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The professional perspective for the hospitality industry OCTOBER 2014 | ISSUe 01 WWW.HOTELNEWSME.COM


$107bn plan







tourism trips





room nights

mapping out the future


Industry experts discuss challenges and opportunities in the multi-billion dollar travel and hospitality market


Jumeirah's Matt Balcik reveals brand details


Michelin-star chefs flock to the region


Why Premier Inn hotels are full to the rafters

more rooms


HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

The inaugural issue

Issue number

Welcome to Hotel News middle east


arket sentiment in Dubai has always been a good barometer for gauging the general health of other GCC economies. After all, the emirate pioneered the economic diversification model that its neighbours have admired and emulated. By developing a global hub for aviation, tourism and trade, Dubai has set an example of how oil wealth and foreign direct investment can be best utilised to create sustainable industries and safeguard future prosperity. The global economic crisis, for all its wear and tear, now seems a minor blip of a bygone era, and investor confidence is more bullish than ever. You only have to venture out onto Dubai’s roads to witness how busy the emirate has become, reminiscent of the pre-recession days, where businesses and expats flooded the market. This general upswing in investor and consumer confidence is being witnessed across the GCC, where mega infrastructure projects are under way once again, most notably in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and on a smaller, but still significant scale, in Oman and Bahrain. Our cover story this month reveals how the UAE has set aside US$900 billion for project expenditure, while Saudi Arabia and Qatar have earmarked $770 billion and $320 billion each for infrastructure enhancements. The hospitality sector is one of the biggest benefactors of these projects. The new cities, zones and districts being developed in the Gulf states are all set to feature ho-

tels, resorts and other leisure properties, across the full spectrum of star ratings. This presents a wealth of lucrative opportunities for savvy hospitality industry suppliers too, many of which have lent their support to this inaugural issue of Hotel News ME. Their backing of a new industry publication is yet another indication of the resurgence in sector activity that has emerged in 2014. Of course, there are Middle East markets that are suffering the effects of political tension and conflict, which in Syria in particular, has put all new hotel developments on hold. Yet analysts cited in this issue have noted the surprising resilience of markets such as Iraq and Egypt. At the same time, seasoned hotelier, Omer Kaddouri, president and CEO of Rotana, has painted a rosy picture for the hospitality firm and the sector in general. The company will continue to carve a niche in new territories where it can set industry standards, he says. The Middle East has proven itself to be the comeback king. Long may it reign. Follow us on our social media pages @hotelnewsme facebook.com/hotelnewsmme HotelNewsME

Consulting Editor Gemma Greenwood gemma@bncpublishing.net Deputy Editor Sophia Soltani Sophia@bncpublishing.net

Managing Director Walid Zok Walid@bncpublishing.net Director Rabih Najm Rabih@bncpublishing.net Director Wissam Younane Wissam@bncpublishing.net Group Publishing Director Diarmuid O'Malley dom@bncpublishing.net

Art Director John Marsland Subbing Stuart Matthews Marlow McGuinness Ltd Marketing Executive Mark Monzor

c o n t ribu t ers Moyna Sen, Lucy Taylor, Sarah McCay

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

For all commercial enquiries related to Hotel News ME contact dom@bncpublishing.net T +971 50 55 97339 All rights reserved Š 2014. Opinions expressed are solely those of the contributors. Hotel News ME and all subsidiary publications in the MENA region are officially licensed exclusively to BNC Publishing in the MENA region by Hotel News ME. No part of this magazine may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the publisher. Printed by Raidy Emirates Printing Group LLC www.raidy.com




hot topics 06 | NEWS ROUND UP a summary of regional and global news 20 | the panel hoteliers discuss the impact of dwc on the industry 34 | meet the expertS hospitality specialist views 42 | TAKE 10 the top 10 signs you're a good general manager 31 | f&b Comment the in-house Versus third-party debate continues


86 | DesiGN guru why Dubai’s hotel interior design industry rivals the world's best

interviews 14 | MATT BALCIK jumeirah group's VP brand development on new venu brand

Cover story: ALL MAPPED OUT Analysts discuss if ME market plans are achievable

58 features

18 | PREMIER INN bright prospects for the budget brand

46 | ALL MAPPED OUT Analysts discuss if ME market plans are achievable

32 | This is my life bell captain Ajith Hettiarachi

58 | OMAN REPORT An overview of the Sultanate’s development plans 66 | STARRY SKIES How michelin-starred chefs are giving gulf destinations kudos as upcoming gastro hubs 74 | Don Alfonso 1890 An exclusive interview with Alfonso Iaccarino 84 | design How ICONIC Design has kitted out HOMMAGE Atelier’s latest salon

* Don Alfonso page 74




88 | responsible hoteliers Rotana enriches the lives of special needs students in Dubai 100 | supplier events Dubai pastry chefs say Bravo to Trittico Club



news / the roundup



HMH confirms 2015 Coral Beirut opening

Kerzner to debut One&Only in Bahrain Kerzner International has revealed plans to expand its Middle East hotel portfolio by opening a One&Only resort in Bahrain’s Seef area, on the outskirts of the capital, Manama. The luxury hotel operator and devel-

oper, in which several Dubai entities own a majority stake, said the 150room property would be ready for business in 2016. In Dubai, Kerzner manages Atlantis the Palm and the One&Only Royal Mirage.

EGYPT Cairo hotel market shows pick-up signs Signs of hotel market recovery in Cairo were evident in July performance figures reported by HotStats. Visitors returned to the Egyptian capital lifting occupancy by 8.7 percentage points on July 2013 figures to 29.3 per

cent. While a modest rate, the upturn in fortunes reflected growing optimism at a stabilising political situation. Average room rates for the month nudged up one per cent to US$114, leading to a 43.4 per cent growth in RevPAR.

“Today the world economy is recovering, the macroeconomic indicators are largely positive, business and consumer confidence in key markets have returned and Jumeirah Group is ready for a second brand.” Piers Schreiber, spokesman, Jumeirah Group, explains why the Venu hotel brand has been revived in 2014.



KUWAIT Action Hotels signs Accor property Kuwait-based Action Hotels has signed a deal with French hospitality firm Accor for a 160-room four-star property in Kuwait. The developer and manager of branded three- and four-star properties said the Novotel-branded hotel would be built in the Sharq business district of Kuwait City. Construction will start in H1, 2015, with the property opening its doors in 2017.


HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

Action Hotels said its current Kuwait properties – ibis Sharq and ibis Salmiya – were “trading strongly”, with occupancy figures for the six months to June 2014 averaging 84.4 and 88.4 per cent respectively. These budget hotels achieved the highest gross operating margins of all Action Hotels’ hotels in the Middle East and Australia during the same period.


The number of pipelined rooms under contract in the top Ten MENA cities, as of August 1, 2014 (Source: STR Global).

stat Guest growth in Oman's top hotels


Hospitality Management Holdings (HMH) has confirmed it will open the Coral Beirut Concorde Hotel in early 2015. The 10-floor property, previously the Concorde Hotel, is undergoing renovations. Dubai-based HMH already operates two existing properties in the Lebanese capital – the four-star Coral Beirut Al Hamra Hotel and the two-star EWA Beirut Raouche hotel apartments.


Indian weddings to drive Oman hotel business

Oman hoteliers looking for new revenue streams would do well to corner the burgeoning Indian weddings market, according to a report by the Oman Ministry of Tourism. India’s wedding market is worth around $25 billion, growing at 25 to 35 per cent annually and the Sultanate is well placed to grab a larger share of this business, given its close proximity to the SubContinent, and its attract mix of “modern infrastructure and old would charm” a tourism official said. “Muscat is likely to witness two large-scale Indian weddings featuring 700 and 1,000 guests in November and early next year respectively. “More potential enquiries have been there and the Indian government has recognised Oman as a wedding destination, which is a promising move,” she added. “Moreover, the destination is close to India, not only geographically but also culturally.” The number of visitors staying at Oman’s four- and five-star hotels grew 23.8 per cent in the first four months of the year, compared to the same period in 2014.





Flagship Msheireb hotel delayed by two years The opening date of Mandarin Oriental’s luxury property in Qatar’s mega Msheireb Downtown Doha development has been pushed back by two years, to 2016. The high-end property, with 158 rooms and 91 serviced apartments, is one of three hotel projects under construction at the 31-hectare US$5.5 billion development in central Doha. Al Wadi Hotel, part of Accor’s M Gallery Collection and a


development in Doha

181-room Park Hyatt are the other two hotels planned for the project, completion dates for which have not been confirmed. All three Msheireb properties are owned by Amlak Hospitality, which is a member of the Qatar Foundation. Msheireb Downtown Doha is a mixed-use project designed to revive the old commercial heart of Qatar’s capital.


Another KSA hotel for Carlson Rezidor

Revenue boost for Aldar’s Abu Dhabi hotels

Carlson Rezidor has signed its fifth hotel in Saudi Arabia this year. The hotel group said it would open the 90-key Park Inn by Radisson Hotel Damman, on Corniche Road, in the first quarter of 2015. The announcement comes after the group signed four new properties in Saudi Arabia in Q2, 2014 – the 160-key Radisson Blu Hotel & Residence, Jeddah Corniche; the 261-room Radisson Blu Red Sea Palace Hotel, Jeddah; the 120-key Radisson Blu Plaza Residence, Jeddah Salihiya; and the 184-room Park Inn by Radisson Hotel Riyadh.

Aldar Properties PJSC has reported a 13.1 per cent year-on-year hike in revenues from its Abu Dhabi hotels for the first half of 2014. The listed company said revenues at its nine properties in the UAE capital topped AED 283 million (U$$77 million) during the first six months of the year, with average occupancy rates nudging up to 82 per cent, compared to 78 per cent during H1, 2013. The top five feeder markets for its portfolio of hotels are the GCC, India, Germany, the UK and China. Aldar will open Courtyard by Marriott, in the World Trade Centre Abu Dhabi development, by the end of the year.

Lagoon mega project unveiled

A giant crystalline lagoon will be the leisure centrepiece of a new 240-hectare mixed-use development underway near Jeddah. Marking Crystal Lagoons Corp’s second project in KSA, the company has signed a deal with the Prince Sultan Cultural Centre to build the lagoon as part of a US$4 billion project.



HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

The InterContinental Abu Dhabi has introduced a new and exclusive beach area for its guests in the UAE capital. Bayshore is a private club located at the hotel’s own marina, boasting 300 metres of beachfront, an infinity pool, swim-up bar, a kids pool and play area, private beach cabanas with butler services, health and fitness facilities, a spa and a restaurant.


628 Hotels

147,454 Rooms

115% Increase

The Middle East and Africa (MEA) hotel region reported 628 hotels under contract totalling 147,454 rooms, according to the August 2014 STR Global Construction Pipeline Report. Data includes projects in the construction, final planning and planning stages, but excludes unconfirmed hotels. Jeddah reported the largest increase in existing supply (+115.7 per cent) if all 7,396 rooms under contract open.

SOCIAL MEDIA WATCH The Jumeirah Group has been voted the third most influential UAE brand in a survey conducted by social network site Linkedin. Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways and Dubai’s Emirates Airline took first and second place respectively in the poll, which measured brand recognition amongst Linkedin’s network of 313 million professionals. “The brands we have identified in the UAE are leading among their peers in using Linkedin’s Marketing Solutions most effectively, and the make-up of the rankings shows that social media is a significant focus for brands in the UAE,” said Linkedin’s head of marketing solutions for MENA, Jacob Thomas. Also ranking in the top 10 were Emaar and Damac, taking fifth and ninth place respectively. Linkedin has more than 10 million Middle East members, with more than one million in both the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

DISTRIBUTION Illusions’ B2B portal partners with UK hotel aggregator i-World Travel eXchange (iWTX) – a brand new B2B online marketplace created by Dubai travel technology firm, Illusions – has forged a landmark deal with a UK hotel content aggregator. The firm has partnered with the TotalStay group, providing the large global base of iWTX users and clients with access to rooms at more than 100,000 extra hotels globally. “iWTX clients can now access through one portal, hotel inventory from 25 different wholesalers and bed banks, as well as specialist suppliers in key markets,” said TotalStayGroup director of sales and business development Paul Babai. “We have provided Illusions with quick one-XML-channel access, eliminating the need for the company to carry out multiple supplier integrations.”



news / spotlight on dubai

August performance picks up in contrast to July slump Dubai’s hotel market bounced back with a vengeance in August following an 18-year low in July, preliminary STR Global figures reveal. Demand increased 10.9 per cent, outpacing the 8.6 per cent swell in supply. This drove a 2.1 per cent hike in occupancy, leading hoteliers to push average daily rates up 5.7 per cent. RevPAR for the month therefore increased 3.7 per cent. This upswing in fortunes marked a stark contrast to July’s dismal performance with Dubai

hotels reporting the lowest occupancies in at least 18 years. Many hotels were half empty, with occupancies slumping 11.8 percentage points to 45.4 per cent compared to July 2013 according to STR – the lowest rate recorded since the company began tracking the Dubai hospitality market. “As July is one of the hottest months within the region and coincides with the Holy month of Ramadan, the city had an overall negative trend, on top of growing supply,” said STR Global managing director Elizabeth Winkle.

Royal Atlantis Resort unveiled His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, has authorised plans for the construction of a brand new mega resort on The Palm Jumeirah. Royal Atlantis Resort will cost around US$1.5 billion to develop and will be operated by Kerzner International Resorts.

EXPO LATEST Details of the Dubai Expo 2020 master plan were unveiled last month, with construction work on the Dubai Trade Centre – Jebel Ali where the event will be staged, expected to start in early 2015. It will include a 150-hectare Expo area and a surrounding residential, hospitality and logistics zone. The Expo’s theme, ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ will be integrated into its design concept, with three zones dedicated to the sub-themes of Mobility, Sustainability and Opportunity, all converging in the central Al Wasl Plaza. 10

HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

Developed by Investment Corporation of Dubai – ICD, the resort will feature 800 rooms and suites, 250 hotel apartments, and entertainment and recreational facilities. It is one of several new projects unveiled by ICD. Others include the $680 million One Za’abeel project with two towers featuring two hotels and 130 hotel apartments. The Expo site will converge at the central Al Wasl Plaza.

Two new properties at

TIME sets sights on medical tourism

New Suba hotels cater to India-bound guests India’s Suba Group plans to invest more than AED 100 million (US$27.2 million) in two new properties in Deira, both of which will cater to corporate guests travelling to Dubai en-route to the Indian SubContinent. Mansur Mehta, managing director of Suba and its parent group, MRL Group, said both four-star properties would be located close to the airport.

UAE-headquartered hospitality firm, TIME Hotels Managements, plans to capitalise on Dubai’s burgeoning medical tourism market by opening a property just a few minutes from the city’s medical services hub – Dubai Healthcare City. The 277-room TIME Royal Hotel will be located on Sheikh Rashid Road close to luxury retail centre Wafi Mall. Owner Awtad Investment Company is ploughing AED 200 million (US$54.5 million) into the property, which will open in 2016, featuring several rooms catering to guests with disabilities. “Dubai plans to position the emirate as a global medical tourism destination by 2020 with the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) targeting 500,000 medical tourists with expected revenues of AED 2.6 billion ($700 million),” said TIME Hotels CEO Mohamed Awadalla.



lm ambitions for Shangri-La Hong Kong’s hotel operator Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts will manage Dubai developer Nakheel’s new Palm Tower property on the Palm Jumeirah. The five-star hotel will offer 290 rooms and suites and occupy the first 18 floors of the building.

TIME Royal Hotel.

HOT HUB an artist’s impression of Maktoum International.

Dubai’s new mega aviation hub – Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central (DWC) has received a US$32 billion expansion package, which will boost its annual passenger capacity to more than 200 million when the facility is completed in the 2020s. The project – the biggest airport development in

the world – will be built in two phases, the first of which will take between six and eight years to complete, taking capacity to 120 million passengers annually. The aviation sector will account for 28 per cent of Dubai’s GDP by 2020, according to Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths.




ASIA PACIFIC The Asia Pacific region has 2,352 hotels totalling 528,109 rooms under contact, according to the August 2014 STR Global Construction Pipeline Report. Pipeline figures include hotels in the construction, final planning and planning stages, but exclude unconfirmed projects. Jakarta in Indonesia has the most



rooms under contract at 15,896, while the four other markets with more than 10,000 rooms pipelined are Chengdu, China (13,251 rooms); Shanghai, China (12,763 rooms); Bali, Indonesia (12,737 rooms); and Manila, Philippines (10, 509 rooms).


WTTC urges Rome to scrap hotel tax

Two firsts for Starwood in Turkey

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has called on Rome to axe its unpopular hotel tax. The levy known as ‘tassa di soggiorno’, which was increased mid-September, will drive tourists away and thwart tourism sector growth, the council said at the second WTTC’s Americas Summit (September 10-11) in Peru. WTTC president and CEO David Scowsill said the tax, which for fivestar hotels has increased from three to seven Euros per day, was “counterproductive”. “It is totally unsupportive of the Italian Travel and Tourism sector, which is a major pillar of the Italian economy,

Starwood Hotels & Resorts has signed a franchise agreement with Turkish-based Ever Group for the Four Points by Sheraton Istanbul Dudullu. The 182-room property, set up at the end of this year, will mark the debut of the Four Points by Sheraton brand in Turkey and the group’s first hotel on the Asian side of Istanbul. Starwood has also announced plans to open its 10th property in the country and its first in Adana – the 17-storey, 240-room Sheraton Adana Hotel.


New level of the unpopular daily hotel tax levied in Rome at five-star properties

contributing to economic growth and job creation,” he explained. “It will only cause a drop in visitors and drive people to go to other cities. This tax has been introduced with just five weeks’ notice. Tour operators and hotels will lose significant margins as they will bear the full cost themselves, with rooms already booked against prices advertised in their brochures.” 12


HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014


Accor reveals UK expansion drive French hotel group Accor will open 90 new properties across the UK by 2018. The hotel roll out will primarily focus on its economy and mid-scale brands, ibis and Mercure respectively. The goal is to take Accor’s total UK property count to 300, through a surge of openings over the next four years. In central London, Accor has announced two new properties destined for “iconic locations”, with the MGallery Leicester Square due to be opening in 2016 and the ibis Styles Piccadilly Circus mooted for a debut sometime in 2017.


Marriott bags Forbes innovation ranking

US hotel giant Marriott has been ranked the 18th most innovative company in the world, in a list published by Forbes. The survey listed the 100 top global firms investors believed were most likely to generate new and innovative ideas for growth. Marriott was recognised for several initiatives including its Innovation Lab – a space dedicated to promoting innovation and collaboration, located two storeys below the ground floor at its Maryland headquarters. This floor-to-ceiling white space is a literal blank canvas where any employee or customer can brainstorm. It offers rapid prototyping with instant feedback capabilities, bird’s eye views from internet-enabled cameras, and multiple avenues for customer participation. Marriott was also noted for its mobile check-in and check-out services via the Marriott mobile app, as well as its new Greatroom Lobby, showcased at its Marriott Hotels brand.

HOT TOPIC OTAs offer hotel WiFi speed check Hoteliers are now being forced to up their property’s WiFi speed to ensure bookings through Online Travel Agents (OTAs) remain buoyant. Web giants including Hotels.com, Expedia, Booking.com and TripAdvisor are now offering customers the chance to check a property’s speed before booking. It follows their tie-up with Hotel WiFi, a company that measures the speed and quality of hotel internet services at properties worldwide. The firm has launched a browser extension allowing this information to be displayed on many major OTA sites. Customers can also compare WiFi speeds of several hotels in a given destination. “Studies continue to show that hotel Wi-Fi is a top amenity, but Wi-Fi quality is also among the most frequent traveller complaints,” Hotel WiFi said. “Hotel booking sites tend to avoid displaying negative information about hotels, with the exception of customer reviews. This may be understandable for their relationship with hotels, but it’s not so convenient for travellers.”

INNOVATIONS Mobile devices to replace hotel keys and cards Two of the world’s biggest hotel groups are set to pioneer technology that will replace the traditional room key. Starwood Hotels & Resorts is poised to launch an app for the new Apple Watch that will allow members of its guest loyalty programme to open their room at W-branded properties globally from early 2015. Meanwhile, Hilton Worldwide is adopting technology whereby guests can unlock their room with their smartphone.

Introducing Allure by VingCard, a "no lock on the door" solution. With its unique design and exceptional features, hotel locking solutions are brought to a new level. By moving hardware from the guestroom doors to the walls, you are left with a sleek and minimalistic environment where the Allure by VingCard is part of the interior design. Allure is more than you would imagine it to be. It can act like a lock, but surely does not look like one. With its sophisticated glass looking fronts and elegant touch, Allure is a jewel in disguise. More flexible than ever before, you can now choose the appearance and functionality based on your desires. Allure by VingCard RFID lock is compatible with VISIONLINE by VingCard, hence providing the same features and functionalities as any other electronic lock by VingCard


Introducing Allure by VingCard, a “no lock on the door� solution. With its unique design and exceptional features, hotel locking solutions are brought to a new level. By moving hardware from the guestroom doors to the walls, you are left with a sleek and minimalistic environment where the Allure by VingCard is part of the interior design. Allure is more than you would imagine it to be. It can act like a lock, but surely does not look like one. With its sophisticated glass looking fronts and elegant touch, Allure is a jewel in disguise. More flexible than ever before, you can now choose the appearance and functionality based on your desires. Allure by VingCard RFID lock is compatible with VISIONLINE by VingCard, hence providing the same features and functionalities as any other online electronic lock by VingCard.

ASSA ABLOY Hospitality UAE POB 125748 | Rep Office Dubai | Dubai, UAE E-mail: mea@vcegroup.com | Manit.Narang@assaabloy.com Phone: 00971 50 2400845 www.vingcardelsafe.com Provider of: VingCard Locks & Systems | Elsafe Safes | Orion EMS | PolarBar Minibars



face to face



face to face


Matt Balcik, vice president brand development, Jumeirah Group, discusses the launch of the hospitality giant’s brand new hotel concept, VENU WORDS sophia soltani


lobal luxury hotel company Jumeirah Group operates an extensive portfolio of hotels and resorts. With the likes of the Emirates Towers, the Burj Al Arab and Madinat Jumeirah being just some of the iconic hotels it runs, they have become so world-renowned they are now integral to defining Dubai’s destination offering. But with a collection of world-class properties under its belt and a growing overseas presence, the firm has decided the time is right to spread its wings and diversify. In September, Jumeirah unveiled plans to launch a new contemporary lifestyle brand dubbed VENU. Designed with modern travellers who “enjoy the art of simplicity” in mind, VENU will be an independent brand, managed under the Jumeirah Group umbrella. The brand launch is being spearheaded by Jumeirah Group’s vice president of brand development, Matt Balcik. Jumeirah Group is currently in talks with Meraas Holding to open the first VENU hotel on Dubai’s Bluewaters Island project.

Could you explain what appealed to you about this role?

The opportunity to develop a global lifestyle brand has always been a dream of mine. I now get to be part of it. Who wouldn’t want that?

How will your industry experience set you in good stead for this role?

What are your plans for the brand now that you have taken on this role?

I have 18 years’ experience in the hospitality industry, having worked in Turkey, Washington DC, Sydney, Aruba, US Virgin Islands, New Orleans and Newport Beach, California. My most recent position was as general manager of the W Hotel in Istanbul. Prior to that, I held a number of senior roles working for well-known hotel brands such as Marriott and Starwood Hotels & Resorts, including general manager of the Westin Virgin Islands and general manager of the Westin Aruba. I also have extensive brand development experience, having spent three years as the global brand advocate and corporate director of operations for Renaissance Hotels.

First of all, I will enjoy every second of this journey. My ultimate goal will be to ensure that VENU becomes the global lifestyle brand of choice for the millennial mind-set.

Why has Jumeirah decided that now is the right time to launch a new brand?

In short, the world economy is recovering, the macro-economic indicators are largely positive, business and consumer confidence in key markets has returned and Jumeirah as a company is ready to embrace the opportunity of launching a second brand. Add to that the excitement and anticipation around Dubai winning the rights to host the World Expo in 2020 and you have a strong case to bring greater choice to the modern traveller.

What is new and different about the VENU brand that will make it stand out in a crowd?

VENU is more than a hotel. It is a lifestyle and it is a lifestyle that matches that of the modern traveller, the social catalyst, those with a millennial mind-set. Imagine VENU as a space where hotel meets hang out, creative, intuitive, energetic and ultimately bold, reflecting the spirit of Dubai. We are attuned to our guests’ mind-sets and attitude to life, not just to their “needs” like other hotels. We are always there when you need us, never when you don’t. Every VENU hotel is in tune with the location it’s in, its heartbeat, its secrets and special moments. VENU hones in on the needs and expectations of the contemporary lifestyle traveller, in search of speed, convenience and an international feel, where technology is seamlessly integrated into the guest experience. VENU is a place where our guests are travellers, not tourists. They are independently minded and cosmopolitan, keen to engage with an exciting dynamic and social brand that offers the space to create their own experience. OCTOBER 2014 HOTEL NEWS ME


face to face

How will the brand be pitched, in terms of star rating, and how will it compare to the Jumeirah brand?

stay current and fuels their curiosity. They are looking for meaningful experiences where they can participate.

When do you believe the first VENU property will open?

We anticipate the first VENU property Jumeirah is a high-end luxury brand and is will be open in 2017; there are no addirecognised as an innovator in that segment. Why did Jumeirah choose Bluewaters Island tional details I can disclose at present. DisWe are taking that spirit of innovation and for the first property? cussions are under way with a number of We are in advanced discussions with a developers in the Middle East, Asia and applying it to the challenge of creating a contemporary lifestyle hotel Europe in cities that are brand, for the modern most in line with what traveller. We see VENU the VENU brand stands "Our aim is to be the global lifestyle as a fantastic opportunity bold, modern, cosbrand of choice for the traveller with a for: to shape the market. Our mopolitan and full millennial mindset" aim is to be the global of energy. lifestyle brand of choice Right now, how big is the for the traveller with a number of owners and developers for projects VENU brand team and what are your recruitmillennial mind-set. in the UAE and Europe. We would prefer our ment plans as the brand develops in the fuHow does the brand meet current trends, in first hotel to be in Dubai as the brand is in- ture? terms of customer travel preferences and the fused with the spirit of the emirate and, as a We have announced the brand concept, guest experience? What research was done Dubai-born, bred and based brand, Jumeirah its look and feel and my appointment to to discover what the customer preferences Group would like to see the first hotel to lead the development of VENU. We are for their experience are? bear the VENU brand open here. In fact, in negotiations with a number of developThey follow trends and don’t like limita- Meraas Holding has asked us to operate one ers, especially in Dubai, and look forward tions. Their passions and interests are wide of the first VENU hotels on Bluewaters Is- to sharing news of new management agreeranging. Their interests focus on music, de- land near Jumeirah Beach Residences. De- ments or key appointments for VENU in sign, food and beverage. Travel helps them tails of the deal will be released at a later date. the coming months.


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HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

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budget hotels

Banking on budget Roudi Soubra, General Manager of the Premier Inn Abu Dhabi, International Airport discusses the nuances of the budget hotel market and the opportunities for the brand to expand regionally

Roudi Soubra, General Manager of the Premier Inn Abu Dhabi, International Airport.


HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

budget hotels

"We run at full capacity most days of the year, in both Dubai, and Abu Dhabi." In your opinion, how well are budget and mid-scale hotels being received by guests in Dubai and Abu Dhabi?

have at least 3,000 Premier Inn rooms in Dubai by 2020 and 1,000 in Abu Dhabi.

There is now a greater demand for budget and mid-scale brands, like Premier Inn. We run at full capacity most days of the year, in both Dubai, and Abu Dhabi. The popularity of these properties is growing so much so, that various full-service international and local operators are introducing their mid-scale products and branches within the UAE.

How well is the Premier Inn brand performing in Dubai and Abu Dhabi?

What factors are driving demand in this segment?

How has awareness of the Premier Inn brand in Europe helped to win business for the UAE properties?

Demand is mainly driven by business travellers, but also from leisure travellers, sports teams, music event professionals, and individuals that are looking to get value for their money. Local and international travellers are choosing The Premier Inn, and as we grow, the hotels become more popular. How do the Abu Dhabi and Dubai markets differ?

Both markets are extremely similar, corporate oil and gas and government guests prevail in Abu Dhabi, and leisure is the priority in Dubai, but overall, the source markets are enormously alike. What is the growth potential for the budget hotel market in both emirates?

The budget hotel sector is still massively under represented in both emirates, so Premier Inn has identified the potential to grow significantly. We aim to

We believe that our hotels in Abu Dhabi and Dubai International Airports are the highest occupancy hotels in their respective cities. Our other hotels do extremely well too, and overall out-perform even our 670+ properties in the UK.

Having the recognition from Europe was enormously helpful to begin with, but essentially we have had to make our own mark in the UAE. We have found that it is mainly our clients from the UK that associate Premier Inn with Europe, but we are proud to be associated with such a wellrespected brand. The European heritage has been particularly instrumental in our success. It was naturally difficult for Premier Inn to compete with the well-established brands, however, with hard work, and our commitment to excellence, we have become a key player within the industry, and we are now as well known and popular in the UAE, as we are in UK. With the Dubai Government’s waiver of the 10% municipality fee in place, has Premier Inn’s owner, Whitbread Plc, witnessed an increased interest from inves-

tors and if so, has this impacted the brand’s Dubai pipeline.

We have had a phenomenal amount of interest, although when His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced his wish to see a much greater representation from our sector, that was hugely influential too. We are happy to help fulfil the demand and are looking forward to accelerated growth in the UAE, as well as in other Gulf countries. What will be the impact of the World Expo 2020 on Premier Inn’s business in both emirates?

The announcement of Expo 2020 gave a huge confidence boost to the UAE’s hospitality industry. Premier Inn expects to play a key role in helping to accommodate the 25 million visitors expected to attend the Expo. Our Premier Inn, Dubai Investment Park, is currently our closest branch to the Expo 2020 site in Jebel Ali, and we have already noticed an increased demand for rooms in that location. What does The Premier Inn offer that other budget hotels do not?

Premier Inn offers pristine, and immaculately clean rooms with great service, and at a price which is always going to provide value for money, but what really sets us apart from the others, is our ‘Good Night Guarantee.’ If a client is dissatisfied with their night’s sleep, then The Premier Inn will refund the cost of their room. It is simple, if our clients are not happy then we are not

happy either. Additionally, Premier Inn also takes great pride and great care in guest service. With robust systems in place to gather feedback, we aim to continually improve how we operate, by listening to our guests. This priceless data comes through direct feedback, social media, and review sites. Our two airport hotels – Abu Dhabi and Dubai – are both ranked first within the budget sector on TripAdvisor. These reviews have significant importance for our guests, and we are proud to be involved. Abu Dhabi is the first tourism authority to reveal plans to integrate social media rankings into its official hotel classifications. With three Premier Inn hotels in Dubai and two in Abu Dhabi, are there any plans to add any more in the UAE and elsewhere in the region?

Premier Inn recently announced the opening of 14 new hotels across the GCC region, including properties in Sharjah, Dubai, Riyadh, Manama, Muscat, Doha and Jeddah, within the next three years. We are opening hotel number six in Sharjah at the end of this year and we have announced plans for hotels in Dubai, Ibn Battuta Mall, Dubai Healthcare City, Dubai Al Jadaf and Al Maktoum International Airport. We have plans for Abu Dhabi too, but I’m not in a position to release details yet. These are key strategic locations, and we presently have unfulfilled demand within these areas. OCTOBER 2014 HOTEL NEWS ME


the panel

A DWC discussion

Hotel News ME prompts UAE hoteliers to discuss the impact of the recently announced US$32 billion airport expansion package for Al Maktoum International - Dubai World Central (DWC) on the country’s hospitality industry. Will the surge in regional aviation traffic continue to boost revenues in hotels across the region?

DEEPAK Dahiya, director of sales & marketing for The Ajman Palace Hotel & Resort

Peter Mansourian, GM for Grand Millennium Dubai hotel

Patima Onnorm, director of sales & marketing for Park Regis Kris Kin Hotel Dubai

arlier this month, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, endorsed an AED 120 billion ($32 billion) expansion of Al Maktoum International – Dubai World Central (DWC). This new aviation hub, located in Jebel Ali, will eventually accommodate more than 200 million passengers annually when fully operational in the mid 2020s. The first phase includes two satellite buildings with a collective capacity of 120 million passengers annually, plus the ability to accommodate 100 A380 aircraft at any one time. It will take between six and eight years to complete. Paul Griffiths, the CEO of the facility’s operator, Dubai Airports, says the aviation sector is the “cornerstone” of the UAE’s economy, stressing the industry is expected

to support more than 322,000 jobs and contribute 28 per cent of UAE GDP by 2020. But what are the ramifications for the hospitality industry? Three of the country’s hoteliers sit down to discuss their views on the topic.

destinations; and the growth of low-cost carriers, all establishing in the emirate as an important global hub. It provides us with a definite guideline in terms of our business development strategy.




How significant is the growth of the UAE’s aviation industry when planning your business development strategy? Dahiya: The UAE’s aviation industry is a carefully constructed and well-executed model that effectively harnesses the emirate’s geocentric location and is one of the key drivers for hospitality and tourism. Travel to the UAE is expected to grow over the next 10 years, with the country’s strategic location; investment in airports and infrastructure; increasing airline connectivity; the expansion of existing routes and the addition of new

Mansourian: The growth of the aviation industry is quite important when planning our business development strategy as Dubai has always been a stopover destination – a point where east meets west. DWC will generate more traffic to Dubai and therefore more business to the hospitality sector. It also means more hotel rooms [to meet demand] and therefore stronger competition, which we must consider. Onnorm: The aviation industry plays a major role in our portfolio development strategy for the region. It is a key driver of revenues and has a huge impact on inbound business.

cover story



"Dubai and Abu Dhabi will remain popular destinations and we will continue to pursue our growth strategy irrespective of the new airport, however it is incredibly encouraging that the government, tourism bodies and the airlines continue to invest in infrastructure"

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Dubai (and Abu Dhabi) benefit greatly from the national carriers who work with the relevant tourism authorities to continue to generate increasing numbers of visitors and build relationships with every country to increase flights around the world. Dubai has been positioned as both a business and leisure destination and a Middle Eastern hub for both short stays and stopovers. In the hospitality industry, we actively target the countries of origin where these travelers start their journeys. How have your UAE pipeline plans to date been steered by the ongoing development of aviation infrastructure and the fast-paced network expansion of Emirates Airline and, more recently, flydubai?

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Dahiya: Development of the aviation infrastructure and airline networks drives demand for hotels. Dubai's successful bid for the World Expo 2020 is a massive stimulant too. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are currently the two most promising destinations, as they continue to receive more visitors, driving strong occupancies. The Dubai hotel market will add 17,000 rooms by 2017 with demand expected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 7.75%,

www.northmace.com/hotelnews OCTOBER 2014 HOTEL NEWS ME


the panel

When complete, dubai world central will handle more than 200 million passengers annually.

while the Abu Dhabi market is expecting ways going to be opportunities for us to grow towards luxury brands and up-market ac4,350 keys by 2017 with demand growing at our brands. From a strategic perspective, commodation, leaving a huge opportunity a CAGR of 6.25 per cent. This reflects a sub- the destination appeals on many levels – for for budget and mid-scale hotels. The $32 bilstantial improvement in market confidence. business and leisure and across all categories, lion expansion plan for DWC will drive furAt HMH – Hospitality Management Hold- from budget to upper upscale. ther demand for budget hotels, as the airport ings we are looking to double our portfolio in will bring in more middle class and young Dubai by 2020. We have got a solid develop- What does the $32 billion expansion plan travelers. We are eager to penetrate this largement pipeline and are scoutly untapped market for miding opportunities to roll out scale and economy hotels in our budget brand to cater to "The $32 billion expansion plan for DWC the region with ECOS Holow-cost travelers. – a 'no frills' B&B brand will drive further demand for budget tels that ties together a unique Mansourian: “Our plans at hotels as the airport will bring in more economical and ecological middle class and young travelers" Grand Millennium definiteconcept. ECOS Hotels is a ly take into consideration the smart choice for investors growing demand anticipattoo because of lower coned. This will not only have an impact on hotel for DWC mean for your hotel group? How struction and operating costs as well as quick rooms, but on restaurants and spas.” will you capitalise on it? and high return on investment. Onnorm: “Dubai and Abu Dhabi are both hugely popular destinations and there are al22

HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

Dahiya: Hotel stock in the UAE, like the rest of the Middle East, is predominantly geared

Mansourian: We believe standing out from the crowd is critical and we reflect that

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the panel

"Given the scale of expansion in terms of airport infrastructure and airlines in the UAE, we are definitely eager to double our Dubai portfolio by 2020 as well as operate a hotel in every GCC country"

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in our immaculate level of service and competitive packages. We also recently refurbished our hotel apartments despite the fact that the hotel had only been built six years ago. Onnorm: The relocation of many airlines to DWC will have an impact on our business and we will consider an additional mid-scale brand nearer that location. It will also mean that a Dubai airport is within reasonable reach of Abu Dhabi, which will result in increased competition, which is healthy. How will the expansion impact your pipeline strategy for the UAE? Dahiya: Given the scale of expansion in terms of airport infrastructure and airlines in the UAE, we are definitely eager to double our Dubai portfolio by 2020, as well as operate a hotel in every GCC country. Mansourian: We have plans to grow and develop further as a brand, and the DWC’s development will only provide more impetus for this expansion. Onnorm: We are part of the StayWell Hospitality Group, an Australian chain with one existing hotel in Dubai, Park Regis Kris Kin, that continues to perform well, attracting a healthy mix of business and leisure travelers. Our current strategy involves building and operating midscale and upscale hotels across the MENA region. Dubai and Abu Dhabi will remain popular destinations and we will continue to pursue our growth strategy irrespective of the new airport, however it is incredibly encouraging that the government, tourism bodies and the airlines continue to invest in infrastructure.


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the panel

How do you believe the DWC’s gradual ramp up of operations will evolve the UAE’s hotel landscape over the next 10 to 15 years? Dahiya: DWC will serve as an ideal location for hotels. Phenomenal growth in stopover traffic, rapidly expanding low-cost carriers, increasing intra-regional travel, expanding airport capacity and a growing middle class will fuel the demand for budget properties. Hotels near Dubai International may look at alternative markets or segments, but business will continue to flow in based on Dubai’s projected visitor number growth. Abu Dhabi will gain too from this amazing development, given the proximity of the DWC site to the capital and vice versa. Mansourian: The hotel industry will adjust to the growing demands of DWC’s development. We have already witnessed this since Dubai Expo 2020 was announced, which will take place at Jebel Ali, close to DWC. This has encouraged more hotels to go ahead with their plans to operate in Dubai. Onnorm: DWC will certainly lead to more hotels located in this area, however guests 26

HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

have preferences; some prefer Downtown, Deira, Bur Dubai or Sheikh Zayed Road so all locations will remain popular, particularly near the beach. I believe the hotel landscape will become broader. Currently Dubai has a large number of deluxe offerings, but there is a gap in the market for three- and four-star properties, which could help Dubai attract a wider group of clientele.

The region's travel market isn't all about luxury; budget offerings, such as flydubai, are growing in stature too.



FIRST LOOK: four seasons resort dubai

"But Dubai has a lot of good hotels. to make the leap from good to great can only be achieved through experiences."

PROPERTY HIGHLIGHTS 1. Spanish Mediterranean architecture, with colours and texture influenced by a seaside lifestyle 2. Huge lobby windows, which look out on to the expansive lawns meeting up with the sea 3. Balconies for every room, boasting panoramic city views 4. High ceilings creating a feeling of space 5. Fully customisable beds in the guest rooms 6. Lavish details like marble floorings in the foyer, bathrooms and dressing rooms 7. Bathroom ceilings are leafed in silver to reflect the colours from the Murano-glass light fixture 8. Luxurious Presidential and Royal suites with private gyms, spas, a butler service and stunning sea views 9. The Royal Suite has its own grand living room, with its own piano 10. A private villa is tucked away in the resort gardens


HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

FIRST LOOK: four seasons resort dubai

All rooms are equipped with balcony sea- and cityscape-views.

Flagship hotel,

flagship location Hotel News ME discovers how the upcoming Four Seasons Resort Dubai, at Jumeirah Beach, will make the most of its design, location and service to set it apart from its competitors


ubai has been in the throes of a hospitality boom for almost two decades. Today the market is awash with luxury hotels with world-class standards. But an upscale brand that has been missing in the region until now is Four Seasons, which is poised to make its debut on a prime area of Jumeirah Beach real estate, on December 1. The Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach will occupy a 14-acre green oasis circled by eight ancient olive trees in a location, which the brand’s regional vice president and property’s general manager, Simon Casson, says most hotel operators would “jump at”. “To be located on a natural beach and so close to Downtown and DIFC is a rare opportunity for the luxury hotel industry in Dubai,” he says. “We are honoured to have been chosen to bring this iconic site to life and create a new centre of excellence in hospitality.” The natural question to ask is why Four Seasons’ entry to the market has been relatively late. “I guess timing is a question of perspective,” says Casson. “We sign industry unique and generational-term management agreements and so in the perspective of a 60-year contract it is more important to be here in the right way, in an exceptional location, working with a first class partner, than to be here early. “Dubai is booming, the economic cycle is on an up and we are ready to join the market and add value to the mix, as we launch our brand.” But what does Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach promise to offer that its competitors do not? “Combine the unbeatable location with a beautifullydesigned building and world-class interiors and product, and you cannot fail to have a 'good' hotel,” says Casson. “But Dubai has a lot of good hotels. To make the leap from good to great can only be achieved through experiences, which can only be delivered by people and the human touch. Providing an intuitive, personalised service will define who we are and why we are different.” OCTOBER 2014 HOTEL NEWS ME


this is how we do it

Innovations • The UK’s first elevated hotel • Three river-facing event rooms • An infinity pool and 24-hour gym on level 52 • In-room binoculars • 69 free-standing baths boasting London views • London’s highest destination bar, Gong • Best of British food concept at Ting, where locally-sourced produce is used to create modern European cuisine with an Asian twist


East meets West


he much-anticipated Shangri-La Hotel, At the Shard, London, opened in May 2014, housed in Western Europe’s tallest and arguably, most high-profile building. The Shard reaches 309.6 metres above the city of London and is also home to offices, restaurants, residences and London’s highest viewing platform, at 243 metres. Shangri-La Hotel, at the Shard, London, is the UK’s first elevated hotel, located between levels 34 and 52 inside the skyscraper. The key selling point at this landmark property is undoubtedly the panoramic views. These can be taken in from all of the 185 rooms and suites, and from public spaces including the lobby, event space, the infinity pool and gym area


HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

on level 52, and the two F&B outlets – signature restaurant Ting and London’s highest destination bar, Gong. The property's design makes the most of its unrivalled views and each room and suite is equipped with binoculars, enabling guests to get up-close views of London attractions. Other notable features include the 92 freestanding baths. A grand staircase and a scenic glass-walled elevator linking levels 34 and 35, and a private elevator takes guests directly to the Shangri-La suite. The property is poised to launch new iPad technology, which further enhances some of its key assets, details of which will be released in the coming months.

F&B comment

In-house or third-party? Mariano Faz, head of asset management at TFG Asset Management, weighs the key issues facing hoteliers


otel operators are well versed in selling rooms at the best price, but can they boast the same level of expertise when it comes to their Food & Beverage (F&B) outlets? Driving the profitability of an F&B department is a significant challenge facing owners and hotel operators. Should they be managed in-house? Or would it be better to hand over the management of this department to a specialised third-party operator? The preferred option for hotel operators is to manage these outlets in-house; it allows them more control, while providing a flexible tool that can be accommodated in the room-selling price. However, from a hotel asset manager’s perspective, the challenge lies in exploiting the maximum value from every square metre of restaurant, while also considering the hotel operator’s broader strategy. In Europe, there is a tendency among hotel operators to limit their involvement in the F&B business. This is driven by three factors; the value of commercial space located on the ground floor of a hotel property, which is more profitable if leased to a third-party; staffing costs (F&B is a highly labour-intensive business); and the challenge of attracting guests who may be swayed by F&B options outside the hotel. Often, due to this combination of factors, the involvement of an operator may be limited only to managing breakfast operations. In the Middle East, a hotel’s F&B offering has a more significant role to play, in terms of driving revenues. This is because in-house restaurant outlets are often reasonably well occupied. However, F&B strategies still differ from operator to operator.

About The First Group Asset Management: TFG Asset Management is dedicated to dealing with every aspect of a completed development. Once a project is complete, the Asset Management team manages the entire rental process, including operations, marketing, tenant liaison, leasing, contracts and finances, while also working in partnership with The First Group’s partner hotel management brands. www.tfgassetmanagement.com About Mariano Faz: Mariano is head of asset management for TFG Asset Management. He has more than 12 years of expertise in global hospitality and real estate markets and has held a number of high-level positions in hotel operations, business development, hotel management and hotel asset management for hotel owners. About The First Group: The First Group is an internationally acclaimed, British-owned, global property development company based in Dubai, with a focus on creating innovative hotel projects. The company was co-founded by Danny Lubert and Gary Shepherd who boast more than 30 years of collective senior management expertise. www.thefirstgroup.com

To answer the question of whether it is better to leave the F&B premises under the hotel manager’s control, or to outsource it to a third-party operator, the following factors should be considered. Weigh up the pros and cons of a property: Location, category and the hotel’s space distribution will define how easy or difficult it will be to operate the restaurants. The overall strategy: Achieving the maximum RevPAR should be the main objective of every hotel operator. However, it is important to analyse the influence F&B services have on room prices. Do F&B services help drive better room returns, or do they operate as a separate business, with their own accountability? The hotel operator’s experience of F&B: Not all operators share the same success in the F&B field. Their best practices and success stories within this industry should be taken into consideration. Specialised F&B department: Some hotel groups

operate their hotel division and F&B department as two autonomous business units. It is important that an operator realises the importance of the objectives to be achieved within each of these units. Distribution channels: The channels used by hotels to price their rooms are different from those used for F&B. It is vital to understand the power of a brand and its capability in producing a great F&B concept. Branding: An F&B brand has to be appealing and it needs to provide value to the property. If a new brand is created, the hotel asset manager needs to be aware of the time it will take to position it in the market and compare it with brands that are already well positioned. While considering these points, it is vital for a hotel asset manager to find the best and most suitable formula for their operation, while considering the vital role F&B plays in defining a hotel’s RevPAR. OCTOBER 2014 HOTEL NEWS ME


this is my life

Ajith Hettiarachi bell captain, Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek

All in a day’s work The thoughts and ambitions of a hospitality professional who strives to make his guests feel really special What made you join the hospitality profession? I love interacting with people. I am a very sociable and outgoing person. “Yes I Can” is my motto and I am always excited to handle a new challenge and learn from each situation, to improve my work and develop my career. Are you happy with your decision to join the hospitality industry? Yes, I am very happy and proud to be a hotelier, especially to be a part of such a great team working in a hotel, which is a landmark in itself. Working in the hospitality industry is so far the best decision I have ever made and if I had to go back in time I would make the same career decisions. What was your first role? I have been in Dubai since 1996 and started my career in the housekeeping department, as a room attendant, and later moved to the front office. Would you like to be in any other department in the hotel? Why? No, I am very happy in my current role. I am one of the first people to meet and greet guests and I often 32

HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

feel I am representing Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek, because I am the first person that our guests meet. The first impression is always important and a sincere smile can make someone’s day. Do you like being one of the reasons that your hotel functions so beautifully? Yes, very much so. The bell desk team plays a major role in making guests happy and their stay memorable. The biggest joy for me is to see guests coming back to stay. I give them a warm welcome and try and meet their expectations. What is your normal day like? My day starts at 5am. I like to watch the news and read the newspaper, while having breakfast. I start my shift with a follow up from the previous day and then continue the tasks that I love to do, such as handling guest queries, helping them organise their stay in Dubai. Where do you envisage your career heading over the next five years? I see myself as a chief concierge, so I am working towards making that a reality. I have many dreams and goals and I work very hard to make them happen.



expert view

"All too often candidates are selected just for their personality ... rather than their capability"

Invest in selection

Piers Burton, executive director at consultancy, Eagles Spearing, explains how a considered approach to candidate selection improves retention and competitiveness


s we exit the summer months, during which the business of executive search in the hospitality industry has typically experienced a temporary lull. As hotels and leisure companies hold back on incurring costs through the addition of head count, I’m left wondering if this would actually have been the ideal period for organisations to be developing their existing talent

and recruiting new management into the fold. While the majority of hospitality businesses here experience their lowest trading months in the summer, senior management has a rare opportunity to allocate generous time to considering team development strategies. They can take the time to identify the people that will help to drive their business forward in

Eagles Spearing is a boutique management consultancy whose services cover three distinct industry sectors: leisure, retail and hospitality. Its consultancy services span three broad disciplines: executive engagement, organisational structure, and brand/retail establishment. eaglesspearing.com


HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

the future. Recognising that the development and retention of exceptional team members is the key to this strategy, it must also be acknowledged that the competence of identifying and recruiting the best talent is also critical in developing a mid- to long-term competitive advantage. Organisations are all about people; get that aspect wrong and be prepared to experience a prolonged episode of under performance. Identifying the right candidate to lead a leisure entity, or a division within that entity, is therefore the most critical executive function that senior management undertakes, as it evolves its strategy. Despite good intentions, though, it seems a significant proportion of senior managers find themselves unable to allocate the amount of time it requires to comprehensively interview, and then select, the right candidates for their crucial leadership positions. The result? All too often candidates are selected just for their personality (it doesn't take long to assess whether you like someone, or not) rather than their capability. It is personality and competency combined that will deliver value to a leisure company, in the long term. So, if you're serious about delivering the full potential of your organisation, but lack the luxury of time to perform this duty with the diligence it demands, consider

engaging an executive search specialist to perform much of the essential background work for you. A fundamental reason for appointing a consultancy to identify qualified candidates is that most top executives are not actively seeking career change. Senior managers tend not to respond to public advertisements. A tailored approach is necessary to engage their interest in positions available in other hotel groups, or leisure companies. This takes considerable time. Professional consultancies are able to allocate their resources to tailor such approaches. While this type of service may, on the surface, appear expensive, the return on investment is likely to be outstanding. Assigning a consultancy to facilitate the presentation of a range of qualified candidates, through a comprehensive search of both local and international markets, is really a very good use of funds. Good search companies will take time to understand the senior management and the culture that exist within any client company, understanding that the leadership potential of suitable candidates emanates not only from their own personality and skill set, but also from those with whom they will work and manage. As you look to grow your business over the coming months, consider the options that are available to you, in terms of identifying your future leadership.

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expert view

"The acceptable norm for staff turnover in the region has become 25%, which in my opinion is too high"

The challenges of staff retention Employees need incentives and encouragement to stay loyal, says Stephen Wilson, managing director, Wilson Hospitality Executive Search


ospitality, more so than any other industry in the world, is only as good as its people. Hotel operators in the region have an above-average reliance on an expatriate workforce, particularly in lower level positions in the organisation, making recruitment one of the biggest challenges. This will become a bigger hurdle, as most companies look

to boost their capacity in the run up to Expo 2020. With an improved economic situation in many South Asian countries, it has become increasingly difficult for the Middle East region to source talent from these traditional catchment areas. I believe we need to view the recruitment challenges from a different angle, and instead focus on staff retention.

Wilson Hospitality Executive Search is a specialised recruitment company covering all spectrums of the hospitality industry. The Dubai-based company assists with appointments at senior level, from operations to management. Stephen Wilson is the founder and managing director and boasts extensive experience building recruiting strategies and recruitment teams. wilson-hospitality.com


HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

The acceptable norm for staff turnover in the region has become 25%, which in my opinion is too high. A recent exercise revealed it costs AED 10,000 (US$2,723) to replace an employee who leaves the organisation. The costs of staff turnover should be reflected in the financials, which should be more tangible to management.

Is your organisation open to ideas and feedback from your employees? 4. Talent and skill utilisation

Motivated employees want to contribute to work areas outside of their specific job description. 5. The perception of fairness and equitable treatment

Getting staff retention right in your organisation

People want to be treated fairly in all aspects of their work life, from discipline to remuneration.

1. A satisfied employee knows clearly what is expected from them every day at work

6. Your best employees seek opportunities to learn and grow in their careers

It is vitally important employees at all levels of the organisation have a job description and regular performance reviews.

Employees fear stagnation, if there are no challenges at work.

2. The quality of the supervision an employee receives matters

A frequent exit interview complaint is lack of recognition from the senior management.

It is important for supervisors to provide clear definitions of what is expected of the employee. Employee complaints usually concern: • A lack of clarity about expectations • A lack of clarity about earning potential • A shortfall in feedback about performance • The failure to hold scheduled meetings • A failure to provide a framework within which the employee perceives he/she can succeed 3. The ability of the employee to make suggestions is vital

7. Little or no recognition of employee from senior managers

8. Succession planning is the key to staff retention

Staff should be developed with potential future planning in mind and lateral movement should be allowed within the organization, for an idea of potential growth. 9. Staff must feel rewarded, recognised and appreciated

Frequently saying thank you goes a long way. Today’s generation also values rewards and recognition, management style and company culture, besides the usual salary and position.

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expert view

"The message is to keep innovating to ensure a continuous high profile and to encourage repeat visits from past customers"


Charles Bott, director of PKF The Consulting House, outlines six strategic challenges facing the regional hotel sector today and in the future


ne cannot help but be impressed by the ambition, vision, energy and speed of delivery of hotel projects in this region. However, we believe there are six key challenges the sector must face up to now, if the desired returns, from extensive investments, are to be realised. 1. Reduce environmental footprints

A concerted effort is required to drive down the consumption of resources and the generation of waste and emissions throughout the life cycle of a hotel. With so many new developments under way, the region is in a healthy position to leapfrog existing standards and establish global environmental best practices in the construction and operation of new hotels. Rezidor has led the way with its ‘Think Planet’ award. This recognises the hotel within the group that achieves the highest energy savings and makes the greatest contribution to energy efficiency, over a 12-month period. The award is part of a targeted 25% energy reduction across all Carlson Rezidor hotels, throughout EMEA, by 2016. Every staff member at the award-winning hotel receives a folding bicycle for their efforts. One of PKF's strategic partners, EMS, successfully implemented the cooling solution at the 500-seat football arena at 38

HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

Sports City in Doha. This became a distinctive factor that helped to set the country's bid to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022 apart. The company carries out planning for new projects, but also audits existing buildings. The aim is to not only conserve, but also recover all of the capital expenditure quickly, through energy savings. This is a very commendable approach. 2. Analyse capacity

It is essential to start modeling different possible future scenarios. This is needed to understand the

levels of demand required to meet targeted occupancy rates and to develop strategies for overcoming any weakness in demand, or significant overcapacity. As an example, in 2013, PKF TCH analysed the impact of Expo 2020 in Dubai, looking at the requirement of additional hotel rooms. In our experience, such scenarios help stakeholders ‘rehearse the future’ and prepare for a range of possibilities and opportunities. The developers and operators can seize those opportunities by applying a three-pronged strategy for growth: choose the right

countries and timing for development; manage scale effects locally; and adapt global brands and concepts to the local clientele. 3. Invest in human resources

People matter. Given the scale of likely human resource demand and the global competition for the best service talent, hotel owners and operators need to take a long-term perspective and think strategically about how they will educate sufficient staff to meet future demand. This may be an opportunity for collective action by the industry to invest in primary, secondary and tertiary education of future hotel staff, in different geographic locations, from which the talent can then be recruited. As companies reorganise to gain their competitive edge, human resources play a key role in helping them deal with a fastchanging competitive environment and the increased demand for quality employees. With this in mind, there are a number of key, people-related activities that show how human resources add value to a company: managing and utilising people; tying performance appraisal and compensation to competencies; and developing competencies that enhance individual and organisational performance. 4. Differentiation

With so many high-end properties coming onto the market, cus-

expert view

tomers and their travel agents will have a wide range of options from which to choose. The challenge for owners will be to differentiate their proposition. They will need to stand out, both in their positioning and in their service delivery, to maximise word-of-mouth promotion from their visitors. Participation in programming the host destination for Expo 2020 plays a key role, even at unit level. 5. Innovation

The region is setting standards for innovation in new developments planned and already under way. This is an exciting time for the region’s hotel sector, with new announcements being made on a weekly basis. The challenge for

the industry – and the region – is to ensure it pursues an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable strategy for growth. The message is to keep innovating to ensure a continuous high profile and to encourage repeat visits, from past customers. 6.Business-led design

One of the philosophies that PKF stands by is ‘business-led design’, which follows a process that shows clients exactly how to attract the repeat visits. What is it? More projects fail in this region because of an incomplete development programme definition, than from any other cause. Too often, developers commission design work solely based on a vision. What happens? It

causes endless revisions to designs, higher development costs and lower IRRs. What business-led design looks ahead to is the establishment of a business case, with carefully thoughtout studies, leading to a planning brief, to be presented to designers. This maximises revenue streams, caps development budgets and boosts IRRs. Destination programming is typically part of the business-led design process, where the actual guest experience is of crucial importance. It balances all the components of the development, – including the hard and soft attractions – and it determines which components will maximise the 'experience'. The result? More visitors who stay longer, spend more, come back and tell all their friends too.

Charles Bott, director of PKF The Consulting House, is a hotel and real estate professional with three decades of relevant industry experience. He has been resident in the Middle East for almost 15 years. Bott has worked in a number of senior positions within the hotel, leisure and financial sectors – both in Europe and the Middle East – including a spell as an owner of his own boutique hotel advisory practice. He holds a Diploma in Hotel Management, a University Degree in Business and Finance and a professional tax accountancy qualification, all acquired in the United Kingdom. www.pkf-tch.com

Chemical free prevention of bacterial food poisoning MGK – HACCP AT ITS BEST!

Mirco Beutler / Managing Director / info@mgk.ae / +971 (0) 43968264 / Dubai UAE



expert view

"Attracting and retaining employees has become a formidable task"

How to recruit and retain

Bin Eid managing director M.D. Warrier highlights some of the talent retention challenges facing the Middle East hospitality industry


he hospitality industry in general, and the hotel segment in particular, offers tremendous career opportunities. The hotel industry, in fact, offers a career anywhere in the world. Unskilled, semi-skilled, skilled, highly skilled candidates – those at supervisor and even management level – can forge a career in the hospitality sector. But the industry is evolving rapidly, nowhere more so than in the Middle East, with the vibrant UAE market setting the pace, due to exponential growth in the aviation and retail sectors – both key drivers of the hospitality business. This has led international hotel management firms, as well as retail, wellness and food brands, to fight to establish a presence in the region. Hotel and culinary schools produce graduates trained to meet the ever-increasing demand for human capital, but still the industry faces

is a key challenge, because a large percentage of the hospitality workforce does not speak English as its primary language. Employers therefore need to seek language-training programmes. The good news

an acute shortage of professionallyqualified and specifically-experienced personnel. The hospitality segments waging a talent hunt include: 1. Hotels across all star ratings 2. Hotel apartments 3. Golf clubs 4. Yacht cubs 5. Womens’ clubs and club

establishments 6. Resorts 7. Spa and wellness resorts 8. Contract catering & facility

management organisations 9. Independent restaurants 10. Shopping malls 11. Food retails 12. Luxury retail & fashion stores 13. Cruise Liners 14. Airline & airline catering

establishments 15. Food factories 16. High-end corporate entities 17. Airports & airport duty free

shops Attracting and retaining employees has become a formidable task. Experienced hands are mov40

HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

ing to new properties, to reap better financial opportunities. The career aspirations of existing employees pose a great challenge to hospitality management. A complex cultural landscape, diverse tastes in food and the lifestyle preferences of the multiple nationalities employed in the work place, in this region, are a matter of great concern. Recruitment and retention

With the hospitality industry's growth rate increasing, the importance of finding good employees, especially young workers, is a high priority. Historically, the sector has drawn heavily from the youth labour pool, to meet its workforce needs. But in recent years, the industry has been left with an insufficient pipeline of new workers to satisfy demand. High turnover is a key challenge. Training and skill requirements

Employers find it difficult to get workers who possess basic soft skills, which are often a prerequisite for success in a customer serviceoriented field. English proficiency

On the bright side, Dubai, which has already spent more than US$110 billion transforming itself into the region’s commercial and entertainment hub, plans to almost double its hotel inventory by 2020, in anticipation of the visitor numbers the World Expo will generate. While Saudi Arabia and India represented two of the biggest source markets for Dubai in 2013, according to Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) data, the emirate attracts a truly global audience, with traffic at Dubai International increasing 14% in 2013. The move to set up a tourism academy in Dubai soon, will encourage more people to work in the industry, make it easier for hotels to provide staff training, and boost Emiratisation in the sector, the DTCM has stated.

Bin Eid is a dedicated executive search and management consulting firm for the hospitality industry, focusing on the five-star hotel sector. The company specialises in recruiting general managers, departmental heads and their direct reports, as well as other senior-level executive positions. bineid.com

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top ten

Ten signs you're a great general manager

Sophia Soltani sits down with INDUSTRY CONSULTANT Rupprecht Quietsch to discuss what FACTORS MAKE An effective GM

Rupprecht Quietsch opened JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai in 2012 and boasts more than 26 years of hospitality industry experience, spanning several GM roles. He recently set up the International Hospitality Consulting Group (INHOCO Group) offering expert advice to hotel owners, legal firms, operators, banks, governments, developers, investors and stakeholders, wishing to be part of the hospitality industry. Quietsch, the firm's founder and CEO, says he takes inspira42

HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

tion from the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, authored by American educator and businessman, Stephen Covey, when it comes to top traits general managers should possess. Be proactive Quietsch says being proactive is essential. “Sit in the lobby of a hotel for an hour. Watch the guests and

the staff and this quickly expresses how the hotel is run. “It tells the true story about how proactive a general manager is with regards to the way in which the hotel is being managed.” It is also key for the GM to make things happen, as opposed to just watch things happen, he says. "Being pro-active also includes taking responsibility, being a risk taker, and remaining engaged.”

top ten


Begin with the end in mind “Plenty of general managers simply manage day-by-day, ‘fighting fires’ and all, but great general managers are widely respected leaders. The difference between a leader, versus a manager being that a manager knows how to do the job right, and a leader knows how to do the right job. In general, great general managers keep the team heading for ‘True North’ and have clear visions – caution: Vision without good execution is hallucination.” Put first things first “General managers are working in the industry of people and working with people becomes a people business. Days often fly by because they are dominated by people issues; a good general manager has the ability to ignore distractions, and knows that 80% of desired results flow from 20% high leverage activities – this is such an important statistic for any leader to keep in mind.” Think win-win “In business, as in life, it is important to seek mutual benefits; for example, considering there are always two sides to each coin. To be a great general manager you must

have impeccable listening skills and understand the 'two sides to each coin' perception. Listening is a useful tool to help to generate a positive outcome and win-win solutions.” Seek first to understand, then to be understood “The key difference between a very good general manager, as opposed to an average general manager, is the possession of active listening skills, i.e. listening to understand makes a great general manager. Good general managers are masters of listening and demonstrate extreme empathy. In addition, they possess superior communication skills, which is really one of the master skills required in life. Imagine a doctor who proceeded to operate on a patient, without listening to the patient prior to the surgery, in order to acquire a better understanding of the patient's needs. Imagine the client as the patient. Diagnose your client's needs.” Synergise “Dealing with diversity and different cultures is part of a general manager's role, particularly in the Middle East. Great general managers value differences in people and understand what role diversity plays in getting the best out of the team. This means it is important to synergise by solving issues, rather than pleasing staff, or guests, for completely the wrong reasons.”

Sharpen the saw “A general manager might be happy with the ‘status quo’, but really good GMs keep up to date with trends dominating the everchanging world in which we live. A GM should recognise the priorities and desires of both staff and guests and provide a hospitality experience that suits these. Essentially, GMs must constantly analyse market demands and react positively to them, in order to ensure their property remains competitive.” Priorities – juggling five balls “Being a great GM comes down to jugging five balls; they have to be air bound all at one time, and if one drops, it is game over. You have to be able to juggle the hotel's owners, your own team, the guests, the brand, as well as your own family; all as a main priority, and all equally, and efficiently.” Empathy “It is fundamentally important to be empathetic to all parties; clients, visitors, your hotel's key stakeholders, owners and of course, the staff.” Keep things simple “As complicated as being a GM is, it is also as simple as one makes it. Lastly, I really like the sentiment of one of Richard Branson’s mantras: 'Complexity is your enemy. Any fool can make things complicated. It is hard to make something simple'.” www.inhoco.com OCTOBER 2014 HOTEL NEWS ME


event preview

Hotel Show round up:

15 years and counting Christine Davidson, event director at dmg events Dubai, organiser of the Hotel Show, talks to Sophia Soltani about the upcoming edition’s key highlights as the event celebrates its 15-year anniversary


he 2014 edition of The Hotel Show Dubai, which takes place from September 28th to 30th at Dubai World Trade Centre, (DWTC) will mark 15 years of showcasing some of the world’s top hospitality industry suppliers to the Middle East and African region. This year’s installment hopes to build on the 16,700 attendees the show attracted in 2013, by providing a full end-to-end offering for hospitality industry buyers, covering their full spectrum of needs, from investment, design and build, through to refurbishment, fit out and operations. “Over the last 15 years, The Hotel Show Dubai has evolved from a small interiors supply exhibition, to a widespread forum, which includes a high-profile educational conference, bespoke awards, interactive features and networking opportunities,” explains Christine Davidson, event director at the show’s organising firm, dmg events Dubai. “The show is without question, the largest and most comprehensive business-to-business event for the hospitality industry in the Middle East and Africa.” Destination hot spot

Davidson says "Dubai is by far the best place in the region to host The Hotel Show, attracting a truly global audience, because it is a 'world-class' destination and a travel and trade hub." 44

HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

“Dubai is at the very centre of the business in the Middle East. "The city has seen exponential growth and it is the perfect platform for The Hotel Show to continue to attract decision-mak-

ing hotel, hospitality and leisure professionals, covering all of the sectors within the leisure and hospitality industry. “In addition, future mega events set to be held in the region,

such as Dubai’s Expo 2020, are creating a wealth of new opportunities in hospitality for the city.” Dubai is also influencing the evolution of the global hospitality and leisure industry, she notes. “Design and architecture trends and green legislation are just two of the many areas in which Dubai is leading the way and these are main focuses at this year’s Hotel Show Dubai,” Davidson adds. A show with vision

“Another key highlight is The Hotel Show’s Vision Conference – a concept launched at last year’s show – featuring the likes of Michel Jost, executive chef at Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi, as a key speaker” says Davidson. “Building on last year’s success, this free-of-charge conference is a senior-management-level programme of sessions that attracts both regional and international influencers and pioneering thought-leaders to the stage to share their insights,” she says. “They will focus on topical, dynamic issues and trends, over the three-day event.” She says “the prospect of Expo 2020 generating the need for more than 45,000 extra hotel rooms makes the industry even 'hungrier for news and updates' and the Vision Conference will provide a one-stop-shop for sessions that educate and inspire, with its live debates, panel dis-

event preview

VISION CONFERENCE • DAY 1: KEYNOTE SPEAKER Issam Abdul Rahim Kazim, Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing. TOPICS include hotel development hot spots; trends in hospitality and leisure; mega events and legacy; what hoteliers should expect from Expo 2020 and FIFA World Cup 2022; and mid-range hotel developments.

"Design and architecture trends and green legislation are just two of the many areas in which Dubai is leading the way" cussions, presentations and case studies.” Topics on the agenda include: women in hospitality leadership; theme parks and leisure facilities to meet growing consumer demands; the benefits of sustainability regulations and standards; and architecture, build and landscaping for the future. Growth driver

Davidson says “The Hotel Show Dubai plays a key role in the continued growth of the MENA region’s hospitality sector.” “The Hotel Show and The Leisure Show are the largest dedicated platforms for any hospitality, hotel or leisure professional looking to do business within the Middle East and Africa over the coming decade and beyond,” she explains. “The sheer number of exhibitors and the diversity of their product offerings; the number of international brands represented;

the scope of the Vision Conference programme; the impact of the three days of business building; and the benefits of the networking opportunities offered; combine to strongly support the expansion of the region’s hospitality industry.” More than US$860 million was spent by the 16,700-plus industry decision-makers who attended The Hotel Show Dubai in 2013, with an expected spend of almost $4 billion for the next 12 months. “This is great news for the suppliers attending and even better news for travellers visiting any of the hotels, or leisure products, in the Middle East region, whose representatives visited the show,” says Davidson “Year on year, we welcome increasing numbers of international brands to The Hotel Show Dubai.” For this reason, this year’s show has introduced a new area on the

show floor, dedicated to international suppliers. The International Village will host the largest number of international brands to date with more than 300 international companies profiled, representing a significant 41% increase on 2013. “The village will emphasise the global proposition of The Hotel Show Dubai, creating a true identity for each country and its suppliers,” says Davidson. “It will feature more than 15 dedicated country pavilions with around 45 countries represented. “This will enable hotel and hospitality trade professionals to easily source products from specific countries, working towards our goal to offer a truly global product offering. These pavilions include representation from Austria, Belgium, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Philippines, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, Thailand, Vietnam and the UK.”

• DAY 2: PANEL DISCUSSION Includes Michael Andrew, technical director, Construction & Projects Ferrari World, George Walker, creative director, Farah Leisure Park Management LLC, Lennard Otto, GM, Wadi Adventures and Prakash Vivekana, MD Amusement services International LLC. TOPICS include theme parks and leisure facilities to meet growing demands; sustainable hotels; why KSA is worth long-term investment; and managing successful hotel developments. • DAY 3: KEYNOTE SPEAKER Martin Kubler, international hospitality consultant – ‘Driving direct bookings in the digital age’. TOPICS include architecture, build and landscaping for the future; realizing the true power of F&B; talent management, leadership, retention and reward; and the future of FM in hospitality. INTERNATIONAL VILLAGE • Halls 3 & 4 dedicated to the International Village • 15 country pavilions, 45 countries represented • 300 international companies represented – 41% increase on 2013 • 56% of visitors from 2013 looking to source international products




mapping out the future Prominent hotel industry analysts identify the biggest challenges and opportunities facing MENA’s most significant tourism and hospitality markets, as the region looks to meet ambitious growth targets while staving off potentially devastating conflicts. Gemma Greenwood reports 46


cover story

The analysts

Hala Matar Choufany, regional MANAGING director, HVS Global Hospitality Services, Dubai


Prabir Chetia, associate vice president, Aranca

conomic fortunes globally are definitely on the up as the postrecession haze clears and investor confidence returns. The Middle East, or more specifically, the GCC, remained relatively resilient to the downturn of 2009-2011. Although some infrastructure projects were put on hold due to funding and debt financing crises, most markets forged ahead with major developments set out in their various long-term economic diversification strategies. The Arab Spring played havoc in the countries where anti-regime activity occurred, but throughout, nations deemed relative safe-havens – the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar – benefited from the unrest, with traffic diverted their way. The same can be said today; while conflicts of a barbaric nature plague Iraq and Syria and the new Egyptian administration tussles with activists in the fight to regain stability, real estate investment and tourism activity is being re-directed to the Gulf.

Chiheb Ben-Mahmoud, executive vice president – head of hotel & hospitality Middle East & Africa, Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL)

It spells good news for the hospitality industry, which is benefiting from bullish investor and consumer sentiment not witnessed since 2007. Corporate and leisure tourism numbers continue to increase, driving a swell in hotel guest nights: both a direct result of a boom in air passenger numbers. But the burning questions include whether the Gulf countries will meet their aggressive targets for visitor numbers, hotel rooms and associated infrastructure projects – and will big events such as World Expo 2020 in Dubai and the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar live up to expectations? If current conflicts not only continue, but start to encroach on new, previously untainted Middle East territories, will the region’s visions of grandeur be smashed to smithereens? Here, top industry analysts provide their insights into how the hospitality sector will fare in key regional markets over the next five years, all factors considered.

The Louvre Abu dhabi is one of a number of new attractions under construction in the UAE designed to help further boost tourist numbers.





“The UAE remains the undisputed tourism leader in the Middle East; however, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Oman are witnessing massive tourism transformation on the back of iconic mega developments planned and ambitious long-term economic and tourism development strategies,” according to the April 2014 HVS Fast Forward and Rewind Middle East Hotel Survey. “Average room rates and occupancy levels across some of the region’s cities continue to rank among the highest in the world, while infrastructure developments, multi-billion dollar projects and winning bids for hosting major world events continue to fuel growth in the regional hotel sector.” The latest figures from STR Global reveal the number of existing hotel rooms in key MENA markets sits at 176,829, taking into account inventory in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain, Oman, and Egypt. In the same markets the number of rooms currently under contract was 105, 257, as of August 1, 2014. The UAE has the most rooms pipelined at 38,946, 24,278 of which were earmarked for Dubai. The second biggest market for rooms under contract was KSA with 35,719 keys and Riyadh commanding the biggest share with 10,095 rooms. Aranca’s MENA Tourism and Hospitality Report July 2014, reveals that in May of this year, the hotel pipeline for the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region expanded 21.9% year on year (yo-y) to 589, and hotel rooms increased 16.3% y-o-y to 137,784. It compared to 483 hotels with 118,496 rooms pipelined for the region in May 2013.

Yas Island's Formula One circuit and associated attractions are part of a long-term plan to boost leisure tourism iTO ABU DHABI. Opposite: Dubai's pipeline includes 24,278 rooms under contract.


HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

The Aranca report also reveals that as of May 2014, the upper upscale segment contributed the largest share (36%) to total rooms under contract. In terms of rooms under
construction, the upper
upscale segment
accounted for 36.2%
(23,570 rooms) of total
rooms, followed by the
luxury (20.8%; 13,567 rooms) and upscale (20.2%; 13,174 rooms) segments. Hospitality industry growth is mirroring general investment spend, with the UAE leading the way having set aside $900 billion for project expenditures, according to the HVS report. In second and third place are Saudi Arabia and Qatar with projects worth in excess of $770 billion and $320 billion respectively. “For countries such as the UAE and Qatar, the considerable investment in projects is driven on one hand by the goal to honour commitments related to hosting the FIFA World Cup 2022 and the World Expo 2020, and on the other hand, by the vision and the clear targets set within their strategic development plans,” says the report. “These plans are The 2020 Vision for Dubai and the 2030 National Vision for Qatar. Similarly, under the Ninth Development Plan, Saudi Arabia has set a goal to invest in excess of $350 billion for infrastructure development.” According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the regional direct contribution of tourism to GDP in 2013 was roughly $64 billion, up 4% on 2012. It’s estimated that figure will nearly double to around $106 billion by 2024. Meanwhile the total contribution of the travel and tourism sector to regional GDP is estimated to more than double from $167.7 billion in 2013 up to $278.6 billion by 2024.

The middle east in figures • 53 million – tourists arrivals in Middle East in 2013; • 66 million – passenger movements at Dubai International Airport in 2013; • 339.7 million – the national and resident population of the Middle East; • $105,000 – GDP per capita of Qatar, the highest in the world; • 28th worldwide – the UAE’s ranking in the World Economic Forum Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index; • $2.5 trillion – investment worth of projects in GCC in 2013; • $167 billion – regional tourism total contribution to GDP in 2013; • $278 billion – regional tourism forecast total contribution to GDP by 2024; • 2.4 million – jobs to be sustained by region’s tourism and travel sector by 2024; • $24.5 billion – tourism capital investment in the Middle East in 2013. (Source: HVS)

cover story


Dubai’s tourism goals have been globally publicised under the emirate’s 2020 Vision; to double tourism numbers from 10 million in 2012 to 20 million in 2020; triple tourism revenues from AED 100 billion ($27.2 billion) to AED 300 billion ($81.7 billion); and double the number of hotel rooms to around 160,000 in time for the World Expo 2020. It anticipates the six-month event (October 2020 to April 2021) will attract 25 million visitors. “In a city where hotel occupancies are already high, Expo 2020, in addition to other growth, is estimated to require an additional 50,000 rooms in more than 200 properties of all categories from budget through to luxury, which is expected to create 100,000 new jobs in tourism and hospitality (out of 277,000 employment opportunities in total),” says Prabir Chetia associate vice president, Aranca. “The challenge facing the hospitality, leisure and retail sectors is how to sustain business beyond Expo 2020. Careful planning is needed to avoid over-shooting the required development and for Dubai to build and maintain attractions and events that will encourage future visitors to the destination in the generations to come. “Dubai’s Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM) needs to come up with a new wave of tourism innovation to promote its culture and heritage to provide it an edge over Shanghai, Stockholm or any other tourist hub.”

stat ABU DHABI PIPELINE Current rooms: 22,203 Rooms under contract: 7,617

stat DUBAI PIPELINE Current rooms: 73,235 Rooms under contract: 24,278

Chiheb Ben-Mahmoud, executive vice president – head of hotel & hospitality Middle East & Africa, Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), says another challenge is to manage hotel pricing, which still fluctuates wildly depending on the season. This is of particular importance if budget and mid-scale properties are to stay affordable, he says. “As long as there is pressure from tourist arrivals, relative to the current buffer, there is no way budget and midscale properties will provide affordability during peak periods,” he says. “And during the low season, especially

during Ramadan, all the properties are affordable, so seasonality is an issue. “Dubai has come a long way, but this work on the low season will need to continue as supply increases.” Hala Matar Choufany, regional managing director, HVS Global Hospitality Services, Dubai, believes demand will keep pace with extra supply hitting the market, as long as there are no political events to threaten UAE stability. Will occupancies float at 85% over the next 10 years? Probably not,” she says. “But if they float between 74% and 76%, this is extremely healthy.”


from a visitor perspective is to achieve a 5050 split between business and leisure tourism, says Chetia, but the real challenge is to “find a balance between attracting more tourists and minimising the costs”. “Abu Dhabi must also compete with an established tourist destination in the same country; namely Dubai,” he adds. Ben-Mahmoud believes the opening of the three new museums on Saadiyat Island – the Louvre, Guggenheim and Sheikh Zayed – will ramp up visitor numbers, arguing these developments will help Abu Dhabi achieve its ambition to be a “sophisticated destination for travellers looking for a unique cultural experience”. He believes upcoming Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi plans to attract 4.9 million tourists by 2020 and 7.9 million by 2030 under its Economic Vision 2030, when airport passenger traffic at Abu Dhabi International is expected to hit the 30 million mark. Visitors will stay in the 49,000 hotel rooms planned by 2020 and 74,000 by 2030. More than 55 infrastructure projects to the value of AED120 billion ($32.7 billion) are to be completed by 2020, with Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) currently working hard to complete $28 billion worth of development on Saadiyat Island by 2018, in a bid to attract 1.8 million visitors to this destination alone. Its ultimate goal




developments will generate enough pulling power to compete with Dubai, particularly given its “unique offering and high-quality supply of hotels”, which are now more competitively priced. But Choufany is concerned Abu Dhabi’s leisure tourism proposition will not be enough to compete with the likes of Dubai, which boasts many facets to its tourism appeal. “Each market has its own niche and dynamics, but the niche Abu Dhabi has chosen, as it relates to cultural and leisure tourism, will make it difficult to attract visitors in my opinion” she says. “Museums will attract a limited number, but people won’t travel to the UAE for this reason alone.” QATAR

Tourism is one of the top industries earmarked for expansion by the Qatari government and in February this year, the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) unveiled the Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy 2030. Its key goal is to attract seven million visitors to Qatar by 2030, compared to 1.3 million in 2013 and 1.2 mil-

lion in 2012. By 2030 the QTA also wants to increase its percentage of leisure-oriented inbound tourists to 64% (compared to 27% in 2012); boost total tourist spend to $10.7 billion (versus $1.3 billion in 2012); and increase tourism contribution to 5.1% of GDP (currently 2.6%). By 2018, the QTA wants Qatar to rank 35th in the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI). In order to attain its ambitious targets, the QTA must “repackage Qatar as a multifaceted tourism product offering packages to appeal to different target market segments”, states Chetia. “Qatar must also ensure sustainability for a wide range of projects being developed simultaneously beyond its 2030 vision.” Ben-Mahmoud adds the country must become “less dependent on government-related business” and execute a “clearer tourism marketing strategy” that also “addresses misconceptions” about the destination. Qatar’s hotel supply is of good quality and there is demand to fill new hotel rooms in the pipeline, he argues. Choufany says there is “pent-up demand”, mainly “corporate-related” for Qatar, which

upcoming hotels will soak up. She says current construction delays on some properties, particularly those located in mixed-use developments, could mean hotel room supply falls short during the 2022 FIFA World Cup, but it’s the post-event phase where Qatar should focus its attentions. “After the event [in terms of whether or not there will be enough demand to fill rooms], there are lots of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’,” she says. “If they don’t build this [Qatar-Bahrain] causeway, there will be fewer visitors,” Choufany notes. “But if they can produce the Disneys and Warner Bros developments they have promised in the past, then for sure, Qatar will become a less seasonal market and receive a good balance between leisure and corporate business. “Corporate business will always remain the main feeder market, but Qatar can’t just rely on that.” Regional politics and wavering government commitment to certain developments are two challenges to the future prosperity of Qatar’s tourism and hospitality markets, she adds. The Pearl Qatar, one of several emerging projects in Doha.

stat QATAR PIPELINE Current rooms: 6,001 Rooms under contract: 11,188 (10,826 in Doha)


HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

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stat KSA PIPELINE Current rooms: 64,218* Rooms under contract: 35,719 *


The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) expects the total number of tourism trips to the Kingdom to reach 83 million by 2020 (62.4 million domestic and 20.6 million inbound trips, mainly from the GCC and neighbouring Arab countries). The nation aims to attract 88 million tourists in total and to employ 1.7 million people in the sector, by that cut-off date. The Saudi government plans to invest $30.9 billion in the tourism industry between now and 2023, and, as part of its economic diversification strategy, wants to double tourism revenues to SR190 billion ($51 billion) by 2020, compared to SR100 billion ($26.7 billion) in 2013. Domestic and religious tourism are the two markets the government will develop to reach these targets, while major infrastructure developments, covering airports and road and rail networks, will make KSA’s key cities more accessible to prospective visitors. SCTA says infrastructure enhancements are designed to boost Umrah and Hajj arrivals from 10 million to 20 million annually and domestic tourism from 200 million room nights annually to 700 million over the next five years. The hurdles KSA faces with regards to its grand tourism vision, says Chetia, include its “conservative laws”, which deter visitors; visa restrictions; plus the fact tourists are required to arrive in groups of at least four people and women must be over 30 or accompanied by a husband or a male relative. But Choufany says Saudi Arabia is banking on religious tourism as a high growth market, filling the thousands of rooms planned for both holy cities; Mecca and Medina. “There will always be more demand subject to the Saudi government giving enough visa quotas,” she says. “If you look at the Muslim population around the world, just four per cent of that travel is sufficient for the hotels in Mecca to fill up year on year. “There will always be Muslims who want to travel for Hajj and Umrah.” OMAN

Developments worth $28 billion are under way on Saadiyat Island .

The Omani government is taking its tourism and hospitality industries seriously, ploughing $20 billion into transportation infrastructure improvements alone as part of its 2020 roadmap for diversification, according to Aranca. These include several new airport builds and upgrades, with enhancements at Muscat International set to take annual passenger capacity to 12 million

* Current rooms: 64,218 (Riyadh 10,480; Jeddah 6,898; Makkah 22,990) Pipelined rooms under contract (as of Aug 1): 35,719 (Riyadh 10,095; Jeddah 7120; Makkah 9,722) 52

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cover story

stat OMAN PIPELINE Current rooms: 9,210 Rooms under contract: 5,519

when work is completed. The Sultanate plans to almost treble its number of hotel rooms in a two-year period – from 7,636 rooms in 2013 to 20,000 by 2015 – as the destination looks to ramp up visitor numbers. The target is to receive at least 3.2 million visitors annually by 2023, compared to 2.1 million reported in 2013. Oman is proving an attractive proposition for hotel investors, according to Choufany, because it is “more affordable” than nearby countries. “Oman's leisure segment also has more potential, but what it lacks is an aggressive government backup, despite the current infrastructural projects that are underway,” she says. “It has the facilities and consumer appeal, but a limited hotel pipeline and a laid-back attitude. This is fine, but there is more Oman can do to market itself.” Ben-Mahmoud agrees that “hotel supply is slow to catch up with demand” and says Oman’s size and relative lack of connectivity between cities and regions, is partly to blame. He says pre-recession, international investor interest in Oman was “bullish”, but post-crisis this has waned. “That’s why Oman is now turning to its own capabilities and financing for hotel developments, many of which are very unique.”


Any long-term vision Egypt had in place to grow its tourism and hospitality sector has been thwarted by political conflict over the last four years, yet analysts are optimistic about the North African country’s prospects, now that President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has made positive steps towards re-establishing stability. In fact, signs Egypt’s hotel market was making a recovery were evident in July performance figures reported by HotStats. Occupancies in the capital Cairo lifted by 8.7 percentage points on July 2013 figures to 29.3 per cent, while average room rates for the month nudged up one per cent to $114, leading to an encouraging 43.4 per cent growth in RevPAR. This spelled good news after occupancy rates across the country declined 13% to 52% in Q1, 2014, according to Aranca. The turnaround in fortunes has come about as some of the 15 European countries that issued travel warnings for Egypt, revoked this status when it was apparent that order was being restored. “The country is moving towards normality and there are signs of [tourism market] recovery,” confirms Ben-Mahmoud. Key markets driving the recovery in Egypt’s hotel business are international tourism and domestic traffic (both corporate and leisure) to Sharm El Sheikh, as well as intra-regional travel. Choufany says the recovery of Egypt’s tourism sectors could take time due to the nature of the country’s difficulties. “If you look at historical trends, Egypt has always experienced setbacks or terrorist attacks, but its rebound has been relatively quick. However, what has happened since 2011 is very different to

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before – it’s about a regime being thrown out and the struggle between different political parties. “If the situation continues to improve then, in two to three years, there will be confidence and a full recovery, but it will take time; it’s not about a terrorist attack, it’s about the Islamic State (IS) scenario that is currently dominating world affairs.”

stat EGYPT PIPELINE Current rooms: 159,310 Rooms under contract: 7,236

A REGION IN CRISIS? The on-going conflict in Syria has devastated the hospitality sector, with most hotel projects put on hold until further notice. Its travel and tourism industry was on track to devote capital investment of SYP 20.3 billion ($129 million) in 2013, according to Aranca. This figure is expected to fall by 23.5% in 2014, although 6.4% per annum growth over the next 10 years to SYP 28.8 billion ($183 million) in 2024 is still forecast. In Iraq, hotel projects in areas not affected by IS activity are still under construction, while others in locations directly impacted have been delayed. However, Aranca says travel and tourism is expected to have attracted capital investment of IQD 1,465.1 billion ($1.7 billion) in 2013. This is expected to rise by 9.5% in 2014, and to grow by 7.3% per annum over the next ten years to IQD 3,243.6 billion ($2.8 billion) in 2024. Ben-Mahmoud says fallout from the conflict in Syria and Iraq on the travel, tourism and hospitality industries has been “limited to those countries affected”. “IS, as much as it is barbaric, has had no impact beyond the areas that are affected by the unrest,” he says. “Besides, conflict here is not new; the Iraq crisis has lasted for more than 10 years now and if anything, there is an even greater need for hospitality services in troubled times.” Choufany notes how the GCC, predominantly Dubai, has been positively impacted by the situation in Syria and Iraq, with investor and tourism traffic diverted to the Gulf. “But if this [conflict] spills into other areas of the region, then we just don’t know what will happen,.”




Rotana upbeat about region’s prospects Omer Kaddouri, president & CEO of arguably the region’s most fearlessly ambitious hospitality group, Rotana, says contrary to popular belief, the outlook has never been rosier for the Middle East’s hotel industry


otana is arguably the most maverick hotel group operating in the region. Over the past 22 years, it has established a reputation as a hospitality specialist that is willing to take calculated risks, opening properties in markets deemed too unstable by some of the hotel industry’s more cautious players. This has not only lead to Rotana achieving impressive regional growth, but has also seen the firm set high standards for the hospitality sector in markets where the hotel and tourism industries are in their infancy. However, in a region plagued by political instability and conflict, is Rotana’s pioneering strategy still paying dividends or falling victim to a loss of consumer and investor confidence? Rotana president and CEO Omer Kaddouri, says he has never been more upbeat about the company’s growth prospects in the region. The hotel firm’s pipeline in key Middle East markets is stronger than ever, he claims, while the impact of regional tensions on business and future development strategy is minimal.

Can you provide an update on Rotana’s current pipeline plans?

From October 1 to the end of 2015, we are very busy opening 14 hotels in areas that are fairly safe. 54

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Omer Kaddouri, president and CEO of Rotana.


We are forging ahead with opening our first hotel in Amman, our second property in Bahrain and we have two hotel apartments opening up on the Asian side of Istanbul. We will be opening a hotel in Turkey every year from 2015 to 2020. Other key markets for us are Doha, Jordan, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia. How has conflict in Iraq impacted Rotana?

We still plan to open hotel apartments in Erbil next year, to complement our hotel there. The owner is committed to building the property and a big believer in the Erbil market, as are we. Many investors are still confident in Northern

What about Egypt?

We are seeing business improve dramatically at our property in Sharm – it’s up 30% year on year – with increasing business coming out of the UK, Germany and Russia as more airlines fly there again. With the new government there seems to be a confidence that wasn’t there before and the general pipeline of hotels planned for Cairo looks quite strong. Your Qatar pipeline plans are aggressive. Why so?

Doha is similar to Dubai. It has an ambition to be a successful vibrant city and the government

opening hotel apartments in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and we have signed up for a beautiful five-star hotel in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), which will open by 2016. We are visiting other African countries such as Mozambique, Ghana and Nigeria regularly and hope that over the next six to seven years, we will have four or five hotels across the Sub-Saharan market. Boulevard arjaan by Rotana, amman, jordan.

"We don’t just want to be known as the company that goes to difficult places, but rather where there is business to be made, we want to be the first in town" Iraq’s prospects. There is a lot of business to be done there and opportunities in every industry. Occupancies have suffered – we should be running at 75% to 80%, but we are running at 45% to 50%, which really isn’t that bad in all honesty. Airlines are starting to fly to Erbil again, which will bring back the business. Our hotel is the premier hotel [there] so it benefits from government visits and oil and gas meetings and conferences. Our Rayhaan Baghdad property is also being built and on schedule to open soon. Rotana’s property in Karbala, the shrine city, which opened last year, is not doing so well because pilgrims are not travelling there, so the Iraq situation has had some impact. What’s happening in Syria?

The properties we had pipelined there are basically on hold. We are in contact with our investors there and there’s no movement whatsoever, as you would imagine. When things get better we’ll be ready to move again. How has conflict in Syria and Iraq affected your hotel business in neighbouring countries?

There has been very little impact in Jordan and we will open our first property in Amman on October 1. In Amman we will be introducing a new product, so we believe we will reach our market share within the first year of operation. Jordan does get hammered a lot but so far [during the Syria and Iraq crisis] it is hanging in there and holding its own. 56

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is working hard to make this happen, with infrastructure projects being rolled out at tremendous speed and Qatar Airways working hard to connect many places to Doha. Hotel and infrastructure developments go hand in hand – and Qatar is not just building hotels for the World Cup in 2022 and then waiting to see what happens when it’s over; there is a long-term vision for tourism. By the end of next year Rotana will have four properties in Doha and by 2020, we’ll have close to 10 properties across Qatar. Has regional discord made you re-think Rotana’s growth strategy in certain ‘risky’ markets?

I don’t think we have any regrets. Before we enter into any hotel agreement we make sure we tick all the boxes and we will not open a property somewhere if we are going to be shot at all the time. The trick is to work with the right partners and even if we do agree to go somewhere and it ends up being a difficult or dangerous place, we hold back. We don’t just want to be known as the company that goes to difficult places, but rather where there is business to be made, we want to be the first in town, not just to get strong revenues, but to help the people in those countries learn about another industry. We have done it in Erbil and Sudan, and we will do it in Afghanistan. Where to next for Rotana?

Sub-Saharan Africa is a hot spot and we are sourcing opportunities there. Next year we are

ROTANA’S PIPELINE 2014: * Salalah Rotana Resort, Oman – opened * Hili Rayhaan by Rotana – opened * ART Rotana Bahrain * Sedra Residences by Rotana, The Pearl, Doha * Boulevard Arjaan by Rotana, Amman, Jordan 2015 onwards: • Banader Rotana, Bahrain • Burgu Kule Arjaan by Rotana, Istanbul, Turkey • Tango Kule Arjaan by Rotana, Istanbul, Turkey • Amman Rotana, Jordan • Capital Centre Rotana, Abu Dhabi, UAE • City Centre Rotana, Doha, Qatar • Centro Doha, Qatar • Capital Centre Arjaan by Rotana, Abu Dhabi • Rosh Rayhaan by Rotana, Saudi Arabia

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country focus



With an ambitious goal of doubling tourism numbers, to four million annually within a decade, Oman is presenting plenty of growth opportunities for the hospitality sector, as Sarah McCay discovers


HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

country focus

The Alila Jebel Akhdar resort on the peaks of Jebel Akhdar is one of Oman's most spectacular.



Muscat International Airport: expansion plans will take passenger capacity to 12 million annually. Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre (OCEC): is due to open in phases between 2016-2017 and will include a tiered theatre (3,650 capacity), five separate exhibition halls and a precinct area housing three hotels, one of which will be operated by Crowne Plaza. The Wave Muscat: offers Oman’s only PGA standard 18-hole golf course and a 400-berth marina. Four hotels and a retail development are currently under way. Saraya Bandar Jissah: is a 2.2 million square metre development that will include two hotels and is scheduled to open in 2017. Jebel Sifah: is a 6.2 million square metre development that will include an 18-hole PGA golf course, 84-berth marina and marina town, six five-star hotels and a marina boutique hotel. City Walk Muscat: is under development offering several five-star hotels, retail outlets, as well as cafes and restaurants.


Sohar Airport: will have a capacity of half a million passengers annually. Ibis Styles Sohar: will open in mid 2016 with 128 guest rooms.


Salalah International Airport: Phase one of expansion is due for completion this year, taking annual capacity to one million passengers. Stages two, three and four will take capacity to two, four and six million passengers per year respectively. Salalah Beach: covers 15.6 million square metres and will offer two 18-hole PGA golf courses, a 200-berth marina and marina town, five five-star hotels and smaller properties including Juweira Boutique Hotel with 65 guestrooms and 21 Marina Suites. As Sodah Island: is an eco-friendly resort being developed by Muriya. It features the upscale boutique property Maisons Cheval Blanc with 32 chalets, operated by Cheval Blanc, the newest French operator established by the LVHM Hotel Management, an entity of the Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH) group..


Duqm airport: opened in July 2014 with a capacity of 500,000 passengers a year. Duqm Special Economic Zone (SEZ): is a vast project expected to attract at least US$70 billion in investment across sectors including tourism. Crowne Plaza Duqm Hotel: opened in April 2014 as part of SEZ, bringing 213 guest rooms to market.



country focus

Oman is notable for its distinctly low-rise style of architecture, as seen here in Nizwa (right and bottom). Salalah Beach is another area of the Sultanate under development.

"Oman’s tourism industry is growing exponentially, with the addition of new hotels in Muscat, plus Salalah and Sohar in particular"

Business remains steady

According to STR Global’s Trends Report, hotels in Oman are enjoying a steady rate of business, which has been sustained over the past few years. According to STR, occupancy for the first half of the year averaged 58.5%, down marginally from 59.7% for the whole of 2013. Average daily rate (ADR) has seen steady growth, with first half figures at OMR 84.80 (US$220), up 4.7% on the first half of 2013. Revenue per available room (RevPAR) has also remained steady, at OMR 47.87 ($124) for the first half of the year, consistent with 2013’s figure of OMR 48.72 ($127) .

Hotel pipeline

9,210 – hotel rooms in Oman, 2014 5,628 – hotel rooms in Muscat, 2014 5,519 – hotel rooms pipelined for Oman 3,659 – hotel rooms pipelined for Muscat (Source: STR Global)

Oman tourism data

2.1 million tourists in 2013, up from 2 million in 2012 8.3 million passengers at Muscat International Airport in 2013, up 10% on 7.5 million in 2012 747,000 passengers at Salalah International at 2013, up 19% on 2012 427,170 guests at four- and five-star hotels in 2013, up 7.2% on 393,856 in 2012 OMR 104 million (US$270 million) revenue reported by four- and five-star hotels in 2013, up 13% on the OMR 91.9 million ($239 million) revenue reported in 2012. 60

HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

Economic indicators

Population: four million GDP: US$ 90,055 billion (Source: International Monetary Fund) Per capita GDP: $29,166 Main economic driver: Oil Diversification focus: Agriculture, industry and tourism Tourism contribution to GDP: 6.4% in 2013, expected to hit 8.2% by 2024 (Source: The World Travel and Tourism Council - WTTC) The Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre (OCEC) is being built to meet the rigorous LEED certification standards

country focus

Authentic Arabia

Rich in natural attractions, Oman has long been a favoured destination with those living in the Middle East. However, ambitious tourism developments such as The Wave and Salalah Beach are now taking shape, supported by infrastructure improvements to Oman’s airports, ports and roads, opening up Oman to an international audience. According to Euromonitor International’s recent Travel and Tourism in Oman report, Oman has lagged behind other regional markets in terms of tourism growth, because of a strong willingness to preserve its cultural roots and traditions. Yet in recent years, tourism has been high on the agenda of the government; advertising and promotions have become aggressive and ambitions are much higher than before. Oman welcomed 2.1 million travellers in 2013. The Ministry of Tourism has set out a target to double this number of tourists, to more than four million, over the next ten years. “Oman’s tourism industry is growing exponentially, with the addition of new hotels in Muscat, plus Salalah and Sohar in particular. New hotels are providing local residents and visitors a plethora of choices and new

opportunities to explore,” says Patrick Hydar, director of sales & marketing, Al Nahda Resort & Spa. Al Nahda Resort & Spa opened in 2006. The five-star desert resort has recently undergone renovation work to all 109 guest rooms, as well as public areas. Its sister resort, the 30-room Dunes by Al Nahda opens later this year. The resort will offer an open-air restaurant that will give guests the opportunity to dine under the stars and enjoy a full desert experience, as well as dune bashing, sand boarding, camel riding and zip lining.

New inventory

Oman’s hotels industry is set to witness phenomenal growth in the years ahead, with more than 5,500 rooms pipelined. “The tourism industry grows day by day – there are many hotels in development and attractions in the pipeline, giving more opportunities for excursions and activities. Oman can only continue to grow as a tourism destination. The increase and addition of Oman Air's flights to existing and new destinations proves the demand for capacity into the country worldwide,” says Hydar. Desert resorts are a popular option in Oman, thanks to its stunning Hajjar

Mountains. Alila Jabal Akhdar, the first luxury resort development in the mountainous Jabal Akhdar region of Oman, opened earlier this year. Managed by boutique Asian hotelier, Alila Hotels & Resorts, the resort offers 84 suites and two Jabal villas. The project was developed by Omran, the government-owned tourism investment, development and management company. Omran is also behind Atana, a local brand established under the umbrella of the National Omani Hospitality Company LLC to manage four- and five-star hotels and resorts in Oman. The new Atana Musandam hotel was launched in April. The resort offers 110 rooms alongside conference and business facilities. The company is also now managing the Atana Khasab hotel, which was previously a Golden Tulip.

Budget opportunities

According to Euromonitor, Oman remains primarily a high-end destination where five-star resorts are prevalent. That said, Euromonitor has acknowledged opportunities for the budget accommodation sector to thrive too, noting that this type of accommodation complements Oman’s adventure tourism offering. The business sector, and in particular the meetings market, is also set to thrive as Omran prepares to open the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre (OCEC) in 2016. “The OCEC is one of very few convention centres in the world to be developed within a fully integrated convention precinct, supported by four hotels; a five-star, two four-star and a three-star hotel, totalling 1,000 rooms,” explained OCEC general manager, Trevor McCartney. The five-star hotel adjoining the OCEC and the four-star Crowne Plaza hotel are expected to be completed at the end of 2016, providing 600 rooms. McCartney is confident of success. “Only seven hours flying time from 50% of the world's population, the Sultanate of Oman has captured the world's attention, being named as one of the world's most exciting emerging convention destinations,” he says. With OCEC channelling international meetings business into the market, and landmark developments taking shape on the leisure front; Oman’s tourism industry looks set to go from strength to strength. OCTOBER 2014 HOTEL NEWS ME



HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014




HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014


VISION has arrived

Hotel News ME catches up with Coldine at the VISION event in ICCA Dubai


oldline has partnered with the International Centre for Culinary Arts Dubai (ICCA) to run dedicated courses for trainee chefs alongside its innovate new refrigerators. The VISION event held at the ICCA Dubai on Thursday 20th of September, introduced the latest range of VISION refrigerators which boast a variety of new, technologically advanced features such as integrating several functions from one device.

Anti-clockwise from the top: On the right Coldline chef, Fabrizio Sangiogi stands with his students at ICCA Dubai Fabrizio Sangiogi with master chef Daniel Hiltbrunner at the VISION event beside VISION refrigerator VISION functions include adjustable temperature, ventilation and humidity, preventing waste helping to maintain freshness Celebrating the Coldline – ICCA partnership (left to right) Massimo da Lozzo, emirates kitchen manager, Nicolo San Bonifacio, export sales manager Coldline, Fabrizio Sangiorgi, Coldline Chef, Aziz Rajab, culinary chef trainer ICCA Dubai, Andrea Forlico, ME area manager Coldline, Ashwini Kumar, culinary chef trainer ICCA Dubai, Daniel Hiltbrunner, culinary chef trainer and master chef for ICCA Dubai Chef Sangiogo doing what he does best at the VISION event



michelin stars

Starry skies

The UAE and the wider GCC region are pulling in Michelin-starred chefs and their brands hand over fist; but what impact are these celebrated culinary professionals having on the local dining scene? Lucy Taylor investigates

RIGHT: The sultry interior of Rosewood Abu Dhabi’s Spanish restaurant, Catalan. Opposite: Catalan berry melody prepared by chef Francisco Sanabria, who has worked in some of spain's most respected restaurants, including akelare in san sebastian and sant pau in Barcelona.


HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014


owering skyscraper hotels, luxurious beach clubs and sumptuous spas: over the past 40 years, the UAE’s hospitality sector has gone absolutely stellar. Arguably the crowning jewel in this glittering firmament is the destination’s increasingly dazzling food and beverage scene. The emirates has evolved from the days of basic Bedouin fare, to an all-encompassing, aspirational foodie’s paradise: attracting chefs and F&B brands from all over the globe. Foremost among this array of international culinary experts are ‘the Michelin men’: the chefs who have achieved a coveted star rating from the world-renowned food guide. As the country’s reputation has grown, these celebrity chefs have flooded in, bringing their names, brands, expertise and protégés to outlets in the UAE – and, increasingly, the wider Gulf. To date, the head count includes Gary Rhodes, Marco Pierre White, Wolfgang Puck, Giorgio Locatelli, Vineet Bhatia, Atul Kochar, Gordon Ramsay, Guy Savoy, Alain Ducasse and many more. Despite the seeming glut of Michelinassociated restaurants, the big names just keep on coming. Most recently, chef Alfonso Iaccarino launched his famed Don Alfonso 1890 Italian outlet at the Shangri-La Dubai; Brit chef Jason Atherton is set to make his Middle East debut at the upcoming InterContinental Dubai Marina; and his fellow countryman Michael Caines revealed at this year’s Gourmet Abu Dhabi festival, that he was not adverse to the idea of launching in the UAE as well. So what exactly is it that keeps these chefs coming?

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michelin stars

With Michelin stars come expectations for the level of service and the quality of food. Private dining rooms ,such as this one from Marco Pierre white's Dubai restaurant, are part of an extensive menu of options that guests expect to be made available to them at michelin-aspiring venues.

"As Dubai emerges as a food and beverage hub, celebrity chefs add credibility to the brand" Cosmopolitan pull According to Issam Kazim, CEO at the Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM), it’s all about international opportunity. “Dubai is a cosmopolitan metropolis and its geographic location, combined with the vision of its leaders, have ensured that it has steadily grown to become a global city, as well as a business and cultural hub of the Middle East,” he asserts. “It is recognised as a city with an entrepreneurial spirit, where new businesses can quickly establish themselves.” “As a result, global brands across a range of industries view Dubai as a key location; and dining brands are no exception.” Andrew Joyce, executive director of F&B for the Middle East, Africa and India with FRHI Hotels and Resorts – whose Fairmont Bab Al Bahr property in Abu Dhabi houses the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse and Grill – agrees the region has “a vibrant food culture”. “With the growth in demand, as it relates to hotels and attractions coming on stream, so too with dining – and elevat68

HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

ed forms of dining, with celebrity-driven restaurants and large name brands,” he says. Francisco Sanabria is the newly appointed head chef at Rosewood Abu Dhabi’s Spanish restaurant, Catalan. Sanabria has worked in some of Spain’s most respected outlets, including stints at the three Michelin-starred Akelare in San Sebastian, and Sant Pau in Barcelona, which also boasts three stars. He agrees that today’s top chefs, being businessmen as well as craftsmen, are seeking to capitalise on the region’s potential: “In my opinion, the UAE is a country with great business appeal, and an economy that is growing at an unbelievable pace compared to the rest of the world.” “In the past year, we’ve seen the UAE investing in tourism,” he continues. “People aspire to live here and it’s becoming increasingly renowned as a great destination. Everything is happening here, and no place would be complete without great cuisine.” Don Alfonso 1890, a satellite of the original two Michelin-starred restaurant on Italy’s picturesque Amalfi Coast

– which has already opened branches in Macau, Rome and Marrakesh – launched at the Shangri-La Hotel Dubai earlier this year. Alfonso Iaccarino, grandson of the original ‘Don Alfonso’ who opened a family restaurant back in 1890 (hence the brand name), explains that for him, it was important to be in Dubai. “I like Arabian people, they are so polite. Fortunately in Italy, in Sant’Agata, during season I have a lot of Arab people as my guests. They like my food and slowly this idea started taking shape in my mind,” he says. “And I think at the moment Dubai is one of the most developing and fast places in the world.” Brand credibility A key component of the regional F&B scene is its enthusiasm for the familiar: big-name franchises from the USA and the UK have received warm welcomes in the Gulf, from fast-food options to more high-end templates. But with these international brands doing so well, why are so many hotels plumping for the pricier option of a



michelin stars

Michelin-starred name over their door? FRHI’s Joyce explains: “It definitely adds to the cachet of the hotel and of the destination. As Dubai emerges as a food and beverage hub, celebrity chefs add credibility to the brand.” One such chef who’s been adding credibility to Dubai for years now, is the three-starred Pierre Gagnaire. Chef Francois Xavier Simon is head chef at Reflets par Pierre Gagnaire, located at the InterContinental Hotel Dubai Festival City. He believes the partnership between hotel and chef is integral to a successful launch in the region; not only for the obvious benefits regarding licensing, but also so each side can learn and benefit from the other’s experience. “With Michelin stars come a big brand, and what better way to showcase this brand in a new market, than with a similarly respected hotel?” points out Simon. Catalan’s Sanabria adds: “For both the hotel and its customers, it’s a safe bet that a [Michelin-recognised] chef is

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michelin stars

good, and that he will deliver quality and delicious food.” Nevertheless, this is a relationship that requires some attention, in order to keep things running smoothly. FRHI’s Joyce notes that hotels have several options: a joint venture, a leased option, or a franchise, and they must prepare carefully and accordingly. “How they drive things forward depends very much on that situation and what the hotel expects from this relationship,” he asserts. And certainly, control and input on both sides are issues that must be agreed upon, if a project is to work well. For a hotel, promoting a new outlet on the basis of a celebrated, Michelinlauded patron, they will want as much of his input as possible. Managing expectations But with so many big-name chefs nowadays running global empires, their time in the kitchen is limited; and sometimes their satellite operations suffer. FRHI’s Joyce points out: “When a celebrity chef takes on a restaurant, guests come to experience his cuisine and his

food philosophy. “A larger number of restaurants means diluting the chef’s vision, and the level of expectation from the guest naturally suffers in the process.” Although this certainly has happened in the past, with overstretched chef-restaurateurs seeing business take a hit, chefs at some of the UAE’s most celebrated outlets are adamant their bosses know what they’re doing. Reflets’ Simon asserts: “Chef Pierre Gagnaire has 13 restaurants around the world, however with each outlet we have seen independent entities spring up, buoyed by his training and support. “We all work as a team, know each other and stay in touch regularly. So for me and my team, although we work at Reflets par Pierre Gagnaire, we all represent Chef Pierre Gagnaire globally.” Catalan’s Sanabria is similarly assured: “Behind every Michelin starred chef, there is a strong, trained and qualified team. The chefs are the face of the brand, but they can’t do everything, because they cannot be everywhere at once.



michelin stars

ever a compromise with quality across brands,” he concedes. “But at the end of the day, it really depends on the particular chef and where he wants his brand to go.” Gastronomic gains One place the Michelin men obviously want to go is the Middle East – with the UAE remaining at the forefront of this new F&B frontier thanks to its status as a hub for travel, trade and tourism. But how has the emergence of high-profile chefs and restaurant brands, as well as various food-focused festivals, impacted the local industry? DTCM’s Kazim is all in favour of big names coming to the country, believing it helps to drive consumer interest and industry strength. “High-profile chefs and restaurant brands have recognised the growth opportunity in Dubai: Jamie Oliver, Sanjeev Kapoor and Antonio Carluccio to name but a few,” he says. “In addition to the ‘celebrity’ endorsements of the city as a food lover’s heaven, global brands such as The Ivy, Nobu, Hakkasan and Zuma have also opened outlets – identifying Dubai as a global gastronomy destination.” “It is this influx of international brands, combined with innovative home-grown concepts … which is building such a compelling and vibrant industry.” The buzzing F&B scene is certainly supported by the myriad F&B events, which are now liberally sprinkled across the emirate’s busy calendar of regional and international events. 2014 saw the launch of the inaugural Dubai Food Festival, a 23-day culinary extravaganza, showcasing local outlets to consumers. It joins the already established Taste of Dubai fair, as well as industry favourite, Gulfood. Meanwhile in the capital, Taste of Abu Dhabi is going strong, and Gourmet Abu Dhabi continues to attract Michelin and celebrity chefs from all over the world. These chef's travel to the UAE capital to share their culinary expertise and discuss the latest global food trends, with an increasingly appreciative and aware audience. Catalan’s Sanabria may be new to the UAE, but says he’s already impressed by the country’s F&B focus. 72

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Previous page: Chef francois Xavier simon is head chef at Reflets par Pierre Gagnaire at the Intercontinental hotel in Dubai festival city. and Francisco Sanabria the newly appointed head chef at Rosewood Abu Dhabi’s Spanish restaurant, Catalan.

“What I’ve seen from chefs here, as well as the food-focused festivals, shows dedication to bringing greater standards and variety to the local F&B scene.” “And more Michelin-starred chefs coming here are contributing to the growth of the culinary scene,” Sanabria notes. “The more high-profile chefs that come, the better the local industry will become.” FRHI’s Joyce agrees that, by turning the spotlight on the UAE, these celebrity chefs are doing wonders to raise the country’s profile. “[They’ve] put Dubai in the spotlight, in terms of food and dining out. Similar to what happened with the Dubai international Film Festival – the event built traction over the years and this is now a hot spot for great film.” “I see this happening on the food front, as many more Michelin-star chefs come over, to either set up a venture, or participate in food festivals.” A regional trend And this meteoric rise of the restaurant scene is not limited to the UAE. Joyce notes that Qatar is another F&B scene to be reckoned with – as evidenced by the recent opening of outlets from Michelin favourites Gordan Ramsay, Guy Savoy and Alain Ducasse. Indeed, it all looks extremely rosy for the region, as the Gulf establishes itself as a global dining destination.

WHICH MICHELIN MEN ARE MISSING? The region is already home to a host of starred and celebrated chefs – but some of the biggest names have yet to come… THOMAS KELLER Organic, home-farmed produce fan Keller has earned three Michelin stars and is the only American chef to have this rating in two different outlets. RENÉ REDZEPI Redzepi is chef and co-owner of the two-starred Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark, famed for its modern Scandinavian cuisine. THE ROCA BROTHERS Jordi, Josep and Joan opened El Cellar de Can Roca in Catalonia, Spain, in 1986. Today it boasts three Michelin stars. FERRAN ADRIA The head chef of Spain’s celebrated elBulli restaurant, has earned three Michelin stars, and is known as the father of molecular gastronomy. HESTON BLUMENTHAL A TV favourite and fan of scientific cooking, Blumenthal runs several restaurants including The Fat Duck in Berkshire.

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the don of dubai Two-star Michelin chef Alfonso Iaccarino speaks to Hotel News Middle East about his newest restaurant, Don Alfonso 1890, located in Shangri-La Hotel Dubai

Q: How does the opening of Don Alfonso 1890 rate in terms of professional highlights? A: For me it was a very impor-

tant step. We welcome many Arab guests to our restaurant in Sant’Agata, Italy, so there is some connection. I view Dubai as one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities so it is a special challenge for us to be here. Q: Is Dubai becoming better known as a foodie destination? A: Dubai has always been impor-

tant for commerce and business. It is a modern city now and welcomes people from all around the world. Dubai is an amazing destination because it allows one to try out a new cuisine every night, such is the variety it offers. Q: How has the restaurant been received by guests? A: After six months operating we

now understand many things about the city. The staff is fully geared towards delivering the best quality service. But like every other project, this also needs to go through a gestation period to meet our expectation levels.

fast and if there is a quality project being developed, we may consider it.

Q: Are you planning to open additional restaurants anywhere else in the UAE? A: I think it is too early to think

who has developed professionally with us. He is part of a team of chefs we employ worldwide who are specially trained in Don Alfonso 1890 culinary concepts.

about it. The [Dubai] opening has taken a big effort from our team and our partners. In saying that, the Middle East is growing very 74

HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

Q: And Christian de Nadai is the head chef of Don Alfonso 1890, in Dubai? A: Christian is a very good chef

Q: Your famed Sant’ Agata restaurant is two-star Michelin rated.

What does this achievement mean to you personally? A: Of course the dream of every

chef is to receive Michelin stars. But this award, I feel, is a recognition of 40 years of work by my family and my employees who have given their one hundred per cent to satisfy our guests, to promote Italian culture, and to excel in quality. To earn this recognition from a town like Sant’Agata, rather than from Paris, Munich or London, is indeed challenging. It takes more time to get the stars and to try and establish a style and phi-

losophy of your own. But at the end of it all, my guests have been my prizes. Q: What are the main factors you believe have contributed to the success of Don Alfonso 1890? A: The restaurant started like a

family business and has grown as such. I think in Don Alfonso 1890, we follow a style of cuisine that has been totally innovative, considering that 30 years ago we started our own production of organic food and in all these years we have been creating a new style of


"Today, in Don Alfonso, everything is quality-driven" preparing food, concentrating on healthy and light Mediterranean concepts. I think that has been the key to success of Don Alfonso 1890.

of the kitchen, a great wine cellar where we store great wine and spirits, and home-made extra virgin olive oil. These things have all definitely added to the Michelin star image.

Q: What would you say are some of the more unique aspects of the Don Alfonso 1890 experience? A: The food of course has to be

Q: And the dining experience matters greatly also‌ A: Yes, I think food and ambience

really good, but a great experience is not possible without great wine, and without a great welcome to the guests. Today, in Don Alfonso, everything is quality-driven. We built a farm to grow our vegetables, a swimming pool with original ‘tufo’ stones, a cooking school for those who want to learn the secrets

need to run on the same track because one is related to the other and only by associating them can you deliver the right message to guests and make them comfortable. At our restaurant the interior design has been chosen to complement the colour of the food and the different tonalities that surround us in the Amalfi coast. But

you have to match decoration with tradition. You can be the best chef in the world and you can have the nicest restaurant, but you also need to serve the best product. Q: How important is the organic pitch to your strategy? A: I am a farmer first. I have always

been in touch with the earth and I felt that the world was running too fast and forgetting its roots and a good way to eat. I trust the natural things; I fight chemicals in every way. I attend conferences on organic food at Rochester University, Rome University and at Berkeley in California. Good health is related to natural food and it is my philoso-

phy to only use fresh ingredients. Q: What are your signature dishes? A: I have many signature dishes...

small potato gnocchi with smoked scamorza cheese and fresh tomatoes, Vesuvius of rigatoni, deep fried lobster in sweet and sour sauce, linguine with clams and zucchini, lamb roasted with fresh Mediterranean herbs, Neapolitan sfogliatella. Q: What are your next big plans? A: We are in discussions to open

new restaurants in the United States and in the UK. If we have a good project, we will open it under my name, otherwise under a different name. But Don Alfonso is a worldwide name in quality organic food.




photo by: bartender Shyam Krishnan.

top and left: MINt LEAF of london flaunts dark wood and slate interiors. right: Bahraja General Trading supplied the wooden casing for the 'Gentleman Jack in the Box’ cocktail

Mint Leaf of London

Great food meets smart interiors


int Leaf of London, Dubai’s newest Indian fine cuisine restaurant, has opened in Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), offering traditional Indian cuisine with an innovative twist. Boasting stunning views of Downtown Dubai and the Burj Khalifa, Mint Leaf of London also flaunts a sumptuous interior featuring dark slate and wood, heavily inspired by Middle East traditions. In fact the design has been thoughtfully carried out, with AMBB, a well-established interior design contractor, taking the lead. AMBB has worked alongside top lighting firm, DPA Lighting, and one of the leading design firms in the region, the L.W. Design Group.


HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

The décor complements and enhances the cuisine, creating an air of sophistication that defines this new and interesting outlet. Technical Supplies and Services Co (TSSC) Dubai is the firm behind Mint Leaf’s kitchen solutions. The company, first established in 1961, boasts an impressive portfolio of F&B clients in the GCC. From the design of the facilities to installation of equipment, TSSC provides a one-stop solution for clients in the F&B industry. The firm also offers laundry solutions to a wide range of companies, including many in the hospitality field.

Behind every excellent dish is an excellent cream.

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Excellent holding quality in reduction sauces. Consistent and stable for cooking. Makes smooth and creamy sauces every time. Used by top French chefs. Lactalis Dairy Products and Trading (Middle East) LLC - Email: info@ae.lactalis.com - Tel: +971 4 3623025 OCTOBER 2014 HOTEL NEWS ME



F&B News Sultan Investments launches new ‘Provedore’ concept

MGK electrolysing water system meets industry approval


he Rox Electrolysing Water System is proving extremely popular with the F&B community Dubai-wide, meeting their food sanitisation requirements and eliminating the need for chemicals. The water electrolising system from MGK prevents both primary and secondary contamination. Food bacteria can be one of the most potent sources of infection and disease, but alkaline electrolysed water can be a very effective tool against these contaminants. Rox Electrolysing Water System works with a combination of salt, water and electrification and hotels are using it because it is chemical free and eradicates any chance of residues on utensils, even after cleaning. “We are using the Rox machine to sanitise our fruit, vegetables, fish and other products and have implemented this system in our kitchen operation,” Confirms A. Rafaie Othmann group executive chef Zuma Middle East & Africa, a Japanese restaurant in Dubai. Frank Noack, cluster executive chef at Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Resort, says he is also very satisfied with the product, which has been installed across all kitchens in this property. The Rox water system is the product of Japanese company Hoshizaki, and is being distributed in the GCC by Dubai-based MGK Electromechanical Works LLC. The system is effective of its two-step process. Firstly, the alkaline electrolyzed water washes away the grime that normal water cannot, and secondly the acidic electrolysed water washes away the remaining germs, making it a germ free zone. According to Noack the product is reliable and only requires the weekly Rox check up visit by MGK service and train-


HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

ing team to ensure the highest standard of effectiveness and training at Hilton, the electrolysed water is produced and then distributed to the kitchens in spray bottles. At Italian fine-dining restaurant Roberto’s in Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Luca Signoretti says that in addition to fulfilling its cleaning and sanitisation requirements, Rox has ensured the outlet is compliant with its HACCP plan. Meanwhile, the hygiene manager at Grand Hyatt Dubai, Mr Balachander, says the Rox machine has improved the way the property processes its food, ensuring it meets the “highest hygiene standards without the need for chemical use”. The executive chef at Conrad Hotel, Dubai, Terry Styles, has a very high opinion of the Rox system. “It’s chemical free and it’s safe for the environment,” he says. “We use it in our daily operation of sanitising fruits, vegetables and sea foods.” Abdul Rashid, CEO, Pillsbury Consulting, adds: “Rox has provided many of our clients with a solution to meet their cleaning and disinfection needs.”

Dubai-based investment and development company, Sultan Investments, has launched the firm’s first restaurant. Provedore, located on Jumeirah Beach Road, is a multi-faceted dining concept comprising a restaurant, bakery, cafe, delicatessen, food market and more, covering every dining experience under one roof. The restaurant serves a number of freshly prepared dishes international dishes made with ingredients that have been sourced from around the world. The dining space offers indoor and outdoor seating, with views of the theatre-style kitchen and cheese and charcuterie counters. On-site bakers roll out fresh bread and pastry, while an expansive gourmet retail zone sells specialty coffees and teas and a selection of imported products, many of which are used in the Provedore kitchen. "We are proud to introduce Provedore to Dubai's flamboyant dining circuit,” says Sultan Investments CEO Sultan Harib Al-Falahi. "It has been a long road from inception of the concept many years ago to opening the doors of our first location at the Sunset Mall. We wanted to offer everyone in the UAE and beyond a unique culinary experience that mirrors the best from around the globe and I believe that we accomplished that. “Our chef and kitchen staff have worked tirelessly and selected traditional dishes from around the world, to which they have added their own flare. The result is a gastronomic selection of dishes that appeals to diners with varying tastes.” “Our business model also supports the bakery, cafe and retail section with


delicious cheeses and cold cuts for guests to take home. “We are confident that by providing an all round culinary option, diners will take home a completely unique experience unlike any other home-grown restaurant in the UAE.” Provedore has proved so popular that a second outlet under the brand name is due to open soon.

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Boncafé merger pays dividends

Salmontini debuts in London market

Boncafé Middle East is set to expand after the Massimo Zanetti Beverage Group (MZBG) acquired the Boncafé Group, inclusive of its roasting plants in Thailand and Singapore. The integration of the Boncafé into the MZB Group will help the fresh roast and ground coffee manufacturer and supplier reach new potential growth markets, according Boncafé Middle East CEO Tony Billingham. “Sharing the same synergies with MZBG and with their partnerships we will be energetically reinforcing our brand and presence into the region and ensuring our production capacity is always sufficient to meet growing demand,” Billingham says.

Award-winning Middle East restaurant brand and salmon specialist, Salmontini, has debuted in London. Salmontini Le Resto will open in the heart of the city’s Belgravia areas in October. The launch, marks the Salmontini brand’s first foray outside the Middle East, comes 13 years after founders and owners, Joe Bassili and Hussni Ajlani, opened their first boutique restaurant in Beirut in 2001, which was soon followed by an outlet in Dubai. Salmontini Le Resto will be geared towards the London audience, but will be personally supervised by co-owner and managing director Bassili. Esteve Prats Grau will head-up the kitchen here; he was previously head chef for Spanish culinary empire Semon, The menu will naturally be peppered with various kinds of salmon specialities, together with salads, sushi, Mediterranean fish and meat, including the restaurant’s perennially popular Entrecôte 'St Germain des Prés salmontini.com


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PRODUCTS products


Hotel News ME takes a look at some of the hottest F&B products on the market Genware

Steelite - Stage Range

Steelite - Melamine

Stage is stylish, versatile and provides an innovative approach to service, enhancing the visual impact of the table by creating space and service solutions. The range includes two sizes of service boards, fully recessed on one side to allow flexibility of service, with a triple well offset on the reverse side, which allows a specific fit/ presentation of Steelite chinaware. All of the items are made from acacia wood and finished with food safe wood treatment oil, which gives a beautiful transparent satin appearance. The oil penetrates deeply, giving protection and enhancing the natural beauty of the wood.

Melamine is a perfect solution to the difficulties of a buffet operation with innovative surfaces that provide an exciting presentation style, with stylish shapes and risers delivering an elevated experience. New products for this year include Driftwood. Inspired by warm, well-trodden rustic boards this faux alternative delivers an appealing food presentation surface that is highly practical while being food and dishwasher safe. The product will work effortlessly in buffet displays, chilled display cabinets, food display cabinets and as stylish sharing platters. Alternative items within the same range include a faux slate and bamboo range created in a high quality finish to elevate the chefs inspired creations. The presentation is also perfect for canapés and provides an alternative to traditional plateware.




HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

Rustic wooden crates and Acacia wood risers/boxes With the shift towards more traditional food presentation methods prevailing, Genware’s new wooden display items are ideal for both buffet and counter-style service. The company’s versatile range of rustic wooden crates and Acacia wood risers and boxes, provides a multitude of different applications; the larger sizes are suitable for use as risers or display boxes with the smaller items as table caddies for sauces and cutlery. ronai.ae

Friedrich Dick Chefs’ knives Friedrich Dick is the only manufacturer in the world to offer a complete range of knives, sharpening steels and utensils for chefs and butchers as well as butcher‘s equipment and grinding machines. It longstanding experience in manufacturing, coupled with high-quality standards and technical expertise, have transitioned the company into a global brand. The products are of high quality and design and are manufactured with the right mix of traditional methods and state of the art technology. ronai.ae

The sparkling Friday brunch by celebrity Chef Richard Sandoval serving family style food to share with a selection of pan Latin favourites and Toro Toro’s signature mouth watering churrasco grill. Inclusive of selected beverages. Call 04 317 6000 or visit royaldiningcollection.com




Steelite - Welsh Slate Perfectly unifying the historic and naturally beautiful Welsh slate with the demands of contemporary cuisine, this blend of sophisticated warm plum hues with a unique natural texture creates a perfect balance of soft allure and striking detail. The artistry of Welsh slate tableware is the remarkable blend of elegance and performance. Each product is hand-finished and some feature natural veining making each item totally unique. All products are highly durable, non-absorbent, oven and microwave safe, colourfast and made of the highest quality slate in the world. ronai.ae

Rational The SelfCookingCenter 5 Senses Chocoa Confectionary Chocoa is a family-owned manufacturer of unique chocolate products and confectionery founded in 2004 in Dubai. Belgian in origin but very uniquely Chocoa, all products are made by expert international chefs with the best quality ingredients imported from Belgium and are designed and wrapped by stylish in-house designers. Choco’s special collections have been created around fruits, nuts, spices, caramels and Arabic flavours. They also have a sugar-free range which is worth indulging in. Chocoa is also into cakes, pastries, cupcakes and cookies. chocoa.ae

Rational’s The SelfCookingCenter 5 Senses replaces almost all the appliances traditionally found in a professional kitchen. This cooking system can grill, steam, gratinate, bake, rise, roast, braise, simmer, stew, poach or blanche. The unit independently determines, controls and monitors the optimum cooking process,just by the push of a button. It is the first cooking system with five senses - it senses, recognises, thinks with the chef, learns from the chef and even communicates with the raw materials. It is not only used for Western food but also for Indian and Arabic cuisine. Rational also offers a ‘ServicePlus’ package ensuring the customer derives the maximum possible benefits from the investment throughout the product’s entire life. rational-online.com.ae


HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014


Limeline Premium Beverages Innovative soft drinks Limeline Premium Beverages is a leading beverages sales and marketing company based in Dubai. The company specialises in distributing soft drinks made with real juice, a mix of spices and botanicals, which come from the finest pressed fruit and vegetable juices from White Farm in Suffolk. They are gluten free and have interesting names like Big Spiced Tomato Juice, Rose Lemonade, Ice Tropez, Qcumber and Dolomia. limeline-me.com

Harrisons condiments Chutneys, pickles and sweet chilli sauce The full range of Harrisons condiments, including mango chutney, mixed pickles, lime pickle, mango pickles and sweet chilli sauce is being distributed throughout GCC by 4 corners. The Harrisons products come in a range of different sizes and packages to suit specific client needs. There are mini pots for table displays, bulk sauces, one-litre bottles, sachets, snack pots and so on. 4 Corners also distributes Mackie’s potato chips. 4cornersuse.com




An Hommage to the modern gentleman

This page: HOMMAGE Atelier’s lounge area features masculine notes of leather and teak with parquet flooring Opposite: The grooming area, with marble flooring and marble-topped workstations.


HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

How the latest Dubai salon from HOMMAGE Atelier combines traditionally masculine design elements with cutting edge flair, delivering a finished product to appeal to the modern man WORDS Sophia soltani



he UAE salon scene is becoming increasingly competitive – particularly in the male grooming arena. A host of new gentleman-focused offerings are launching across the emirates, with design playing a key part in their consumer appeal and success. HOMMAGE Atelier is one brand that has recognised the importance of interior investment, bringing in international experts from ICONIC Design, to kit out its newest salon. Located in the heart of Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) at Marble Walk, this new addition joins already established outlets at The Address Downtown Dubai and Fairmont the Palm. Jenny Kartika, owner and director of Indonesia-based ICONIC Design, boasts more than 15 years of industry experience – with the firm today operating across the UAE, Hong Kong and various other high-design markets around the globe. It was Kartika herself who managed and executed the project for kitting out the new flagship HOMMAGE outlet. “With the HOMMAGE brand representing high-end, luxury male grooming services, I had to make sure that the interior of this salon was representative of the brand – but also that it had its own unique features too,” she explains. “Discussing my ideas with Trevor Studd (president of HOMMAGE Middle East), my vision was to radiate the feel of masculinity for the modern man, but also incorporate an environment fit for a gentleman. “The main idea that I based the salon's design on, is that of a cigar room – reminding one of an old English gentleman’s retreat, sur-

"The main idea that I based the salon's design on, is that of a cigar room – reminding one of an old English gentleman’s retreat" rounded by wood interior and rustic furniture.” Kartika’s efforts to convey this vision are evident in the traditional teak wood panelling on the walls and elegant parquet flooring in the lounge area; both of which hark back to English stately homes. “The furniture had to have character and tell a story on its own, so that is why I chose Italian furniture from The One, for the pieces in the lounge area,” she continues. “Additionally, as the

ambience needed to be fit for a gentleman, there had to be an element of the modern world too; so in essence, old English gentry combined with the new age of modern design. “All of the televisions are from Bang & Olufsen, and the flooring throughout the treatment rooms is marble. The marble continues on the barber top stations, with black glass and brass piping: the perfect example of old combined with new.” OCTOBER 2014 HOTEL NEWS ME



The GAJ design team

Dubai’s hotel interior design industry rivals the best in the world, says Kevin McLachlan, associate partner and head of interior design at Godwin Austen Johnson (GAJ) Architects


shift is underway in the region, having started as a slow ebb a couple of years ago, gradually increasing in scale and speed. The region’s hospitality sector benefitted from the downtime that occurred during the most recent recession. As a result of this brief pause, clients and designers are approaching projects with more thought and maturity. Our company has witnessed a change to the fabric of the hospitality landscape – emanating from Dubai across the region, with a spirit and energy of regeneration, previously unseen. Dubai, the destination, now competes with the world’s best. It has quickly transformed into a three-dimensional international city, offering design variety that matches more mature markets around the globe. Clients are more aware of where they are, what their market is and how they want to create a point of difference. I strongly believe industry advancement comes from partnerships between designers and hotel operators. As designers, we constantly push for thorough dialogue and understanding with operators. The current hospitality boom is not the result of Dubai winning the right to host the World Expo in 2020. Rather, it is a re-ignition of prerecession energy, ready to create something far more positive than short-term gain, to create a new history and fabric for the UAE. We do, however, face a few hurdles. One of the most frustrating challenges is the number of designers who have never stayed in 5-star properties being asked to design a 5-star hotel. Imagine hiring someone, who has never driven, to design a car! Would you purchase, or even drive, the resulting car? 86

HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

Kevin McLachlan is associate partner and head of interior design at Godwin Austen Johnson Architects, an award-winning architecture firm in the Middle East. gaj-uae.ae

"I strongly believe industry advancement comes from partnerships between designers and hotel operators." This is one of the most frustrating obstacles operators and clients come up against when conversing with design practices. I'm not saying designers should forego learning. It has taken me more than 25 years in the business, constructing and developing over 200 hospitality projects, even being a chef and running my own boutique hotel, to gain the knowledge and experience that I believe allows me to better understand the needs of our clients.

Our team shares its combined knowledge on a daily basis so we understand our hospitality partners’ needs and how they operate. It is my belief that if we understand this, then we design not better spaces for our clients, but innovative solutions on how they operate. Understanding how the hospitality business works and understanding the nuances and brand ambitions of hotel operators, is imperative to the success of the final product.

Hand Sliced Premium Scottish Smoked Salmon.

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Case Study


Hotel News ME discovers how UAE hotel operator Rotana is enriching the lives of special needs students in Dubai


s part of Rotana's Corporate Social Responsibility programme and for the sixth consecutive year, a group of special needs students from the Rashid Centre for the Disabled, Dubai, are being given the opportunity to undergo work experience at Villa Rotana, Rihab Rotana and Rimal Rotana hotels, this initiative is the first-ofits-kind. Each year the project receives between three and eight students, all selected by the centre’s management team. This group receives six, to eight months of training under the supervision of the centre’s social assistance cell, and Rotana's human resource department. The training is both practical and technical, covering areas such as Food & Beverage, Housekeeping, Front Office and Human Resources. Kinan Al Ghraoui, general manager of Villa Rotana, Rihab Rotana and Rimal Rotana, says: “[We] are always committed to supporting young students with special needs, and getting them familiar with a real work environment. Students gain professional skills that help them get jobs in similar areas. Villa, Rihab and Rimal Rotana colleagues take the students under their wing and it is amazing to watch how they embrace them and uphold high expectations for them.” Following the completion of the training programme, Villa Rotana, Rihab Rotana and Rimal Rotana organise a graduation ceremony where all participants receive a Certificate


HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

of Achievement from Rotana Hotels. Key objectives Al Ghraoui says this is an “incredible learning and life-changing experience for Rashid Centre students”. “They acquire vocational skills that in the future, lead to better job opportunities when they graduate from the centre,” he continues. “It is a rich opportunity that allows them to apply their skills in a real work

environment, and last but not least, offers a chance to explore the student’s strengths and areas of improvement, in an unfamiliar setting, far from the centre and home." The programme also provides staff at Villa Rotana, Rihab Rotana and Rimal Rotana with the unique opportunity to interact and train special needs students. It is an opportunity for the colleagues, and students alike, to communicate and work together and make the


most of the training programme. It is a rewarding experience both personally and professionally, as the colleagues can contribute to the development of a young person’s future.” The legacy “This experience eliminates the barriers individuals with special needs tend to face in their daily life, and ensures they have opportunities to fulfil their potential and realise their aspirations. “Many students eagerly wait to start the training programme in the three Rotana hotels and graduate. Furthermore, parents start realising their children can overcome various disabilities and play an effective role in society as productive members. It is an opportunity to interact and instill confidence in a young person who faces greater challenges everyday than the average person, and a chance to connect with young adults from the special needs community of Dubai.” ABOUT Rotana Earth Rotana Earth is the hotel firm's CSR framework that addresses environmental, economic and social sustainability issues, applied to all current and upcoming properties. “Our vision for Rotana Earth is to be a hotel industry leader in implementing sustainable business practices that minimise harm and maximize benefit to the environment, the economy and our local community,” the operator says.

case study

Soap for Hope Initiative

The new CSR project from Sealed Air assists poor communities by improving hygiene conditions and also sustain a livelihood.


he alliance between Sealed Air and hotels across the UAE are currently benefiting countries such as Cambodia, Kenya and Indonesia by providing better hygiene solutions. Sealed Air launched the Soap for Hope campaign in October 2013 with the idea that, used hotel guest soap should be recycled and distributed to underprivileged families in Asia. Samit Sanyal, marketing director, Sealed Air,

Middle East and NE Africa explains: “A typical 400 room hotel generates 3.5 metric tonnes of solid soap waste per annum. Hand washing with soap is among the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent diarrheal and respiratory diseases in Asia, the Middle East and African regions where seven million children per year die due to diseases that could have been prevented with proper hand washing. Therefore, the Soap for Hope project is about

recycling tonnes of used soap and channeling them to those in need.” Grand Hyatt Dubai and Shangri-la Dubai were two of the first hotels in the region to join the Soap for Hope initiative, which was launched by Diversey Care in the UAE. Additionally, all of the Hilton Worldwide’s UAE properties participate in the initiative, making Hilton Worldwide the largest contributor to the project.

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market place

Showcasing the best and brightest hospitality products from quality suppliers around the globe

Rikan General Trading Luxury amenities supplier Rikan has been working with the hospitality industry for more than three decades, providing a range of high-end solutions for hotels. It’s bathroom category offers a range of classy washroom sets, including the AG Bathroom collection. This crisp, stylish design in dove-grey resin is bordered with stainless steel trim around the edges: the ideal accessory for a modern bathroom. It’s also available with a matching waste bin. info@rikan.ae rikandubai.com


2-in-1: Napkin and Cutlery Pocket

The ‘Avante Garde’ AG Bathroom set from Rikan.

XL or Slim – Duniletto® convinces with convenient and quick handling. • The elegant solution for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner • Comes in two sizes XL or Slim • Have your own logo printed, starting from 10,000 pcs. • Colours match the Duni assortment For further information about Duniletto® and availibility in your region. Contact us, we get in touch with you. Duni Middle East & Northern Africa (MENA) 90 HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014 P.O. Box 25906 · Dubai-Media City, Dubai United Arab Emirates · info@duni.com

The Oscar De La Renta toiletries collection for The Peninsula Group of Hotels.

Unique Precise International Dubai based firm Unique Precise International (UPI) offers a variety of stylish in-room products, ranging from sumptuous bed and bath linen from Beaumont & Brown, to an extensive collection of high-end bathroom supplies. UPI’s shampoos, soaps and body lotions are sourced from some of the world’s most reputable bathroom brands; including Gilchrist & Soames and Vanity Group. The group also offers retail and bespoke collections, such as Neil George, Temple Spa and Oscar De La Renta. info@uniqueprecise.com uniqueprecise.com

Elegance Dry Ironing Centre

The Elegance Dry Ironing Centre from Northmace & Hendon.

This space-saving pressing solution has been developed by Northmace & Hendon. The Elegance Dry Ironing Centre boasts a ‘Dry Hotel Safety Iron’, featuring the ‘Auto-Off Timer’ – which Northmace & Hendon managing director John Hurst explains: “After just 30 seconds standing still on its sole plate, a Northmace iron will automatically switch off. The Centre also comes with an anti-theft facility, a hook for wardrobe hanging and the ability to adjust board height; while the quality steel build combined with a metallic cover ensures it can withstand long-term use. sales@northmace.com northmace.com


Dornbracht takes showering to the great outdoors Dornbracht has launched a brand new shower that promises to leaver users “feeling as recharged and revitalised as bathing in the open air”. The new Sensory Sky shower has separate shower fields for the head sprinkler, body sprinkler and a rain curtain, as well as a cold-water fog nozzle and even light and fragrance functions. The German kitchen and bathroom manufacturer says the fragrances have been inspired by “the various weather phenomena and moods of nature”, and use high-quality natural essential oils and balms from Kemitron. Controls are designed for consumer convenience and ease of use, while the concept has been developed along the lines of Dornbracht’s Smart Water ethos. Sensory Sky is available in two different finishes: brushed stainless steel with matt

platinum; and high-gloss stainless steel with chrome. dornbracht.com

The new Sensory Sky shower from Dornbracht.




President Hotel Hairdryer

Kudos launches new UAE-produced furniture range

This powerful hairdryer brings 2000 Watts of power, offering a choice of two fan speeds and three heat settings. It also comes with an economy on-off switch, and a safety thermostat installed to help prevent over-heating. John Hurst, MD of Northmace & Hendon, notes: “By ensuring safety is part of the hotel’s purchasing decision, you’re ensuring the safety of all guests; not just the one using the product.” An optional styling concentrator and universal anti-theft security drawer or wall holder are available as well.

Kudos Outdoor Furniture recently introduced The Signature Collection – a new range of contemporary GRP/Fibreglass furniture produced in the UAE. This collection was specifically designed for the recently opened Royal Club Annex at Le Meridien Dubai for the room balconies and pool deck. The company also recently re-launched its website, which features more details of this and other ranges on offer. info@kudos-global.com kudos-global.com

sales@northmace.com northmace.com

The ‘Avante Garde’ AG Bathroom set from Rikan. The Signature Collection was designed for the Royal Club Annex at Le Meridien Dubai.

Technogym brings ARTIS to market Technogym has introduced a new line of gym equipment. ARTIS is a collection of 30 products designed for cardio, strength and functional training. The equipment is design-led, boasting the latest biomechanical engineering, interactive technology and eco sustainability features. The fitness equipment specialist has also introduced a new fitness and wellness concept. WELLNESS ON THE GO is a “revolutionary personalised experience” allowing users to access to their training programmes, training data track record, web bookmarks, apps and content on all Technogym equipment located anywhere in the world at any time. infouae@technogym.com technogym.com

Technogym’s new ARTIS range.


HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014




Figgjo products make life easier for chefs

Renarte Genera Trading LLC distributes SIRROCCO hair dryers for Bentley Europe

Trendsetting Norwegian porcelain producer, Figgjo AS, is winning acclaim from leading chefs for its design-led porcelain collection. During the summer, top chefs Charles Tjessem (Bocuse d`Or 2003) and Karl Erik Pallesen (Kokkekampen TV2, Gastronomic Institute, The Culinary Team of Norway) tested several new porcelain products from Figgjo in their restaurants. They say Figgjo’s newest range of plates in the Figgjo Base series meet the requirements of their restaurant and clients. “We have used the bowl with handle and the large plate for side dishes for both lunch and evening dining – Figgjo’s new products are an excellent fit for the environment here at Fisketorget restaurant by the sea in the centre of Stavanger,” says Pallesen. Charles Tjessem at Charles & De restaurant in Sandnes adds: “The new products from Figgjo give us opportunities to offer exciting combinations of main dishes and side dishes, and make kitchen logistics much more efficient and flexible,” he says. The Norwegian chefs also agree that the versatile products can be used with white tablecloths on in more rustic settings.

Bentley Europe will introduce the first hotel hairdryer with inbuilt sensory functions at the upcoming Hotel Show Dubai 2014 (September 28-30). The SIROCCO hairdryer, distributed by Renarte General Trading, also features a retractable cord and will be available in all guest rooms at the new Palazzo Versace hotel in Dubai. Bentley’s MISTRAL blowdryer, also featuring sensory functions, will be demonstrated at the show too. Both hairdryers come with a luxury black velvet bag. renarte@eim.ae renartellc.com

Figgjo’s newest range of plates in the Figgjo Base series.

info@blueribbonme.com blueribbonme.com

Dometic introduces world’s first drawer miniBar Dometic has introduced the world’s first drawer miniBar. The DM 50 features Dometic’s signature cooling technology and incorporates two refrigerated compartments – a small one for miniature bottles and snacks and a large one for bottles and cans. All minibar items are visible at one glance and conveniently accessible. DM 50 is available in two versions: fully fitted with an anthracite decor panel and elegant handle, or tailor made to suit a hotel’s specific decor. info@dometic.ae dometic.com


HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

The world’s first drawer minibar.

Your Sanitation & Hygiene Partner for Housekeeping, Kitchen & Laundry Chemicals Please visit our stand number 7A200 at the Hotel Show Exhibition at the Dubai World Trade Center from 28-30th of September 2014

OCTOBER 2014 HOTEL NEWS ME Phone: 971 (4) 2675820 / Fax: 971 (4) 2675830 / W: www.tclgcc.com / E: uae@tclgcc.com



Intercoil launches memory foam mattress Dubai-based mattress firm Intercoil has launched its latest mattress from UK bedding company, Dormeo. The Octaspring uses memory foam as an alternative to metal springs, plus its ventilation system facilitates constant airflow forcing stale humid air out through the specially designed mattress mesh. This year marks Intercoil’s 40th anniversary. The firm has also renewed its licensing agreement with Simmons mattresses for the next seven years. intercoil@emirates.net.ae intercoil.com he Intercoil-Simmons Beautyrest mattress.


HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

Hartmann Tresore to launch two new in-room safes at Hotel Show European safe manufacturer Hartmann Tresore will launch two new in-room digital laptop safes at the upcoming Hotel Show, Dubai (September 28-30). The first Series HS 460 is the Hartman digital laptop safe combining cutting edge security with a modern design and easy handling. It includes an iButton for readouts of all operations. marketing@safes.ae safes.ae

www.GreenfieldWorld.com Contact: Sales@GreenfieldWorld.com • (954) 202-7419 • 3355 Enterprise Avenue, Suite 160 • Fort Lauderdale, FL 33331 OCTOBER 2014 HOTEL NEWS ME


tech talk

Industry evolution Ritz-Carlton tops social status Hotel group highlights importance of online consumer engagement, as it earns top ranking A new report into the hotel industry’s social media engagement with consumers has placed The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company in top spot. Social analytics provider Engagement Labs’ study was the second this year to commend the hospitality group. In February, a report from social media analysis firm Shareablee revealed the brand received almost four times more engagement than any other hotel chain, across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Indeed Ritz-Carlton has seen significant year-on-year increases across all major platforms; its Facebook reach this year jumped nearly 30% per cent, to more than 1.2 million fans. Today, Ritz-Carlton is present across 12 social channels – including Foursquare, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. Allison Sitch, vice president global public relations, in charge

of Ritz-Carlton’s social media communities, noted: “Each of our channels, and each piece of content we publish (20-40 per day), is crafted to enrich the brand experience for our fans.” Sitch said that return on social media investment relies on targeted content and attention to feedback. “If something doesn’t quite drive the engagement we would hope for, we work quickly to revise and adjust the approach,” she said. “Large numbers aren’t the goal; Likes and Retweets don’t necessarily translate to engaged consumers.” This focus on engagement is what drove the #RCMemories campaign: a hashtag launched in 2013, encouraging guests to relive their Ritz-Carlton travel tales. In addition, data accumulated by social media can offer major benefits – as Ed Gazarian, vice president client services at social media agency Pandemic Labs, explained. “Each social media touch-point is an opportunity to grow a relationship and foster a deeper connection with The Ritz-Carlton,” he said.

Rise of the machines Smart gadgets dominate hospitality tech scene, but hotels demand a perfect fit, say suppliers The rise of the internet and smartphones has made it easier for travellers to stay connected – but it’s also introduced a host of new challenges for hotels. Even properties that focus on leisure, rather than corporate business, must ensure they can keep their guests online, with up-to-theminute technology and gadgets. Salwan Finj, B2B business head for LG Electronics, has witnessed the steady growth in demand for modern in-room technology. “The current trend for hotels is to allow the guest to connect their smart devices to the TV wirelessly,” he said. “Being able to pair your devices with the TV to share content across protocols such as WiDi, WiFi and Miracast adds value and enhances the guest experience.” Meanwhile Amir Anwar of Dubai Audio, said Bluetooth was the name of the game. “This technology offers universal  connectivity rather thansolutions

that cater to only specific manufacturers,” he explained. TeleAdapt Inc is another firm seeing big demand from the region’s hotels. Marketing manager Czar Ngaosi explained: “Guests need easy access to universal chargers and speakers, as they take their mobile devices with them just about everywhere nowadays.” However Ngaosi noted that not all hotels were looking for modern fixtures. “For ease of use, some hotels will still opt to stick with old versions of the HDMI/VGA enabled systems.” One way around this is to seek out bespoke technical solutions. Dubai Audio’s Anwar expanded: “Customisation could be as simple as a volume limit on the product or an operator logo. It could also be as complex as manufacturing the product in a specific corporate colour.” Overall, the Middle East technology sector is seeing an upswing in hospitality industry interest – simply because hotels must be upto-date technologically, to com pete in themarketplace. 

The Ritz-Carlton on Twitter: "Share your wow story from @RitzCarlt…with #RCMemories, as you travel the globe. http://t.co/NX66KNoi0Q"




19/09/2014 21:20


Search Twitter

The Ritz-Carlton  @RitzCarlton​


Share your wow story from @RitzCarlton in six words, and tag it with #RCMemories, as you travel the globe.  Reply  Retweet  Favorite  More





11:41 AM - 17 Sep 2014

Flag media

Reply to @RitzCarlton

Packed Suitcase Trav @packedsuitcase​· Sep 17 @RitzCarlton hot stone massage vanilla bourbon soak #RC memories

the Ritz-carlton Hotel  Reply  Retweet company has topped ton skeel @naughtyT​· Sep 17 social .media rankings @RitzCarlton was never there, fuck my life #RCMemories  Reply  Retweet through a programme of activity designed to drive guest engagement across the brand's online presence.



HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

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Meeting your requirements as professionals in the food service industry, and ensuring your complete satisfaction, Galbani proposes high quality Mascarpone in true Italian tradition. As world leader in Italian cheeses, in both the domestic and export markets, Galbani has been a favourite in restaurants for more than 120 years and continues to be the ideal brand to bring out the best in you for your clients’ enjoyment.

L a c t a l i s D a i r y P r o d u c t s a n d Tr a d i n g ( M i d d l e E a s t ) L L C - E m a i l : i n f o @ a e . l a c t a l i s . c o m - Te l : + 9 7 1 4 3 6 2 3 0 2 5 Pantone 286C

Pantone 485C

Pantone 348C




event review

pastry chefs say Bravo Italian manufacturer wows local pastry chefs with new trends and technologies, at dedicated professionals education day


hefs from across the UAE turned out in force earlier this month, for the latest Trittico Club educational event. The day, hosted by Italian pastry and gelato equipment manufacturer Bravo along with its distributor, Sparrow International, was devised to showcase new technologies and trends from the world of pastry. Around 50 kitchen professionals attended, to observe specialist demonstrations of new time-saving techniques. Chef Dominique Fieurgant led the demonstration, creating a variety of patisserie items including meringue, custard, butter cream and gelato for the audience. The French pastry chef has more than 30 years of experience in the dessert and chocolate world, and has supported numerous teams competing at the prestigious Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie. Andrea Zanuso, Bravo export manager, explained that the idea behind the educational day was to connect with clients and share professional expertise. “We want to meet our customers and update them on international pastry and gelato innovations, sharing ideas and practical knowledge,” he said. “As a company, we are always engaged in the most important events in this field and in very close contact with starred chefs. This allows us to quickly learn the most important innovations and to transfer them on to our machines’ technology.”


HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

ABOVE: Marc Hijazi, CEO and founder of Sparrow International; and Andrea Zanusso, export manager at Bravo. OPPOSITE: Representatives from Al Faheem, Ayla Hotels, La Maison du Chocolat, Armani Hotels, Fauchon, WOW Catering, Baker & Spice, Bateel and Ajman Palace.



We at Hills Hospitality provide the consultancy service helping our customers to implement food safety management systems in their premises ensuring they are complying with the international and legal standards of Food safety. HACCP: a food safety management system designed to control hazards at point critical to food safety; it mainly identifies, evaluates and controls hazards which cause a significant threat to food safety. ISO22000: is an international standard developed by the International Organization for Standardization related with Food safety. It specifies the requirements for a food safety management system. As an approved centre by HABC (the Highfield Awarding Body for Compliance), we conduct Food safety training courses providing recognized internationally certificates attested by Dubai Municipality. Below are the list of training courses: 1- Basic Food Hygiene 2- Food Safety level 3 3- Food Safety level 4 4- HACCP level 2 5- HACCP level 3 6- PIC level 2 and level 3

It’s about your food quality, not quantity... HOSPITALITY & SERVICES JLT

T: +971 (0) 4 325 3130 F: +971 (0) 4 325 3136 M: + 971 (0) 55 503 2366 P.O. Box 73688, Saba Tower 1, Office 706, JLT. Dubai, United Arab Emirates www.hills-hospitality.com



last word

Room with a view: perched high above the greek island village of imerovigli, this room at the iconic santorini is carved out of the caldera wall to create a boutique cave feel and a tranquil environment elevated above the bustle of the location.

Room with a view

The final say

This issue a boutique ‘cave hotel’ in Greece gets our vote for best ‘room with a view’

Rupprecht Queitsch, senior partner and CEO of specialist hospitality consultant INHOCO Group, shares his views on taking a new direction, or finding an alternative career path, outside of hospitality

The luxurious Iconic Santorini dubs itself a “boutique cave hotel”, thanks to a unique setup on the volcanic Greek island. Nestled into the hillside, the location for the hotel was in fact carved out of the caldera wall; thereby ensuring a lofty, tranquil environment with unparalleled views. Perched high above the picturesque village of Imerovigli, the hotel’s rooms and suites overlook the azure waters of Aegean Sea, promising peace and relaxation for any guest.

COMPETITION Get your hands on a luxury king-size duvet worth AED 3,500


HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

Lavazza competition

“If I wasn’t in the hospitality business I would likely be a journalist, or a TV news reporter, working on international sporting events or travel-related features.” “I have a real passion for the media world, and can easily picture myself working in this exciting industry.”

This fantastic prize comes courtesy of Unique Precise International (UPI): a Dubai based firm offering a range of elegant in-room products for the hospitality sector. UPI’s classy collections range from bathroom products to bed linen, maintaining the highest standards for professional, high-end hospitality operations.

IT’S TIME TO CHANGE! Tell us why you would like to change your coffee at your restaurant or office. The most creative entry will win a full LAVAZZA coffee solution! Email us at: timetochange@eurocoffee.ae sophia@bncpublishing.net

To find out more, head to the website, at www.uniqueprecise.com. The simple question you have to answer is: ‘Which luxury German bedding company does UPI exclusively represent in the Middle East?’ Email your answer to sophia@bncpublishing.net with the subject line ‘UPI

800 LAVAZZA competition’ and you could be a winner! Entries should include your full name, company details, email address and telephone number. The closing date for entries is Thursday October 16. All entries will be printed and picked out of a hat and the winner announced in next month’s issue.




HOTEL NEWS ME october 2014

Profile for BNC Publishing

Hotel News ME - October 2014  

The professional perspective for the hospitality industry. Hotel News ME is the vital resource for hotel industry professionals seeking reli...

Hotel News ME - October 2014  

The professional perspective for the hospitality industry. Hotel News ME is the vital resource for hotel industry professionals seeking reli...