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Anyone for polo? Hotel News visits The St. Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club

ATM and AHIC in review

Shortlist Unveiled: Leaders in Hospitality Awards

How the region's tourism leaders are preparing for life after Expo 2020



May 2017


10 | NEWS New Movenpick boss says we will all lose with VAT; more midmarket brands are needed according to STR; Hilton boss hits out at Trump travel ban


22 | LEADERS IN HOSPITALITY AWARDS PREVIEW Are you on the shortlist for our prestigious awards? 28 | GM LEADERS CONFERENCE PREVIEW We look forward to our annual conference with over 150 GMs expected 30 | Cover Story: A BRAVE NEW WORLD Life after Expo 2020 for the Middle East 42 | GENERAL MANAGER INTERVIEW Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay

Cover Story: Life After Expo 2020

10 News

16 Checking in

22 Leaders in Hospitality Awards

28 GM Leaders conference




May 2017


CEO Wissam Younane Managing Director Walid Zok Director Rabih Najm Group Publishing Director Diarmuid O'Malley Group Sales Director Fred Dubery

Group Editor, Hospitality Crystal Chesters

36 42

Editor Patrick Ryan Art Director Aaron Sutton Marketing Executive Mark Anthony Monzon

c o n t ribu t o rs Marouane Al Mandri

Photography Hayder Al Zuhairi

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46 | HOSPITALITY TECHNOLOGY FORUM ROUNDTABLE Setting the agenda for our inaugural tech conference 52 | ON THE FLOOR AT ATM Full coverage of Arabian Travel Market 2017 60 | THE HOTEL SHOW Saudi Arabia Looking back at the key hospitality event in the kingdom

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 Raidy Emirates Printing Group LLC



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There are not one but two events from Hotel News Middle East this month


patrick ryan Editor

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



he dust has barely settled on Arabian Travel Market (ATM) and Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) and we are already looking at another bumper month ahead with both the GM Leaders Conference and Leaders in Hospitality Awards taking place in May. The GM Leaders Conference will see almost 200 general managers in attendance to discuss the issues that are affecting the decision makers in the industry. This is one event that is not to be missed. Most companies would be happy to sit back on their laurels after hosting such a major event, but BNC Publishing is not most companies. On 17 May at The St. Regis Dubai it’s the Leaders in Hospitality Awards, an event that recognises and celebrates excellence in the industry. I can’t give much away, but what I can tell you is that the standard is remarkably high this year. We have full previews of both events in this month’s issue, including the highly anticipated shortlist for the Leaders in Hospitality Awards. Our cover story definitely made for an interesting topic as Hotel News Middle East spoke to the CEO of Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing, Issam Kazim, and president Middle East and Africa, Marriott International, Alex Kyriakidis, among others, about what exactly the future holds for the

region after Expo 2020 has been and gone. I will give you a clue – it’s pretty positive. Speaking of positive stories, we also have a round-up of everything that happened at ATM which brought Dubai to a standstill in April – it seemed like everyone in the hospitality sector descended on Dubai World Trade Centre for a week. If that wasn’t enough, we were also on the ground at AHIC where we received some fascinating insights into the hotel industry from the world’s leading hotel owners and operators. We also found the time to head down to The St. Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club to see just how the latest addition to Dubai’s burgeoning hospitality scene is shaping up. It’s not all about Dubai this month though, as we make a stop off in Bahrain Bay to chat with the newly appointed general manager of the Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay. One of the common themes in this month’s issue is how the Middle East region and the hospitality industry are thriving during a difficult time for the global economy. With Dubai Expo 2020 just around the corner, it’s clear these are exciting times to be in hospitality in the Middle East. Regards, Patrick Ryan


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‘Everyone loses with VAT’ says MÖvenpick chief at arabian hotel investment conference


veryone will lose out when VAT is introduced in the UAE and Saudia Arabia according to the newly appointed CEO and president of Mövenpick Hotels and Resorts. Olivier Chavy made his comments at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) that took place at Dubai’s Madinat Jumeirah last month.



“I think that everybody will lose. It will have an impact on the employee, the proprietor, and it will impact everybody. The clients and the employees will take a hit; I don’t think anyone will win at all,” he said, before lamenting a lack of clarity about the introduction of Value Added Tax (VAT). “There are too many uncertainties here to have a firm

opinion. There is not enough detail and we don’t know how strategically we might be able to offset this against x, y or z.” He said that when VAT is introduced everywhere, people will have no choice but to get used to it. “People still will travel. What you will see is a shift from luxury hotels to upscale hotels, from upscale to midscale hotels or some people

will still come but they will stay in a budget hotel,” he said. “We still have another eight months, we are watching it carefully. We want clarification on everything from when does it start to how do we report it? We need to know what it applies to; does it apply to room rates, does it apply to F&B, does it apply to spa treatments? That has yet to be made clear.”

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Eastern promise for future of tourism The centre of gravity for tourism in the region will move east of Dubai, a leading expert on real estate has claimed. Dr Martin Berlin, global deals real estate leader, PwC spoke to Hotel News Middle East at AHIC. “There’s a shift in terms of destination – more travellers are going east to Asia. Asia is going to become the hotspot of tourism,” he said. “That includes the Middle East, the centre of gravity for that tourism will be more east than Dubai, more central Asia however the Middle East will play a role

in this because it’s a hub. There are 65 million people travelling through Dubai and if you establish the right offering you can easily capitalise on this.” Berlin said the global megatrends we’re seeing

at the minute are a demographic shift. “These are global trends across industries and we’ve made these relevant to the Middle East and the hotel industry,” he said. “We’re exactly at that

period where emerging markets are taking over developed markets in terms of origination of tourists. You’re going to see more global travellers coming from emerging markets compared to developed markets. If you look at China for example, UAE has just eased the visa restrictions for Chinese visitors coming here. “China has a certain certification for hotels and requires certain components to be there to welcome Chinese groups, so that will be a big shift.”

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Visas on arrival boost Dubai hotel occupancy in Q1 2017

The hotel industry in Dubai recorded strong occupancy levels during the first quarter of 2017 despite continued and significant supply growth, according to data from STR. Based on preliminary data, Dubai recorded an occupancy level of 86.3%, which was a 2.7% uplift compared with Q1 2016. Philip Wooller, STR’s area director for the Middle East and Africa, who will speak at Hotel News Middle East’s GM Leaders Conference on Wednesday 3 May, commented: “A factor that likely played a big role in Dubai’s occupancy growth was the UAE government’s recent decisions to grant visas on arrival for Chinese and Russian nationals. “While Dubai continues to add new supply, it also continues to add new leisure attractions, and expanding the market’s range of potential visitors can only help drive hotel demand and profitability.” Average daily rate (ADR) was down 6.4% over the same period to an actual level of AED795.00. As a result, revenue per available room (RevPAR) decreased 3.9% to AED686.00. Because Dubai has seen two years of consistent RevPAR declines, STR analysts see the Q1 occupancy growth as an indicator of performance recovery. Occupancy increases were mainly pushed by the middle and lower tier hotel classes. 12


Dubai’s midscale and economy classes experienced a combined 7.2% year-over-year increase in occupancy, while luxury hotels posted more moderate growth of 0.7%. Upper upscale hotels reported a 1.1% decline. STR analysts note that the midscale and economy classes experienced less substantial supply growth compared with other classes during Q1, although the upper midscale class, which recorded the highest rate of supply growth (+13.9%), also posted a substantial increase in occupancy (+6.7%). Ahead of his presentation at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) on Wednesday, 26 April, Robin Rossmann, STR’s managing director, noted that Dubai’s strong demand is impressive considering the significance of supply growth in the market. “With more than 42,000 rooms currently under contract, Dubai has the largest pipeline of any city in the world,” Rossmann said. “The market faces several challenges over the next few years in maintaining a demand level that can offset some of this supply growth. “On the positive side, Dubai continues to attract substantial leisure business, so this is definitely one of the top markets in the industry to keep an eye on from both a supply development and performance perspective.”

Wyndham strengthens economy brands in the Middle East region

Wyndham Hotel Group is focusing on growing its mid-market and economy brand portfolios across the Middle East, with plans for more Days Inn and Super 8 properties. The company already has Days Inn properties in Saudi Arabia and Jordan, and a Super 8 Motel in Riyadh but Ignace Bauwens, regional vice president, Middle East and Africa, Wyndham Hotel Group reveals there are plans to expand these brands further throughout the GCC and wider Middle East. Speaking to Hotel News Middle East at Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, which took place on 25 – 27 April at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai, Bauwens commented: “Growth is going toward the East. By 2030 we’ll have five million middle class people travelling on a budget. Then we have the millennials and Gen Z who travel differently. Ten per cent of our Super 8 portfolio is in China and automatically, with an influx of Chinese guests to the Middle East, it creates massive opportunities for investors here.

“It’s a standardised brand so people who come in understand what they get for their money and it’s an economy brand and the GCC and Middle East is now completely open and welcoming this. This is our strength – globally we’re the biggest player in these midscale and economy segments.” In addition to the economy segment, Wyndham is growing its mid-scale Wyndham Garden brand, with properties to open in locations throughout the Middle East, including Manama, Dammam and Ajman. This year, the largest Tryp by Wyndham – the operator’s select service urban brand – in the world will open in Dubai’s Barsha Heights, adding 650 rooms to the emirate. In addition, Wyndham Dubai West Bay Marina is scheduled to launch, and the company is also expanding its five-star brand, Wyndham Grand, in Manama toward the end of this year. “A lot of our 18 brands are coming to the region – we’re bringing more brands and that will strengthen our name,” Bauwens added.

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STR boss calls for more mid-market hotels

The biggest hospitality show in the world

The managing director of STR has called for more midmarket hotels to be built in the Middle East, if the market is going to fully recover in the region. “There needs to be an affordable mid-market room supply. If you look at the region most of the supply is at the luxury end, which is the opposite from the rest of the world,” said managing director, STR Robin Rossman. “There needs to be more affordable room stock and the private sector is doing a lot to provide that. People realise there is a market opportunity for mid-market hotels. It is a profitable industry and that’s what encouraged people to invest in hotels.” Rossman, who was speaking to Hotel News Middle East

at AHIC last month, said the figures surrounding the market in Dubai were impressive, especially compared to this time last year. “It is not news that 2016 was a tough year but in 2017 we are starting to see a few greenshoots, I don’t think anyone expected to see Dubai only down by 4% RevPar this year so far when last year it was down by 9%,” he said. “It is still down but supply is growing at 5%. It is doing incredibly well and we are getting more optimistic. The market will stablise and recover next year". He singled out Beirut, for praise, where the market is up by 12%, before adding that Saudi Arabia continues to have a tough year. May 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME

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Marriott international chief 'cautiously optimistic' despite US travel bans Dukes Dubai opens women only floor Dukes Dubai has launched its women only floor at its five-star property in Palm Jumeirah. The Duchess Floor features 20 rooms which are exclusively for women, including the public spaces. Debrah Dhugga, managing director, Dukes Collection said she identified a niche for five-star hotel brands to create a tailored experience specifically for women travelling alone, with a focus on comfort, service, style and quality. She said: "As somebody who travels regularly either for business or for leisure with friends and female relatives, I could clearly see a gap in the market for a women’s only area in a luxury hotel. "The Duchess Floor combines the safety and security of a private residence, with beautifully elegant décor and bespoke facilities, in order to provide female guests with a sense of sanctuary when they stay at Dukes Dubai." There is private lift access as well as full-length windows providing views of both the Burj Al Arab and Dubai Marina, while on the third floor the champagne and tea lounge offers a breakfast that is exclusively for women as well. 14


The president and chief executive officer of Marriott International has said the travel bans imposed by US president Donald Trump on a number of Muslim countries are "not good". Arne Sorenson was speaking at a press briefing in Dubai when he was quizzed on the impact of Trump's controversial policies in the Middle East. "We remain cautiously optimistic. We will navigate through this but the travel bans are not good. Period," said Sorenson. "It is still early. We expect it to have more impact on discretionary leisure travel than business travel. Discretionary leisure travel tends to be more seasonal and has a longer booking window." He said early figures suggest that visitors from the Middle East to the United

States are down in excess of 20% and that London could benefit from GCC visitors who are looking for an alternative destination. "It doesn’t look like it just now but the total picture is not as bad as you might think despite the noise that’s out there," said Sorenson. "It is important to us that immigration and travel are treated as two different things. Ninety-nine per cent of travel has nothing to do with immigration." The vast majority of peo-

ple are getting on a plane to do business or for leisure, claimed Sorenson who added there is no reason the USA or UK couldn’t have an immigration policy while at the same time having a policy welcoming business and leisure travellers. He said that it is in the self-interest of those countries to accept and promote travel as that industry creates 10% of employment globally and creates extraordinary tax revenue. "On the positive side, Trump is likely to move towards business friendly policies and GDP enhancing growth," said Sorenson. "I think that’s why the US market is expecting better growth and when the US economy grows more robustly than expected it tends to be good for economies all over the world.”

Rezidor to double Saudi portfolio in 2017

The Rezidor Group will more than double its operating portfolio in 2017 with the opening of 11 new properties in the kingdom. These include two hotels in Makkah, a Park Inn by Radisson and Radisson Blu in Jeddah, its first hotel – a Radisson Blu – to open in the Diplomatic Quarter of Riyadh and hotels in secondary cities such as Jubail. Mark Willis, area vice president Middle East and Turkey, The Rezidor Hotel Group told Hotel News Middle East on the sidelines of Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC): “It’s going

to be a rollercoaster year for Rezidor with 17 hotels to open across the GCC. “Key focus areas remain UAE with five hotels opening and Saudi Arabia with 11 hotels to open in the kingdom this year, including two in Makkah with over 700 rooms.” In Dubai, among the openings anticipated this year are Radisson Blu Hotels, Dubai Waterfront &

Dubai Canal Views and a Park Inn by Radisson set to open in Motor City with views over the racetrack. In addition, next year will see the debut of Rezidor’s Radisson Red brand in the region, with the opening of Radisson Red Silicon Oasis and a Radisson Red in Jeddah. “That will be a good step forward,” said Willis. “We have a millennial target audience for [Radisson Red]. It’s lifestyle, art driven, bright, and represents simplicity and ease of use. We’ve also got two other Radisson Reds close to signing in key locations across the GCC so I look forward to those coming.”

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Four Seasons to open in Tunisia

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has confirmed it will be opening a property in Tunisia at the end of the year. The 200-room Four Seasons Hotel Tunis will open in late 2017 in the Gammarth neighbourhood. J Allen Smith, president and CEO of Four Seasons said:"Whenever we enter a new market, we look for opportunities like this that offer a winning combination of the best location in the destination and a strong partner. "The Mabrouk Group shares our vision of creating a new luxury experience in Tunisia, one that showcases the highest standards of quality and craftsmanship, and introduces the personalised service and care for our guests that Four Seasons is known for." He added that the hotel will attract locals and travellers alike with a beach bistro and lounge, a Monaco-inspired brasserie, and a market venue. The neighbouring marina also offers private charters to explore the Mediterranean as well as bars and restaurants along the coast.

Nakheel breaks ground on Premier Inn Dragon City

Nakheel has broken ground on a AED176 million Premier Inn in Dubai's Dragon City. With a total project value of AED176 million, Premier Inn is Nakheel’s second hotel at Dragon City. The first is a 251-room hotel, which opened in February 2016. Ali Rashid Lootah chairman of Nakheel said: "Today marks another milestone in our hospitality expansion, and highlights our commitment to delivering new hotels across Dubai in

line with the Government of Dubai’s 2021 vision. "I am delighted to declare that work is officially under way at Premier Inn Dragon City, and to further reinforce our already highly-successful relationship with Whitbread through this latest partnership." It is one of two Nakheel hotels managed by UK hospitality firm Whitbread under the Premier Inn brand. The first, a 372-room hotel at Ibn Battuta Mall, opened last October.

Golden Tulip to relaunch in MENA region Louvre Hotel Group (LHG) has announced the worldwide rebranding of Golden Tulip as a hotel brand aimed at the lifestyle segment. Amine E. Moukarzel, president, Louvre Hotels Group MENA said: "The rebranding is aimed at blurring the boundaries of work and play to create moments of surprise and delight for our guests. "Technology and the rise of social media have changed the expectations of the modern traveler, who increasingly prefer open, dynamic and social spaces. "The rebranding aims to reflect and respond to these trends, and will bring a distinctly modern vision that complements Golden Tulip’s long-standing experience in operating four-star hotels, thus helping set the brand apart from its peers." 16


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Aloft Al Ain opens for business

Marriott International has announced the opening of Aloft Al Ain. The design-led hotel is the brand's first property in Al Ain and the second in the UAE. There are plans to open 10 more Aloft-branded hotels across the Middle East over the next five years. Alex Kyriakidis, president and managing director, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International said: "The opening of Aloft Al Ain strengthens our presence in the United Arab Emirates and also reinforces the demand for mid-market hotel development in the region."

Andreas Plum, general manager Aloft Al Ain, said: "We at Aloft Al Ain are excited to bring, not only a new venture, but a new experience to the beautiful city of Al Ain. "The hotel guarantees a vibrant experience for local residents and travellers into the city with its distinctive sense of style, innovative programming and buzzing social scene." The new property hosts 175 loftlike rooms of which all are keyless, requiring guests to use their mobile phones as room keys.

Jannah Residence launches in Abu Dhabi The nine-storey residence from Jannah Hotels and Resorts will offer 36 two-bedroom apartments which are fully-furnished and serviced. A spokesperson for the group said: "Strategically located on Al Zahiyah, formerly the Tourist Club Area, which has been the heart of Abu Dhabi for decades, Jannah Residence is an ideal place to stay with easy access to international restaurants, cafĂŠs and retail shops. "Abu Dhabi Mall, housing

signature brands, a variety of dining options and Abu Dhabi Co-op Hypermarket, is a fiveminute drive away." Other properties in the Jannah portfolio include Jannah Burj Al Sarab, Jannah Place Abu Dhabi, Jannah Marina Bay Suites, Jannah Place Dubai Marina and the newly opened Jannah Resort & Villas Ras Al Khaimah. Upcoming properties include Jannah Residence, Jannah Creek Dubai and Jannah Ras Al Khor, Sharjah. May 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME



Let it shine In this month’s Talent section we speak to Luliia Shmyglenko, group and events sales manager at Kempinski Hotel Mall Of The Emirates

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What is the biggest challenge of your role? The biggest challenge in my role is the competitive landscape of the UAE and Dubai in particular. However, I enjoy the challenge and see this as an opportunity for Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates to really shine. What is your favourite aspect of your role? The groups and events department is constantly busy – it’s a hub of activity for the hotel, with so many people choosing to have their function here. My favourite part of my role is when we receive positive feedback from our clients following a successful event. It’s both exciting and rewarding.

Describe your first ever role in the hotel industry? I started my career in hospitality working as a management trainee in the front office department of the Grand Mercure Shenzhen in China. It was a great start, and gave me so much valuable exposure to hotel operations. Who has inspired you most in your career? There was not a particular person who inspired me in my career, but my team 18


in general. Many people have changed roles since I joined the sales and marketing department, which isn’t unusual for the industry, however I learnt a lot from each one of them. How do you view the hotel scene in the region? The UAE hospitality sector is extremely competitive, there are so many luxury hotels to choose from! This is what I love about our industry – it makes our job all the more challenging and exciting.

If you could work in any hotel in the world which would it be? I am a loyal Kempinski employee, and would be honoured to work in any of their brands across the world. For now though, I’m happy to enjoy the sand and snow at Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates. What tip would you share with new staff starting out in the hotel industry in the region? In the words of Steve Jobs: “The only way to do a great job is to love what you do”.

Talent: appointments

Laurent A. Voivenel appointed SVP at Swiss-Belhotel Swiss-Belhotel International has named Laurent A. Voivenel as senior vice president, operations and development for the Middle East, Africa and India. Swiss-Belhotel International currently manages a portfolio of more than 145 hotels, resorts and projects worldwide and is targeting the Middle East, Africa and India region as a key growth market. Voivenel, who will be based in Swiss-Belhotel’s regional office in Dubai, has over 30 years of international hotel and asset management experience, including 16 years in the Middle East. He has worked with Starwood Hotels & Resorts, and most recently was CEO of Hospitality Management Holding (HMH).

Commenting on his new role, Voivenel said: “It is an enormous privilege to join Swiss-Belhotel International at this pivotal point when it is one of fastest growing hospitality groups. I am very excited to take up this new challenge and truly grateful to Swiss-Belhotel International for having given me this fantastic opportunity.”

Rixos appoints UAE cluster director of marketing Rixos Hotels has appointed Ali Ozbay as cluster director of marketing and communications in the UAE. Ozbay will oversee the marketing operations of the three Rixos Hotels in the UAE namely Rixos The Palm Dubai, Rixos Bab Al Bahr and Rixos Premium Dubai. He will be responsible for directing all aspects encompassing strategic development, content development, brand activation, public relations and advertising. Erkan Yildirim, senior vice president of operations for Rixos Hotels said: "It gives me immense joy to welcome back Ali to the team. "Innovation has always been at the core of our brand and we are confident that his expertise demonstrated by the numerous achievements during his previous tenure will continue to drive and enhance our success in UAE’s competitive market."

Ozbay’s career in the Middle East includes senior roles at marketing consultancy Beautiful Minds and the international digital agency Great, where he served as the head of marketing. Ozbay is no stranger to Rixos Hotels as he completed a successful tenure of five years, from 2009- 2014 as an integral team player of the marketing and communications department.

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Meeting the demands of millennials Graeme Kane, hospitality business development manager at Aruba Networks Middle East & Turkey offers tips on enabled features by technology that can wow guests.


new breed of traveller is already playing a key role in shaping the travel industry in the Middle East. Millennials (aka #GenMobile) and their influence will continue to strengthen over the next decade. By 2020, Millennials will represent over half of the total spend in this space. This continuously-connected, context-aware generation, places a high importance on personalisation and memorable experience in their travels. And they expect mobile technology to be their enabler. Hotel chains are already responding to this shift in their customer base by creating or purchasing boutique brands to add to their portfolios. Gen Y-focused brands have been created to meet the demands of millennials. These millennials want the latest technology to help them stay connected and engaged and expect hotel chains and other travel related industries to personalise their experiences through technology. Over 70% say free Wi-Fi plays a key role in deciding where they book. So being able to provide the best possible experience, personalised with mobile engagement solutions, is critical. Whilst filling rooms and getting as close as possible to 100% occupancy rates is vital, additional facilities like gyms, spas, bars, restaurants, cafes, business centres, shop utilisation rates are important as well. Their existence within the hotel is a sunk cost and their on-going maintenance an operational cost. There is a way in which these cost streams can be turned into revenue streams by answering those five key questions: Who? What? Where? When? Why? 20


About the Author Graeme is responsible for developing and executing strategies to expand Aruba’s customer base in the hospitality sector. Graeme has over 16 years of experience in the ICT Industry, specialising in telecommunications and networking. For the past eight years he has been based in UAE, working in hospitality and healthcare at Avaya.

Today there is technology that allows hotels to identify who is entering the facility, what they are interested in (based on previous visits), where they are inclined to spend more time within the hotel property/resort, when they do certain activities, and most importantly, why they are taking these actions. This type of information and data can help a hospitality programme manager build a relevant, customised loyalty programme that benefits the customer but also lowers maintenance costs in the back office for the company. The aim is to create an experience guests will write home about. Below are some five-star features enabled by technology that hotels can use to wow their guests: • Stop handing out Wi-Fi logins on a piece of paper: Guests can be welcomed through a custom-branded captive web-portal where they can get secure Wi-Fi access while getting impressed with ads and special offers

about the venue. It’s also where hotels can inspire them to download the venue’s custom mobile app. • Custom-branded mobile app: Venues come to life when guests use the hotel’s custom-branded mobile app. From the comfort of their smartphones, they can get turn-byturn directions to amenities and relevant push-notification offers based on their opt-in preferences and realtime location. • Make staff mobile: Hotels can go wireless with a secure, PCI-compliant infrastructure that reliably handles mobile booking, check in, point-ofsale, housekeeping, maintenance, engineering and other property management apps. • Boost loyalty programmes: Who doesn’t enjoy VIP treatment? Hotels can reward guests with personalised push-notification offers based on their preferences and location on your property.


The changing face of guest service centres Back-of-house hospitality technology innovations are fast becoming the cornerstone of improved customer service, says Eric Rogers, vice president EMEA, FCS Computer Systems


y career in hospitality started two decades ago, when I joined the largest manufacturer of guest room telephones. Pricing was based on the number of buttons each device offered back then… budget hotels would opt for three guest service keys, mid-scales would select five, and luxury hotels would select models with 10 keys along with speakerphones, two lines, even cordless. Over the years, I witnessed a shift in the type of telephones demanded. Instead of units having buttons for each department, luxury hotels wanted cordless high-end speakerphones with only perhaps three buttons. The revolution was upon us, it was the birth of the guest service centre. Several years later, I found myself on the other end of the phone when I joined FCS – a leader in hospitality technology and guest services. By that stage, things had changed considerably. Engaged tones, long rings and diverts were no longer the norm. Operations staff were equipped with language skills and jobs could be dispatched directly to a handheld device in the care of the person who would carry out the task by the time the call was concluded. It was a significant improvement, a giant step from where we were a few years earlier. Jobs were acknowledged and closed in a set timeframe. If this was not possible, they were escalated. Guest satisfaction, if not guaranteed, was certainly improved. The efficiency that a guest service centre offered was compelling. In January 2010, when I joined FCS, technology was already in place to send tasks via a variety of methods, including DECT and SMS using mobile phones. However, there were inherent challenges due to the size of the messages

About the Author Eric Rogers has been involved in the hospitality technology industry since 2000 when he joined Teledex to look after the EMEA region. After nine years of solid growth, Eric left to join FCS as its regional head EMEA, responsible for all aspects of the company’s operations in the region. His role is to support hotel partners, manage channel partners and to find new ones as the company continues to grow. being limited, also the reliance of SMS on external forces (mobile phone companies) and costs associated with usage. Then things changed again. Smartphones fell in price, and sector-specific, intuitive apps were being developed at a rate faster than ever before. The challenges we had been experiencing literally disappeared overnight. Today, things are different. A hotel plumber can receive a job on his device with a picture of the offending leaky tap enabling him or her to make a single visit with the replacement device. A general manager who is walking the property can, instead of phoning his assistant, simply tap a few buttons on his smartphone to create a job to have a lightbulb replaced on the fifth floor room corridor. Housekeeping staff can automatically send a photo of any room

damage directly to the relevant person so they arrive to fix the issue – saving time and money, and ensuring the room is released as soon as possible. With job dispatch technology under control, engineering was the next target. Armed with a desire to ensure that all items that needed preventative maintenance were correctly maintained, and records kept, the days of spreadsheets were over. Further solutions have now been developed in areas such as hotel glitch management and concierge resources. However, the biggest solution to have had an impact on back-of-house efficiency is arguably electronic housekeeping apps. Cleanliness of the room is critical to guest satisfaction. Traditionally, housekeeping has been paper-based with a typical 300-room hotel using approximately 1.5 tons of paper a year. In the morning, rooms are allocated, but things change throughout the day, guests arrive early, rooms take longer to clean. It doesn’t take long for the paper to become outdated. Thankfully, technology has caught up with housekeeping, rooms are auto-assigned based on criteria such as VIP status, ETA, room mix – all amendable by management. Additional tasks can be easily assigned and VIP requirements can be recorded with data arriving on the smartphone as soon as the room attendant logs in. No paper, no delays, no fuss. On housekeeping apps, supervisors see attendant progress, current tasks or activities. Rooms are inspected, checklists filled and there’s no paper or multiple calls. Furthermore, it offers an opportunity to reward top housekeepers to ensure the quality of back-of-house services grow from strength to strength. May 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME


Regional News

An ISO 9001: 2008 & ISO 14001:2004 Certified Green Company

d e l i e v n u t s i l t r Sho BNC Publishing’s Leaders in Hospitality Awards, presented by Rikan, is taking place on 17 May at The St.Regis Dubai. Here we unveil the shortlisted candidates…


n array of the brightest and best talent that the Middle East hospitality industry has to offer will be battling it out at the Leaders in Hospitality Awards, presented by Rikan, on Wednesday, 17 May at The St. Regis Dubai Al Habtoor City. We literally received hundreds of entries across 16 prestigious categories before the shortlist was finalised. The Leaders in Hospitality Awards was established to recognise and reward the hotels, individuals and teams who make a positive contribution to the hotel industry in the Middle East. The awards are presented by Rikan whose managing director Riaz Khimani said: “We are an established brand in the hotel industry, but we strongly believe in staying in touch with the industry at every level. Right from the grass roots to the top leadership.” Cadillac, the Luxury Fleet Partner for the event, will be giving away a Cadillac Escalade to one of the award winners for a limited period. Feras Hasinou, senior sales manager and fleet national manager of Cadillac at Liberty Automobiles Company LLC, said: “We want to give the region’s top hoteliers the opportunity to experience the luxury look and feel of our cars. Whilst we do give regular short-term 22


test drives to existing and potential customers, we feel that a longer driving period can help people to get a true sense and appreciation of the technology, driving dynamics, comfort, and attention to detail that goes into our Cadillacs. “This is why we want to give the lucky winners the opportunity to get behind the wheel and experience the latest iteration of luxury for an extended period of time and try out all that our great vehicles have to offer.” One of the category sponsors on the night is 1765 Gemini whose commercial director Glenn Ewart spoke about being associated with the event. “1765 Gemini decided to support the event as it is a very prestigious awards ceremony showcasing the best in the industry. It is part of our company ethos to put back into the industry that we love, and have had fantastic careers with, and there is no better way to show our support than sponsoring the awards,” he said. Also supporting the event is Platinum Sponsor Du, The St.Regis Dubai Al Habtoor City as Hotel of Choice and Category Sponsor Pulsar Foodstuff and The Gourmet Olive Market. If you are interested in attending or finding out more about sponsorship opportunities please contact fred@

Event preview

Event details

Meet the judges

Event date and time Wednesday 17 May 7pm - late Venue The St. Regis Dubai Sponsorship and table bookings or In asso ci atio n w ith

Filippo Sona, director/ head of hotels MENA Region, Colliers

Hisham Farouak, CEO, Grant Thornton

Helen Morris, executive chef / senior lecturer, The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management

Daniel During, principal and managing director, Thomas Klein International Hospitality School

Rabih Feghali, director, Roya International

Martin Kubler, CEO, SPS Affinity

An ISO 9001: 2008 & ISO 14001:2004 Certified Green Company

Hala Mata Choufany, president, HVS Middle East and Africa



Event preview

Hotel Categories Leading New Hotel

Leading Hotel F&B Outlet

• • • • •

• • • • • • • • • •

Fairmont Fujairah Hilton Makkah Convention Centre Marriott Al Forsan, Abu Dhabi Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Dubai Premier Inn Ibn Battuta, Dubai

Leading serviced apartment • • • • •

Capital Centre Arjaan by Rotana Dunes Hotel Apartments Grand Millennium Al Wadha Abu Dhabi Jannah Place Dubai Marina Kempinski Residences and Suites

Leading Luxury Hotel • • • • •

• • • • •

Al Mahan Arjaan Rotana Al Seef Resort and Spa by Andalus Dusit D2 Kenz Hotel, Dubai Holiday Inn Express Dubai Jumeirah Ramada Downtown Dubai

I n associat ion wi th

P l ati n um sponsor

Atlantis The Palm, Dubai Hilton Alexandria Kings Ranch, Egypt Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Dubai Palazzo Versace, Dubai The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi

Sustainable Hotel Award

Leading Mid-Market Hotel • • • • •

Leading Hotel Spa • • • • •

Desert Palm Per Aquum, Dubai Marsa Malaz Kempinski, Qatar Sealine Beach Al Murwab, Qatar The St. Regis Abu Dhabi Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah

Aseelah, Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Deira Creek Cubanolito, Ibis Hotel, Dubai World Trade Centre Fish Taverna, Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Huddle Bar, Citymax Hotel Bur Dubai La Tablita, Hyatt Regency, Dubai Creek Heights Market Kitchen, Le Royal Meridien Abu Dhabi Noire, Fairmont Dubai Ossiano, Atlantis The Palm Spears Restaurant, InterContinental Jeddah The Croft Restaurant & Terrace, Dubai Marriott Harbour Hotel & Suites

Luxury F l ee t Partn er

Jannah Burj Al Sarab, Abu Dhabi Kempinski Hotel Ajman Park Inn by Radisson Muscat Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve Time Hotels

Hot e l of c h oic e

Cat e gory Spon sor s


An ISO 9001: 2008 & ISO 14001:2004 Certified Green Company Now quality has a number.



Event preview

People Categories Leading General Manager:

Leading Procurement Manager:

• Adham El Sebaey, Hilton Doha • Amr Luqman Al Sunari, Makarem Ajyad Makkah Hotel • Stephen Meredith, Steigenberger Hotel Business Bay Maria Tullberg, Radisson Blu Dubai Deira Creek • Nael El Waary, Sofitel Abu Dhabi

• Arun Kunar, Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort, Fujairah and Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa • Jean Zafra Manuel, Anantara The Palm Resort Dubai

Leading Hotel Team: • • • • •

Habtoor Grand Resort, Autograph Collection, Dubai Holiday Inn Dubai Al Barsha Media One Hotel, Dubai Metropolitan Hotel Dubai Millennium Hotel & Convention Centre Kuwait

Leading Executive Housekeeper: • Rana El Deek Tawaji, Kempinski Mall of the Emirates Helga Fisher, W Doha • Prabhat Shukla, InterContinental Doha • Vanaja Lal, Sheraton Dubai Mall of the Emirates • Manju Thayil, Park Rotana Arjaan, Abu Dhabi

Leading IT Manager: • • • •

Savio Dlima, Millennium Plaza Dubai Mahmood Ahmed, Time Hotels Rahul Mistry, Kempinski Doha Rushdy Mubarak, Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Waterfront

Leading F&B Manager: • Can Ali, Hilton Ras Al Khaimah • Awad Faroukm, Hilton Marsa Alam Nubian Resort, Egypt • Hassan Kaouk, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Dubai • Lorenzo Maraviglia, Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach • Sarin Monish, Millennium Airport Hotel Dubai



Event preview

People categories Leading Hotel Chef: • • • •

• Sarah Noury, Media One Hotel, Dubai • Inna Stolcere, Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Dubai

Nurettin Celik, Rixos the Palm, Dubai Steve Deconinck, The Palace Downtown Dubai Mohamed Didi, W Doha Sudqi Naddaf, Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates, Nicolas Smalberger, JA Resorts, Dubai

Rising Star Award: • Nigel Lobo, Taj Dubai • Lucas Mbugua, Kempinski Hotel and Residences Palm Jumeirah • Deveeka Nijhawan, Le Meridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre

Lifetime Achievement Award: • Emma Banks, general manager, Jumeirah Restaurant Group • Andy Cuthbert, general manager, Mina A Salam Hotel&C&I, Jumeirah Hospitality at Madinat Jumeirah • Stanley F Marquez, Le Meridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre • Mahmoud Mokhtar, country general manager Ras Al Khaimah, Hilton Hotels • Jegadessan Ravindranathan, human resource and housing supervisor, Millennium Airport Hotel

What they said last year...


“Congratulations on a well done event. We had a great evening, all of our winners were delighted. It was great!” Dan Corfield, senior manager, corporate communications, Hilton Worldwide Middle East and Africa

“Thank you so much for the event. It was amazing. Everyone I know who attended it, loved it and I’m looking forward to the next big thing we do together.” Rabih Feghali, director, Roya International

“Thank you so much for hosting us at the Leaders in Hospitality Awards. Congratulations on your excellent event it was very well organized and great crowd turnout.” Rizwan Mustafa, group marketing director, SIAL Middle East

“We are thankful to Hotel News ME for this great recognition and for a memorable award ceremony." Greg Pirkle, GM, Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay

“The event was very nice and St. Regis Hotel was an amazing venue. We would like to come next year to collect the same award again! Thank you so much.” Lucia Peris, director of spa, Talise Ottoman Spa, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray

“Overall this was a


terrific evening and we are already looking forward to 2017!” Roddy Gordon, VP sales and marketing, TIME Hotels


A New Culture of Hospitality whose fashionable guest solutions and inspirational designs create a luxurious functional refuge for the enjoyment of the guest.

MOON DANCE product concept + design: sieger design

Event preview

GM Leaders conference


Event details DATE and TIME: Wednesday 3 May, 8am – 2.30pm VENUE: The W Dubai Al Habtoor City

Returning for a third edition, The GM Leaders Conference hosted by Hotel News is anticipated to be our biggest yet with almost 200 general managers and corporate hoteliers confirmed to attend. Taking place at W Dubai Al Habtoor City on Wednesday 3 May, the event promises an informative morning of expert sessions and panel debates focusing on the future of the hotel industry in the Middle East


he GM Leaders Conference 2017, presented by Rikan and hosted by Hotel News Middle East is expected to welcome almost 200 of the region’s leading general managers and corporate hoteliers for a morning of thought-provoking expert sessions and panel debates centred on the opportunities, challenges and trends impacting the hotel industry in the Middle East this year. Rikan is on board as the presenting sponsor of the GM Leaders Conference for the third year in a row and is delighted to be a key partner again in 2017. Rikan managing director Riaz Khimani said: “We are an established brand in the hotel industry, but we strongly believe in staying in touch with the industry at every level, right from the grass roots to the top leadership. “This conference offers the right platform to be in touch with the leaders. We as a company are always very keen to learn from our clients and study the ever-changing trends in the market. At the same time, we use our study to create new products to suit the highly demanding market. Budget hotels is a new growing market segment in this region and worldwide. Looking at this trend, we have specially created an economy range called Rikan Silver Line to cater to this growing segment.” Registration and networking will kick off at 8.00am, with Presenting Sponsor Rikan to launch the event with a welcome address. This will be followed by a welcome speech from host GM Jason Harding, complex general manager at The St. Regis, W 28


did you know? BNC Publishing has partnered with Luxury Fleet Partner Cadillac, who will give away a Cadillac XT5 for a limited period to a hotel general manager at the conference.

and Westin Hotel – Al Habtoor City. A keynote session from Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) will explore how the hotel industry can prepare for life after Expo 2020. There will also be sessions on how VAT will

impact the hospitality industry and a market overview from STR. Panel sessions include “Adapting to Changing Guest Demands”; “Battling with the OTAs”; and “Attracting New Markets”, with a strong line-up of panellists combining a wealth of industry knowledge and experience. A networking lunch with interactive workshops will take place at 12.50pm, allowing attendees the opportunity to meet with peers and learn more about the latest products on the market. Some of the most prominent, influential companies in the region are sponsoring the event, with Rikan as Presenting Sponsor; Platinum Sponsor, Du; Luxury Fleet Partner, Cadillac; and The Hotel of Choice, W Dubai Al Habtoor City. Also supporting the event are: Lavazza, Eurocoffee, Electrolux, TSSC, Pulsar Foodstuff Trading, The Gourmet Olive Market, Assa Abloy, TCL, EP World and Isukoshi.

Event preview


In association with

Platinum sponsor

Luxury Fleet Partner

Hotel of choice

An ISO 9001: 2008 & ISO 14001:2004 Certified Green Company


Registration and Networking


Coffee break


Welcome Address: Hotel News Middle East



Welcome Address: Rikan, GM Leaders Conference Presenting Sponsor


Welcome Address: Jason Harding, complex general manager at St Regis, W and Westin Hotel – Al Habtoor City


Expert Session: Global Megatrends and their impact on the Middle East's travel and tourism industry Martin Berlin, Deals Partner, PwC Middle East

Panel Two: Battling with the OTAs The battle between hoteliers and online travel agents (OTAs) will continue in 2017, with each side vying for its piece of the pie. The big hotel operators, such as Hilton and Marriott have invested in major direct booking campaigns, however they cannot turn their backs on the huge distribution power of the OTAs. Meanwhile, the OTAs continue to seek hotel chains’ lowest rates so they can offer customers the widest range of choices possible. How can hoteliers reduce their dependence on the OTAs and get better terms? What role does loyalty play?


Keynote Address: How will Dubai’s hospitality industry continue to prosper post-Expo 2020? Issam Kazim, CEO, DTCM



Panel One: Adapting to Changing Guest Demands Guests are becoming more tech-savvy – doing everything online, from booking, to ordering food and providing feedback – while seeking out personalised service with a warm dose of humanity. Meanwhile, mobile-connected corporate and MICE travellers are demanding more creative and flexible entertainment options and facilities, and a rising demographic of health-focused consumers are seeking out the best wellness offers. How can hoteliers pair digital efficiency with human intelligence? How can they evolve their wellness offers and cater to the changing needs of MICE and corporate travellers?

Expert Session: How will the introduction of VAT impact the Middle East’s hotel industry? Bruce Hamilton, Tax Director, indirect tax, Deloitte Middle East


Panel Three: Attracting New Markets How can hoteliers ensure they are creating content and delivering experiences that resonate with the lifestyles of new target markets, such as millennials and Gen Z; the rising Chinese market and returning Russians; and a new wave of price-sensitive travellers, attracted to the region due to a growing number of low-cost flights and three- and four-star hotels?


Expert Session: GDS…The Misunderstood Revenue Channel Saahil Mehta, Man with The Plan, ResNet World




Close of conference


Expert session: A snapshot of regional hotel performance Philip Wooller, area director – Middle East & Africa, STR WHAT NEW TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATIONS HAVE YOU INTRODUCED? DORNBRACHT: We have introduced the SMART WATER vision by Dornbracht and through Dornbracht’s Smart Tools, Smart Water works as an intelligent system that networks the components in the bathroom and kitchen with one another, while conveniently simplifying and individualising the applications involved. Operating the Smart Tools are easy. There are no complicated menus, instead it uses an intuitive and understandable touch logic application in keeping with the Smart Water message: 'Hot, cold, click'. Dornbracht develops the hardware and software itself. This way, the producer can provide the market with software updates and hardware upgrades in the future as well.

VARYTIMIDOU: The GROHE SilkMove Technology integrated in all our mixers, allows for smooth handling with precision over long term use. The GROHE SilkMove cartridge delivers gradual and precise control of the water flow and temperature. The GROHE StarLight Technology ensures that the surface of all faucets and fittings have a made-to-last finish. With GROHE Zero, we have substantially reduced the lead content in brass to negligible levels. Lead is replaced by harmless metals like copper, ensuring that potential lead contamination of potable water is at an absolute minimum.

GROHE SmartControl shower range


YOUNG: Digital showers in the market with button controls are now starting to feature simple touch screen controls instead. Our new BAGNOSPA digital control steam room has a touchscreen operation to operate a steam app on your smart phone as well as WiFi, lighting, scents, varying water temperatures and pressures. BIES: Our latest technological innovation in ceramics is TitanCeram. TitanCeram is a material made from clay, quartz, feldspar and titanium oxide, which Villeroy and Boch developed specifically for use in high-quality premium designs. The precise forms with extremely thin walls and sharply drawn edges in bathroom fixtures are only possible with TitanCeram. Our premium bathroom sinks Octagon and Artis are made of this Material. EL KADI: The Duravit development team makes use of simulation software to optimise flushing technology. Thus, new products can be developed and optimised for water saving solutions. Results of these efforts are the Duravit Rimless technology and the ME urinal. The Rimless technology offers an innovative and effective flushing system that delivers optimum flushing results with small water volumes of only 4.5 litres.

E x hi b i to rs

Your Sanitation & Hygiene Partner for Housekeeping, Kitchen & Laundry Chemicals Thank you for visiting our stand at Gulfood 2016


Phone: 971 (4) 2675820 / Fax: 971 (4) 2675830 / W: / E:




Hotel News Middle East investigates how life will be for the hospitality sector once Dubai Expo 2020 has been and gone



Cover Story


hen Dubai was confirmed, in 2015, as the host destination for Expo 2020 it was largely met with delight at securing the biggest event in the Middle East to date. However, there were one or two dissenting voices who questioned if this would burst the bubble for the emirate when some commentators expressing concern that it would halt growth in the real estate market. That couldn’t be further from the case though according to the chief of Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), Issam Kazim, as well as a number of senior figures within the Middle Eastern hospitality sector. “We set out a strategy for ourselves, which was about focusing on doubling the 2012 numbers for international visitors and creating a sustainable tourism model for achieving 20 million visitors by 2020 and building on that going forward,” says Kazim, CEO of DTCM. “People were very familiar with the beaches of Dubai and the retail outlets and the hotels and quality of service of Dubai but there is still a lot of Dubai that we be-

lieved was missing. We did a lot of surveys to make sure the figures we were working with were as accurate as possible.” People being proved wrong by Dubai is nothing new according to Marriott International Middle East and Africa president, Alex Kyriakidis. “I am old enough to remember people saying the market was going to crash 12 years ago,” he says. “The Dubai market was barely 3540,000 rooms. At that time it had a pipeline of 20,000 rooms and everyone was worried. People said the same thing five years ago when we were at 75,000 rooms and Dubai defied gravity again. “Today we have 100,000 operating rooms and to give you context it is almost the size of London. We have 25,000 rooms under construction and you could be cynical again and say Dubai is going to crash and burn in 2020, but we don’t think so.” Cynicism around the expo is not something that cluster manager Radisson Blu Hotels, Dubai Waterfront and Dubai Canal Views David Allan has much time for.

“How could it be anything but positive? Expo 2020 is expected to attract 25 million visitors, 17 million of whom will be international guests and all of this during its six-month run, providing a huge boost to the hospitality industry,” he says. “Besides the expectation to further strengthen the worldwide standing of the United Arab Emirates, it is clear that the Expo2020 is also expected to add a significant amount to the economy of Dubai and the UAE.” It seems as if you can’t talk about tourism today without experiential travel being top of the agenda but there’s a very good reason for that according to Kazim. “When you look at the outdoor side of it, arts and culture, it is perhaps something that people in Dubai might take for granted but they are things that not everyone who travels to Dubai knows about,” says Kazim. “We looked at how Dubai has been quite successful at attracting people from a certain luxury segment and that has built a perception that Dubai only May 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME


Cover Story

caters to them. That is not really the case as there is a wide range of three and four star hotels for people to enjoy and we created a wide range of incentives.” The goal, Kazim says, is to use Expo 2020 as a catalyst to drive tourism in Dubai to the next level. “We are building a sustainable model to make sure that Expo 2020 – the biggest event on Dubai’s calendar – becomes something that we have been able to leverage these events on,” he says. “Once you get people to Dubai they start to realise that Dubai has the infrastructure, whether it’s the roads, the transport, the airlines or the connectivity.” He says the expo is the perfect opportunity for Dubai to enhance its reputation as a hub for the entire region. “The network of free zones that have been created in Dubai makes it easier to create regional or global headquarters here,” he says. “Dubai is acting as a hub and 200 nationalities who have chosen Dubai as a home. You have so many different nationalities from so many different backgrounds with so many different skills and expertise, which attract people to set up shop here and bring their families.” The key to successfully capitalising on Expo 2020 is diversification according to Kryiakidis. “The average rate is $200 and occupancy rate is 80%. Any market that is 32


David Allan, cluster GM Radisson Blu Hotels, Dubai Waterfront and Dubai Canal Views

operating at 80% and $200 believe me is a great market, an amazing market in fact,” he says. “Of course we all want more and want to drive it north. It means with a diversified market we can attract people who previously wouldn’t have come to Dubai. Here we are next to the Indian subcontinent and amazing markets in the Middle East and European markets, which have been hit hard against the dollar.” The fact that the strength of the dollar has essentially made it 25% more expensive for a family of four to visit Dubai, creates a need for the market to diversify, says Kyriakidis.

“For some families that is a huge consideration and they could switch to somewhere else in Europe or Asia and get value for money,” he says. “If the rate can diversify here we can offer rates that are lower and we need them for the theme parks and other offerings like the museums and galleries.” It is important, Kazim stresses, to make sure the message is not lost: that the expo is for the entire Middle Eastern region, not just Dubai. “When the expo was announced, a statement was made that it’s not just for Dubai, it’s an expo for the entire region,” he says. “It’s about getting the right creative people to Dubai and using the city as a platform to launch careers and products and announce their work. We see the expo creating and continuing to push that same message.” Allan agrees with Kazim’s view that the expo can act as a catalyst for the region. “Since confirming the Expo 2020, the UAE has seen a massive boom in its hospitality sector and recently just reached the 100,000 rooms milestone within Dubai,” he says. As a result, Allan posits, Dubai is being developed to become a worldclass venue, which then has the capability to hold massive conferences for the MICE sector. “Combining the new facilities, parks,

Cover Story

The Burj Khalifa was illuminated in 2013 to announce Dubai’s candidature as the host venue for 2020

Alex Kyriakidis, president Middle East and Africa, Marriott International



Cover Story

The legacy lives on

It has been confirmed that 80% of the expo site will be redeveloped once the event has taken place in 2020. Siemens AG became the first firm to announce plans earlier this year, when it confirmed its global headquarters for airports, cargo and ports logistics, will be based out of the Expo 2020 site from 2021. Deirdre Wells, CEO of UKinbound, was speaking at Arabian Travel Market in April when she urged the Expo 2020 committee to follow the example of London and the 2012 Olympics. “London is an established market, welcoming an average of 30 million visitors a year. We knew the 2012 Olympics would attract significant additional arrivals, so the critical part of the planning was focused on legacy, with tourism a key component,” she says. “The Olympics is a major sports and broadcast event, so in terms of investment and planning around 60% of our £30 million budget over four years was dedicated to post-event activities.” Expo 2020 will also be a catalyst for enhancing the airport experience, Anita Mehra, SVP communications and reputation Dubai Airport, says: “We have already begun working with the expo team to ensure we have the technology, innovation and customer service levels to create a world-class airport experience. We all work to create and strengthen Dubai Inc and it is this that will secure the legacy of Expo 2020.” Last year, Expo 2020 Dubai awarded over 1,200 contracts, worth $544.5 million and a further 47 construction contracts worth $3 billion are due to be awarded throughout the course of 2017. Plans for the site after Expo 2020 concludes will see 80% of the plot re-developed with all the assets and transport infrastructure re-purposed for future use by a range of tenants and major private sector firms.



Legoland at Dubai Parks and Resorts

Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM)

green spaces, record-breaking architecture, developing public services and transport, it has become an international hub with a significant variety of hotels. I prefer to view Expo 2020 as a catalyst for this exceptional growth in Dubai and the UAE,” he says. Kazim is candid about his firm belief that the expo will be a roaring success. “I think that any event that Dubai has

hosted in the past helped us achieve the next big thing,” he says. “Dubai has never been one to rest on its laurels and it’s fair to say that the expo will act as a catalyst for things to come. If you look at when we hosted the IMF in 2003, people were wondering about how Dubai would be able to host an event like that given the security intricacies. Not only did we host it suc-


Dubai World Trade Centre 18 - 20 September 2017

New opening

Resorting to polo

The very first St. Regis polo resort, anywhere in the world, has just opened in Dubai. Hotel News Middle East caught up with general manager Andrew Henning and his team to find out more



New opening

Oasis offers Arabic cuisine with relaxing surroundings


he St. Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club is providing a service that’s very much in keeping with the current trend for experiential travel. The 126-room resort in Dubailand is one of the latest additions to an already burgeoning hospitality scene in Dubai and it is certainly one of the most unique. “This is the first St. Regis branded polo resort in the world and I think as soon as you drive in you get an immediate sense of space, you see the green polo fields, you smell the grass and I think your shoulders drop a bit and you straightaway begin to relax,” says general manager Andrew Henning. “You get a sense of escape from the city and we are only 20 minutes away. Even for Dubai I think we are quite a unique destination.” It’s not hard to see what the most unique aspect of the resort is – there is a clue in the title. “There is polo being played here all the time but not just when there is a competition on. There are exhibition matches being played all the time,” he says. “We serve a polo brunch every Friday. Each Friday you can sit on our polo ter-

Andrew Henning general manager, The St. Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club

race and enjoy the wonderful food and an afternoon of polo. It’s a very unique and enjoyable experience.” The polo that’s being served up isn’t just for the entertainment of guests, it’s the real deal in terms of competitiveness. “There is plenty of sport being played

here and there is also a very high level of polo being played here quite a few times throughout the season so this will see the UAE itself becoming a more important destination for polo around the world,” he says. “One of the very attractive aspects is that the polo season here is the off May 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME


Regional News

Andalucia restaurant has a Latin theme

Live polo is a treat for those doing brunch



season for other countries like the UK. People who love polo and are associated with it tend to chase polo around the world and we are a very attractive destination.” Henning is quick to agree that the resort is perfectly placed to cash in on the demand for experiential travel. “I think it’s probably the case in global travel, people are looking for experiences in their travel and for authenticity – they are looking for local experiences and I think we touch on that,” he says. “The whole heritage of the horse in

Regional News

Arabic culture is such an important thing, which links back to our Andalusian theme of the hotel and architecture of southern Europe. We think that we have something to offer in terms of that experiential travel.” The three full-length international class polo fields aren’t the only enticing feature about the resort. “All of our rooms have beautiful views of the polo fields themselves and you can see all the way down to Burj Khalifa from some of the rooms,” he says. In addition to a swimming pool and spa there is also a full range of equestrian facilities including stables. “As well as the normal meeting facilities on the third floor we have the option of a facility with a private bar and we have two terraces running the full length of the building, which May 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME


Regional News

Latin flavour

There are six F&B venues at The St. Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club: Andalucia, a Mediterranean restaurant; The Grill pit steakhouse; tapas bar Taperia; The St. Regis Polo Bar; The Equestrian Lounge and arabic restaurant, Oasis.“There is a Spanish Latin flavour to a lot of what we offer here. Our food and beverage director David Contreras is Argentinian and his influence comes through in our restaurants,” said Henning.



provide fantastic opportunities for catering,” he says. With 126 rooms the hotel might be one of the smaller properties on the market, at least by Dubai’s standards, but Henning believes that will work in the resort’s favour, comparing it to the city’s equivalent of a country club. The property also has 25 villas, which Henning says are already proving to be popular assets. “Each of them have four bedrooms so it’s not that small but when you come here you realise the size of the overall resort,” he says. “A terrace is running the full length of the building on both sides and we can hold 500 for dinner on just one terrace and that’s without using the grass area.” Henning is adamant that the uniqueness of the property will make it a huge hit. “Whichever way the market is going we are in a good place to be able to adapt and flex accordingly. Then we have the big advantage of the equestrian facilities and what the Habtoor family has built here is really quite spectacular, there are 500 stables here,” he says. “The overwhelming response people have is that this is something very unexpected. People don’t realise how close we are, it’s only 20 minutes from the city, it’s closer than the Palm is what I tell everybody.” It’s that sense of space, of calm, and the relaxing atmosphere that Henning reckons will prove to be a huge hit with guests. “I think we will attract a wide range of people to be honest, certainly leisure is a very obvious offering but with the MICE market there are great opportunities here. It is a great place for team building, it is a great place for an event, a gala dinner, a wedding, destination weddings, so I think there is quite a broad appeal,” he says. “This part of Dubai is expanding and developing here in Dubailand. We think we are in a very strategic place for the future growth of the city.”


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r ger of Fou ews a n a m l a r lN ne ointed ge ay speaks to Hote ret in p p a y l w c The ne otel Bahrain B st kept se e b e H h s t n is o y Seas ahrain Ba B w o h t u abo e East the Middl



GM Interview


ichard Raab believes that Bahrain Bay is the next big thing in the Middle East. The general manager of the Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay might say that anyway – but it’s clear from speaking to Raab that it’s something he passionately believes. The Norwegian hotelier took over the 273-room property at the start of January and he hasn’t looked back since. “We are off to a good start for the year, the first quarter is behind us, we have a good amount of business on the shelf for the next quarter – the very first six months of the year will be able to meet our budget,” he says. “We are going into the third year of the hotel being in operation, it opened two years ago, we are very much at the maturity stage, the growing stage, we are still developing and we are expecting to see growth year over year.” Raab believes the key to success is in the smaller details having immediately overseen a renovation of the lounge that is designed to create a livelier atmosphere for guests. “We are doing little things – we have changed our lounge a bit to increase the permission for smoking,” he says. “We are having more entertainment to make it a livelier experience and the bar is getting its own following now whereas before it was just a bar you go into to have dinner.” He believes that big things are around the corner for the region and that Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay is perfectly positioned to capitalise on these. “We have some very positive things happening in the second and third quarters of the year,” he says. “We have the new Avenues Mall, which is opening up right in front of the hotel, and which we are hoping will add to the Bahrain Bay area. We want to attract even more guests.” Bahrain Bay is constantly evolving and expanding, says Raab, with new players continually coming into the market. There could be a temptation, he says, for each property to put the shutters up, so to speak, and look after their own interests first but, as far as

Raab is proud of the interiors at Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay

Richard Raab, general manager of Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay

Raab is concerned, that is just not the Bahrain Bay way. “We want to expand the pie rather than just steal the pie from each other,” he says, making it clear that the property is in such a position of strength that it doesn’t need to isolate itself from the rest of the market in Bahrain Bay. “I think the Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay is positioned as one of the top hotels in the GCC as it is an iconic building with world class interiors providing a world class service that is second to none, and we are extremely proud to have the hotel in our portfolio.” It comes as little surprise to find that Raab is enamoured with the design of the building he presides over.

“The hotel is almost two years old. The architect firm, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, designed some of the world’s most iconic buildings and hotels,” he says, pointing out that the hotel has interiors inspired by sea voyages. If anyone should know about Four Seasons it’s Raab, having been with the company for 18 years across different continents in destinations as diverse as London, Cairo, St Petersburg, the Caribbean and Hawaii, not to mention a stint in the US that took in Beverly Hills. “It has very much been an international experience with the company and I worked for some of our greatest hoteliers within our company and learned from them,” he says. “With the international experience it gives you a very global perspective. It means you have global markets and global guests. I think our guests do travel all over the world at the moment and having worked and lived in different places around the world helps you accommodate and understand the needs of the guests that are travelling.” So what has Raab learned in his 18 years with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts? “I think you need a lot of emotional intelligence because it is a people business, our guests are people and our staff are people and you need to understand them on an individual basis in order to get it right. You have to May 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME


Gm Interview

Food for thought

Spa indoor pool

General manager Richard Raab is convinced that Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay has a culinary offering that is among the best in the market. Cut by Wolfgang Puck Cuisine: Steakhouse Indoor seating: 112 Private dining: 20-40 Interior designer: Waldo Fernandez Executive chef: Brian Becher re Asian Cuisine | Wolfgang Puck Cuisine: Modern Asian Indoor seating: 74 Interior designer: Waldo Fernandez Executive Chef: Brian Becher Bahrain Bay Kitchen Cuisine: International buffet Indoor/outdoor seating: 282 Interior designer: Pierre-Yves Rochon Vento Cuisine: Italian Interior designer: Waldo Fernandez Seating: 78 Azure Cuisine: Snacks and shisha Seating: 100 Bay-View Lounge Seating: 126 Interior designer: Pierre-Yves Rochon Blue Moon Lounge | Wolfgang Puck Indoor seating: 40 Interior designer: Waldo Fernandez Cut Bar & Lounge Indoor seating: 60 Interior designer: Waldo Fernandez Executive chef: Brian Becher



get the staff right and motivate them, teach them and grow them to do very well for you,” he says. “For guests it is all about personalisation and you have to provide exactly what the guest needs at different times.” As important as having the personal touch is, Raab is under no illusions about the primary objectives of the role. “You need to be business savvy. It is a business as well and you need to keep

yourself up to date and abreast of new trends, be it in IT or even in HR and marketing. Things change constantly, it is a 24/7 business,” he says. “You need vision, you need to be able to look at things with a broad vision and see opportunities for the future and take action to make sure your ship is heading in the right direction based on the vision and the future that you see.”



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Even preview

Hospitality Technology Forum The inaugural Hospitality Technology Forum hosted by Hotel News Middle East is taking place in October providing a platform for IT, security and engineering professionals to discuss and debate the major technological challenges, opportunities and trends facing the hotel industry in 2017 and beyond.

Jeroen Wisse IT Director, AccorHotels


ome of the topics up for discussion at the forum will include bandwidth, big data and the evolution of guestroom technology, with a line-up of speakers



Ali Tariq IT Manager,Media One Hotel

Abdul Bari Senior Regional Key Account Manager – MEA and Indian Ocean, Interel

combining a wealth of hospitality technology experience. There will also be expert discussions on data and payment security, energy efficiency and how hoteliers can best

Fraidy Pinto Area Director IT for Middle East & Turkey, Carlson Rezidor

present their proposals to get approval for technology investments. Hotel News Middle East hosted a roundtable event at Novotel Al Barsha to set the agenda for the forum.

Event preview

What are the trends in hospitality technology right now? Ali Tariq: The latest trend is personalisation. The guest needs more personalisation like self -check-in and self-check-out systems. More interactive technology for in-room services is needed. Abdul Bari: It’s important to give the personalised touch to the guest. Quite often the guest is looking to just call, they just want to press a button and know their request has been sent. It’s about providing the information right there in their hand. It’s about understanding how easy it is for them to access their requests. Technology plays a vital role in this. Fraidy Pinto: The most important thing in hospitality is focusing on your guest’s needs and for us it is about making it simple and giving easy access to the internet. It’s about giving that connectivity on his or her device and that requires significant investment in terms of infrastructure, which needs to be done on a regular basis. I think that’s improving over the years, it used to be a challenge but owners are realising how important it is. It is becoming less of a challenge. It is also driving the investment within the hospitality industry in terms of what a guest needs.

Ali Tariq, Media One Hotel IT Manager

Jeroen Wisse: The trend right now is big data. First you have to be able to cope with it from a volume perspective, then see what data matters, but then you have to do the right thing with it. If you can’t cope with the volume then don’t bother collecting it. Doing the right thing is the ultimate question we face.

Fraidy: The Internet of Things stores can do so much including things like controlling the temperature in a room. We have to decide where to use humans or use the Internet of Things instead. Jeroen: There’s a fine line between the Internet of Things being helpful and being intrusive. It is about getting the right service for the guest and reducing May 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME


Event preview

the time and effort to get it to them. It is not to free up resources to increase profit, but to improve guest experience. Ali: Internet is a basic amenity, but still in this region hotels are selling internet. That should be in the past, it’s like an amenity for the hotel, just like a bottle of water. Each and every person does not just have one device. Minimum they have three devices: a phone, a tablet and a laptop so imagine if 200 rooms are fully occupied, just how many gadgets are connected. Jeroen: Look at another hotel with a huge ballroom. With a wedding, in the same hotel at the same time you could have another 200 people there. That means at the same time you could have 800 to 1,000 people requiring one gig of bandwidth. Fraidy: Put yourself in the shoes of a guest – if he doesn’t have sufficient bandwidth he goes and says that on TripAdvisor. Jeroen: The challenge with that is they are just going to say the hotel has rubbish internet; that’s the comment it gets. If it’s not user-friendly then yes that’s something we can do something about. If we allocate 1MB per potential device then who is going to pay for that? What are the issues when it comes to data security? Jeroen: You have got to make sure devices are isolated on WiFi. It is not as strongly implemented as I would like. Why are so many hotels still using unprotected PCs in a kiosk in the corner? You might need a log-in, but the data is still there with all the cookies and downloads from the last 200 users. It’s a data risk and it’s part of our responsibility to ensure we offer secure systems. Abdul: We have to make sure as vendors that nobody can access our systems. If someone could hook into the system they could stop the entire room’s automated services. We had to go one step further and install a crypto chip in the controllers to ensure there is end-to-end protection. Ali: One challenge is with emails containing malware. A lot of people experience their system going down because of emails. 48


Jeroen: There is an issue that if a hacker gets into the system he could end up broadcasting on all the TVs in the hotel or he could get access to all the invoices. Another point to take on board is that the risk of a breach is much higher in a hotel than it is at home because of the volume of people coming through. Fraidy: At the end of the day, it’s not our information, it’s our guest’s information and their credit card details and the hotel can be liable if anything goes wrong. We have to take this very seriously. Ali: Each and every device, including the public’s, should be isolated so nobody else can access your personal device. In this region data security is still an issue. Recently in Dubai a major company was hijacked and their entire data was lost.

When it comes to in-room technology how is the industry meeting guests’ demands? Jeroen: We have to get away from standardised products. Interactive televisions and videos on demand are things that nobody cares about, so why are we still putting them in? Why do the owners and consultants put something in that’s costing us AED80,000 a year in maintenance contracts that nobody needs? Actually, one of the things we are rolling out is a screen cast to allow people to stream from their phones to the TV. It works on the majority of devices out there. Ten years ago, we were able to give the guests better technology than they could get at home. At home, you can buy a new television every two years. I cannot buy 600 new

Event preview

Jeroen Wisse, AccorHotels IT Director Fraidy Pinto,Carlson Rezidor Area Director IT for Middle East & Turkey

TVs every two years because the owner will ask if I’m going out of my mind. Abdul: Products that we provide to clients have to be future proofed for the next five to maybe 10 years. As a company, we have to be able to produce a product that can be upgraded and up to date. The key point is flexibility. When it comes to mobile integration what are the issues for the hospitality industry in the Middle East? Fraidy: To get your information from a mobile when you’re working with a large organisation, like ours, you have to centralise the data so it’s accessible to other devices. Once it’s centralised you can engage with the guest or the employee. It gives you the opportunity to provide secure data. Abdul: Mobile phones are used every May 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME


Event preview

day and the guests want to be able to operate everything through them from the TV to the lights and temperature. People want to be able to do everything from one point, for example on an iPod they want to be able to order food and watch television at the same time. Now you can switch off the light with the same technology and even see who is standing outside the door without going outside. There’s a thing now called BYOD (bring your own device) which hotels use and you just download an app to your device. Jeroen: That’s all well and good but I still want to have a switch beside my bed to turn off the light. I don’t want to have to study a manual for 30 minutes to find out how to switch a light off. Is it really a priority for a guest? Abdul: This is where the technology is going with Generation Z. Jeroen: I’m not sure. I have kids that age and I’m sure they’d like it as a gadget but they are much more interested in making sure their internet is fast 50


enough. More and more people have home automation thoug,h and this technology is coming fast. They’ll be able to turn on their air conditioning on the way home. Abdul: We already have that, if we know a guest is coming we can start heating the room, it’s basically about energy saving. What are the advantages to hoteliers of having this technology on their phones? Jeroen: It gives alternative choices to guests but let’s not overcomplicate things. How often have you got all these devices in a hotel room and you want to charge your mobile phone but there’s no socket beside your bed? Abdul: Customisation is important to any hotel because we have to adapt to the equipment. Jeroen: We have actually started giving apps to the staff. One aspect is a duty roster schedule for deskless workers – housekeeping, F&B and engineering

staff. The department heads can use it to set up the duty roster and the staff will have it on their mobile devices. Now the staff can share information within the team, put in a request for a shift change or ask for a leave date on their phone. Ali: We also provide services on a mobile device where you can track guest requirements. If the guests raise a request it gets registered in our system. Jeroen: Even if it is something as simple as ‘do not disturb’ it’s important information because it means staff don’t have to run every half hour to check the door. Mobile and data communication have also allowed us to communicate with guests, not just during and after their stay, but even before they have come. For example, we have online check-in for everything except passport registration. It means the guest doesn’t even have to go to the desk to pay their bill, they can leave their key with any member of staff. The bill has been settled.

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900+ exhibitors from 50 countries 16,000+ vistors from 91 countries 500 fully hosted VIP buyers 10+ events and features

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Atm review

Arabian Travel Market 2017 Over 40,000 industry professionals from more than 152 countries attended the 24th Arabian Travel Market at Dubai World Trade Centre in April. Hotel News Middle East showcases the highlights from the four-day event


ravel trade professionals from across the world’s hospitality industry descended upon Dubai from 24 – 27 April for Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2017, the region’s leading travel industry showcase. Simon Press, senior exhibition director, said: “The growth and scale of ATM 2017 is testament to the buoyant travel and tourism industry here in the MENA region. It is no secret the growth we observe in the regional industry is spurred by visionary national agendas and a favourable and thriving business environment. With a series of megaevents scheduled for the coming years, including Expo 2020, this growth will undoubtedly continue.” 52


Simon Press, senior exhibition director

ATM 2017 welcomed over 2,600 exhibitors – with 100 exhibiting for the first time – across 65 national pavilions. The show was extended across an additional

hall, in order to meet growing demand. Here, Hotel News presents the key stories and highlights from the fourday exhibition.

Atm review



Atm review

Emaar Hospitality Group unveils six new hotel projects

“Last week we opened Al Kalaa, our fine dining restaurant and we’ve had great reviews so far. We’ve got a very good Arabic culinary team lead by executive chef who recently joined us from Salalah. This is the only fine dining restaurant in Oman and uses very authentic ingredients. We have an Omani restaurant manager – we’re the only five-star hotel in Oman to have an Omani restaurant manager. We have lots of showmanship in terms of the way the dishes are presented. We’ve got six outlets on the resort and Al Kalaa was always going to be our premier outlet.” Darren Darwin, GM Anantara Al Jabal Akhdar Resort

“Hatta Fort has just had a big refurbishment, we’ve done all the rooms, reception, the restaurants. We’re upgrading the business centre and we have a spa now so it’s just raising the bar for what Hatta offers. We’re going to then extend our offering to include things like stargazing; it’s a retreat, somewhere you escape to. The spa will launch by the end of the summer so we’re just doing the designs now and hopefully we’ll get it open by October.” David Thomson, COO, JA Resorts & Hotels 54


Vida Hotel Dubai Marina

Emaar Hospitality Group unveiled six new hotel projects in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Egypt as part of its regional and international expansion plans, at ATM 2017. Announcing the new projects at a press conference in Dubai, Olivier Harnisch, chief executive officer commented: “We are marking our 10th decade of operation this year, and in such a short span of time, we have established our reputation as a homegrown Dubai hospitality group with a fast-growing regional and international footprint. The upcoming properties highlight our competencies as a hotel and serviced residences operator, committed to delivering guest-centric lifestyle experiences.” Emaar Hospitality Group’s new projects include Address Dubai Creek Harbour and Address Residences Dubai Creek Harbour in Dubai, a six km2 mega development. Also under Address Hotels + Resorts are the new Address Marassi Beach Resort and Address Residences Marassi Beach Resort, which are part of the beachfront Marassi master-planned development by Emaar Misr in Egypt.

Emaar Hospitality Group has already signed a management contract to operate Address Marassi Golf Resort + Spa in the same master-development. These add to the upcoming projects of Address Hotels + Resorts in Dubai, Fujairah, Bahrain and Turkey. Four new projects will be operated under the Vida Hotels and Resorts brand. These include the Vida Dubai Creek Harbour, Vida Dubai Marina and Vida Residences Dubai Marina. Further, Vida Hotels and Resorts marks its expansion to Abu Dhabi with the management contract to operate Vida Beach Reem Island Abu Dhabi and Vida Residences Beach Reem Island Abu Dhabi, both for Aldar Properties. Having already expanded with hotel management contracts in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, Vida Hotels and Resorts is further strengthening its international portfolio with Vida Marassi Marina and Vida Residences Marassi Marina in Egypt. Emaar Hospitality Group plans to expand its footprint to other highgrowth markets as well as gateway cities such as India and China, and other global gateway cities for the group.

Atm review

Time Hotels to launch property run by women Time Hotels Management has unveiled plans for a new four-star hotel in Dubai’s Al Barsha district, Time Asma Hotel, which will aim for 80% of team members to be female. Led by general manager Ghada Mahgoub, the hotel will have dedicated facilities for female guests. The announcement was made during a press conference at Arabian Travel Market, which took place at Dubai World Trade Centre from 24 – 27 April. Time Hotels CEO Mohamed Awadalla said: “The concept will provide career opportunities for more than 100 women, contributing towards goals set out by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to increase the presence of women in the workplace.” The property will feature 232-rooms

Time Asma general manager Ghada Mahgoub

over six floors, a gym, swimming pool, jacuzzi, four meeting rooms, a business

centre and two restaurants for both male and female guests. Due to open in Q4 2017, plans are in place for two floors of the hotel to be reserved exclusively for female travellers. Dedicated services will include room service, a female-only check-in counter, dedicated women-only guest relations, in-house baby-sitting services, in-room tablets highlighting all of the services offered for women such as bespoke beauty products, in-room beauty treatments, as well as enhanced amenities in each room. The hotel will also offer options to book women-only taxis and femalededicated parking spaces. Time Asma Hotel is one of upcoming properties in the pipeline for Time Hotels in the Middle East, with new properties scheduled to open over the coming 10 months in Dubai, Ajman, Fujairah, Luxor, Riyadh, Jeddah and Doha.




Atm review

InterContinental Hotels Group signs four new hotels in Middle East and Africa region InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), announced four new hotel signings and six new hotel openings across the GCC in 2017 at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in Dubai. IHG’s four new hotel signings in the Middle East and Africa are: Crowne Plaza Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, InterContinental Doha Festival City and Staybridge Suites Lusail in Doha, Qatar and the Holiday Inn Mutare in Zimbabwe. In addition, IHG is also opening six new hotels in the MEA region in 2017. These include Crowne Plaza® Muscat OCEC in Oman, InterContinental Fujairah Resort in the UAE, Holiday Inn® Doha – The Business Park in Qatar, Holiday Inn Algiers Cheraga Tower in Algeria, as well as two in Saudi Arabia: Staybridge Suites® Jeddah Alandalus Mall, and the Crowne Plaza Riyadh – ITCC. Speaking about IHG’s footprint, Pascal Gauvin, chief operating officer – India, Middle East, Africa (IMEA), IHG, explained: “We know the lifestyle segment is fast growing in the hotel industry; we’ve seen it ourselves through the successful launch of our Hotel Indigo

Intercontinental Hotel Fujairah

brand here in AMEA, specifically in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. We’re confident there is strong growth potential in the region for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants brands and we’re looking forward to building on the momentum already established here with Hotel Indigo.” IHG introduced the Hotel Indigo® brand in in Riyadh in 2012 with the Hotel Indigo Riyadh King Abdullah Financial District.

This was followed by Hotel Indigo Dubai Business Bay Dubai, announced in 2014, and the Hotel Indigo Dubai – The Sustainable City, a Net Zero energy building, where 100% of its energy needs will be met by solar power. Currently, IHG is set to open its first resort within this brand umbrella with InterContinental Fujairah Resort later this year.

ATM panel tackles how to attract Generation Z

(L-R): Davi Allan, Nila Pendarovski and Alexander Schneider

Hotel News Middle East hosted a panel discussion at ATM on how to appeal to the Generation Z market. Hosted by Hotel News Middle East’s Patrick Ryan, the panel featured the input of Nikki Beach Resort & Spa general manager Alexander Schneider, Rove Downtown Dubai hotel manager Nila Pendarovski and David Allan, Radisson Blu Hotels Dubai Waterfront and 56


Dubai Canal Views cluster manager. Schneider said: “It is a very important topic that we, as hoteliers and hospitality professionals need to put into consideration. Guests from Generation Z have a keen attention to detail when it comes to experiential travel. “We use this information as a driving force to improve the quality of our

boutique resort, as I believe quality strengthens the destination. That is why at Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Dubai, we focus on creating a good quality of experience for our guests.” Radisson Blu’s Allan said: “The panel was a very enjoyable, insightful discussion. There was cross-section of views on Generation Z though with a common undercurrent among the parties. Also, the interaction with the audience was both encouraging and refreshing. “Generation Z is certainly an interesting market and one which needs to be approached in a number of different ways. The approach should be as both our guests and also the future leaders of our industry. It's going to be extremely exciting to watch how it develops over the coming years.”

Atm review

Experiential travel boost for Dubai

Khaled S Al-Idressi

The rise of experiential travel has given the market in Dubai a boost according to senior hotel figures at ATM. David Wilson, general manager of the Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah was speaking to Hotel News Middle East, at Arabian Travel Market (ATM), when he said that the demand for experiential travel has helped to create a positive mood about tourism in Dubai. “People are talking about the new parks, the new developments in Dubai. We’ve had the Expo of course and that’s going to be something we see a lot more of with more rooms and a bigger capacity in the city. “We like to create events that money can’t buy. One of the events we have is the Waldorf Astoria driving experience

and for that we have Lamborghinis at the hotel with race instructors taking people out on the streets of Dubai,” he said. “Those are great experiences as well as the likes of the Waldorf dining experiences. That’s what we are creating by making personal experiences.” The cluster director of sales and marketing at Fairmont Ajman and Fairmont Fujairah Beach Resort also believes that experiential travel is a key driver for the UAE’s economy. Khaled S Al-Idressi was speaking to Hotel News Middle East at Arabian Travel Market (ATM) when he made his comments about the rise in guests seeking out experiential options, so much so that the newly opened Fairmont Fujairah was designed with that specifically in mind. “The destination lends itself to experiential travel, we have options like the hiking trails in the mountains, the spinning classes, the spa and its lifestyle as well as diving off rocks. We are trying to create a place where people can live those experiences,” said Al-Idressi. “Fujairah is unique and we use it, the yoga in the morning with the sunrise is something that everyone should experience.”

“We’re looking at a first quarter we never dreamt of with 90% average occupancy. We just opened up our spa and we’ve got our last restaurant Key West opening in early May. We’ve done a very cool beach pop up open on Thursdays – Saturdays, which is basically an extract of the signature dishes from Key West but in true Caribbean style, very rustic. There’s a constant evolution of the property and right now we’re looking at almost 1,000 guests at the beach club every day. We’ve introduced our ladies day on Tuesdays, which is a typical ladies night concept but during the day and we’re looking at 1,200 people coming on a Tuesday.” Alexander Schneider, GM, Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Dubai

Hilton to open Curio in Dubai Hilton announced the opening of its first Curio Collection hotel in Dubai at ATM. The agreement between Hilton and the Khamas Group of Investments and Bethahab Group will see the new property opening in Business Bay in 2019. “Curio Collection allows owners to develop unique concepts for upper upscale hotels and plug them into our Hilton system,” said Carlos Khneisser, vice president, development, Middle East and North Africa, Hilton. “Business Bay is home to a number of developments designed to increase Dubai’s ability to provide stand-out experiential attractions as part of Dubai’s Tourism Vision 2020. So we see the location as ideally suited to working with an owner who is committed to designing and developing an equally

distinctive hospitality experience.” The hotel will be located on the Dubai Water Canal and will feature four dining outlets including a lobby lounge, an outdoor lounge offering shisha and an all-day dining restaurant with views of downtown Dubai, Business Bay and the Dubai canal. All guests will have access to the spa, salon and fitness facilities along with an outdoor pool. The hotel will also offer a business centre, five meeting rooms and two boardrooms. This latest property adds to the Curio brand’s growing portfolio in the Middle East, which will see The Rosemont Hotel & Residences, Curio Collection by Hilton open in Dubai in 2018. The region’s debut property, AlRayyan Hotel Doha, Curio Collection by Hilton opened in Qatar in 2016.

“We’ve just announced our first hotel in Serbia, which will open for ski season next year with 120 rooms. Chicago will open at the end of 2017, and we have also just signed a property on Vietnam’s Cocobay near Hoi An, with Empire Group. We’re working on other developments in the UAE, Morocco and a couple more in the neighboring countries and Istanbul will open next year. The hotel is completed but given everything happening in Turkey it wasn’t a good time to launch.” Anton Bawab, regional president, Viceroy Hotels & Resorts May 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME


Atm review

Relaunch for Shangri-La in Oman

“This is the third DoubleTree in Dubai and we’re aiming to open in June. We’re focusing on diversity in the workforce and we’re aiming to have 48-50% female team members, including senior management so we really want to be there for every type of guest expectation and experience. We realised that if we really focus on gender there’s so much talent out there we can just bring to the table and give them the opportunity. A lot of them are from Hilton from different parts of the world. Our assistant front office manager comes from Hilton Kuala Lumper, our chef de cuisine comes from Hilton Abu Dhabi – so what we wanted we had already. Globally, Hilton has 46% females and our GM said, why not have a balance in our hotel?” Johanna Suttie, operations manager, Doubletree by Hilton Dubai Business Bay

“The emphasis on diversification means we have a mix of products in one destination. There are so many different segments to tourism starting from leisure tourism, history and culture. We have over 5,000 years of history in Oman. The most important thing is the authentic Arabic experience that Oman can provide to the tourist. Other Middle Eastern countries may develop but what we have is authenticity. It’s a very different country and the tourist facilities are there in terms of added value, it’s not just about the economic point of view.” Khalid Al Zadjali, director of Oman Convention Bureau 58


“Our key market is families in the GCC, Russia and CIS countries, China, Eastern Europe and now we’re starting to target the African markets. We are meeting up with tour operators and local DMCs at ATM to improve this.” Yasser Moussa, executive assistant manager, Al Bustan Centre & Residence

“Al Maha will undergo a renovation from May to the end of September. We’re going to renovate all 42 suites. Although nothing structural will be renovated, it will have a new look and feel. The pool decks will be redone, the lighting, the furniture, the technology. The mock-up room is currently being done. We don’t want to take away too much the identity of the property. The renovation will happen in three batches, so the three wings will be renovated one after the other. The spa and restaurant will remain the same, however.” Patrick Antaki, complex GM of Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort, Fujairah and Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa

Jurgen Doerr, general manager Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa

ATM was the scene of a major announcement from Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts about its properties in Oman. The Shangri-La Al Husan Resort & Spa and the Shangri-La Al Jissah Resort & Spa will become standalone properties, having previously been one complex, it was confirmed at ATM. “We realise the guest mix is changing as are the expectations of guests. We put our thoughts together and decided to become a free standing resort,” said Jurgen Doerr, general manager Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa. “The feedback was very positive and the official launch will be in October. Beautiful location, beautiful setting.” Newly appointed Shangri-La Al Husan Resort & Spa general manager Milan Drager said: “For over 10 years, ShangriLa Al Husn has delighted international guests with its refined luxury offering. The team has done a remarkable job bringing this unique hotel to the forefront of tourism in Oman. “I look forward to continuing this legacy while further positioning Shangri-La Al Husn as Muscat’s premier destination resort for travellers seeking a sophisticated holiday experience.”

Atm review

“Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts has launched “Mövenpick Family” a new global programme designed to take all the stress out of travelling with children. We always thought there was something missing in the industry and we did a lot of research with families and had some interesting findings. We came up with five areas to take the stress out of travelling with children. The first is on-demand amenities – things like strollers so that you don’t have to lug those along with your suitcases. Another is ‘Power Bites’ which is healthy food that’s fun. The third is the Little Birds Clubs, tailor-made to offer cooking classes, environmentally-friendly experiences and cultural activities. The other two are the room – our ‘Happynest’ offer guarantees you will be together as a family or you’ll have rooms that are interconnecting. Lastly, it’s the family friendly amenities – kids programmes, and free Wi-Fi that works no matter how many devices you connect.” Paul Mulcahy, senior vice president commercial, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts

“We have three new hotels opening by the end of this year – we’ve got another in Al Barsha, Dubai, one in Business Bay and one in RAK. We have our first two properties coming up in Egypt which are management contracts – one will open by Eid this year and the other in Alexandria will open next year. We are looking to expand more in Egypt and are looking to enter Saudi hopefully by next year. We’re also offering a sneak peek of our new branding and colours to cater to the younger generations and families. Vibrant simplicity is our new concept and it will be seen in all our new hotels.” Rohit K. Challapalli, head of marketing, Citymax Hotels

From 20 to 2,000 meals a day.

Always the right solution. Find out more:



Event review

The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia took place in Jeddah on 4-6 April at the Jeddah Centre for Forums and Events and as expected it was an event not to be missed…

Chef Yasser Jad - head of the judging panel - talks through a competition entry with spectators


he fifth edition of The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia and the inaugural Stone & Surface Saudi Arabia opened on 4 April under the patronage of Mohammad A. Al-Amri, general manager of the Saudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage (SCTH) in Makkah Province, Jeddah. Thousands of hospitality and construction industry professionals attended the co-located trade shows at the Jeddah Centre for Forums and Events from 4-6 April 2017. “The hospitality industry in Saudi Arabia is currently experiencing record levels of growth with 170 hotels in the pipeline,” said John Suzara, event manager of The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia. “The Hotel Show is the must-attend annual event for professionals in hotels, resorts and restaurants looking for the latest international products, or to establish a presence in the kingdom.



Visitors browse the latest international stone materials at Stone & Surface Saudi Arabia 2017

Event review

“In the wake of the announcement of Saudi Vision 2030, there has been a surge in construction across various industries throughout the Kingdom – and stone is an essential part of the majority of built structures.” At The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia, the technology sector was buzzing with new product launches including a world’s first from LG Electronics and United Naghi Co. Pro-ICT, and other, major international exhibitors including Onity and CMT Technologies. The interiors, lighting and design product sector was also popular with major brands Sandalyeci, Closet World, Banta Furniture, Adasan, Zubair Furnishing, Raha Oman and more – all displaying their latest product ranges. For the first time this year, The Hotel Show hosted the inaugural Inter-Hotel Culinary Competition – Mystery Box Challenge. Endorsed by Worldchefs through the Saudi Arabian Chefs’ Association and the Saudi Arabian Chefs Table Circle, the brand new culinary competition for the Kingdom ran throughout the three days of the event, with the victorious hotel team - Mövenpick Resort Al Nawras, Jeddah - announced on its final day. Elaf Jeddah Hotel and Makarem Ajyad Makkah Hotel took the silver and bronze medals respectively, the latter being unique as it was the only team in the competition comprising entirely of Saudi female chefs. Chef Yasser Jad – founder and president of Saudi Arabian Chefs’ Association (SARCA), and food and beverage manager at Saudi Airlines – chaired the jury, a line-up of expert international judges. Jad said: “We would like to thank all of the teams that took part in the competition for their outstanding efforts. “Through competitions such as this, Saudi Arabian Chefs’ Association aims to highlight the talent and skilled roles of chefs in the Kingdom. “There are excellent opportunities available in the food and beverage sector here, and we seek to assist the goals set by Saudi Vision 2030 in increasing the number of jobs occupied by Saudi nationals in hospitality.” Judge and master chef Adrian Meyer of Switzerland added: “We witnessed very interesting combinations and innovations and our taste buds were put to the challenge. We certainly learned something, and we hope that the contestants did too. We were very happy to have them – and we hope that they return for next time.” Meanwhile, co-located event Stone & Surface Saudi Arabia provided a vast international showcase of the latest stone materials from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, China, UAE, Italy, Oman, Belgium, Lebanon, Germany and Australia. A highlight being its major Turkish pavilion, home to more than 80 types of stone incorporating 400 different colours and patterns, Turkey is firmly established as the world’s leading nation for stone supply. Find out more at: /



YOUR NEXT DATE: COLOGNE, 07. –11.10.2017

Koelnmesse GmbH Messeplatz 1 50679 Köln · Germany Tel. +49 1806 002 200 Fax +49 221 821-991010


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10.04.17 10:08


Marketplace This month we take a look at some of the hottest products on the market…

King Koil mattress protectors The Airy Cool Mattress Protector and Botanic Tencel Mattress Protector are two recent products that King Koil has launched and is expecting great things from. The Airy Cool Mattress protector features a quilted 3D design with cooling crystal gel fibers and stretch fabric. It has a 3D tactile surface that allows excellent airflow while the cooling crystal gel fibers absorb and dissipate heat away from the body to provide a good night’s sleep. It provides a 100% waterproof bottom surface that does not allow liquids to penetrate. The Botanic Tencel fabric Mattress Protector is a sustainable fabric, regenerated from wood cellulose which is similar in hand to rayon and bamboo, both regenerated fabrics. Tencel fibres are grown sustainably and fibres are spun into yarns and then woven into textiles that are soft, absorbent and strong when wet or dry, resistant to wrinkles and drape well. To find out more visit

Treadmill Excite Technogym’s best selling-product is the Treadmill Excite. Babara Graziani, from Technogym, praised the treadmill’s “design, innovation and unique end user experience” that allows guests to engage with the product through an app. Technogym caters for gyms, spas and fitness clubs as well as recreational centres. To find out more visit 62


ViClean-I 100 The ViClean-I 100 from Villeroy & Boch sets a new standard in the design of shower toilets. It looks just like a conventional toilet as the technology has been integrated into the ceramic and not the seat. “ViClean-I 100 boasts clear lines and a minimalist look, accentuated by the ultra-flat toilet seat. Add to that the intuitive use and convenient shower functions and the new ViClean-I 100 becomes a subtle centrepiece in any bathroom,” said a spokesperson for Villeroy & Boch.

“Shower toilets are becoming increasingly popular and can be found in many bathrooms with high-quality fittings. More and more people are turning to shower toilets as they want to experience the pleasant, thorough and gentle clean feeling that fresh water provides as well as benefit from the impressive hygienic advantages.” The wall-mounted toilet can also be run via a smartphone app. You can find out more by visiting


Guest Supply in focus Hotel News Middle East catches up with Sonja Allen from Guest Supply to find out about the latest products and services the company has to offer and modern design to match all the needs of hotel bathrooms. This is the future of dispensers. The non-refillable, lockable cartridge is a prime example of a hygienic dispenser. It has no cross contamination risk and guests feel confident that the product has not been tampered with.

What is your latest product launch? We are very excited to announce the launch of our new modern ABS dispenser. We are pleased to offer to the market a 330ml and 553ml hygienic, non-refillable, bio-degradable, lockable, zero wastage, wall mounted cartridge, which has a sleek

Why should businesses purchase your product? With the Dubai Expo focusing on sustainability in 2020, it is important for everyone in the Middle East region to demonstrate an understanding. The ABS 330ml and 553ml dispensers offer zero wastage, a highly cost effective solution and a commitment to hygiene, sustainability and eco-friendly products. It is made from a durable, bio-degrad-

able plastic material, which features a simple design for easy cleaning and a modern look. The easily replaceable cartridge with secure locking method and a formula viewing window allow quick visibility of liquid fill level. What does this mean for the hotel guest? The ABS dispenser has a modern appearance, as well as a practical solution, which enhances a quality focused experience for the guest. The replaceable cartridge and lockable bracket allow guests to feel confident the liquid content is hygienic, safe and not contaminated. Contact: Sonja Allen at Guest Supply on +971 4 880 8551 or mobile: +971 56 3383815



On the spot

On the spot

This month we catch up with Eddie Ignatius, corporate director of innovation and quality at Time Hotels What's the best thing about your job?

sometimes that means you have to sleep with the lights on.

The best thing about my job is that it involves me in every aspect of the business, all the way through from the product, our services and standards, right up to customer experience enhancement.

If you could stay in any hotel in the world right now, where would you go? There is a hotel in Kenya, Giraffe Manor, that is so immersed in the flora and fauna that surrounds it, there are animals popping their heads into your hotel bedroom. I think I would like to stay there.

What made you choose this role? Being appointed director of innovation and quality is very important to me. It isn’t a role you see at every hotel and I chose to pursue it because my career has taken me to all sections and departments within a hotel, providing invaluable insight into the overall operations of a property. Armed with this knowledge, I knew I could make a significant contribution to this important area of operations at Time Hotels.

Can you tell us why you wanted to join this industry? Hospitality is a fascinating, people-centric industry. Hotels are rich in diversity for both the guests and associates, and the industry itself is all about service.

What would you say to anyone who is starting out in your sector?

What do you do when you're not working? In the fast-paced world of hospitality, hoteliers don’t get much in the way of “spare time” but when I do have time away from the hotel I enjoy staying in touch with my family and friends back home.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Hospitality is a vocation that presents many opportunities to develop your skills, travel the world or embark on new ventures. I have been incredibly fortunate in my career to always be supported by talented and driven managers and that

has inspired me to one day set out to open my own hotel. Ideally, I would love to run my own small boutique hotel in a remote area on one of Indonesia’s beautiful islands.

Tell us something that none of your colleagues know about you? I’m afraid of caterpillars! It’s a fear not many others share so I don’t tell many people! I also enjoy the fear you feel watching horror movies, but

If something is worth doing, do it right, from the beginning. Carry out your work with care and respect, and don’t just do something for the sake of being recognised for it.

What's the worst thing about your job? I love my job, so I wouldn’t be able to say what the “worst thing” is. I think it’s important to always see things from a different angle and surround yourself with the many positive experiences that happen every day in the hospitality industry.

BIN EID EXECUTIVE SEARCH & SELECTION (Specialised in 5* Hotel Sector) TWENTY (20) Years of Celebration *** TWENTY YEARS*** in Talent Sourcing in Hospitality segment BIN EID Executive Search is celebrating 20 years of existence. 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 venture. We have touched and transformed thousands of individuals in our 20 years of spectacular journey. Thank you for the trust and confidence placed on us.

Our clients are currently recruiting for the following roles: VP-Operations-Asia, GM-hotels-UAE and Saudi Arabia, Corporate DOSM, DOSM, Sales Managers, Corporate Chief Engineer, CFO Please visit: to view the current jobs.



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