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African Opportunity Uncovering hotel investment opportunities in Africa

Executive Housekeepers Conference THE professional perspective for the hospitality industry December 2016 | WWW.HOTELNEWSME.COM

How hotels will benefit from the UAE’s theme park boom

All the highlights from this year’s event


06 News Roundup A summary of regional and global news


18 Face to Face Newly appointed Richard Alexander, general manager, Jumeirah Al Naseem

CEO Wissam Younane Managing Director Walid Zok

22 The Panel Saudi based GMs reveal plans for the year ahead & the impact on revenues following the crash in oil prices

Director Rabih Najm Group Publishing Director Diarmuid O'Malley Senior Sales Manager Nick Clowes

Editor Sophia Soltani

28 Event review All of the best bits from this year’s Executive Housekeepers Conference 34 Cover Story How the hotel industry will benefit from the UAE’s theme park boom 40 Interview Riad Abu Haidar on the shift towards boutique hotels 44 Analyst Corner Weighing in on African hotel opportunities 46 Design Revealing the noexpenses spared refurb of ShangriLa Dubai 52 Supplier Focus The coffee suppliers you should know about

Art Director Aaron Sutton Marketing Executive Mark Anthony Monzon

c o n t ribu t o rs

28 34

Gemma Greenwood

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

December 2016 HOTEL NEWS ME


Some of our best bits 2016

A year to remember

In tandem with the immense growth of the hospitality industry in the Middle East, Hotel News ME has celebrated a successful year of firsts in 2016. So what’s next for us?


s we head into the month of December, it’s hard to believe that the year is almost out. Looking back on 2016, it has been another tremendous success for the hospitality industry and Hotel News ME alike. It’s been a year of many firsts: take the hospitality industry in Dubai, for example – the emirate hit a new milestone, with 100,000 rooms open across its hotel and hotel apartment inventory following the opening of The Westin Dubai, Al Habtoor City – a testament to the hard work of the hoteliers, operators and investors busy making their mark on the sector in Dubai. For us at Hotel News ME, it has also been a year of momentous firsts having launched our Leaders in Hospitality Awards, which took the industry by storm, recognising its unsung heroes for their immense dedication. What was truly memorable about the Awards, was the scale of the nominees and entries from across the entire Middle East – we had winners from Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait, to name a few. Next, we launched our first coffee table book – Meet Your HOST, a truly special publication that heard from the hoteliers working the often long, unpredictable hours to make establishments across the Middle East worldclass. Top general managers and hospitality group leaders shared their insights to showcase the deep-rooted commitment it takes in their ever-evolving roles to become jacks of all trades and masters of many. So, in true Hotel News ME style, there is no rest for the wicked, which is why we are busy working on bringing you the second edition


HOTEL NEWS ME December 2016

of our Pipeline Yearbook 2017. Set to feature exclusive hotel pipeline news and a guide to key territories, the Yearbook will place significant insight from leading female hoteliers in a first of its kind collaboration across the MENA hospitality industry. Our decision comes after reviewing a study conducted by Mercer, which highlighted that a quarter of Middle Eastern organisations have no female leadership in their 100 most senior roles. Meanwhile, female leaders hold more than 30% of senior positions in only 4% of organisations across the MENA region – a stiflingly low number in comparison to males in senior leadership positions. We believe that a change in workplace perceptions is coming, which is why I am proud to hear from the female hoteliers leading on initiative and hard work about their achievements and struggles in battling it out for their place in the MENA hospitality marketplace.

Sophia Soltani Editor


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


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Abu Dhabi set to welcome 600,000 Chinese visitors by 2021


bu Dhabi Tourism & Culture set Management LLC, with the aim several tourist attractions and hotels Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) of bolstering the sales of holiday and in Abu Dhabi received the China has revealed that it is prepar- tourism programmes to Abu Dhabi. Tourism Academy’s ‘Welcome ing to welcome 600,000 Chinese visi- Our delegation met with the nation’s Chinese Certification’, awarded to tors to the emirate by 2021. H.E Saif major travel agencies and overseas distinguished hospitality establishSaeed Ghobash, director general of tour organisers to discuss strategies ments and destinations that offer TCA Abu Dhabi emphasised high quality services to Chithe importance of Chinese nese visitors, including Man“Meeting the standards of darin-speaking staff members. tourists as hotels in Abu Dhabi China Tourism Academy welcomed 163,935 Chinese “Meeting the standards of reflects the confidence we China Tourism Academy reguests during the first three quarters of 2016. flects the confidence we have have in the quality and “We seek to keep pace with in the quality and diversity of diversity of our tourism the increasing demand for overour tourism offerings. It also enofferings. It also seas vacations in the Chinese courages Chinese visitors to stay encourages Chinese visitors longer in Abu Dhabi, paving market by providing highly to stay longer in Abu Dhabi, the road for us to increase our tailored programmes that cater paving the road for us to to the needs of Chinese travelshare in this promising market.” lers, while taking into account Most destinations and atincrease our share in this the market’s distinctive charactractions in the emirate, inpromising market” teristics and focusing on recreacluding Abu Dhabi Falcon tional and cultural tourism as Hospital, Yas Waterworld, Al well as meetings, incentives, confer- for boosting Chinese tourism to Abu Ain’s Wadi Adventure, Zayed Sports ences and exhibitions (MICE) tour- Dhabi, as well as to gain insight into City and Souk Qaryat Al Beri, as well ism. We recently visited China with the market’s current trends,” H.E as all of Yas Island’s entertainment our partners at Etihad Airways, the Ghobash said. destinations and hotels accept China UAE’s national carrier, and Miral AsTCA director general added that Union Pay bank cards.


HOTEL NEWS ME December 2016


“The newest advances in technology will continue to define the hospitality experience of the future but there also needs to be a greater focus on expanding hotel offerings to cater for all cross-sections of travellers alongside a younger workforce.” Chris Newman, COO, Emaar Hospitality Group

GO FIGURE There are

158,714 rooms in


projects Under Contract in the Middle East and

57,740 310 rooms in

projects Under

Contract in Africa (SOURCE: STR)


“We are delighted to open our second Aloft hotel in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the Fawaz Al Hokair Group, further strengthening our position in the country. Aloft is regarded as one of the fastest growing brands in the history of hospitality and we have seen a strong demand for the brand in the Middle East with its distinctive design, accessible technologies and social atmosphere.” Alex Kyriakidis, president and managing director, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International



GO FIGURE Hotels under contract in the Middle

11.7% 84,477 260 9.1% East represents an


compared with October 2015 Reporting

“The concept of ‘affordable luxury’ seems like a contradiction on the surface. However, our philosophy is directly in line with the needs of our clients and the incredible demand for inexpensive, high-quality real estate in the market.” CEO of Azizi Developments, Farhad Azizi

rooms in

hotels; a

Y-o-Y comparison (SOURCE STR)

“Dubai’s hospitality industry, which recently crossed the 100,000-room threshold, has been a cornerstone of the city’s economy. As we look forward to capacity expansion and increased visitor volumes in the lead-up to 2020 and beyond, it is paramount for us to implement measures for this industry to reduce consumption and conserve resources. Raising awareness of conservation practices is a key pillar of the Dubai Sustainable Tourism Initiative. Solaiman Alrifai, senior manager, Tourism Development, Dubai Tourism,

Roundup: Serviced Apartment Summit MEA 2016


ore than 160 international delegates attended the second annual Serviced Apartment Summit MEA in Dubai. Held at the Fairmont The Palm from October 30-31, the event attracted delegates from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, India, Indonesia, US, UK, Singapore, Russia, The Netherlands and Germany. Despite a turbulent year for the region’s economy, with oil prices having a significant effect on development activity, delegate numbers were slightly up on the inaugural event in 2015. The first day of the Summit included a 4×4 desert safari, followed by a drinks reception and speed business


HOTEL NEWS ME December 2016

card swap in the grounds of the Fairmont The Palm. Day two kicked off with a welcome from host Piers Brown, then a serviced apartment 101 masterclass from Filippo Sona of Colliers. STR Global’s Philip Wooller then outlined the region’s pipeline and performance figures. A

full day’s agenda followed with panel sessions including many of the region’s industry leaders, and covering topics such as investment, digital marketing, operations, short-term reals and holiday homes, legal issues, and local and international demand. Greg Perry, head of asset

management at Gemstone Real Estate Development, said: “The Summit was fantastic. As the Middle East hospitality market continues to grow and mature, the Serviced Apartment Summit is becoming a required attendance for anyone seeking information on this vital sector.”

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Who Said That “As Ras Al Khaimah continues to grow and thrive economically, we are excited to add to the momentum by welcoming the first Jannah hotel to the area. With our smartly designed spaces priding on the best views of the beach and the city, Jannah Resort and Villas Mina Al Arab offers a wide assortment of luxury facilities

Saudi Government hikes visa fees for pilgrims performing Hajj


hike in visa fees to Saudi Arabia has been met with heavy criticism, with many Muslim countries voicing concerns that the plan will be an added burden to pilgrims visiting Islam’s holiest sites. As part of the proposed plan from the Saudi Government, a single-entry visa now costs $533, an increase from the previous fee of $93. A multiple entry, six-month visa will now cost pilgrims $800 and a one-year visa is set to cost $1333. The revised visa fees affect all tourists, religious or business visitors, but exempts those travelling for the first time to perform the annual Hajj pilgrimage or the

lesser, non-mandatory pilgrimage known as the Umrah. The plan, which was based on a recommendation from the Saudi ministries of finance and economy, came into effect on Oct 2 2016 and coincided

with the beginning of the new Islamic year. The new rules are part of a wider campaign to lessen the kingdom’s dependence on oil and to increase revenues in other areas, including immigration fees.

that will delight travelers, families and business visitors.”

Nehme Imad Darwiche, CEO, Jannah Hotels and Resorts

GO FIGURE Saudi Arabia reported

24,090 rooms in

15 projects in construction in


2016 (Source: STR)


Rotana to add 3,756 keys to its portfolio by 2017


n line with Rotana’s ambitious vision of operating 100 hotels by 2020, the group has announced that it will open 16 new properties by 2017. The new line up of properties will include five new properties in the UAE, four in Saudi Arabia, two each in Turkey and Iraq, and the opening of Rotana’s first ever property in Muscat, Oman. The extension work on one of the company’s iconic UAE properties, The Cove Rotana Resort in Ras Al Khaimah, will also take place next year. The developments will see more than 3,756 keys added to the group’s existing inventory by the end of 2017, helping Rotana grow its portfolio to 75 operating hotels with more than 19,450 keys in total. Omer Kaddouri, president and CEO of Rotana, said: “Rotana has an ambitious global expansion strategy and the vast number of property openings due to take place in 2016 and 2017 will not only increase our presence in a range of destinations but also allow us to reinforce our position as one of the leaders in the

HOTEL NEWS ME December 2016

hospitality market in the Middle East, Africa, South Asia and Eastern Europe.” Identifying Africa as a key growth market, Rotana is set to make its debut in the continent with the opening of Kin Plaza Arjaan by Rotana in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo before the year is out. In addition to the property in Congo, the group currently has several projects under various stages of development across Africa including Marrakesh, Luanda, Nouakchott, Dar es Salaam and Lagos, illustrating the emphasis it is placing on building a continent-wide presence.

Ras Al Khaimah gears up for inaugural investment forum Ras Al Khaimah Finance and Investment Forum (RAKFIF), a new platform for uncovering business investment opportunities in Ras Al Khaimah, is preparing for its first edition, taking place 13 – 14 December at Rixos Bab Al Bahr, Ras Al Khaimah. RAKFIF will bring together experts from government and industries with international and regional investors and financiers to highlight investment projects in the emirate and provide a platform for information gathering, networking and commercial opportunities. The forum will focus on the key economic sectors of hospitality and tourism, real estate, manufacturing and production, and infrastructure (ports, airports and utilities).


At TIME Hotels, our simple approach to hospitality means that you can always expect to receive the warmest welcome straight from the heart and an uncomplicated yet professional service delivery. Whether for business or leisure, short-stay or long stay, we currently have four different product brands represented across a growing portfolio of properties. To find out more about our present and future prime locations, visit


Iran to welcome new Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference

GO FIGURE Dubai represents the highest stock of serviced apartments


ran is set to host its first Iran Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference (IHTIC), a top-level gathering of international investors, owners, operators, developers and government officials from 7-8 February, 2017 at the Parsian Evin Hotel in Tehran. Sitting as the eighteenth largest economy in the world, in addition to rich reserves of oil, gas and metals, Iran has a promising consumer sector with a well-educated population of 80 million inhabitants. Under the 2025 Tourism Vision plan, Iran is expecting to increase the number of tourism arrivals from 4.8 million in 2014 to 20 million by 2025. The 4.8 million tourists brought around $6.5 billion in revenue to the country despite sanctions and limitations imposed by the EU, the UN and the USA. With the lifting of sanctions in January, it is expected that by 2025 the country will receive $30 billion from tourism income. Only 13 out of the 96 hotels in Tehran are classified as 4-and-5-star, leaving much room for development and investment in the burgeoning region. According to Iran’s chief of Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organisation, Masoud Soltanifar, investing in the tourism sector has become one of the priorities of the Iranian authorities. The government has provided a series of incentives through the Foreign Investment Promotion

with over

29,000 79% $126 36% keys, achieving

occupancy and

and Protection Act (FIPPA) including a 50% full term tax reduction on income, loan structure and eligibility for government funding and property ownership rights. Jonathan Worsley, chairman of Bench Events and founder of IHTIC, said: “I greatly enjoy pioneering new markets; it started with IHIF in Berlin 20 years ago and has continued right through to the Iran Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference in 2017. I believe in Iran’s hospitality potential and whilst breaking new ground is risky with numerous obstacles, those that are first-to-market will no doubt benefit from healthy ROI’s and relationships with both local partners, investors and authorities alike.”

ADR in 2015 with only

of keys internationally branded (SOURCE: COLLIERS INTERNATIONAL)

Pipeline Yearbook 2017 to highlight female leaders in hospitality


otel News ME’s annual publication, The Pipeline Yearbook will return for a 2017 edition with a special focus on female leaders in hospitality. Featuring exclusive hotel pipeline news and a guide to key territories, the Pipeline Yearbook 2017 will place insight from leading female hoteliers in a first of its kind collaboration across the MENA hospitality industry. Over 100 pages, last year’s Yearbook featured commentaries from prominent industry leaders including STR, Knight Frank, Colliers and Viability Management Consultants, as well as insights on key markets from Iran to Africa, from Rotana Hotels, Movenpick Hotels and Resorts, Katara Hospitality, and others. The second edition of the Year-


HOTEL NEWS ME December 2016

Released with the January Issue of Hotel News Middle East

book will once again detail a comprehensive list of upcoming hotels across the Middle East and Africa; data is compiled exclusively by the Hotel News ME team, in direct liaison with the region’s leading hotel chains and therefore unavailable elsewhere. Commenting on the decision to highlight female leaders in the region, Diarmuid O’Malley,

group publishing director, BNC Publishing, said: “According to a study conducted by Mercer, a quarter of Middle Eastern organisations have no female leadership in their 100 most senior roles. Meanwhile, female leaders hold more than 30% of senior positions in only 4% of organisations across the MENA region – a stifling low number in comparison

to males in senior leadership positions. We believe that a change in workplace perceptions is coming, which is why BNC Publishing has taken the strategic decision to hear from the female hoteliers leading on initiative and hard work about their achievements and struggles in battling it out for their place in the MENA hospitality marketplace.” For advertising opportunities or to become one of ‘The 30 suppliers you should know’, please contact: Diarmuid O’Malley, Group Publishing Director: or Nick Clowes, Senior Sales Manager, For all editorial opportunities, please contact: Sophia Soltani, Editor of Hotel News ME:

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ATM 2017 introduces Global Halal Tourism Summit “90% of our panelists believed that there is a huge gap in the tourism market for halal cuisine, which is especially relevant as 80% also predicted a significant increase in the percentage of inbound halal business over the next five years”


he first ATM Global Halal Tourism Summit will take place at Arabian Travel Market on 26 April 2017 at Dubai World Trade Centre. Rolled out as part of ATM’s line-up of special focus events, the summit will feature three interactive seminar sessions covering the big picture, halal destination strategies and how to sell halal travel. The sessions will be led by Muslim travel industry experts including Faeez Fadhlillah, co-founder & CEO, Salam Standard and Tripfez; and Nabeel Shariff, founder and di-


rector of Serendipity Tailormade and Luxury Halal Travel. The summit announcement follows a special roundtable session on halal tourism, organised by Reed Travel Exhibitions, which took place earlier this year in Dubai. A group of hoteliers, destination management companies and tourism professionals took part in the event, with 70% of participants agreeing that there is a need for a global convention on halal tourism. Halal tourism is defined as the provision of services and facilities that address the specific needs of Islamic

travellers, such as halal food, dry hotels and separate male/female facilities. However, it can mean different things to different people, which creates challenges and opportunities for the regional and global tourism sector when it comes to servicing the needs of halal tourists. Simon Press, senior exhibition director, Arabian Travel Market, commented: “In fact, 90% of our panelists believed that there is a huge gap in the tourism market for halal cuisine, which is especially relevant as 80% also predicted a significant increase in the percentage

of inbound halal business over the next five years. Launching this summit therefore presents a timely opportunity for the industry to come together to discuss opportunities, share success stories and create awareness.” Arabian Travel Market witnessed a year-on-year visitor attendance increase of 8% to over 39,800 in 2016, with 2,520 exhibiting companies signing business deals worth more than US$ 2.5 billion over four days. The 2017 exhibition will take place on 24- 27 April at Dubai World Trade Centre.

Hilton Worldwide to debut Canopy brand in Chicago

Westin Hotels and Resorts makes Cairo debut

Hilton Worldwide has inked a deal with RCP Holdings, LLC an affiliate of The Prime Group, Inc to develop a Canopy by Hilton in Chicago. Residing at the southwest corner of South LaSalle Street and West Adams Street in Chicago’s Loop neighborhood, the 223-room Canopy property wil target both business and leisure travellers. Slated to open in Autumn 2018, at 208 S. LaSalle, Canopy by Hilton Chicago Loop was designed as a natural extension of Chicago’s downtown neighborhood with local design influences and natural materials used throughout the hotel’s architecture and interiors. The hotel’s entrance wil be on La Salle Street with its reception area, restaurant, bar, and Canopy Central lobby located on the 20th level. The hotel also wil feature a fitness centre, a day transfer lounge, 4,000 square feet of meeting space, and a rooftop terrace and bar. “We are delighted to bring the Canopy by Hilton brand to the thriving Loop neighbourhood, in the heart of the Financial District,” said Michael W. Reschke, Chairman and CEO of The Prime Group. “With convenient proximity to Chicago’s central business district, dining, shopping, the theater district, and Canopy’s dedication to comfort and service, our Canopy by Hilton hotel wil be a natural choice for both business and leisure travelers looking for a true Chicago experience.”

Westin Hotels and Resorts, part of Marriott International, Inc has opened its first hotel in Egypt, The Westin Cairo Golf Resort and Spa Katameya Dunes. Owned by New Cairo for Real Estate Investment Company, the resort and spa is located in the residential community of Katameya Dunes, anchored by a 27-hole championship golf course designed by world-renowned Nick Faldo and Brian Curley. “The global demand for wellness continues to propel Westin’s growth momentum around the world, including our debut in new markets like Doha and Dubai and our expanded presence in destinations like Spain, Germany and now Egypt,” said Brian Povinelli, Global Brand Leader, Westin Hotels and Resorts. “As the second Westin hotel to open in Egypt this year, we are thrilled to introduce the brand in Cairo and inspire a new level of well-being for our guests’ before, during and after their stay. “The new resort boasts 135 guestrooms and suites alongside three dining options – a pool bar, golf club bar and Paloma – an all-day Mediterranean restaurant with an openkitchen alongside the brand’s Vertical Garden.

HOTEL NEWS ME December 2016



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Face to face

Dubai’s sea breeze Jumierah Al Naseem marks the completion of one of Dubai’s most iconic properties – Madinat Jumierah. Newly appointed Richard Alexander, general manager, Jumeirah Al Naseem tells Hotel News ME how the youngest member of the successful Arabian resort's family of hotels is set to breeze onto Dubai’s shoreline and make its mark 18

HOTEL NEWS ME December 2016

Face to face

“Every colleague who has been hired to work for Jumeirah Al Naseem is absolutely aware of the significance of the successful opening of the hotel”


estled away on Dubai’s longest stretch of beach lies Jumeirah Al Naseem – the fourth and final property to open at Madinat Jumeirah, where general manager, Richard Alexander sits at the helm of the new property. A British national, Alexander starts his new role with over 31 years experience in the luxury hotel and tourism industry. He returns to Jumeirah and Dubai after eight years since his last role as the general manager at Jumeirah Mina A’Salam in 2008. Since then he has undertaken a number of senior management roles across the globe, including the Viceroy Hotel in Anguilla and The Marylebone Hotel in London, with his career taking him across Spain, Greece, Japan, USA, Australia and Indonesia. Opening on December 1, 2016, Jumeirah Al Naseem - meaning sea breeze in Arabic is firmly anchored on the Arabian coast, whilst charting new waters in Dubai’s luxury hospitality scene. Warm and inviting, yet energetic and inspiring, Madinat Jumeirah’s latest hotel blends heritage and vision. The youngest member of the successful Arabian Resort of Dubai’s family of hotels is set to offer over nine food and beverage outlets interwoven by the common theme of The Arabian Explorer, five swimming pools, its own beach club, landscaped gardens and a custom designed seawaterfed turtle lagoon. The contemporary interior design of the 430-rooms and suites “are inspired by sand dunes, blue skies, sea breeze and Dubai's heritage of pearl diving and Bedouin traditions”, explains Alexander. A breezy challenge Tasked with driving the success of the new property and equipped with over 30 years experience and extensive prior knowledge of the Jumeirah brand, Alexander is no doubt placed in good stead for his new role, but expectedly there will be challenges associated with the new opening, namely the collaboration of new peers. “I believe that any preopening is a great challenge. Throughout my career, I have handled three hotel openings in the past and the greatest task is always building a new family of colleagues from scratch,” explains Alexander. “Jumeirah is all about the culture of inclusion and one of the biggest tasks for the senior leadership team is taking a diverse group of colleagues and fostering this culture of inclusion into their daily roles,” he adds. Unphased by his new role and potential opening hiccups, Alexander emphasises the need for a close-unit team, as he explains: “With the opening team at Jumeirah Al Naseem, we are creating a family that is not afraid to challenge each other whilst being completely united in the objective of opening an extremely successful hotel that will provide our guests with memories to cherish. With the focus of building this family, for me it’s not a challenge but something that I relish doing.” An eye on the future With the likes of Burj al Arab, Madinat Jumeirah and Zabeel Saray under its flags, the Jumeirah Group is no stranger to luxury concepts and hotels, which is why it is no surprise that the last property in Madinat's collection - Jumeirah Al Naseem boasts 387 rooms, 43 suites, over nine restaurants, December 2016 HOTEL NEWS ME


Face to face

its own beach club plus a turtle rehabilitation programme. All of which Alexander must oversee the smooth running with a close eye. Tasked with manning each sub-department’s success, he explains: “Every colleague who has been hired to work for Jumeirah Al Naseem is absolutely aware of the significance of the successful opening of the hotel. The opening has been embraced by every single member of the team and their commitment is unquestionable which will ensure we achieve our objectives.” With half of the senior management team at Jumeirah al Naseem joining from other Jumeirah properties, Alexander adds: “Many of the staff come from solid positions in different Jumeirah properties with key experience in operating and managing hotels. This fits in perfectly with Jumeirah’s “The Place to Grow” HR strategy. Most colleagues have already joined and they are going through long training programmes whilst getting to know each other. There is a fantastic positive feeling in every department where everyone is working towards the same goal.” Standing out from the crowd As highlighted by STR’s October 2016 Pipeline Report which revealed that Dubai has a staggering 9,687 rooms in 67 hotels in construction – it no secret that Dubai’s shoreline is bustling with the hum of new hospitality projects, but Alexander is confident that Jumeirah Al Naseem will stand out from the crowd. “Continuing Jumeirah’s legendary hospitality and knowledge of Dubai, Jumeirah Al Naseem arrives with a fresh 20

HOTEL NEWS ME December 2016

Looking at the year ahead, what are some of the key facets of your 2017 business strategy? “I am confident that the quality of the accommodation through the beautifully designed bedrooms will generate significant interest coupled with a comprehensive selection of food and beverage outlets available – 13 restaurants including four external brands across the resort providing a variety of experiences from casual dining to higher end choices. Our ability to introduce and attract hotel guests and local visitors to our restaurants and bars will be key to our success.”

approach to service and a delivery of genuine experiences that reflect the Dubai of today – the hotel moves on from traditional Arabia into a more contemporary tempo, not only reflective in its décor and architecture but also in the style of service, being an extension of something new and exciting.” And a testament to Alexanders claims of the property’s individuality, he adds: “Each selected art piece in the property has been chosen for its connection with Dubai’s past and present history. From the moment guests arrive they will be welcomed by a stainless steel sculpture of a caravan of camels in motion, designed by Emirati artist Mattar Bin Lahej to tell the story of Dubai.”

The intertwining of the past and present doesn’t end just with art sculptures as the theme also extends to Jumeirah Al Naseem’s fashion collaborations, Alexander explains: “Emirati female colleagues wear traditional abayas which have been exclusively designed in Al Naseem with inspired tones by local luxury fashion brand Slouchy’Z. This collaboration with home grown brands extends to chocolate makers Mirzam, a bean to bar small factory based in Alserkal Avenue, a hub for arts and creative spaces. Guests will find in their room at turndown Mirzam’s carefully crafted chocolates inspired by the spice route, this links in with the Arab explorer theme that runs through our restaurants. Other similar collaborations are in the making to ensure guests are exposed to the Dubai of today experience.” True to Arabic culture, where an open-door policy is customary, Alexander insists that true Bedouin customs are the key USPs that will secure the hotel’s place in the competitive marketplace, as he explains: “Al Bait Baitak is an Arabic expression used in the region for welcoming people into our homes. At Jumeirah Al Naseem we want guests to feel like they are arriving to their home in Dubai. The contemporary interior design of the spacious guest rooms are inspired by sand dunes, blue skies, sea breeze and Dubai's heritage of pearl diving and Bedouin traditions. All rooms feature generous bathrooms, touches of Arabic décor and fabulous walk-in showers inspired by hammams. The balconies and extended terraces offer views of the sea, landscaped gardens, swimming pools and the Burj Al Arab.”

The panel

Call of the Kingdom As the Saudi Vision 2030 aims to boost the Kingdom’s hospitality industry by more than half and attract 1.5 million tourists by 2020, Hotel News ME hears from the GMs at the forefront of this vision on their outlook for the year ahead and pushing new avenues such as MICE, medical and leisure tourism instead of religious means

GO FIGURE Saudi Arabia reported

36,545 Rolf Lippuner general manager, Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh

Ibrahim Alfati cluster general manager, Hilton Makkah and Towers Hotel

Wassim Tarabay hotel manager, Radisson Blu Hotel, Riyadh

rooms in


hotels under construction in

September Ismail Sirry general manager, Conrad Makkah Jabal Omar

Peter Hoesli general manager, Mövenpick Hotel Al Khobar

How is your hotel performing in Saudi Arabia? Schiller: We have been delighted by the response from guests on the opening of Doubletree by Hilton Riyadh Al Muroj – Business Gate. Since opening, occupancy levels have been growing steadily across the business sector and we’re seeing walk-in business across our F&B outlets which we’re working on turning into accommodation bookings. Alfati: Makkah Hilton and Towers is geographically situated in the heart of the Holy City of Makkah, located a few steps from Holy Haram in front of King Fahd gate, an ideal property for religious tourism. We continue to receive travellers all year, plus during Hajj and to take part in Umrah, and we are maintaining great occupancy levels. 22

HOTEL NEWS ME December 2016

Pierre Zayoun general manager, Rosh Rayhaan by Rotana, Riyadh

Sirry: Considering the hotel opened in June 2016, we are delighted it has been so well received within the luxury sector. Performance has been driven by delivering high levels of service and maximising our share from all channels. The Conrad brand and its prime location in Jabal Omar, which is located few steps from Haram, have all boosted the hotel’s awareness within the region. Hoesli: As most corporate companies here in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern province are related to oil and gas, their business has clearly lowered due to the falling oil prices. Subsequently, such companies are reducing expenses, including the cost of travel and accommodation. These all have led to a reduction in the transient business contracted segment, but on the other hand, increased the non-contracted segments.

2016 (SOURCE: STR)

More Saudi nationals are now accommodated at our hotel, bringing their share to almost 60%, whilst the number of European customers has been reduced. Lippuner: Four Seasons has held prominence in Riyadh since its inception in March 2003, evolving significantly over time. Over the last five years, Riyadh’s evolution has been inspired and the government has sought to transform the capital city so significantly, that Riyadh now sits on the brink of being recognised as the foremost city in Saudi Arabia. Tarabay: The market this year has been challenging, impacting hotel occupancy levels and subsequently putting pressure on the average room rate and outlet revenues. However, we have been very successful in driving banquet revenues due to the high demand in weddings and

The panel

our ballroom has proven to be a very popular venue within the local community. Zayoun: Rosh Rayhaan by Rotana, Riyadh, is still a newly opened hotel, we have been operating for six months only. However, during this period, we have picked up quite quickly to an average of 65% occupancy of our operational rooms, and the peak-season in Riyadh is just starting. This tells you a lot about the demand in Riyadh and we are predicting 85% occupancy during December. What factors are driving revenue to the property? Schiller: Doubletree by Hilton Riyadh is a business hotel and room rates are extremely competitive. We are situated next to the developing King Abdullah Financial District with easy access to major business areas, the majority of revenue is from business travellers and MICE guests including large corporate groups. Lippuner: Considering the size and nature of the hotel, our revenues are an even-mix between rooms and F&B revenue. Our ballroom and banquet operation is considered one of the

Riyadh Projected Hotel Supply | Number of keys 15000 15,000 13000 13,000


2 Cagr

11,000 11000 9,000 9000 70007,000

5,000 5000 3,000 3000 Q3 - 2015

Q3 - 2016

FY 2016 (f)

FY 2017 (f)

FY 2018 (f)

Colliers International projects that in Q4 2016 only 26% of the expected confirmed pipeline will be introduced into the market as delays in openings continue in the market. Between full-year 2016 and 2018 supply is expected to increase by a CAGR of 26% up from 23% in Q2.

largest in the Middle East. Our outside catering services are highly regarded and drive significant revenues into the hotel. A more focused and healthy population continues to stimulate super revenues to our health club and spa. Alfati: We are shifting our focus from our existing feeder markets such as the Middle East and wider GCC markets and looking to increase

occupancy from a new demographic in the Far East and Europe. This initiative will geographically expand our presence to Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal and others key countries. Sirry: As a new hotel, we were able to build on the USPs with pre-opening training which has set the standard for attracting new business. Everything from initial strategies and market-

December 2016 HOTEL NEWS ME


The panel

ing through online channels and travel agents, further exposing the hotel to key markets such as the wider GCC, Egypt and Turkey. We deliver a high level of service with a distinguished guest experience, starting from the guest arrival with smooth access to hotel and free parking. A key USP is our extensive lift offering enabling guests easy access from their rooms to the Haram level, as well as our on-site mosque which can hold up to 1000 guests. Tarabay: Radisson Blu Hotel, Riyadh is a wellestablished property from a globally recognised brand. The hotel’s success comes from several differentiating factors. Firstly, we are the only hotel in Riyadh to offer guests their own style of themed room where they can choose from Italian, Scandinavian and Andalusian themes. Our ballroom is also a major factor in driving revenues due to the demand for weddings and major events. Another important factor is the location and the property is conveniently located in the heart of Riyadh, close to ministries and government offices. Hoesli: Over the last 12 months, we have seen a significant increase in individual leisure bookings, guaranteeing good occupancies also during weekends. Needless to say, the increasing number of weddings has helped boost our hotel’s occupancy as well; we accommodate around 10 rooms per wedding. What are some of the challenges your property face now more hotels are opening across the region? Schiller: Competition is strong in Riyadh but we’re focusing on the MICE sector. Many International companies open new offices in the city which are within easy reach of our hotel and therefore increased our revenue across the MICE business. Changes to visa restrictions can be challenging, especially when the visit visas are quite short, but we see a strong future and development in the hospitality industry in KSA. Lippuner: Ultimately, the impact is to market share. As more hotels open in Riyadh specifically, given the economy, the risk is over saturation – supply will exceed demand. With that said, the hotel’s iconic reputation, location and brand strength ensure that it continues to enjoy its position as a market leader. Alfati: The challenges we face are general market issues, such as the increase in supply of rooms in central Makkah; the devaluation of currency in major feeder markets; the change to visas issuance and the Haram construction works. 24

HOTEL NEWS ME December 2016

Jeddah KPIs | y-o-y % change








Q3 - 2015

Q3 - 2016

Forecast FY 2016



+12% Q3 - 2014


Jeddah is projected to remain the strongest performer amongst KSA hotel markets according to Colliers International the long-term outlook is also positive as the King Abdulaziz Airport expansion in 2017 and the Jeddah Economic City opening in 2020/21 are expected to reinvigorate hotel demand in the city.

Zayoun: The increase in 4-and- 5-star hotels in the country is expected to be almost 5,000 room keys by 2017, which might cause a few challenges in terms of the share of corporate and retail clients. However, the Saudi hospitality market is still growing and there is always room for developments and expansions, in fact, the increasing number of hotels in the country assists in improving its reputation as a destination aside from religious tourism. Tarabay: The additional hotel supply undoubtedly makes it more challenging and more competitive for hotels. This does put more pressure on average rates and of course drives more intense competition. The challenge is to balance operational efficiencies with delivering the right service standards for our guests and maintaining a highly motivated and happy team. Sirry: As a new luxury brand in Makkah, establishing the product and awareness in the market is challenging, particularly considering the economic challenges in most of the key markets such as Egypt, Turkey and the Far East. However, Conrad Makkah Jabal Omar, with its direct access to the holy sites, contemporary luxury and warm, authentic hospitality, is sure to play a key role in welcoming business and religious travelers moving forward. What steps are you taking to generate repeat business from visiting guests? Schiller: Corporate or business travellers are a key segment of the hotel sector in Riyadh. We believe that our property offers its guests excellent service, security, great facilities, good restaurants, business centers, gyms and health

facilities which all add up to creating a great stay for our guests. DoubleTree by Hilton Riyadh also cares for the community and our team members regularly assist with community initiatives including the renovations of mosques each month. These campaigns resonate the human-interest approach with our guests which is implemented in training and during our staff day to day roles. Tarabay: We are simply putting our guests at the centre of our stage. Radisson Blu distinguishes itself from its competitors with its uniquely developed service concept: “Yes I Can” and our 100% satisfaction guarantee. Furthermore, we have specially tailored benefits and promotions for our guests such as Super Breakfast, Grab and Run, three-hour express laundry, express checkout, late check out, one touch service and our business class concept. Alfati: To generate repeat business, we provide local and international F&B offerings, a safe and secure property and a comfortable and hasslefree spiritual journey. We consistently train and develop our team members to become masters in the art of service which enable them to deliver exceptional guest experiences. Recently, we launched the Kids Club to cater for the personal needs of our parent- guests and team members who prefer to leave their children to play while parents perform their spiritual rituals. Zayoun: Our rewards programme members enjoy exclusive perks and privileges that will make staying and dining at Rotana more fulfilling. Guests can earn points with every meal or stay at any Rotana hotel, and redeem these points from a wide selection of rewards

The Panel

with special discounts and benefits. Hoesli: Since the leisure segment is on the rise, we have put more effort into providing a familyfriendly offering and amongst others, developed special buffets at The Blue restaurant for our young clientele. It is extremely important for us to maintain the quality of our products and services, we listen to our customers and this is how we generate repeat business. Lippuner: We firmly believe in building interpersonal relationships with a keen focus on facilitating bespoke guest experiences, that are not simply standard which is how we capture repeat business.

come a challenge when trying to tap into this new market though. Riyadh is predominantly business related but with an increase in cultural attractions, the city will no doubt shift its suitability to attract a larger demographic. Alfati: Religious travel is on the rise and will continue to outweigh tourism of other naturesbusiness or consumer. Hilton Makkah and

Towers welcomes new pilgrims from across the globe and for those not staying with us, we highlight the F&B, onsite shopping mall and foot massage centre. Sirry: Makkah is known for its religious tourism, whilst we are delighted to welcome guests for their spiritual needs, we’re also keen to explore new markets and attract new Kingdom Tower

What new source markets should hotels in Saudi Arabia be tapping into and why? Schiller: The hospitality and tourism industry in Saudi Arabia is new and rapidly growing which is something the government is keen to invest in alongside the Saudi 2030 vision. With new roads, infrastructure, entertainment facilities, and independent F&B options it’s clear to see a new market for family travel. Tourist visa restrictions can be-

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December 2016 HOTEL NEWS ME

01.08.16 11:05


The panel

guests. A strong segment that can be develMakkah oped is in the weekender segment within the GCC region. We’re a luxury property with a Projected Hotel Supply | Number of keys dedicated concierge team that can highlight 25000 25,000 Makkah’s hidden gems to tourists. Intro22000 22,000 % 36 ducing attractive packages will boost a new gr 19000 19,000 Ca demographic for us and the city. 16000 16,000 Tarabay: Hotels in Saudi Arabia need to work 13000 13,000 more closely with destination management companies to attract non-religious leisure groups 10000 10,000 Q3 - 2015 Q3 - 2016 FY 2016 (f) FY 2017 (f) FY 2018 (f) as the country is rich in history and has ample sightseeing opportunities. The corporate segIn Q3 2016, no new branded supply was introduced in Makkah. Branded supply in the marked continues to be upmarket with no existing 3-star branded supply with branded ment continues to be the dominant segment in 5-star supply holding 89% of the market. Riyadh and we will continue to grow this segment as the commerce grows from the domestic and international markets. and National Heritage to stimulate demand? Hoesli: In my opinion, domestic leisure travthe number of visitors by improving our ellers will offer great future potential for hotels Sirry: A broader, non-religious, tourism offering services to meet new traveller needs. could be an additional revenue stream in the in Saudi Arabia. future. Joint marketing activities and additional Zayoun: Right now, retail and corporate What do you anticipate to see across the exposure to highlight cultural offerings is also segments remain the top players in the Saudi hospitality industry in Saudi Arabia over the an area that can be developed to boost the cities market, however, the government is placing next 12 months? inbound revenue. more emphasis on tourism and hospitality Schiller: One word describes it- prosperSchiller: In March, we launched a mosque while exploring its potential to develop as a ous. Riyadh is growing rapidly and with the touristic destination outside of its already buoy- community initiative under the name CARE, introductions of new roads, tourism opporwhich embodies a strong and vibrant tradition ant religious tourism in addition to pushing tunities, cultural hotspots and entertainment of simple, timeless values that aren't just words; domestic tourism. outlets we’re excited for the expansion and they've become a proud way of doing good busi- greet new visitors. ness which each Doubletree by Hilton adopts. The government is busy trying to push nonAlfati: Despite changes to visa regulations, Our programme sees volunteers– many of oil related revenue to the region, including the future is bright. We are targeting realistic whom are Saudi nationals – renovate and repair tourism streams, what steps can be taken to growth over the next 12 months driven by mosques in Riyadh. encourage this? governmental efforts to grow the number of Lippuner: We are currently involved with the Lippuner: Saudi Arabia needs to make access pilgrims to Makkah. Saudi Commission for Tourism and National easier, viably opening the world’s eyes to a wonTarabay: We are expecting to see an increased Heritage and the Saudi Handy-Crafts industry. derful destination, with a cultural history that is hotel supply entering the market resulting in We are placing significant importance on the so dynamic it is life changing. increased competition. This is good for the end need to bring our Saudi heritage into the hotel. Tarabay: The government has set very clear consumer with greater choice and potentially From art, woodwork, to woven fabrics - each is and ambitious plans to push non-oil related lower room rates. The challenge for the hotels instrumental in showcasing our culture. revenues and to develop tourism. Hospitality will be to balance cost efficiency and still Tarabay: Hotels need to work more closely is considered a key partner in supporting these deliver the best experience for guests. with the Saudi Commission for Tourism and plans and investors must grab these fantastic opSirry: The completion of the Haram construcNational Heritage to explore new ideas, set portunities and start investing in key destination tion works and infrastructure as well as the new areas. Certainly, there is still work to be done but preferred rates for certain destinations and to Jeddah airport and the railway between Makintroduce new leisure activities. There is also continuous efforts to to improve visa processes kah – Jeddah – Madinah will have a positive opportunity to drive in more business for and licensing will certainly help boost tourism. impact on tourism. conferences and exhibitions. Hoesli: In Al Khobar, there are non-oil related Hoesli: It will surely take time for the economy Alfati: Makkah hotels need to collaborate and developments, such as Dammam University, to improve not only in Saudi Arabia but across share ideas and concepts with the Saudi Comwhich is growing fast and has the potential to the Middle East. The supply of hotels will mission for Tourism and National Heritage for become a major educational hub. The health continue to increase, even though at a slower the best interest of all. In line with Saudi vision, sector is another potential revenue earner. With rate than originally anticipated. we are planning to increase hiring of Saudi naregards to tourism, The Kingdom’s drive to Zayoun: Looking forward to the next year it is tionals to incorporate their contribution across promote domestic tourism, encouraging Saudis predicted that the market will see an influx of to holiday at home, is achieving growing success. various departments that will help build a more quality, internationally branded mid-market progressive and competitive local workforce. As hotels enter the market, which will likely Saudi Arabia is reducing dependence on oil, we How can hotels work more closely together benefit from strong demand levels and offer up are developing tourism in the region to increase and with the Saudi Commission for Tourism a rate stabalisation period. 26

HOTEL NEWS ME December 2016

Executive Housekeepers Conference












2016 - con





Housekeepers ot rad H


Hotel News ME hosted the second edition of its Executive Housekeepers Conference on November 21, 2016 at the Conrad Hotel Dubai. Here we showcase the highlights of the day “Although this is only the second year of this conference, it is clear that this has become the “must attend” event for housekeepers in the UAE. There was great interest in our solutions, and the open discussion nature of the workshop was very useful in highlighting significant benefits gained by implementing eHousekeeping solutions." Eric Rogers, Vice President EMEA, FCS Computer Systems


ver 130 housekeeping professionals from across the Middle East came together at the Conrad, Dubai on November 21, 2016 for the second edition of Hotel News ME’s Executive Housekeepers Conference which featured some of the region’s leading industry professionals and analysts sharing their expert observations to a full house at the half-day conference. The event, which was moderated by

broadcaster, presenter and journalist, Stephen Marney comprised of two lively panel discussions, prime networking opportunities, expert sessions, presentations and a keynote speech from respected industry leader, Feryal Haddon, director of HR at the Hilton Resort and Spa Jumeirah where she discussed her personal transition from the housekeeping department into HR nine years ago, alongside her top tips for housekeepers wishing to progress in their current positions. Exhibitors

BAHRAJA General Trading L.L.C. Since 1995

BAHRAJA General Trading L.L.C. Since 1995


HOTEL NEWS ME December 2016

Tech-Talk The first discussion of the day saw Prabhat Shukla, executive housekeeper, Intercontinental Doha The City; Erkan Tatlidil, managing director of Evonade, Tatjana Ahmed, housekeeping manager and functional specialist housekeeping, Grand Hyatt Dubai; Pamini Hemaprabha, executive housekeeper, regional rooms specialist and master trainer Emirates Palace participate in a lively debate about the challenges faced by the housekeeping departWorksh op sponsor

Event review sponsored by Kraft procurement

Top tips for housekeeper career development

“The conference is such an important platform for information and exchange. Especially here in Dubai where the hotel market is consistently growing, housekeepers must form a close bond to overcome common obstacles.” Tatjana Ahmed, housekeeping manager and functional specialist housekeeping, Grand Hyatt Dubai

Keynote speaker, Feryal Haddon, director of HR, Hilton Resort and Spa Jumeirah – who moved to her role from the housekeeping department – said that cross-departmental experience is crucial for housekeepers looking to develop their skills. She told delegates: “We’re not just here to do our jobs but always to learn something else. I was working in Sofitel and I made myself work in the kitchen for a couple of months just to understand how the kitchen functions and what the chefs are doing, and what their challenges are. “In one of my properties, I also oversaw the laundry department and was very interested in programming the washing machines to become more knowledgeable. It’s very important to develop yourself in other areas, especially if you’d like to transition, as this will give you an edge to move forward.” Haddon’s top tips for career development for housekeepers: 1. Develop yourself– in the workplace and beyond the workplace 2. Develop your team and facilitate their career progression 3. Be ‘on the ground’ with your team 4. Do at least one opening 5. Keep up to date with the industry’s latest trends

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Event review

Stressbuster session Suman Suneja, founder of Laughing Souls showcased how laughing yoga, a practice involving prolonged voluntary laughter can reduce physical and mental stress after a hard day of housekeeping. Suneja’s top health benefits of laughter • Reduces stress: Laughing activates your stress response by reducing stress hormones such as cortisol, leaving you with a relaxed feeling. • Protects the heart: Laughter has been found to benefit the way blood flows around the body reducing the likelihood of heart disease. Fifteen minutes of laughter a day is as important as 30 minutes of exercise three times a week. • Boosts the immune system: Research has shown that regular laughter helps boost the immune system by decreasing stress hormones and increasing antibodies in the blood to ward of infections. • Relieves pain: Laughter works as a natural pain killer. Fifteen minutes of laughter can increase pain tolerance by 10% as a result of endorphins being released in the brain. • Improves sleep quality and reduces insomnia: Scientific research has shown that laughter can improve our sleep patterns by relaxing the mind and body. It has even been shown to improve the effects of insomnia treatments. • Improves your social life: If you can make people laugh you’re likely to achieve more at work; If you have a good sense of humour you’ll be more productive, a better communicator and a team player. • Helps you lose weight: A hearty chuckle raises the heart rate and speeds up the metabolism so think about adding laughter to your exercise regime. • Keeps you young: A daily dose of laughter can make you look younger. When you smile and laugh, as many as 15 facial muscles work together which increases the blood flow around the face. • Positively effects the creative process: Increased endorphins and increased oxygenation to the blood and brain causes an increase in creativity by improving the overall brain health and bolstering its support system.

Supplier vs buyer panel session

Tech talk panel session

ment when it comes to implementing the latest technology to improve efficiency. Some of the panelists pointed out that educating management on the benefits of technology is the biggest challenge they face. Tatlidil said: “The owners don’t see housekeeping as part of the hotel, but that has to change. You see a lot of applications coming onto the market now – a few years back there were one or two but now there are more than 10.” Ahmed, housekeeping manager and functional specialist housekeeping, Grand Hyatt Dubai added: “I agree with Ekran; the big hotels do invest in these applications but the smaller ones don’t. Technology has come in too slow and there’s a perception that if someone can spin a mop, this is all they need to do. “If [management] can be educated on the cost saving and benefits… there are technologies that can save you days and hours of time, Exhibitors

BAHRAJA General Trading L.L.C. Since 1995

BAHRAJA General Trading L.L.C. Since 1995


HOTEL NEWS ME December 2016

but management does not recognise this.” Agreeing that investment in technology often depends on the size of the property, and how well-educated general managers are on the benefits of this, Shukla, said: “Most of the bigger properties invest, but the small ones don’t want to because housekeeping is still an expenses department, not revenue generating. “Most of the GMs are not from the housekeeping department, so they don’t have exposure to what housekeeping is doing. If the GM knew the housekeeping team, he could put forward these things to the owner.” On the other hand, Hemaprabha, emphasised the importance of having the right staff on board, and argued this is more important than technology. “What kind of people are you getting into housekeeping? We have a challenge getting them just to understand basic things. It isn’t getting better; we have Worksh op sponsor

Event review sponsored by Kraft procurement

just learned to compromise. Housekeepers are considered as replaceable heads, not as people with brains. “I don’t see it getting better in the future if we don’t put our foot down and fight for the tech and the manpower that we need. If I have an app and I give it to someone with no common sense, then it’s not going to help me…. We don’t need so much good technology; we need good people.” Suppliers Vs the buyers In a panel session first, delegates heard a set of housekeepers battle it out with suppliers to see how new products and services can better cater their departments and what new innovations the housekeepers are looking for. Panelists on the lively session included: Gopal Ampili, executive housekeeper, Hilton Doha; Hari Sudhakar, executive housekeeper, Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort, Fujairah; Marjona Aslitdinova, executive housekeeper, Capital Centre Arjaan by Rotana; Sandeep Indulkar, CEO and founder, Kraft procurement, ZEKE and Hoteline and Vinayak C. Mahtani, CEO, Unique Precise International. Throughout the session, a reoccurring theme highlighted by all participants included the need for more transparent communication between the housekeepers and suppliers. Mahtani explained: “As a supplier, it’s not nice for us to bombard clients with calls and emails, but it’s also difficult to do business if the housekeepers aren’t transparent with us. If we don’t hear about their needs, how can we better our products and services and secure a portion of the market.”

Streamlining housekeeping with technology

Eric Rogers, Vice President EMEA, FCS Computer Systems told delegates at the 2016 Executive Housekeepers Conference that, “90% of travellers avoided booking a hotel if it was labelled as dirty online.” Rogers also revealed that 70% of hotel guests claim that cleanliness and hygiene are the most important factor for a hotel. He explained: “If cleanliness standards fall below the expected standard required by guests then 44% of visitors will never return to the same property.” Revealing why automated housekeeping solutions help lighten the load, Rogers added: “The benefits of housekeeping automation are clear, it helps enhance guest satisfaction through quicker cleaned room turnaround. Housekeepers can also view the most up-to-date information from PMS for example, the cleaning status, room status and inventory etc., not to mention, automated solutions save manpower, time and energy for cost optimisation.” FCS Computer Systems’ m-Housekeeping Mobile e-Housekeeping offers auto room cleaning assignments for room attendants; room inspection assignments for supervisors; Auto cleaning and inspection assignments for public areas; Guest profile management; QR code; Panic button and supports both IOS and Android devices.

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Sustainable training

Marie-Helene Westholm-Knebel, senior technical officer, Emirates Green Building Council revealed that the main sources of water consumption in a standard hotel breaks down as 30% from rooms, 16% laundry and 16% landscaping. She insisted that housekeepers must “speak the language of their staff” to continue sustainable housekeeping practices. With an increase in corporate policies related to sustainability and CSR as well as a stronger focus of tourism authorities on these essential initiatives and their implementation, Westholm-Knebel emphasised the need for continuous training of staff beyond induction. She said: “It is critical to keep up-to-date with the latest standards and benchmarks. Emirates Green Building Council aims to help properties start their journey toward improving their sustainability standards by making their staff active players and empowered champions.” Throughout the session Westholm-Knebel argued that despite a hotel’s age, “there is still the potential for positive change” within the housekeeping department. She explained: “Chemical storage rooms without adequate ventilation with various items such as chemicals with liquid in them pose the risk of items to fall. This can easily be changed with simple, neat and well managed cleaning products in a refill system which presents opportunity for improvement. Implementing best practices such as safety at work, safety for guests, savings of products and financial savings are all great examples of small changes for a more sustainable future in housekeeping.” Concluding the session, she added: “Training is not sufficient, you must speak the language of your staff – communicate often and in a simple manner. Signage, jokes, popular references all help show that you care about staff as they are the needed little hands that make a hotel run well and efficiently which is consistent with training and career development.”

In agreement with Mahtani, Ampili added: “It is a better way for the suppliers to do business to call back when they say they will call back, not before and not after. Clean communication is necessary to building relationships, it isn’t professional for a supplier to just turn up and the hotel and demand to see us. Scheduled meetings with a mutual respect for each other’s time frame and work constraints helps maintain clear communication and long-term professional relationships.” On the other side of the spectrum, Indulkar argued that, it is not always possible to build strong relationships with clients in the hospitality and housekeeping industry, “due to the high turnover of staff in the UAE.” He added: “Securing a share of the market isn’t an easy task when staff turnover is so high, you build a clear path of communication with someone, and then a few months later they are gone. You then end up having to go back to square one and prove that your latest innovation is a must have for the hotel.” Exhibitors

BAHRAJA General Trading L.L.C. Since 1995

BAHRAJA General Trading L.L.C. Since 1995


HOTEL NEWS ME December 2016

Raising the point that “housekeepers are looking for “new innovations, stemming beyond the likes of trolleys and carts” Sudhakar emphasised the need for housekeepers themselves to be part of the production process, he added: “It’s great for the suppliers to think that they have the ‘best product on the market’ but how many of them gain insights from the end users – us? Very few do, and it would greatly separate them from the crowd.” Aslitdinova added: “It would be a great idea for suppliers to ask us what we need and would like to see, the housekeepers who pitch to their GMs and procurement teams must have a strong case to spend money, often the housekeeping department can be neglected with budgets and we just have to make do with what we have. It all boils down to clearer communication between the housekeepers and the suppliers. If they don’t understand our needs, then we aren’t going to waste our time bouncing the ideas off our management.” Worksh op sponsor

Event review sponsored by Kraft procurement

“The Executive Housekeepers Conference was very well organised – the agenda and speakers were very relevant to the audience and it was a full house. Everyone was really interested and engaged in the discussions – looking forward to next year.” Maya Chacko, communications executive, EMEA, Hilton Worldwide

“It was great to be part of the Executive Housekeepers Conference 2016. We had a great time in meeting the heart and soul of the industry and will definitely participate in the next conference” Erkan Tatlidil, managing director of Evonade

“I’d like to congratulate Hotel News ME on hosting such a successful event. I enjoyed meeting all the executive housekeepers and suppliers. It’s a wonderful platform to share ideas for the future.” Gopal Ampili, executive housekeeper, Hilton Doha

December 2016 HOTEL NEWS ME


Cover Story

How the hotel industry will benefit from the UAE’s theme park boom By Gemma Greenwood


HOTEL NEWS ME December 2016


he UAE has witnessed an epic transformation since it was formed 45 years ago. Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which were once sleepy fishing villages, inhabited by Bedouins, pearl divers and traders, have rapidly evolved into global economic powerhouses, home to some of the world’s busiest airports and attracting a growing number of international tourists. Never a country to rest on its laurels, the UAE is forging ahead with plans to diversify its tourism offering in a bid to hit ambitious visitor targets and by the end of the decade, is set to become one of the world’s leading theme park destinations. Dubai is leading the way with a number of world-class attractions now open to the public. Most recently, Dubai Parks and Resorts has opened the doors to four of its hotlyanticipated attractions - LEGOLAND Dubai, LEGOLAND Water Park, Bollywood Parks Dubai, and Riverland Dubai, the multithemed dining and retail destination that includes the Polynesian-themed resort, Lapita. This month a fifth attraction, MOTIONGATE Dubai, will open its doors (December 16) and in late 2019, the region’s first Six Flags will debut at the destination. The roll out of Dubai Parks and Resorts follows hot off the heels of the August opening of IMG Worlds of Adventure, the world’s largest indoor themed destination, featuring four themed zones: Marvel, Cartoon Network, Lost Valley – Dinosaur Adventure, and IMG Boulevard. It complements Dubai’s already prominent theme park offering, which includes Aquaventure Waterpark, Wild Wadi and Global Village, to name a few. In neighbouring Abu Dhabi, Yas Island, the

Philip Shepherd, partner, PwC

Filippo Sona, head of hotels, MENA, Colliers International UAE capital’s dedicated leisure and entertainment destination, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and Yas Waterworld have witnessed phenomenal success, but there’s more to come. The region’s first

Warner Bros theme park is currently being built on the island by Abu Dhabi developer Miral Asset Management, with a mooted opening date of 2018. The new indoor theme park, which is being built to the tune of $1 billion, will also feature a Warner Bros-themed hotel. According PwC, the UAE has all the credentials to become a world-class leisure and entertainment destination to rival cities such as Orlando, Singapore and Hong Kong if it takes a holistic approach to exploit its unique geographical location, high quality attractions and investment in infrastructure. The research firm’s report entitled ‘The UAE’s transformation into a world-class Leisure and Entertainment destination’ estimates the country’s total L&E market potential is set to almost double to 45 million visitors by 2021. International tourists will account for 30 million of that total, while residents and friends and relatives of residents, will contribute the remaining 15 million. PwC believes the UAE’s theme parks alone will attract 18 million visits by 2021. “The UAE has come a long way to realise its global ambition of becoming a Leisure and Entertainment hub to rival Orlando, which is the current market leader,” confirms PwC partner Philip Shepherd. “The country has recognised that it needs to continue investment and focus on the quality of attractions, as well as appealing to a diverse visitor base from across the world.” Shepherd says the UAE compares well to Orlando in terms of scale, transport links and its F&B offering. In addition, its central location, within an eight-hour flying time of six billion people, provides an unrivalled advantage to further transform the industry.

December 2016 HOTEL NEWS ME


Cover story

Shepherd says the theme park boom will definitely attract a new breed of visitors who are “specifically attracted by the new leisure and entertainment attractions” and will also “encourage more people to break their stay while transiting through the UAE”. Tourists are also likely to increase in their length of stay as there are more activities for them to experience destination wide, he adds.

ROVE CASHES IN Emaar Hospitality Group has recognised the potential of Dubai’s burgeoning theme park industry and has earmarked a plot adjacent to Dubai Parks and Resorts in Jebel Ali where it will build a new hotel under its mid-market brand, Rove. The 458-room ‘Rove At The Park’ will not only offer much-needed affordable accommodation, but cater to large family groups, with 30% of rooms interconnected. It’s one of 10 Rove hotels planned for Dubai, bringing more than 2,660 midmarket rooms to the market ahead of Expo 2020 Dubai.

In 2015, Orlando International Airport reported a record 38.8 million passengers. This was vastly overshadowed by Dubai International, the busiest airport in the world for international passenger traffic, which reported more than 78 million passengers and expects to attract 80 million plus in 2016. Shepherd estimates about 11 million of these passengers actually visit Dubai, “so there is an enormous opportunity to encourage more people to break their trip and stay in Dubai”. “We believe that developing attractive ‘must visit’ attractions will encourage more stopovers,” he adds. However, the UAE’s theme park industry must ensure all the necessary infrastructure is in place to capitalise on passenger traffic, notes Shepherd. “The key to a consistently successful destination is enabling visitors to enjoy multiple attractions. Offering multi-park tickets, all-inclusive packages and coordinated visitor management from booking through inbound and local transportation, hotels and attractions will be crucial,” he says. Shepherd believes the projected hotel supply will be enough to meet growing tourist demand as more theme parks open. “Currently, growth of supply is slightly exceeding growth of demand, but over the long term the development [of hotel rooms] and demand appear to be in balance. We don't see there being a huge surge in visitors due to the theme parks alone although of course, the Expo 2020 Dubai period will create a surge in 2020-2021, over and above the steady per annum growth being experienced to date,” he says. “However, there is a need for more mid-market and budget hotels as much of the growth in tourism numbers will be driven by [price-sensitive] 36

HOTEL NEWS ME December 2016

Julien Munoz, vice president, sales, Dubai Parks and Resorts

Bruno Wiley, vice president, sales, Farah Experiences

Guy Hutchinson, COO, Rotana families and customer segments that cannot afford five-star hotels. “The theme parks will be addressing some of the demand with the development of their ownsite hotels.”

The guest profile Another research firm, Colliers International, agrees the family segment is likely to drive an increase in average length of stay across the UAE as new theme parks open their doors. “We expect the largest growth of visitors from the GCC and Indian sub-continent regions,” says Filippo Sona, the company’s head of hotels, MENA. He says properties located close to theme park locations can expect to achieve higher Average Daily Rates (ADRs) and occupancies than the city average, as witnessed in other theme park destinations such as Singapore. In 2015, Resort World Sentosa reported 92% occupancy compared to the city average of 85%, he notes. Sona also agrees that more midscale properties are needed to cater to families and young adults. “Luxury hotels are rarely part of theme parks since visitors prefer spending more on entertainment and shopping, and less on accommodation,” he says. “A key characteristic sought out in theme park hotels is family rooms or apartments, which tend to be a larger size than rooms offered at hotels in the city.” Room sizes and price points aside, Sona says the proximity to the park plays a significant role in a visitor’s choice of accommodation. “Price-sensitive travellers are more likely to stay further away, in the outskirts of the city, to pay a lower rate, and then commute to and from the park,” he says, whereas guests with more disposable income will opt for the upscale themed properties on site. He adds that while close proximity to theme parks generally boosts hotel occupancy, the distance to the city centre should not be neglected either. “Proximity to the city centre means easy accessibility, which is a key decision-making factor for corporate and MICE groups,” he says. All major theme parks are MICE draw cards because they offer “new unique venues and experiences”, Sona continues.

Cover Story

MICE business also diversifies the segment mix and softens the impact of seasonality from both the theme park and hotel industry perspective, he adds. Given the theme parks Dubai has developed are located in the east and the south of the city, in districts currently underserved by the hotel sector, development opportunities for family- and MICE-friendly accommodation are abundant, according to Sona. Meanwhile, existing hotels should have strategies in place to target prime source markets in order to gain competitive advantage – “for instance, shuttle transportation to the parks and packages with access to more than one theme park, etc”. There are also opportunities for hoteliers to offer twin-centre stays across Abu Dhabi, Dubai and neighbouring emirates, in order to make the most of the UAE’s collective leisure and entertainment offering, adds Sona. Park strategies Julien Munoz, vice president, sales for Dubai Parks and Resorts, says the multi-themed attrac-

David Thomson, COO, JA Resorts and Hotels tion is looking to Dubai’s traditional international source markets for growth. The UK is a “critical market for Dubai as a destination” and is therefore “critical for Dubai Parks and Resorts”, he stresses. “The UK also has a strong affinity with the parks so we expect British tourists holidaying in Dubai to visit Dubai Parks and Resorts.”

Dubai Parks and Resorts signalled its commitment to the European market by commanding a strong presence at last month’s World Travel Market London. Munoz says Dubai Parks and Resorts is currently in talks with several major UK tour operators, travel firms, and consolidators with a view to promoting holiday packages that include tickets to the destination. They include Emirates Holidays, Gold Medal, Travel 2, Thomas Cook, Travel Republic and Attraction World, to name a few. “We don’t expect people to visit Dubai just for the theme parks at first, but it will change their behaviour while they visit Dubai – it will definitely encourage visitors to extend their length of stay for a few nights,” confirms Munoz. Around 6.7 million visitors are expected at Dubai Parks and Resorts during its first year of operation, 70% of whom will be international tourists. Other than the UK, the destination’s biggest source markets are countries within a five-hour flight time of Dubai, such as the GCC (particularly Saudi and Kuwait), as well as India, because

Riverland Dubai

December 2016 HOTEL NEWS ME


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INTRODUCING LAPITA Dubai Parks and Resorts has its own dedicated on-site property, Lapita, part of Marriott International’s Autograph Collection. General Manager Sanne Emborg gives Hotel News ME the low down on the property’s credentials and anticipated demand. Why does Lapita sit well in the Autograph Collection? The property sits well in the Autograph Collection because it’s like nothing else - the first theme park hotel of its kind in the Middle East. Lapita stays true to the brand’s vision of showcasing the world’s most unique hotels. What are the property’s top selling points? * Located at heart of Dubai Parks and Resorts within walking distance from the three surrounding theme parks, Waterpark, Riverland and The Outlet Village. * Situated in between Abu Dhabi and Dubai and just 10 minutes from Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC); * A family oriented, Polynesian-themed hotel; * In-house guests receive complimentary Q-Fast passes on purchase of a valid park ticket to avoid long queue waiting times; * Authentic live entertainment showcased at the all-day dining restaurant, Waka, is the only interactive show of its kind in the Middle East. This culturally immersive experience was created exclusively for Lapita and its guests. The stage production features Polynesian dancers and performers who have relocated to Dubai specifically to perform traditional Polynesian story telling; * In-house guests benefit from discounted park tickets. What demand/occupancy trends are you anticipating? We expect our demand to gradually increase from the day of opening and the hotel will cater for the projected number of seven million visitors at Dubai Parks and Resorts before 2020. The amount of daily expected visitors versus the amount of hotel rooms in Dubai Parks and Resorts will have a positive effect on our occupancy. We expect to be in high demand on public and school holidays and particularly over the weekends, with the majority of guests travelling from countries within the GCC. The hotel’s unique position and distinctive features allow us to sell our rooms at a more premium price point, however, still keeping in mind guests’ value for money. What will be your key source markets? General leisure: GCC, UK, Germany, India, China. MICE- incentive groups who will enjoy the parks and stage team-building activities within the hotel’s meeting spaces. Residents: As we are situated in the middle of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the hotel will provide a prime opportunity for a weekend staycation within one of its 504 Polynesian-inspired rooms, suites and villas.

there is “no other proposition like this within that radius”, says Munoz. “This has been a long-anticipated attraction for Emiratis, Saudis and also Indians,” he adds. In the longer term, Dubai Parks and Resorts will help establish Dubai and the UAE as a theme park capital of the world, Munoz continues. “Our offering and planned expansion will make the UAE a strong contender in this field,” he says. Munoz says hoteliers in Dubai have demonstrated a “big appetite” for forging partnerships with Dubai Parks and Resorts. “They understand the value a theme park can bring, particularly in driving business from the family segment and driving length of stay,” he says. IMG Worlds of Adventure, which opened in August, has the capacity to host more than 30,000 park-goers daily and anticipates around 4.5 million visitors within its first full year of operation, providing yet another source of family business for the emirate’s 38

HOTEL NEWS ME December 2016

hoteliers and perhaps fill in seasonal gaps. “By offering a fully immersive indoor theme park experience in a temperature controlled environment this enables IMG Worlds of Adventure to be open all-year round,” say Mr Ilyas Galadari and Mr Mustafa Galadari, executive co-chairmen and owners of the Ilyas and Mustafa Galadari Group, which wholly owns the indoor theme park located at Dubailand. They say IMG is a “must see” destination for international tourists, encouraging visitors to “extend their length of stay in the emirate”. “It will put Dubai on the map as a family entertainment hot spot,” they add. Evolving the offering In Abu Dhabi, “theme parks are at the heart of the entertainment offering and have significantly contributed to the growth of leisure tourism in the capital and its leisure hub, Yas Island, over the past few years, especially among families”, according to Bruno Wiley, vice president - sales, Farah Experiences,

which currently manages and operates Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and Yas Waterworld. “The growth we’re witnessing in this sector is also a result of the constant introduction of new experiences at our operating parks on Yas Island,” he says. “For example, this year at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi we launched a host of new attractions such as the latest record-breaking rollercoaster Flying Aces, and we are bringing a brand new seasonal experience at Yas Waterworld this December - the first of its kind in the UAE - based on Live Action Role Play (LARP), where guests become players in a live adventure game inspired from the ancient tribes of Arabia. “There’s always more to see and experience within the entertainment landscape in Abu Dhabi, and this diversity will ensure significant growth in visitation and an increase in the length of stay, benefiting all tourism stakeholders.” The long-term vision is for Yas Island to become one of the top 10 family destinations globally, notes Wiley. The destination is well on its

Cover Story

way to achieving that goal, consistently reporting strong growth from every key segment – families, FIT groups and MICE – and from top feeder markets such as India, the GCC and China. “Yas Island is planning on hosting more than 100,000 corporate travellers annually by 2022, with a continuously evolving MICE offering designed to impress and inspire,” he adds. An advocate of stakeholder partnerships, Wiley says “much can be achieved through closer collaboration between hotels and key destination players”. "At Farah Experiences we’ve been working closely with hoteliers to develop tactical packages that include entry to Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and Yas Waterworld, in addition to solutions to improve on the services we can offer to visitors of Abu Dhabi,” he reveals. “For example, we’re developing better tools to enable hotel concierges to place bookings for their guests; a service we’re planning to launch soon. “Over the past couple of years we also introduced special offers for local hotel staff in

acknowledgement of the role they play as ambassadors of Yas Island attractions to UAE visitors. “We’re always open for suggestions and welcome ideas from all our tourism stakeholders.” Partnerships possibilities In recognition of the important role hotel groups play in promoting theme park destinations to key international tourism markets, Farah Experiences recently signed a strategic partnership with Abu Dhabi-based Rotana, with a view to both parties promoting the emirate’s unique leisure offering globally. The agreement has seen Rotana named Farah Experiences’ ‘Preferred Hotel Partner’. Under partnership terms, Rotana and Farah Experiences will jointly promote the capital’s top leisure and entertainment offerings abroad to drive increased traffic to Abu Dhabi, via tactical marketing campaigns and FAM trips targeting the travel trade in cities that count as major source markets for Abu Dhabi’s tourism industry. “Our strategic partnership with Rotana gives us a stronger voice and wider reach through our

collective marketing and sales channels, to the benefit of our mutual guests who get a great set of exclusive benefits at our venues,” says Wiley. “We’re invested in this partnership, and we both have the products, the experience and the resources to help showcase the quality and distinction of the leisure offering in Abu Dhabi.” Rotana and Farah Experiences are “actively promoting each other’s brands by offering an attractive package of discounts, savings and privileges that create unrivalled value for their respective guests; the focus being to deliver significant incentives that will encourage customers to visit and patronise the other’s products and offerings”, explains Guy Hutchinson, COO, Rotana. Guests staying at any of Rotana’s hotels in the UAE will be offered host of exclusive benefits when visiting Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and Yas Waterworld. These include special discounts on entry tickets (15% off for adults and 20% off for children 12 years and under), a 10% discount on F&B and park merchandise, as well as a complimentary concierge service for luggage and locker usage at both parks. Similar benefits are available to all members of the Rotana Rewards loyalty programme. Likewise, all Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and Yas Waterworld ticket holders will receive a 10% discount at Rotana’s dining outlets across the UAE, while annual pass-holders will receive an exclusive 15% discount on all Rotana F&B, as well as complimentary breakfast and free Internet when staying at any Rotana hotel anywhere in the region. Rotana has also put together exclusive Rotana Escape packages offering further benefits to guests staying at any of the group’s hotels in Abu Dhabi. They include one night’s stay, complimentary buffet breakfast, 15% off on F&B, free tickets to Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and Yas Waterworld and 10% off meals and park merchandise. Hutchinson says the UAE’s rising reputation as a global leisure and entertainment hub augurs well for the hospitality industry “as it will certainly attract more tourists to the destination”. “The good news is that the list of attractions continues to grow bigger and better, with as many as four theme parks set to open in Dubai by the end of 2016, and the first phase of the Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi theme park set to open in 2018,” he says. He cites the UAE Real Estate 2016 midyear market review by UK-based consultancy Knight Frank, which highlights the opening of theme parks and new tourist attractions as one of the main factors that will drive future December 2016 HOTEL NEWS ME



“While many hotels compromise their quality to save on costs, we do the opposite, whereby we increase our quality deliverables to ensure we stay ahead of the competition and demonstrate our commitment to customer satisfaction without dropping our rates too low and devaluing our product�

Exclusively boutique 40

HOTEL NEWS ME December 2016


Newly appointed general manager of The Manzil Downtown Dubai Hotel, Riad Abu Haidar tells Hotel News ME why being “uniquely boutique” is key to waging the war against rate and occupancy dips, alongside his plans to reinforce real Arabian hospitality across the property


rtistic in spirit and contemporary in presentation, the 197room Manzil Downtown Dubai is led by seasoned hotelier, Riad Abu Haidar. The property serves as a stylised hub that aims to provide an imaginative interpretation of Arabian culture for local guests and a culturally stimulating experience for international visitors. Targeting the new generation of business executives, entrepreneurs and leisure travellers, Manzil Downtown Dubai defines a distinctive niche in Dubai’s hospitality sector by serving as an international referral point for an ever-evolving and authentic Arab hospitality experience, offering a pragmatic approach suited to a demanding lifestyle.

Having recently joined Manzil Downtown Dubai, do you have any new plans for the property? We are working hard on refining our brand and truly ensuring that our guests feel that they are in a ‘home away from home’ environment when staying with us. One of our key mantras is that we showcase true Arabian hospitality and it is imperative for our staff to live and breathe this when at the property. We are always looking at new projects and collaborations and we have several exciting new events and promotions coming up.

What are the main factors driving revenue at your property and how do you strategise for its continued success? We strive for personalised services. For example, our front office team must ensure that they are always available to assist our guests, ensuring their stay goes as smooth as possible. Similar to this, our concierge team is required to keep up-to-date with the latest events taking place throughout the city, enabling us to accurately advise guests on the local culture and monthly happenings. We are also constantly revitalising our F&B offerings to make sure that there is something new and exciting on offer. These elements combined help drive revenue in to the property and build a faithful following of loyal guests. For the hotel’s continued success, we aim to further build guest loyalty whilst also encouraging new visitors to engage in promotional offers.

Many hotels implement strategies to survive months of lower occupancy, how do you avoid a rate slump during these months? While many hotels compromise their quality to save on costs, we do the opposite, whereby we increase our quality deliverables to ensure we stay ahead of the competition and demonstrate our commitment to customer satisfaction without dropping our rates too low and devaluing our product.

What role does F&B play in terms of revenue for the property? Our Courtyard is at the heart of the property and offers the finest in Al Fresco dining. An incredibly versatile location, The Courtyard has built up a loyal

December 2016 HOTEL NEWS ME



What future trends do you see shaping the industry in 2017?

Tawasal Desk

“The biggest trend I foresee is the rise of mobile and online bookings has increased consumer power enormously and changed booking habits almost entirely. We need to ensure we are at the forefront of this change and remain a convenient, central and attractive location to guests when booking stays via these channels.”

fanbase and is one of the busiest locations in the hotel on a daily basis. Boulevard Kitchen is our all-day dining outlet which offers a wide selection of dishes and beverages which are popular in the region. Lead by our head chef, Anup Pawar, this outlet offers guests a true taste of the region. Lastly, we have Nezesaussi Grill which offers the finest fare and most popular dishes from the Tri-Nations – South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. All our outlets are incredibly different and so unique in their own ways but the real focus is on bringing people together to enjoy traditions and flavours inspired by the region.

How do you use technology to enhance guest experience? We are a Wi-Fi enabled property, ensuring that guests staying in the hotel and guests visiting the property can stay connected at all times. In addition to this, our social media channels are constantly active with new posts. Each room is equipped with an IPTV which can be used to do anything from online browsing to ordering a Café Latte directly to the room. It is important for hotels to engage with technology, guests want to be connected whilst they travel.

What are your thoughts on how the landscape of the hospitality industry has changed? It comes back to the fundamentals of hospitality, which includes quality of service and value for money. If we keep this at the core of our business, we will continue to thrive as a property. The industry has become a melting pot of personal experiences. It is no longer acceptable just to provide a clean room and breakfast, service and experiences are key and the industry will continue to shift 42

HOTEL NEWS ME December 2016

Manzil Downtown Dubai - Exterior with Burj Khalifa

towards emotional connections where personalised services keep the guests coming back.

to our niche of Arabic hospitality is essential to our continued growth.

How would you say a boutique hotel stands out from the crowd and remains competitive in a somewhat saturated market?

From a personal perspective, what would you consider to be the greatest achievement in your career and why?

Manzil Downtown Dubai is a uniquely boutique hotel, located strategically in the heart of the city. The design of the property combines sophistication, style, comfort and convenience to ensure our guests can make the most out of their visit whether they are staying with us for work or for play. We like to think that a stay at Manzil Downtown Dubai is not a classic hotel experience but more of a lifestyle experience.

What are some of the challenges associated with running a boutique hotel? The main challenge faced by any hotel, whether it is a local, regional or international brand is to maintain relevance. Furthermore, staying one step ahead of our competitors, constantly bringing our guests fresh and creative concepts, and staying true

The greatest achievement in my career, to date, is having successfully reopened Manzil Downtown Dubai to then becoming the general manager of the hotel. I am incredibly proud to be a part of the team that has successfully positioned the hotel as a modern, Arabesque boutique hotel and the first destination of its kind.

What are some of the essential skills required to succeed in the hospitality industry? You should always strive to provide the absolute best experience possible for your guests which in turn becomes the reason you can build a loyal clientele. Furthermore, to succeed in the hospitality industry you most definitely must be passionate, generous, have a keen eye for detail and most importantly, be a team player.

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Analyst corner

African opportunity Filippo Sona, head of hospitality for the MENA region at Colliers International uncovers the interrelationship between the wider macro-economic environment, tourism, aviation and hospitality supply and demand across Africa, as a basis for hotel investment opportunities in Africa


ccording to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), despite the current slowdown in GDP growth - GDP is still expected to accelerate as intra-African trade and trade with emerging economies of Asia. This will lead to an increased demand for hotels from intra-regional African sources and Asia, reducing the reliance on western source markets. 65-75% of the population across Africa are born after 1979 (Generation Y and Z), therefore it is important for future hotel developments to tailor products that meet their needs. Tourism and aviation Tourism currently contributes an average of 4% to GDP in the select countries compared to a global average of almost 10%, indicative of the large potential gap that exists for tourism development. Aside from improving destination promotion, policy and investment, aviation as a driver of travel and tourism has a crucial role to play in this growth story. At present, 10 international airlines provide airlift to at least 10 destinations in Sub-Saharan Africa. There are five key sub-Saharan African airlines with notable regional and international airlift. Under such a limited aviation platform, intra-African aviation remains largely closed and restricted by bilateral agreements impeding growth and development. Aviation liberalisation (which is in due progress) is expected to improve inter-regional travel time, cost and proportionally accelerate tourism growth, positively impacting hotel demand.

Nairobi (5-Star and serviced apartments). The majority of announced future branded hotel supply which at present is around 26,006 keys are set to be across the 5 and 4-star bracket. It is noteworthy, that 50% of the total supply is unbranded and with a lack of comprehensive hotel classification criteria, consistency across product classes is inconsistent, thereby validating the requirement for increasing international branded supply. Hotel market segmentation and performance As political and economic capitals, the select hospitality markets’ demand is largely driven by corporates from natural resource sectors, service sector companies, diplomatic and non-governmental organisations. According to Colliers International, the top performing select markets in 2015 by RevPAR were Luanda, Addis Ababa and Lagos, all of which had RevPAR value above $118. The lowest performing markets were Yaounde, Kinshasa and Lusaka with a RevPAR value below $80. Development opportunities by supportable rooms To quantify the hotel development opportunities in the select markets, Colliers International applied its econometric supportable rooms mod-

el over a ten-year cycle (up to 2025) considering various factors such as tourism and economic projections, historical performance, forthcoming supply, typical hotel margins and investment thresholds. The results revealed that: • 3-Star supply: The hotspot markets were Lagos, Abuja and Nairobi, each of which can absorb an additional 2,100 keys by 2025, over and above announced future supply. • 4-Star supply: The hotspot markets were Cape Verde, Dar es Salaam and Luanda, each of which can absorb above 1,700 keys by 2025, over and above announced future supply. • 5-Star supply: Hotspot markets were Addis Ababa, Cape Verde and Lagos, each of which can absorb an additional 1,000 keys by 2025, over and above announced future supply. • Serviced apartments: With no significant base across most of the markets, the model projected Nairobi is forecasted to support over 1,200 additional keys by 2025. However, the serviced apartment product is envisaged to work well in most of the markets that demonstrate a strong base of relocating corporates from multi-nationals and thus displacing demand from traditional corporate housing in the select markets. Other examples include

Hospitality Supply in Select Markets

Hospitality supply The total existing supply of hotels across Africa represents 3-,4-,5-star and serviced apartments represents 63,667 keys of which a majority 40% is considered to be in the 3-star bracket. Nairobi, Lagos, Cape Verde, Accra and Abuja are the top markets by total supply, each having more than 3,500 keys. The top markets by product class are Lagos (3-Star), Cape Verde (4-Star) and Source: Colliers International, 2016 44

HOTEL NEWS ME December 2016

Analyst corner

Unlocking Africa

Dar es Salaam, Luanda, Addis Ababa, and Lagos. • Other differentiated opportunities are developing lifestyle hotels in key economic hubs such as Lagos and Nairobi targeting millennial travellers. Investment entry strategy • For those with a regional scope of investment it is recommended to follow a two-fold entry strategy for expansion into East and West Africa: • East Africa: Capitalise on the importance of Kenya in the East African

Community (EAC) which includes Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan. Many multi-nationals have headquarters in Kenya achieving economies of scale. • West Africa: Nigeria is the leading economic player in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) comprising 15 West African states. As an entry point to West Africa, in Nigeria, a higher bargaining power and access to financing is achievable.

December 2016 HOTEL NEWS ME



A sense of place Shangri-La Dubai has embarked on a complete overhaul of its 302 guest rooms and public areas to create a new “sense of place” in the city. Gerhard Hecker, general manager, Shangri-La Dubai tells Hotel News ME why the noexpenses spared AED 70 million refurb is set to invigorate Dubai’s city explorers


hangri-La Hotel, Dubai has embarked on a journey of transformation in an exciting AED 70 million renovation across its 302 guest rooms and public areas – including the hotel’s impressive, atrium-style lobby, lobby lounge and Dunes Café. The remodeling is set to be reflective of a contemporary haven of elegance that blends modern Arabia with Shangri-La’s legendary hospitality in the heart of Dubai. As the renovation takes shape, the property has continued its operations as the landmark hotel prepares to feature an entirely revived visitor experience for business travellers and city explorers – reimagined by international interior designers, Hirsch Bedner Associates. Guest wellbeing and relaxation is an essential quality of the Shangri-La experience, which is why the guest rooms are being reappointed with both style and comfort in mind. Combining the warmth of Asian-influenced wooden fixtures and fittings with white, blush and pastel blue soft furnishings, the rooms have been designed to provide a calming, contemporary retreat. Summing up the costly renovation, Gerhard Hecker, general manager, Shangri-La Dubai 46

HOTEL NEWS ME December 2016

Lobby Lounge

explains: “The hotel’s Lobby Lounge has been extended as part of the renovation, which has not only created more space, but it has also made the restaurant much more private from the rest of the lobby area, so the spaces are more distinguished than before. Steel and gold chandeliers are suspended from the lobby’s ceiling to cast a low, ambient glow across the Lobby Lounge, enhancing the intimacy of the space.” As a city based hotel, Hecker

insists that glamour and relaxation elements are key to the new project’s core elements: “The rooms have been given a much more elevated feel in terms of colour and style. Guest wellbeing and relaxation is an essential quality of the Shangri-La experience, which is why the guest rooms are being reappointed with both style and comfort in mind.” With lighting just as important as textures and tones, he adds: “A glamorous chandelier in the entrance


The fun factor The new feature wave chandelier in the entrance of the hotel weighs the equivalent of over 700

bags of sugar.

4,212 hand-cut blue tiger’s eye stone tiles have been pieced together to form the entry walls to the six lobby elevators.

In total, the renovation has taken over 5.5 Dunes Café

million minutes of man-

time from start to completion.



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December 2016 HOTEL NEWS ME



The suppliers


Imad Bechari – a Lebanese artist who commissioned many of the hotel’s original art pieces when it first launched, establishing a sound history for the hotel to continue creating guest stories.

Lasvit – a bespoke lighting design company that has created some exquisitely refined lighting features for the hotel that blend the modernity and natural heritage of Dubai beautifully.

HBA (Hirsch Bedner Associates) – renowned international interior designers

Meaningful motifs A masterpiece by artist Imad Bechara showcases an eclectic collection of books in different languages containing many stories. It is a symbol of the stories amassed throughout the hotel’s 13 years so far, and forms an inspiring backdrop for more stories and memories to made and told for years to come. Bechara also commissioned many of its art pieces when the hotel first launched. Flashes of gold and ruby red detailing reflect the jewels of traditional Arabian souks, featured throughout the Lobby Lounge furnishings. Wave chandelier in the elevator landing area is designed by HBA and bespoke chandelier designers, Lasvit. It was designed to reflect the waves of the Arabian Sea and constructed in a way to ensure that light is reflected in all directions, casting creative lighting effects around it. The glass is hand blown, bohemian crystal glass in three hues: clear and gold, clear and Champagne, and clear, soda and opal. It weighs 700kg and is held together by 39 fixing points suspended in the ceiling and 48 LED lights. Its design blends industrial design and elegant style. Blue tiger’s eye stone on the walls near the elevators give a luxurious feel to the welcome area. A semi-precious stone, it is believed to be a very soothing stone that reduces stress and increases calm. The walls feature small pieces of the stone, which have been hand-pieced together to form a subtle, yet striking texture. This semi-precious stone will also feature on the table-tops in Lobby Lounge.


HOTEL NEWS ME December 2016

Horizon guestroom

of each room throws light in all directions, which is reflected from the mirrored walls, providing a distinct sense of space. Combining the warmth of Asian-influenced wooden fixtures and fittings with white, blush and pastel blue soft furnishings, the rooms will provide a calming, contemporary retreat at the end of a busy day.” With Shangri-La Hotel Dubai branded as a 5-star, modern oasis, Hecker insists that the new design elements have been strategically formulated to ensure that “guests can mix work and pleasure” with the new designs across all renovated areas implemented to position Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai as a “contemporary and sophisticated haven of elegance,” in one of Dubai’s bustling areas. Hecker describes the new lobby as “surrounded by sweeping curves, clean lines, contemporary art and warming neutral tones. Flashes of gold and ruby red details reflect the jewels of traditional Arabian souks.” He adds that the entire public space has been designed to reflect all dining experiences. “Guests can step across the plush handtufted carpets before sinking into a luxuriously embroidered armchair for our finest Asian-inspired afternoon tea.”

Gerhard Hecker, General Manager, Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai

Discovering Iran’s Potential The first Iran Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference (IHTIC) will be held at the Parsian Evin Hotel, Tehran in Iran on 7-8 February 2017. IHTIC will attract an international audience of senior figures and decision-makers involved in all aspects of hotel and tourism investment in Iran. The conference will focus on hotel development and tourism attraction in the country. Join us in Tehran and hear from industry experts on the opportunities available in this region, find out what lessons they have learnt about doing business in Iran and how they have overcome development and operational challenges. Find out how government is stimulating foreign investment into the country, what incentives and projects are available. ORGANISED BY







Take 10

On a budget Despite its reputation for luxury and as home to the world’s only "7-star" hotel, the UAE has seen a significant shift towards mid-market hotels, according to JLL. The consultancy found that about half the 3,600 new hotel rooms entering the Dubai market late last year had a 3-star or lower rating. Here, Shibu Baby, general manager, Citymax Hotel Al Barsha reveals his top 10 tips for running a successful budget hotel Be seen As a budget hotel, you’ve got to be in the right location to be seen. There is no point in having a great affordable hotel in the middle of the desert. The hotel must be easily accessible with different modes of transport, shopping malls, leisure and fun activities for guests to frequent the property.

often difficult to secure business without offering a competitive price plan. Budget hotels are known for their value for money, but there is no harm in going the extra mile for your guest just because you aren’t labelled as a 5-star establishment. Value for money includes impeccable customer service and staff that know the area who can advise on local attractions and things to do.

Competitive pricing Considering the competitive nature of Dubai’s hospitality industry, the rise in midmarket and budget hotels should offer a period of stabilisation for rates, but with so many hotels in the pipeline and the ever-changing market conditions it is

Breakfast and not just a bed They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it’s also great for business which is why it is important to offer guests breakfast and not just a bed in the rate! Visitors on a budget are given greater value for

Maxx Music Bar


HOTEL NEWS ME December 2016

Conrad Makkah Main Lobby

Shibu Baby, general manager, Citymax Hotel Al Barsha

their money when breakfast is included, it also gives the hotel an opportunity to show off its F&B facilities, which in turn may convert guests on a B&B basis to stay for dinner and other meals alike. A variety of foodie findings There is no rule stating that affordable accommodation must limit its F&B offerings, but regularly you will find that many budget brands only offer the one restaurant in their establishment. Travellers are looking for variety, and by boasting more than one all-day dining restaurant you are increasing the hotel’s potential to spin revenue from food and beverage sales which are of course not limited to staying guests.

Take 10 in association with

A diverse team Every hotel wants to guarantee 100% customer satisfaction whether a budget brand or not. Hoteliers want guests to leave with lasting memories and great experiences, but to achieve high levels of customer satisfaction it Is important to focus on our teams. Nourishing career growth and personal development between staff members gives them the confidence to exude professionalism with the guests which in turn guarantees a lasting memory of the hotel and staff in visitor’s minds.

Citymax Hotel Al Barsha

Engine power It’s no secret that the internet is the engine driving revenue and bookings into hotels across the region. Gone are the days of travel agents and over the phone bookings. Budget hotels need to capitalise on the power of social media and online booking channels across the Middle East. As the market is saturated with upscale properties with often high room rates, budget brands can showcase their affordable facilities online to create a point of difference – for example on there is an option to search through hotels via ‘lowest rate available’ – a great place for hotels such as Citymax to be seen. The things that matter It’s easier for hoteliers to assume that they know what the guests want, but it can be a different case entirely when asking the guests their needs beforehand. Investing a little time and money into market research alongside a touch of personalisation will aid guests in becoming brand loyalists. It can be the simplest of things – a favourite chocolate bar left in the room to a happy birthday singsong in the bar. Minimising costs cleverly Running any hotel is a costly process, but for a budget hotel it is even more important to count the pennies. Design low cost services involving less or no staff - for example install vending machines for quick and efficient snack solutions or install self-service

JLL rep approxim orted that ately half the


new hote entering l rooms market la the Dubai t had a 3-s e last year tar or low er rating laundry rooms, all of these elements give a home from home feeling, whereby guests can organise their own laundry or grab a soft drink from the vending machine – it’s like having their own fridge and their own washing machine! Outsource when possible It is often necessary to outsource certain tasks across the hospitality industry. This way it is easy to get the best talent in a highly specialised area without having the long-term cost attached to the service. For example, if you are installing new software or a computer system across the entire property, it can be

more cost effective to hire in someone for the job in hand, this way it is a contracted price at a predicable cost for the hotel. Loving loyalty Encouraging guests to engage in your brand’s loyalty scheme helps build trust between the guest and the hotel. It is also a great source of data for the marketing guys, which means you can subtly drop hints and new offers across to them. Price conscious travellers will appreciate the small touches of a loyalty scheme, including late checkout, complimentary breakfast and exclusive deals, these are the things that will make your guests feel special and ultimately love your loyalty scheme. December 2016 HOTEL NEWS ME


Supplier Focus: Coffee

Hotel News ME hears from some of the region’s leading coffee suppliers on the impact of global warming when sourcing beans, Fairtrade and sustainable practices and what coffee trends hoteliers and F&B teams should be on the lookout for in 2017 Boncafe's Segafredo Zanetti plantation Costa Rica

Axelle Bouquet, sales and marketing executive, Boncafé Middle East

Robert Jones, Coffee Planet Managing Director

Kim Thompson, owner, Raw Coffee Company

Matt Toogood, owner, Raw Coffee Company

Shankar Sharma, co-founder, Caffé di Artisan


HOTEL NEWS ME December 2016


ccording to The National Coffee Association’s Coffee Trends Report 2016, daily consumptions of espresso-based beverages have nearly tripled since 2008 - between 2008 and 2016, past-day consumption of gourmet coffee beverages soared from 13% to 36% among 18-24-year-olds, and from 19% to 41% for those aged 25-39, so it is no surprise that hotels and coffee shops alike are cashing in on custom blends and organic beans. Interestingly, for the first time in the report’s 67-year history, the consumption of coffee brewed through automatic drip brewers among consumers who drank coffee daily dipped down to half. While this supports an approximately 2% decline in total consumption, it also supports NCDT data suggesting that consumers are continuing to increase consumption in retail coffee shops, offices and hotels, leaving room for the hospitality industry to capitalise on this booming market. What are some of the latest trends being seen in the coffee market? Bouquet: Consumers are increasingly interested in authentic high-quality products, leading to a stronger demand for premium coffee and equipment. The market has entered the ‘fourth wave of coffee’ with new ideas, innovation and coffee making practices meaning that alternative brewing equipment such as chemex, aeropress and V60 are on the rise. One of the newest trends being seen in the UAE is nitrogen infused coffee - tiny bubbles making the coffee richer and creamier. Jones: As the trend for specialty coffee continues to flourish amongst consumers in the region, it is our responsibility as a local coffee company to meet these demands as well as pioneer new specialty coffee experiences for individuals to try. A trend worth mentioning is the rise in demand for cold coffee, which is best experienced as soon as it’s made. Cold brew is suited to specialty coffee as it emphasises the delicate nuances and aromas of the bean and we expect to see this type of coffee continue to grow in popularity. Having witnessed more and more high-quality single origin and micro-lot coffees enter the market, we can attribute this rise in popularity with the increase in consumer coffee-knowledge. We are introducing more single-farm coffees, which highlight the farm-specific taste attributes of each bean. Sharma: As coffee machines require extensive maintenance, we have seen the emergence of ecofriendly hygienic product offerings and solutions that help reduce miniatous costs whilst being energy efficient at the same time. Thompson: We are seeing a huge interest in home domestic coffee making both espresso and brewing. Enthusiasts at home buying specialty single origins, grinding the coffee themselves maybe using an Aeropress, Syphons, V60’s for example. There is also a lot of interest in cold brew coffee too.

Supplier Focus: Coffee

The Raw Coffee Company’s top sellers • La Marzocco Linea home espresso machine • Rocket R58 home espresso machine • Lux domestic coffee grinder

Barista at RAW

How has coffee evolved in recent years to cater to the health-conscious consumer? Bouquet: Numerous studies have ended the myth that drinking coffee and maintaining good health can’t go together. For example, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has revealed that there was “no proof drinking coffee causes cancer.” However, the European Association for Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation declared that “drinking three cups of coffee a day was associated with a 21% reduction in the risk of mortality from heart disease.” Therefore, meaning no evolution or additives are required to lessen any types of risks, considering the information at hand. Jones: Coffee culture has increased significantly in the Middle East, making it one of the fastest growing markets in the world for coffee consumption. We have observed first-hand how consumers’ knowledge and appreciation for good quality coffee is constantly improving and we pride ourselves on catering to all kinds of consumers including the health-conscious. More coffee drinkers in the region are turning to brands that roast their coffee locally for a fresh-tasting cup, which is great for us. We offer organic UTZ certified coffee in whole bean, ground and capsule coffee varieties, as well as ethically sourced single origin coffees to offer more choice, catering to the health-conscious consumer in the Middle East and beyond. Toogood: Brewed coffee using filtered water and high quality beans that are freshly ground is inexpensive and accessible to everyone. You can follow instructional videos and there is no need to add milk, sugar or syrups to experience amazing flavors. Cold brew coffee is emerging and there is a strong following in the fitness / health sector; less acidity, higher caffeine, boosting energy and fat burning. Where do you source your coffee beans from and how is sustainability considered when sourcing and farming? Bouquet: We source our coffee beans from our plantations in Brazil, Hawaii, December 2016 HOTEL NEWS ME


Supplier focus: Coffee

Boncafé’s top sellers The Linea PB AV: Features include user-friendly interface software, an optional new patented scale technology and the functionality to programme the machine to enter a stand-by mode, improving energy efficiency. Strada MP: Designed for and by baristas a technologically advanced espresso machine featuring traditional hydraulics and a barista-friendly design. The MP model allows direct control of the water flow /pressure mechanically via an internal valve and an independent pressure profiling.

Costa Rica, Vietnam and Thailand. They are cultivated and picked with accurate control at each stage of the process, guaranteeing a superior, constant quality from plant to cup. We employ production techniques that are sustainable and environment friendly. Boncafé and Segafredo Zanetti coffee laboratories also assure stringent quality control and traceability of each production batch in addition to modern packaging technology. Jones: To ensure we receive the highest-quality specialty-graded Arabica coffee beans, we manage the full traceability by sourcing our coffee directly from Africa, Indonesia, India, Central and South America. Through our UTZ certification, we also recognise the importance of supporting our individual farmers and their families, in learning better farming methods and pioneering educational and healthcare practices, as this is pivotal to nurturing the development of the specialty coffee industry. Thompson: 100% of our beans are organic certified and ethically traded. We are launching a new brand called Refinery by Raw where many of our coffees will be direct trade and we have 22 new coffees ready to launch with this. Long term relationships with the coffee farmers we buy our beans from, benefits the farmer but we are also seeing improved agronomy practices and shared knowledge improving the quality of the beans we source, so it’s good both ways of the supply chain. Sharma: Our coffee is made from the finest, single origin beans from all the major coffee growing areas around the world with efforts in place to continually increase our share of organic and sustainable coffee beans within our product mix What are the critical sustainability challenges facing the coffee industry today, especially in relation to the supply chain? Bouquet: Environmental issues includes climate change lowering prices and decreasing productivity making crops subject to diseases, the wastage of water with a high carbon footprint. Social 54

HOTEL NEWS ME December 2016

La Marzocco Linea PB AV from Boncafe Middle East

“A trend worth mentioning is the rise in demand for cold coffee, which is best experienced as soon as it’s made. Cold brew is suited to specialty coffee as it emphasises the delicate nuances and aromas of the bean” challenges such as increased wages for low skilled labour in urban areas results in steady migration to the cities, low salaries and unstable communities. Political instability which leads to farmers and coffee producers abandoning farms or switching from coffee to more lucrative crops. Jones: We believe it is beneficial for brands to work with local suppliers, where appropriate to help sustainability. As a local coffee company, we can deliver our freshly roasted coffee quickly, with minimal carbon footprint when we’re on the doorstop of our clients. As part of our business operations, we also recycle responsibly in our HACCP and UTZ certified roastery. For example, our used hessian coffee sacks are delivered to a local service provider where they are used for shipping and local greenhouse purposes. Toogood: We are seeing flow on effects from our long-term trading partners and the social premiums we pay for our certified coffees are reaching the farmer and his family. Tangible and recordable improvements in their livelihoods and in the quality of the coffee we buy. You must remember that coffee is a fruit that is harvested once per year, so environmental challenges with weather temperatures, rainfall and sunshine all affect supply and sustainability. There are some coffee growing

countries with serious issues with leaf rust disease which damages the actual coffee plant and the coffee beans. Sharma: On the environmental side of things, coffee is an evergreen shrub, and is an important contributor to carbon sequestration, and is effective in stabilising soils. With the changing climate and environmental challenges, it becomes challenging to sustain these elements. Nonetheless we commit ourselves to a sustainable future and our packaging and pods are fully recyclable. We are also testing bio-degradable pods and should be able to offer them soon. How would you describe the relationship between new technology and sustainability initiatives? Bouquet: Investment in new technology is needed to make better agronomic decisions. For example, new technologies can be used to calculate and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve the monitoring of climate data, enhance soil fertility, introduce or preserve different coffee crops, and develop disease-resistant varieties. Farming practices such as a better post-harvest processing also need to be implemented. Access to more sustainability data in the supply can help farmers and companies make better decisions and more impactful investments. Nowadays certification programs like UTZ, Organic, Fair Trade or Rainforest Alliance go a long way towards tackling challenges. Jones: At Coffee Planet, our use of the latest technology and sustainability initiatives go together. Earlier this year, we launched our brand new and improved range of Nespresso-compatible coffee capsules, each filled with a unique blend of freshly roasted, 100% Arabica coffee. Each capsule is

Supplier focus: Coffee

The Roast Room at RAW

Coffee Planet’s top sellers Coffee Planet’s new product line includes fully automatic machines from Eversys designed to cater to high-volumes and demanding coffeeprofessionals. The Nuova Simonelli – Aurelia II, is one of the company’s best-selling coffee machine products across hotels, catering companies and Cafés.

packed immediately after roasting in Dubai and features a new and innovative click-cap capsule design, which creates a smooth extraction. Thompson: Education is the key. By using apps we can share knowledge with the farmers, co-operatives and training programmes with the growers, linking in the roaster, the cuppers and feedback can be direct and efficient. Within short periods of time, we can see marked improvements in the scores of individual coffees, which increases the price the farmer can receive. Farming initiatives such as mulching, pruning, stumping, composting, raised drying beds – improve the quality of the coffee and increase the yields. What are some of the latest technological developments in coffee machines? Bouquet: Some of the latest technical developments includes performance touch steam wands which are high performance wands that are cool to the touch. Auto-volumetrics is another new development as it ensures repeatability and consistency in high-volume settings plus an OCD distribution tool invented by Sasa Sestic, the 2015 World Barista Champion. And lastly the OCD eliminates the inconsistency in the distribution of coffee. It is very useful for the baristas to groom the ground coffee inside the portafilter without touching the actual coffee. Jones: As a dynamic and agile coffee business, we must be ready to adapt to trends to enable our customers to get the best blends they require with the assistance of state-of-the-art machines and equipment. To transfer the real coffee experience to the cup, coffee industry enthusiasts are turning to specialty coffee machines - such as the Victoria Arduino VA388 Black Eagle - to cater to the increasingly sophisticated needs of the consumer coffee palette. This coffee machine helps ensure a perfect espresso every time, as the weight of the liquid extracted is measured directly in the cup, to ensure each espresso is made with the same ratio for a consistently good brew. For an experienced barista, this is the perfect cof-

Caffé di Artisan coffee capsules

fee machine to create the perfect cup of coffee. Toogood: Good weighing scales that can weigh in coffee and weigh out extraction yields. Kettles that can boil and hold water temperature at a consistent temperature. The EK43 grinder that grinds to order. What can we expect to see from the coffee industry over the course of the next 12 months? Bouquet: The coffee industry will continue to grow. Different roasters are popping up; passionate barista’s will represent the UAE for the world barista competitions; cupping sessions are taking place at various local roasters and more and more people are undergoing certification trainings provided by the SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) and the SCAE (Specialty Coffee Association of Europe). Jones: While focusing on our ethically-sourced and locally-roasted coffee ethos, we will continue to support the market-demand for delicious tasting coffee by introducing innovative solutions such as our freshly roasted, 100% Arabica Nespresso-

Probat Roaster from Coffee Planet

compatible capsules. We plan to continue to introduce new single origins throughout the year as well as focusing on supplying our specialty-graded, 100% Arabica coffee beans to the ever-changing consumer industry, expanding both nationally and internationally to provide customers with the finest global Arabica coffee, roasted and delivered perfectly every time.

Caffé di Artisan’s top sellers Organique: A blend of organic frowners from a 200-year-old colonial coffee plantation in the Blue Mountains Nilgiris of South India and Honduran Organic Arabica. Colombian Raro: A South American single origin Arabica, sourced from the Colombian highlands. Malabar: Green beans which have been exposed to rain laden winds on pristine beaches to acquire unique notes.

December 2016 HOTEL NEWS ME



Marketplace The supplier and buyer roundup of news, products and services

Amadeus Gulf Turkish citrus fruits to the UAE renews partnership sees 44% increase Turkish Citrus Promotion Group (CPG) has with Bin Ham Group The announced that sales of Turkish citrus fruit to the UAE from January to the end of October 2016 has increased in volume by 44% compared to the same period in 2015. This equates to over 18.2 million kilograms of citrus fruit, and an export value of over US$10.6 million, resulting in an increased sales value of 49% when compared to 2015 figures.

Guest services management system from Prologic First • @yourWISH is a complete guest services management system • Can service multitude of guest requests, incidents and suggestions through a single point of-contact • Facility to monitor requests and issues until completion • It can escalate delays to avoid guest dissatisfaction • Helps discern patterns and trends that need management attention and assess guest satisfaction levels


Amadeus Gulf has renewed its consortium agreement with Bin Ham and Al Amaan, part of the Bin Ham Group of companies for the next three years. As part of the agreement, Amadeus Gulf will offer the agencies Front office solution (Amadeus Ticket Changer/Master Pricer Expert), Mid Office (Credit control/Web UETTR) and the Online Solution (E-PowerMobile Traveller).


Now quality has a number. 56

HOTEL NEWS ME December 2016


InSinkErator hot water dispensers

InSinkErator hot water dispensers can produce up to 80 cups of near-boiling water in one hour, using less energy than a 40 Watt light bulb. The Steaming Hot Water Tap is mounted on either the kitchen sink or work surface and draws water from a home or business supply line into InSinkErator’s specially designed filtration system. This filtration system reduces chlorine, lead, turbidity and other unpleasant tastes and odours to vastly improve the flavour of any drinks and foods you prepare. From there, the water travels to a 2.5-liter stainless steel tank that fits discreetly under the sink, where it is heated to 98 degrees centigrade which gained the approval of the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS) on account of their 98°C limit.

RoomOperations by Evonade RoomOperations is a cloud based housekeeping application that streamlines and optimises the housekeeping department. The system enables housekeepers to automatically assign tasks directly from the PMS, to create maintenance requests, follow up on room inventories that generate cost per customer data. The system also boasts a lost and found feature and can also handle minibar item requests amongst others. The programme can run on any web enabled device including iOS, Android and Windows.

Host 2017 to reveal quality parameters for espresso Ahead of Host Milan 2017, a meeting took place at FieraMilano Congress Centre to establish a shared set of parameters to define highquality espresso. As the popularity of espresso increases globally, generating a variety of localised interpretations, the objective of setting quality parameters is to improve supply chain standards and increase consumer awareness of high-quality espresso. The meeting was backed by HostMilano and The Fiera Milano organisation and staged by SCAE Italia, the Italian chapter of the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe. Representatives from Comitato Italiano Caffè (CIC), Associazione dei Caffè Speciali Certificati (CSC), and Costruttori Macchine per Caffè Espresso ed Attrezzature per Bar (UCIMAC) were in attendance.

5 minutes with... Myriam Redouane, hospitality regional director, SAGMA CORP Can you provide some details about the company history? Sagma Corp is a master distribution company based in Dubai. We’ve been operating since 2009 and specialise in the distribution of French niche perfumes and luxury guest amenities. We currently cover most of the GCC and Levant regions, as well as Africa, Maldives, Mauritius, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.

What is the most popular product that you supply to the hospitality industry and why? In 1924, the fashion designer Jeanne Lanvin opened her Atelier de Parfum in Paris, and a world of olfactory delights was born: Les Notes de Lanvin continues the haute couture and fragrance legacy with refined collections for the bath and body and an avantgarde attractive packaging: from the perfume shape bottle with a shiny black capsule, to the pearly white material and elegant branded stamp. The gentle formulas are adapted to all skin types ensuring sensorial textures and experience, available in 45 ml oud and rose, white vetiver, and orange amber.

What new products and announcements should we know about? We currently hold a global agreement with Accor for the Sofitel brand and launched our line in Qatar, Bahrain, Riyadh and Jeddah with key hospitality groups. New developments are in the pipeline such as DUPONT guest amenities and MONTBLANC luxury line. A new product launch called Oscar De La Renta from New-York city offers an elegant wide range of 40ml products; formulas are beautifully inspired by selected refined ingredients and oil concentrates of Oscar De La Renta fragrances.

December 2016 HOTEL NEWS ME


Last word

Who said that?

Room with a view This month’s room with a view goes to the dazzling Jade Mountain Resort in St.Lucia with sweeping sights of Pitons World Heritage Site and pool sanctuaries

Rising majestically above the 600-acre beach front resort of Anse Chastanet, Jade Mountain Resort on St. Lucia’s south-western Caribbean coastline overlooks St Lucia’s Pitons World Heritage Site and is a cornucopia of organic architecture celebrating St. Lucia’s stunning scenic beauty. Architect owner Nick Troubetzkoy has expanded upon his philosophy of building in harmony with Caribbean nature in his creation of Jade Mountain St. Lucia. The bold architectural design – individual bridges leading to exceptional infinity pool sanctuaries and rugged stoned-faced columns reaching towards the sky – makes Jade Mountain St. Lucia one of the Caribbean’s most mesmerizing resort experiences. Visitors can expect grand sweeping spaces where bedroom, living area and an extravagant private infinity pool glide together to form extraordinary platforms floating out into nature. With the fourth wall entirely absent, Jade Mountain’s sanctuaries are stage-like settings from which to embrace the full glory of St. Lucia’s Pitons World Heritage Site, and of course, the eternal Caribbean Sea.

“Affiliation is about putting hotels at the focus of everything you do. That means communicating in a way that is relevant to the different types of hotels and not trying to be everything to everyone by creating four or five sub-brands and confusing the whole market.” Filip Boyen, CEO of Small Luxury Hotels of The World

NEXT ISSUE> We will be running a dedicated supplier focus on tableware in the January 2017 issue of Hotel News ME. Revealing the latest cutlery, table-settings and crockery available to the wider F&B and hospitality industry. Ranging from new designs to environmentally friendly innovations from key tableware suppliers. To get involved in this editorial, please contact

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

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


HOTEL NEWS ME December 2016



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Hotel News ME - December 2016  

This month Hotel News ME takes a look at how the hotel industry will benefit from the UAE's theme park boom.