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NOVEMBER 2017 | WWW.HOTELNEWSME.COM

Sustaining the challenge

Hotel News Middle East speaks to a number of industry leaders about the emergence of sustainable travel


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Contents

November 2017

Contents

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12 | NEWS RAK TOURISM IS ON THE RISE; SWISS-BELHOTEL EXPANDS IN SAUDI ARABIA; ALMOST 165,000 ROOMS UNDER CONTRACT IN UAE 22 | CHECKING IN NEW FOUR SEASONS OPENS IN MAKKAH; MOVENPICK OPENS THIRD HOTEL IN MUSCAT; BULGARI TO OPEN IN DUBAI 24 | OPINION REDEFINING EXCELLENCE IN GUEST SERVICE 26 | COVER STORY HOTEL NEWS EXPLORES HOW HOTELS IN THE REGION ARE EMBRACING SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES 32 | MIXING BUSINESS WITH PLEASURE HOW HILTON’S LATEST DUBAI OFFERING IS A HIT WITH BOTH BUSINESS AND LEISURE GUESTS

12 News

22 Checking in

32 New opening

62 On the spot

November 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME

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Contents

November 2017

Contents

CEO Wissam Younane Wissam@bncpublishing.net Managing Director Walid Zok Walid@bncpublishing.net Director Rabih Najm Rabih@bncpublishing.net Group Sales Director Fred Dubery Fred@bncpublishing.net

Senior Sales Manager James Stead James@bncpublishing.net

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Editor Patrick Ryan Patrick@bncpublishing.net Art Director Aaron Sutton Aaron@bncpublishing.net Marketing Executive Mark Anthony Monzon Mark@bncpublishing.net

c o n t ribu t o rs Marouane Al Mandri

Photography Hayder Al Zuhairi

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44 38 | THE LUXURY APPROACH TO OVERSUPPLY SLIM ZAIANE, GM OF KEMPINSKI HOTEL MALL OF THE EMIRATES ON STAYING AHEAD IN A CHALLENGING MARKET 44 | A WHOLE NEW WORLD HOW OMAN IS ATTRACTING NEW MARKETS 52 | EXECUTIVE HOUSEKEEPERS CONFERENCE PREVIEW DON’T MISS OUR ACTION-PACKED LOOK AHEAD TO THE EAGERLY AWAITED EVENT

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For all commercial enquiries related to Hotel News ME contact dom@bncpublishing.net 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 www.raidy.com

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HOTEL NEWS ME November 2017


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Sustaining the effort S

patrick ryan Editor

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

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ustainability is something that we can’t ignore anymore. You only have to look at the changes in the weather conditions across the world, in recent years, to see that something has to give. As usual, the hospitality industry in the Middle East is very much at the forefront of change. In this very copy we speak to a number of the region’s leading figures on how the hospitality sector isn’t just paying lip service to its responsibilities when it comes to sustainable travel. From the conversations, in this very issue, it’s clear there is little choice but to embrace the change. Sustainable travel is such a hot topic in the industry, right now, that it’s the key theme of the 2018 edition of Arabian Travel Market. It’s one thing to say the right things about sustainability but it’s quite another to be taking affirmative action over it. That’s why a number of leading hotels in the region have decided to put action plans in place to make sustainable travel a key part of their business plans. Elsewhere in this issue we sit down with Kempinski Mall of the Emirates general manager Slim Zaiane. He reveals how the iconic hotel is prospering thanks to a strategy of holding his nerve and believing in the property. It’s no secret these are challenging times for all businesses, not just in the hospitality

HOTEL NEWS ME November 2017

sector, and it is tempting to respond to those challenges by slashing prices. That’s not what Slim Zaiane and his team at Kempinski have done, quite the opposite in fact. But, to paraphrase his comments in this issue, you don’t see a two for one sign outside Rolls Royce showrooms regardless of the state of the wider economy. We take a look at the market in Oman and find an evolving and vibrant scene that is looking to the future with confidence. DoubleTree by Hilton, Business Bay, is also featured in this issue as we pay a visit to the newly opened hotel. The property is definitely one to watch not least because it marks the international debut of Pizza Express Live -which will see the brand’s trademark pizza combined with live performances from local and international acts. We also have a preview of the Executive Housekeepers Conference which is taking place at the end of the month. This will be the third edition of the event that will see speakers from right across the sector discussing major challenges, trends and opportunities in housekeeping. It’s an issue to remember and I hope you enjoy it. Regards, Patrick Ryan


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Regional News

NEWS

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

RAK tourism is on the rise Tourism is thriving in Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) following a 9% increase in visitors compared to this time last year. The figures were released by Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA), which develops and regulates the emirate’s tourism infrastructure and initiates its domestic and overseas promotions. Visitor arrivals over the period reached 631,617, guest nights grew 12.4%, occupancy rose 1.3% to 69.2%, while length of stay came in at 3.55 days – a growth of 9%. “While growth in all KPIs was satisfying, we are particularly pleased with the extended length of stay which we attribute to development of our events calendar and products, such as the highly successful Via Ferrata around Jebel Jais in the Hajar Mountains. As the first regional product of its type, the Jebel Jais Via Ferrata has done much to established the emirate as a credible leisure activity and adventure destination,” explained Haitham Mattar, CEO, RAKTDA. “We now have a strong foundation in which to further develop our product and event offerings on Jebel Jais. This month’s spectacular Vivaldianno concert and new attractions opening in coming months, such as the world’s longest zip line and a multi12

HOTEL NEWS ME November 2017

view Viewing Deck, all leverage our natural mountain terrain to complement our traditional desert and beach propositions.” Germany, Russia, the UK, India and Kazakhstan came in as the emirate’s top five international source markets, with the most prominent growth from Russia, with arrivals growing 66.34%. Other major international gains

came from the Czech Republic, which delivered 67.58% growth, and Poland, with arrivals soaring by 281.97%. “These results are directly attributable to the increased overseas tourism partnerships, promotional and marketing activities,” said Mattar. “We have also witnessed double-digit growth from the Nordics and Central European regions, and will be looking

to further engage travel trade partners within these markets to build on nascent potential.” Aside from the domestic UAE market, which still contributes to more than a third of overall visitors, Saudi Arabia was the emirate’s largest regional market with arrivals from the Kingdom increasing 3.3% in the first nine months compared to the same period last year.


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Regional News

Swiss-Belhotel expands in Saudi Arabia

Swiss-Belhotel International (SBI) has signed SwissBelhotel and Suites Jazan in Saudi Arabia. The announcement was made by Laurent A Voivenel, senior vice president, operations and development for the Middle East, Africa and India, Swiss-Belhotel International. Featuring 210 keys, the upscale four-star property is owned by Cardamom International Property Management LLC. Voivenel said: “We are delighted to expand our footprint in Saudi Arabia strengthening further our relationship with Cardamom International Property Management LLC with whom we had recently signed Swiss-Belhotel Al Aziziya Makkah. “The new agreement demonstrates the confidence of the owners in the strength of Swiss-Belhotel International brand. Jazan City is a significant market with a growing demand for hotels. The development of Swiss-Belhotel and Suites Jazan will enable us to cater to travellers looking for quality accommodation with world-class facilities at a great value.” His views were echoed by Nawaf bin Mansour bin Saleh Al Sharif, owner of Cardamom International Property Management, who said: “We are delighted to collaborate once again with Swiss-Belhotel International and are confident together we will make Swiss-Belhotel and Suites Jazan a preferred choice for residents and travellers to Jazan. “It is a market that is currently under supplied in terms of hotels and is, therefore, projected to show strong growth in the near future and we are keen to take advantage of this massive opportunity.” Gavin M. Faull, chairman and president of Swiss-Belhotel International, said: “As part of our global expansion strategy, we are dedicated to enter new markets and particularly excited about our debut in Jazan with a reputable partner like Cardamom International Property Management. “Jazan is witnessing major economic development in Saudi Arabia and we believe our brand will be ideally placed to cater to the needs of travellers to the city with an exceptional property like Swiss-Belhotel and Suites Jazan.”

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HOTEL NEWS ME November 2017

Great British street party for Dubai

Dukes Dubai is bringing a traditional Great British Street Party to its Palm Jumeirah based hotel on 18 November. Union Jack flags will be flying throughout the resort and two giant tables, measuring 1,000ft in total, will stretch from one end to the other, with favourites from Britain on offer. Dukes Dubai F&B Director, Carl Chapman, said: “What can be more British than a street party in the glorious sunshine? In typical British style, our ‘street’

will be adorned with bunting and flags. “Entertainers will parade up and down and we’re promising a real carnival-style atmosphere. Party-goers can indulge in a delicious array of food and drink from the ‘fit for a feast’ tables lining the ‘street’.” He added: “The UK may be nearly 5,000 miles away from Dubai, but for one afternoon, guests can feel as if they are there, and although we don’t want to tempt fate, in this case the sunshine is almost 99.9% guaranteed.”


Regional News

Oman prepares for World Conference on Culture and Tourism

Oman is gearing up to host the second UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture on 11 and 12 December. This year’s event will focus on the theme of cultural tourism. It is expected there will be more than 60 ministers of tourism and culture and CEOs, from some of the world’s leading organisations, in attendance. Salim Adi Al Mamari, Omani director general of tourism promotions, and the chairman of the organising committee of the conference, said: “We are coordinating with the World Tourism Organization to complete all necessary preparations. “Participants from official delegations, tourism representatives and media agencies that are specialists in global tourism and culture abroad, can register directly through the official website of the conference which was launched last month.” By hosting the conference, the Sultanate also seeks to promote Oman’s tourism infrastructure: tourism and hotels facilities, cultural landmarks, as well as other tourism elements. Additionally, the Sultanate also aims to work towards achieving the goals of its tourism strategy which is represented by both cultural tourism, as well as the incentive tourism and conferences sectors; which are the two main pillars of the strategy.

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November 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME

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Regional News

Almost 165,000 rooms under contract in Middle East

There are currently 164,497 rooms in 574 hotel projects under contract in the Middle East – according to STR’s September pipeline report.

Under contract data includes projects in the in Construction, final planning and planning stages but does not include projects in the unconfirmed stage.

The under contract total in the Middle East represents a 3.4% increase in rooms under contract compared with September 2016. Specifically in the in con-

struction phase, the Middle East reported 96,694 rooms in 302 projects. Based on number of rooms, that is a 15.9% increase in year-overyear comparisons.

Middle East pipeline by Chain Scale (number of rooms):

16

Chain Scale

In Construction

Under Contract

Luxury

13,072

23,612

Upper Upscale

26,363

42,606

Upscale

17,005

38,705

Upper Midscale

10,549

18,962

Midscale

4,835

11,098

Economy

Unaffiliated

24,870

29,514

Total

96,694

164,497

HOTEL NEWS ME November 2017


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Regional News

Nakheel invests further in Deira Islands, Dubai

Developer Nakheel has now invested more than AED7.5 billion in infrastructure and construction at Deira Islands, with the latest – a contract for AED165 million deal to build six marinas – signed last month. Nakheel has appointed UAE-based APCC Piling and Contracting LLC to construct the marinas, which will accommodate a total of 614 boats and yachts up to 60 metres long. Construction will begin in Q4 2017, with phased delivery over two years. Speaking at the signing ceremony, Nakheel Chairman Ali Rashid Lootah said: “We are investing billions of dirhams to deliver Deira Islands and transform Dubai’s Deira 18

HOTEL NEWS ME November 2017

district into a world class hub for tourism, retail, leisure and entertainment. “Our new coastal city, being developed in line with the Government of Dubai’s vision for 2021, paves the way for hundreds of hotels, residences and attractions, many of which we are developing ourselves under our business diversification strategy.” In August, Nakheel confirmed new contracts worth AED430 for Deira Islands, and in April announced a contract for AED4.2 billion to build Deira Mall, located at the heart of the development. Deira Islands, which will have a population of 250,000 and create 80,000 jobs, will add 40km, including 21km of beach, to Dubai’s coastline.

Dukes Dubai hosts Les Clefs d’Or

Dukes Dubai was the location for last month’s meeting of Dubai Concierge Group and full members of Les Clefs d’Or UAE, which focused on current market conditions in Dubai as well as an update provided by Dubai Tourism. 130 UAE members of Les Clefs d’Or, descended on the luxury fivestar Palm Jumeirah hotel for their regular monthly meeting along with concierges from various five-star hotels across Dubai. Dukes Dubai general manager, Tristan de la Porte du Theil, said: “More than offering classical concierge services, Les Clefs d’Or concierges are a trusted resource to both business and leisure travellers, anticipating the requests and requirements of guests and ensuring they have a memorable hotel stay.

“This was a fantastic opportunity for us all to share best practice with our fellow members of Les Clefs d’Or.” There was a welcome message from Les Clef d’Or (which literally means the golden key) President Abey Sam, who also welcomed new members to the group and reiterated the pivotal role concierges play within a hotel, as they are often the first member of staff that a guest will meet and first impressions count. Indeed, according Business Insider, that window of opportunity is only open for seven seconds. Les Clefs d’Or UAE boasts 39 members representing the seven emirates, continuously striving to excel in delivering training and providing updates about the hospitality issues surrounding the UAE to members.


Advertorial

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ince its launch in early 2016, Rixos The Palm Dubai’s UltraAll-Inclusive concept has seen remarkable success significantly increasing revenue for the resort. By the end of 2016, guests staying on the Ultra-All-Inclusive concept contributed 18% of the total occupancy with revenue of AED 14 million attributed to these guests alone. Noteworthy is the growth that has been observed this year with the occupancy rising to 30% year to date for guests booking the Ultra-All-Inclusive concept making up a total revenue of AED 24 million. Rixos The Palm Dubai is the first luxury beach resort in Dubai to offer this unique Ultra-All-Inclusive concept which provides guests unlimited access to the resort’s se-

lection of culinary delights and over 70 international brand beverages across all restaurants and bars throughout their stay at no additional cost. In addition, guests booking the UltraAll-Inclusive concept benefit from the daily entertainment program that features a variety of day time and evening interactive activities including water sports, outdoor yoga, water polo, tennis, step aerobics, water gym, beach volleyball, and live performances by the resident DJ and music band. For families travelling with little ones, the resort also offers a memorable holiday experience through its fascinating children entertainment program at Rixy Club. The fully supervised kids club which opens daily from 9am – 10pm features fun and

educational activities such as magic shows, treasure hunting, cooking classes, handicrafts, talent shows, and much more. Cenk Ünverdi, general manager of Rixos The Palm Dubai, said: “While the all-inclusive concept is popular in tourist destinations worldwide, it was relatively unknown in this part of the world, and we had anticipated the enormous success we have had. “As a team we’re really excited to be the first resort in Dubai to offer such a unique concept which caters to individuals, couples and families alike reaffirming our commitment to providing world-class luxury hospitality.” To avail of the offer visit thepalmdubai.rixos.com or contact +971 4 457 5555. November 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME

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Talent

Every day’s an adventure Hotel News Middle East catches up with Islam Zaki, HR administrator/PRO for Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Waterfront and Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Business Bay How do you view the hotel scene in the region? The region is full of hotels and yet there are still many more to come. There are lots of international chains opening up new hotels every day and I am sure we will see many more to follow. In my opinion this is a good indicator that there is still a bright future ahead and the region will continuously grow and develop. What is the biggest challenge for your role? My role itself is a very exciting adventure. Being a PRO brings a lot of challenges and a lot of responsibility. As you can imagine each nationality has different requirements and comes from another background. At times it can be a challenge to meet all these needs in terms of the visas, paperwork, procedures but, at the same time, that is what makes my job so interesting and exciting. What is your favorite aspect of your role? The entire role is what I favour most, there’s always something new, and it’s always important. You get to meet new people, build relationships and learn more about the local and foreign nationalities. In one sentence, I am happy to be doing what I enjoy. What tip would you share with new staff starting out in the hotel industry in the region? The hotel industry is a fantastic place for one to learn and develop. Any role at a hotel involves several departments, so you always know what’s happening around you, you are connected as a 20

HOTEL NEWS ME November 2017

team, and this makes life at a hotel much more interesting. Describe your first ever role in the hotel industry? During my high school years in Egypt, I was working as a receptionist in the front office department throughout my summer vacations. I never planned to work in this field, but I wanted to try it, for the experience. And it turns out I loved it.

Who is the person who has inspired you most in your career? My front office manager during my first job in Egypt, taught me so much, and always helped developed my skills and knowledge. Today we are very good friends and he always takes care of me like an older brother. Up to this day all the advice he has given me still plays in my head and I am grateful for everything he taught me.


Appointments

New GM for Ibis Emaar appoints Styles Dubai Jumeirah corporate director of engineering

Ibis Styles Dubai Jumeira has announced the promotion of Muhammad Mujtaba Haider from hotel manager to general manager. In his role, Haider will continue to lead the daily operations of the 191-key property and head the sales and marketing, and food & beverage strategies to ensure healthy occupancy and profitability as well as guest satisfaction. “Haider has over 15 years of experience in the hospitality industry. He was the project manager of ibis Styles Jumeira during its pre-opening stage,” said a spokesperson.

Emaar Hospitality Group has appointed Ibrahima Gaye as corporate director of engineering. A spokesperson for the group confirmed that Gaye Ibrahima will lead and liaise with the property engineering teams to ensure that leading advances in engineering are integrated as part of the operations, especially to support Emaar Hospitality Group’s digital transformation. Olivier Harnisch, chief executive officer of Emaar Hospitality Group, said: “With a fast-growing portfolio of hotel projects in the UAE and other international markets, we are committed to developing world-class hotels and serviced residences that assure the highest standards in guest service.

Palace Downtown appoints David Simon

David Simon has been appointed as the new general manager of Palace Downtown – which is managed by Address Hotels & Resorts. Formerly the hotel manager, Simon’s new role is driving the hotel’s ongoing growth strategy as well as staff leadership, recruitment, and management. He will continue to direct all aspects of daily operations, revenue generation and guest retention. Simon said: “Our hotel stands apart for its highly individualistic architecture and its commitment to offer the highest levels of service to guests from all over the world.”

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Checking in

New Four Seasons opens in Makkah

Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts and Jabal Omar Development Company (JODC) have announced plans for a new Four Seasons hotel in Makkah as part of the Jabal Omar integrated real estate development. Four Seasons Hotel Makkah will be the company’s second location in Saudi Arabia, joining Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh at Kingdom Centre. “As Four Seasons continues to expand its portfolio in the Middle East, we are pleased to partner with JODC to create a fully customised Four Seasons experience in Makkah,” said J Allen Smith, president and CEO, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. “Each Four Seasons is reflective of its destination and the people who stay with us, and this project in particular is designed to accommodate the unique needs of those who visit Makkah. This magnificent new building will set the stage for tailored service in a luxurious environment, enhancing the connection to this important place for all who visit.” Yasser Faisal Al-Sharif, CEO of Jabal Omar Development Company, added: “Four Seasons will be the jewel in the Jabal Omar master development plan. With our design partners and Four Seasons, we will bring to life a vision for the ultimate hospitality experience to enhance Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages.”

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HOTEL NEWS ME November 2017

Mövenpick to open third hotel in Muscat

Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts’ Oman has revealed plans to open its third hotel in Muscat. The global hospitality company has inked an agreement with Oman’s Golden Group of Companies to manage the 370-key Mövenpick Hotel Muscat Airport, part of a new upscale mixed-use project under development near Muscat International Airport, which will also feature retail and commercial space covering 3,000sqm and 10,000sqm respectively when it opens in 2021. “Adding a third property to our Muscat portfolio cements our position as a prominent hotel operator in the Sultanate’s capital and supports our cluster strategy for the city, with each hotel offering a unique product, design and location to target different guest demographics,” said Andrew Langdon, chief development officer, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts. “Mövenpick Hotel Muscat Airport is just minutes from one of the Gulf

region’s most active airports and as Muscat International and its home carrier, Oman Air, continue to witness strong growth, bringing millions of visitors to Muscat each year, the property is well placed to meet this demand with a convenient and highquality hospitality offering.” It expands Mövenpick’s inventory pipeline to almost 1,000 keys countrywide after deals to operate Mövenpick Hotel & Apartments Al Azaiba Muscat and Mövenpick Hotel Bausher Muscat were recently signed. The property, which is located at the intersection of two major roads, Sultan Qaboos Highway and Al Mouj Street in the residential districts of Mawaleh and Seeb, will feature 245 rooms and suites and 125 serviced apartments, 2,450sqm of conference and banqueting space, one specialty restaurant, an all-day dining outlet, a lobby lounge, executive lounge and 24-hour room service.


Checking in

Bulgari to open in Dubai It has been confirmed that The Bulgari Resort will open 0n 7 December in Dubai. Bulgari chief executive officer Jean-Christophe Babin said he “believes it is set to become the destination of choice for visitors seeking the solitude of an island escape”. “The Bulgari Resort & Residences Dubai is another milestone for the Bulgari Hotels and Resorts Collection and represents a tribute to the importance of the Middle East market for the Bulgari brand. It is an honour for us to partner with Meraas on this extraordinary project, which brings the best of the Italian design and lifestyle culture to one of the most modern and future oriented city in the world,” said Babin. The resort has 101 hotel rooms and suites and 20 hotel villas. Commenting on the completion of the Bulgari Resort, His Excellency Abdulla Al Habbai, Meraas Group chairman said: “We are proud to deliver The Bulgari

Resort & Residences Dubai, a first-of-its-kind master development in scale and magnitude for Bulgari. Our partnership stems from shared values and a common objective to offer unique and exquisite experiences in Dubai and the region.

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Opinion

Redefining guest service excellence A

Teo Chee Hong, product manager for FCS Computer Systems, on how to increase excellence in hotels

cross the globe, customers agree that the availaibility of concierge services has a significant impact on a guest’s decision regarding hotel choice. In fact, research suggests that this figure is as high as 87%. So, with such a high level of influence, it comes as no surprise that with the advent of automated hospitality solutions, the sky is the limit when it comes to concierge services achieving greater efficiencies and increasing operational excellence. Guest services management systems that fully integrate with a hotel’s property management system, communications systems, and more, have numerous benefits – enhancing guest satisfaction through the aggregation of valuable data that can be used strategically to exceed guest experiences. And, quite simply put, it gets hotel staff out greeting guests, away from the front desk. With guest profile information such as name, travel dates, accommodation type and guest preferences at its core, guest services management systems, such as FCS Concierge, streamlines communication, automates traditional concierge operations, and facilitates the provision of personalised services for both in-house and non-in-house guests. Itinerary management services for both guests and non-guest visitors, including restaurant, facilities and event bookings; contact directories for both internal and authorised external contacts, with rating systems; and transportation management, which tracks registered vehicles, manages bookings and captures preferences, are growing in popularity. Baggage and parcel tracking and delivery, for storing and sending parcels; and 24

HOTEL NEWS ME November 2017

About the author Teo Chee Hong has over 12 years of hospitality industry experience specialising in hotel operations for international chains, five-star hotels and resorts. Over the course of his career, Hong has gained extensive experience in hotel technology and software, guest relations, concierge services, transportation and security. Prior to joining FCS, Hong was customer Success Specialist of PAR-Springer Miller Systems for two years. During his tenure he was involved in opening, go-live and support for hotels in North America for PSMS-Atrio, and was the main integration specialist and installer for all for Tune Hotels worldwide. lost and found management to reserve and record booking data, are also just some of the many aspects that the better systems enable. As such, the days of using outdated manual processes are numbered, with hoteliers across the globe recognising the enormous cost to business resulting from lost productivity, data input errors and miscommunication. No matter the time of day, automated hospitality technology solutions are always at the service of guests. And consistency and assurance of service quality, pre-defined sequences and standard op-

erating procedures means that streamlined processes, procedures and systems enable hoteliers to focus on enhancing guest experiences. Automation has also removed the need for manual work streams, doublehandling of data and unplanned resourcing issues, with programming planned for the year ahead. Workflows are cleverly minimised, and furthermore, intelligent systems support multiple languages, multiple properties and have a built-in report builder and reporting scheduler. Facilitating faster guest response time, automation leads to improved guest satisfaction as all guest requests are funnelled to a single source who alerts the relevant department, tracks job requests and ensures high hotel standards are maintained. However, the benefits of automation and integration don’t end there. Rich, qualitative data can increase revenue streams because it empowers hoteliers to delve deeply into understanding their operations, guest habits and trends, and subsequently customise their stay experience. Furthermore, transparency and integrity of reporting improves compliance and governance, which enables hotels to be better equipped to appropriately respond and act, in accordance with complex and ever-changing legislation. Automation generates data that tells a story because it continually collects information that enables easy identification of where guest service excellence is strong, and where it may need more attention. Guest services management systems are the way of the future. They are the best way to equip hotel staff with the tools and knowledge to address any guest demand and go beyond their expectations.


Cover Story

Su sta in in g t he ch a lle ng e

Hotel News Middle East speaks to a number of industry leaders about the emergence of sustainable travel

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Cover Story

The team at Media One Hotel, Dubai

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he importance of sustainable travel has never been more prevalent than it is now. It’s nothing new but now it is clear to see that hotels, along with the entire tourism industry, are paying attention like never before and there’s good reason for that. Sustainable tourism is such a hot-topic, at the minute, that the key Dubai-based trade show Arabian Travel Market has decided to make it the theme of their event at Dubai World Trade Centre next year. “The hotel industry is taking sustainability very seriously. In the UAE alone, a total of 70 properties are certified as environmentally conscious and compliant by three globally recognised bodies, Green Globe, Green Key and Earth Check,” says Simon Press, senior exhibition director, ATM. “There is also a growing trend of hotels implementing carbon offsetting programmes where guests are invited to make a donation at the end of their stay and this is then given to an environmental project

chosen by the hotel. Of course, that is on top of day-to-day activities, employing reduce, reuse and recycle policies.” Satish Patil, director of engineering, Fairmont Dubai, says sustainable tourism in the hotel industry means considering three key elements: the guest experience, the local communities, and the surrounding nature. “Whilst the idea of sustainable travel is becoming increasingly popular, the hotel industry embraces sustainability in its business plan by striving to enhance green guidelines and initiatives to increase the overall industry awareness,” says Patil. There are a number of challenges ahead,though, if the hotel industry is serious about embracing sustainable travel. “The GCC is one of the fastest growing regional hospitality markets in the world. It is also labour intensive and by sheer virtue of transporting and accommodating tourists, it has a major carbon footprint,” says Press. “Its impact on the environment is

The GCC is one of the fastest growing regional hospitality markets in the world. It is also labour intensive and by sheer virtue of transporting and accomodating tourists, it has a major carbon footprint” - Simon Press, senior exhibitions director, ATM November 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME

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Cover Story

One of the key challenges is the region's hot and arid climate, as the cities require great energy supplies to keep the buildings habitable” - Satish Patil, director of engineering, Fairmont Dubai multi-dimensional, ranging from CO2 emissions, water and energy demand, food waste, noise and light pollution. Sustainable travel in the Middle East requires the buy-in from all stakeholders - hoteliers, operators, local communities, governments, tourist boards and tourists.” Sustainable travel in the Middle East faces different challenges than anywhere else in the world – says Patil. “One of the key challenges is the region’s hot and arid climate, as the cities require great energy supplies to keep the buildings habitable,” Patil says. One area hoteliers need to start addressing is in regards water consumption, says Haitham Mattar, CEO, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA). “International studies show that tourists use more water than residents in the destination they visit,” he says. Operating in Dubai provides unique challenges as Caroline Rowe, director of marketing and communication at Media One Hotel explains. “Dubai specifically obviously has to import a lot of food products which gives each food dish that extra carbon footprint,” says Rowe. “Here at Media One we try and source locally and try to use sustainably farmed products or even herbs and 28

HOTEL NEWS ME November 2017

plants which are grown in our own garden in Garden on 8.” Mohamed Awadalla, CEO Time Hotels says: “From our experience the main challenge is the general lack of awareness prevalent from hotels and right through the supply chain. “However, tourists and travellers are becoming more and more aware of the carbon footprint they are leaving on their travels and, as a result, the hospitality industry has had to look at how sustainability and a credible social conscience must drive business strategy.” It’s all very well identifying what the challenges are, but it means nothing if a successful system is not implemented. However, as Press explains, there are already many tangible examples of sustainable travel in action. “One example is the proposed Hotel Indigo in Dubai Sustainable City, which will

use solar power for all its energy needs and recycle all waste water and waste generated,” says Press. “In terms of transportation, more and more countries are looking towards electric/hybrid vehicles and Tesla charging stations are becoming more prevalent outside hotels. While manufacturers have adapted the fuselage and engine design on airplanes, making them more fuel efficient.” Patil says: “Being part of the AccorHotels Planet 21 sustainability programme, Fairmont Dubai has also executed various steps to reduce the carbon footprint emission. “Implementations from water savers on shower heads and taps, from LED lighting to recycled waste are only some of the examples, implemented at Fairmont Dubai.” Mattar says : “We have been collaborating with Ras Al Khaimah Waste


Cover Story

The nature of the beast is that it is impossible for someone to travel and spend time in another country or destination without leaving a carbon footprint” - Simon Press, senior exhibitions director, ATM Caroline Rowe, Media One Hotel

Management Authority (WMA) to launch new waste management standards for hotel and tourism establishments across the emirate. “Over the past 12 months we have guided hotels and tourism establishments through the updated mandatory standards with of recycling 75 per cent of their waste by 2021.” Rowe is very clear about the work that Media One Hotel is undertaking when it comes to sustainable tourism. “Through our partnership with EWSWWF and our own research we have started to investigate whether we can be more sustainable by using recyclable glass containers instead of plastic bottles – we will be investigating this in coming months as a pilot program which is just one step towards sustainability,” says Row. “We have also been part of a project with EWS-WWF and DTCM where we

hosted and took part in the trials of a board game which allowed staff members to learn more about sustainability and power usage.” It’s not uncommon for people to be cynical when it comes to the environment but, as Press explains, there is little option but to accept that sustainable travel is a necessity. Press says: “The nature of the beast is that it is impossible for someone to travel and spend time in another country or destination without leaving a carbon footprint. “Hotels that are able to reduce energy and water consumption do not only help the community and environment, but can also benefit from cost savings in the long run. Energy costs in UAE hotels represent approximately 6% of total hotel revenues, hence even small savings could have significant positive financial benefits.”

Mohamed Awadalla, TIME Hotels

November 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME

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Cover Story

Satish Patil Fairmont Dubai

Simon Press, ATM

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HOTEL NEWS ME November 2017

Patil believes it is possible to fully integrate sustainable travel as long as the right criteria is met. “If all hotels would engage their guests to embrace sustainability by experiencing the location through its cuisine, tradition and daily life, such as nature walks, village tours, mountain biking and cookery classes, the sustainable travel can easily be implemented across the hospitality industry,” he says. Awadalla says: “This is not impossible although it requires commitment from all stakeholders. “We are very fortunate here as both DTCM and the Dubai Government are very strong proponents of sustainability, borne out in particular through plans to

become the most sustainable city in the world by 2021.” Mattar says: “It is vital that we work hand-in-hand with our travel and tourism stakeholders for the greater good of the community in which we operate. “Through successful collaboration we are able to stimulate sustainable job growth, increase the industry’s financial contribution to the economy, and support a growing number of travellers that visit Ras Al Khaimah year-on-year.” Press is full of praise for how the hotel industry in the region has embraced change. “Professionals in the hospitality industry realise that today’s travelers, particularly those from Generation Y, are more


Cover Story

Finally, hoteliers know that making their operation as sustainable as possible is the right thing to do, for the environment and future generations” - Simon Press, senior exhibitions director, ATM

environmentally focused and conscious of the carbon footprint they are leaving behind,” he says. “Finally, hoteliers know that making their operation as sustainable as possible is the right thing to do, for the environment and future generations.” There are a number of activities, according to Patil, such as traditional desert safaris, hiking and camping, scuba and snorkelling trips, and bird-watching adventures that are helping to implement sustainable travel. Hoteliers are strongly embracing this initiative and they have to, says Awadalla. “It will be a mandatory requirement for every business to operate in a sustainable fashion in the future,” he says. “We have already seen a study reveal travelers would spend, on average, an additional $20 per night to stay in an environmentally conscious hotel, while we have witnessed certain business partners will only work now with a hotel that is

globally certified in sustainability.” The question has to be asked, how high on guests’ agenda is sustainable travel – do they really care? “The Media One type of guest does. The Media One type of guest is generally quite socially plugged - aware of issues, up to date with the media and with a global outlook and lifestyle,” says Rowe. “For our guests, it matters that we say something and we do what we say we are going to do, not just for the sake of lip service.” There is no question, claims Mattar, that the tide is turning when it comes to sustainable travel. “Traveller demands are continually changing and we are seeing a growing demand for sustainable tourism products and services. “While a number of hotels present in Ras Al Khaimah already implement their own sustainable and CSR initiatives across their properties, it is interesting to see booking trends following this route.”

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Regional News

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HOTEL NEWS ME November 2017


New opening

Mixing business with

Pleasure Capturing the essence of Arabic hospitality, Hilton’s latest Dubai opening is a hit with business and leisure guests alike. With the international debut of Pizza Express Live, and the city’s second Le Petit Belge due to open in the hotel before the end of the year, there’s plenty more to come

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ubai’s Business Bay was conceptualised as a commercial capital and freehold city in the image of New York’s trendy Manhattan or Tokyo’s fast-paced Ginza. While its completion is ongoing, today it is a hive of business activity and an international magnet for investment and development. More than a decade after the first generation of buildings opened, the area is home to a growing number of prestigious offices and world-class hotels. However, while the area is synonymous with Dubai’s penchant for glass sky-

scrapers, the latest building on the block is designed to reflect the more traditional elements of the emirate’s culture. DoubleTree by Hilton Dubai - Business Bay, isn’t just the latest DoubleTree in the Hilton portfolio, but a property with community at its heart. Located at Bay Square, a canal-side, mixed-use area within Business Bay, and with close proximity to Downtown Dubai, the opening adds to DoubleTree by Hilton’s portfolio of 117,000 rooms located in gateway cities, metropolitan areas and vacation destinations across six continents. November 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME

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New opening

It also complements Hilton’s strategy to double – and then triple – its presence across the Middle East over the coming decade, as outlined by company CEO Christopher J. Nassetta in May of this year. With more than 130 operating properties across the Middle East, Africa and Turkey and more than 150 additional properties in the pipeline, the company is heavily invested in the strategy. In March 2017, Hilton announced it had passed the milestone of 100,000 rooms trading across its Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) portfolio, following the addition of 5,477 new rooms in 2016. 34

HOTEL NEWS ME November 2017

Approximately 50% of the company’s pipeline is located in EMEA and more than 11,000 rooms are expected to open in 2017, following net unit growth of more than 20,000 rooms in the past three years – a trend set to continue with close to 40,000 rooms due to open by the end of 2020. In the GCC, Hilton has one of the largest active pipelines of any operator, with more than 15,000 rooms currently under construction. Boasting 195 guest and superior rooms, 31 deluxe rooms, 12 suites and 40 combinations of family room, DubleTree by Hilton Dubai - Business Bay is positioned for both the business and lei-

sure traveller, with a cultural twist. General manager Remco Werkhoven, explains: “The ethos of this hotel is quite different. We have a lot of hotels in Dubai so, as a general manager or hotel developer, you need to think what will go down well with your target market and how you can connect with them. At this hotel, connecting with people is quite easy – we look after the little things.” Those little things include Arabic influences through the lobby lounge, Oud, complemented with an Arabic themed high-tea; live entertainment throughout the hotel lobby and F&B venues; and a focus on intimate, rather than expansive


New opening

spaces. Starting at 44 metre squared, guest rooms are bigger than average and each room boasts a large walk-in shower, a Samsung Smart 49” TV, high-tech lighting system, floor to ceiling windows and an in-room safe large enough to store a laptop. According to Werkhoven, it is these touches that have made the hotel a hit among its first guests, with positive feedback shared across social media, OTA sites and directly with staff. He adds: “We have a great location, Bay Square, right next door to Downtown Dubai, overlooking Dubai Water Canal and close to Dubai Opera, Burj Khalifa, the Trade Centre and Financial Centre.”

Contemporary culture

Designed by Design Worldwide Partnership (dwp), The hotel’s sleek, awards winning interiors, combine organic materials in muted shades, with dark woods, Arabic motifs and elegant interpretations of the rustic urban look that currently defines the world’s trendiest cities. Dwp undertook design, tender, and construction-stage services in the hotel, to meet the brief for an open, welcoming and fresh property that was also warm, comfortable, and relaxing. Shapes and spaces within the hotel reflect the curves of the bell-shaped oud – considered to be the “king of instruments” in Arab culture – and the combination results in a cool city vibe, that appeals to guests of all ages and backgrounds. Werkhoven elaborates: “We created an atmosphere that reflects the culture of Dubai. People like the concept and the DoubleTree concept itself is quite fresh.” The connection does not end with culture. Community is also high on the list of priorities for Werkhoven and his team and a number of partnerships have been forged with local businesses in a drive to give back to the local community. He continues: “Location is always key. We embrace partnerships with neighbouring businesses and establish mutually beneficial promotions. The hotel will also give the local area a number of new and leading F&B concepts over the coming months that will also give our

guests a variety of live entertainment every night with a great price point.” These will include the debut of Pizza Express Live, a new concept combining the brand’s trademark pizza with live performances from local and international entertainers, and the second Le Petit Belge in Dubai, developed by the owners of the Belgian Beer Café and featuring Belgian brews and classic Moules Frites. These concepts will be supported by My Square, all day international dining; Bay Club, pool bar and roof-top deck; and Oud, the Arabic inspired lobby lounge. Assistant F&B manager, Elias El Sous, explains: “Our entertainment is simple, but we have huge variety to create a rich experience for our guests. We don’t have an extensive lobby or shisha lounge, for example, but we have beautiful spaces where guests can relax, meet, enjoy some relaxation, and we have live cooking for international foods, so all our guests can enjoy the F&B and we can cover all guest expectations.” Pizza Express Live and Le Petit Belge are still under development and due to open over the coming weeks. Following that, 2018 will see the introduction of ladies’ nights, a weekly brunch and seasonal celebrations for UAE National Day and Christmas, bringing a new element of competition to bustling Business Bay. El Sous continues: “Dubai is being very competitive in terms of F&B, and it is expected that there will be 19,000 restaurants in UAE by 2020 , up from 16,720 at the end of 2016. So, the main thing is to have something different and then promote it. You can be creative and find something different for the market in terms of a product or package, but you have to be able to promote it.”

The hotel will also give the local area a number of new and leading F&B concepts over the coming months that will also give our guests a variety of live entertainment every night with a great price point.” - Remco Werkhoven

Team spirit

For Werkhoven, who personally handpicked the hotel team, the coming weeks and months are due to be hectic but rewarding, as he pursues a series of stringent performance targets, including a top 25 listing on TripAdvisor. Average occupancy across Dubai has taken a hit over the last 18 months, following the delivery of significant supply, particuNovember 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME

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New opening

Bay Club Bar

Dubai is being very competitive in terms of F&B, and it is expected that there will be 19,000 restaurants in UAE by 2020 , up from 16,720 at the end of 2016.” - Elias El Sous larly in the mid-market category. According to reports, 1,800 guest rooms launched in Dubai alone in Q3 2017, bringing the total hotel stock to 82,200 keys. In Business Bay, where brands such as Oberoi, Marriott and Steigenberger are well established, residential occupancy has taken a hit but hotels continue to perform well. To cement DoubleTree’s performance in its competitor set, Werkhoven is focussed on reputation and teamwork. As the golden rules of hospitality dictate, a happy team member makes a happy guest. He says: “The best managers are the ones who want to learn. Everyday, we are listen36

HOTEL NEWS ME November 2017

Oud Lounge

ing to our guests, we are approachable, and through this direct contact, we take on feedback and suggestions. For example, we extended our pool opening times to accommodate guests, at their request.” In selecting his team, Werkhoven chased a balance of experience and fresh talent – the “high potentials” as Hilton calls them – with attention also paid to creating similar balance in male to female, and Emirati to expatriate staff ratios. He is also keen for team members to pursue Hilton’s in-house training and development schemes, as he did himself, cultivating the next generation of

department heads and GMs to staff the company’s extensive pipeline. Werkhoven continues: “We have a young and dynamic team, with Hilton backgrounds, and we are trying to bring in a balance of experience and fresh talent. We look for people who have a great attitude. We have staff undertaking Hilton’s management training programme and I believe 60% of them will go on to be managers. “Here at DubleTree by Hilton Dubai Business Bay, the main target is to make sure we do a fantastic job for the owners and show them the property is in great hands with Hilton.”


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Regional News

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HOTEL NEWS ME November 2017


GM Interview

The luxury approach to oversupply General manager of Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates, Slim Zaiane, talks to Hotel News Middle East about staying ahead in a changing marketing and tackling Dubai’s oversupply with strategic ADR. Words by Melanie Mingas

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hen Kempinski Hotel Mall of The Emirates welcomed its first guests 11 years ago, Dubai had 28,999 hotel rooms, no metro, and only one telecoms provider. Today the city is a sprawling metropolis of world-class transport infrastructure, with the world’s tallest building, largest mall, busiest airport and, according to calculations by Deloitte, one of the highest average hotel occupancies in the world. In 2012, hotel owner Majid Al Futtaim Group and operator Kempinski embarked on a four-year, $100 million multi-phase renovation, across the hotel’s 393 rooms and suites; conference, public and dining areas; and the hotel’s direct entrance to Mall of The Emirates, which links to luxury stores Hermes, Chanel and Dior, among others. Wimberly Interiors, part of global design firm WATG, designed all public spaces and guest rooms, and Bassos Design completed interiors for both Olea all-day dining restaurant and Noir lounge and cocktail bar. While the hotel had maintained impec-

cable décor since 2006, the update was demanded by Dubai’s fast-paced market, with all parties keen to complete in time for the hotels’ 10th birthday celebrations last year – and before the impact of the city’s oversupply kicked in. Hotel general manager, Slim Zaiane, explains: “From the Kempinski point of view, we are the flagship property in the Middle East in terms of features and future developments and when we speak to new owners in new territories, our credibility is based on this hotel. “Looking at the market, Dubai is going through unique circumstances. In terms of the supply, it’s great to see this amount of growth, and we have to acknowledge that, but it comes at a price at the hotel level: how can we sustain what we are used to in terms of the high occupancies throughout the year?” In September 2017, data from STR Global demonstrated YoY declines in Dubai across key performance metrics, with occupancy down 4.7% to 76.6%, RevPAR down 14.8% to AED381.20, and ADR down 10.6% to AED497.67. YoY, supply increased 5.6% and demand 0.6%. November 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME

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GM Interview

Three bedroom suite at the Kempinski Mall of the Emirates

While Deloitte acknowledges many of the pipeline rooms are needed in the mid-market sector, with a 23% increase in mid-market rooms forecast to 2020, its historical data demonstrates Dubai’s ADR has been problematic for some time, with a market-wide average fall of 11.5% recorded between November 2015 and November 2016. Increasing competition between operators has driven the reduction, with declines even more pronounced in Palm Jumeirah, JBR, Dubai Marina, Media City and Sheikh Zayed Road. Visitor numbers to Dubai are performing well, which dampens some impact, however the pipeline continues to outpace growth and, with a further 99 hotels under construction across the UAE as of Q1 2017, waiting for recovery isn’t an option. Zaiane adds: “To sustain the occupancies we are used to, certain hotels took a hit in terms of ADR to compensate – rightly or wrongly this is a strategy they have adopted. Being a leader in the region in the luxury hotel industry We at Kempinski, , decided to grow our ADR against the market trend of dropping the ADR.” 40

HOTEL NEWS ME November 2017

Taking market share With the aim of increasing market share, Zaiane and his team are focussed on widening the hotel’s target market to keep occupancy – and therefore ADR – strong throughout the year. Looking to new territories and strengthening relationships with existing source markets, is only part of the strategy. Zaiane and his team have carefully analysed intra-selling with sister properties in Geneva and Munich; target VIPs from the average three million MICE visitors who attend shows at Dubai World Trade Centre every year; and the potential of new outreach strategies, including social media channels for direct appeal to target market travellers. Zaiane shares: During any softening in any market condition my golden rule is: “ – as long as we maintain our position as leaders I am happy. We are in a luxury business where ADR is key. For me personally the message to my team is as long as we are the market leaders in terms of market share and terms of Revenue Generated Index, I am happy.” One thing he will never do, is lower the

price of the Kempinski experience in order to fill rooms, as he continues: “We have the luxury to match the right prices with our beautiful performances. We believe at Kempinski that rate and price should correlate with positioning. Even in tough times, you will never see a buy one get one free sign at Bentley or Rolls-Royce.” To drive ADR during the oversupply, Zaiane is homing in on adding value through the hotel’s most unique selling points – feature he can use to entice and entertain VIPS, and the Kempinski luxury touches that set the hotel apart in the city. When the supply-demand equilibrium is restored, it will be a case of driving the actual rates, as he explains: “That will not come as a shock to our clients because that is how we position ourselves and this is not overpricing – it’s our commitment to deliver a beautiful experience at the right price.” Central to both strategies are the Aspen Chalets, 15 luxury Ski Chalets overlooking the slopes of Ski Dubai and five luxury Pool Chalets– and so far they have wooed Hollywood stars and royalty. Zaiane explains: “Sitting by the fire-


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GM Interview

Kempinski Mall of the Emirates

place, watching the snow and having the full St Moritz experience is very special. I often take VIP guests there and no matter who they are, they all run to the window and say ‘oh wow!’. When we had Will Smith staying, I took him there and he came for one night and ended up staying for 10 days.” The chalets are also handy for boosting overall guest satisfaction – another key element in claiming a greater market share. Zaiane says: “While we have driven rates we have also driven guest satisfaction accordingly. Putting the right efforts and measures in for success. Taking care of people is the top factor in my eyes – the days when this industry is run as a oneman show are gone. Driving quality is crucial. I have always believed that it is important to be surrounded by the best specialists in the world and allow them to do what they are good at.” E-luxury As the year closes, Kempinski is set to enjoy a strong season, capitalising on the Aspen Chalets, along with the lobby footfall generated by its iconic festive decorations and, with potential to start 2018 with a bang, the Dubai Shopping Festival will continue to draw crowds well into the New Year. Without giving too much away, Zaiane says: “We have key surprises from January, we are having something very unique which I can’t announce yet 42

HOTEL NEWS ME November 2017

I often take VIP guests and no matter who they are they all run to the window and say ‘oh wow!’. When we had Will Smith for the launch of his movie, I took him there and he came for 1 night and ended up staying for 10 days.” but it goes hand-in-hand with working with the mall.” Owned by Majid Al Futtaim, Mall of The Emirates has witnessed a significant increase in visitor numbers since the completion of its extension in 2016. Remove Digital systems, including in-room content and WiFi options were a central focus of the hotel’s renovations and are

now central to the guest experience – Zaiane comments: “We do believe the market has changed dramatically and is now digitally driven. At Kempinski, we have two committees, the creative/ innovative committee and the millennial committee – the two committees are not only focused on driving guest satisfaction, but they look at what is required to continuously be the leader in our industry. Our destiny is to be always ahead of the game.” Part of looking at the requirements is to explore the application of digital solutions in simple – and complex – guest requests, without alienating the guest who has, after all, booked a luxury experience. Hand in hand with a multi-platform social media strategy, the hotel is working to attract larger guest numbers from tech-driven emerging markets such as China, while meeting the demand of business travellers, millennials and, even families, with multiple devices and content preferences, through high-tech inroom capabilities. Zaiane concludes: “We are trying to drive rates so we are after the markets that support this strategy. This property has a lot of weight from a guest point of view, renowned for a beautiful experience. When people visit they become lifelong fans of the Kempinski brand – and for good reasons. There is a soul to this property – beyond the gold interiors we have an excellent location, fantastic chemistry between the team, great owners and the best clientele.”


Market update

A whole new world Hotel News Middle East speaks to industry leaders about the market in Oman‌

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HOTEL NEWS ME November 2017


Market update

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ttracting new markets is the key to Oman continuing to grow as an international tourist destination. That was the verdict from a number of leading industry insiders who were speaking to Hotel News Middle East. “We need to look at emerging markets, it’s no good promoting in Russia if there are problems with Russian visas. We need to connect the dots as to which markets we can attract,” says Darren Darwin, general manager Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar. “The ministry of tourism is doing a great job but like many things it is taking a while to evolve and is a work in progress. In terms of demographic we very much rely on the GCC, not just for tourism but for corporate business as well.” He said that the two biggest international markets for Oman at the moment are the UK and Germany with France, Austria, Italy and Switzerland just behind. A key factor to the resurgence of optimism over Oman’s international appeal has been the building of a new airport in late 2016 – which has opened up a whole new array of possibilities.

Filippo Sona, director-head of hotels, MENA region Colliers International says: “This could have the same economic effect that FlyDubai had in Dubai and Sharjah when it launched. “The fact they are launching a new service is a great thing because they are reaching new audiences. It is a great opportunity for Oman and the UAE is one of the key source markets.” Darwin agrees. “More frequent flights and a bigger runway for bigger planes will make a difference,” he says. One of the more striking trends facing the market in Oman at the moment is the rise of the mid-market properties. “The market that used to go to the five-star properties now goes to the three and four-star properties,” says Sona. “When people actually downgrade the spending power – automatically the three and four-star markets reap the benefits.” He says that three and four star properties constitute almost 60 per cent of the hotels coming to the market by 2020. The reason for the drop in the five-

The market that used to go to the five-star properties now goes to the three and four-star properties,” Filippo Sona, directorhead of hotels, MENA region Colliers November 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME

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Market update

We need to look at emerging markets, it’s no good promoting in Russia if there are problems with Russian visas. We need to connect the dots as to which markets we can attract,” Darren Darwin, general manager Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar 46

HOTEL NEWS ME November 2017

star market is very simple, says Sona. “It’s due to the global economic situation, it’s driven by the oil sector slowdown. If you are talking about Muscat and the drop in business around the oil industry then it has slowed down for sure,” he says. “Oman is a very good market to develop mid-market products across the key hubs. In terms of in-bound tourism, overall 73 per cent of the spend of inbound tourism indeed is leisure spending, 27 per cent is business spending.” Sona says that the demands of leisure travelers is being seen it across the whole region. “When the leisure market comes they want deals they want all-inclusive, they want added value. This spend is heavily discounted when you compare it to 2014 and 2015 prices,” he says. “It makes the market very cautious with prices – this is where I think they need to be very, very careful.” It is vital that Oman continues to market itself towards tourists if it’s going to fulfill its potential


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Market update

as a major international destination. “It’s a lot easier now to get a visa in Oman for the Chinese and Russian markets,” says Darwin. The number of internationally renowned brands has certainly helped to raise the profile of Oman and make it more appealing to potential visitors. But with that said, there are still areas that can be improved. “While we have the natural beauty which is a draw in itself what we don’t have is the shopping that Dubai does,” says Darwin. “Take the Russian market. They want three things sun, sand and shopping. We can provide two of them but we can’t provide the third which is important.” The weather is a key factor when it comes to Oman’s ability to promote itself. “Oman is a large country - Salalah and Jebel Akdar are the only two areas in the entire GCC that are 15 degrees cooler on average during the summer,” says Darwin. “We are 15 degrees cooler from April to October.” 48

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Darwin said the country is already a hit with the tourists who have visited there. “There is a direct flight to China from Muscat. We do a lot of media trips from China and they love it. Once these markets get out to Muscat they love it – they love the mountains and the air and no skyscrapers and the authenticity,” he says. “We have mountains, beaches and deserts – we are one of the few countries in the region that has all three. I think Oman is definitely growing as a tourist destination.” Sona agrees that Oman has unique natural resources, but says its future success will depend on how it is marketed. “Oman is one of those area they’ve got great natural resources – they need to start positioning the key hubs in a different market,” says Sona. “Dubai is the entertainment capital, Ras Al Khaimah is the new St Tropez and Abu Dhabi is the cultural capital and each area in the UAE is known for its positioning. In Oman they need to start position-

ing each areas as unique and they need to start targeting certain audiences. “They need to start sending the message that this is what Oman is all about – they need to differentiate each market. They need to target certain source markets for the positioning of each tourist hub. “People come to Oman to see the mountains, there needs to be more unique selling points to visit Oman and this is something they have been very slow at doing.” One sector that Oman could be about to cash in on is the MICE market – especially given the fact that the country has recently invested heavily in a new airport as well as a convention centre. “If you look at Dubai with the JW Marquis – it has 2,000 rooms,” says Darwin. “All the hotels in Muscat are around 250/300 hotels. You could fit 2,000 people in a conference in Muscat but they would have to go in multiple hotels. “That said, a lot of the companies based in Dubai still have to come to Muscat to do the face to face meetings.”


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Event preview

Executive Housekeepers Conference 2017 The agenda has been set for the third edition of the Executive Housekeepers Conference which is taking place in The Conrad Hotel, Dubai, on 27 November. Don’t miss out on an action-packed morning of networking and debate

T

he Executive Housekeepers Forum 2017, hosted by Hotel News Middle East welcomes speakers from right across the sector to discuss the major challenges, trends and opportunities in housekeeping. The previous edition of the Executive Housekeepers Conference took place at the same venue, in November 2016, and was a resounding success. Over 130 of the region’s leading professionals and analysts took part in the annual event which was also held at The Conrad Hotel. Sponsoring this year’s event are Guest Supply, Xeros and Du. The major trends, topics and challenges concerning the region’s vibrant housekeep52

HOTEL NEWS ME November 2017

ing industry will be up for discussion with a morning of panel discussions, presentations and networking. With registration starting at 8am, the conference will feature an expert session on how social media and sites like booking.com have meant there is no hiding place from negative online reviews. Some might say it has given too much power to the person making the complaint. In an age when some professional complainers are even publishing books on how to get what you want from a hotel; how do hoteliers deal with an irate customer, who threatens to unleash an invective of negativity if their demands are not met? The first panel discussion of the day, ‘The evolution of Housekeeping’, will look at how the role of a housekeeper is constantly

evolving. What are the challenges of being a housekeeper in the current climate? That will be followed by another panel session on ‘How to improve Interaction with Guests’. ‘The Future of Housekeeping’ is the next panel discussion with the experts taking a look at what we can expect the future of the industry to look like and how can housekeeping departments ensure they procure the right equipment? That is followed by our final panel of the morning, ‘Moving up the Ladder’, which asks how housekeepers can develop their careers and move up or across the ladder. A networking lunch takes place from 12.15pm, allowing attendees the opportunity to learn more about the latest products on the market and liaise with peers.


Event preview

Event Details Where? The Conrad Hotel, Dubai When? Monday, 27 November, 8am – 1.30pm Sponsor opportunities: fred@bncpublishing.net / james@ bncpublishing.net Speaking opportunities: patrick@bncpublishing.net Attendance: mark@bncpublishing.net

Guest Supply

Xeros

2017 is a very exciting year for Guest Supply the fully integrated supplier of hotel guest amenities, textiles and in-room operational supplies to the hotel and travel industry. Guest Supply is continuing to grow their brand profile worldwide, recently acquiring Gilchrist & Soames in order to further enhance their premium luxury tier offering within the amenities industry. As a global company, Guest Supply provides luxury retail brands; including Salvatore Ferragamo, La Perla, Korres, Ungaro, Aromatherapy Associates, Tara Smith, Acca Kappa, Institut Karite, and many more to major hotel groups around the world through its offices in the UK, USA, Canada, China, Dubai and Asia Pacific. With continued global investment in research and development, Guest Supply is able to relate to its markets on a regional level due to region specific knowledge that enables an understanding of the differing priorities and profiles important for successful development in both the luxury and mid- market arena. With specialist knowledge of the growth and needs of the mid-range hospitality sector in the Middle East & Africa, Guest Supply will be introducing a strong portfolio of dispensers & individual amenities designed to offer enhanced guest experiences, whilst also meeting budgets. The larger 330ml dispenser offers hoteliers a high-quality product at very competitive prices. Guest Supply is also proud to be the only amenities company to receive the Queens Award for Enterprise for International Trade, a prestigious award attributed to the company by the Queen herself. Guest Supply, providing a full spectrum solution for you & your guest.

In the final half of 2017, Xeros successfully launched their near waterless laundry system in the UAE. As well as showcasing this unique system at The Hotel Show Dubai in September and Gulf Laundrex in November, Xeros representative, Tony Kerr, will be attending the Executive Housekeepers Conference at the end of November. Mike Ferrand, managing director, said: “Our machine is proving extremely popular for hotels with on-premise laundry in and around Dubai. We feel the Executive Housekeepers Conference is another great opportunity for us to show those at the heart of housekeeping and laundry how our system can benefit them and their hotels.” The Xeros washing system uses up to 80% less water than a conventional machine and can save an average 250-bed hotel, 5 million litres of water every year. This system is already popular throughout Europe and the USA.

Tel: +971 56 3383815 Email: orders@guestsupply.ae Website: www.guestsupply.com

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Marketplace

Perking up

Hotel News Middle East speaks to a number of the region’s leading players in the coffee equipment industry…

Muddle Me Darren Castillo, manager Muddle Me café division

What is your best-selling product? The Conti Monte Carlo is one of our bestselling semi-automatic espresso machines. Hailing from Monaco, Conti has been making high quality commercial espresso machines for almost 70 years, rivaling some of the best Italian brands on the market. What is unique about it? It’s a semi-automatic nine-bar espresso machine with an innovative pre-infusion system that can be set independently on each group. The Monte Carlo also comes with new safety features such as cool touch steam wands and non-stick coating on the coffee groups. Additional machine features are an internal rotary pump that is adjustable from the outside and independent coffee boilers of 0.9 L each which are thermally insulated and temperature controlled by a PID system. What is the most important feature of the products and service you provide? If you ask any of our clients - and we completely agree with them – our excellent after sales and customer service is probably the most important feature we provide. We not only install the machine, but we also provide training to their baristas and staff on how to use the machines. In addition to equipment specific training, we now offer Introductory, Intermediate and Advanced level SCA training on modules such as brewing, barista and roasting. 54

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What are the latest trends in your sector? Manual brewing is continuing to grow rapidly as customers are more aware of different brewing methods, different beans and different styles of coffees and are expecting such brews to be available to them in coffee shops. As a result, manufactures are focusing on this space to deliver exciting new flavours to tantalise the customer’s palate, and we have some great innovative solutions that can help our clients achieve this. What type of hotel operation do you cater for? We cater to all types of hotel operations from three to fivestar hotels to stand alone restaurants. A big challenge to most hotel operators is the movement of staff be it in shifts or within departments. What sort of maintenance service do you offer your clients? We offer warranty support and full-service contracts for all of our major equipment. We also offer monthly or annual maintenance contracts and paid call out services through our dedicated in-house team. If required we can provide an install and commissioning service. Website: www.muddle-me.com Email: info@muddle-me.com Phone: 04 5178111


Marketplace

La Marquise Olga Cassidy, marketing manager, La Marquise What is your best-selling product? Fully automatic coffee machines from WMF is our best-selling coffee machine line. WMF is produced in Germany with high attention to details. Customers appreciate WMF’s performance, durability, design and constant strike for innovation. For instance, just over a month ago during GulfHost show in DWTC, WMF have launched their new fully automatic coffee machine WMF 9000S+. Today this machine is available for our clients in the UAE and GCC. What is unique about it? The 10-inch touch screen can be fully customized in terms of its graphic, functional and linguistic settings. Its operating system allows for the animation of drink images, flexible embedding of nutritional data, promotional offers and videos. The touch screen display includes customization options like: drink sizes, coffee strengths, tea water temperatures and switching between different types of milk (lactose-free milk, soya milk, skimmed milk, etc.), thanks to the optional 2 milk system. For extra efficiency during peak periods, a whole sequence of drinks can be pre-selected which are then prepared one after the other by the speciality machine. WMF 9000S+ is also suitable for self-service, thanks to its intuitive system design. Thanks to the WMF CoffeeConnect, a digital app, the WMF 9000S+ provides the operator with optional and effective controlling technology. On the one hand, WMF CoffeeConnect allows you to collect a wide range of machine data across multiple locations and to analyse it in order to achieve optimal processes in inventory management and service planning. Added to this is performance data from daily operations. And what are the favourite drinks among customers. What is the most important feature of the products and service you provide? I believe, nowadays in such competitive environment and constant innovation marathon the perfect coffee machine has to have several crucial features as they are all equally important includ-

ing performance, durability, flexibility and design.

may serve during coffee breaks in conference rooms or at the hotel events catering.

What are the latest trends in your sector? Incorporating high tech in the coffee machines design is a big trend. The bigger HD touch screen your coffee machine has the better. Customers may use the screen not only to operate the machine but also as their marketing tool to play videos or show brand photos while machine is not being used.

What sort of maintenance service (if any) do you offer your clients? La Marquise provides a one-year warranty for equipment, including spare parts. Our technical team is available 24-hours a day, seven days a week. We understand that interruption of client’s business could effect in their profit loss, therefore, having strong technical support is another wining point for us.

What type of hotel operation do you cater for? WMF coffee machines use is versatile in hotel operations. It can be used in restaurants during breakfasts or throughout a day, it

Website: www.lamarquise.ae Email: marketing@lamarquise.ae Phone: 043433478 November 2017 HOTEL NEWS ME

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Products

Lavazza in profile

Karim Merhi, marketing manager Lavazza What is your best-selling product? Lavazza was established in 1895 in Turin and has been owned by the Lavazza family for four generations. The group currently operates in more than 90 countries through subsidiaries and distributors, exporting about 53% of its production. What's the company's vision and values? At Lavazza, we strive to become the leaders in our markets for both consumers and business partners. We aim to do this by staying true to the two core values that the Lavazza brand was built on; Quality and Innovation. These two values are very often intertwined in our daily activities because at Lavazza, quality is not controlled, rather it is diligently built every single day with a strong dedication to research and development and the adoption of the latest in coffee technology. What are your core products/services for the hospitality sector? Catering to both end users and the Hotel/ Restaurant/Catering (HORECA) sector, our product portfolio consists of a wide range of unique Italian coffee blends serving three key taste segments: aromatic, equilibrated and intense. These offerings are available in four forms including espresso beans, grounded filter, premium instant freeze-dried coffee with micro-ground beans, and coffee capsules. What new products have you launched in 2017? Modern life is fast-paced, especially in a 56

HOTEL NEWS ME November 2017

What's your best-seller? In the Hotel/Restaurant/Catering (HORECA) side of our business, our tastediscerning customers who enjoy quality blends are increasing turning to our ¡TIERRA! range. Launched last year, ‘¡TIERRA!’ is a high-quality coffee from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms made from a premium selection of 100% Arabica beans from Central and South America. Apart from its unique fruity aroma, floral notes and the distinctive finish of bittersweet dark chocolate, ¡TIERRA! is part of our social responsibility project to improve the social and environmental conditions of a small community of coffee growers. In 12 years, the project has involved more than 3000 growers across eight countries.

cosmopolitan market like the UAE where residents are busy balancing work and life commitments. We know that coffee is an important ritual for many people and instant provides coffee lovers with the ability to grab a cup of coffee without interrupting their schedules, however, the quality of coffee must not be compromised. Using this insight, we have recently launched our very first instant coffee range in the UAE targeting end-users, which promises to deliver the quality that Lavazza is renowned for with the convenience of instant. The Prontissimo! range offers high quality and rich Italian flavours in an instant combining an extraordinary 100% Arabica blend enriched with 10% microground roasted coffee.

What makes your company stand out in the market? In one word – innovation. Since the very beginning, Lavazza has been defined as a company with a “cycle of continuous innovation.” In fact, innovation and quality are key to Lavazza’s ongoing growth, and its ability to compete on the international scene. Lavazza was the first in the world to introduce the concept of blending by combining coffee from different regions more than 120 years ago, and since then, has launched a series of packaging innovations, including the invention of the vacuumsealed pack. Last but not least is Prontissimo! The first Lavazza premium instant coffee, produced through special processing and transformation technology capable of providing a top-quality product — much more than an instant coffee.


Products

De Longhi Group Laurence Botha, Head of Communications, De’Longhi Group What is your best-selling product? Our ESAM 6900 - PrimaDonna Exclusive What is unique about it? It’s thermal carafe which allows users to set up to six customised drinks including chocolate in metal touch pads to have the perfect drink in one touch of a button. It has a dedicated chocolate function too! All our fully automatic coffee machines have dual thermo block - one dedicated to coffee, and one dedicated to milk. Another feature of ESAM 6900 - PrimaDonna Exclusive is the Lattecrema system which gives a very high-density foam. What is the most important feature of the products and service you provide? Our focus on making every part of our customer's life a bit better by increasing their pleasure when they interact with our machines. The coffee brewing cycle is important to us, but the perfect moment that you have while drinking this high quality coffee is the part we pride ourselves on. With De'Longhi you will always experience three things: • The perfect cappuccino • The perfect moment • A taste that is perfectly yours What are the latest trends in your sector? Inter-connectivity. Such as the remote-control functionality you experience with our new PrimaDonna Elite, which gives you the power to customise your machine straight from your phone, as well as make yourself a drink from another room.

Convotherm 4 Your cooking results in focus The legend lives on! Ultimate in even cooking with results always optimised to your requirements – the new Advanced Closed System+ with:

• • • •

Crisp&Tasty – 5 levels of moisture removal Fan speeds – 5 levels provided BakePro – Traditional baking function in 5 stages HumidityPro – 5 moisture-level settings

What type of hotel operation do you cater for? The De'Longhi Group has always built our brand around home and office users who desire something a little more refined and of a higher standard. Having said that, our R&D team is currently looking at opportunities to expand into the hospitality industry as well. What sort of maintenance service do you offer your clients? Maintenance is managed by distributors per country. Jashanmal, who is our official Dubai distributor, offers a one-year warranty on our products, and has product managers that are always ready to answer questions that customers may have.

www.convotherm.com

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On the spot

The secret Mandarin speaker

Nicola Walsh, F & B director of The Westin Dubai, Al Habtoor City, is under the spotlight this month night either entertaining at home or indulging in my favourite hobby: sampling the delights of the Dubai F&B scene, preferably off property!

What's the best bit of advice you've ever received in the workplace? Make your hobby your life’s work.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Hopefully in a regional role, but very much in and around Dubai F&B.

Tell us something that none of your colleagues know about you? I studied Mandarin at University - although my Chinese is pretty woeful these days.

If you could stay in any hotel in the world right now, where would you go? Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Finland watching the Northern Lights from the confines of a luxury igloo with my husband.

Can you tell us why you wanted to join this industry? What's the best thing about your job? It is fast paced and ever changing – plus it involves a lot of food tastings.

What made you choose this role?

I fell into F&B, I have to admit, and I am by no means a ‘classic hotelier’. I always wanted to have my own business so when I was 26 I opened my own restaurant in the UK. I then caught the bug.

What would you say to anyone who is starting out in your sector? Don’t do it if you don’t love people or if you are not having fun.

Al Habtoor City is the most exciting project in Dubai, if not the region; it is also pretty new, so the challenge of helping to build such a business was too tempting to ignore!

What do you do when you're not working? If it is sunny I will be on a beach somewhere by day and by

What's the worst thing about your job? There are so many virtual feedback forums that people forget to simply raise their concerns in person to an operator in real time – as such we spend far too much time in the office and not on the floor perfecting our craft.

BIN EID EXECUTIVE SEARCH & SELECTION (Specialised in 5* Hotel Sector) TWENTY (20) Years of Celebration *** TWENTY YEARS*** in Talent Sourcing in Hospitality segment BIN EID Executive Search is celebrating 20 years of existence. We thank our clients, candidates, well-wishers who directly and indirectly helped us in our wonderful & blissful journey. We also thank the Almighty, Bin Eid team members, ex-employees, associates and numerous unseen souls who supported us to navigate in our venture. We have touched and transformed thousands of individuals in our 20 years of spectacular journey. Thank you for the trust and confidence placed on us.

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

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