer non-formulaic experiences alongside premium, locally inspired touch points. That’s some burden to carry as an operator, then again, a very nice burden, which in turn will create guest loyalty and the best marketing strategy of all, promotion by word of mouth. Let’s not forget that word of mouth these days is mostly via online reviews, an article and topic I will certainly write about in the future. Finally, we should never deviate from being authentic, it should be part of our DNA, and distinguish us from our competitors. This distinction is why our guests trust us, believe in our offerings, and as a result, return to us many times. Our guests accredit us with a safety net in their mindset of us delivering authentic luxury, and we should stay on point in ensuring we deliver genuine heartfelt experiences day in day out.


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HOTEL NEWS ME February 2018


Cover Story

The personal touch

Hotel News Middle East speaks to hoteliers across the region about how they are meeting guest expectations for a personalised service...

Media One Hotel strongly believes in personalisation

T

he days of hotels being able to offer a one-size fits all service are long gone. The advent of the millennials has changed the playing field for all and sundry, hoteliers now have to think out of the box and do it fast. In this age of instant online reviews, it has never been so important for hotels to get it just right. But how exactly do hoteliers provide a personalised experience? “The way we see it, personalisation

can be translated into convenience and novelty,� says Alexander Schneider, general manager, Nikki Beach Resort and Spa Dubai. “When discussing novelty, we have decided and focused our offering on deviation from the norms by providing unforeseen facilities and refreshing experiences. We have acknowledged and accepted guests who aspire to be different and this is how we conducted our talent selection. I strongly believe in creating a pulsating and unique culture that induce an air of creativity in service February 2018 HOTEL NEWS ME

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Cover Story

Simply put, guests like to be welcomed with a personalised and customised experience, they need to be able to express themselves and we take the time to recognise this,” David Allan, cluster general manager, Radisson Blu Hotels, Dubai Waterfront and Dubai Canal Views. delivery and this is appealing nowadays to our audiences.” Pascal Dupuis, general manager, Address Boulevard, says: “We pay close attention to know the guest’s personal favourites in terms of food, facilities, and leisure choices. “We also look at adding our touches to the service we offer to create memorable moments such as providing a personalised welcome message on the TV screen in the room to greet the guests upon arrival, or preparing a special dish for our regular guests. The hotel continuously adopts the latest technology to deliver a tailored experience for each guest from booking to post checkout.” It isn’t easy to find out what each individual guest requires, but that should not mean you do not make the effort, says David Allan, cluster general manager, Radisson Blu Hotels, Dubai Waterfront and Dubai Canal Views. “Simply put, guests like to be welcomed with a personalised and custom36

HOTEL NEWS ME February 2018

Media One provides airport runs with a difference

ised experience, they need to be able to express themselves and we take the time to recognise this,” he says. Caroline Rowe, director of marketing and communication, Media One Hotel added her voice to the argument that each hotel has to offer something unique. “With the high volume of hotels in Dubai, it’s important to offer a differentiating factor for guests in order to build brand loyalty and help them feel connected to the hotel,” she says. One of the main issues, says Joe Nassoura, director of rooms, Fairmont Dubai, is that everyone has their own idea on what personalisation means which makes it a tricky balancing act to get right. “In the 1950s, personalisation meant that when a customer steps into the local grocery store, the shopkeeper would know the person’s name, her family, what she last ordered and what her preferred brands were,” he says.

“Nowadays in the hospitality industry, personalisation means that guests are being treated as unique individuals – as if at this very moment, they are the only guests at the hotel.” It is one thing to identify what needs to be delivered, it is quite another to be able to provide it. “Simply put, great service is not enough. How you deliver the experience is most important and makes a real impact,” says Schneider. One way in which Allan and his team has identified a clear way into delivering a personalised service is by having a very precise selling point. “We have set our stated aim to be the friendliest 5-star hotel in Dubai. My team and I have been working towards it and personalisation is one of the most important ingredients,” he says. “Personalisation starts well before a guest arrives at the hotel and ends long after they have left. We are not trying


Cover Story

to say we won’t make mistakes and everything will always be perfect, but it is about how you tackle it, how you treat every situation and how we approach every individual.” Rowe says that being an independent hotel allows Media One extra room to provide personalised services. “Our ‘Go To Team’ is dedicated to offering personalised service for VIP arrivals; from welcome gifts for VIP guests to tokens of appreciation for long stay and returning guests – these WOW moments are tailored to each individual,” she says. “If guests require an airport transfer, we ask them if they would prefer to be picked up in our regular van or our bright F150 - complete with racing helmets - to enhance their experience.” Media One has also launched a floor aimed specifically at the female traveller as well as providing a free smartphone in each room for guests to use.

Millennially-minded The rise of the millennials is probably one of the most used phrases in the hospitality industry across the globe, so much so that’s in danger of becoming a cliché, but the Millennials are on everyone’s lips for good reason. Schneider says: “We are entering a phase of a higher evolutionary pressure on the market, which will result in a displacement of products that are no longer cutting-edge or that do not deliver to the expectations of the feeder markets. “This phenomenon is extremely important in order for a destination to stay fresh and exciting.” Dupuis says, “Our millennial guests are technology savvy so the most important thing is to provide the latest techamenities across the hotel. “Connectivity is a key factor for the guests so we have dedicated resources to ensure fast and efficient internet access. Our guests can now connect to our wi-fi

network from the car park to the rooftop and even in the elevators.” The advent of the millennials caused significant changes in the industry, says Allan. “In today’s world guest are allowing brands to intimately connect with their personal thoughts and feelings, just think about Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat,” he says. “The guests are already sharing their personalities, we as hoteliers just have to find a way to transform those desires into memorable moments.” Another aspect that Schneider feels is key to a successful operation is creating guest loyalty. “It is a fundamental core of the resort’s service standard to apply emotional intelligence while interacting with our guests thus, reaching their core and developing a strong emotional connection, which ultimately leads to customer loyalty,” he says. “It is well known that loyal guests spend around 30% more than first-time guests do.” February 2018 HOTEL NEWS ME

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Cover Story

The bedroom suite at Fairmont Dubai

Doing the simple things well is an ethos that many successful businesses across the world live by – but in the modern age it is easy to be tempted to overcomplicate matters. Personalisation doesn’t necessary have to cost money – it can be a gesture as simple as addressing a guest by his nickname, knowing their preferences and remembering them,” says Nassoura. “At the end of the day, it’s not about the product – it’s about the people that make a difference.” Tomorrow’s world The future of personalisation is very much linked to technology, says Dupuis. “Technology is continuously evolving and the future trends in the hospitality industry will be based on this one aspect,” he says. “It would largely depend on how the hotels adopt, connect and maintain a certain degree of engagement before, 38

HOTEL NEWS ME February 2018

Alexander Schneider


Cover Story

during and after the guest’s stay. I would also point out the role of mobile applications and how the guest interacts with the hotel using these new channels.” With guests becoming more tech-savvy how manageable are the expectations of modern guests? “Guests’ expectations are very much manageable, as this exactly what Nikki Beach specialises in – creating unique and memorable experiences,” says Schneider. “A combination of micro-niching and developing our brand further to really differentiate from others is a current trend.” Building a community of people with common interests and experiences and reinforcing loyalty through one-of-akind experiences is key, says Schneider. Allan is clear on the message he wants to send. “The key is to be proactive instead of reactive, allow every single team member to express their personalities and understand how important it is to rec-

ognise the guest’s personality,” he says. “It might not always be easy to read what guests are looking for, but if you at the very least make the effort their expectations become way more manageable and you will start off with a satisfied guest.” Personalisation should be practised discreetly and create a surprise for the guest, suggests Nassoura. “For example, sending a cake at a restaurant to those tables with a birthday or placing rose petals on the bed for the honeymooners – it’s generalisation and not personal anymore, because it’s being done for everyone,” he says. “The moment we step up the norm and start doing something different which makes guests say “wow!” – that’s when we have succeeded.” Providing the perfect personal service is clearly not a simple process – but what is clear and simple to understand is that hoteliers across the region are leaving nothing to chance.

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17/01/2018 16:53:19

February 2018 HOTEL NEWS ME

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Chain Focus

The Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group is one of the world’s largest and most dynamic hotel companies. It has an expanding portfolio of more than 1,440 hotels in operation and under development, a global footprint covering 115 countries and territories, and a powerful set of brands; Quorvus Collection, Radisson Blu, Radisson, Radisson RED, Park Inn by Radisson and Country Inn & Suites by Radisson.

Selected Upcoming hotels

• Park Inn by Radisson Najran, KSA | 113 rooms • Park Inn by Radisson, Istanbul Odayeri | 97 rooms • Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Waterfront, UAE | 430 rooms • Radisson Blu Hotel & Residence Riyadh Diplomatic Quarter, KSA | 115 keys

Selected recently opened hotels • Radisson Blu Hotel, Jeddah Corniche • Radisson Blu Hotel Apartments Dubai Silicon Oasis • Park Inn by Radisson Dubai Motor City

A company of firsts • First • First • First • First

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Radisson RED in Middle East opening in Dubai Silicon Oasis – Radisson RED Dubai Silicon Oasis Radisson RED in Middle East opening in Dubai Silicon Oasis – Radisson RED Makarunah Road hotel set to open in Algeria Radisson Blu Hotel Algiers Hydra hotel set to open in Iraq - Radisson Blu Hotel Erbil

HOTEL NEWS ME February 2018


Chain Focus

Middle east Pipeline Hotel Name

City

Country

Brand

Rooms

Opening year

Radisson Blu Hotel Algiers Hydra

Algiers

Algeria

Radisson Blu

138

2018

Radisson Blu Hotel, Tipasa

Tipasa (UB)

Algeria

Radisson Blu

168

2020

Park Inn by Radisson Hotel Manama

Manama

Bahrain

Park Inn

207

2019

Radisson Blu Hotel Cairo, Nasr City

Cairo

Egypt

Radisson Blu

298

2020

Radisson Blu Hotel Erbil

Erbil

Iraq

Radisson Blu

260

2020

Radisson Blu Resort, Al Khobar Al Aziziya

Al Khobar

KSA

Radisson Blu

186

2019

Radisson Blu Hotel Al Rakkah

Al Khobar

KSA

Radisson Blu

150

2019

Radisson Blu Hotel Dammam Al Faisaliyah

Dammam

KSA

Radisson Blu

250

2020

Park Inn Hotel & Residence Dammam Industrial City

Dammam

KSA

Park Inn

305

2018

Park Inn by Radisson Hotel and Apts Dammam West Avenue

Dammam

KSA

Park Inn

250

2019

Radisson Blu Hotel Dhahran Square

Dhahran

KSA

Radisson Blu

216

2020

Park Inn by Radisson Hotel Jeddah Al Basateen

Jeddah

KSA

Park Inn

230

2020

Radisson Blu Hotel & Residence Jeddah Gate

Jeddah

KSA

Radisson Blu

452

2020

Park Inn by Radisson Hotel & Residence Jeddah

Jeddah

KSA

Park Inn

300

2020

Park Inn Madinah Road

Jeddah

KSA

Park Inn

84

2018

Radisson Red, Makarunah Road

Jeddah

KSA

Radisson Red

280

2020

Park Inn by Radisson Jubail Industrial City

Jubail

KSA

Park Inn

156

2018

Park Inn by Radisson Hotel Makkah Aziziyah

Makkah

KSA

Park Inn

335

2018

Radisson Blu Hotel Makkah Al Hidaya

Makkah

KSA

Radisson Blu

1251

2019

Park Inn by Radisson Makkah Al Hajla

Makkah

KSA

Park Inn

1605

2019

Park Inn by Radisson Najran

Najran

KSA

Park Inn

120

2018

Radisson Blu Hotel, Riyadh Al Sahafa

Riyadh

KSA

Radisson Blu

163

2019

Radisson Blu Hotel Riyadh RICEC

Riyadh

KSA

Radisson Blu

200

2019

Park Inn by Radisson Hotel Riyadh

Riyadh

KSA

Park Inn

171

2019

Park Inn Hotel & Apartments Riyadh Olaya North

Riyadh

KSA

Park Inn

200

2021

Nofa Resort

Riyadh

KSA

Radisson Blu

57

2018

Radisson Blu Residence Riyadh's Diplomatic Quarter

Riyadh

KSA

Radisson Blu

110

2018

Radisson Blu Hotel & Residence, Unaizah Al-Fahd

Unaizah

KSA

Radisson Blu

180

2018

Radisson Blu Misrata

Misrata

Libya

Radisson Blu

180

2020

Radisson Blu Resort & Thalasso Hammamet

Hammamet

Tunisia

Radisson Blu

64

2018

Radisson Blu Pearl Resort, Sousse

Sousse

Tunisia

Radisson Blu

130

2019

Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, Sousse

Sousse

Tunisia

Radisson Blu

217

2019

Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Waterfront

Dubai

UAE

Radisson Blu

430

2018

Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Canal View

Dubai

UAE

Radisson Blu

200

2019

Radisson Blu IMPZ

Dubai

UAE

Radisson Blu

356

2019

Radisson Blu Studio City

Dubai

UAE

Radisson Blu

290

2020

Radisson Red, Dubai Silicon Oasis

Dubai

UAE

Radisson Red

171

2019

Radisson Blu Residence, Al Sufouh

Dubai

UAE

Radisson Blu

264

2019

Park Inn by Radisson Residence Jumeirah Village

Dubai

UAE

Park Inn

261

2020

Radisson Blu Residence, Dubai Marina Docks

Dubai

UAE

Radisson Blu

243

2020

Park Inn by Radisson Dubai Al Jadaf

Dubai

UAE

Park Inn

300

2020

Park Inn Resort Ras Al Khaimah Marjan Island

Ras Al Khaimah

UAE

Park Inn

384

2019

February 2018 HOTEL NEWS ME

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Chain Focus

Spotlight Q+A with Tim Cordon, Area Senior Vice President, Middle East, Turkey and Africa

key achievements and milestones Madinah Road in the past 12 months • We are extremely proud to now • 22 hotel openings across Middle East, have 102 female employees in Saudi Turkey and Africa in 2017 Arabia, including 21 women in • 38 hotels and +6000 rooms in operaleadership positions the number of tion or under development in Saudi in Saudi Arabia from six in 2014. Arabia, 2017 • ”Best Hotelier” award at the World• The group’s first hotel opening in wide Hospitality Awards for Maram Makkah and hotel openings in Jeddah, Kokandi Al Khobar, Dhahran and Buraidah. • Tim Cordon takes over as Area Se• We welcomed the first Saudi female nior Vice President for Middle East, general manager in the hospitality Turkey and Africa from industry with game changer Maram Kokandi, Park Inn by Radisson Jeddah Mark Willis.

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HOTEL NEWS ME February 2018

What have been the key challenges facing a) your hotel group b) the hospitality sector in general and how have you met these challenges? One of our biggest challenges, which in many ways has been a pleasant one, is to successfully ensure our strong development pipeline materialises into new hotel openings. Opening 22 hotels in one year is a fantastic achievement which was only possible through the collective efforts of both the respective hotel teams and the Area support team.


Chain Focus

and talent. And when we are successful, whenever a guest plans a trip, whenever an investor or owner thinks of a partner, or whenever a person wants to work in hospitality, they will think of us first. Our five-year operating plan is based on concrete insights, actions, responsibilities and timeframes around new value proposition, portfolio optimisation, cost advantage, enablers and scale.

The continued growth of aggregators such as Airbnb and OTAs will continue to have a broader impact on the hospitality industry as their business models evolve and expand into different markets. The sharing economy took advantage of an opportunity to leverage digital platforms and under-utilized inventory. The hotel and hospitality industry has certainly been affected by increased competition and new choices for travelers through these peer-to-peer networks. However, we remain committed to providing safe and responsible hospitality solutions. The Carlson Rezidor

portfolio is focused on being a true host and providing memorable experiences that go beyond just lodging. Our hotel brands are focused on providing personalized options, authentic local touches, stylish living design, vibrant social scenes and unique locations – important distinctions and experiences. What are the hotel group’s key goals for the immediate future and why? Our group’s vision is to become the top three hotel company in the world and the company of choice for guests, owners

How is technology dictating the way you run your business and liaise with customers (from bookings and social media to in-room technology)? Technology is having a revolutionary effect on the way we do business and indeed live our lives. We see technology as an enabler which will drive future growth and profitability. The use of technology is helping us learn more about our guests, their needs, their preferences but has also optimised our operations in becoming more efficient, monitoring productivity and controlling costs. As a company we look ahead at future opportunities and develop platforms and an IT infrastructure that allows provides the flexibility for future growth and development within our hotels. We aim to ensure the technology in our hotels is designed to maximise return on investment for our owners whether that be systems that provide a more cost efficient back-of-house process or whether it is enhancing the guest experience – something that obviously drives future bookings. February 2018 HOTEL NEWS ME

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GM Interview

The Millennial’s Hotelier Over the last decade, two trends have caused a headache for Dubai’s hoteliers – millennials and the mid-market. On a mission to bring fresh ideas to both, J.S. Anand, founder of Leva Hotels and Resorts, explains how the company will operate 1,500 (profitable) keys by 2022, words by Melanie Mingas…

I

n the early 2000s, the millennials started to take their first holidays as unaccompanied young adults. Without knowing it, their preferences, demands and requests during these trips would go on to revolutionise hotel operations and the wider hospitality industry. Combined with significant changes in how, where and why people travel, the accommodation segment today is distinctly different and youth travel is no longer about large friendship groups enjoying a two-week party overseas. Today, youth travel embraces history, architecture, cultural experience, adventure tourism and extreme sport. As a travel group, those currently aged 18- 34 spend almost $200 billion a year globally, and by 2020, 320 million international trips will be made by youth travellers each year, up 47% from 2013. The hotel industry has been quick – and keen – to react, with such gimmicks as interactive touch points, iPad controlled curtains and even robotic butlers. The idea of informal service on demand redefined luxury and millennials duly arrived. At this point, millennials were widely considered an operator concern, with the onus to update rooms and offerings placed firmly on the name over the door. However, today a new name is allowing owners the chance to embrace and entice the millennial market, with fresh, made to measure brands. Leva Hotels and Resorts is the brain-

44

HOTEL NEWS ME February 2018

child of J.S. Anand, a Dubai-based hotelier who has worked for Marriott International, InterContinental, Hilton Hotels and Resorts and Louvre Hotels Group over a 20-year career. While inspired by the success stories of such mid-market brands as Rove, Leva is one of the first companies to have brought a comprehensive millennial proposition to Dubai’s hotel owners, D’Zign by Leva. The aim is to target the young, modern traveller as the core clientele across all operations. Anand explains: “D’Zign focuses on the millennial traveller, through design and tech. We see lifestyle brands going more towards social spaces, casual dining, tech-savvy lobbies, communal tables, coffee shops, places to hang out. The model we came up with is largely a low cost model for owners to build a product for this market.” As a company Leva offers 3-star and 4-star options in addition to upscale hotels and an extended stay component, across four brands (see box). To achieve maximum ROI for investors and minimum rates for guests, diligent focus falls on efficient and cost effective operations. The key differentiators of a Leva hotel are the prioritisation of comfort, service and affordability. Derived from the Latin “levatio”, which, among many things, means comfort, Leva is described as a “confluence of great hospitality and aesthetics”. As a rule of thumb, all properties are located near major landmarks with locations selected for proximity and connection.


GM Interview

February 2018 HOTEL NEWS ME

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GM interview

Anand is working towards 1,500 keys across 10 properties within five years. Behind the scenes, Leva has streamlined vendor policy to ensure stability in operations, and it blends technology and smart financial systems to ensure ROI for investors. For example, the first Leva property is also the first hotel in Dubai to implement Oasis, the PMS software adopted by Dusit and Holiday Inn Express across the South East Asian market. Additionally, Anand names outsourcing and a lean staffing structure as the secret to profitability under the group’s model. He continues: “We are a global team. We have worked with economy and fullscale brands but the luxury 5-star and 4-star properties are very top heavy in cost. That’s how we came up with the outsourcing models and lean staffing models of Leva. Not by minimising the quality, but minimising the need for a large quantity of products, such as amenities, and so on.” The mid-market formula According to PwC, the key to a great mid-market hotel is a well connected location, clean rooms, good (and free) WIFI, and tech-enabled communication between hotel and guest. At Leva, these factors combine under the lifestyle umbrella with a fresh aesthetic and functional technology. While a seemingly simple combination, Anand maintains it’s a winning formula. He says: “It’s more to do with the lifestyle concept, focusing on modern art and technology and very strongly on returns for ownership compared to what currently exists. One thing we pride ourselves on is that we commit and we deliver. There is a lot of commitment in Dubai, but also a lot of under delivery.” Despite this, Leva’s approach isn’t prescribed. He adds: “We deliver what we promise and one more flexibility we have is that we go to owners and work with their current models. We don’t’ give them a book and say ‘this is your design, follow it’. We take their design and modified it as per their requirement and Leva’s requirement. “Offering more services in a 3-star product is the way to go,” he continues. 46

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Adding to PwC’s list, Anand’s ideal mid-market hotel features a maximum of 150 keys and a combination of bar, coffee shop and all-day dining, depending on the target guest. It also embraces dining trends from its host city – which, in this case happen to scream millennial. Anand says: “In F&B today there is a lot of innovation. You tend not to run the F&B product yourself, you lease or share it, you try new concepts and so on. I feel today, the consumer isn’t looking for fine dining and we see this in the presence of restaurants like Tom and Serge, Pantry Café and so on. Price points have to be very competitive, because traditionally hotel F&B always suffers.” “When it comes to hotel models we


GM Interview

think ‘maximise every square foot’. We have great public spaces but you need to have commercial concepts and a good quality product in terms of rooms.” The start of an era The millennial market is more nuanced than privileged young people on their latest international trip and, as with other segments, rate inevitably shapes demand. In Dubai, the hotel industry was created to entertain levels of affluence unimaginable to most people. A legacy of its drive to impress the world, today it boasts the world’s tallest hotel, the world’s most luxurious hotel, some of the world’s most expensive hotels… not

to mention the most hotels under construction in the entire region. As a business model it would always be limited, but the shift didn’t start until 2013. Eyeing an increase on arrival numbers in excess of 100%, Dubai Tourism committed to make Dubai a place everybody can afford to enjoy. Mid-market airlift received a boost with the expansion of flyDubai and the launch of Hungarian economy airline, Wizz Air, at Dubai South. The same year, DTCM pledged to waive taxes for budget hotels meeting certain criteria and, by Q4 2015, the 3-star and lower segment accounted for 50% of supply, compared to 29% of the total pipeline in Q1 of the same year. February 2018 HOTEL NEWS ME

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Anand explains: “Of course there was a need, no doubt about it, but at the same time, I felt there was enough luxury and enough loud, glamorous product. When we looked at all our findings and research, I felt strongly that you really don’t need a large luxury product to be successful. The bottom line for us is that we try to work with very sharp and timed cost models. “The idea of tighter cost models, outsourcing, that excites me. There was a need for mid-scale and still we do not see enough of it in Dubai, but that’s how Leva came about,” he continues. By the end of 2017, Dubai had 46,620 available rooms in the 4-star and lower segment, representing 44% of the total hotel stock in the emirate and boasting an average occupancy of 78%. In the luxury market, 35,702 rooms averaged 75% occupancy. In addition to driving arrivals, the mid-market also presents opportunities for different source markets – as Anand observes, Indian and Chinese arrivals are rising, but they rarely generate the same rates as European or American visitors. 48

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Leva brands • LEVA is built on 3-star and 4-star options in addition to upscale hotels and an extended stay component, across four brands: • LEVA – Premium upscale brand that offers the best in service, luxury and comfort • Leva Zen – 4-star properties catering to bespoke, upmarket lifestyle experiences • Leva D’zign – 3-star upscale hotel that will become a permanent fixture on the itinerary of the millennial traveller • Leva D’ztinct – Serviced apartments ranging from studio apartments to three-bedroom spaces offering the best in upscale residencies.

Anand adds: “The Dubai market has a lot to offer and it is a very accessible city. The theme parks, Dubai Frame, Dubai Opera, IMG Worlds of Adventure… essentially it’s probably going in the direction of Singapore and creating a lot of things within the city, mixed with a little culture.” The first Leva property, D’Zign by Leva, opposite Al Ghurair Centre, opens this quarter. It will be followed by a second property in Barsha and further locations currently being scouted across the Expo suburbs of Al Furjan, Arjan and Marjan, in addition to sites in International City. Looking ahead, Anand concludes: “Because of 2020 and 50,000 or 60,000 rooms coming into the market, I think there will be a price war and an occupancy battle. I think 2020 is a great opportunity, but what happens after that will depend on how different source markets change and how we drive traffic into the city. For Leva, it isn’t about having 20 locations in Dubai it’s about the new locations – the places where we want to position.”


17-19 April 2018 AHIC Village, Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates

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Regional News

Making

h s a l p as

A pioneer of the social scene in the northern emirates, Lava beach club is part of Fairmont’s vision for an international, 5-star beach experience on the UAE’s east coast. Hotel GM Omar Souab and director of F&B Heinz Giering, tell Patrick Ryan about the concept, the food and making a splash in Fujairah

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s far as tourism in Fujairah goes, the east coast emirate is a sleepy fishing town with an economy built on agriculture and shipping. As of 2014, the population stood at 202,667 people. Despite this, Fujairah has built – and maintained – a reputation for weekend getaways among the UAE’s expatriate residents, thanks to its mountainous terrain, cool climate, white sandy beaches and hot, cold and mineral springs. Now looking to diversify its tourism mix, Fujairah’s plans follow a similar formula to places like Ras Al Khaimah. Following the opening of successive luxury hotels since the start of the decade, the emirate witnessed industry growth of 8.7%, 2014 – 2017, compared to the national average of 5.7%. Until recently, the hotel stock to support the weekend market in Fujairah has been limited, but with a pipeline of luxury hotels lined up for the coming years, Fujairah now has its sights set on transformation via tourism. Abu Dhabi-based developer Eagle Hills has two projects, The Address 50

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Fujairah Resort + Spa and the upcoming Palace Fujairah Beach, and brands such as Rotana and Intercontinental are gaining market share since their arrival. However, it is the entrance of Fairmont – the first global 5-star upscale brand – that will set Fujairah apart. Located in the coastal region of Dibba, within a two-hour drive of Mussandam, Fairmont Fujairah Beach Resort joins a portfolio of more than 70 hotels globally. Offering 180 rooms and suites with sweeping views of the Indian Ocean or mountains; guests can enjoy private balconies; the UAE’s second Willow Stream Spa, inclusive of VIP suite; five restaurants and bars; a four-bedroom penthouse and Lava – the first beach club on the Indian Ocean coast and the first of its kind in the UAE. While a contemporary luxury brand, Fairmont doesn’t shy from selling itself on nightlife in the Middle East, providing a home for Cirque Le Soir and Cavalli Club in Dubai. The concept in Fujairah is to fully utilise the breath-taking panoramic views and cool ocean climate,

to bring a new element to local nightlife: a slick beach club to rival those of southern Europe by day, and a 400-capacity venue for parties and events by night. At the centre is the Lava pool, tiled in red, orange and yellow and complete with Jacuzzi streams. Elsewhere, guests can enjoy gourmet food, drinks at the sunken pool, an outdoor shisha terrace and live DJ music with AV equipment provided by project partner Bosch. Luxury sun loungers surround the pool and the hotel offers five private chalets for day hire, equipped with sofa, TV, mini bar, bathroom and outdoor lounge seating. For the VIP’s –which the resort is fully prepared to cater to – the party continues in the privately accessed, fourbedroom Lava Penthouse, overlooking the pool and providing the option to tune in directly to the music played live by the DJ below. Omar Souab, hotel GM, explains: “I think everyone is impressed. I don’t think there is anything like the Lava pool in the rest of the Middle East. The whole concept is unique and people


Regional News

Heinz Giering

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really appreciate that. The size of the club is massive, the quality of the food is very good and word of mouth about those things has generated interest in the local community.” To fully utilise the space, family elements have been added for the daytime, with a kids’ pool and splash pad and an over-21 policy in effect from 8pm. The shisha terrace, IAMMAI, overlooks the Lava pool and attracts its own clientele after sundown, helping the hotel to cater to two diverse crowds simultaneously, day and night. Souab continues: “We are finding a nice balance between our two sets of evening clients – the locals who are a big part of our client mix and then the expatriates and international visitors.” Something different The fresh approach to luxury hospitality isn’t only new to Fujairah. Taking the “edgier” approach is something even Dubai hasn’t introduced to mainstream 5-star hotel operations. At Lava, it’s all about bringing a casual approach to luxury service with outgoing staff, preferably tattooed or bearded (where appropriate). While this isn’t entirely millennial influenced, the niche is inspired by the 52

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younger luxury guest as well as the 30 and 40-somethings who like to enjoy life in the UAE, by relaxing at a 5-star beach club. Testament to the allure of the Fairmont brand, the hotel was an instant success with the local Emirati market, who own 40 villas and 65 apartments in the complex and are regulars at IAMMAI. Souab comments: “Most of our early guests were from the UAE, with a lot of local Emiratis in the first 10 months of operations. Now, the beach club attracts Australians and Europeans, we have

seen a greater number of expatriates from Dubai and Abu Dhabi and we have tied up with tour operators in our key international source markets of Russia, Germany and Scandinavia.” To balance occupancy and F&B demand through the week, Souab aims for an ideal guest mix of 30% Emirati, 30% expatriate weekend business and 40% long stay guests, predominantly from Russia and Europe. He continues: “Fujairah is known for its water, mountains and the climate as well, but now we are bringing something new. As the only beach club in the


New opening

area, we are pioneers in the northern emirates and we are teaming up with some well-known brands in Dubai to increase our exposure. “The beach club is our main attraction and we picture the resort getting busier as people come from other hotels for the Lava experience. It will take a few months to build momentum but I think it will get better every month until we really create something new for Fujairah.” Keeping it local As with anything in the UAE, cuisine is central to the hotel’s offering and while Fairmont Beach Resort Fujairah fully embraces the trend, it does so in its own style. Across the hotel’s five outlets (see box) the focus falls on locally sourced fresh produce and seafood. Director of F&B Heinz Giering explains: “Throughout the property we tried to bring something new to the northern emirates and

we tried to do that across all our F&B outlets, too.” At Copper Lobster, that includes fresh catches of Omani rock lobster, at Arteasan it blends art and tea and, at Lava, it is the foundations of the MediterrAsian concept, fusing the fresh flavours of Mediterranean and Asian food, while sourcing as close to the hotel as possible. Giering continues: “Seafood is obviously a very big part of this country. All our fish comes from the local market and we have locally cultivated oysters. We have a lot of suppliers we are working with, including a local farmer for organic vegetables. Our bars also use locally sourced ingredients in our cocktails and mocktails and we use some locally manufactured tableware.” While the local focus is practical in the somewhat isolated emirate of Fujairah, it is also a core element of Accor’s Planet 21. Launched in 2010, the company-wide initiative covers eco-design,

From 0 to 200 °C in less than 2.5 minutes. With the patented VarioBoost® heating system: Get the desired result up to 4 times faster and with 40 % less power consumption*. The VarioCookingCenter®: Boiling. Frying. Deep-frying. All in one unit. Experience live now: rational-online.com

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protection against exploitation, environmental work and sustainable food supply chains. Giering says: “We like to give back to the community in that way so we are sustainable but at the same time we give back to the people who support us. “We see in the F&B trends at the moment that people are going natural. People want to connect with their roots and go back to their old ways. So you’re talking about cooking vegetables only to unlock the full flavour and nutritional benefits, and using things that we have neglected over the years. Ethical and sustainable produce comes into it, too. People are becoming much more aware of their surroundings and it all comes back to the environment.” F&B is an essential element of the weekend demand driven by Lava. To start the celebrations, Giering has introduced a “dupper” brunch on Thursday evenings, followed by a relaxing day of pool-side F&B on the Friday, before Lava’s weekly event on the Friday night. Food has also helped create demand for the events department, as the hotels gains a reputation as the premier venue for weddings, gala events and MICE functions in the emirate. He says: “We made a splash putting this hotel up and putting the beach club up. I think this part of the world was a little neglected, but now people have discovered Fujairah as a new destination where they can get away from the hustle and bustle of the cities without having to fly out of the country,” Giering adds. The marketing drive for the immediate future will include brand tie-ups with Dubai-based promoters and nightlife names and a full events calendar at Lava until the start of Ramadan. Souab concludes: “People have a perception that Fujairah is on the other side of the world but it’s only 90 minutes by car, with no red lights. With the quality of the Fairmont and the new generation of luxury hotels here in Fujairah, it is really being transformed and I’m encouraging everybody to come and have a look. I’m sure you will like what you see!” 54

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Dining Options Canvas All-day-dining with live cooking stations

Arteasan Featuring wicker peacock chairs and plush sofas in a gallery-style space, guests partake in the serene ritual of tea appreciation, whilst drinking in the inspiring art pieces enveloping the lounge The Copper Lobster The evening sea grill restaurant offers a daily fresh catch menu where you can indulge in local seafood prepared in creative and delicious ways Iammai A pool lounge with bar serving light bites throughout the day, and shisha from sunset Pronto Takeaways and all-day nibbles.


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Ahic preview

Shaking Things

AHIC 2018 unveils forward-thinking initiatives to challenge the status quo of the hotel investment industry with the ‘Day of Disruption’ and the inaugural Saudi Arabia Hotel Investment Conference 56

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Ahic preview

hings Up at AHIC February 2018 HOTEL NEWS ME

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AHIC Preview

Day of Disruption

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he Arabian Hotel Investment Conference 2018 (AHIC) will kick off with a ‘Day of Disruption’, designed to shake up traditional ways of thinking and bring insight to the hospitality investment industry from forward thinkers operating in various sectors, from cybersecurity and cryptocurrencies to marketing and motorsports. Jonathan Worsley, chairman of Bench Events and Founder of AHIC, explains: “The hospitality industry is often criticised for not keeping ahead of trends or driving innovation. That’s because hotels are a rooms-based business model, offering bed and breakfast – something that will always be needed, as long as people continue to travel. There is little motivation, quite understandably, to change this. “However, as the hotel market in this region matures, competition increases, putting performance and profitability under pressure, so investors are quite rightly focusing on the future and carefully analysing the potential of current and future assets alike,” continues Worsley. “Many of the hotel owners we speak with at AHIC invest in other industries as well and are keen to see how the hospitality industry will adopt new technologies and create alternative operating models. “This is why we are kicking off AHIC 2018 with The Day of Disruption, which will bring together CEOs from some of the world’s most forward-thinking companies, such as Winding Tree, Vayner Media and TINT, to share their knowledge with the industry,” Worsley tells Hotel News Middle East. Headlining The Day of Disruption on April 17 is Frits Dirk van Paasschen, author of The Disruptor’s Feast and former CEO of Starwood Hotels and Resorts. According to van Paasschen, established interests, change-blindness and set ways of working mean hotel brands will wake 58

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up too late to disruption, making it nearly impossible for incumbents to survive. “There is so much change still to come, and most of the industry is still asleep,” says van Paasschen, who believes “lodging capacity in the space between traditional hotels and first-generation peerto-peer accommodations” will be the major disruptor to the hospitality industry in 2018. Speakers include Maksim Izmaylov, CEO, Winding Tree, specialist in blockchain technology, who holds a similar view to van Paasschen. “There is no innovation in the hospital-

ity industry, that's the main problem. There are no and will be no new disruptors in the industry until we break the monopolistic grip on it,” says Izmaylov, who will present how blockchain can be used to circumvent OTAs. He adds: “We live in a technology-driven world. Any CEO of a travel company has to really come to terms with this. Their company has to transform into a technology company as soon as possible. If they don't do that, they will be delegating their technological expertise to some intermediary that will abuse it.” Tim Sae Koo, CEO of social media mar-


Ahic Preview

Frits Dirk van Paasschen will host the Day of Disruption at AHIC

keting company TINT, who will share his experiences as a “digital nomad” with AHIC delegates, agrees that investors should be investing in “digital technologies early on”. “Hotel operators lagged a little behind, but there are quite a few companies now that are refreshing the business model and trying new things, such as Yotel, Citizen M, and Generator Hostels. People still want the human experience, but what that means is evolving and a lot of times includes more technology,” says Sae Koo. Partner of AHIC 2018, Haitham Mattar, CEO, RAKTDA, says technology will be the biggest disruptor to the hospitality industry in 2018. “I am referring to technology that improves the customer experience, and tech that improves operator efficiency. The ultimate disruptors will be tech that achieves both,” says Mattar. “The UAE’s leadership has a clear plan to build smart cities, and a smart society. They are investing heavily in all the pillars that will enable this vision, including smart transportation, crowd management, smart buildings and smart tourism. Investors need to be aware of these developments, and align with them,” he adds. The Day of Disruption will also include a live hack of the AHIC 2018 audience,

Jonathan Worsley, chairman Bench Events

Haitham Matter, RAKTDA

led by Richard Neale of Counterhack; modern leadership advice from Ferrari’s Mark Arnall, Trainer of F1 star Kimi Räikkönen; and a panel session featuring ‘Challengers of the Status Quo’ moderated by Eric Fulwiler, Executive Director – London of VaynerMedia. The 14th edition of AHIC takes place from 17-19 April 2018 at the purposebuilt AHIC Village in the grounds of the

Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, in partnership with Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA). The conference will attract around 800 hotel investors, major developers, leading financiers, and C-level hotel executives to attend three days of content, networking and events. For registration and for more information, visit: www.arabianconference.com February 2018 HOTEL NEWS ME

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SHIC Preview

Saudi Arabia Hotel Investment Conference

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ith 40,020 rooms across 89 projects in the construction pipeline, according to a report from STR, Saudi Arabia currently has the largest number of hotel rooms under construction in the MENA region, making the Kingdom the region’s most active hotspot for investors and operators alike. So, this year is perfect timing for the launch of the Saudi Arabia Hotel Investment Conference (SHIC) in Riyadh. Under the theme of ‘Focus on the Future’, SHIC will present industry insights into how to capitalise on the mul60

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titude of hospitality investment opportunities arising in the Kingdom. The inaugural event will be headlined by His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, president, Saudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage and Her Royal Highness Princess Basmah bint Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, chairwoman, Global United Centre for Research and Analysis, who will deliver an address on ‘The Future of Saudi Tourism – Transitioning to Tomorrow’, sharing insights into Vision 2030 and opportunities for hospitality investment and development in line with the government’s vision.

Worsley says: “Having organised the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) for the past 14 years, we have witnessed phenomenal interest from our delegates into hospitality investment opportunities in the Kingdom. Now, as the country’s drive for a more diversified economy highlights new tourism and hospitality infrastructure, we believe it is the ideal time to connect investors and operators at SHIC, with an event dedicated to discussing and debating the issues most impacting the hotel industry’s growth in Saudi Arabia.” The total value of hospitality investment projects in Saudi Arabia stands


SHIC Preview

Dr Badr Al Badr, CEO Dur Hospitality

HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

HRH Princess Basmah bint Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

at US$1.9bn according to a forecast by MEED Projects. Programme highlights include Gerald Lawless, chairman, World Travel & Tourism Council, presenting ‘Destination Development’ as well as Jaan Albrecht, chief executive officer, Saudi together with Abdellah Essonni, chief hospitality officer, MAAD International and Yasser Faisal Al Sharif, chief executive officer, Jabal Omar Development Company discussing ‘Transformational Development in the Holy Cities’. Dr Badr Al Badr, CEO of Dur Hospitality and host sponsor of SHIC, believes that the Saudi economy will witness a positive shift in the coming years when the government executes the recently announced initiatives bolstering confidence in tourism investments. “The Public Private Partnerships drive in Saudi Arabia is presenting new opportunities to attract investment into hospitality. Following the announcement of the KSA Vision 2030, a more attractive investment environment is opening the

doors for private investors into new areas of the Saudi Arabian economy. This creates significant opportunities for hotel investors,” says Al Badr. He added: “A large percentage of Saudi Arabia’s hotel pipeline focuses on the Holy Cities as economists are anticipating 30 million religious tourists by 2025. But hotel development will also be prompted by non-religious destinations, cultural cities and archaeological sites.” According to the Saudi Council of Economic and Development Affairs, tourism’s contribution to the GDP will go from a current 3.5% to over 10% by 2030. Organised by Bench Events and MEED and hosted by DUR Hospitality at the Riyadh Marriott Hotel on 26 February 2018, SHIC will bring together around 300 hotel investors, owners, developers and operators to help further the growth of the hospitality industry in the Kingdom. For registration and for more information, visit: www.arabianconference. com/shic February 2018 HOTEL NEWS ME

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Gulfood 2018 preview

Your gu i d e t o Gulfo o d 2 0 1 8

The 2018 edition of Gulfood is almost upon us and Hotel News Middle East is on hand to provide the only guide you’ll need to the first global major-industry event of the year which takes place at Dubai World Trade Centre from February 18-22‌ 62

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Gulfood 2018 Preview

T h e best of the be st

The Gulfood Innovation Awards, which takes place during Gulfood 2018, celebrate and reward excellence across brands and products, with an industry-wide campaign

encouraging over 300 entries, a judging panel of prestigious industry leaders, and culminating at the glamorous awards gala dinner, held during the show. With intense

interest from the media and visitors alike, the event offers unprecedented opportunities for industry networking and brand profile-raising through PR and sponsorship.

2018 award Categories BEST SOFT BEVERAGE

BEST HOT BEVERAGE

BEST DAIRY INNOVATION

BEST MEAT OR POULTRY INNOVATION

BEST BAKED OR CONFECTIONERY

BEST CONDIMENT OR SAUCE

BEST FROZEN OR CHILLED FOOD

BEST HALAL FOOD

BEST ORGANIC PRODUCT

BEST HEALTH AND WELLNESS PRODUCT

BEST CONSUMER PROMOTION PRODUCT

BEST TRADE STAND (UP TO 40M²)

BEST TRADE STAND (BETWEEN 41100M²)

BEST TRADE STAND (OVER 101 M²)

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Gulfood 2018 preview

About the Judges Nikola Kosutic Head of research, Middle East, Euromonitor International Nikola Kosutic is a head of research for the Middle East with Euromonitor International, Dubai office. In his role, Nikola leads a team of senior analysts responsible for producing strategic research, creating datasets and authoring annual reports for Middle Eastern markets. Foods is the largest industry covered by Euromonitor International in the Middle East and, through strategic partnerships with key industry players, Nikola and his team supply global and regional Foods companies with strategic insights necessary to be successful in the region. He is a regular contributor to regional and global press on the F&B industry, health and wellness, ethical labels, nutrition, packaging as well as new product developments. Uwe Micheel President (ECG), and director of kitchens, Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek President The Emirates Culinary Guild Chef Uwe's career was set when he was 12-years-old, he was always helping his mother in the kitchen and attending cooking classes. Micheel was born in Germany, where he spent most of his childhood and did his two and a half years’ apprenticeship as restaurant chef in Celler Hof boutique hotel in Celle city, near Hanover. After one year of working at the Hotel Schwarzer Bock in 1978 (founded in 1486), which is now managed by Radisson Blu, Micheel

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served two years in the army service as a chef in the officer restaurant. He joined the InterContinental Hotels Group in 1981 in Berlin, Germany, a year later he moved to the UK as the Chef de Partie Saucier in Hyde Park London, Michellin Star Restaurant Le Souffle and afterwards shifted to Bahrain for three years. Relocated to Korea as member of the opening team for the InterContinental Seoul, three years later he was appointed as executive sous chef for the opening of Yokohama Grand InterContinental. Since 1993, he has been working in Dubai, holding a post of director of kitchens at Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Deira Creek. Joining Emirates Culinary Guild in 1993, Chef Uwe soon became general secretary in 1994, ECG Chairman in 1996, before assuming presidency from 1999 – a position he retains. Ariana Bundy TV presenter and author Ariana Bundy is the ‘Nigella’ of Persian cuisine, and she's on a mission to demystify the sumptuous food of Iran, one of the hottest food trends of 2018. Best known for her popular and award-winning TV series Ariana's Persian Kitchen (NatGeo People), Ariana specialises in colourful, delicious and sophisticated food. Combining traditional and modern techniques, she creates beautiful recipes that are mouthwatering, nourishing, balanced and easy to follow. Ariana comes from a strong food lineage of farm-to-table. Her grandparents were merchants and landowners who grew prized grapes

and other produce on their land. And her restauranteur father owned the first fine dining French restaurant in Iran and later in Beverly Hills. Her work has featured in magazines such as BBC Good Food, Food & Travel UK, Conde Nast's House & Garden, Harper's Bazaar, Good Housekeeping, Food & Wine Magazine, House & Home UK, Financial Times and the Sunday Telegraph. Ariana has appeared on TV shows such as the BBC's Good Food Live, Sky's Taste, Euronews, FOX and Channel 4's Sunday Brunch. Sunjeh Raja ICCA, director & CEO Sunjeh Raja is the founder, Director & CEO of the ICCA Dubai. Since then he has been spearheading the rapid market penetration and engagement of the company’s Vocational Education Training programmes in the international arena. In this role, he takes a holistic approach to manage the centre with a clear and welldefined objective to establish ICCA Dubai as a centre of excellence, offering worldclass culinary education. He adopts a very rigorous yet practical and innovative approach with an eye for detail, for further developing this unique concept of industry focused training. Raja specialises in concept, product and business development with a strong foundation in the corporate and finance sectors, showing a flair for entrepreneurship since his early foray into the business world and has worked in a number of directorial positions across a range of sectors.


Gulfood 2018 Preview

L o oking ahe ad to S a l on Cul inaire

The Emirates Culinary Guild International Salon Culinaire is the largest single-entry chefs’ competition in the world. Structured as a series of practical and display-based culinary challenges or classes, this globally renowned annual contest gauges the diversity of entrants cooking skills and pushes the boundaries of modern day food preparation and presentation. Evaluated by a panel of 30 international experts and mandated by the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS), the Salon Culinaire provides credible industry recognition to more than 1,000 master chefs, pastry chefs, cooks and

bakers. The salon serves to inspire and encourage young chefs to continue striving for ever upward improvement in their daily work practice. Gold, silver and bronze medals and certificates are awarded to those competitors whose exhibits, in the opinion of the judges, have reached the commensurate international standard. In addition to the medal awards, there are special trophies awarded to individuals who have attained excellence at the competition in their particular field: gastronomy; bakery/pastry; artistic - and a new award designed to encourage the development of Arabic cuisine.

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Gulfood 2018 preview

O p po rtunity knocks f or Sa udi m arket Gulfood exhibitors eye Saudi preferences for sector-specific global brands as Kingdom’s food retail demand mounts A major shift in the food buying preferences of Saudi consumers is unlocking huge twoway trade opportunities in the Kingdom, according to a recent survey by leading research provider, Nielsen. With Saudi’s domestic food producers receiving a confidence boost for their dairy, snacks, ice-cream, mineral water, tea and coffee production, a host of international suppliers are also reaping rewards from increasing demand for globally-branded baby food, energy drinks and canned foods in the Gulf’s largest market. As global brands maintain their traditional dominance in the preserved food categories, the survey highlights how Saudi consumers increasingly prefer locally produced dairy and fresh food products. The survey comes as Saudi and international food producers prepare for a major two--pronged trade push at Gulfood 2018, the world’s largest annual food and beverage trade event and the year’s first major international food industry trade show, which runs at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) from 18-22 February. Saudi Arabian producers, buoyed by proven success as the Kingdom’s favourite dairy and fresh food choices, are readying for a major export push at the show, while sector-specific international brands are looking to cement their segmented leadership among Saudi consumers. “Though Saudi producers have made considerable inroads locally and regionally - where they’ve invested in diversified products, quality and brand equity - the Kingdom remains the land of opportunity for suppliers across the entire food production eco-system,” said Trixie LohMirmand, senior vice 66

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president, Exhibitions & Events, DWTC, which organises the mega show. “Local production is already on the rise and there’s been a significant uptick in demand for raw ingredients; the direction outlined in the National Transformation Programme 2020 will create expansion and partnership opportunities for overseas suppliers to further consolidate their positions in the most populous country in the region.” With Saudi’s population forecast to rise almost 2% to just under 35 million by 2020, according to the United Nations, the renewed focus on domestic production is designed to start off-setting the fact the Kingdom remains the GCC’s largest importer of food. Further demand is expected to emanate from the planned NEOM mega city, which has food as a key focus. The first phase of the project is due to be delivered in just seven years’ time. And yet, with the total number of food retail outlets in the country projected by Dublin’s Research and Markets to grow by 4.9% annually by the end of the decade, some 87 Saudi Arabian food producers representing diverse sectors, including Arrow Juice, Siafa Dates, Americana, Al Seedawi and Mahmood Saeed Beverage,will push their quality and competitiveness at Gulfood 2018 – a figure LohMirmand believes will continue to rise. “This year’s Saudi participation includes some of the biggest names in the Kingdom and the region including AlMarai, Al Rabie, Al-Watania and SunBulah, as well as many innovative new market entries. The evolving nature of the country’s food sector suggests this level of representation will continue to grow. Most of these brands are already familiar names on supermarket shelves through-

out the GCC and certain parts of the Middle East, through Gulfood, however, their geographic reach could expand much further.” Saudi producers are among more than 5,000 exhibitors from 97 countries signed up for Gulfood 2018, which will feature eight tailored product segments to aid accessibility and give buyers more time to transact business. The segments include Beverages; Dairy; Fats & Oils; Health, Wellness & Free-From; Pulses, Grains & Cereals; Meat & Poultry; Power Brands and World Food. The all-new Gulfood Discover Zone, where new-to-market products will be showcased in an exclusive and interactive lounge, also joins the 2018 fray. The Zone is aimed at companies making their MENA region debuts by leveraging Gulfood to deliver market-entry opportunities. Finalists for the annual Gulfood Innovation Awards will also be featured in the Zone. Gulfood 2018 will feature 120 national pavilions including new entrants Estonia, Nigeria, ProColumbia, Serbia, Slovakia, and Tajikistan. The show will also receive a host of powerful national delegations including heads of state, ministers, government officials and trade associations eager to ink lucrative bi-lateral trade agreements. Gulfood 2018 will also co-host Halal World Food, the world’s largest annual Halal food sourcing trade show; the annual Emirates Culinary Guild International Salon Culinaire; the world’s largest single-entry chef competition; the Speciality Coffee Association endorsed World Cevze/Ibrik Championships and the Gulfood Innovation Awards, which recognise best-in-class excellence and innovation across the region’s F&B industry.


Gulfood 2018 Preview

R u nning the show

Mark Napier, Show Director, Gulfood talks to Hotel News Middle East about what to expect from this year’s show… What are your expectations for this edition of Gulfood?

As the world’s largest annual food and beverage trade event and the first major international food industry trade show of the year, Gulfood 2018 will further strengthen the UAE’s lead role in setting the global food agenda. In attracting the Middle East’s largest trade industry audience, generating huge transactional volumes every year on the show floor, and setting global foodstuff commodity prices, Gulfood is the region’s premier food and beverage industry platform – it underlines Dubai’s leading role in the global food sector. For over three-and-a-half decades, Gulfood has been a key driver in fostering innovation across the local, regional and global food and beverage supply chain, and we expect the on-site sales generated by 95,000-plus buyers and visitors at Gulfood 2018 to contribute to the UAE food and beverage market reaching a valuation of AED82 Billion by 2020 (source: Euromonitor International). With regional investment in food production on the rise, international manufacturers see the Middle East as a lucrative market for their products. In this dynamic climate, Gulfood continues to empower the global food and beverage community as an unmatched trading and knowledge platform that offers unrivalled market overviews and insights to industry professionals.

What should manufacturers do to be successful in the current economic climate?

In a word, innovate. The global food and beverage industry is one of the most competitive sectors in the global economy, so staying still is the equivalent of going backwards. Whether you are a fledgling start-up in the Middle East, or a major international manufacturer in Europe or the

USA, companies looking to stay successful and ensure prolonged growth need to stay ahead of the curve by investing in automation, new channels to market, increasingly sophisticated ingredients and packaging solutions. The ultimate proof is in the eating or drinking, so end products must be attractive to consumers in everything from price and packaging, to taste and provenance.

What key trends do you expect to shape food & drinks innovation in 2018?

I’ve touched on a few above - taste, packaging, provenance. Today’s customers want to know where their products are made,

what ingredients have been used in the manufacturing process, and, vitally, are the ingredients used healthy and do they originate from sustainable sources. When the end customer has finished consuming the product, they want to know their environment impact is as low as possible - meaning sustainable, environmentally-friendly and biodegradable packaging will continue to be in vogue. The modern consumer is spoilt for choice, so only products that tick a diverse spread of demographic demand boxes in geographies where consumer preferences often vary from market to market will be able to compete in the increasingly competitive global food sector. February 2018 HOTEL NEWS ME

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Gulfood 2018 preview

A taste of France

Business France, the national agency supporting the international development of the French economy, will be running four French pavilions at Gulfood this year. This trade show devoted to new F&B products will feature around 70 French companies, all eager to present their latest offerings and know-how. France renews a strong participation at Gulfood this year, highlighting the latest French products on a surface area of 800 sq m across four halls: fine food in the world food section in Sheikh Saeed Hall ; dairy products in Hall 1; meat and poultry in Hall 3; drinks in Za’Abeel Hall. For the first time at Gulfood, visitors will be able to discover a live cooking show provided by Cordon Bleu, the world renowned French Culinary Arts and Hotel Management institute, it will be held the whole week in Sheikh Saeed Hall and undertaken by the select Chefs Nicolas Houchet and Emil Minev. The role of Le Cordon Bleu is to teach a whole range of technical and University training programmes for working in the restaurant, hotel and tourism industry since 1895. Le Cordon Bleu’s teaching method is based on practical learning with demonstrations and practical classes. The institute is developing its network year after year attracting 100 nationalities across the campuses. Le Cordon Bleu has a presence in the Middle East, with two institutes in Lebanon, awaiting other expansions in the region. France is a major player in numerous segments, including dairies, fruits, vegetables, meat, and products for bakery to name just a few, agri-food products combine quality and excellence to cater closely to the requirements of consumers in the region. Marc Cagnard, Business France director in the Middle East stated: “Agri-food is France’s largest industry sector in terms of both revenue and jobs. By 2040, the global population is likely to be approaching 9 billion and the French agri-food market is estimated to be growing by an average of 4% a year, with health food alone set to grow 2.5% a year over the next three years”. France is the sixth largest exporter 68

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worldwide with $65 billion. The Middle East region boasts a market share of more than 3.4% for French food exports which represents a value of $2.2 billion. The two first partners in the area are Saudi Arabia and UAE. They are followed by Egypt and Lebanon. In 2016, the UAE imported $400 of food and beverage products from France, making the Emirates the 24th biggest export market for the French industry. French exports of F&B products to UAE have doubled since 2010. Saudi Arabia is the 20th biggest export market for France.

France is the 11th largest supplier to the UAE and the second from Europe. This year, the regional partner agencies DEV’UP Centre Val de Loire and Bretagne Commerce International will also be in attendance to support companies from their region during Gulfood. Other partners that will contribute to the show’s success include Evian, the number one mineral water in the world and in the Middle East, Badoit, sparkling mineral water talented for fine dining and endorsed by top Chefs worldwide, and Cafes Richard, a traditional “French-style” coffee roaster linked to the French gastronomy, Art de Vivre.


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Gulfood 2018 preview

1 0 t h i n g s n ot t o mis s at G u l f o o d 2 0 1 8

Here’s 10 things to watch out for at this year’s event

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It’s all about discovery

The major highlight of this year’s show is the launch of the Gulfood Discover Zone – a dedicated area designed to optimize visitor experience and amplify business opportunities. Within the Discover Zone, exhibitors from six of the show’s sectors, plus confectionary and snacks, will be able to apply for recently-launched products to be showcased in an exclusive and interactive lounge to demonstrate their offerings. The lounge will have a blend of physical products and virtual displays and QR code scanning for products. Finalists as well as shortlisted products for the Gulfood Innovation Awards will also be showcased in the Gulfood Discover Zone in Zabeel Hall 4. Another feature of the show is the Newcomers Area located in Zabeel Plaza. The innovative new zone will feature a dedicated area for companies that have never conducted business in the MENA region before and are using Gulfood as a market-entry opportunity.

Awarding Innovation

Recognising creative industry leaders, the ever-popular and industrybenchmarking Gulfood Innovation Awards will honour new and improved innovations and technologies being adopted by the thousands of local, regional and international exhibitors participating at the exhibition in

Find your taste

Gulfood 2018 will highlight the five pillars of taste through feature demonstrations and sampling activations to help potential buyers and sellers experience the tastes they are looking for: from salt, bitter, sweet, sour and umami, the platform will satisfy every palate.

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An in-depth look at the global food industry

Gulfood 2018 will see the unveiling of the much anticipated and in-depth outlook report for the global F&B industry. The Gulfood Global Industry Outlook Report 2018 is a powerful business decision making tool and will be will be free-of-charge and exclusive to delegates and exhibitors at the show. The outlook comes in an in-depth report compiled by the market intelligence research leader Euromonitor International, and commissioned by Dubai World Trade Centre, which organises Gulfood. This independent report sets out estimates and prospects for the industry, which have been prepared following a Euromonitor market study based on various official published sources and trade opinion surveys conducted with importers, local and global manufacturers, distributers, trading associations, retailers, food service providers within key industry sectors and government entities.

a glittering gala ceremony on the evening of Sunday, 18 February. With more than 300 entries, a panel of prestigious industry leaders will be presented with product display and tasting for the judging session to be held on Wednesday, 7 February. The judges will decide who takes the honours in categories

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Top chefs in action

such as Best Soft Beverage; Best Hot Beverage; Best Dairy Innovation; Best Meat Or Poultry Innovation; Best Baked Or Confectionery; Best Condiment Or Sauce; Best Frozen Or Chilled Food; Best Halal Food; Best Organic Product; Best Health And Wellness Product and Best Consumer Promotion Product.

In addition to the Ibrik World Championships, Gulfood 2018 is hosting the Emirates Culinary Guild International Salon Culinaire - the largest singleentry chefs’ competition in the world. Structured as a series of practical and display-based culinary challenges or ‘classes’, this globally renowned annual contest gauges the diversity of entrants cooking skills and pushes the boundaries of modern-day food preparation and presentation. Evaluated by a panel of 30 international experts and mandated by the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS), the Salon Culinaire provides credible industry recognition to more than a thousand master chefs, pastry chefs, cooks and bakers. The Salon serves to inspire and encourage young chefs to continue striving for improvement in their profession.


Gulfood 2018 Preview

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Get Brewing

This year’s show plays host to the Ibrik World Coffee Championships, which will see the world’s leading baristas coming together in one location and competing to be crowned the world’s best. The competition, dedicated to the centuries-old art of brewing coffee in a ‘Cezve’ or ‘Ibrik’ – the small, longhandled pot – showcases the special

Find the right Connexions

preparation of brewing coffee, set in a competition format that celebrates the cultural tradition. Competitors are encouraged to bring their own style/ cultural element to their performance to demonstrate how they interpret what is one of the oldest forms of preparing coffee in parts of Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Spectators and visitors will also be

Exhibitors and visitors alike can capitalise on their presence at this year’s show by using Gulfood Connexions – an online platform that helps you plan your visit in advance. The feature allows users access to the online exhibitor directory to pinpoint who they would like to meet, before the show starts. Once selected, users can schedule an appointment as well as navigate the location of their target exhibitor on the floor plan. Users can also print a copy of their planner before heading to the exhibition. Gulfood Connexions – live on Gulfood website – helps beat the crowds and enables you to maximise crucial face-time with exhibitors.

Debutants hungry to impress

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Visitors to Gulfood 2018 will get the opportunity to sample the delights from several countries exhibiting for the first time. Among them are Estonia, Serbia and Slovakia, who will be joining the large gathering of exhibitors from 120 national pavilions. In addition to first-time participants and returning exhibitors, the truly global food industry exhibition will welcome hundreds of international heads of state, ministers, government officials and scores of national trade associations eager to ink lucrative bi-lateral trade agreements among tens of thousands of anticipated visitors.

treated to live demonstrations and catch up on business at the brew bar. The Cezve/Ibrik Championship is managed and produced by World Coffee Events, an event management organization registered in Dublin, Ireland, which was originally founded by the Speciality Coffee Association of Europe and the Specialty Coffee Association of America.

The return of Sectorisation

Following the success of Gulfood 2017’s revolutionary change in lay-out and format to focus on eight core sectors of the global food and beverage industry, Gulfood 2018 returns with a sectorised approach to further increase accessibility and trading potential between the thousands of exhibitors and focused buyers. Tens of thousands of finished food and beverage products will be featured in 13 halls, spanning more than 100,000sqm of exhibition space at DWTC, dedicated to eight of the biggest commodity trading sectors: Beverages; Dairy; Fats & Oils; Health, Wellness & Free-From; Pulses, Grains & Cereals; Meat & Poultry; Power Brands and World Food. The sectorised format allows visitors to get straight to business assessing quality and benchmarking price in their respective segments and leads to deeper market insights and trend awareness through focused consultation with the right experts in one place.

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The World of Halal

Returning to Gulfood 2018 for its 5th edition, Halal World Food is a show-within-a-show concept. This major global trading platform generates lucrative investment opportunities for international F&B businesses looking to capitalise on the rapidly expanding halal sector that is witnessing significant growth in both Muslim and non-Muslim countries across the world. Reflecting the UAE's strategic position as an international centre for halal food trading, Halal World Food showcases the full spectrum of halal products – including vegan and vegetarian food, meat and poultry, canned goods, energy drinks, gourmet and much more. February 2018 HOTEL NEWS ME

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Marketplace

Perking up for business Hotel News Middle East catches up with Coffee Planet managing director Robert Jones about what his company has lined up for the market…

A stellar product Stellar USP Founder & CEO – Samantha Araujo tells Hotel News Middle East why we should be excited about her company’s new range...

What is your latest product launch? Our latest product launches are Quadro from WMF Germany, Glo by Stellar from Germany - designed exclusively for Stellar USP - and Fuga from Russia, handcrafted and artisanal wooden pieces.

What is your latest product launch? We are currently getting ready to launch our new cold brew and nitro coffees for foodservice clients, made from a blend of our finest single origin coffees. What makes it unique? The cold brew and nitro coffee blend has been expertly crafted from a selection of our small batch single origin coffees from Africa, sourced directly from the farmers in the region and roasted in our UAE roastery. Why should businesses purchase your product? Aside from the high-quality of our speciality graded Arabica coffee beans, we also roast and pack the coffee ourselves which means we can supply our customers with the freshest possible coffee. Above all, we provide coffee solutions for our customers to enable them to provide the best possible coffee to their guests. What’s next for your company in 2018 and onwards? This year, we look forward to continuing the expansion of our Dubai-based roastery as well as solidifying our existing presence in international markets, demonstrating our ability to cater to all, with our state-of-the-art coffee equipment and coffee solutions. Email: coffee@coffeeplanet.com Phone: +971 4 312 8444 72

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What makes it unique? Quadro is the most flexible buffet system and allows chefs and F&B managers to play with its unique configurator to create various combinations and displays. It provides a photorealistic visualisation of the setup so the customer can be sure before a purchase. It was designed with the following creed "Form follows function is passé. Good design is self-evident, emotive, functional and has a longlasting quality”. Glo by Stellar brings in new material bases and shapes that were not available in this market. Fuga takes handcrafted wood to the next level of quality and presentation. The artisanal collection adds the zing factor to everyday setups. Why should businesses purchase your product? We at Stellar USP as exclusive distributors always strive to bring the latest innovations in product, design and concept to the ever changing market. This is backed by our promise for service and value for money. What’s next for your company in 2018 and onwards? Stellar USP which launched in January 2017 has grown rapidly in terms of products and personnel, servicing most of the Hotel openings and establishing relationships with existing clients. This journey will continue in 2018 and beyond. Our ethos to always provide the best service and constantly wow our clients is truly our unique selling proposition (USP). Email: samantha@stellarusp.com Phone: +971 4 4310122 Website: stellarusp.com


Marketplace

Full steam ahead for Moroccan Bazaar Hotel News Middle East catches up with Coffee Planet managing director Robert Jones about what his company has lined up for the market… For Moroccan Bazaar, 2017 was a busy year. Having worked on two of the year’s biggest hotel projects in the Middle East. The Mondrian Doha in Qatar and the Anantara Al Jabal Akhdar in Oman, both received plaudits and recognition globally as two highlights of one of the most active years in the hospitality industry in the Middle East and the rest of the world. The company are Moroccan/British manufacturers of contract Moroccan & orientalist decorative lighting and furniture offering the aesthetic accomplishment of handmade pieces but made to contract quality and the qualities expected working with lead design agencies. Hotel News Middle East caught up with Adnan Bennani, managing director of Moroccan Bazaar to discuss the year ahead. Last year, you worked on some huge projects in the Middle East and Africa; Mondrian and Al Anantara to name a few. How was it for you looking back? It was incredible in many ways. We worked on over 30 projects. We worked on hotels in the Middle East and Africa, a restaurant chain in the Gulf, Royal Palaces in Tangiers and even a Castle in Ireland! It was a very busy year but great fun. Interior designer and the end clients are confident in what we produce. It doesn’t make it easier to make the pieces but it gives us great confidence in their visions and helps navigate the process. We travelled to all corners of the world for exhibitions and shows, some in Europe and many in the Middle East and Morocco too and met some fantastic people from the trade. All in all, I’d say we’ve learnt a lot this year. Working with the LIA for lighting standards for example has taught us so much even though we were doing really well before. We owe a lot to the many who contributed over 2017.

Tell us about Moroccan Bazaar and the company’s outlook and vision ahead? Our aim is to become the go to manufacturer of Moroccan and Orientalist decorative lighting and furniture for Contract hospitality and residential projects. There are many talented craftsmen in Morocco that can produce interior lighting and case goods but there are few who offer our capacity of output and amount of expertise & experience to deliver projects of scale under one roof. Our vision is to put Moroccan goods on the map for contract projects.

well-known Metals trader in the old Fez medina. He sowed the seeds of what we are today as we specialize in handmade brass lighting and furniture. It was my parents who moved to the UK in the 70s who founded the company and named it Moroccan Bazaar, they grew the company importing Moroccan arts and crafts which were of cultural interest to retailers and consumers in the UK That all changed once we started working on end projects such as hotels. We learnt on our feet. Today we have myself, my brother, cousin, mother and Father all still working together.

What core products and services do you have lined up hotel sector? We manufacture handmade, decorative lighting and furniture at Contract quality, to contract deadlines. Although we cover lighting, furniture and home accessories such as Ben Ourain rugs from the Atlas Mountains, we ensure on projects that we source the best we can find within the time and frameworks agreed.

And for the year 2018, what are your plans and projects for the New Year? From the start we are working towards hotels in the MENA region, some huge and some more moderate in scale, but all very important. Our plan is start working in new regions that are unexplored such as the Far East & Russia. We’ll look to invest more in our workshops and scale our productions lines. So far, our ateliers are running smoothly and so keeping them running that way is crucial to our success. We have further expansion ideas, but they will remain under wraps, for now.

When was the company established? Moroccan Bazaar started life in 1946 by way of my grandfather. He was a

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Marketplace

Rest easy with youbed

Mattias Sörensen, CEO & Founder of YouBed talks to Hotel News Middle East about what the year ahead holds in the beds and bedding industry…

What are the latest trends in your sector? Guest personalisation is the emerging key success factor within the hospitality business. Hotels that offer an individual guest experience are tomorrow's winner. This especially applies to the sleep experience and the ability to offer a personalised, comfortable hotel bed. Every hotel is, after all, primarily in the business of selling a good nights’ sleep. However, a good night’s sleep requires a comfortable bed and this crucial service has up until now been impossible to personalise. You simply don’t know if your guests like firm beds, soft beds or anything in between – and a regular, static bed can only please a selected few. Now, the groundbreaking, Swedish innovation YouBed opens for a paradigm shift within the hotel industry. A totally new generation of hotels will finally be able to provide each guest with a 74

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guaranteed comfortable bed. Being also the very thing that guests value absolutely most from their hotel stay. What is your best-selling product? YouBed, the world’s most comfortable hotel bed, is the first and only bed that provides adjustable firmness without interfering with its superior comfort features. The firmness of the mattress is easily adjusted by using a hand control. Providing each guest with a perfect personalization and a sleeping experience completely based on individual needs. The world’s most comfortable hotel bed pleases every single guest, not just a selected few. What is unique about it? The YouBed technology opens for a unique paradigm shift within the hotel industry, where a new generation of hotels will

be able to provide each guest with a true individualized sleeping experience. The good news is that this is not only possible, but also very easy. Any hotel that install YouBed (if only in part of their rooms) will automatically become a next generation hotel. The competitive advantage starts with the ability to offer rooms with adaptable YouBeds, and then of course grows with the number of rooms. The distinct difference in service capability, will also give the first YouBed hotels such great advantages that competitors soon will have to follow, to prevent falling behind and loose customers to its neighbouring hotel. The best thing is that this transformation doesn’t have to cost a thing. The proved and documented values related to the adaptable YouBed will by far and immediately cover any investment costs. This transformation has already started


Marketplace

automatically become the best provider of a good night’s sleep. Higher profit – the bed that pays for itself More and happier guests that are willing to pay more will of course result in increased earnings. And the most important part - no cost, but a substantial profit will be the immediate effect for hotels installing YouBed. The average ROI appears after only 3-6 months. Financial solutions (e.g. leasing with monthly payments) will secure that no cost or negative cash flow will ever occur, and the monthly payment is covered after only 2-3 sold nights.

in Europe, where over 150 hotels are experiencing positive reactions from their guests as well as thriving on totally new business opportunities. Three hotel chains in Europe have launched new room categories and sleep concepts based on the product and several more are planning for similar initiatives. Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, for example, has launched a world unique room category Sleep Individually Different in all their European hotels. What is the most important feature of the product you provide? The most important feature and effects are all the added values that comes with the product. Frequent reports from more than 150 hotels and various external studies shows the many positive effects related to the adaptable YouBed. The results are astonishing, but actually not that surprising - a comfortable, personalized hotel bed is by far the most valuable item in a hotel.

Increased guest satisfaction A large, external NPS Study proves that the adaptable YouBed has significant positive effect on customer satisfaction (+14%). The guest satisfaction is also often instantly shown in positive guest reviews online, e.g. TripAdvisor and similar. Increased room rate and willingness to pay Room rate (ARR) is increased by average 20 USD per sold night when a YouBed is installed in a hotel room (based on monthly reports from 75 hotels). Increased occupancy by new and more loyal guests Strong ability to attract new guests that would otherwise chose and be loyal to other hotels. Stronger competitiveness, brand and communication The first hotels providing YouBed rooms at its local market will

What type of hotel operation do you cater for? YouBed is a unique one-bed-fits-all solution that is suitable for all kind of hotels and room categories. While some hotels choose to install YouBeds in all of their rooms from the start, it is most common to begin with a number of selected rooms. There is a big variation of room types where hotels choose to install YouBeds. Here are some examples: • Exclusive rooms: YouBed is used for facilitate up sale and better motivate the already higher rooms rate. • New Sleep concepts: YouBed is used for creating completely new room categories (often sleep concepts) • Existing categories: YouBed is used for upgrading existing categories (e.g. turn Superior into Superior Sleep). • Substandard rooms: YouBed is used for compensate for shortcomings and avoid bad will (e.g. rooms waiting for renovation) • Cabin Rooms: YouBed is used for transforming budget rooms without windows to dark and quiet sleep concept (from Cabin to Sleep Room) What sort of maintenance service do you offer your clients? YouBed is a product of highest quality and durability, allowing a very generous warranty and an extended product responsibility. Website: youbed.com February 2018 HOTEL NEWS ME

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Marketplace

Welbilt heats up the market Rakesh Tiwari, regional accounts and distribution manager UAE, Qatar & Oman, Welbilt Middle East, explains how things are heating up across the sector‌

What is your best-selling oven product? Convotherm 4 combi oven (convection and steam), the most versatile cooking equipment for any foodservice operator today! We have one of the largest and most advanced product range in the industry with easyTouch & easyDial models, gas or electric and capacity to fit the requirements of any type of operations. This is our latest generation and operators love their ease of use and best in class performance. What is unique about it? Convotherm 4 patented Advanced Close System+ (ACS+) ensuring even cooking thanks to perfect steam saturation, automatic humidity adjustment (in combi-steam mode), rapid and uniform heat transfer (convection mode) and active control of air input and output. In simple terms it works like a pan lid to keep heat and moisture in the combi steamer so that the temperature rises rapidly, thus requiring less power and water. Thanks the ACS+, chefs are able to use the combi-steamer to cook a mixture of food, such as a roast, baked products and fish all simultaneously with no transfer of flavour between the products. Last but not least the ACS+ delivers energy consumption savings of up to 23% (under no load in convection mode). What is the most important feature of the perfect oven? The Convotherm 4 series comes fully loaded with so many features and benefits, it will be hard to list them all 76

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here! The most important is the value it unlocks for foodservice operators: More efficiency through our Advanced Closed System + as well as BakePro for the best cooking and baking results while ensuring better efficiency. We offer the most even cooking results even in full load and at lower temperatures, while mixed load offers more flexibility to chefs and operators. Tailored to the customer needs with a unique combination 56x models and sizes to suit any operations and our patented disappearing door. Both easyTouch touchscreen platform and easyDial manual user interface are designed for ease of use and performance. More safety and convenience thanks to ConvoClean + The most advanced and flexible cleaning system on the market which avoids any unnecessary contact with chemicals. Saving time and money to operators with lower operating cost and ultimate reliability. What are the latest trends in ovens? The latest trend is the versatility and flexibility of the oven itself due to the increasing customer demand for a much wider variety of menu choices. This is where the combi oven has become an undeniable asset in the kitchen, thanks to its ability to cook a range of different food products all within one unit to the sameconsistently high standard without the need for multiple pieces of equipment, therefore decreasing energy consumption as well as reducing staff labour.

For example, where the Convotherm 4 has a mode such as ‘Crisp & Tasty’, the combi transforms itself into a fryer. This not only reduces the footprint in the kitchen but also means that the cleaning issues surrounded with the oil and the fryer are eliminated, thus reducing staff labour and any health and safety risks associated with changing the oil. By removing the fat already on chips or breaded fish, the oven increases the caramelisation that not only gives a great flavour, but also gives a far greater holding time after cooking. What sort of maintenance service do you offer your clients? Convotherm 4 offers the most service friendly platform, the service team having been part of the development of the oven from day one. While our unit is technologically very advanced, a simple set of 8x standard tools suffice and components are easily accessible through 5x service hatches to avoid having to take the unit to a workshop. We even have an emergency function where you can still operate the Convotherm 4 and serve customers while a service call is being placed! Additionally, we have a very strong and well-established Factory Authorised service network covering the whole Middle East region, regularly trained and carrying critical spare parts to maximize uptime. Phone: +971 4 326 3313 Email: info.me@welbilt.com Website: convotherm.com / welbilt.com


On the spot

On the spot

Jonathan Worsley, chairman of Bench Events and co-founder of the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference What's the best thing about your job?

Where do you see yourself in five years?

There are so many great things about my job, but if I had to choose I would say my team, being able to travel and see the world, making a positive impact on our industry, and working from home and being close to family!

All industries are being transformed by technology and I would like to be front and centre of innovation changing the industry landscape.

What made you choose this role?

Soneva Fushi in the Maldives. I have yet to visit but I love the vision of the founder, Sonu Shivdasani and his approach to sustainable tourism.

This may sound terribly cliché, but I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. Being a co-founder of IHIF Berlin, led me to launching The Bench (now STR) and developing hotel, restaurant and aviation conferences around the world. It’s so great to be working in this dynamic and ever-changing industry and we’re privileged at Bench Events to now organise and manage more than ten annual hotel investment conferences globally.

What do you do when not working? My wife Laura and I take off to our cottage in Canada for the summer and the team happily carries on without me! I love tennis and skiing and have recently joined that middle age lycra wearing cycling phase!

What is the best advice you have ever received? My mother’s advice was “all shall be well”. Simple but effective and I believe I have also carried on that positive outlook despite the noise that surrounds us.

If you can stay in any hotel right now, where would you go?

Can you tell us why you wanted to join the industry? I grew up in a farm in Canada and was itching to travel - probably initiated by having to sing John Denver’s Leaving on a Jet Plane to my parent’s dinner guests when I was six. I soon found a job in the hotel industry, first as an auditor, hotelier and then consultant that allowed me to travel the world. Perfect!

growth and job creation by embracing short term goals or conflict over prosperity.

What is your favourite book? I read Bill Browder’s Red Notice over the festive season. It is remarkable story of finance, courage and one man’s fight for justice. Certainly up there as one of my favourites!

If you invited guests around to dinner what would you make? I would go to my local butcher buy some Red Poll beef, which is native to Norfolk, and dig up some fresh vegetables and then get the barbecue going in my Scandinavian hut in the garden!

What song instantly gets you on the dance floor? Earth Wind and Fire…Do you remember!

What do you say to anyone who is starting out in Tell us something that none of your colleagues know your sector? about you? Open the door. Try new things. Ask questions. Be a thought leader and influencer by speaking at one of my conferences!

What’s the worst thing about your job? Geo-political issues! The challenge our industry face is poor governance from political leaders. Politicians get in the way of economic

I have a goat farm in Uganda.

AHIC 2018 will be held from 17-19 April 2018 at the purpose-built AHIC Village in the grounds of the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, in partnership with Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA).

BIN EID EXECUTIVE SEARCH & SELECTION (Specialised in 5* Hotel Sector)

Celebrating 22 years in Executive Search (Hotels & other Hospitality segment) We thank our clients, candidates, well-wishers who directly and indirectly helped us in our wonderful & blissful journey. We also thank the Almighty, Bin Eid team members, ex-employees, associates and numerous unseen souls who supported us to navigate in our 22 years of spectacular journey. Thank you for the trust and confidence placed on us.

Currently Hiring:

• General Manager • Director of Sales & Marketing • Sales Manager • Director of Engineering • Pastry Chef

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HOTEL NEWS ME February 2018

• Hotel Manager • Director Finance • Executive Chef • F&B Director


Hotel News ME - February 2018  
Hotel News ME - February 2018  
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