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Best in Show The region’s leading suppliers profiled at Dubai International Hospitality Week

All the single ladies Why a new Dubai resort is targeting the single female traveller market


Success is his forte How the GM of Assila Hotel Rocco Forte is using the Saudi Vision 2030 for inspiration

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October 2017




10 News

18 Checking in

30 New opening

66 On the spot

October 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME



October 2017


CEO Wissam Younane Managing Director Walid Zok Director Rabih Najm


Group Sales Director Fred Dubery

Senior Sales Manager James Stead Group Editor, Hospitality Crystal Chesters

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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For all commercial enquiries related to Hotel News ME contact T +971 50 55 97339 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


HOTEL NEWS ME October 2017

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patrick ryan Editor

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


HOTEL NEWS ME October 2017

aul McCartney once wrote a song lyric about the ‘ever-changing world in which we live in’. It’s obvious that it had nothing to do with the rise of social media some decades later, but it is hard to find a more apt reflection of the changes going on across all industries – hospitality being one of these. The rise of influencers is particularly noteworthy for the hospitality industry, given that online reviews these days have a direct impact on bottom line. To cynics, influencers are using their power for little more than free trips and meals, while to others they are an essential part of the modern hospitality world that only a staunch luddite would fail to pay attention to. We spoke to a number of people working in hospitality to find out just what exactly has been the impact of influencers and bloggers on the sector. As someone who is sadly old enough to remember a world without social media and when dial-up internet seemed like the epoch of technology, it makes for interesting reading. Elsewhere in the magazine, we speak to a wide variety of the region’s leading suppliers who were out in force at Dubai International Hospitality Week, which took place last month. Here we present our highlights of the companies that lead the way when it comes to cutting-edge products and services.

We’re off to Saudi Arabia in this issue too. Harry Fernandes, general manager of The Assila Hotel Rocco Forte in Jeddah explains how the landscape for hoteliers in Saudi Arabia is changing and how the Saudi Vision 2030 is going to lead to an exciting new horizon – not just for the kingdom but for the entire industry. We also pay a visit to The Retreat Palm Dubai MGallery by Sofitel as general manager Samir Arora tells us how the property is targeting the single female traveller market with a wellness package he believes is second to none. It’s not hard to see how there is an appetite for a hotel that puts the emphasis on wellness and relaxation – especially in a city as fast-paced as Dubai where it’s easy to get caught up in work and other demands, while forgetting to take the time to look after number one. We also hear from Darren Darwin, general manager Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort, on how hotels are turning to indigenous offerings to attract new markets. It’s time for me to take my leave and let you enjoy, what I am sure you will agree is, an action-packed issue. Regards, Patrick Ryan


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Golden success for Fairmont Dubai Housekeeping staff at Fairmont Dubai were crowned the region’s finest after taking home the gold medal at the debut Middle East Housekeepers League of Champions. In what was a first for the region, the competition pitted teams from resorts across the Middle East against one another at The Hotel Show Dubai, tasking them with sprucing-up ransacked hotel rooms against the clock. In total, 26 hotels took part, with Fairmont Dubai coming out on top after a final battle with neighbouring Rose Rayhaan by Rotana, watched by hundreds of spectators. Pamini Hemaprabha, competition judge, executive housekeeper and master trainer at the Emirates Palace, said: “The Middle East Housekeepers League of Champions has raised the motivational bar much higher for the housekeeping division. “The turnout of participants was testimony to the success of the event. The passion for housekeeping was oozing out of the performance from Fairmont Dubai. They had pace, perfection and apt coordination. Needless to say, every single winner and participant was fantastic in their own right.’’ Lakmal Mawella, executive housekeeper, Address Boulevard added: “The level of competition underlines the high standards of housekeep10

HOTEL NEWS ME October 2017

ing led by the region’s hospitality sector.” The three-day contest put two teams of housekeepers head-to-head at a time, giving them just seven minutes to put their messy rooms back to their original states. Each ‘suite’ featured a kingsized bed supplied by mattress supplier Restonic – the competition’s principal sponsor – curtains, flooring and TV units. The teams were challenged with cleaning them to the highest standard. The teams first had to collect the necessary items required from across The Hotel Show exhibition floor from competition sponsors, Diversey (cleaning products), Kazareen (fresh linens), Wanzl (housekeeping trolleys), and uniforms by A. Ronai, before the clock started.

The final results were determined by a judging panel featuring three members of the UAE Professional Housekeepers Group: Pamini Hemaprabha, Tatjana Ahmed and Lakmal Mawella, who scored every round based on technique, timing, cleanliness and overall impression. Fairmont Dubai took home the gold, Rose Rayhaan by Rotana took silver, with Fujairah’s Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort winning bronze. Tatjana Ahmed, housekeeping specialist with Hyatt Hotels, said: “We were able to showcase the technicalities involved in proper guest room cleaning and maintenance, as well as the hard work put in to achieve a perfect overall impression. “Fairmont Dubai were spot on in all disciplines. It

was great to see that they had their entire management supporting, which also contributed to the overall great atmosphere during the competition. Every participating team has put in a great effort – I’m sure a lot of training preceded the competition.” Speaking on behalf of Fairmont Dubai, Lea Ruhimbaccus, executive housekeeper, said: “During the competition our team applied the same techniques used during dayto-day operations. “We pride ourselves on ensuring the utmost quality and ultimately owe the success to our other colleagues as well, including our executive committee and hotel’s general manager, who were cheering for our housekeepers throughout the three-day championship.”


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Regional News

Occupancy rates fall across Middle East The average occupancy rate in hotels across the Middle East has fallen by 3.9% to 62.1% in a year-on-year comparison for August. The average daily rate, however, has increased by 7.4% to $151.04. RevPar has also increased by 3.2% to $93.84. The figures were revealed in the latest report by STR, whichfocused largely on the UAE. “STR analysts note that hotel demand remains solid in the United Arab Emirates (+4.8% year to date), but significant supply growth (5.1% YTD) continues to pressure occupancy levels and pricing power,” read the report. “At the market level, both Dubai (-14.0%) and Abu Dhabi (-11.9%) reported RevPAR declines, due primarily to lower rates.” Egypt also featured prominently in the report. “Egypt’s ADR has remained above $56 (EGP1,000) each month since November 2016, and rate growth has been primarily driven by Cairo, which posted an 83.8% increase in August to EGP1,671.39. However, figures are quite different in US dollar terms, with a 12.9% decline for the country and 7.6% decrease in Cairo,” the report said. “Meanwhile, Egypt’s occupancy levels benefitted from a 12.9% increase in demand, while supply grew only 0.4% compared with August 2016. Egypt’s hotels continue to recover from security concerns in the country, and demand has grown by double digits for all but one month in 2017.” Middle East • Occupancy: -3.9% to 62.1% • Average daily rate (ADR): +7.4% to US$151.04 • Revenue per available room (RevPAR): +3.2% to US$93.84 United Arab Emirates • Occupancy: -5.9% to 68.4% • ADR: -8.3% to AED422.77 • RevPAR: -13.7% to AED289.27 Egypt • Occupancy: +12.5% to 66.8% • ADR: +73.3% to $69.87 (EGP1,233.18) • RevPAR: +95.0% to $46.67 (EGP823.70)


HOTEL NEWS ME October 2017

Abu Dhabi is fastest growing city in region

Abu Dhabi has been named the fastest growing destination city in the Middle East and Africa in the 2017 Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index. The UAE capital was ranked fourth globally as a leading destination city with a projected increase of 4.5% in visitor figures, as well as the fourth fastest growing destination city out of 132 countries worldwide. HE Saif Saeed Ghobash, director general, Department of Culture and Tourism, said “Being recognised as the fastest growing destination cities in the region is an incredible achievement. With the recently announced launch of the muchanticipated Louvre Abu Dhabi and cultural exhibitions such as Hajj: Memories of a Journey, the capital’s reputation as a destination of distinction continues to grow, building on the unique experiences and cultural heritage offered.” Based on visitor volume and spend information for the 2016 calendar year, the in-depth analysis also provides a forecast for growth in 2017, insight on

the fastest growing destination cities, and a deeper understanding of why people travel and how they spend around the world. Public data is used in deriving the international overnight visitor arrivals and their cross-border spending in each of the 132 destination cities. This is done using custom-made algorithms; paying special attention to eliminate the hub effects for destination cities such as Singapore, Dubai, Amsterdam and Frankfurt. Ghobash added: “Last year was a record breaking year for the emirate of Abu Dhabi, welcoming 4.4 million visitors. Our year-on-year growth rate has been strong and by the end of 2017 we are looking to reach our target of over 4.9 million visitors to the emirate.” The index ranks cities in terms of the number of their total international overnight visitor arrivals and the cross-border spending by these same visitors in the destination cities in 2016, and gives visitor and passenger growth forecasts

Regional News

Le Meridien launches Le Meridien Hub

Le Meridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre is the latest property within the Marriott portfolio to launch the brand’s Le Meridien Hub. A spokesperson for the group said the project has seen the traditional lobby area transform into a modern and stylish environment, welcoming guests in a unique setting surrounded by floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and contemporary art installations. The newly transformed lobby also plays host to Gourmandises Café and a signature F&B outlet, Latitude 25. “We are very excited to unveil this enhancement to our iconic property – it has been months in the making for the whole team involved,” said Shaun Parsons, general manager Le Meridien Dubai Complex. “Due to our location, the hotel is very popular among business travellers, however it’s also a prime spot for visitors looking for cultural diversity within the region.” During phase two, the reno-

vation will continue and expand to cover over 350 rooms, which are being upgraded in stages to avoid affecting guest experience and business levels. Leisure facilities across the complex are also included in the plan with upgrades already implemented across two of the pool areas. A collaboration has been confirmed with Optimal Fitness, which will see the introduction of new equipment, therapy offerings and personal training sessions at the Natural Elements Spa and Fitness centre. 2018 will focus on the food and beverage offering at the complex with plans to introduce new concepts and expand on the existing ones. “We’re proud to be home to some of Dubai’s most renowned restaurants, many of which have been with us for over 20 years and continue to flourish. That said, we’re well aware of the competitive market and need to ensure that we’re still creating new, innovative products,” Parsons said.

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October 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME


Regional News

CSR Label Award for Time Hotels

Time Hotels has received the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry (Dubai Chamber) CSR Label Award for the third year in succession. Launched in 2010 to reward corporate commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, the CSR Label is awarded based on performance scores across seven different criteria. These include human resources (training, development, welfare, Emiratisation), client relations, business development, procurement, environment, health and safety, innovation, and community. Dubai Chamber also measures the resulting impact in four key areas, namely workplace, marketplace, community and environmental. “We are very much a community-focused company and this award recognises our role as a socially responsible corporate citizen,” said Mohamed Awadalla, CEO, Time Hotels. “Receiving the official ‘label’ for the third year in a 14

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row highlights our consistency and our commitment. It also allows us to benchmark our own initiatives against those of other forward-thinking companies in Dubai, for whom CSR is an integral part of their overall business strategy.” According to the report from Dubai Chamber, Time Hotels scored 72.5% across the board, representing outstanding performance against an average Label Award score of 70.5%. Awadalla added: “Our community outreach programme has seen Time Hotels initiate and take the lead on a number of projects in Dubai, and internationally, with a corporate mandate to focus on adding value to people’s lives and the community in general through a combination of cash or in-kind donations, education and employee engagement activities.” Already this year the company has executed a range of CSR initiatives, including a visit by team members to the Al Fahidi Heritage Site.

Countdown to Host Milan

Taking place this month, the 40th edition of Host Milan promises to build on the success of the previous edition with 2,081 companies already confirmed to attend compared to 2,010 during the 2015 show. There will be 1,255 Italian and 826 international firms from 51 countries in attendance at the biennial hospitality trade show, which will be held at Fiera Milano on 20 – 24 October. Simona Greco, Fiera Milano’s art, fashion, hospitality and travel exhibitions director, said: “With a 3.5% increase compared to the same date in 2015, figures confirm Host’s leading position among international trade fairs, and are very promising for this 40th edition. “Host is the perfect marketplace where Italian and international manufacturers can present their technological innovations and trends in the hospitality industry, also thanks to Fiera Milano’s continuous scouting to select highprofile buyers. And this year, there will be over 1,500 of them from all five continents.” The progressively international nature of HostMilano is demonstrated by new entries such as

Egypt, New Zealand, South Africa, Ukraine, and Uganda. Canada will be back after several years and Europe will boast the largest number of companies (71.4%), with Germany, Spain and France topping the list, followed closely by the USA, the UK, Switzerland, Portugal, Greece, the Netherlands, and Austria. The event will focus on this edition’s target areas – the Middle East, Canada and the USA – and various activities have been organised in these areas to attract visitors. One thousand five-hundred hosted buyers from all over the world will attend the show thanks to a collaboration with the Italian Trade Agency (ITA). Buyers will come from Europe (10%), the Mediterranean (6%), the Middle East (15%), North America (23%), Central and South America (8%), Russia (18%), South Africa (1%), Asia and Oceania (19%). In addition, more than 500 events are taking place over the course of the event, including workshops, training opportunities, roundtables, and cooking shows. To find out more, go to

Regional News

DOUBLE-DIGIT GROWTH IN HOTEL GUESTS FOR ABU DHABI Abu Dhabi witnessed a double-digit increase in the number of hotel guests during August compared to the same period in 2016. Figures released by the Department of Culture and Tourism reveal that 426,912 people were hotel guests at the emirate’s 166 hotels and hotel apartments in August, a rise of 13% over the same month last year. HE Saif Saeed Ghobash, director general, Department 16

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of Culture and Tourism, said: “We are encouraged by August’s figures and the increased growth, during a month which is traditionally a quieter time of the year for hotel guests. “Our annual Abu Dhabi Summer Season, which ran from 20 July until 20 August, once again proved highly popular with domestic visitors and we saw key international markets all show notable growth during the

month due to concentrated promotional and marketing campaigns locally, regionally and internationally.” He added that he expects to see further progress, not least due to the highly-anticipated opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi on 11 November, which has already attracted interest from across the world. The numbers of UAE hotel guests in August totalled 147,535, a rise of almost 6%.

There were also notable increases in hotel guests from Abu Dhabi’s tier one markets of India, rising 24% to 31,202, China 68% to 28,747, Saudi Arabia 9.9% to 23,111 and the United States up 35% to 11,703. The lifting of visa restrictions at the start of the year on Chinese travellers to the country has resulted in significant growth, with China becoming Abu Dhabi’s largest overseas source market,

Regional News

One to One targets Sharjah market Sharjah’s Al Daar Hotel will be rebranded under the One to One banner from October. This boutique hotel has 85 rooms and marks the entry of One to One Hotels & Resorts into the Sharjah region. Philippe Harb, COO and partner at One to One Hotels and Resorts, said: “The hotel is a great fit with the boutique brand in terms of room numbers, size and location. Its proximity to the beach as well as the shopping districts makes it the perfect base for business and leisure guests alike. “We are also looking to refresh the F&B concepts and bring life to this place. As with any conversion and rebrand, there is always some work that needs to be done and hopefully it will be completed before January 2018.” A spokesperson for the group added “with the continued growth in business and tourism, One to One Hotels and Resorts has entered the Sharjah market and will strengthen its leadership position with additional properties in the Emirates”.

October 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME


Checking in

Emaar announces Vida Harbour Point

Emaar Hospitality Group has announced its latest hotel project, Vida Harbour Point. The hotel is the seventh property under the Vida banner in the UAE and will be located in the Island District of Dubai Creek Harbour. Olivier Harnisch, chief executive officer of Emaar Hospitality Group, said: “Dubai Creek Harbour is today one of the most sought-after lifestyle and residential destinations and will be one of the hospitality hubs of the future. “In addition to the iconic Dubai Creek Tower, the mega-development has a world-class retail district, a vibrant Island District with a marina and other leisure attractions that will appeal to leisure guests. Vida Harbour Point offers an exceptional location for guests by the creek, and will be a lively hub where style meets convenience and connectivity.” Vida Harbour Point is the second hotel project by Emaar Hospitality Group in Dubai Creek Harbour, having recently unveiled Address Harbour Point, a premium lifestyle hotel and serviced residences to be operated by Address Hotels + Resorts. The hotel will have 275 rooms and is aimed at the new generation of business executives, entrepreneurs and leisure travellers. It is a joint venture between Emaar Hospitality Group and Dubai Holdings.


HOTEL NEWS ME October 2017

Hilton Garden Inn launches in Jeddah Hilton has confirmed it will be launching its midscale Hilton Garden Inn brand in Jeddah. A deal has been agreed, with Distinguished Real Estate Arrows Company, which will see construction of a new build six storey tower block commence next month, with Hilton managing the property by 2021. Carlos Khneisser, vice president, development MENA for Hilton, said: “Hilton Garden Inn has a well-established presence in Saudi Arabia, having pioneered its introduction to the Middle East with the opening of Hilton Garden Inn Riyadh Olaya in 2009. “The mix of business travellers and domestic tourists visiting Jeddah make it ideally suited to quality midscale accommodation and this property will allow us to begin to serve a new sec-

tion of the market in complement to our existing upscale and luxury offering.” Hilton Garden Inn Jeddah Hamad al Jaser Street will consist of 155 guest rooms. Fouad Bin Abdallah Bin Mohammad Talha of Distinguished Real Estate Arrows Company said: “In diversifying our business into the hotel sector it was important for us to work with a well-known international operator with whom we can continue to build a partnership. “We are confident that the market in Jeddah has a need for additional affordable hotel supply and hope to work with Hilton on a broader basis to spur further growth.” Hilton has nearly 8,000 rooms under construction across Saudi Arabia.

Contract signed for DoubleTree by Hilton Sharjah Tilal Mall

A contract was signed at Cityscape Global for the opening of DoubleTree by Hilton Sharjah Tilal Mall.. The hotel, which is DoubleTree by Hilton’s second property in the emirate, was revealed at a management agreement signing ceremony between Hilton and Tilal Properties at the event in DWTC. Carlos Khneisser, Hilton vice-president for development in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, said:

“Initiatives such as Sharjah’s Tourism Vision 2021, which aims to attract more than 10 million tourists by 2021, are drawing ever more visitors to Sharjah. “The emirate’s reputation as a centre for Emirati culture, as well as the city’s importance to the economy of the UAE, make Sharjah a prosperous market to welcome DoubleTree by Hilton.” The property will open in Tilal Mall in Sharjah in 2021, offering 200 guest rooms.

Checking in

Nakheel and Centara announce 600room project at Deira Islands Nakheel and Thai hotel group Centara Hotels & Resorts have formed a joint venture company for a 600-room beachfront resort and water park at Dubai’s Deira Islands. It was also confirmed that a management agreement had been signed between the two companies. Nakheel chairman Ali Rashid Lootah said: “This strategic joint venture underlines our commitment to bringing new hospitality concepts to Dubai in line with the government’s tourism vision. “Today’s crucial milestone allows us to move forward with the construction and delivery of this exciting new resort, which will undoubtedly be one of Dubai’s most sought-after destinations for travellers the world over.” Set to open in 2020, the resort is the first Centara establishment in the UAE and will cover an area of almost 300,000 sq ft.

Features will include a water park, multiple restaurants including alfresco rooftop dining options, a kids’ club, a spa and fitness centre, and business facilities. Recent enhancements to the hotel’s design have added 50 rooms to the original plan, bringing the total number of keys to 600. Nakheel’s partnership with Centara is the developer’s second international joint venture at Deira Islands. Work on the first, an 800-room, AED670 million

beachfront resort with Spain’s RIU Hotels & Resorts, is already underway with construction proposals currently being assessed. A spokesperson added that more partnerships with global hospitality firms are being explored. Deira Islands, where Nakheel has already invested over AED7.5 billion in infrastructure and construction contracts, will add 40km, including 21km of beach, to Dubai’s coastline. Suthikiati Chirativat, chairman of the board for Centara Hotels & Resorts said: “The official formation of the joint venture company and signing of the hotel management agreement is the natural next step following the joint venture agreement last December. “This is the rubber stamp that paves the way for the finalisation of the design and development of our first resort in the United Arab Emirates.”


October 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME



A cultural education for Fairmont's Farah Hotel News Middle East puts the spotlight on Farah Cadinouche, sales and CCS specialist, Fairmont Fujairah Beach Resort Describe your first ever role in the hotel industry? My first ever role in the hotel industry is my current position as a catering and conference services coordinator at the Fairmont Fujairah Beach Resort, however I have been part of the industry since 2010 doing my internships in almost all the major departments of the industry both in Mauritius and the UAE. As a CCS coordinator, my main role is to facilitate the flow through of events and catering services provided to guests. Who has inspired you most in your career? I am a self-inspired person; I watch and learn a lot from colleagues and superiors. How do you view the hotel scene in the region? The guest expectations are extremely high in the UAE since the supply has increased and the demand has slightly dropped in major markets. There has been a raising of the bar for service levels to keep up with guests’ expectations, especially with Dubai being the commercial and tourist hub of the UAE. What is the biggest challenge of your role? The biggest challenge would be to have consistency in providing innovative ideas on every second event that comes my way - as I’ve mentioned, guest satisfaction levels are very high throughout this region. Meeting guest requirements with creative and innovative ideas is definitely a challenge but always possible. 20

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Work Experience November 2016 – Present: Catering and conference services coordinator, Fairmont Fujairah Beach Resort April 2015 - May 2016: Residential sales agent, Clarke and Scott Real Estate, Dubai UAE What is the best aspect of your role? My favourite aspect of this role is meeting new people on a regular basis; this industry has made me more culturally

educated while dealing with multiple nationalities within the UAE. It’s always very refreshing to learn more on your job on a daily basis, hence this is what I feel is my favourite aspect. If you could work in any hotel in the world which would it be? Raffles Singapore was in fact the first ever Raffles property and is such an iconic property. This has always intrigued me and I am indeed looking forward to taking up a suitable position if ever given the opportunity. What tip would you share with new staff starting out in the hotel industry in the region? One of the most important tips I have learnt is “be passionate”.


New GM at Grand El Saadini takes helm Movenpick appoints Millennium Al Wahda of The St. Regis Dubai VP of sales

Enad Tannous is the new general manager of Grand Millennium Al Wahda. Tannous brings with him over 21 years of hospitality experience within the GCC region, with almost 10 years in senior general management positions. “I look forward to working with the Grand Millennium Al Wahda’s highly committed team to further position it as the hotel of choice for business travellers and holiday-makers coming to the capital,” he said.

Faiek El Saadani has been promoted to the position of general manager at The St. Regis Dubai. With a career that spans over 19 years in the hospitality sector at some of the world’s leading hotel groups in locations including UAE, India, Thailand, Azerbaijan, Germany and Poland, El Saadani brings a wealth of experience to his new role. El Saadani said: “The St. Regis Dubai is one of the city’s greatest hotel properties and I am very excited to take on my role as its GM. I have always believed that a successful hotel is built on two key factors - a strong and cohesive team; and a consistent high-touch service, of an elevated standard.”

Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts has appointed Julien Bonafous as vice president sales, a new role created to support the hospitality firm’s ongoing expansion drive. Bonafous’ 20-year career in the hotel industry has comprised several senior sales and marketing roles with key international players including Starwood, Hilton and InterContinental Hotels Group. Paul Mulcahy, senior vice president commercial, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, said: “Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts has a successful sales and marketing strategy in place, and as the company expands, with new hotels opening globally and many more in the pipeline, it is essential to support this growth by strengthening the commercial team.”

October 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME



Take it offline Bench Events chairman and founder of AHIC, Jonathan Worsley, explains the value of face-to-face interactions in an increasingly online world


ake a moment to recall your recent business transactions. Whether you’ve signed a contract with a supplier, employed a new team member, agreed a corporate partnership, or invested in a new product for your hotel, chances are, before you signed on the dotted line, you had established a relationship with the respective partner. Much of this relationship – specifically the trust it requires – may have been formed through phone calls, emails, online reviews and social media encounters, as is the nature of communications today. However, I’d hazard a guess that these would all have been supplementary to face-to-face meetings and for significant dealings, probably in addition to numerous lunches and dinners, discussions and negotiations. In an era where we spend half of our time hiding behind screens, I believe that it is what happens in front of those screens that has the most impact on our businesses today. After all, can you ever imagine agreeing a contract or recruiting someone without knowing who you are doing business with – the face behind the website or CV? In the hospitality industry, one of the largest transactions likely to take place revolves around the buying and selling of the hotel asset itself. In the Middle East, this is still a process that is traditionally driven by private companies, families and individuals, as opposed to the private equity and corporate investment that is commonplace elsewhere, such as in Europe and the US. This means that relationships are more important than ever. That first introduction to a partner is critical and assuming a bond is struck, a relationship must be developed, nurtured and protected in the months and 22

HOTEL NEWS ME October 2017

years to come. Whether the deal is for a seemingly straightforward sale or a partnership between land owner and developer, trust comes first. This is a principle I respect and as such, I’ve long-admired this approach to business in the Middle East hotel industry. Hotels are prized assets that mean something to their owners; they’re not just another building. I’ve been privileged through our platform, the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC), to see the founding footsteps of partnerships during our events over the past 13 years. For our 14th event, therefore, I’m more committed than ever to contributing, in our small way, to the beginnings of these fledgling relationships. We are, for the first time, building a purpose-built venue for AHIC 2018 that will be designed specifically to facilitate the networking, discussions, small meetings and private one-to-ones that our industry tells us they need. Located in Ras Al Khaimah, thanks to our partner, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism

Development Authority and our patron and host, His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, AHIC 2018 will invite delegates to fully immerse themselves in the event and focus on knowledge, opportunities and critically, relationships. We’re also proud to be supported again by our founding patron and cohost, His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Airports, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman and CEO of Emirates Airline and Group, whose continued support of the industry and AHIC has been critical to the region’s tourism growth. Our long-standing partnership is testament to the value of investing in relationships. We may be largely living in an online world, but if you ask me, it is our offline rendezvous that are still the most powerful in securing today’s transactions. I’ll see you at AHIC. Visit:


Indigenous offerings: Do hotels get it right? Darren Darwin, general manager, Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort, Oman, talks about the importance of indigenous offerings


hen I joined Anantara, I was to understand from an early stage that one of our brand pillars was offering indigenous experiences and this intrigued me. Yes, I knew the dictionary definition in that it means produced, growing, living, or occurring naturally in a particular region or environment. But, how did this relate to a luxury hotel operator? Was it a simple case of a hotel in London offering quaint afternoon tea, or a hotel in Cairo offering luxury Egyptian cotton? Before I engaged in this service ethos, I decided to do a little research of my own. From the world-famous carnival in Rio to local rose water given upon check-in in Morocco, destinations and hotels alike are trying to offer something local to entice guests to their respective locations and venues. We’re shifting into a new era of luxury travel where just offering white sandy beaches or extravagant crystal glassware is not enough anymore, the discerning traveller wants to feel a connection to the places and resorts they visit. They’re looking for undiscovered, one-off experiences in order to escape their busy lives. They want to feel a connection with the local culture, history and even community in the destination they’re visiting. Local brands often have a psychological advantage when it comes to seeking authentic experiences, as guests will assume that they already have this practice as part of their DNA. Similarly, many international brands will actually make that special effort to connect with their guests via indigenous offerings in all the corners of the world in which they operate. However, some brands confuse

guests. For example, when a Thai hostess says ‘Sawadee Ka’ on Sheikh Zayed Road, there seems to be a disconnect, and this is where international brands need to understand the real benefit of embracing the local culture, not driving the local culture of the brand’s origin. I also think it depends on the type of hotel. Surely the business guest is not too concerned about how indigenous the hotel is, but is more interested in high speed wi-fi, hot coffee and a speedy and efficient check out? Whereas the leisure guest is more likely to want to consume as much of the local culture and customs as possible. Furthermore, we need to consider the location and uniqueness of the resort, after all, how indigenous can a skyscraper be? It’s really all about knowing your market demographics and customer base. Historically, Anantara has been regarded as a resort brand, where guests are predominately on vacation so I can understand why we want to engage in the local cultures in which we operate.

Popular indigenous strategies will be driven mainly through local cuisine, gaining delight through the palate, with cookery classes currently very popular, whilst many resorts tend to exhibit local art or handicrafts. The guest now wants the whole nine yards when it comes to indigenous experiences, such as tours offered by local guides with them telling and sharing their own stories about how they grew up in the area. For example, our mountain guru will invite you to his house and explain how, as a child he had to walk down the mountain with his donkey to fetch fruit and vegetables for his family. I’ve seen him in action and our guests are always mesmerised, as if they were living his story themselves. We’re increasingly seeing hotels and resorts use storytelling throughout the whole guest journey, immersing them in the culture and history of the resort and destination. From the arrival experience, to the architecture and interior design and cuisine, an indigenous experience is at every touch point, allowing guests to connect with their surroundings. The narrative is simple, if you are going to be indigenous then go all out, from arrival to departure, and involve as many touch points as possible such as food, design and most of all people. Only engage in this strategy if you feel it will create a demand for your hotel and subsequently have commercial value. Yes, the must-see attractions, climate, and luxury amenities will influence a choice of stay, nonetheless it is the indigenous offerings and experiences enabling real life stories that will ensure your hotel stands apart from its competitors. October 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME


Cover Story

Hotel News Middle East speaks to a number of industry experts about why the role of influencers is something that the sector can no longer afford to ignore


HOTEL NEWS ME October 2017

Cover Story


here is no doubt that influencer marketing is something that any hotel worth its salt has to pay attention to. Hotels all over the world have already ramped up their budgets to accommodate the rise of the influencers – according to marketing solutions provider Linqia. Hotel News Middle East spoke to a number of experts from across the region about how the landscape is changing for industry marketing and the importance of targeting the right influencers. Anne Bleeker, managing partner In2 Consulting, says: “We have definitely seen an increase in hotels looking to work with influencers and bloggers over the past year or so. “However, they don’t always know what value or ROI they can expect from these engagements, or aren’t sure how to go about approaching influencers to achieve specific objectives for their business.”

The trend, Bleeker says, is showing no signs at all of abating and she expects to see hotels and hospitality businesses including influencer marketing in their 2018 budgets. “We’re also expecting to see more strategic campaigns and longer-term collaborations going forward,” she says. Caroline Jonsson, PR & communications manager Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Media City says: “Today’s customer is critical and trend sensitive and there is a necessity to create interesting personal content in order to persuade and engage with our customers.” There is a natural synergy between hotels and influencers says Samir Arora, general manager of The Retreat Palm Dubai MGallery Sofitel. “Hotels nowadays choose influencers and bloggers whose target audience is aligned with the property’s audience in order to reach a wider audience and create a sense of aspiration and lifestyle,” he says.

Katharina Van BeugenMayr, Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Waterfront & Business Bay

October 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME


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“The reach of a single influencer itself can be in the millions.” Katharina Van Beugen-Mayr, cluster director of PR & communication, Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Waterfront & Business Bay, Dubai says that in today’s market it is all about the online channels. “The tricky part to navigate is the agreement between hotel and influencer as sometimes it can become ambiguous,” she says. “Most important is a clear conversation up front to resolve any possible complications.” The changing role of a hotel is key to the rise of influencers and bloggers according to Svetozar Kujic, community manager Media One. “Hotels are becoming more social spots and lifestyle hubs where bloggers can truly hang out, work and play,” says Kujic. “We are creating internally more visually stimulating experiences and really becoming second homes to influencers who are willing to express their creative side.” Dukes Dubai general manager Tristan de la Porte du Theil has no doubt about the main reason for the rise of influencers. “It is down to the increasing prevalence of social media, particularly in this area of the world, where 88% of the population in the Middle East are using social media sites on a daily basis,” he says. “The UAE mobile penetration rate is over 220% and the country is currently number one worldwide for smart phone penetration at 78%. The reach that influencers and bloggers have make them very difficult to ignore.” Influencers give their audience the opportunity to experience a hotel’s offerings like never before, says Terje Abrams, public relations manager Fairmont Dubai. “The consumer wants to see, hear and learn about the experience from the people among us – how was their experience with a certain product, property or brand?” says Abrams. “They can look at the arrival experience from a Snapchat video, followed by picture-perfect Instagram photos, to a blog post, which documents in detail the number of live-cooking stations and how long one has to wait at the all-inclusive beverage station, for example.” 26

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Bleeker also urged anyone who is under the impression that influencer marketing is simply a cheaper way of circumventing traditional advertising avenues, to think twice. “Historically it’s been affordable and relatively easy to oversee in this market, but that’s changing quickly, with some influencer rate cards now on a par with advertising rate cards for top tier media,” she says. “Influencers you may have worked with last year could now be charging more or differently for the same content, so it’s challenging to stay on top of the changing dynamic when seeking collaborations for different brands and projects.” Bleeker adds that knowing how to choose the right bloggers or influencers for your brand or product can be challenging as so many people have come

on-board in such a short time span – as a result it can be overwhelming and difficult to cut through the clutter. “While many still think the follower count is the most important criteria, the numbers alone are not enough,” adds Van Beugen-Mayr, who points out the key is to find an influencer who fits your brand. “A smaller but more engaged audience can be more useful than a larger inactive one. The influencer needs to be able to identify themselves with the brand. Always think ‘quality over quantity’.” De la Porte du Theil warns that while social media can ensure a large audience, it may not be the specific one that you require. “It could be an audience that has no real intention of ever visiting a particular hotel that’s been reviewed – there’s

Cover Story

Caroline Jonsson

no real control of the coverage, or geographical management,” he says. “The challenge is also to find the real influencers and quality bloggers amid an increasing trend of people looking for a free meal or hotel stay.” The biggest disadvantage, says Kujic, is that it is still not clear how influencers should be supported and what benefits they should expect. “Another disadvantage is that promoted content can’t look like it is an advertising message and often content looks ‘sponsored’ and the authenticity is lost,” he says. “Content needs to be genuinely interesting and alluring.” Another challenge, Bleeker says, is ensuring transparency. “How and to what extent we let our audiences know what content is sponsored and what isn’t, is an important

consideration and one brands and businesses should address when seeking collaborations with bloggers and influencers,” she says. It’s not simply a case of targeting the influencers with the biggest number of followers, Bleeker explains, it is about finding the right profile for each hotel. “If you’re promoting a local product or service and the majority of the influencer’s following is based overseas, it will be very difficult to achieve the right ROI,” Bleeker adds. Jonsson also warns about the possible pitfalls of picking the wrong influencers. “If an influencer is posting only sponsored content, the trust disappears and the post appears less authentic,” she says. “If you did not discuss and agree on what posts and content the influencers will create for you then you may end up

Samir Arora, GM, The Retreat Palm Dubai, MGallery by Sofitel

Anne Bleeker, In2Consulting

October 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME


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Terje Abrams, PR Manager, Fairmont Dubai

Tristan Dukes

disappointed with the quality and engagement you receive.” Fairmont Dubai’s Abrams urges hoteliers to be wary of influencers and bloggers who do not have scrupulous intentions. “It is no secret that there are lots of influencers out there, looking for free room nights or free meals, promising in return high-engaging images or professional content – promises, which often might not get delivered,” she says. “And if the food blogger is reviewing three restaurants per evening, praising them all in a similar manner, simply because they were invited, the authenticity factor gets lost. It’s important to ensure that the transparency factor is there. Often less is more.” 28

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How to measure the true impact of an influencer on your product is going to be the key to the future of the trend, says Arora. “The influencer pool is ever-evolving with the development of a number of advanced tools to measure its success,” he says. “Companies are changing the influencer marketplace with automated content marketing campaigns with digital influencers.” Kujic says: “These influencers need to be our everyday guests, staying with us, enjoying our brunches or ladies nights. They need to love what we are.” The relationship between hoteliers and influencers is only going to get

Cover Story

stronger, says de la Porte du Theil. “The relationship is going to become more prevalent, as Generation Y gets older, then there are going to be more and more bloggers and influencers, and this is particularly true in the Middle East,” he says. While influencers and bloggers are unquestionably a prominent fixture on the future landscape of the hotel industry, they are yet to usurp more traditional methods of promotion, says Abrams. “I still tend to see myself as the oldschool person, firstly trusting what I can touch – newspapers and magazines; and secondly the online world,” she says. “Everyone who has a TripAdvisor account can be a travel blogger and everyone with an Instagram account becomes an influencer. I believe it’s important that brands recognise the relevant influencers and work with those who really can make a difference and bring along a measurable ROI.”

2017-10-BNC_ADV-M100i-S30-169x125.indd 1

Svetozar Kijic, Media One Hotel community manager

04/10/17 12:03

October 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME


Regional News


HOTEL NEWS ME October 2017

GM Interview

All the single ladies Samir Arora, general manager, The Retreat Palm Dubai M Gallery by Sofitel, talks to Hotel News Middle East ahead of the opening of what he hopes will become the headquarters of wellness in the Middle East


t’s hard not to hum a certain Beyoncé song in your head when Samir Arora, general manager, The Retreat Palm Dubai M Gallery by Sofitel, tells you that his property is largely geared towards the “single lady” traveller market.

Arora says The Retreat Palm Dubai will have a strong emphasis on providing wellness and goes so far as to say the region has seen nothing like it on this scale before. “Wellness is more for the ladies than the gents; we are thinking of coming up July 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME


Gm Interview

Wellness on the menu “We have 255 keys and two restaurants, we are all geared to cater for wellness cuisine,” says Arora. “The food is very organic. There is 90% organic ingredients and we plan to have substitutes for sugar like dates and honey to remove artificial sugar.” He added that the menu will include organic cola and in the rooms there will be organic linen.


HOTEL NEWS ME October 2017

with lady-only areas. We are going to hugely focus on single lady travellers, with separate check-in and a separate escort for them,” he says. One of the centres at the property is specifically designated for female patrons – Rayya Wellness. “It is a nutritional clinic specialising in women-only treatments like hormonal issues or infertility, weight management and mood swings – we plan to treat these issues non-invasively. Usually if you go to the hospital they will give you medicines but we plan to treat these issues through nutrition and lifestyle changes,” says Arora.

“We have a Cryo Chamber which offers liquid nitrogen treatment. It freezes your body and arrests your aging; it repairs your tissues. These are key components of a wellness centre.” The project is so tailored to female guests that there is a food menu that is also specific to providing wellness to women. “The concept is called ‘Inspired by Her’; we have gone around the world and fetched dishes created by influential ladies such as Whoopi Goldberg and women like that,” he says. Arora, who joined the industry as a waiter 25 years ago, says he wants The

Gm Interview

Retreat Palm Dubai M Gallery by Sofitel to become renowned as the region’s leading centre for wellness. “Our objective is to educate the guests. We call our colleagues ‘Dream Makers’ in the hotel; all training is done to be able to educate the guest on wellness whether it is F&B, housekeeping or front office,” he says. “I am 110% convinced and thrilled this is the right concept for the city; we have travelled all over the world and consulted with B2C partners and B2B partners – they were all looking for something like this to come to the region.” It’s no surprise given his enthusiasm for wellness that Arora places a premium on the importance of corporate social responsibility. “We don’t waste things. Buffets tend to cook food in big quantities – we are going to use small pots and

cook it in small quantities,” he says. “We are not using plastic and will be focusing on recycling; all of our hot water is created by solar power. We have a solar panel on the rooftop." “There will be a focus on slow cooking; it is very healthy and we plan to focus on programmes that focus on nutrition.” A recent trip to Saudi Arabia, Arora says, proved the appetite for a large-scale wellness centre in Dubai was significant. “The people we spoke to said this means they won’t have to undertake 14hour fights across the world to find a facility like this as it will now be on their doorsteps,” he says. The dedication to wellness has infused a unique bond among the staff, Arora posits. “We have 29 nationalities in the team

The people we spoke to said this means they won’t have to undertake 14-hour fights across the world to find a facility like this as it will now be on their doorsteps,” - Samir Arora


Reach thousands of Hospitality professionals in the region in print in Hotel News ME or online at




Group Sales Director Fred Dubery

Marketing Executive Mark Monzon +971 56 415 5243

Editor Patrick Ryan +971 4 4200 506

Senior Sales Manager James Stead

October 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME


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The Retreat Palm Dubai MGallery by Sofitel is taking wellness seriously

Samir Arora

and we wanted to hire people who appreciate wellness,” he says. There are many living examples in the team; we have a team member who was 140kg and is now 70kg. Many colleagues are also into yoga rituals and weight management.” Arora himself has been bitten by the wellness bug, proving that he is very much leading by example. “It’s a huge education for me, I never had any understanding of wellness myself a year ago but it is a fascinating topic,” he says. “I changed my eating habits, I changed my lifestyle. I changed how I see life.” The potential for the property is huge, says Arora, especially given the location. “There is definitely an imbalance between supply and demand in Dubai,” he says. ‘While it is a major destination by anyone’s standards, we still had to 34

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come up with a way to position ourselves to stand out. “We predict that 25% or 30% of business will come from wellness, the rest will come from the market.We are trying to get that piece of the cake everyone else is fighting for too,” he says. “We see 2018 with more footfall for corporate, leisure and tourism sectors across Dubai. Our objective is to get the message

of wellness out there in Dubai and attract visitors from Russia, Europe and the GCC. “There are many issues in the city of Dubai and the top three are stress, weight management and a very sedentary lifestyle.” One thing is clear – Arora and his team are not just paying lip service to wellness; he passionately believes in what his hotel is offering.

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Chain focus

HMH HOTEL GROUP Founded in 2003 in Dubai, HMH Hotel Group (Hospitality Management Holding) provides hotel owners and developers with a broad spectrum of world-class management solutions with five distinct, yet complementary hotel brands, catering to varied market segments from luxury to budget. These include Bahi Hotels & Resorts, Coral Hotels & Resorts, Corp Hotels, EWA Hotel Apartments and ECOS Hotels.

Coral Beach Resort, Sharjah

Coral Al Madina Hotel

Bahi Ajman Palace Hotel, Ajman

Current properties in the region: Name of Hotel


City / Country


Bahi Ajman Palace Hotel

Bahi Hotels & Resorts

Ajman - UAE


Coral Beach Resort Sharjah

Coral Hotels & Resorts

Sharjah - UAE


Coral Dubai Deira Hotel

Coral Hotels & Resorts

Dubai - UAE


Coral Al Khobar Hotel

Coral Hotels & Resorts

Al Khobar - Saudi Arabia


Coral Jubail Hotel

Coral Hotels & Resorts

Jubail - Saudi Arabia


Coral Al Ahsa Hotel

Coral Hotels & Resorts

Saudi Arabia


Coral Muscat Hotel & Apartments

Coral Hotels & Resorts

Muscat - Oman


Coral Beirut Al Hamra Hotel

Coral Hotels & Resorts

Beirut - Lebanon


Corp Amman Hotel

Corp Hotels

Amman - Jordan


Total No. of Rooms in Operation


Upcoming properties in the region:


Name of Hotel


City / Country


Coral Al Madina Hotel

Coral Hotels & Resorts

Madina - KSA

400 plus

Corp Muscat Al Muzn Hotel

Corp Hotels

Muscat - Oman


HOTEL NEWS ME October 2017

Chain focus

In focus

Aboudi Asali

chief executive officer Hospitality Management Holding verticals that has given us a steady mix of corporate, long-stay, leisure, ecommerce and FIT segment, which in turn has kept our figures firm. We have been witnessing extremely positive trends, with certain markets performing better than expected.

What were the hotel group’s achievements and milestones in 2017? We have significantly reduced the operating costs at our core hotels by approximately 15%, with improved top line revenue. What is noteworthy is this was achieved without any redundancies. We have also excelled in reducing our operational costs within the head office, again with the same principle of not making anyone redundant but rather capitalising on the loyalty of our colleagues. In addition, we are busy sharpening our brand image, developing an advanced website and mobile app, rolling out strategic media and digital marketing initiatives that will strengthen our market positioning, while widening our reach both locally and globally.

What have been the key challenges facing your hotel group and the hospitality sector? At HMH we are facing exactly the same

challenges as faced by the industry owing to several factors including reduced economic growth due to lower oil prices, less liquidity in the region, a drop in visitors from Europe and certain other parts of the world because of currency fluctuations and the uncertain macro-economic conditions. We have strategically deployed and optimised our resources to address the challenges and to add value to our various projects and services. With hands-on management, powerful online engines, unique revenue generation and optimisation tools, reinforced central business development and sales team, strategic alliances with the travel trade and intermediaries, a compelling value proposition for guests and extensive marketing campaigns and public relations activities, we unlock and leverage global opportunities creating value for our owners and associates. A diversified and an optimal business mix has enabled us to drive improved revenue and profit outcomes. Our strategy has been to drive business across all

What are the hotel group’s goals for the end of 2017 into 2018 in the Middle East? Building on our success, we are stepping into the next phase of growth and are ready to take up new challenges and opportunities. We are dedicated to offering our guests greater choice in terms of hotels, destinations and experiences while improving efficiency and profitability. In order to achieve this, we have: set in process a series of strategic structural changes, initiated a series of IT and technology upgrades, and rolled out a solid development strategy with a goal to reach 20 hotels in operation by 2020. At the moment, we see a massive opportunity for mid-market and budget hotels. How is technology affecting the industry? At HMH we are preparing for the next generation of hotel operations by making the necessary structural and technology enhancements to boost efficiency in every aspect of our business. Given the fact that we operate in a highly digitalised world, we are working on an advanced new website and mobile app that are being developed to offer greater convenience and value to guests, while increasing profitability. In addition, technology will help us in assisting our hotels more effectively in more regional locations allowing us to cluster various departments and services with the aim of reducing costs at the properties and hence improving GOP ratios. October 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME


Regional News


HOTEL NEWS ME October 2017

GM Interview

Success is his Forte

Hotel News Middle East catches up with Harry Fernandes, general manager Assila Hotel Rocco Forte, about his plans to help transform the hospitality industry in Saudi Arabia


he Assila Hotel Rocco Forte, in Jeddah, is the luxury hotel brand’s first property to open in the Middle East and its positioning in Saudi Arabia was no coincidence, says general manager Harry Fernandes. “Assila is our first hotel in the region and people ask, why didn’t you open in Dubai?” he says. “We feel the Saudi market is so important for us and it is an important place to make our brand known, a lot of the other hotels in the group are known by their individual names rather than being known as Rocco Forte.” He describes the process of opening a Rocco Forte hotel in Jeddah as very much a step-change.

“We are very much owner-led, unlike other brands where you don’t know who owns the company,” he says, referring to owner Rocco Forte. The Saudi Vision 2030 is very much something that Fernandes is eager to tap into. “It is still a new market, a lot of the business into Jeddah and Saudi Arabia is very much GCC-led,” he says. “Jeddah itself is very much a religious travel destination, a lot of the economy is moving away from the oil-based revenue to a more tourism-based revenue stream.” Echoing one of the key pillars of the Saudi Vision – to increase the number of Saudi people in the workforce – 40% of the 460 staff members at The Assila Ho-

tel Rocco Forte hail from the kingdom. Fernandes is keen to point out that his commitment to the Saudi Vision 2030 doesn’t stop at staffing, however. “We also have a lot of women working here, unlike a lot of hotels in the region, we have front of house and we have chefs who are all ladies,” he says. “We are contributing in own way. Saudi Vision 2030 is not just about Saudisation, it is about becoming selfsufficient and getting away from oil. The local staff want to work in hospitality and the greatest thing is that we can contribute to the Saudi Vision 2030 by helping the country to be self-sufficient with their own needs.” Fernandes says that many popular perceptions about Saudi Arabia are inOctober 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME


GM Interview

The menu • Aubergine is an Arabic restaurant on the 20th floor with poolside views. • Pampas WITH PIC PAMPAS is an Argentine grill room with speciality restaurant. • 24 is a 24-hour dining concept. • Il Café WITH PIC IL CAFE is an Italian café with Italian “bringing in the best of Italy to Jeddah”. correct and that the people of Jeddah are warm and friendly – and he intends for his hotel to reflect this. “I try to be more front of house with the team, I write personalised cards to all the guests which I think is the essence of hospitality,” he says. “I am very much involved with the training of the team to direct them and give them the right tools. I try to ensure that I am involved just as much with the social element and in the course of my day, I spend 40- 50% of my time on the floor greeting visitors. That’s where I drive the team forward.” The social aspect is vital to the success of the hotel, says Fernandes, which is why he organises a number of sporting events to help the multi-cultural staff bond together. Another area that Fernandes feels is vital for the future success of the property is adapting to the ever-increasing hunger for social media. “Saudi is the largest user of YouTube all over the world,” says Fernandes, referring to a recent report by Reuters. “As a company, we are not that used to doing so much social media as we are very much a Euro-centric brand. “What has changed is that a lot of people are attached to their mobile phones, email is not the norm when it comes to communication. We have had to adapt very quickly to the use of Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram and many others that are emerging every day." 40

HOTEL NEWS ME October 2017

Rayya Retreats - The Retreat Palm Dubai MGallery by Sofitel

He says there is no choice but to respond to what the market needs. “We have an in-house team and a PR company that is locally based to help us constantly put out content to keep ahead of what everyone else is doing,” he says. Fernandes freely admits that corporate social responsibility is not something that people immediately associate with Saudi Arabia – however he is determined to play his role in changing those perceptions. “Saudi is not always used to recycling as it doesn’t always appear highly on the agenda,” he says. “What we have done from the begin-

ning is work with a food-based company for waste management. We also have sorting of waste on each floor and we are working with companies locally who can help with that.” He is adamant that the standards that Rocco Forte sets for itself will place the hotel in good stead for future success. “We are bringing a different brand of hospitality to the region; sometimes we take hospitality for granted,” he says. “What we have from our founder Rocco Forte, is that he is highly critical of everything; second best is not an option. I believe if something is good I say it’s good… but I want great.”

Dubai International Hospitality Week

DUBAI INTERNATIONAL HOSPITALITY WEEK Hotel News rounds up the highlights from the inaugural Dubai International Hospitality Week, which took place at Dubai World Trade Centre from 18 – 20 September


ast month marked the launch of Dubai International Hospitality Week (DIHW), a mega-event for the hospitality and foodservices sectors, combining six trade shows. Dubai World Trade Centre’s owned and organised events, GulfHost 2017, The Speciality Food Festival, Seafex Middle East and Yummex ME – organised jointly with Köelnmesse GmbH – took place alongside DMG Events’ The Hotel Show and The Leisure Show at Dubai World Trade Centre from 18 – 20 September 2017. The DWTC-organised events were inaugurated by Dr. Rashid bin Ahmed bin Fahad, Minister of State and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology. Speaking at the event launch, Trixie LohMirmand, senior vice president, exhibitions and events management, DWTC said: “Dubai International Hospitality Week is a reflection of the rapid growth of the hospitality and food sector across the region. “The platform provides opportunities for sourcing, buying and networking across six co-located trade shows at a critical time for the industry. We are honoured today to have Dr. Rashid Ahmed bin Fahad officially inaugurate the shows, as we bring the best in hospitality to the region.” Welcoming tens of thousands of visitors across 80,000m2 of exhibition space, DIHW brought together over 2,000 international exhibitors, including industry leading brands from around the world. Over 50,000 visitors were expected to attend the event, including C-suite de42

HOTEL NEWS ME October 2017

cision makers and buyers from a broad spectrum of organisations within the hospitality industry. The Hotel Show Dubai and The Leisure Show Dubai were opened by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Dubai Airports,

Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group. More than 700 local and international suppliers from 44 different countries were expected to take part in the shows, which showcased the latest innovations set to impact the region’s hospitality and leisure industries.

Dubai International Hospitality Week

Speaking on the final day of The Hotel Show Dubai and The Leisure Show Dubai, Ray Tinston, portfolio director of the DMG Events Middle East, Asia and Africa hospitality portfolio, said: “The spotlight is firmly on the hospitality industry in this region, particularly the UAE. We have welcomed more regional

and international guests to our events this week than ever before in our 18year history serving this market, some of which have massive expansion plans for the region, covering hundreds of hotels. “Some of the business deals orchestrated at our shows this week have been unprecedented, and this just goes to illustrate once

more how continually forward-thinking and how constantly growing the hospitality market is in this part of the world. “With experts revealing that hotel openings are going to galvanise the market from 2018, we are set to provide the industry with an even larger showcase of the best products and insights.” October 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME


Dubai International Hospitality Week


Boecker unveils new pest control solutions for hotels


A solution for freshlyassembled sandwiches arrives in Middle East Croust’wich, a new product from France that creates freshly assembled sandwiches, was on show at GulfHost. The patented concept, which is not a franchise, is expanding globally with 1,400 points of sale worldwide. Sophie Fry, export sales manager at Orequip, the company behind the concept, said: “It’s a new way to manage the sandwich activity and make it easier to produce and make attractive sandwiches. You display your fillings on one side and then you display next to it slightly warm bread and you let the customer see, choose and then you assemble the sandwich in front of them in two seconds. “The name Croust’wich is the beginning of ‘croustillon’, which means ‘cripsy’ in French, and the end of ‘sandwich’. You can offer crispy bread because it’s not in the fridge with all the ingredients so you avoid the bread getting soggy.”

Abdulhadi Chalak, country manager (UAE), Boecker Public Health reveals details of the company’s new bird control system and training certification for F&B outlets What are your products and services for the hospitality industry?

Today in the UAE alone we are managing more than 35 five-star hotels. We provide them with our premium pest management services, along with our food safety services and bio-security services (professional disinfecting), typically on demand. Today, in addition to our portfolio of electric fly killers, we are introducing a new solution for bird control, which is harmless to birds and extremely cost-effective compared to existing solutions and won’t impact the aesthetics of your hotel. We are also trying to promote our biosecurity portfolio to our hospitality clients. With medical tourism, bio-security (disinfecting) becomes a must.

What training services do you offer?

We provide a lot of consultancy and training in certain areas. The first niche we have identified is for small- and medium-sized food establishments. We have developed our certification and re-certification programme titled QPA – Quality Platinum Award. We act as the consultant and the certifying body through a series of audits, trainings, and close follow up with the management just to make sure that standards are held high and reputations are conserved for our clients. We are also introducing something called OHS light, a lighter version of health and safety certifications that was tailor-made to service the F&B industry. 44

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3D food printing system on show at GulfHost Gerd Funk, CEO, Print2Taste unveils his company’s 3D food-printing system, and why he is exhibiting at the first ever GulfHost What products are you highlighting at the event?

We are offering 3D food printing system, the Bocusini Pro 3.0 and the associated foods as well as the software environment needed to make successful food production on the customer side.

What’s innovative about the system?

It’s the first time the customer can individualise and personalise food on a very sophisticated level so this is the level where handcrafted items don’t work anymore.

Is that a trend across the market?

Definitely. Every company is looking for their logo and corporate ID – this is starting with text messages and is going up to visualised products in food. For example, a bridal couple might be created in almond paste on their wedding cake.

Dubai International Hospitality Week


HP promotes interior design solutions Ernest Azzam, regional business manager, large format printing, HP Middle East Mediterranean & Africa explains why latex printing is perfect for interior design What products are you promoting today?

What we are showing is what we can do with HP latex printing, which was designed originally for outdoor advertising and signage, but can be used perfectly safety indoors. We have also started to focus on interior decoration and what can be done with these products. Because you can print on a wide range of media like wallpaper, stickers, textiles, synthetic leather and so on, interior designers are finding it easy to design whatever they want and it looks professional.

How does HP latex printing work?

Long-lasting prints often use a solvent or eco-solvent ink. HP came up with a technology that is safer and more environmentally friendly, which is water-based ink plus latex particles. The latex melts on the materials to lock the ink down without any hazardous chemicals. Because of this, we can use it indoors without having any problems or smell and that’s why it has become popular in interior design applications.


Inoksan invests “heavily” as export market booms

Turkish company Inoksan is investing heavily in new machinery and products as it witnesses a boom in the local and export market. Speaking on the sidelines of GulfHost 2017, the firm’s export manager Umut K. Akkaya discussed the wide range of products being promoted to GCC buyers at the show. “We are showcasing our cooking line, refrigeration, open buffets, combi-steamers, donner kebab machines and dishwashers. We’ve been producing this equipment since 1980 in Turkey and we are exporting to five continents and more than 80 countries. “The Middle East is one of our major markets and 30% of our exports are going to this. Apart from this we are exporting to the US, Europe, Africa and south-east Asia as well.” The latest launch from Inoksan is a combi-steamer, with automatic cooking and self-cleaning features making it the company’s “next generation oven”.


Insinkerator highlights food waste solutions at GulfHost Insinkerator’s food waste technology was on show last month at GulfHost

With food waste disposers, the Waste Xpress system and the Power Mix in its portfolio, Insinkerator offers a wide range of food waste solutions for the foodservice industry, explains Mohamed Karam, senior business development manager, Insinkerator Middle East & Africa. He comments: “The food waste disposer grinds the food and sends it to be treated – you can also turn the food waste into fertiliser or biogas. The second option is the Waste Xpress system, which grinds the food and takes the water out for waste reduction of up to 85%. “We can increase the hygiene and have more efficient operation. The third product is the Power Mix, which cleans the dishes using 50% recycled water, reducing the consumption of water used for dishwashing by up to 50%.” October 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME


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New Xeros washing machines use 80% less water At The Hotel Show, Xeros highlighted the energy saving properties of its commercial washing machine system, which uses 80% less water than a conventional machine. Marketing manager Danielle Fothergill explained that revolutionary polymer laundry beads are at the core of Xeros’ washing machine technology. She commented: “We replace a lot of the water with polymer beads and as well as saving water, this gives a higher quality wash. The polymer beads act like a handwash – it’s as if a million little hands are washing your clothes. The beads are a lot gentler on the fabric than water, so for example, if you’ve got towels they will stay fluffier for longer, and whiter and cleaner.” Polymer bead technology is popular in countries with water shortages, according to Fothergill. The company has just signed a distributor in Dubai and has plans to expand across the Middle East.


Silentnight unveils latest mattress trends Silentnight managing director Chris Gourdie highlights spring technology and the mattress products exclusive to the Middle East

Inaugural GulfHost Innovation Awards unveils winners The inaugural GulfHost Innovation Awards on Monday 18 September, recognised the F&B companies leading innovation in the industry at Armani Hotel Dubai. Organised by Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), the GulfHost Innovation Awards were judged by an independent panel of industry experts, and endorsed by GulfHost’s Strategic Partner, the International Centre for Culinary Arts (ICCA). The evening event included a competitive cook-off with award-winning chefs including Silvena Rowe, Jason Atherton, Colin Clague (Ruya), and Robert Nilsson (Viceroy Palm Jumeirah). Silvena Rowe was crowned champion with her winning signature dish. GulfHost Innovation Award Winners 2017 included: • Best Back of House Equipment Innovation (Hot): Rational Kitchen and Catering Equipment Trading FZCO – for Connected Cooking, a solution to connect and control kitchen appliances remotely •

Best Back of House Equipment Innovation (Other): Gebr. Echtermann GmbH & Co. KG – for Stainless Steel Sensor Tap, allowing kitchen users to wash their hands without a need to touch the tap

Best Bar or Coffee Equipment Innovation: Santos – for the Nutrisantos #65, an easy-to-use cold press juicer

Best Front of House Equipment Innovation: La Marquise International – for Gelato Popapp, an innovative gelato dispenser

Best Green or Eco-Friendly Equipment Innovation: Heko – for Energy Manager, a smart kitchen solution to manage energy efficiencies

What products are you showcasing at The Hotel Show Dubai?

We are showcasing three new models featuring exclusive spring units, which we bring in with Leggett and Platt, America’s largest spring manufacturer. They are Pocket Sprung Soft Touch, Ergo Coil and Verticoil – these are exclusive to the Middle East region.

What are the latest trends in mattresses?

Spring technology is the latest technology. We’ve been running it now for just over a year and it features now in about 75% of our range.

What’s your company news?

We have teamed up with Jay-Be on their folding beds, which we bring from the UK and market through the studios and online out of contract, so this is a new product for us as well. We are also looking at developing more fire-retardant products. 46

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Dubai International Hospitality Week

Table & Beyond

Table & Beyond displays Japanese tableware at The Hotel Show Hotel News catches up with Ghizlane Benzakour, managing partner, Table & Beyond to find out more about the tableware and linen ranges the company is championing What products are you showcasing here today?

Today we are showcasing all the brands we represent, so we’re starting from Noritake, which is Japanese porcelain and bone china and then we do Pinti Inox cutlery and we also have a nice amenity range from Italy – Marie Danielle. We have a partnership with Rivolta Carmignani, a company for bed linen and table linen and we’ve also started working with Bormioli Rocco, a glassware made in Italy.

What is your latest launch?

The latest one is Noritake. They have some very nice ranges, including Colorwaves, Colorscapes and ColorTrio, which is the new trend – it’s very rustic and colourful with a matte finish.

Assa Abloy

Mobile key is the future for hotels says Assa Abloy

Assa Abloy, a global supplier of intelligent lock and security solutions, has been working on making mobile key technology more user-friendly over the past three years, and believes this is the future of guestroom keys. Manit Narang, vice president Middle East & Africa, Assa Abloy, said: “We are promoting our mobile access and are putting a lot of focus on this right now because we see that soon the hotel keycard will be replaced with mobile key. “It’s like you see in the airline industry with the boarding pass and even hotel bookings are done with mobile phones, so we see the mobile key as the future of the hotel industry and we will have all our products compatible with mobile key. “This is the first show that for the demos we are not using a plastic card but a cell phone.”


Alto-Shaam introduces multi-cook Vector oven Gabriel Estrella Talentti, director Middle East & Africa, Alto-Shaam introduces the company’s new Vector oven

What products are you promoting?

The Vector oven is a multi-cook oven and the first one of its kind. It has up to four different chambers and each of them can cook at a different time, temperature and fan speed. You can put different products in so you can be cooking fish in one chamber and baking a cake in another and there will be no smell transferred between the items.

What are your plans for the Middle East?

Qatar, UAE and Saudi Arabia are our main markets in the GCC and we think they are great markets to be in, not just for the events but the GCC also a great destination for people to come and take a look and see how it is. October 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME


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Honeywell presents new security solutions Honeywell is presenting a range of new solutions for surveillance cameras at The Hotel Show Dubai to provide more extensive security in hotels without intimidating guests. Fahmi Jabri, strategy and marketing director Middle East, Russia, Turkey and Africa, said: “Security is a necessity for employees and guests and we need to strike a balance between inundating customers with cameras and still protecting them. “We’re coming up with innovative solutions such as the 360-degrees camera or the multi-sensory camera, which cover a wide area – so you’re still getting the security you require but it’s less intimidating.” In addition, the company is looking to roll out analytics technology in the next six to 18 months to increase the efficiency of security surveillance, particularly in large properties.


DFMC unveils gel memory foam mattress

Dubai Furniture Manufacturing Company (DFMC) introduced a gel-infused memory foam mattress from American brand Serta International at The Hotel Show Dubai. Sundar Rajan, CEO Dubai Furniture Manufacturing Company, commented: “Serta have researched this and developed a product, which is gel-infused memory foam and this dissipates the heat generated on the surface, thereby maintaining a constant temperature, unlike normal memory foam.” David Bauman, director, global hospitality, Serta International said: “We see a lot of growth in Asia but the Middle East is a key area for many of the brands we deal with. I manage the global contracts, but I need to come to the region to be in touch with the people handling the supply and procurement in each region to make sure the products and services are right for them. We see nothing but a bright future for the hotel business in this region.”


HOTEL NEWS ME October 2017

Johnson Health Tech

Johnson Health Tech launches group exercise experience

Nasser Obeid, managing director Johnson Health Tech Middle East speaks about the Matrix and the MX4 Training System

What are you launching at The Leisure Show?

We are launching our new MX4 programme, which combines four products – the Krankcycle, the Rower, the Performance Treadmill, which is self-powered, and the Connexus – with the programming. On top of that we have our certified personal trainer so when we sell our product, he goes in to train the staff and even the customers too.

What are your company’s plans for the next year in the region?

We’ve set up a direct operation here in the UAE – we have branches in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The plan is now to get into Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Jordan to have representing offices in those territories to spread our Matrix premise across the Middle East, while still keeping our focus on the UAE, which is the biggest market in our portfolio right now.

Dubai International Hospitality Week

Dream master

Dream Master opens gallery in Abu Dhabi Al Maha wins big at Middle East Hospitality Awards Dream Master, a supplier of Italian mattress brand Boxmistral, is launching a retail gallery in Abu Dhabi next month. Products on show at The Hotel Show included the Pillow Top Mistral and the Bernini, which are manufactured in Italy and assembled in Dubai. Mohammad Abuukaz, managing director, Dream Master, commented: “We are focusing on hotel projects in Dubai and we have done many projects and signed contracts, and then we are going to start with retail business in our new gallery in Abu Dhabi, which will open at the start of October. “We are a family of team workers and we have good products and do the best to serve our clients well. We also have very good prices.”

Dubai desert retreat, Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & was crowned the region’s prime holiday destination after scooping three prizes at this year’s Middle East Hospitality Awards (MEHA) on 18 September at Palazzo Versace Dubai. The collection of private villas in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, was named Resort of the Year and GM Arne Silvis was named Hospitality Leader of the Year. Silvis commented: “Our team lives on-site and being a smaller property, we are able to provide a personalized experience to guests. I am incredibly grateful to the team who are so loyal, they have stood by me the past 15 years, and they make Al Maha what it is. The three awards we have won this evening are a tribute to their hard work.” The annual awards celebrated the achievements, innovations and excellence of the Middle East’s ever-expanding hospitality industry over the past 12 months across 18 categories.

Hartmann Tresore

Hartmann Tresore introduces master key tracking device Reiner Kaltenback, general manager, Hartmann Tresore Middle East spoke at The Hotel Show on the German company’s in-room safes, mini-bars and a tracking and auditing device for guestroom master keys What products and services do you offer for the hospitality industry?

We have in-room safes, mini-bars, as well as the complete set-up for administration and we’re one of the only companies on the market that is offering both product lines under one brand. We’ve been based in Dubai since 2012, we have a showroom in the Gold & Diamond Park and we have a sales team. We also have an after-sales service and we provide the installation, the delivery and the maintenance.

What products are you exhibiting at The Hotel Show?

We have a drawer-type mini-bar and a top-open safe for more convenience for the client. We are also looking at bringing in a key management system for proper auditing and tracking of the master keys that are used, not by the guests, but by back-of-house to provide higher security. October 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME


Dubai International Hospitality Week

La Marquise

La Marquise launches gelato pizza at GulfHost Hotel News Middle East speaks to Olga Cassidy, La Marquise marketing manager about the company’s latest innovations

What products are you showcasing at GulfHost?

I would highlight the top three, starting with an innovative concept called gelato pizza. The machine from Carpigiani cristalises the gelato and makes the liquid more like a sauce so you spread it on a frozen sponge cake and then you do the decoration and it looks like a gelato pizza.

Tell us about your other innovations?

One of them is the Gelato Popapp, a gelato kiosk. When you open it, it’s 5.5m2 and when you close it, it’s only 3.5m2 which makes it very compact and affordable to operate. The Popapp gives you an opportunity to save money on the location rent and it gives you a business from day one. The other innovation is the Folletto Latte Art Printer, which prints 3D images in full colour on the surface of a latte. 50

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OS&E shines with European foodservice equipment OS&E showcased its Dag Style range from Italy at GulfHost this year, with sustainable menus and table-top accessories.

The company also had Alfi flasks, porcelain from Eschenbach, Zieher cutlery and buffetware, a polycabinet from Glassforever and hollowware from Richard Ginori on display at its stand. Preetish Elias, area manager, OS&E International said: “We are excited about Dag Style from Italy. Then we also have Eschenbach, our German porcelain maker, which has pots and inductor pots that can be used on ovens and grills and in microwaves. Explaining the company’s plans for the next 12 months, he commented: “We’ll keep in touch with all our existing hotels and there are many hotels that have opened up, and so we need to give our services to those clients also.”


Rational rolls out full suite of kitchen innovations Hotel News Middle East spoke to Simon ParkDavis and Alexander Wimmer on the sidelines of GulfHost

What products are you showcasing at GulfHost?

Simon Park-Davis: Today we have the new CombiMaster Plus, the new SelfCooking Centre, the VarioCooking Center and our ConnectedCooking 2.0. Today is our first chance to showcase this in the Middle East – we’ve had seven innovations between last February and September this year. This year we launched the CombiMaster Plus and the XS version and we are promoting the VarioCooking Center, launched in January last year.

What are your plans for the region?

Alexander Wimmer: We want to understand local needs and offer solutions therefore we established a team of 13 experts – we basically set up the infrastructure with the local office to give customers the opportunity to test-drive our products.

Dubai International Hospitality Week

You bed

The industry wakes up to You Bed The CEO of You Bed, Mattias Sorensen, was at The Hotel Show Dubai and told us why he believes his company's product will revolutionise the industry What are you promoting at The Hotel Show Dubai?

We are promoting a Swedish innovation – the first bed with adjustable firmness and customisation for each guest. What’s important for a good night’s sleep is a comfortable bed. The problem is that all the different users have various comfort preferences. With our technology, it is actually possible for hotels to deliver what they most of all like to have.

What are your plans for the future?

Brands like Movenpick have already installed this innovation in all their hotels, guaranteeing a really comfortable bed based on their individual needs. It is time for us to go outside of Europe – we have big plans, we plan to expand really quickly to new markets. We already have 150 hotels signed up in just a year.

Al Diyafa

Al Diyafa eyes serviced apartments and midscale segment

Hotel and catering supplier, Al Diyafa, recently moved into the hotel apartment sector and is eying the mid-market segment for its buffetware and tableware products. Adam Rahmani, director, Al Diyafa Hotel & Catering Supplies, commented: “We plan to continue serving new projects in the region. Our main focus is on UAE, however we’re also looking to serve new projects across the GCC region. “We’ve moved into the hotel apartment sector in recent years, so we can see the growth in that sector as well as the mid-range sector. We see there is perhaps an oversupply in the five-star sector so we anticipate more demand for our products in other sectors depending on market conditions. At The Hotel Show, Al Diyafa showcased a wide range of quality kitchen utensils, buffetware and tableware, including Porland porcelain from Turkey, Pinti Inox cutlery from Italy and cast-iron cookware from Lava.


Diversey to target foodservice segment Somer Gundogdu, president, Middle East & Turkey, Diversey outlines plans to move into the foodservice and healthcare sectors

Are there any new products the market should be aware of?

We’re promoting a new range called Clax Advanced for laundry, which works at a lower temperature, therefore saving energy for the customer. The second one is a dosing platform for handwash, which is connected to the internet so we can provide insights to customers about their wash results, about the cleanliness of their employees and how competitive they are. The third product is on the machine side – we are promoting two vacuum cleaners, which give the same suction power but at a much lower voltage, providing ROI to clients.

What are your plans for the future?

We are expanding our footprint into foodservice and healthcare, so we will continue to occupy a leading position in hospitality and will have a strong market share in the other sectors I mentioned. October 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME


Dubai International Hospitality Week



Küppersbusch unveils Dometic shows off three tiers of products 800°c steak grill Marc-Oliver Schneider, CEO at The Hotel Show Küppersbusch speaks to Catering News at GulfHost 2017 about the company’s latest launch – an 800°c steak grill that cooks meat perfectly

Dometic was showcasing a range of products to suit all budgets at The Hotel Show Dubai. The company highlighted its mini-bars – including its newly-launched noiseless mini-bar – alongside safe boxes and wine cellars, which are available at a range of prices. Mohammed Muwafi, regional sales manager lodging MENA commented: “We have different ranges we are exhibiting at the same stand, which we’re showing to the end-user. We have a variety of products for whatever product budget you have.” Kester Petersson, managing director, Dometic Middle East added: “We basically have three different product tiers and these are well matched to different needs on the market. We’re not only seeing four- and five-star hotels, we’re also seeing a reasonably large volume of three-star hotels being ready for the Expo 2020 and we’re looking to meet their needs as best we can.”

What are you highlighting at the show?

We have mainly cooking products for professional kitchens and serve restaurants, hotels and also larger kitchens for catering and airlines – Etihad is one of the biggest clients we have and they produce up to 100,000 meals a day.

What’s your latest launch?

We have one special product we are promoting, which is an 800°c steak grill. We’ve had very good feedback from potential clients who have said it’s a great product. We see a trend for high-end, high-quality meat and usually the guest would like to see how it’s prepared. BeefCraft, which is the name of the product, is just right to prepare meat but also fish and vegetables.

High quality French produce displayed at GulfHost A number of high quality French products were showcased at GulfHost, including water, oysters and butter from La Charente Maritime and Jolival French spring water from Oval Group. Sylvie Marcilly, deputy chairperson of the general council, La Charente Maritime told Catering News: “It’s very important for the administration to make the promotion of local products, which is why we’re here. Dubai is located in the middle of a lot of interesting countries for us. We’ve seen people coming from Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, so it’s very important for us and I think it’s a very good show here.” Commenting on why Oval Group is exhibiting at GulfHost, Eric Lefevre, director general, said: “We have a very pure product and people in this market are starting to be aware of the complexity of food and water. Our products are very natural and organic. Here we are near the desert, so it’s very old and people are drinking a lot of water… they are looking for a new, pure product.” 52

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Specifico launches food safety mystery shopper service

Specifico, a provider of complete food and personal safety solutions in the Middle East, has introduced a mystery shopping service. Rita Abou Obeid, managing partner said: “We are promoting some of our new services, one of them being mystery shopping. We do mystery shopping for food establishments, restaurants, hotels, etcetera.” Another part of the company’s training and consultancy division is kitchen inspections and food safety management systems for restaurants, while the other side of the business is focused on food safety products, explains Elie Raad, managing partner. He comments: “In the Middle East we represent around 12 brands and we have them all at GulfHost. We have a big portfolio of whatever you require in food and safety.” Specifico is now launching in Bahrain and has also secured a partner in Kuwait to distribute its products. 54

HOTEL NEWS ME October 2017


Stylis to mark grand opening of Dubai showroom in 2018

Stylis Hotel Solutions, which manufactures and supplies furniture for the hospitality industry, is gearing up to celebrate the grand opening of its showroom in Dubai’s Jumeirah Lakes Towers at the beginning of 2018. The showroom, which has been operating since 2016, features six mock-up rooms. Paulina Kabat, marketing manager, Stylis said: “After a decision made in 2016 to expand our operation, Stylis acquired the prestigious office and showroom location on the 35th floor of the JBC 3 Y Cluster, JLT in Dubai. During the course of 2017, the focus has been on finalising the showroom with intentions for the grand opening to be scheduled towards the beginning of 2018.” In Saudi Arabia, Stylis has just completed the installation of Aiana Hotel in Makkah, the Radisson Blu in Jeddah and Emaar’s The Views Hotel in King Abdullah Economic City. In Dubai, the company is working on Safeer Projects, part of Barcelo Hotel Group.


TSSC promotes recycling service for glass bottles

TSSC was promoting its recycling service for glass bottles at GulfHost 2017. The company introduced PEL waste reduction technology to the UAE after signing a deal with Irish firm Orwell in 2015. Rashid Bahar, business development manager, TSSC, said: “We’re doing a recycling programme for glass bottles. Any bottles used in the industry are crushed in our PEL glass crushers made in Ireland. We transport the glass cullets to a facility in the UAE and we process them and turn them into new bottles by supplying them to bottle manufacturers.” The company has been providing foodservice equipment to the UAE horeca sector for 25 years and selected its most innovative products to showcase at GulfHost. One of TSSC's USPs is its after-sales service, and it is also working on streamlining the business and using more automation.

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Dubai International Hospitality Week

Foyer decor

Foyer Decor's Hotel Show of strength

Foyer Decor general manager Tamara Mehyar speaks about the company’s space-saving furniture What is your company showcasing this year?

We are launching a line of space-saving furniture products because we see there are a lot of spaces that are becoming smaller – not just in Dubai but all over the world. In one unit, you can have your beds, your cupboards and your display cabinets.

What are your plans for the next 12-18 months?

We have recently been awarded two new hotels in Dubai, so our vision is to continue in the fit-out business, which continues to grow in Dubai. We see it is going to be successful in the coming years so we are thinking in that direction and expanding as we always want to be producing new products.

School for butlers


Isukoshi expands across the Middle East Aamir Jan, business development manager at massage chair specialist, Isukoshi Healthcare, reveals his company's plans for the region

What are you promoting at The Hotel Show Dubai? Last year we launched our hospitality service, which means we are tying closer links with the hotels. Since the beginning of this year, we have launched two specific products for the sector. What are your new products? We have just launched Royal Prince and Royal Emirates, which are specifically for five-star hotels as well as three-star and fourstar properties. What are your company's plans for the future? In addition to the new products, we will be looking at new markets across the region. Oman in particular is an area we will be focused on.


HOTEL NEWS ME October 2017

School for Butlers looks to the Middle East

Vincent Vermeulen, principal of the Belgian-based School for Butlers explains why the company is looking to set up shop in Dubai

What are your products for the hospitality industry?

We offer training for hotels and private butlers in our school in Belgium. What we can offer is training for different profiles in a hotel, for example, housekeeping training or front of office. Obviously, we also provide training for a butler service; whether you call them butlers or not there is always a VIP level of service, which really needs that dedicated customer experience.

What are your plans for the future?

We are very interested in the Middle East. We are in talks to see if we can set up an office here in Dubai and that would be the hub to go to south-east Asia.

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Thought Leader Interview

Ahead of the game

Hotel News Middle East speaks to Michel Bayoud, founder and CEO of Boecker about what sets his company apart from its competitors in the region Where was the idea for Boecker born?

Boecker was founded in Lebanon, in 1994, at a time when the country was just dusting off the debris of a long civil war. During Beirut’s reconstruction phase, it was crucial to address the pest problems that had intensified after a long period of destruction and neglect. Boecker took up the huge challenge of eradicating the long-abandoned city centre from insects, rodents and other types of pests. Since then, it has quickly expanded its portfolio of residential and corporate clients and developed business lines in key public health areas. Along with a thriving pest management business, Boecker now offers services in food safety, biosecurity and occupational health and safety. Today, it is the region’s largest public health company, operating in Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait.

How does Boecker stay at the top of its game?

Boecker is driven by passion, integrity, excellence and forward-thinking business decisions. These core values are ingrained in the company’s DNA and are delivered into every aspect of our work – from developing new business lines to ensuring customer satisfaction. Over the years, Boecker has placed itself at the forefront of the industry through cultivating strong strategic partnerships with the world’s most renowned research centres and leading producers of high quality products and systems. As a pioneer, Boecker is constantly adopting new technologies to improve its services and products and set itself apart by always remaining ahead of the curve. 58

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How do you promote productivity and change within your teams?

We have set a strategic vision with performance indicators that demonstrate how effective our teams are. As the CEO, getting to know each team member’s skills, interests and drives is crucial to building one solid and efficient community. This knowledge is invaluable when matching each employee’s expertise and competencies to specific challenges and helps increase productivity and job satisfaction. Boecker team members are exposed to ongoing training opportunities that empower their skills, enable them to participate in the decision-making process and help them develop a sense of belonging and ownership at the company. A strong commitment to excellence fuels our work, and the love of the brand drives our teams to always give their best. Our passion for what we do is omnipresent and contagious. Staff meetings are routinely held to feed and inspire our vision for the future.

What is your strategy for continued improvement?

We have cultivated a culture of perpetual learning and development with an eye for the future. We are continuously on the lookout for rising needs and pain areas where we can offer solutions and help the community while exercising the highest quality control measures. Following up with our clients is also at the heart of our culture and the Boecker team takes this very seriously. Client feedback informs our development process and strategy for the future.

We have also put in place a strategic vision for 2020. Our 2020 goals focus on expanding our breadth and brand recognition with all customers as we continue to improve lifestyles and lead in the public health field.

What is your process for innovation?

When it comes to innovation, the most important aspect is understanding the market. Over time, we have developed the ability to draw valuable insights from the market and anticipate needs to cater to and continuously improve people’s lifestyles, especially pertaining to their daily public health struggles. Innovation is a deliberate and patient process, but keeping ourselves informed about all the new trends and standards propels us to continue to create blue oceans in a crowded market.

How do you see the future of the company?

Boecker promises its clients to deliver, every day, the quality of service they have come to know and expect. We stand out from the competition because we use the highest quality products and we will continue to do this on a day-to-day basis. In the long term, and as ecological changes continue to shape our lives, we are working towards achieving the main pillars of our Boecker strategy, which are: expanding our physical availability to new areas in the region, continuing to develop our human resources, striving for business excellence, increasing mental availability amongst customers and providing constant, innovative solutions.

Thought Leader Interview

October 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME



In Uniform

Uniform suppliers reveal the latest products available in the Middle East



One of the latest uniforms Bragard has launched for the 2017 collection is the Model Lexington for Man and Lexi for Woman. Developed using the latest fabric technology at Bragard’s research and development facility in Epinal, France, the longsleeved chef jacket has a teddy collar with honeycomb panels; a pocket concealed press-stud placket; a pen pocket on the left sleeve; underarm air vents; sleeve gussets with Coolmax fabric on the back; and a back length of 75cm. Made of 50% polyester and 50% Tencel, the material is antibacterial, easy-care and easy-iron, regulates perspiration and neutralises odors. Bragard regularly carries out research and development work to improve comfort for chefs working in busy environments and is committed to using sustainable raw materials, such as Tencel fabric, which is ecofriendly, durable, soft and breathable. T: +971 4 395 16 11 E: W:

The Uniforms by Ronai catalogue continues to grow with a host of clothing lines suitable for hospitality and corporate industries. The company’s suiting range is particularly versatile, offering fashionable and flattering separates in three timeless colours, allowing users to create a look that’s perfect for the front office, finance or management team. Created in a luxury wool blend fabric with the added advantage of lycra, Ronai’s suits provide increased comfort to the wearer as well as supporting creasefree all-day wear. With a classic and contemporary fit, each suit contains distinctive features including an inner pocket and shirt grippers on the trousers and alternate skirt options for females. Ronai’s catalogue ‘builder’ sections allow businesses to create their own collections – for management teams, waiters and hosts to chefs and stewards. The catalogue ensures a smooth ordering process together with stock supported garments. In line with Gulf Hospitality Week in September, the catalogue will feature enhanced ‘builder’ sections and a collection of new fabrics to increase the range. T: +971 4 3414409 E: W: 60

HOTEL NEWS ME October 2017


Making a splash Jad Assad, marketing manager, Horeca Trade talks to Hotel News Middle East about the company’s drinking water products

What is your latest product launch? Acqua Panna and San Pellegrino have been a major part of our portfolio for over 10 years now.

What makes it unique? Bottled at the source, Acqua Panna Natural Mineral Water was first discovered in the hills of Tuscany located 3,700 feet high. Acqua Panna flows pure, limpid and fresh from a natural spring unveiling all its uniqueness and its fine taste. San Pellegrino makes every dining occasion special thanks to its freshness and aroma. It is a water that serves as a great match for food and other beverages and it adds pleasure and gratification to the table and the dining experience. Associated with the most valued hotel and restaurant guides and successful foodoriented events worldwide, this fine-bub-

øe ôNÉa ¿ƒàjR ⁄É©dG AÉëfCG ™«ªL Luxury Gourmet Olives From Around the World.

bled sparkling water has been on the best tables of all major world capitals for the last 100 years. Why should businesses purchase your product? The UAE F&B market is highly competitive so having our fine dining waters present will reflect the high standards of food and service that restaurants provide. The quality of the product is always consistent and is recognised by international sommeliers. Email: Phone: +971 4 805 2000

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October 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME



Welbilt uncovers the Garland Xpress Grill at GulfHost Leonard Parot, regional sales manager, Middle East at Welbilt spoke to Hotel News Middle East on the sidelines of GulfHost, where the company was showcasing the Garland Xpress Grill for the very first time

What were you showcasing at GulfHost 2017? Welbilt is a global leader in foodservice equipment solutions so we are leading in the hot side with many cooking solutions, and on the cold side and the beverage side. Overall, we have 12 brands that are leading across the categories and we are promoting innovation. We are excited to exhibit at GulfHost because it is an original and international platform for us and it’s a very important meeting to connect with all the foodservice operators across segments. The fact that it’s part of DIHW is extremely important to us because the foodservice industry is so diverse, so it enables us to interact with customers and be attentive to the trends. What products are you launching? We have a lot of innovation this year at GulfHost. The first is the Garland Xpress Grill and this is the first time we have demonstrated it in the region. It’s a clam shell product, so the idea is cooking both sides of patties, scallops, chicken, or whatever you have. It’s especially targeted at QSR restaurants, and it’s extremely efficient and easy-to-use. We have an easytouch display, which is a touch screen that we share across our platforms, and which enables the operators to engage without the language barrier. We also have a preview of the Garland Induction. We have a new line coming up and GulfHost is the first time we have showed it to the public and we will bring in the full range of the Garland Induction a bit later in the year – people have been coming to our booth and taking a sneak peek of this product. Last but not least, is Nitro coffee. Coffee in the Arabic world is extremely important as part of the culture, and coffee chains and foodservice operators across segments 62

HOTEL NEWS ME October 2017

CONTACT: T: +971 4 326 3313 E: W: /

are looking at ways to increase revenue with new innovations and products. With Nitro, we bring a new twist to the cold brew, so we bring a coffee that is smoother and richer in taste and that directly impacts the bottom line. What trends are you seeing in the market? We are seeing the trend for a reduction of footprint in the kitchen and reducing the cost as well, whether through reducing the amount of labour required or reducing the energy needed for kitchen equipment. What we have fits right in this trend, for

example with the combination oven, we have the most versatile piece of equipment you can have in the kitchen today. So with a very small footprint, you are able to expand your menu and prepare a whole variety of dishes – you get a smaller kitchen that’s more versatile. What are you plans for the next 12 – 18 months? We just hired a demonstration chef dedicated to the Middle East – Chef Nick – so he is doing a lot of engagement with customers across the GCC and the Levant, especially with Convotherm, our combiovens, which is best-in-class, as well as Merrychef, our speed ovens. These are platforms that are very new to this market and have a big growth potential over the next couple of months. We will continue to expand and grow with our central base in Dubai and we will continue to bring new innovations.


Atelier House Hospitality Atelier House Hospitality, A New York based advisory, developing and operating firm which has just opened an office in the UAE, offers an overview of its expertise in creating and managing some of the world’s most exciting restaurant brands What's the company's outlook and vision? Atelier House Hospitality envisions delivering world class expertise on the art and nuance of operating high-calibre food and beverage venues. We create, launch and manage some of the world’s most exciting places to dine on any level of occasion. Atelier House empowers and emboldens small and large businesses alike with customised practices, hard-earned know-how, from decades of field experience, and innovative, ongoing support fostering creative freedom and responsible, profitable growth.


HOTEL NEWS ME October 2017

(L-R) Managing partner Michel Mroue and Managing director Panchali Mahendra What are your core products / services for the hospitality sector? We offer concept development, operational management, franchising, procurement, branding, designing and turn-key projects.

When was the company established? The Dubai company has been recently launched in 2017 but the sister concern in New York City has been around for a decade. There are more than 16 brands under our companyowned and operated worldwide and we also have exclusive rights to multiple world-class brands. What's your flagship brand? Our restaurant in New York – Marea. What makes your company stand out in the market? International and local expertise in F&B with an eye for details and service.

ямБno International L.L.C.

Interior Finishing Contractors













DOHA Dubai

Abu Dhabi






On the spot

Peru calling for Millennium man

This month Greg D’Souza, director of sales and marketing, Millennium Plaza Dubai is On the Spot… What's the best thing about your job? The people I work and interact with on a daily basis. Every day is different with new beginnings to look forward to.

What made you choose this role?

not mundane, there’s always a new challenge to look forward to every day.

What would you say to anyone who is starting out in your sector? Personify the passion that you have within and enjoy the journey!

The opportunity of working with and learning from a plethora of talent. Also, the challenge involved in meeting and exceeding the expectation of guests, stakeholders and peers.

What do you do when you're not working? My son is my constant in my life so it mainly revolves around him. Also the bass guitar, music, sport and martial arts.

What's the best bit of advice you've ever received in the workplace? Enjoy what you do and make sure that your passion is balanced out by your discipline and consistency – regardless of the job or title you hold. Most importantly, be aware of your ego.

What’s your favourite book? The Alchemist pops straight up. There are a hundred others but it would depend on the moment.

If you invited guests round for dinner what would you make? I’d most probably order in, depending on the number of people and where they’re from. If not, pasta is an easy option.

What song instantly gets you on the dancefloor? Nothing in particular – it would depend on the mood!

Where do you see yourself in five years? I see myself happy – regardless of where I am.

Tell us something that none of your colleagues know about you? I’m a shy individual.

If you could stay in any hotel in the world,where would you go? With South America being high on my priority list, I would say Peru. The hotel wouldn’t matter.

Can you tell us why you wanted to join this industry? I never really planned on being in this industry – I landed a job with Marriott and was with them for 12 years at the Global Sales Office. I fell in love and am still loving this industry as it’s

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.

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HOTEL NEWS ME October 2017

Hotel News ME - October 2017  
Hotel News ME - October 2017