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The definitive guide to successful hotel management


September 2010

S.Pellegrino has asked Missoni, one of the most widely respected brands of Italian fashion, to create the first Special Edition bottle under the S.Pellegrino meets Italian Talents new international project. This initiative aims at promoting the Made in Italy excellences developing significant synergies with other premium Italian brands famous at worldwide level. S.Pellegrino discerned Missoni as the ideal partner for the first year edition. The two brands share common values such as Italian style, elegance and brand heritage. They are both authentic and unmistakable, real ambassadors of the Italian lifestyle in the world. Missoni has interpreted with its distinctive and unique zigzag motif the iconic S.Pellegrino label. The Special Edition Bottle will be available at best restaurants starting from September.

Exclusive 100cl glass

The definitive guide to successful hotel management



September 2010







THE GATEKEEPERS Behind the scenes at the new Ibn Battuta Gate with owner Mike Scully and operator Jan Kaiser


BUSINESS TRAVEL Shot on location at Ibn Battuta Gate, Dubai



September 2010 Volume 9, Issue 9 05 NEWS


Jumeirah takes over former Rixos hotel on the Palm; Hilton signs two hotels at King Saud University.

The Palace - The Old Town GM Jason Harding on operating pressures.

70 PRODUCT ANALYSIS: ARTWORK AND LIGHTING Industry experts reveal how artwork and lighting can change the ambience of your hotel.



GMs from three dry hotels on how to cope with bottom line losses.

Housekeepers and Diversey discuss eco-issues in this month’s debate.



42 GM SURVEY 2010

The furniture essentials to impress your guests.

Industry insight from key speakers at Hotelier’s first conference.

The annual Hotelier Middle East GM Survey explores the inner workings of the Middle Eastern GM.

Guy Wilkinson reports from Cairo.



Jordan’s hospitality sector is entering a revival says Kathi Everden.


Essential PR advice from Mövenpick’s Katie Harvey.



Lee Jamieson examines the rise in importance of hotel security.

Tara Marlow advises caution when terminating a management contract.

94 INVESTOR INTERVIEW Jean-François Garnier explains why Warwick is ready to enter the region.

97 LEISURE MANAGER ESPA opens spa at The Yas Hotel; new CV kit for Technogym; Emirati tour guide gets global recognition.

80 NEW PRODUCTS Hotelier Middle East showcases a selection of the most recent products to hit the market.



100 W DOHA BLISS SPA Liliana Matic Moore explains why Bliss Spa deserved to dominate the first Middle East Spa Awards.

Hotel technology won’t provide ROI; Hotels save money going green; Technology conference dates.

107 MOVERS AND SHAKERS New recruit and appointments from inside the industry.


Mike Scully and Jan Kaiser on positioning Ibn Battuta Gate in Dubai’s competitive hotel marketplace.




Guus Bakker from Fraser’s Hospitality discusses expansion plans.

The Amwaj Rotana shows off its ballroom and function facilities.

Music key to F&B revenue; Ecoconcerns shape product design.


Roger MacFarlaine asks whether the new iPad is all it promises to be.

The best of the month’s parties, events and awards.


34 70

Insights from the news desk and the monthly Hotelier competition. KD Sahan



Socialize founder Akanksha Goel explains why location-based networking is the way forward.

100 Hotelier Middle East • September 2010





Most-read stories on

Gary Rhodes opens second restaurant in UAE

1. PHOTOS: Rhodes Twenty10 launch party 2. Hotel workers arrested outside Hyatt 3. Gordon Ramsay’s Cape Town restaurant shut down 4. World’s sexiest DJ to play in Dubai 5. Airbus crash in Pakistan 6. Top 10 outlet openings of 2010 7. Dubai Hard Rock Café lands world’s largest guitar 8. Plane crash email ‘racist’ — Etihad CEO 9. Hot summer hotel offers 10. Ritz-Carlton sale imminent — paper

Grosvenor House and Le Royal Méridien Resort & Spa complex general manager Pam Wilby presents Michelin-starred chef Gary Rhodes with a bunch of flowers at the grand opening of Rhodes Twenty10 on August 5. The new restaurant is located at Le Royal Méridien, while existing outlet Rhodes Mezzanine is based at Grosvenor House.

The top 10 outlet openings of 2010


Floor 10 at Kempinski Nile Hotel Cairo.

1. HAKKASAN — newly-opened at Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi. Dishes include the Roasted silver cod by (pictured right). 2. RHODES TWENTY10 – recently launched at Le Royal Méridien Resort and Spa, Dubai. 3. TRIBES — expected to open at Mall of the Emirates by the end of the year. 4. FLOOR 10 — new dining destination at Kempinski Nile Hotel, Cairo.

Maze Doha.

5 5. MAZE D DOHA — CCaarramel Restaura G Gordon nt and Lounge. R Ramsay op opens an outlet on The Pearl Qatar in Doha. 6. MANGO TREE BISTRO 7 7. PAMPANO — another new outlet oon The Pearl Qatar. 8 8. CARAMEL RESTAURANT AND LLOUNGE — located at DIFC and run by TThe Light Group. 9 9. SHAHISTA — aims to be the UAE’s on only outlet which offers top-end Af Afghani cuisine. 10 10. SHIBA BAR — Jumeirah The Meyda dan’s Japanese restaurant and bar.


1. 2. 3. 4. 5.



1. 2. 3. 4. 5.


1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

UAE SAUDI ARABIA QATAR EGYPT OMAN Hotelier Middle East Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant closed in Cape Town Kempinski Hotel Jeddah Marassi Egypt

For a list of upcoming properties, see update your company’s list, contact September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

Middle East Mattress Factory, P.O. Box 1433, Jeddah 21431, Saudi Arabia Phone: +966 2 608 1350, Fax: + 966 2 608 2285,

Design Antonio Citterio

Assistant Toan Nguyen



THE REGION • Signings • Openings • Best practices • Strategy • Branding • Legislation • Events

GM Survey reveals growth in business travel to Middle East Chiefs at InterContinental and Etihad Airways support findings that show market recovery STORY OF THE MONTH Business travel to the region’s hotels has shown significant improvement in 2010 compared to 2009, according to findings from the Hotelier Middle East GM Survey 2010. Individual business travellers contributed 44.3% of the hotel’s overall business mix in 2010, rising from 20% in 2009. Group business also gained momentum on 2009, rising from 5% of the hotel’s overall business mix in 2009 to just under 14% in 2010. MICE business, which was rock bottom in 2009 contributing 0%, rose to nearly 7%, said the GMs. The general managers were asked to breakdown their hotel’s business mix in five categories — business (individual), business (group), leisure (individual), leisure (group), and MICE. In total, therefore, business guests have on average made up 65% of

Mike Sherrard: The buyers are more ready to spend.

a hotel’s custom over the past year according to the GM Survey. At the same time, InterContinental Hotels Group chief executive Andy Cosslett reported that occupancy had driven revPAR increases during the first half of 2010, with “business travellers returning in greater numbers”. Airlines have witnessed a similar trend, according to Etihad Airways

CEO James Hogan, who said he anticipated the return of business travel over the coming year, while speaking at the 2010 NBTA Conference and Exposition. Speaking at a CEO Exchange, Hogan said: “The signs of recovery are there, with most of our markets — particularly Asia and the Middle East — showing clear signs of improvement across all cabins”. Organiser of the Business Travel Show Middle East, Mike Sherrard, managing director of Centaur Travel Group, shared Hogan’s optimism and said there was “an improvement in budget allocation as companies emerge from the grip of the recession”. He said suppliers to the sector had “produced some very inventive solutions” to meet buyers’ demands, and the London edition of the Business Travel Show revealed increased confidence in the sector. “Exhibitors reported that the visitors to the show had increased

budgets and were more ready to spend — a significant difference to the reports post show in 2009,” commented Sherrard. However, he added: “The speed of recovery can only be judged on an individual basis; there is no definitive trend data available to support anecdotal impressions given by travel management buyers”. “It’s difficult to see a full return to the halcyon days gone by when First/Business Class travel seats were always full….but I do expect to see steady growth back to, or at least close to, pre-recession levels,” concluded Sherrard. A poll by sister magazine Arabian Business last month revealed a more sceptical view, however. A total of 56.4% of people said they thought business travel would not pick up for a few years as companies are cautious about spending. Only 10.3% of respondents to the poll were optimistic that business travel would see an increase in 2011.

Jumeirah takes over former Rixos hotel on The Palm Jumeirah Group has been appointed to operate the upcoming Zabeel Saray hotel on The Palm, Jumeirah, Hotelier Middle East can exclusively reveal. The management contract for the hotel was originally held by Turkish-based hotel company Rixos Hotels, which was signed up as the operator two and half years ago. A spokesperson for Rixos Hotels confirmed that its management contract had been terminated and awarded to Jumeirah Group.

He said: “A legal procedure is underway and at this point we can make no further comments”. It is believed that Jumeirah Group is gearing up to open the property on October 1, making it the first resort to open since Atlantis in 2008. The group is also expected to be opening the Jumeirah Al Fattan Resort and Spa on The Palm Jumeirah in 2011. At the time of going to press, Jumeirah Group was unable to offer any comment on the news.

The Palm Jumeirah will now be home to two Jumeirah properties, one of which is believed to be opening soon.

Hotelier Middle East • September 2010



ANNOUNCEMENTS Abu Dhabi hotel market to swell by 1200 rooms in 2010 Jumeirah Group and Chi Hotels & Resorts set their sights on Egypt Egypt’s Red Sea coast is set to play host to two new hotels, one operated by the Jumeirah Group and the other by Chi Hotels & Resorts. Jumeirah will manage Jumeirah Gamsha Bay Resort, while Chi has signed a 15-year technical services and management agreement with owner El Salaam Company for Tourism Development to operate Ramada Plaza — Naama Bay. The luxury 250-room Gamsha Bay marks Jumeirah’s first management agreement signed in Egypt and is expected to transform Gamsha Bay — located 47km north west of Hurghada airport — into a leading world destination. Chi’s property, formally known as the Royal Plaza Hotel, is its second in Egypt. Chi Hotels CEO and managing director Tony Potter said: “It is our second hotel management agreement in Egypt within the space of one year and the first time we’re bringing the Ramada Plaza brand into Naama Bay in Sharm”. He added that Chi’s third managed property in Sharm El Sheikh would be the luxury Corinthia Resort Hotel, which coupled together with the Tiran Island Hotel and Residences, would complete the Corinthia Beach Resort in Montazah. Al Jawhara gets ‘Crescentrating’ Al Jawhara Group of Hotels and Apartments has become the first hotel company to be awarded the highest ‘Crescentrating’ of sevenstars for sharia-compliant services. The ‘Crescentrating’ is a new system focused on the halal travel market segment. It ranks hotels on a scale of one to seven based on ‘halal-friendly’ facilities. Commenting on the recent sevenstar rating, Crescentrating chief executive officer Fazal Bahardeen said: “Al Jawhara has all the facilities and services that we look for in a halal friendly hotel.” The criteria hotels are assessed on includes the provision of halal food, and some level of information for prayers (prayer timetable and prayer directions in the rooms).

September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

Current market supply to increase by nearly 75% over next two years NEWS More than 1200 new rooms are set to enter the Abu Dhabi hotel market by the end of 2010, putting further pressure on occupancy and room rates, a new report by Jones Lang LaSalle revealed. In addition, the report said that nearly 7500 hotels were expected to enter the market by the end of 2012, which would increase the current supply by almost 75%. Analysts said that average daily rates across the city had declined by around 35% to AED 830 (US $225) over the past year as a direct result of the number of new openings. However, those responsible for upcoming properties due to open in Abu Dhabi, such as the Hyatt Capital Gate, which is set to open in Q4 of 2010 by Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), were

Crawford: confident of success in Abu Dhabi based on the performance to date of Premier Inn in Dubai.

optimistic about the business potential of the emirate. Hyatt Capital Gate sales and marketing director Adrian Hearn said: “The huge increase in the number of hotel rooms in Abu Dhabi during the last 18 months shows

the level of global interest the UAE capital in the business and leisure travel markets. The engines behind this growth have been, and will continue to be, established attractions such as ADNEC”. Despite average occupancy rates for the first half of 2010 standing at just 58% compared to 80% for the same period the previous year (according to STR Global), Darroch Crawford, managing director of Premier Inn, which has signed a hotel in Abu Dhabi, said budget offerings would see success. “Once a guest tries Premier Inn they realise that we provide a great stay, without the high cost associated with many of our competitors. Everywhere the brand operates, its performance is at the leading edge of the market and we are confident this will be the case in Abu Dhabi, where we expect to announce a second location very soon,” said Crawford.

Hilton signs two hotels at King Saud University Hilton Worldwide has signed a management agreement with Saudi Arabia’s King Saud University Endowment for the 241-room Hilton Riyadh King Saud University and the 155-room Hilton Riyadh King Saud University Residence — both expected to open by 2012. Andrew Clough, senior VP, development, Hilton Worldwide, Middle East & Asia-Pacific, said: “Saudi Arabia is our number one development market in the Middle East. Riyadh is drawing both domestic and international visitors from strong business and corporate markets, and we are delighted to meet this demand with two additional Hilton branded properties with the same owner. The cross-selling opportunities with our six existing hotels in Makkah, Madinah, Jeddah and Riyadh are tremendous”. King Saud University is Saudi Arabia’s oldest, largest and most prestigious higher education centre with a student population of 70,000 attending various colleges and research centres.

Carlos Khneisser, senior director of development, Hilton Worldwide, Middle East; Dr.Abdullah A.Alothman, director, King Saud University; and Essam Abouda, vice president – operations, Hilton,Arabian Peninsula and Indian Ocean.

Dr. Abdulrehman AI-Harkan, CEO, King Saud University Endowment, said he was “delighted that Hilton Worldwide is a key part of this landmark project”. “With the capital developing into a business and luxury hub, attracting millions of regional and international visitors while also hosting thousands of expatriate families, the entry of these two properties adds to the city’s metropolitan credentials and showcases the diversity of its

many hospitality offerings,” Dr. AIHarkan added. The signing came as Hilton Worldwide announced a new name and logo for its flagship brand, adding ‘& Resorts’ to the Hilton Hotels brand name. The name change is intended to distinguish the hotel brand from its parent company Hilton Worldwide, while the change of logo continues an enhanced leisure marketing strategy for the brand.


Increased occupancy in Qatar attributed to QTA campaigns Hotels believe occupancies will hold despite a host of new offerings coming on to the market The hotel sector in Qatar has showed a rise of two points in average occupancy rates, as well as an increase in revenue for four and five-star hotels during the first half of 2010, said a report by Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA). The figures, which put occupancy rates at 61% for the first

























Qatar Tourism Authority chairman Ahmed Al Nuaimi.

half of 2010 compared to 59% for the same period during 2009, have been praised by QTA, which attributed the rise in occupancy to state efforts to increase tourism activities and the continuous expansion of Qatar Airways. Qatar Tourism Authority chairman Ahmed Al Nuaimi said: “Our outreach and promotion campaigns have been focused on reaching the MICE industry, and high end travellers. Qatar Tourism Authority launched a ’48 hours’ campaign in early 2010, and promoted this campaign on a roadshow in Europe in February 2010 and will repeat it in Asia in October 2010. “In addition to this, QTA feels that promoting domestic tourism is important and therefore we are organising more events for local residents such as cultural activities,

entertainment festivities, indoor and outdoor amusement parks, trade fairs and shopping festivals.” Al Nuaimi also reported the expansion of investments planned in the hotel field, with 42 hotels set to open by the end of 2010 with an estimated capacity of 6731 rooms and 1573 hotel units. W Doha Hotels and Residences general manager Safak Guvenc commented on the pipeline: “Last year the average occupancy in Doha experienced a significant drop because of the global financial crisis, but this year the situation has shown a lot of improvement. The new hotels that are opening in the city are sure to increase competition, but there are many other positive factors that will offset and ultimately overshadow any challenges that the market might experience”.

Two Rezidor hotels awarded Green Globe certification International Green Globe Certification has been awarded to two Rezidor hotels in the Middle East in recognition of their environmentally-friendly strategies and efforts. The Radisson Blu, Dubai Deira Creek and Park Inn, Muscat have both secured the Green Globe stamp of approval, with the Park Inn being the first hotel in Oman to achieve Green Globe recognition. Park Inn Muscat chief engineer Sushant Pawar said: “We opted to undergo the Green Globe certification process as part of our ‘Responsible Business’ actions. We chose

Park Inn Muscat is the first hotel in Oman to achieve the greatly sought-after Green Globe Certification.

this internationally-recognised brand for its credibility and the fact

that it represents the best in environmental responsibility.” Green Globe certification is the premier worldwide sustainability stamp for the tourism industry and more than 800 businesses in 50 countries have so far met the 248 exacting standards. Rezidor, which was handed the management contract for the 276 bedroom property in Dubai Deira Creek in 2006, has gradually brought its green policies in line with its own Responsible Business Programme, paving the way for the first Radisson Blu branded hotel

in the UAE to be accredited with Green Globe certification. “We had already completed a number of sustainability initiatives, such as energy and resource saving, the use of biodegradable chemicals and recycling initiatives, but achieving Green Globe status will now have a positive effect on every aspect of the hotel operation,” said chief engineer Arthur Rodrigues. The Rezidor hotels follow in the steps of The Palace — The Old Town, which was the first hotel in the Middle East to receive Green Globe certification earlier this year.

Hotelier Middle East • September 2010



ANNOUNCEMENTS Dohaland and Premier Inn sign JV Dohaland and Premier Inn have signed a joint venture agreement (JV) to introduce Premier Inn’s value hotel model to Qatar. The first project announced under the JV will be a 200 room hotel to be built at Doha Education City, an area on the outskirts of Doha. The JV will be administered by Dohaland Hospitality, mandated to introduce unique hotel brands to Qatar, contributing to the development of the tourism and hospitality industry in the country. CEO of Dohaland Abdul Aziz AlEmadi said: “We believe that there is a current need in the market for more quality budget hotels in Doha; our partnership with a globally recognised brand such as Premier Inn will address this segment in the hotel market”. Premier Inn has already expressed its dedication to expanding across the region following its operation of three hotels in the UAE, with two more to be opened soon. Darroch Crawford, managing director of Premier Inn Hotels LLC in the Middle East, said: “This partnership lends further weight to our commitment to the region”. Hard Rock hotels planned for UAE in 2013 following Café relaunch Hard Rock International, the company responsible for Hard Rock Hotels and the Hard Rock Café brand, has announced plans to open themed Hard Rock hotels in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in 2013. The announcement came following the news that the Hard Rock Café Dubai — which was previously located on Sheikh Zayed Road — will be re-opening in October at Dubai Festival City. Hard Rock International vice president of franchise operations and development Oliver Munday said: “We cannot wait to return to Dubai. This market is famous for being a global commerce capital with a vibrant entertainment scene. Our investment in the UAE is indicative of our commitment to making Hard Rock Cafe an integral part of the continuing evolution of Dubai”.

September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

Raffles Makkah Palace now open Hotel billed as a “new step” for Saudi Arabia’s growing hotel market OPENINGS Raffles Hotels & Resorts has opened its first hotel in Saudi Arabia in the holy city of Makkah. Raffles Makkah Palace is located in the Abraj Al Bait complex, a seven-tower community directly adjoining the Masjid Al Haram (Grand Mosque) and the Kaaba. Mohammed Arkobi, vice president and managing director of Fairmont Raffles Hotels International — Makkah, said that the location gave Raffles “the opportunity to cater to the guests of the Holy City, making it a unique and one-of-akind experience”. The 213-suite property is designed to offer “an extremely discrete yet highly refined residential sanctuary”, with personal butlers on hand to anticipate guests’ needs. There are four outlets for guests to choose from: Najes, a stylish tea salon; Al Majlis serving Middle Eastern cuisine; Al Qasr combining international, Moroccan, Arabic and Indian cuisines; and The Raffles Creamery, which presents customised Teppanyaki ice cream. According to the hotel’s group director of communications and business development Khaled Yamak, the hotel signals a step forward for KSA’s hotel market.

Mohammed Arkobi, vice president and managing director of FRHI — Makkah: The hotel will be unique.

“Raffles Makkah Palace is considered a new step in the hospitality sector in Saudi Arabia. With its unique heartfelt service and enchanting accommodation, residents will feel the difference,” he said. The hotel is designed to cater to both religious and business tourism, with a business centre and business rooms also available. Raffles Makkah Palace is the first of three hotels operated by FRHI to open at the Abraj Al Bait complex. Also underway are the Makkah Clock Royal Tower, a Fairmont Hotel — a 76 storey hotel with 858 rooms — and Swissotel Makkah, due to open in 2011.

Meanwhile in Makkah, Rotana has reported a “surge in visitor footfall” at its 426-room hotel Al Marwa Rayhaan, which is also close to the Grand Mosque and part of the Al Bait complex. Al Marwa Rayhaan by Rotana – Makkah GM Hany Khorshid said: “Al Marwa Rayhaan by Rotana achieved a client satisfaction rate of 88% so far this month. At the same time, we are maintaining our commitment to deliver the highest levels of service quality to our guests to complement the corresponding business growth and the increasing investments in various hospitality and tourism infrastructure. “Furthermore, now that we are seeing the arrival of the Holy Month of Ramadan, Al Marwa Rayhaan by Rotana is now prepared to accommodate a further surge in demand for hotel rooms and hotel facilities. Al Marwa Rayhaan by Rotana is particularly preparing for tourists from the UAE, Kuwait, Turkey and Egypt, all of which are traditionally the biggest markets for visitors during this particular season.” Khorshid added: “We are currently expanding our existing facilities and amenities that already include three world-class restaurants as well as transport facilities to and from the airport”.

Abu Dhabi drops in rankings of world’s ‘most expensive cities’ Abu Dhabi has fallen seven places in the Hogg Robinson Group’s (HRG) ranking of the world’s 10 most expensive cities. In 2009, the UAE capital was second only to Moscow and the only top 10 city to record any growth (5%) in average room rate. This year has seen a dramatic reversal for Abu Dhabi, now in eighth place and experiencing the highest average rate reduction of the 10 cities with a 25% decrease. Moscow maintained its top spot, but Rome, Copenhagen and Dubai dropped to 14th, 16th and 19th positions respectively in the 2010 list.


2010 Average Room RAte GBP

2010 Average Room RAte Local Currency

2009 Average Room RAte GBP

2009 Average Room Rate Local Currency

Variance In Local Currency

Variance in GBP





















AED 1,040.92




SEK 2,066.31


10) OSLO


NOK 1,615.10


2009 Ranking

RUB 11,810.43


RUB 13,345.79




CHF 326.76


CHF 318.60




HKD 2,344.12


HKD 2,080.59
























AED 1,384.72




SEK 1,976.79




NOK 1,678.72




Source: HRG

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Lack of support blamed for limited tourism in Kuwait Action Hotels chair says more infrastructure is needed to create a ‘hub’ TOURISM

Most restaurants here [Dubai] are in hotels, and some hotels can really suck the soul of a restaurant. For example, at Locanda Locatelli, the buck stops with me: if a customer isn’t happy, I deal with the situation. I tell them to go or sort it out. But here [Atlantis], if there’s a guy who is staying in the Royal Suite, paying a lot of money, you’ve got to listen to them to an extent — and that can really deflate the importance of the restaurant. Now this place is taking shape as we want it, then yes, we would potentially like to do something else — perhaps in Abu Dhabi. Of course there’s always the issue that if you want to serve alcohol you have to put your place into a hotel, so we’ll have to find the right partnership to work with, which is not easy — hotels can take your character away. As a stand-alone, you can just accept that as a standard, maybe 5% of people won’t like it. So if I serve 1000 people and 50 complain, I’m still on target. But a hotel is always trying to please everybody, which is not possible with something as personal as food. Michelin-starred chef Giorgio Locatelli comments on the restrictions chefs face when operating their outlets in hotels.



September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

A lack of infrastructure, promotion and motivation by the government are the main reasons why Kuwait’s tourism sector has not seen the level of investment and growth witnessed in other Gulf countries such as the UAE, one of the country’s top tourism executives has said. “There is limited tourism in Kuwait,” said HE Sheikh Mubarak AM Al Sabah, chairman of Kuwaitbased hotelier Action Hotels. “It is a very friendly country and it is very different from the other states in the GCC but it has not moved towards developing [its tourism sector].” He added that though Kuwait was “well placed” to take advantage of the three large growing markets of Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran, the tourism sector in Kuwait had simply not been given enough support and was not backed up with an adequate infrastructure. Sheikh Mubarak said that he believes the lack of incentives is a political problem, and when asked if it was down to a lack of motivation by the government to develop the tourism sector he answered that “unfortunately that is the case.”

HE Sheikh Mubarak AM Al Sabah is the chairman of Kuwait-based Action Hotels, which operates 14 properties.

“We are a very liberal country and no different from any other GCC state but we are not promoted. The lack of infrastructure is not there to attract tourists to be a hub,” he said. In May, Dubai-based research company Proleads reported there are currently more than 470 active hotel projects in the Gulf. However, only 27, or 5.7%, of these were planned in Kuwait, compared to

258 in the UAE, 83 in Saudi Arabia and 35 in Bahrain. Action Hotels specialises in the midscale hotel market and has a portfolio of 14 hotels in the Gulf and Australia. It is currently on track to open 2600 hotel rooms in the region by 2012. Sheikh Mubarak was speaking in an interview with Hotelier’s sister magazine, Arabian Business.

Big name moves as Marriott expands Marriott International has continued its global strategy to establish continental divisions in Asia Pacific and the Middle East and Africa, with two leadership appointments. Simon F. Cooper will fill the role of president and managing director, Asia Pacific, while Edwin D. Fuller will lead operations and growth in the MENA region in his continued role as president and managing director, Lodging International. He will also provide counsel on the company’s global growth strategy. Marriott is continuing its expansion in the MENA region, with 42 additional hotels planned for the area over the next three years. Arne Sorenson, president and chief operating officer, Marriott

International commented: “Ed Fuller is highly respected throughout the industry and brings considerable expertise and contacts to our global operations. “As a 38-year Marriott veteran, he was a principle leader in growing the Marriott portfolio from 16 international hotels to more than 400 in 68 countries outside North America and expanding our brands into new markets,” added Sorenson. Meanwhile, Herve Humler, one of the original founders of RitzCarlton in 1983, has replaced Simon Cooper as president and chief operations officer of Ritz-Carlton. Based at The Ritz-Carlton headquarters in Chevy Chase, Maryland, Humler will oversee all 76

Herve Humler has taken up the reigns at Ritz-Carlton, to oversee new openings and the Bulgari brand .

Ritz-Carlton hotels and the opening of more than 30 new hotels and residential projects currently underway, as well as the Bulgari Hotels & Resorts brand.



The general managers discussed the pros and cons of operating a dry hotel in Dubai.

Dry hotels are losing 30% on the bottom line Operators not serving alcohol must drive revenue through niche F&B and targeted marketing, said general managers of three alcohol-free properties in a Hotelier roundtable ANALYSIS ry hotels must accept that they will lose 30% on the bottom line, said the general managers of alcohol-free properties in an exclusive roundtable with Hotelier Middle East. City Seasons Group of Hotels managing director Thomas Tapken explained: “It has an influence. I am running the whole chain, so looking at the different hotels it is clear that I have lost business because we do not serve any alcohol”.


September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

He pinpointed food and beverage as the area where dry hotels were set to lose the most money: “It has a major impact in our food and beverage revenue and this is where we feel it. If we study it, the figures are horrible — it’s clear that you have a loss of approximately 30% of your total revenue without having alcohol.” Dusit Princess general manager Wolfi Malik stressed that hoteliers must accept that they will not make up the loss on F&B in their profit margins. “Alcohol has a much better profit margin than food, so that most definitely says it all.”

He argued that dry hotels must try to distinguish themselves from their alcohol-serving counterparts by carving out a niche market. “The majority of [standalone] restaurants here don’t have alcohol so what are their selling points? We are in line with the restaurants by having no alcohol, so I think we have to be more creative and that’s what we are doing in my hotel,” he said. “We have concentrated on juices — in this hotel you will not find a juice that isn’t freshly squeezed. We take a little extra time, but I don’t know if you will find a hotel that has

as many fresh juices as we do — that is our niche. And in this market I have seen people ask for AED 100 (US$ 27) bottles of water, so there is a demand for something other than alcohol here,” Malik observed. Tapken added: “Your USP is not going to be an expensive glass of wine, so you concentrate on finding your niche market. For me, I look to food which isn’t complemented by alcohol. For example, do you want a glass of wine with spicy Indian food? Of course not, because you won’t taste it. So one of the things I have focused on is Asian food.”


HOW TO MAKE A DRY HOTEL WORK Develop a USP/create a niche for yourself — whether it is a large range of juices or a quality chocolate shop in your property, become known for offering something special. Look at F&B offerings which don’t rely on alcohol to compliment the meal, such as Asian food. Be aware of your location — stopovers to/from Saudi Arabia could increase your business. Concentrate on the local weddings market to increase your amount of banqueting business.

BEING CREATIVE Taj Palace Hotel Dubai general manager Andreas Mueller said that the key to creating successful nonalcoholic food and beverage offerings in hotels was to carefully consider the market. “It certainly needs a bit more creativity to get customers into your F&B outlets, but saying that, there is a market for dry hotels —

especially in banqueting and there is a strong local market in weddings,” said Mueller. “It just needs focus, it needs a shift on getting business that is suitable for your property. We all come from an F&B background and it is working,” he added. Although hotels can do more to push revenue through F&B, Tapken said they would not make up the 30% loss. “The profit margin on juice, tea, and coffee is relatively high but do we make it up? No. We will never make it up, “he stressed. “We will lose. We will not make up the profit and the owner knows this from the outset. You can tell him in the beginning about the 30% loss on profit and ask him if he wants this revenue or that one, but he will say ‘no, there is no alcohol’, and so the concept will be a dry hotel.”

THE OWNER’S VIEW Owners’ representative and chief executive officer of Sharaf Industries, John T Merrigan, agreed that the potential negative impact on profits was to be expected. However, he added that “as owners, we do not see the issue in this way”.


Hotelier Middle East • September 2010




“In fact, we see it that the hotel properties can achieve an acceptable bottom-line performance and offer a differentiated proposition to our target markets. We expect our management teams to work with this market positioning in a positive way and deliver on the objectives that are set,” Merrigan said. And understanding how to effectively market a dry hotel, and to whom, is an important part of business said Mueller. “This time of the year, dry hotels are very strong in Saudi Arabia, so I send my sales team over there. Another strong market for dry hotels is Africa. I have [clients in] Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan — they are Muslims and I find that I have

a great deal of conference business from there,” Mueller said. Understanding markets with strong Muslim representation was vitally important, said Tapken. “I think that it is important to realise that

there is a strong Muslim market out there, and that market is largely untapped,” Tapken said. “The Muslim community around the world is huge, so there is huge potential here,” he added.

GROWING MARKET Fazal Bahardeen, the chief executive officer of Crescentrating, the Halal-friendly travel and tourism company, agreed that the Muslim travel market has not yet reached its full potential. “As a market segment, ‘Muslim travellers’ have not been fully tapped by the mainstream industries. This is beginning to change now with many reports by leading research groups and conferences centred around ‘marketing to the Muslim world’. Although the food and banking industries have begun to take this market seriously, the


September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East



The ‘Dry GMs’ discussed the best and worst bits of operating a dry hotel in Dubai.

Dry hotels are losing 30% on the bottom line Operators not serving alcohol must drive revenue through niche F&B and targeted marketing, said general managers of three alcohol-free properties in a Hotelier roundtable ANALYSIS ry hotels must accept that they will lose 30% on the bottom line, said the general managers of alcohol-free properties in an exclusive roundtable with Hotelier Middle East. City Seasons Group of Hotels managing director Thomas Tapken explained: “It has an influence. I am running the whole chain, so looking at the different hotels it is clear that I have lost business because we do not serve any alcohol”.


September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

He pinpointed food and beverage as the area where dry hotels were set to lose the most money: “It has a major impact in our food and beverage revenue and this is where we feel it. If we study it, the figures are horrible — it’s clear that you have a loss of approximately 30% of your total revenue without having alcohol.” Dusit Princess general manager Wolfi Malik stressed that hoteliers must accept that they will not make up the loss on F&B in their profit margins. “Alcohol has a much better profit margin than food, so that most definitely says it all.”

He argued that dry hotels must try to distinguish themselves from their alcohol-serving counterparts by carving out a niche market. “The majority of [standalone] restaurants here don’t have alcohol so what are their selling points? We are in line with the restaurants by having no alcohol, so I think we have to be more creative and that’s what we are doing in my hotel,” he said. “We have concentrated on juices — in this hotel you will not find a juice that isn’t freshly squeezed. We take a little extra time, but I don’t know if you will find a hotel that has

as many fresh juices as we do — that is our niche. And in this market I have seen people ask for AED 100 (US$ 27) bottles of water, so there is a demand for something other than alcohol here,” Malik observed. Tapken added: “Your USP is not going to be an expensive glass of wine, so you concentrate on finding your niche market. For me, I look to food which isn’t complemented by alcohol. For example, do you want a glass of wine with spicy Indian food? Of course not, because you won’t taste it. So one of the things I have focused on is Asian food.”


HOW TO MAKE A DRY HOTEL WORK Develop a USP/create a niche for yourself — whether it is a large range of juices or a quality chocolate shop in your property, become known for offering something special. Look at F&B offerings which don’t rely on alcohol to compliment the meal, such as Asian food. Be aware of your location — stopovers to/from Saudi Arabia could increase your business. Concentrate on the local weddings market to increase your amount of banqueting business.

BEING CREATIVE Taj Palace Hotel Dubai general manager Andreas Mueller said that the key to creating successful nonalcoholic food and beverage offerings in hotels was to carefully consider the market. “It certainly needs a bit more creativity to get customers into your F&B outlets, but saying that, there is a market for dry hotels —

especially in banqueting and there is a strong local market in weddings,” said Mueller. “It just needs focus, it needs a shift on getting business that is suitable for your property. We all come from an F&B background and it is working,” he added. Although hotels can do more to push revenue through F&B, Tapken said they would not make up the 30% loss. “The profit margin on juice, tea, and coffee is relatively high but do we make it up? No. We will never make it up, “he stressed. “We will lose. We will not make up the profit and the owner knows this from the outset. You can tell him in the beginning about the 30% loss on profit and ask him if he wants this revenue or that one, but he will say ‘no, there is no alcohol’, and so the concept will be a dry hotel.”

THE OWNER’S VIEW Owners’ representative and chief executive officer of Sharaf Industries, John T Merrigan, agreed that the potential negative impact on profits was to be expected. However, he added that “as owners, we do not see the issue in this way”.


Hotelier Middle East • September 2010




“In fact, we see it that the hotel properties can achieve an acceptable bottom-line performance and offer a differentiated proposition to our target markets. We expect our management teams to work with this market positioning in a positive way and deliver on the objectives that are set,” Merrigan said. And understanding how to effectively market a dry hotel, and to whom, is an important part of business said Mueller. “This time of the year, dry hotels are very strong in Saudi Arabia, so I send my sales team over there. Another strong market for dry hotels is Africa. I have [clients in] Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan — they are Muslims and I find that I have

a great deal of conference business from there,” Mueller said. Understanding markets with strong Muslim representation was vitally important, said Tapken. “I think that it is important to realise that

there is a strong Muslim market out there, and that market is largely untapped,” Tapken said. “The Muslim community around the world is huge, so there is huge potential here,” he added.

GROWING MARKET Fazal Bahardeen, the chief executive officer of Crescentrating, the Halal-friendly travel and tourism company, agreed that the Muslim travel market has not yet reached its full potential. “As a market segment, ‘Muslim travellers’ have not been fully tapped by the mainstream industries. This is beginning to change now with many reports by leading research groups and conferences centred around ‘marketing to the Muslim world’. Although the food and banking industries have begun to take this market seriously, the


September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East


mainstream travel industry has been much slower to react to this trend,” said Bahardeen. “The potential for hotels in particular and destinations in general to gain from attracting this market will continue to grow. Some of the predictions are that this market segment will outperform other travel market segments,” he added. Recent figures published by Jones Lang LaSalle in its June 2010 report entitled ‘Holy Cities: Saudi’s Unique Real Estate Market’ show that 7.8 million Muslims per year currently travel to the Holy Cities, and suggest that this figure will increase by almost double to 13.75 million by 2019. The predicted increase in Muslim travellers visiting Saudi Arabia would have a knock-on effect in the surrounding countries such as the UAE, said Tapken. “If you see the predicted increase in Muslim travellers to Saudi Ara-

bia, how many people will want to do the pilgrimage and then stay a certain amount of time in this part of the world, or have a stop-over here? It will lead to more dry hotels in the Middle East,” he said. Bahardeen added that the increasing Halal consciousness amongst the Muslim community — reflected in the demand for Halal food and the Islamic banking industry —could also contribute to an increase in the number of dry hotels in the future. “During the last few years this growing consciousness has also been reflected in the lifestyle choices of this market segment. Travel in particular has been one the areas which has seen this impact and since early 2006, there has been a trend by Muslim travellers to look for travel services which are Halal friendly. The consequence of this has been the launch of many ‘Halal friendly’ hotels,” he concluded. HME



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Hotelier Middle East • September 2010




The Great

GM Debate EVENT PREVIEW otelier Middle East is set to hold its first ever conference on September 29. Designed specifically for hotel general managers, The Hotelier Middle East Great GM Debate will provide a forum for industry colleagues to discuss the issues, challenges and opportunities facing hoteliers in the Middle East. Rather than sit through a series of seminars, the GMs have chosen to participate in workshops most suited to their needs, with each workshop leader then presenting key findings back to the assembled group. There will also be exciting keynote sessions from the UAE’s leading tourism figures, a session on working with government and a closing panel debate to discuss ‘where are we headed’. So overwhelming was the demand for such an event that registration for The Great GM Debate was over-subscribed more than a month before the conference. It will provide an ideal opportunity for GMs to step back and reflect on how best


September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

Ahead of The Great GM Debate, being hosted by Hotelier Middle East at the end of this month, the panellists, workshop leaders and GMs share their views on the industry

to tackle operational challenges, adapt to new trends, meet customer expectations and boost their bottom line. With more than 200 hoteliers preparing to come together to question industry standards, share best practice, and pave the path for the future, Hotelier Middle East challenged a handful of the speakers and GMs to address some of the key talking points in advance. First up is Majid Sager Al Marri, director of classification at the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) and the first keynote speaker at The Great GM Debate. Al Marri will be outlining some recent developments at DTCM, including the Dubai Green Tourism Awards and the new hotel classification system, which he says will be introduced in Dubai by the year end.

“The GMs will have a better idea about the new classification criteria and types of classification, such as the new five-star accolades (platinum and gold) and also how the hotel industry will benefit from that new system,” said Al Marri. Meanwhile, Nasser Saif Al Reyami, director tourism standards, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, will also be presenting to the GMs to provide an update on developments within the Abu Dhabi hotel industry. “They will be given a full update of all that is new in terms of our regulatory systems which impact them and also our plans for the future, which we will fully engage them in,” said Reyami. Like DTCM, the ADTA is also working

on expanding the hotel classification system it uses. “One challenge we are addressing is a method of ranking those properties which are currently rated fivestar but offer facilities and service above the more conventional fivestar rating requirements. We hope to have this category introduced early in 2011,” Al Reyami said. In Abu Dhabi generally, he said the biggest challenge facing the hospitality industry was keeping visitors in the emirate for longer. “The entire industry is currently




engaged in a campaign to increase the average length of stay of a hotel guest. It currently stands at 2.65 nights and we would like to see this move to three nights,” asserted Al Reyami. “One way of doing this is to proactively engage the significant amount of travellers which transit Abu Dhabi International Airport to look upon the emirate as an intriguing stop-over destination. This is

a strategy that we are working on with stakeholders to deliver and achieve greater guest night stays.” That said, both Al Marri and Al Reyami said that they were very confident of the growth of the hospitality industry in terms of both increasing visitor numbers and the improving quality of accommodation.

working with the tourism boards to assist in the overall destination proposition of the UAE? Al Marri and Al Reyami will be joined by Rotana chief operating officer Omer Kaddouri and Emaar Hotels and Resorts CEO Marc Dardenne to discuss this, and the impact of the legislative landscape on hoteliers, at The Great GM Debate.

WORKING WITH GOVERNMENT With this in mind, how should GMs be


WHAT THE SPEAKERS SAID “I think this will be the best gathering for the GMs, which comes at the right time to discuss and share new things around and have a better view of the challenges faced together in this industry.” Majid Sager Al Marri, director of classification, Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing

“It is important for all within an industry to work together to improve the overall tourism offering, define the challenges facing the industry at large and to co-ordinate on possible means of addressing them.” Nasser Saif Al Reyami, director tourism standards, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority

“We are working very closely with both Abu Dhabi and Dubai

governments and I believe that a lot has been initiated and done over the past few years, particularly after we experienced the economic turndown, specifically through the destination brand awareness, conferences, international exhibitions and road shows. In addition to our own efforts, we are encouraged by the efficiency of both tourism authorities.” Omer Kaddouri, chief operating officer, Rotana

“I congratulate Hotelier Middle East on its initiative setting up this event. The longer I work in this industry, the more I learn and a shared challenge is one that is at least halved. Who better to discuss our “opportunities” with than those who share them? We have some of the finest hoteliers

in the world in this region, so the chance to network with them is one not to be missed.” Darroch Crawford, managing director, Premier Inn Hotels LLC

“There is no question that there are a lot of new hotels planned to come on line in Dubai in the next two years, however, I also believe that the hotel sector is poised for much stronger growth in the coming months than we have seen in some time. “The response to Armani Hotel Dubai, for example, is an encouraging sign and we can feel some evidence of the revival in the market and customer confidence through the initial interest and demand for the property.” Oliver Key, general manager, Armani Hotel Dubai

Hotelier Middle East • September 2010



Oliver Key.


Opening remarks: Louise Oakley, group editor, Hotelier Middle East


Keynote address: Majid Sager Al Marri, director of classification, DTCM


Keynote address: Nasser Saif Al Reyami, director tourism standards, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority


Panel session: Working with the government


Morning workshops Workshop A: F&B Focus: What outlets mean in the Middle East Workshop leader: Tiina-Maija Bergman, vice president strategy, RMAL Hospitality Workshop B: Going green: Driving savings through sustainability Workshop leader: Noel Massoud, chief executive officer, Jinan Hotels and Resorts Workshop C: Hotel schools and head-hunters: Focus on recruitment Workshop leader: Rachel Moosa, director of human resources, Middle East and Africa, Fairmont Hotels Workshop D: How to get revenue management right Workshop leader: Stefan Wolf, group director of revenue management, Jumeirah Group


Presentations from outcomes of morning workshops

13.40pm: Afternoon workshops Workshop E: Emiratisation: Attracting nationals to the hotel industry Workshop leader: John Mowatt, director of Emiratisation Projects, Jumeirah Centre for Emiratisation Workshop F: Social media strategies for hotels: How to grow your business Workshop leader: Thomas Tapken, managing director, City Seasons Group Workshop G: Working with owners Workshop leader: Guy Wilkinson, partner and general manager, Viability Workshop H: Boosting revenue through IT Workshop leader: Hakem Sourani, director of IT and AV, Emirates Palace 14.40pm: Presentations from outcomes of afternoon workshops 15.50pm: Panel discussion: Where are we headed? 16.50pm: Closing remarks 5pm:

Networking drinks reception

The panel will be moderated by industry consultant John Podaras, who recently joined the Hiranandani Group, and will seek to explore the relationship between hotels and various governmental bodies. Podaras will address several major issues: whether there is sufficient consultation between the industry and the regulatory bodies; whether governments should control the number of hotel licences September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

issued; the responsibility of governments and hotels to protect guests’ safety and wellbeing; who classifications are designed to benefit; and how attractions are being developed in line with cultural sensitivities. “Another question that concerns the industry is the fees and levies in terms of charges (service charges), taxes (tax on alcohol) and the fees (annual licence fees),” said Podaras. “Are these, and indeed, should these

can work closely with the government on enhancing the overall business environment,” said Kaddouri.

WHERE ARE WE HEADED There are many more facttors that will contribute to iimproving the overall busin ness environment Kaddouri aalludes to. The UAE has by th the far the largest number of hotels in the development pi pipeline in the Middle East — at the last count, there were 555,165 hotel rooms in the ttotal active pipeline, with m more than half under consstruction. (STR Global). W With hotels still adjusting tto the economic downturn aand only gradually seeing growth, how daunting is this pipeline? How will established hotels keep up, and on the other hand, how will new hotels make their mark? Preparing to discuss these issues, and much Majid Al Marri. more, at The Great GM Debate, are industry leaders Bani Haddad, Omer Z. Kaddouri vice president development – Middle East and Africa, Wyndham Hotel Group; Daniel Hajjar, chief executive, Layia Hospitality; Michael Weyland, general manager, hotel division, Landmark Group; Christophe Landais, managing director, Accor Hospitality; Darroch Crawford, managing director, Premier Inn; Oliver Key, general manager, Armani Hotel; and Mike Scully, managing director, Seven Tides Hospitality. be uniform, or should there be difThe panel will be moderferences between emirates and in ated by Ròya International chief some cases between free zones and operating officer Gerhard Hardick, the city? What are these funds (ser- who will address the “new reality” vice charge and licence fees) used of the UAE hotel market. Hardick for and is it value for money?” said he expected that the luxury Kaddouri agreed that govern- market will continue “to flourish mental bodies have great influence largely irrespective of economic through areas such as ease of visa situations now or in the future”, but requirements, moderate tax rates, said that existing hotels would need the development of tourism infra- to up their game. structure and open skies policies. “There is no established evidence “These areas are important for us that established hotels are actually as hoteliers and are areas where we keeping up with new entrants,” said


to the market and could take a lot longer to make a mark, whereas some older properties could find it easier on the basis that they have loyalty they could enhance.” Representing the newer properties, at the top end of the scale and the budget end, are Oliver Key and Darroch Crawford, who took a similar stance to Scully. “From an operational point of view, what is extremely important, is that there is no more room for complacency,” said Key. “The hotel market in this part of the world is extremely competitive now; not only do we have more international players but also home-grown brands are branching out into global markets. This means hotels here have people with the right skill-sets to make them internationally competitive. “As in all developed markets, the UAE hotel segment is led by two key determinants — quality and price, the key is to offer guests value for money and superior quality in terms of product and service,” Key said.

He added that it was vital to remember the importance of that old adage; location, location, location. “Another key determinant in the success of a particular property is the location, some locations have established themselves only recently, for example Downtown and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, The Palm Islands and others,” said Key. “Now more than ever, an increased emphasis is being placed on a property’s location depending on the particular guest’s requirements. For the next few years, there are likely to be some locations that will struggle more than others to remain competitive,” he asserted. With so much change underway, and more on the horizon, Crawford said The Great GM Debate couldn’t have come at a better time, as now more than ever the onus was on hoteliers to work together to build their destinations. “The dynamics of the hospitality business in the region have changed beyond recognition in a very short

space of time and it is our responsibility as the current guardians of the industry to shape and protect its future. I also believe that we have an opportunity to work together to build a unique offering that will set us apart from the rest of the world,” said Crawford. “My hope for The Great GM Debate is that it will be the start of a new more aligned approach to tackling the challenges and opportunities that we face.” HME If you are interested in supporting The Great GM Debate, please contact or for sponsorship opportunities.

Don’t miss... The first ever Hotelier Middle East conference in Saudi Arabia. Details will be revealed on soon. Watch this space!

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Hardick. “The evidence so far seems to be that established hotels are just doing a bit more of what they have been doing for a long time, without too much success. What is needed is a total rethink of the modus operandi of their establishment.” In a similar way, the “famous Dubai service standards will have to be re-thought” asserted Hardick — not by scaling them back but by placing the emphasis on hiring, training and “adequately remunerating” more focused employees. Mike Scully said growth in the future depended on two things: making the product attractive and fun, and driving business by pricing the product attractively. “Make sure that your management company has got the management to drive business to your properties, and if they can’t, help them and help them to employ the people that will help them,” he advised. “It doesn’t matter if you’re old or new. There are many new properties whose management isn’t geared


Hotelier gets out and about

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amadan is almost over for another year, as are the annual excuses for a lack of meetings, lower occupancy and the tendency to postpone muchneeded training, investments and innovations until after Eid. Business is about to pick up again and to help you capitalise on it in a big way, Hotelier Middle East will be holding its first ever conference this month (see pages 16-19). The Hotelier Middle East Great GM Debate is an industry first and support for it has been overwhelming, reflecting what a proactive group of hoteliers are heading up the sector in the Middle East. The aim is to educate and inform via a series of workshops that will enable 200 general managers and country managers to debate the issues that matter most to them. It is also a much-needed opportunity to bring people together to celebrate the roles you perform and the destinations you represent. Three years ago, there were fewer secrets and more networking. The pressures and strains of the job — revealed for all to see in the


annual Hotelier Middle East GM Survey on pages 42-49 — have left less time for casual catch ups, and as we enter the final third of the year, it is time once again to join forces and help promote the hotel business and Middle Eastern destinations, from Dubai to Doha and Bahrain to Beirut. At the end of last month, a group of eight directors of sales and marketing in Dubai, representing brands such as The Address and Hyatt, met at Kempinski Mall of the Emirates to do just this. Spearheaded by Kempinski’s DOSM Nasser Fawzi, it was a first-time event, but hopefully the start of a new trend. It’s the best way to keep abreast of great partners, new openings and client demands. It’s not just those at the top of the tree that need to network, however. Over the next couple of months, ITP Business is holding two major events for hoteliers at all levels. First up is the Caterer Middle East Awards on September 27 at Park Hyatt Dubai, the first live event to recognise the top chefs, waiters and kitchen staff in the region’s

Louise Oakley, group editor fabulous F&B industry. More than 350 nominations were received Then next month, it is the hotlyanticipated Hotelier Middle East Awards, held at Madinat Jumeriah on October 14 and expected to attract around 600 hoteliers. As Hotelier was going to press, the nominations deadline was just days away, but already, we have received more than 1000 entrants. Keep your eyes on for the shortlist, and don’t hesitate to get in touch to book your ticket. HME

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DIARY DATES: A ROUND-UP OF INDUSTRY EVENTS HERE AND ABROAD IN THE COMING MONTHS September 19-22 Hotel Technology Middle East Dubai, UAE www.hoteltechnology Hotelier Awards’ Housekeeper of the Year 2009

Ulricke Hocke,Al Manzil and Qamardeen Hotels.

September 27 Caterer Middle East Awards Dubai, UAE catererawards September 29 The Great GM Debate Dubai, UAE conferences

October 14 Hotelier Middle East Awards Dubai, UAE

October 31–November 2 The Speciality Food Festival Dubai, UAE

October 25-26 Business Travel Show Middle East Dubai, UAE

October 31–November 2 ITCA Dubai, UAE

October 24-27 HACE — Hotel Expo 2010 Cairo, Egypt October 31-November 2 Sweets & Snacks Middle East Dubai, UAE www.sweetsmiddle

November 8-11 World Travel Market London, UK

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November 22-24 World Green Tourism Abu Dhabi ADNEC www.worldgreen

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6 October City gains in prominence Viability director Guy Wilkinson reports from Cairo in Egypt, where he predicts a shift in the city’s traditional tourist havens and asks how established hotels will compete in the future

COLUMNIST he traditional patterns of tourism in Cairo are about to change. Cultural attractions in the Egyptian capital received 6.2 million visitors in 2008, of which 2.7 million alone went to the Egyptian Museum, arguably one of the greatest museums anywhere. The 15,000m², 58-room Victorian edifice built in 1902 houses the world’s largest collection of ancient Egyptian exhibits (totalling some 120,000 items). It is reputed that many of its collections never see the light of day, being hidden away in dusty vaults that only top TV Egyptologist Zahy Hawass, or perhaps the fictional ‘Bembridge Scholars’ from the film The Mummy, ever see. Located in Tahrir Square overlooking the Nile, the Egyptian Museum is a stone’s throw from the historic Khan El Khalili bazaar and within easy driving distance of the Citadel and Cairo’s Coptic attractions. With these glorious destinations firmly downtown, it was natural that large hotels would grow up along the banks of the Nile to serve them, not least the massive Marriott, Ramses Hilton, Semiramis InterContinental and Grand Hyatt properties, with 1088, 730, 818 and 715 rooms respectively. Of course, Cairo’s main drawcard are the Pyramids of Giza, which together with the Sphinx are often visited for just a few hours


September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

The view from Le Méridien Pyramids Resort & Spa, located in the upcoming ‘Pyramids/6th October City’ area.

MANY HOTELS IN THE PYRAMIDS DISTRICT ARE ADDING SIGNIFICANT NEW ROOMS STOCK IN ANTICIPATION OF THE OPENING OF THE GRAND EGYPTIAN MUSEUM or a half day by tourists based in the grand downtown hotels. To the disillusionment of many a starry-eyed tourist, the Pyramids are hemmed in on two sides by the ugly urban sprawl of suburban Cairo, and one place to glimpse the famous night-time ‘son et lumiere’ show is upstairs at the scruffy KFC that faces the entrance! Nevertheless, there is a whole sub-section of Cairo’s hotel stock located in close proximity to the Pyramids, several on the Cairo-Alexandria Desert Road, with the fertile green lands of the Nile Delta on one side and the brutally arid desert on the other. Among these are the famous Mena House Oberoi hotel, built in 1886 as a royal hunting lodge for Khedive Ismail, the King of Egypt, as well as more modern properties under the Le Méridien, Mövenpick, Mercure and other local brands. Some 30km further out into the desert on Cairo’s western outskirts lies 6th October City, named after the 1973 battle when Egyptians

crossed the Suez Canal into Israelioccupied Sinai. Founded in 1979 by President Anwat El Sadat, the location is home to Egypt’s largest industrial area, the Egyptian Media Production City (EGPC) where many of Egypt’s famous soap operas are made, a number of universities and scores of upscale housing projects that benefit from the area’s somewhat cooler weather than downtown Cairo. For hoteliers, the area is considered an extension of the Pyramids district, while also benefiting from local corporate demand. The hotels there comprise Hilton, Sheraton and Swiss Inn properties within the upscale Dreamland residential resort community, a Mövenpick serving the stars at EGPC, and a Novotel, which is next to the renowned Dar El Fouad hospital. Many of these hotels in the Pyramids district are now adding significant new rooms stock in anticipation of the much vaunted opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum.

The US $550 million, 100,000m² museum was designed by Ireland’s Heneghan Peng following the world’s largest architectural tender, involving 1557 entries. The iconic Egyptology museum, shaped like a chamfered triangle, will house 150,000 artefacts and include virtual reality exhibits, a children’s museum, a conference centre, a training centre, a theme park and replica Pharaonic workshops. To be located more or less on the doorstep of the old Mövenpick Resort Cairo Pyramids, the project is now entering phase three of development. Phase two of the project, comprising conservation labs,a fire station and an energy centre, has just been completed and local hoteliers are confident that at least part of the new museum will be open in 2012. At that point, there will be far less reason for tourists to be based downtown, as by staying at a hotel in the Pyramids/6th October City area, they will be able to visit the museum, the Pyramids at Giza and even those at Sakkara far more easily — without getting embroiled in the dreadful traffic and air pollution that unfortunately blights the downtown areas. With faster roads, cleaner air and quieter nights, the 6th October hotels will soon have even more going for them, so expect also to see their numbers swell in the future. It will be fascinating to see how Cairo’s giant downtown hotels, as well as the former Nile Hilton — the region’s oldest chain hotel, which thanks to Emaar will reopen as a Ritz-Carlton right next to the old museum — will reposition themselves when the main cultural attractions ‘go west.’ HME

Guy Wilkinson is a director of Viability, a hospitality and property consulting firm in Dubai. For more information, e-mail:

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PR Survival Guide …to opening a hotel Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach communications manager Katie Harvey reveals how effective public relations can protect your property during the pressures of pre-opening

LOBBYIST nyone who has survived a hotel opening could give Bear Grills a run for his money. True, neither wild bears nor barren wasteland lay on the horizon; instead it is an unsteady world of sliding deadlines, organised chaos and strained politics. Get ready to exchange your high heels for hard hats, as we delve into the world of a hotel opening. It’s not just explorers who need a survival pack; hoteliers need to be as prepared for an opening as they would an expedition. So, in five simple steps, below is the PR guide’s to surviving a pre-opening.


BE PREPARED Moving from an operating hotel into a preopening team can lull one into a false sense of calm, but do not be fooled as there is a storm ahead. Being part of a skeleton team September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

means there is less activity buzzing around; a stark contrast to the bustling nature of hotel operations. Use this ‘down’ time wisely to plan and prep activities and strategies. Analyse your budgets with scrutiny, because other people will. Understand the difference between preopening and operating expenses, have a justification for each expenditure, and factor in agency and production management fees from the beginning. Identify key messages, target audiences and communication platforms. Know your product and your team. These may all seem like basic pieces of advice, but when you suddenly move from nought to sixty, these ‘basics’ will make the ride ahead an adventure rather than a nightmare.



The key objective is to open the hotel, and to do so successfully. The trail can seem to be a winding one with many forks in the road, so use a critical path as your compass to guide you to the finish line. The critical path, basically a task list, not only allows you to have a clear snap shot of your progress, but also keeps your team members involved. Do not forget that a hotel opening is not a solo effort and will fail without team work. The plans laid in the preparation stage will be your maps, from marketing budgets to photography story boards.

As a PR professional, communication is vital. The tricky thing about leading communications during a hotel opening is managing multiple stake holders’ expectations and knowing when to release what. As is common in the Middle East, opening dates can be like moving goal posts — even the likes of Ronaldo would struggle. The trick is to keep people informed, but not too informed. If you discuss the product in the public arena only to have it delayed, the news becomes old second time around. If you keep everything bottled up and only release at the final hour it may not fit into publication layouts. Have regular dialogue with the media, whetting the appetite at appropriate intervals with feature stories already pitched and waiting for the green button.

SHELTER During an opening the hotel becomes a living creation, transforming on a daily basis. Barren sand patches become lush green gardens, and concrete slabs chic counter tops. This is a truly exciting element of the process but also one that calls for flexibility on your part. Permanent offices and fixed abodes will become a distant memory. Ensure that where possible you work from soft copy, use multiple (large) hard drives and have your office on your person. Learn to improvise because your timelines will not always match the contractors. Recreating a dining experience on a construction site is not unheard of at these times.


FIRST AID AND HEALTH As any hardened survivor will tell you, expect wounds along the way. Your approach, tools, resources and tactics will inevitably change as you weather the elements of an opening. However, as with most things in life, these adverse conditions turn out to be moments of inspiration. If you follow the survival steps, repairing minor knocks will be child’s play. When you’ve made it to the other side, and once again slip on your heels to rejoin the world of operating hotels, the sense of achievement is unparalleled. There is nothing quite like opening a hotel, and those that do wear the badge with honour. If given the opportunity, jump at it, take heed of the survivor tips and enjoy every minute of it, because it will be over in a whirlwind. HME

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THE GATEKEEPERS Set to launch on October 1, Ibn Battuta Gate will be the first hotel to be opened by Seven Tides Hospitality in partnership with Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts. Here Mike Scully, Scully, representing the owner, and Jan Kaiser, Kaiser, the general manager, speak to Louise Oakley about how they will position the property in Dubai’s ever-growing hotel market

INTERVIEW nyone who has visited Dubai over the past couple of years must by now be familiar with the vast pink building that dominates the space next to Ibn Battuta Mall. With a 60-metre high gate that exceeds that of Paris’ famous Arc de Triomphe, the iconic Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel has been a long-awaited addition to Dubai’s hotel market. Owned by Seven Tides Hospitality, Ibn Battuta Gate is one of four hotels being developed by the company in Dubai, all of which will be operated by Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts. That the hotels have been


September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

plagued by delays is no secret and the order of opening has been shuffled around several times. Oceana on The Palm was at one point going to be the first to open — and the residential aspect of it is up and running along with a beach club and steakhouse — but the hotel has now been pushed to the back of the queue, behind Mövenpick Deira, to open later this year and Royal Amwaj, to open on The Palm in summer 2011. Ibn Battuta Gate, however, is now complete, and, in a unique, joined-up approach, the managing director of the owning company, Mike Scully at Seven Tides Hospitality, and the hotel general manager, Jan Kaiser, are preparing to launch the new property in an

increasingly competitive marketplace on October 1. Indeed, the dynamics of the Dubai marketplace have changed dramatically since the deal between Seven Tides and Mövenpick was signed five years ago. So, why is now the right time to introduce the hotel? “With development in Dubai, we have concentrated on some properties to get them fully opened, as opposed to waiting or taking longer to open four properties at the same time. We have pooled all of our resources to get two properties open, which are Ibn Battuta and the Mövenpick Deira, and when these are finished, we’ll put all our resources into opening the other two on The Palm,” explains Scully.

While Ibn Battuta was going to soft open during the summer, the team is now preparing to fully launch the hotel with all the F&B outlets open — bar a night club which is still under construction — at the start of the high season. This means a carefully thought through pricing strategy, says Scully. According to the hotel’s website, the rate for a ‘superior room’ with an early booking offer for one night on October 1 would be AED 756 (US$205) (or AED 918 ($249) with tax). An executive suite for the same period would set a guest back AED 1600 ($435) (plus tax AED 1920 ($522), exclusive of breakfast. This seems in line with the competition, for example, a room at The Address


HOTEL HIGHLIGHTS 396 rooms, with the design of each floor based on a different country that Ibn Battuta travelled to, from Tanzania to China Five F&B outlets: Mistral, Chor Bazaar, Siciliana, Shanghai Chic and the Moroc Lounge and Bar, plus a nightclub underneath the lobby which is due to open by the end of the year 30metre swimming pool on a deck on the eighth floor, offering views of both the gate and Dubai A large hotel gym and six treatment rooms Meeting rooms Luxury suite in the bridge above the ‘gate’ Ibn Battuta complex includes the existing mall, offices and apartments


is to be a first choice venue, which means that we have to be competitive. We’re a new hotel going in with 400 rooms and I think anyone who’s prudent in Dubai [has to compete], and we know of many hotels that have made mistakes by not pricing right in the beginning, thinking that they can get business which they couldn’t get because they are not well known enough. We think it is right to be attractive to bring in business from first time users and we believe they’ll like the atmosphere and the product and the hotel and come back again,” he asserts. Kaiser, who has worked with Mövenpick in a variety of locations including Switzerland, China, Egypt, Prague and Bahrain, says that being able to offer value for money has always been one of their “main aims”. “Value for money is very much one of the things we discuss with our team members so that we get the right quality in and also so that it is very much affordable. We are not the cheapest hotel, but definitely

A Chinese themed suite inspired by the travels of Ibn Battuta.

Hotelier Middle East • September 2010


Dubai Marina on the same date would cost AED 749 ($203) with Advance purchase 14 days before, according to quotes on August 22. There will also be a special opening offer announced this month. “We have put a very good high season opening rate,” says Scully. “We’ll definitely be competitive in the market and I think our aim




not the most expensive hotel either. We want to make sure that people are getting good value for money,” emphasises Kaiser.

POSITIONING THE PRODUCT Ibn Battuta Gate has several defining aspects: from the design of the rooms to the food and bever-

age concepts, it is heavily themed around the countries which were explored by 14th century traveller Ibn Battuta; the Ibn Battuta complex comprises a mall, apartments and offices in addition to the hotel; and the overall design is very family-friendly. The aim was to create a casual, fun and value for money

hotel, says Scully, which offered a destination in itself. “The important message for the hotel is that we are a destination, so we believe that you come here and you don’t have to move anywhere else. Our whole entertainment package, our dining package, our room package, our shopping package, and our office package are all about the destination.” He adds that guests will also benefit from access to the Oceana Beach Club on The Palm, giving it an advantage over other urban hotels

OWNER VERSUS OPERATOR Mike Scully reveals what Seven Tides expects from Mövenpick…and vice versa. Scully: Mövenpick has been very responsive and it’s been a good relationship and I think it’s a situation where it’s not often that the managing director of the owning company has recently opened a number of hotels in the same location [Scully opened the Mina Seyahi complex in Dubai]. This will be the fourth set of hotels that I’ve opened, so obviously I’m bringing a certain knowledge of what works, the marketing required, the product required. All the outlets and hotels I’ve opened up have been very successful in the market, so what we’ve tried to do is bring the successes in and leave those which didn’t work as well behind. Kaiser: And that requires an understanding as well between the

September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

two of us, as that is not a usual situation. For me, there has always been one thing with all owners, all over in my short experience — it was always honesty and open books. I’ve seen certain managers be very disclosed towards owners,

keeping all kinds of information and almost working against each other sometimes, and for me I’d advise good co-operation and full honesty and open books, no secrets, and work with each other as colleagues rather than owners and managers.

Ibn Battuta Gate main atrium.

in Media City and the Marina, where Scully says “we’ll be taking most of our market from”. And while the hotel is family friendly, with a kids club offering educational toys supplied by the Early Learning Centre, the hotel will also cater to the business traveller, with three executive level floors. As far as the local Dubai resident is concerned, one of Ibn Battuta Gate’s highlights is its F&B offering, says Kaiser, which was conceived jointly by the owner and operator. The restaurants and bars are all located around the edge of a huge atrium on the lobby level, which measures 90 metres long and 30 metres high, and is framed by palm trees and decorated with 88 stunning lantern-style chandeliers falling at various heights from the top of the atrium. In keeping with the casual atmosphere of the hotel, the restaurants open out onto a central foyer with seating and shops, inspired by the marketplace at Solidere in Beirut.


COMPETITION IN DUBAI Upcoming hotels slated to open in Dubai by the end of 2010 include: Pullman Dubai Mall of the Emirates Mövenpick Hotel Deira Ritz-Carlton Hotel DIFC Hotel JAL Tower Dubai

The outlets include a 350-seat main dining room with a Moroccan theme called Mistral, an 80-seat Indian restaurant called Chor Bazaar, an Italian outlet Siciliana, a Chinese restaurant Shanghai Chic and the Moroc Lounge and Bar. Ultimately, the plan is to create a brunch including all of the outlets, with possibly “the longest table” in Dubai too. Kaiser says that there is “no typical fine dining restaurant in the hotel” and instead emphasises the interactive nature of the F&B which will all “flow into the lobby”. “At Siciliana there is an Italian deli where you can buy your salami, olives, pasta and any cold cuts, then there is a gourmet shop where you can buy birthday cakes, wedding cakes, chocolates, and there will be a small flower shop. You can buy your flowers, chocolates, cakes, and antipasti for the evening — all these things you can buy in one shot.” In addition, the lobby will come alive with various traditional style

atrium carts selling things such as Arabic sweets, tea, carpets and roasted nuts, adds Kaiser. The atrium extends outside with various terraces and shisha, some with views of the ‘gate’. “We just want to offer guests pleasure, fun, and a good time in their private time — we don’t want to be stiff or boring, we don’t want people to sit in their one square metre for their entire evening. We want to give them a fun evening or a fun day in which they can go around and experience something in every different corner of the hotel. We want to make it very easy going for everyone,” says Kaiser. The concepts have been under development for some time now, with only one major change over the course of pre-opening, when what was originally going to be a Persian restaurant became Siciliana. “It was done predominately on commercial grounds,” explains Scully. “We believed that this market, particularly with the apartment block, needed that Italian and pizza dining; most aspects of what we have adjusted or enhanced would be to appeal to the mass markets and bring people in. “One of the ideas of the Solidere is to really make it a place of meeting, so that groups of people will be able to come here, dine individually and then meet with other people for coffee afterwards and have a wander round, go into the shisha garden. It really is about a place of meeting,” Scully says.

FUTURE OUTLOOK With one month to go until opening, it is obvious that both Scully and Kaiser are itching to get the product off the ground and bring the guests in. They are realistic about the challenging market, but optimis-

Kempinski Residences and Suites, Palm Jumeirah One&Only The Palm Zabeel Saray on The Palm, operated by Jumeirah

tic about future growth in Dubai. Indeed the hotel is one of several which is expected to open in Dubai in quarter four, so perhaps pushing for the October launch date will set them one step ahead. Scully comments: “As owners, we’re obviously very aware that we have gone through shifting markets and initially when the hotel was designed and being built, it was at a time when there was far more prosperity and belief in the market. We obviously have to adapt and realise that the competition is going to be much tougher and we have to be more imaginative in our ideas and more aggressive in our sales, marketing and pricing, and I think that is the way we will go — we will attack this market. “However, we still believe Dubai is in a huge growth and expansion phase, we believe that industry and commerce will come into Dubai as a tax-free environment and basically as the hub between east and west, north and south. We know that there’s a bit of a recession in the property market and some feeder industries, such as advertising, by the nature of what has happened, however, if we look at the latest news regarding imports and exports and redistribution from Dubai, they’re 18% up. That’s means that there’s a very strong commercial market ahead of us,” he continues. “Dubai is still a place of choice for leisure guests and one of our biggest markets, certainly reflected in the theme of the hotel will be the GCC market. We believe the GCC market likes Dubai, we believe that the phrase ‘home vacations’ will become even more apt for Middle Eastern travellers, where you’ll find both expat and Arabic guests will come, particularly with the mall. We’re very confident.” HME Hotelier Middle East • September 2010



Serviced apartment specialist Serviced apartment stalwart Guus Bakker, chief operating officer, Europe and Middle East for Frasers Hospitality, reveals the company’s plans to open 15 properties in the region by 2014 By the end of Ramadan, Bakker says all the suites will be open. The market at the Dubai property is split 75-80% in favour of the corporate market over leisure, partly due to Frasers’ reputation, says Bakker. “As a chain we do have our database, we are working with 80-85% of the Fortune 500 companies worldwide. We are doing our RFPs in various countries. In many locations, we are the preferred supplier. This is the strength of the brand.” As a result, currently 40% of the property is already signed up for long stays for corporate clients, with the average target being around 50%. Rates are dependent on a number of factors, but one-month in a onebedroom deluxe apartment would cost around AED 20,000 (US $5445) and up to AED 70,000 ($19,000) in a penthouse — not cheap by most standards, but Bakker emphasizes the five-star quality of the service. “When people stay a long time we give them a dedicated housekeeper – [they know how a guest prefers the room]. We want to be present but in the background,but of course, first you need to have the product to go with it,” concludes Bakker. HME

COO INTERVIEW domineering new presence on Sheikh Zayed Road, the 45storey Fraser Suites Dubai occupies the top 23 levels of the Sidra Tower and offers views of the Palm Jumeriah. To make the most of this rare unobstructed vantage point, Hotelier Middle East met Guus Bakker, chief operating officer, Europe and Middle East, Frasers Hospitality, in the Grand Penthouse on the 45th floor. Bakker is a serviced apartment stalwart. Having worked his way up in the sector, he joined Frasers Hospitality nine years ago as executive director for Europe when the Singapore-based company launched its London property. He has since helped the brand grow to 35 properties in 19 different cities in Asia, Europe and now the Middle East, following the opening of Fraser Suites Bahrain in June 2009 and Dubai a year later. “By the end of next year we should have about 45-50 properties on the same continents,” says Bakker. “Our target is to have12-15 properties in the Middle East by 2014.” Serviced apartments are on the rise as a result of fresh economic demands out of the downturn, making the time ripe for serviced apartment specialist Frasers to expand, he explains. “We are one of the global international brands that have a presence in the Middle East and we are specialised in serviced apartments, although a lot of hotels in the Middle East have some. The concept is becoming more and more popular,” says Bakker. “We are one of the fastest growing but really specialised in this kind of business. We want to achieve what we call the gold standard in our properties. We don’t want to grow very fast, but we want to have the best locations in a certain number of cities.” In early 2011, Frasers is opening its Suites brand in Doha, and the company is in “very advanced negotia-


September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

Frasers Hospitality chief operating officer, Europe and Middle East, Guus Bakker: Families like our product.

tions” in Saudi Arabia for a number of properties including Riyadh, Al Khobar and Jeddah, all “likely to be with one particular owner”. The appeal to owners, according to Bakker, is varied, with operating costs lower for longer stays and less pressure on the owner to reinvest often in the property. “We don’t have all the back of house, a similar hotel would have far more staff, more than double the staff, we have less than one person for two apartments,” adds Bakker. “Our GOPs would be somewhere between 65-70%, whereas you would get a hotel with 35-40-45%,” he asserts. The economic factor also sways

guests, he says, with people now realising that serviced apartments are not only for stays of a few months or soley for corporate travellers, but a value option for families and leisure guests. “We have a lot of clients from the Middle East as leisure guests in London, Paris. Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai. It’s a very suitable concept and highly appreciated. You can have a family of six in an apartment — in a hotel you would have to book three rooms and eat in the restaurant,” says Bakker. “We have been doing surprisingly well for July. We have more than 50% of the stock available and in the last few days it has been above 95% full.”

ABOUT FRASERS HOSPITALITY Founded in Singapore in 1997, Frasers Hopsitality operates four brands: Fraser Suites, Fraser Place, Fraser Residence, and a second tier brand called Modena. Currently, Modena is only open in China. Fraser Suites is aimed at “the traditional businessman”, Fraser Place is “a bit more trendy, for the slightly younger generation” and Fraser Residence is adapted to “the long, long stays in certain cities”. The company operates 5300 apartments worldwide and aims to reach 10,000 by the end of 2012.

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The Palace — The Old Town general manager Jason Harding on the pressures that come with operating a hotel with a fantastic location

Meeting expectation GM INTERVIEW ne can forgive the new general manager of The Palace — The Old Town for being wary about his move to Dubai from the UK earlier this year. The press in the UK has not been kind about the Emirates and back home, the news was “all doom and gloom”, recalls Jason Harding. However, reassuring words from The Address Hotels and Resorts CEO Marc Dardenne that business was going well persuaded Harding to trust his instincts and make the move. And since arriving in January, he says “I have not stopped”. “We had to catch up, we had to recruit, but all for good news though, because business was better than we thought it would be,” says Harding. “Occupancy was 25-30% up on the year before.” Located as it is in Downtown Dubai, the growth in occupancy is no doubt attributable in part to the opening of Burj Khalifa on January 4, which cemented Downtown’s status as a must-visit destination. But having a great location also comes with its distinct pressures, reminds Harding.


September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

“You can’t just survive by location; it’s fantastic for us but you can’t get carried away thinking that we’re doing a great job just because we’ve got a great location, we have to work hard to meet expectation. There’s a premium to stay in this location, with that premium comes a higher expectation. You can’t get lazy or complacent about it.” As a result, fitness enthusiast Harding swears by a sports analogy. “We train like we’re number two and that keeps us thinking dynamically on how we can improve.” New initiatives include ‘Back to the Floor’, where Harding spends a day a month in a different department, and ‘Jog with the GM’, designed to foster guest relations. He explains: “You really get to understand what’s going on in the property and really it’s like a family, you know it’s not always great news, but when you are faced with problems, it’s about getting your family together and sorting out how you are going to deal with it. The team here is so engaged with guest satisfaction, and meeting expectation. Last week I spent a day in engineering and every single one of them was telling me about the initiatives they had put in place for the Green

Globe. It’s a huge achievement [The Palace was the first hotel in the Middle East to receive certification] but it’s even better that the whole team is involved in it”. ‘Jog with the GM’, meanwhile, stems from Harding’s desire to put his stamp on the property. “I think as a GM you should be able to bring something to your property that’s different and that’s me — I compete in triathlons so I’ve done it in the past, it’s a great way to meet guests, it’s a little bit different — I’ve met some really interesting people. I went running with an American lady who had done six Ironman events and I’ve met corporate accounts that have stayed elsewhere,” says Harding. Going forward, there is still “huge amounts” he wants to do at The Palace, and the focus at the moment is on adding to the product itself. “One of my jobs is to get the owners to keep re-investing, innovations in terms of service will pretty much come through the small touches.” As an example, there are further developments planned for The Palace’s F&B outlets, Harding reveals. Cooking classes are planned for both Thiptara and Asado on a monthly rotation from September, there is

AS A GENERAL MANAGER YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO BRING SOMETHING TO YOUR PROPERTY THAT’S DIFFERENT an opportunity for ‘afternoon tea at The Palace’, and the cocktails and ambience at Fai are being ‘toyed’ with, with the aim to “give it more of a bar feel”. In addition, there could potentially be a bar added to the end of the swimming pool. Definitely on the cards is enhancing the suites, continues Harding, as well as investing in new technology. “All in all we just want guests to feel at home. Whatever the latest technology that comes up from Apple or Sony, we want to have it here. When it comes to service, my thoughts are that people want to be left alone, they want to enjoy themselves, not everybody wants butlers in their living room looking over them while they are watching TV. So our job is to give guests as much time and space as we can.” HME

Dubai 225x300.indd 1

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September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East


THE NEW CLEAN Executive housekeepers share their environmental concerns with Hotelier Middle East at this month’s roundtable debate rotecting the environment has become something of a hot topic within the hotel industry, and the housekeeping sector is able to play a significant role in this. Speaking exclusively to Hotelier Middle East at a housekeepers’ roundtable, hosted by chemical company Diversey at The Palace — The Old Town, executive housekeepers from some of Dubai’s major hotel chains shared their thoughts and tips on how to minimise a hotel’s impact on the environment. From using different cleaning products to avoiding over-use of laundering services, it is clear that ‘every little counts’ and that even small changes can make a big difference. And the value that eco-friendly products can bring to a hotel is not just seen in the reduction of energy or water used — a hefty financial incentive coupled with the power of a good reputation is making many hotels sit up and take notice of environmentally friendly solutions for their properties. However, despite this positive shift, the housekeepers said that there needs to be a more unified approach to this subject. They suggested that hotels, suppliers, and municipalities could maximise the impact of these changes by working more closely to find solutions which could be univerly monitored, in order sally implemented and regularly to ensure that every departmentt in a hotel is being as ecofriendly as possible.



Hotelier Middle East • September 2010




products are on the market for us to make an informed choice.

ROUNDTABLE How important are partnerships with suppliers in providing environmentally friendly solutions for hotels? Dorothee Stein: I think that suppliers must inform people about the things they are doing as a company, because we only get to know the product itself, but we also need to know who we are dealing with — this is essential. Tatjana Ahmed: There are certain things which corporate offices advise us on — for example the packaging of amenities— but when it comes to cleaning we have more freedom, so it is important for us to discuss things with our suppliers because we need to know which

Nadine O’Connor: We want to talk to suppliers so we can find out what their environmental output is. We want to know what is coming out of suppliers’ sewage lines, what chemicals they are putting out, where it is going and how it is affecting where it is landing. And if we didn’t talk to the supplier we wouldn’t know any of this.

unless they know you are an environmentally friendly hotel. Jeanette Clift: Guests want us to participate in doing our bit for the environment, either in replacing towels and linen only when needed or with the amenities — they often ask what we are doing with the bottle afterwards and it is a very good question. But then guest demand keeps changing. If you are in a five-star hotel, it’s all about expecta-

JC: Let’s agree on the basics for different brands or different styles of property so that at least we are doing something together, rather


Marc Robitzkat: If you really want to see the benefit of being green, it requires a full mindset change in terms of training and application. As a supplier, we can provide our partners with great green products but unless they make changes internally, the products will not make as much difference. Has there been increased guest demand for hotels to be more eco-friendly? Laetitia Lasry: Particularly in residences, I have experienced guests saying they will not sign a contract with you

tions and people who are paying a lot of money often want the linen to be changed every day because they expect that from five-star service. DS: Some of our guests are looking at environmental issues and they appreciate initiatives like our energy saving light bulbs. Initially you think the room is going to be less bright, but it is working and the guests like it. Should there be a unified approach to environmental issues in hotels? Somer Gundogdu: That is the fundamental question — at the moment there is a huge confusion in the mar-

IT IS IMPORTANT TO TRAIN STAFF SO THAT YOU CAN USE GREEN PRODUCTS EFFECTIVELY Tahera Sultana, executive housekeeper, Mövenpick Hotel Bur Dubai

September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

ketplace. Everyone is talking about being more ‘green’ but there is no clear definition of what being green means. The way I see it, we just don’t have a common understanding of what green is and we really need to reach one.

than everybody doing their own thing. The problem with that is that there is no way to measure it because everyone is doing something completely different. We have the DTCM classifying hotels so perhaps we should start including environmental issues in to this. We are all doing something, but is it enough? Somebody needs to take the lead and implement a system. I think it’s great that everybody wants to do something, and they really want to do something good, which is the beauty of it. But somebody needs to take the lead. How can products such as amenities be made more environmentally friendly? NOC: We recently changed all of our amenities to completely natural, biodegradable products —even the tubes are biodegradable so you still give the guest that feeling that they can take something away but we know that if it doesn’t end up in



bottle, conditioner in the other and they look great. That is something we can definitely drive again, because it’s time for a change. Tahera Sultana: We did want to have shampoo, conditioner and body wash in one but the guests want each thing to be separate because they have come to expect that. a recycling plant after being used, then it will still biodegrade somewhere after a certain period of time. LL: Dispensers on the wall could be re-implemented, because some companies offer so many different products right now which look fantastic — you can have shampoo in one

Dilki Cooray: People worry with having a dispenser on the wall. They want to know what is in there, how long it has been there, and has anyone else used it. So they are not as popular now as they once were. MR: With five-star hotels people do have different expectations and

some people are also not clued in to what it means to be green. But then you think of Six Senses, which is a luxury hotel company and people are paying big money to ride bicycles and eat only local produce. That is an example of a hotel which is luxury and environmentally friendly, and people go there with the express purpose of being green. Green solutions can be quite costly; what is the potential return on investment for hotels looking at offering ecofriendly products? MR: The first thing that comes up when hotels are looking in to green chemicals is the cost, but when you look at the entire process you can see that around 92% of the money you spend in this area is staff cleaning costs, and the rest is just a chem-

FIVE TOP TIPS Ensure that suppliers you are working with are green companies rather than just toting green products — look at their practices, where they ship goods from, and whether they recycle. Look in to green products which will provide a return on investment through energy and water savings. Simple solutions, such as encouraging guests to hang their towels if they do not need them to be washed, can save water, and laundry costs. Recycle where possible — and ensure that the company collecting your recycling are disposing of it properly Installing energy saving light bulbs can make a big difference to your hotel’s electricity bill, without compromising on guest comfort

Hotelier Middle East • September 2010



ical. It is a very small fraction of the overall cleaning process, and you will make all of that money back in terms of water saving, energy saving, and staff time — all of which will save you money. So initially yes, green chemicals are more expensive but you will see a return on that in terms of savings. NOC: I think it is about being prepared to make that initial investment, because once you have done that, it really does pay off. DS: If a product simply makes your job easier and you are able to make a clear saving on time, this is something which is so important. It means that staff have an easier job


and they are happier as well so you get much better results from them. TA: And it’s not just chemicals — there are systems in the market like chemical-free marble crystallisation which we adopted a year ago and it works in a way that you no longer have to strip your floors and there is no need for polish, so this saves us 22 gallons of polish. So it is looking at what you can save if you adopt cer-

tain systems, and what it is that you will get back from that. What should hotels be doing other than looking at energy saving products and green chemicals? Can hotels do more? NOC: I think that recycling is a big issue which everybody is

GETTING TO KNOW YOU: HOTELIER’S EXPERT PANEL Tahera Sultana Executive housekeeper Mövenpick Hotel Bur Dubai Having begun her career with the Taj Group of hotels in India, Tahera Sultana soon decided that the housekeeping department was for her. Climbing up the career ladder across various five-star properties, Sultana finally joined the Mövenpick hotel in February 2006 as executive housekeeper where she has managed to build a 52 strong team and is described as ‘an integral part of the backbone of the property’. Tatjana Ahmed Housekeeping manager Grand Hyatt Dubai Tatjana Ahmed has been based in the UAE since October 1989 and has worked as housekeeping manager in several five-star properties in Dubai during this time. In 2001, Ahmed joined the Hyatt Regency Dubai where she oversaw the housekeeping operation during the hotel’s renovation. She transferred to the Grand Hyatt Dubai during 2006 and was a founding member of the Grand Hyatt’s ‘Green Team’ in August 2008 and has been an active member ever since. Dilki Cooray Director of housekeeping Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Deira Creek Dilki Cooray began her career in 1979 as the laundry manager for Sheraton

September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

Abu Dhabi, where she worked for eight years. In December 1987 Cooray moved to InterContinental Dubai where she also took up the position of laundry manager. Following a stint in Austria and the US, Cooray returned to the Middle East in 1995, where she was appointed assistant housekeeper at the InterContinental Hotel Dubai, becoming executive housekeeper with InterContinental Dubai in 1997 and finally moving to Radisson Blu Hotel in 2006 to take up her current position as director of housekeeping. Jeanette Clift Area director of housekeeping Dubai and Northern Emirates Rotana With more than 26 years experience in the hospitality industry, Jeanette Clift began her career in London with Hilton International where she worked in the front office and then moved to housekeeping. Clift became an executive housekeeper at the age of 21 and has opened 18 hotels to date. She is a member of the International Housekeeping Association, has been in her current position for the past four years, and is now responsible for 16 properties. Dorothee Stein Head of facility care Dubai Airports Dorothee Stein has more than 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry and has worked in a variety of hotels both across the UAE and internationally, and also with

leading aviation companies. Her expertise includes developing and implementing international level complete operations management systems, policies and procedures for departments from ground zero; creating and implementing programs to improve operations; and performing organizational diagnostics. She has an extensive history recruiting, motivating, and leading top executive management team members. Laetitia Lasry Executive housekeeper The Palace — The Old Town Laetitia Lasry began her career in the hospitality industry by attending hotel management school in France from 1997 to 2000. During 2000, she undertook final management training in China for a hotel opening, and spent six months in charge of the F&B at the hotel’s VIP lounge. With a father and brother in F&B it seemed Lasry may follow in their footsteps, until she spent 18 months in the Dallas management programme in room division for Le Meridién. She then held various managerial roles within the housekeeping division before joining Emaar Hospitality as executive housekeeper first for Nuran Residences, and currently for The Palace, where she has been since 2009. Nadine O’Connor Executive housekeeper Media One Hotel Australian-born Nadine O’Conner is executive housekeeper at Media One Hotel. Before

moving to the UAE in 2002, O’Connor worked at a number of resorts, hotels and casinos in her home country; here in Dubai she has held executive housekeeping positions at the Dusit Thani Hotel Dubai and Al Bustan Rotana Hotel as well as at The Palace Hotel, The Old Town, Dubai, where she was also part of the pre-opening team. Somer Gundogdu Zone director Diversey Somer Gundogdu took up his current role managing Diversey in the Middle East and North Africa at the end of last year. Previously, he was responsible for establishing and managing the Diversey business in Central Asia from 1998 to 2000, before heading up key accounts in Turkey from 2000-2003. Since then, he has held several senior roles at Diversey, including marketing director for Central Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa and manager of North Africa. Prior to joining Diversey, Gundogdu worked with Unilever. Marc Robitzkat Marketing Manager, Middle East Diversey Prior to 2002, Robitzkat worked in the hospitality sector in sales and marketing, as well as undertaking a stint in F&B in Europe, before completing a BSc in International Hospitality and Tourism Business Management. He held a variety of sales positions before joining Diversey in 2009.

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MR: A few years ago at the Green Climate Summit in Abu Dhabi, they held an exhibition adjacent to the summit about alternative energy and waste packing and there is actually a lot of interest in the region for this, but because of the initial capital investment that it demands, I don’t think that the market is quite right for this yet. People are really hesitating on issues like this, and it is much like the scenario we had a few years ago where people were talking the talk but simply weren’t ready to walk the walk. However, I think that


collect the waste quite often sell it on because they can actually make quite good money out of it. There are also the paper mills in Dubai which are very good at recycling paper — they are very organised when it comes to paper. HME


Dorothee Stein, head of facility care, Dubai Airports

talking about but not everybody is doing — people say they are recycling because they are putting their glass away but making sure that it goes back to the recycling partner and that you are doing it properly has a huge impact on the waste which we put out.

this will all change in the future and that there is huge potential there. LL: It is also important for you to know about the company that is collecting the recycling as well, because it could be that someone is collecting your glass and plastic but they are not actually disposing of it as efficiently as they could be, so you need to find out from them exactly how your waste is being recycled. DS: Waste is actually revenue making. The companies who

PEOPLE WORRY WITH HAVING A DISPENSER ON THE WALL; THEY ARE NOT AS POPULAR NOW AS THEY ONCE WERE Dilki Cooray, director of housekeeping, Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Deira Creek

Hotelier Middle East • September 2010



A study of a Middle East GM

It hasn’t been easy for your average GM over the last couple of years. His habitat has been knocked and increasing numbers of competitors have entered his territory. Now is a good time to take a look at what is going on in the mind of the general manager with the findings of the Hotelier Middle East GM Survey 2010. Jamie Knights reports

September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East



makes him run for cover and, ultimately, how he is faring in the brave new world of post-economic Armageddon hospitality. So if you are interested in what your GM thinks, how much he values your department, where he makes the money to pay your wages and what he hates about being a GM, then read on. And if you are a GM, do the survey findings ring true, or is our nod to the Vitruvian general manager all out of proportion?

Property type

THE PARTICIPANTS Our 2010 survey was completed by 86 general managers representing properties based in 11 different countries. The majority, once again, worked in the UAE (58.2%), but Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen and Turkey were also represented. Out of the 86 GMs, 24.7% of respondents managed a resort, 33.8% managed a city hotel, 10.4% ran a city resort, 20.8% looked after

a business hotel, 7.8% a hotel apartment and 2.6% ran a budget hotel. The majority of respondents were responsible for four- or five-star properties (82.1%), much like the 2009 figure, where more than 90% managed this level of hotel.

SUB REVPAR PERFORMANCE It was a tough year for revPAR and it would appear that the full impact of the downturn had not taken hold by the 2009 survey. While a drop in revPAR was nearly universal

Number of staff

n = 77


20 - 75 75 - 100 100 - 200 200 - 300 300 - 400 400 - 500 500 - 750 750 - 1000 1000 - 1500 1500 - 2000

Resort 19% City hotel 26% City resort 8% Business hotel 16% Hotel Apartment 6% Budget Hotel 2%

% of respondents

% of respondents



5 7 17 13 14 8 7 2 3 1



Fast fact


Our oldest GM

Hotelier Middle East • September 2010


eonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man is a study of the proportions of man — a commitment to paper of the ideal human proportions as described by the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius. The Hotelier Middle East GM Survey 2010 is far more important, as it provides a unique insight into the mindset and proportions of the general manager. Through this survey we can gain an understanding as to what makes the GM tick, what

BUSINESS BACK IN THE MIX At last some encouraging news. Last year saw some pretty abysmal business figures. Business (individual) rose from 20% to 44.3% of the over-

In 2009, how did your hotel perform? 25

Average room rate (US $) RevPAR (US $)

n = 60 n = 57

20 % of respondents

15 10 5

Of the following key performance indicators, what do you think is the best to measure your property's performance? 35

Occupancy Average room rate RevPAR (Revenue per available room) GopPAR (Gross operating profit per available room) MPI (Market Penetration Index) ARI (Average Rate Index) RGI (Revenue Generated Index)

30 25 20

$1000 and over

$750 - $1000

$500 - $750

$400 - $500

$375 - $400

$350 - $375

$325 - $350

$300 - $325

$275 - $300

$250 - $275

$225 - $250

$200 - $225

$175 - $200

$150 - $175

$125 - $150

$100 - $125

$75 - $100

$50 - $75

$20 - $50

0 $0 - $20

in 2009, it would appear that there was further to fall, with 75.5% of respondents stating that average revPAR was US $150 or below for their property. However, if you only take the first half of 2010, 83.1% of respondents sit in this revPAR bracket. Whether or not more will enter into the $150 or less category in the second half of the year remains to be seen. It is perhaps not surprising then that revPAR has been replaced by gopPAR (Gross operating profit per available room) as the preferred performance indicator. RGI (revenue generated index) has also increased in popularity. Reduced revPAR was cited as being the main impact of the economic downturn by 43.3% of GMs, but that was a fall from 60.7% in 2009. Lower rates accounted for 28.3% of the responses and lower occupancy 18.3%, compared to 29.5% last year. It would appear that more people have booked stays in 2010 than 2009, but they are paying less to do so — a fact borne out in the data released so far this year. Once again, 8% of GMs cited cancelled refurbishments as the main impact of the downturn. In terms of where gross operating profit came from within a hotel’s departments, rooms accounted for 62.8% and F&B a little more than 31%. Spa and recreation facilities made a slight increase from 3% in 2009 to 4.3% in 2010.

% of respondents

n = 62 3.2% 3.2% 27.4% 30.6% 12.9% 0% 22.6%

15 10 5 0

Fast fact


Our youngest GM

September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

% of respondents



How has the economic downturn most impacted n = 60 your property? Redundancies Reduced revPAR Lower occupancy

0% 43.3% 18.3%

Cancelled refurbishments 8.3% Contractual issues with owners1.7% Threat of closure 0%

Lower rates



shares to accommodate the return of business travellers. However, if we focus on the GMs from Saudi Arabia, we gain a clear picture of the differences in markets. Three quarters of the mix is business (individual) and only 2.5% is leisure

What is your hotel's business mix?

% of respondents

n = 59

Business (individual) 44.32% Business (group) 13.96% Leisure (individual) 28.26% Leisure (group) 12.65% MICE 6.69%

(individual). While these results may not be surprising, it does suggest that Saudi Arabia has someway to go in promoting itself as a tourist destination. It would be interesting to see how much of the mix would be taken up by religious tourism, something that was not included in the survey.

PROPERTY PERFORMANCE The GMs were asked to select three issues that most affected their hotel’s performance. Increased competition made a big gain in 2010, jumping from 55.2% in 2009 to 71%, exactly the same figure as the economic climate, which fell from 83.6%. So

Top three factors contributing to a hotel's success GM SURVEY 2010 RESULTS



Location 71%

Location 61.9%

Personalised service 65%

Management brand name 58.1%

Value for money 60.3%

Location 60%

Value for money 56.5%

Management brand name 47.6%

Management brand name 52%

Hotelier Middle East • September 2010


all mix. Group business also gained momentum on 2009, rising from 5% to just under 14%. MICE business, which was rock bottom in 2009 with 0% rose to a respectable 6.69%. It seems that leisure groups and leisure individuals gave up their large

Fast fact

The main issues affecting your hotel's performance n = 62 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 17.7%


17.7% Owner issues

Construction issues

17.7% Rising cost of living

Global economic climate

9.7% Rising inflation rates

When do you expect to see a full recovery in the hotel sector?

n = 60

getting quality bi-lingual staff (Arabic and English speaking). Certainly, the greatest challenge for general managers in the next 12 months is increased competition. One added that not only was there an increase in competition in terms of new properties, he was also con-

Will rates return to pre-2008 levels in the next 12 months?





September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

Number of general managers who have worked for IHG

% of respondents

11.3% Lack of support from government

8.1% Lack of flights/travel options


4.8% Lack of suppliers

Government controls - guest visas

8.1% Political instability


71% Increased competition

while the economy is still top of the list in terms of issues affecting performance, the increase in supply is becoming a pressing matter in 2010. One three-star city hotel general manager said that the high price of F&B in Dubai was his main issue. An Egyptian GM cited difficulty in

Government controls - licensing



Labour shortages

% of respondents



cerned at the lack of people travelling to his destination.

FEELING REDUNDANT It was a mixed bag in terms of redundancies. The majority of general mangers did not have to make redundancies this year. Some were simply not replacing staff who had left. There were some general managers though who had the unfortunate task of making large scale redundancies. One GM in Dubai had to make 70, while a GM in Sharjah had to make 50 and a general manager in Abu Dhabi had to make 45 redundancies.

Already seen it H2 2010 H1 2011 H2 2011 H1 2012 H2 2012 H1 2013 H2 2013

3.3% 8.3% 21.7% 13.3% 20.0% 15.0% 8.3% 10.0%

ROAD TO RECOVERY More than half (53.3%) of respondents thought it was unlikely that the hotel sector would recover until after 2011. Doha, Abu Dhabi and Beirut topped the list of places GMs expected the next boom. Only one thought it would be in Dubai, and 72.2% said they believed Dubai had reached saturation point.

THE RISE OF SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS It would appear that hotel’s own websites are still not bringing in the majority of the money. Once again more than half of general managers

A DAY IN THE LIFE Our survey revealed that 79.1% of September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

30 25 % of total sales

20 15 10 5

respondents spent between 20% and 50% of their time doing admin, while 79% spent 30% or less of their time with guests. Just over 85% of general managers spent less than 20% of their time working on owner relations and 96.7% spent the same amount time dealing with suppliers. One general manager claimed to spend more than 95% of his time on admin and another spent the same amount of time in internal meetings with colleagues. Whether or not either of these GMs is happy with the situation remains unknown. We have a feeling the former may be the manager whose main dislike about the job was his “email inbox”.

WHAT’S IMPORTANT? Our respondents gave us a multitude of answers to the question of what was the general manager’s most important role. A provider of leadership, motivation and development kept cropping up. Some of the more specific answers included “maintaining a good return for the owners”, “influencing the team in a dynamic spiral”, “implementing core directive” and “dealing with all associates and guests as individuals”. One general manager remained far more mysterious, suggesting his most important role was “being the spider in the web”.

65 - 70%

60 - 65%

55 - 60%

50 - 55%

40 - 50%

30 - 40%

20 - 30%


Which of the following chains would you not want to work at? 50

n = 31

40 30 20 10 0 41.9% 6.5% 0% 6.5% 3.2% 3.2% 41.9% 32.3% 3.2% 25.8% 9.7% 16.1% 12.9% 3.2% 3.2% 25.8% 0% 3.2% 3.2% 9.7% 6.5% 35.5% 25.8% 48.4% 25.8% 0% 0%

It would appear that if you are planning on becoming a general manager you should probably be prepared to be pretty loyal. The average length of service with a company is just under 10 and a half years. Our longest serving GM, who works in Doha, has notched up an impressive 40 years with his company. Meanwhile, the average age of our GMs is 46. When asked to select the hotel companies they would not like to work at, Hyatt, Kempinski and Four Seasons were the only hotel groups to escape selection. A few unfussy GMs added they would be happy to work for any and one simply put “never say never”.


Accor Hilton Hotels Hyatt Mövenpick Marriott IHG Golden Tulip Rotana Hotels Starwood Swiss-Belhotel International Dusit Hotels Jumeirah Group The Rezidor Group Fairmont Hotels and Resorts Six Senses Resorts JAL Hotels Kempinski Hotels Ritz-Carlton Shangri-La Kerzner Banyan Tree Coral International Tamani Hotels Bavaria Hotels Iberotel Four Seasons Other (please specify)


Own website (%) Global Distribution Systems (GDS) - (%) Third-party websites (%) Social media platforms (%)

% of respondents

It can be a long and winding road to becoming a general manager. It took one GM 35 years and the average was around 15 years from starting in the industry to landing the top job. Admittedly one upstart managed it in three, but they were the exception to the rule. The range of first jobs was huge everything from management trainees to cleaners, security, receptionists, chefs, waiters and bus boys. It would also appear that the majority of general managers have served in the F&B department (58.7%). Only 4.8% of respondents had worked in the recreation department and only 7.9% had worked in HR. If you are looking to become a GM, it would seem a stint in or around the kitchen would be a good idea and it’s best to leave the recreation facilities alone — although we haven’t met many GMs who don’t enjoy a round of golf.

n = 59


10 - 20%


Views on e-distribution

0 - 10 %

said their property’s site brought in 10% or less of total sales. However, there is a new trend towards using social media platforms to generate sales. Admittedly 80% of GMs said that this accounted for 10% or less of sales, but the fact that 20% of respondents garnered between 10% and 40% of total sales through the medium shows it is established as a new sales platform.

% of respondents





% of respondents

50 40 30 20 10 47.6%




Front office


Financial control

Recreation and spa

7.9% Human Resources

38.1% Sales and marketing


22.2% Housekeeping


58.7% Food and beverage


LIKES AND DISLIKES Interaction with people and variety in the day were by far and away the most popular responses to why our general managers loved their jobs. Others enjoyed the challenge of the job and some cited generating new business as their favourite aspect. One GM who managed between 500 and 750 staff said “the prestige and the intensity� was his most enjoyable side of the job. Some of the highlights from the dislike responses included “dealing with unrealistic owners�, “negative reviews�, “long hours�, being “married to the job�, “rude guests�, “running after money�, “never ending emails�, “making unpopular decisions�, not to mention the hassle of “daily shaving�. Having said that, a lot of general managers said there was nothing about their job that they disliked.

THE VITRUVIAN GM So what would our modern GM

working in the Middle East look like if we placed them in the famous circles of Da Vinci’s drawing? We would imagine the back would be slightly bent and the shoulders somewhat rounded from the amount of pressure that has been lumped on them in the past two years. And the figure would probably be a little thinner as belts have had to be tightened. The eyes would probably show more depth, a mixture of experience and sadness perhaps, combined with the glint of the memories of happier times. The head would facing forward, however, and those wise eyes would be looking out of the confines of the circle to a brighter future ahead. General managers in the Middle East hotel industry are a hardy and optimistic bunch on the whole, as our survey results revealed, and it is these characteristics and proportions that will see them through another year. HME



Hotelier Middle East • September 2010


Which departments did you work n = 63 in before becoming a GM?



Sea change for Jordan The expanding hospitality sector in Jordan is entering a revival, with resort developments underway in both the Dead Sea and the Red Sea, a variety of measures to widen source markets proving successful, and the fine-tuning of niche products. Kathi Everden reports

COUNTRY FOCUS t has been another turbulent period for Jordan tourism, long prone to the ripple factor from events and circumstances outside its control. The global financial crisis has impacted visitor figures and hotel revenues as well as depressing the real estate sector, which in turn affected many of the major projects that included a residential element. The abrupt departure of the minister of tourism Maha Khatib during a recent cabinet reshuffle in which she was replaced by Suzanne Afraneh will no doubt temporarily slow activity within the ministry too, but Afraneh takes over a sector that has reasonable cause for optimism in 2010 and beyond, buoyed by excellent inbound figures during the early part of the year.


September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

A rash of new hotel openings and even newer project announcements underlines the continued faith in Jordan as a tourism, incentive, meetings and corporate destination and the, albeit slow, progress in rectifying short comings in infrastructure, air access and more, gives confidence to both investors and operators alike. Air Arabia’s latest joint venture, with the Amman-based Tantash Group, to launch the first low-cost services to and from the country potentially opens up new markets in the MENA region, while financial incentives to boost Aqaba’s King Hussein International Airport and a new terminal in the Amman gateway are all signs that increased airline capacity is set to match the debut of new resorts later this year. The good news is that the first half of 2010 saw Jordan outperform many of its regional rivals in

terms of recovery from recession, with airport arrivals at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman up 17% over the first half of 2010, for instance, while hotel occupancy increased 5% to 59.5% during the same period, according to STR Global figures, and ADR and revPAR both continued to rise. The IMF has forecast economic growth for Jordan of 3.5% for 2010, up from 2.3% last year and rising further in 2011 as the slowdown in neighbouring GCC countries recedes, remittances from expatriates overseas grow and measures are taken to slash the budget deficit. One further positive indication is that the property market has leapt in to positive territory with improved financing during Q2, according to an Asteco report, while new projects such as the Marsa Zayed

US$10 billion waterfront development in Aqaba, which will be the country’s largest property and tourism project, emphasise the green shoots of recovery. And, with 1.535 million visitor arrivals in Q1 for 2010, up 26.2% compared to the 1.216 million in the same period last year, expectations are that Jordan is gaining ground as a sun’n’sand destination with cultural overtones and dabs of luxury and adventure thrown into the mix. Petra, its icon, received nearly half a million visitors during the first five months of 2010, up 39.7% on the previous year, while tourism receipts through to May were also up 30%, at US$1.25 billion — all of which is a far cry from 2009 when visitor

51 JORDAN The Dead Sea.

Hotelier Middle East • September 2010


The famous Petra tombs.

numbers failed to beat the 7.1 million of 2008. Easing of visa regulations for Indian and Chinese nationalities in particular have fuelled rises from Asia Pacific (up 27% in Q1) and South Asia (up 29.4%), while European arrivals rose 35.5%, those from Arab countries increased 20.8%, and American arrivals were up 8.7% inthe first half of 2010. In addition, according to the Jordan Tourism Board, from January to April, Spanish tourist numbers rose 77%, those from Russia increased by 56% and from India by 69%, indicating a broadening of source markets away from traditional European and GCC areas.

Mosaics at Petra.


DEAD OR RED? While these numbers paint a rosy picture for the Jordanian tourism sector, the global financial crisis has impacted investment in the country, with several projects hitting the brakes as developers and operators adopt a wait and see strategy.







Corp Executive Amman






Winter Valley Dead Sea by Swiss-Belhotel






Premier Inn Aqaba



Premier Inn

Premier Inn


Premier Inn Jerash



Premier Inn

Premier Inn


Premier Inn Amman



Premier Inn

Premier Inn


Jumeirah Saraya Aqaba (3 hotels)






Luxury Collection Al Manara




The Luxury Collection


Westin Aqaba Harbour Resort & Spa






Holiday Inn Amman Commodore




Holiday Inn


Crowne Plaza Dead Sea Resort




Crowne Plaza


InterContinental Dead Sea






W Amman






Boulevard Arjaan by Rotana






Amman Rotana






Hilton Amman Jordan Gate






Hilton Tala Bay Aqaba






Hilton Dead Sea Resort & Spa






JW Marriott Aqaba




JW Marriott


Nikki Beach Resort & Spa



Nikki Beach

Nikki Beach


Al Buhayra (first phase)



Local investors

Dead Sea


Doubletree by Hilton Aqaba






For a full list of upcoming properties planned for the Middle East, visit

September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East


Angsana and Fairmont projects at the Dead Sea are on hold, while in Amman for instance, Layia’s entry in to the low cost market in the Jordanian capital remains under a question mark, but recent announcements from the likes of Hilton and Marriott for resort properties at the Dead Sea and Aqaba to a degree rubberstamp the continued viability of the Jordan market. For most hotels already under development, launch dates have slipped by a year on average, but it is perhaps the most recent mega project announcements that serve to highlight investor confidence. A subsidiary of Abu Dhabi-based Al Maabar, the Al Maabar Jordan Real Estate Development Company, has just begun work on Marsa

Zayed in Aqaba, a 3.2km² development with 2km of waterfront that will include 18,000 villas and apartments, a business and financial district, shops, restaurants and entertainment zones, 3000 hotel rooms, plus 300 marina berths and a new cruise terminal — with phase one scheduled for completion in 2014. Meanwhile, on the Dead Sea, Jordanian investors led by JAEA and Sama have announced a resort with a difference — the $100m Al Buhayra will commit to Islamic mores, not only implementing heritage architecture but also conforming to social traditions with a large area including pools, restaurants and leisure facilities exclusive to women and children. The alcohol-free resort will feature a 40,000m² lagoon plus 1000



Michel Noblet, CEO, Hospitality Management Holdings: The brand spectrum must widen. suites, with 200 of these launched in the first phase, and the developers say that an Islamic version of timeshare will be implemented to ‘sell’ future phases. It’s evidence of the potential to sell Jordan to an increasingly wide audience, with cruise tourism, adventure travel, spa and luxury among newer entrants, while ventures such as the Jumeirah water theme park in the Saraya development in Aqaba aug-

ment the country’s credentials as a family destination. And, with just 94 hotels and 21,000 beds in the three-, four- and five-star categories, Jordan can hardly claim to be over-accommodated — STR Global statistics meanwhile show 15 hotels in the construction or final planning phase, but this does not take in to account the recent development announcements in the country. According to Rob O’Hanlon, Middle East partner for the tourism, hospitality and leisure division at Deloitte, there is good potential for a range of hospitality models from luxury downwards. “In the long-term, the development of a well-balanced inventory

JORDAN’S UPCOMING PROPERTY PIPELINE (AS OF MAY 2010) Number of Hotels (Projects) Existing Supply

Recently Opened 70

In Construction

Final Planning
















Number of Rooms 11,421 Source: STR Global

The Roman Theatre in Amman.

Hotelier Middle East • September 2010


Aqaba is growing as a destination.

The Citadel in Amman.


Ma’in Hot Springs

Karim Nabulsi, managing partner, Deloitte & Touche Jordan

, close to the Six Senses resort.

JORDAN HOTEL PERFORMANCE June 2010 vs June 2009 Occ (%)



Percent Change from June 2009



















Year to Date - June 2010 vs June 2009 Occ (%)



Percent Change from June 2009



















Source: STR Global

(in terms of category and volume) of hotels is essential to market development,” he says. “The quality and quantity of places of interest in Jordan, together with its leisure/spa attractions, means that the demand for a wider ooffering of internationally-managed h hotel products is to be expected.” O’Hanlon stresses that the comb bination of iconic sites such as the D Dead Sea and Petra with mediumh haul access from prime markets iincluding Europe and the Middle E East are key criteria for success as a ssustainable tourism destination. For developers, however, last yyear’s drop in occupancies in Aqaba, P Petra and the Dead Sea raised conccerns with a 32% fall in Aqaba, offsset slightly by a 33% rise in average rrate to US$126, a level matched at P Petra where average rates were up 449%, according to HVS. And, following global trends, the d downturn in business has meant a cconsequent delay in new hotel openiings, with just Ramada and Ibis coming on stream in Amman last year, while Aqaba saw Mövenpick Tala Bay and Kempinski debut and Holiday Inn and the Six Senses Evason added to the attractions of the Dead Sea.

WIDENING THE BRAND SPECTRUM IN JORDAN According to Karim Nabulsi, office managing partner for Deloitte & Touche in Jordan, current lack of rooms is a key driver in Aqaba, where despite the fall off in occupancies, rates have remained robust. “There are only around six to seven thousand rooms here — compared to more than 40,000 in SharmEl-Sheikh — this is keeping room rates at high levels compared to the Egyptian resort,” he says. “In the long term, rates are bound to go down with the opening of new hotels and rest houses.” The supply/demand equation is one that is key in the Jordanian market, where the thousands of rooms coming on-stream in Aqaba and the Dead Sea calls for targeted marketing to establish these destinations in tour operator brochures, while the number one attraction of Petra is woefully under-supplied with premium rooms — with just 1800 beds in 24 hotels from one- to five-star.

According to managing director of Abercrombie & Kent Jordan, Mohanad Malhas, the biggest challenge is seasonality leading to high rates in at peak times. ”The lack of rooms at Petra is an issue, especially at five- and fourstar levels, as there is a market for luxury now to complement the deluxe hotels in Amman and the Dead Sea,” he says, adding that guests were now looking for a boutique five-star hotel experience, which was still lacking in Jordan. Of all the major hotel developments, in Petra there is just one possible Six Senses retreat project in the initial planning stage with the owners and developers of its Evason Ma’in hideaway, and the major focus of developers is firmly set on the Dead Sea and Aqaba, along with an expansion of branded budget properties in Amman in the wake of the Ibis launch last year. Elsewhere, while luxury and spa has been touted as a ‘new’ sector combining Six Senses Evason, Kempinski, Four Seasons and the new names in Aqaba, another sector — that of meetings and events — is expected to get a fillip with the takeover of the King Hussein bin Talal Convention Centre at the Dead Sea by Hilton and a new centre planned for Aqaba. This wide mix of target audiences is one that has led Hilton to pursue an aggressive development strategy in the country, according to Carlos Khneisser, senior director of development in the Middle East. “Tourism accounts for 14% of Jordan’s GDP and the country caters to mainstream markets like leisure and business tourism as well as niche segments such as adventure, health and spa — markets we are keen to tap in to,” he says. “This variety of target markets appeals to the entire spectrum of Hilton Worldwide brands, from upscale Hilton and Doubletree by Hilton to luxury with Conrad and Waldorf Astoria and mid-market Hilton Garden Inn.” With hotels under development in Aqaba, the Dead Sea and Amman, Hilton is spanning the country, following on the heels of Mövenpick, Kempinski and IHG, but other groups are gearing up for expansion too, with Starwood keen to bring Hotelier Middle East • September 2010


56 Wadi Rum.

Salt formations at the Dead Sea


g is one acti

vity in Aqaba



iin it il off brands, b d its ffamily according to Neil George, VP acquisitions and development for Africa and the Middle East. “We believe it will take time for the markets to absorb new supply but there is a huge opportunity for budget accommodation — which is where brands like Aloft can play a part — and we see potential for our environmentally conscious extended-stay brand, Element, in areas

such as the Dead Sea where there is d d from f l t guests t seekk demand long-stay ing to benefit from its therapeutic properties,” he said, indicating new projects would be unveiled soon. Swiss-Belhotel is another name targeting the Dead Sea with its Winter Valley Dead Sea by SwissBelhotel resort opening early next year, and, according to Thomas van Vliet, VP Middle East, the fourstar market is one that has yet to be exploited fully.

RESORT HIGHLIGHTS Saraya Aqaba covers an area of 617,000m2 with residential, retail, leisure, and business facilities featured in a stylised ancient Arabic city. Four five-star and two boutique hotels are under construction plus 760 luxury villas and apartments, as well as a marina, waterpark, souk and convention centre. A key feature of the development will be a man-made lagoon, which will add approximately 1.5 km of beachfront to the Gulf of Aqaba. Jumeirah will manage three hotels at the Jumeirah Aqaba Beach Resort as well as a Wild Wadi Waterpark and residential villas, while Starwood has two five-star resorts under construction and Nikki Beach a boutique hotel. The projected launch date of the development is early 2012. Tala Bay was the first of the resort/residential developments to open in Aqaba, with Radisson Blu, Mövenpick and Orascom’s Marina Plaza hotels already in operational and a Hilton resort under construction. Covering 2,700,00m² with a 2km beachfront, around 2500 rooms are planned in total, and other facilities include a marina, golf club and possible resort, aqua park and restaurants and retail. Ayla Oasis is the third major project in Aqaba that will by 2017 create a new waterfront with a Venetian theme in a 4,300,000m² site that is expected to accommodate 3000 residential units plus 1700 rooms in four- and five-star hotels, as well as a golf course, marina, aqua park and retail and leisure facilities.

September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

“ “There is an over-supply of v five-star hotels in the area and w are convinced that with our we fo four-star resort development, w will be able to tap in to a we n yet fully embraced niche not o offering real value for money and compete with countries like Egypt.” Value accommodation is U for Ibis too, but for Accor, a USP laun of the Amman property the launch yea was just the start, says last year Ch i t Christophe Landais, Middle East managing director. “It is true that Accor has been less present than its competitors but we have good reasons to hope it will change in the near future,” he says. “The Ibis Amman has been doing well and this demonstrates a lack of supply in this segment as Jordan has so far mainly been the focus of five-star developments, and we see opportunities for one or two more Ibis in Amman, but as well for properties in Aqaba, Zarqa and Irbid, representing strong business and industrial perspectives.” Landais also mooted potential for Pullman and Sofitel in both the capital and resorts, but said there was also a case for Novotel as a strong mid-market brand. Another newcomer is HMH, which has three projects there — a new management contract for the Sadeen Amman, plus new builds for Corp in Amman and Coral in Aqaba — and CEO Michel Noblet again stresses the case for widening the brand spectrum in the country. “Proportionally speaking, there are far too many deluxe and five-star hotels in Jordan, while mid-market are limited and hence there is a great opportunity for budget properties.” Meanwhile, long-time resort leader Mövenpick is squaring up for competition with the addition of a

Sean Cullen, director of sales and marketing, Mövenpick Jordan, expects revenue increases.

WE HAVE SEEN SOME ENCOURAGING SIGNS FOR 2010 WITH HIGH SEASON REVENUES OUR HIGHEST ON RECORD fifth hotel at Tala Bay last year, Jordan’s first family-oriented five-star resort complemented by a recently opened Zara spa. According to director of sales and marketing for Jordan, Sean Cullen, while more beds will inevitably depress average rate and lower revPAR, other signs are positive: “We have seen some encouraging signs for 2010 with high season revenues our highest on record. “We are forecasting a small increase for 2011 as we see any loss in traditional markets offset by demand from new source markets such as India, the UK and South America —as well as predictions for a large increase from North America and a growth in Russian beach and wellness market segments.” And, adding to the market mix, upscale Jumeirah, Luxury Collection, Westin and Nikki Beach are all set to debut at Saraya by 2012, potentially putting Aqaba on the map as a lifestyle resort, predicted Sary Arab, COO for Nikki Beach Hotels & Resort EMEA. “Nikki Beach’s unique lifestyle hotel will set the stage for the arrival of a new customer profile to to Aqaba specifically,” he says. HME

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Hoteliers on guard

September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East


In recent years, security has raced to the top of the agenda. Lee Jamieson considers whether the hotel industry is now ready for all eventualities SECURITY oday, the region’s hotels are facing new threats. The past decade has been an extraordinary period of change in everything from the wider political landscape to the evolving security needs of individual guests. “Nowadays, hotel security has become a key priority in the Middle East,” explains Safir Hotels CEO Helmut Meckelburg. “Not only due to political instability in some regions, but also because we are attracting an increasing number of high-spending, high-profile tourists who demand a seamless luxury hotel experience without wanting to concern themselves with safety issues.” Potential new threats for hotels have arisen from a number of factors: the region is experiencing more traffic from a wider range of source markets, guests are travelling with expensive gadgets, terrorism has become an international concern and criminal activity is becoming increasingly more sophisticated. “Increased tourism traffic in the region implies that an important financial contribution is being made,” says Safehotels Alliance CEO Hans Kanold. “It would therefore be very harmful to the region’s tourism industry if it does not provide acceptable security. It could be very damaging if a major incident occurred in the Middle East and hotels were not sufficiently prepared to handle it. “It is simply a matter of confidence in the market. Good security measures can give a hotel a competitive advantage over its rivals.”


AFTERMATH OF DUBAI ASSASSINATION “Confidence in the market” has been seriously dented this year by a spate of high-profile security lapses including

Hotelier Middle East • September 2010



IMPROVE YOUR HOTEL SECURITY: TOP TIPS Don’t be driven by fear — ensure that you have a robust threat assessment procedure in place.

Ensure that your crisis plans are in place and rehearse them.

Be visible — this gives your guests peace of mind and deters some of the criminal activity.

Don’t let your security operation intrude on the guest experience.

Where possible, build security features into the guest experience.

Train your existing employees to identify and act upon anything that is suspicious.

Ensure that third party security providers are trained in guest interaction by the hotel.

Outsource specialist tasks like perimeter patrols and vehicle checks.

Be sensitive where you position guards and CCTV cameras – guests still need to feel relaxed in the hotel. Ensure your security operation is agile – can you extend the scope of your operation quickly if new threats emerge?

September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a senior Hamas leader, in a Dubai hotel earlier this year. Video footage of the suspects was soon relayed around the world — and the UAE government and hoteliers have been quick to react, introducing measures designed to reinforce confidence for travellers. “The government has imposed stricter guidelines since the incident and all hotels in the UAE have increased their spend on security as a result,” explains City Seasons Group managing director Thomas Tapken. “We have made significant investment in our CCTV systems and installed bigger servers because hotels are now required to keep video surveillance footage for 180 days instead of the 90 days that we were initially storing.” With most hotels in the region reporting major upgrades to their security systems and the surveillance technology they are using, security has found its way to the top of the hotelier’s agenda. As a result, in May the Hotel Show reported that the UAE’s security spend after the Dubai assassination was on a multi-million dirham basis and installation companies experienced a 40% increase in business from hotels. “The government is taking this issue very seriously and has recently mandated tougher security measures for hotels in the region, which has resulted in considerable investment in equipment,” explains Dusit Princess City Centre general manager Wolfi Malik. “In recent years, it has become necessary to safeguard against terrorist incidents and criminal activity. We’ve had to upgrade our equipment and resources to do what we can to protect our guests because a traveller’s top priority is safety and security — in the hotel and at the destination. Terror threats and increased criminal activity means security in public places has become a critical concern.” In the face of such a serious incident in Dubai, the industry, the police and the government have


effectively pulled together to reassert confidence in the security measures deployed in the UAE’s travel and tourism sector.

SEEING IS BELIEVING The hallmark of a successful security operation in any hotel is striking the right balance between two extremes: it must be simultaneously visible and invisible. The security operation must be visible enough to foster a sense of security around the hotel, yet not intrude into the guest experience. Although it is important to have a clear security strategy, hoteliers must find subtle ways of deploying it throughout the property. “I feel that a hotel’s secu-

rrity measures need to be as unobttrusive as possible,” says Rezidor v vice president for corporate safety aand security Paul Moxness. “This d doesn’t mean you cannot show a v visible capability. Well-trained, well-equipped guards and good security measures need not be obtrusive to the point they distract from the guest experience.” One solution is to embed robust security features into the hospitality concept in order to achieve both a seamless guest experience and a visible, yet unobtrusive security system. The deployment of new technologies has played a key role in achieving this. For example, many hotels are replacing traditional mag-stripe locks with the new generation RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) locks. Essentially, these locks are connected wirelessly and can be controlled from a central system, providing numerous security benefits. “With this system, you can immediately ascertain the security status of the property with remote reports on lock status,” explains Manit Narang, the regional vice president for VingCard, a market leader in RFID electronic locks. “Your team can receive a remote alarm in the event of a door being left open, keycards can be automatically cancelled if a wandering alarm is triggered and you can track employees by reading their entry log from staff RFID keycards.” Signature RFID locks by VingCard are also equipped with anticloning technology that prevents the keycard from being copied. Even if information is copied onto another keycard, the system can identify the fake, disable it and instigate the relevant security procedure. However, some technology-based solutions need to be integrated into the guest experience with care – this is especially true when installing surveillance systems. Hoteliers must strike the right




aadds City Seasons’ Tapk ken. “Cameras that overllook the pool and health cclub areas perhaps need tto be positioned a little more discretely to avoid offending anyone.” It is perhaps prudent for the level of visibility of a hotel’s security operation to be negotiated on a property-by-property basis. There are a number of factors that determine the appropriate level of visibility including the nature of the brand, the guest’s expectation of the hospitality experience, local cultural factors,

I FEEL THAT A HOTEL’S SECURITY MEASURES NEED TO BE AS UNOBTRUSIVE AS POSSIBLE Paul Moxness, vice president for corporate safety and security, Rezidor

balance between creating a safe environment and invading the privacy of their guests. Moreover, in the region’s more conservative countries, it is essential that surveillance systems are deployed with absolute sensitivity. “While security cameras and personnel should be visible to the guest, we do have to be a little more sensitive to guest privacy in this region,”

the location of the property and the level of threat immediately beyond the walls of the hotel. It is likely that individual managers will need to respond to the particular threats most pertinent to their hotels and deploy security procedures as required. The Safehotels Alliance suggests that individual properties should continually react to threats and that they must adjust their security operations accordingly. “My opinion is that the level of visibility depends on the time period, clientele and recent events amongst other factors,” explains Kanold. “The basic security level should be high, but the level of visibility should be increased as demand dictates. It is simply a matter of having intellectual information about

ing the threat level and taking the appropriate action.” tel, To better secure a hotel, ate operators need to instigate ha culture change. Teched nology and dedicated osecurity teams may proy vide excellent security y infrastructure, but they d need to be integrated fully into an overall secu-rity operation which is fully understood and respected by everyone in the organisation. If properly trained, the existing human capital of a hotel can create a 360˚ security environment that works very discretely at the heart of the guest experience. “Security does not stop with a hired security company,” says Taj Palace Hotel Dubai general manager, Andreas Mueller. “It is the responsibility of each and every associate in the hotel. Associates in a property must be aware of what is going on in their environment and be alert to irregularities.”

EMERGING IRAQ Robust threat assessment models are indispensable in countries like Iraq. After years of political turmoil, Iraq is finally showing signs of stability and is quickly beginning to attract the attention of hotel management companies. “Iraq is poised to become an exciting new destination, both for jaded and first-time travellers, with the lure of a rich cultural history and out-of-the-way excursions,” explains Safir Hotel’s Meckelburg. “However, unlike other Middle Eastern regions, this formerly embattled country poses much higher security concerns, some of which may include bomb threats, erratic power supply, kidnapping, and suicide attacks.”


September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East


Earlier this year, Safir Hotels announced its intention to aggressively expand its presence in Iraq and to tackle the various security risks head on. The company already operates one hotel in the country, which is renowned for its tight security operations – a fact recognised when the Safir Hoda Al Wali became the only Iraqi hotel to win a World Travel Award this year. As part of its ambitious plan to expand its portfolio in Iraq, Safir Hotels is aiming to provide an unprecedented level of security at its properties to ensure that the guests have a safe experience. “Accordingly, we will be implementing a more stringent security system here,” adds Meckelburg. “This will include preventive measures such as the development of new security programmes, enhanced IT equipment, a thorough


The region’s renewed focus on security is nothing new for Rezidor’s vice president for corporate safety and security, Paul Moxness. Hotel security has been at the heart of the company’s operations since its Kuwait-based property was occupied by the Iraq military in 1990. Rezidor’s security measures are all based on threat assessment, which is determined by a very specific formula called TRIC=S. “We have increased our focus on threat assessment through the introduction of what is known as TRIC=S,” explains Moxness. “This stands for Threat Assessment + Risk Evaluation and Mitigation + Incident Response Capability + Crisis Management and Communications = Safe and Secure Hotels. “The threat assessments are updated monthly for all hotels (more often if necessary) and our risk evaluation and mitigation programmes run quarterly ensuring that every hotel makes a documented and complete review of their entire safety and security programme during the course of a year with updated threat assessments.” The result has been a clear property-by-property deployment of security procedures that respond to specific threats. In some

cases, physical security measures have been enhanced either due to local regulations or to meet strict requirements from corporate clients. For example, Rezidor has implemented vehicle checkpoints, strengthened perimeter security measures and installed additional CCTV as required at properties where threats have been identified.

ing of staff and guests, providing personal bodyguards, police K9s, regular patrols within and outside the hotel premises, and round-theclock monitoring of the parking lot and hotel entrances. “We will be looking to almost completely outsource this to security companies who have a highly trained workforce with the necessary skills and existing liaisons in place with the military and government sectors.” Certainly, the security needs in Iraq are unique in the region, yet the threat assessment techniques used are essentially the same as those used in Dubai or Kuwait City. In truth, hotels cannot stop all incidents from occurring, but they can mitigate the risks and ensure that a workable crisis plan is in place when the worst happens. Hotel security is about one thing: reacting to threats as they occur. So, hoteliers should certainly not be driven by fear: they should be driven by threat! HME

Hotelier Middle East • September 2010



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Supplier Focus • News • Analysis • Innovations • Trends

Music could be key to F&B revenue


New music system will bring in additional business for outlets, says distributor

Tuscan Soul exclusive to Sysco

MUSIC Hotels could increase revenue in F&B outlets if they invested properly in their music selection, said custom music streaming service company Auracle Sound’s Middle East distributor. Stuart Every, director of Dolphin Creative —which has the exclusive distribution rights to Auracle Sound in the Middle East — said: “In many F&B outlets, music is the last thing which people think about. The owner chooses the things that they can see and feel, but things like music are left to chance. Playing the right music can increase profit by up to 30% — it’s a no-brainer”. In order to ensure that F&B outlets are playing the ‘right’ music, Auracle has recently launched in the UAE and, according to Every, it is offering the only system available

Auracle Sound could help outlets hit the right note.

for streaming licensed music. The system, which carries a choice of more than 30 music channels that are refreshed monthly,

costs AED 500 (US $136) per month. Every says that he believes the return on investment will be around AED 5000 (US $1361) per month. “Bars invest money in nice soundsystems but not on the music they are playing. It makes no sense, especially when you consider that some places are spending more on ketchup than they are on music,” Every said. The system recently launched in the UAE, and can fit in with existing audio sound speakers in F&B outlets and includes bespoke playlists tailored to the particular target audience of the venue, helping to create the right ambience. “There are 35 different streams of music based around beats per minute (BPM), and depending on what the BPM is for the venue’s crowd, it will create the right atmosphere which will encourage people to stay,” explained Every.

Sustainability concerns impact product development at Kohler BATHROOMS Sustainability will play a pivotal role in the way companies develop new products, said experts in the kitchen and bath division of company Kohler Co. Kohler Co Middle East regional marketing manager Mohamed Nada said: “There is a greater emphasis on conservation and the use of sustainable products and materials is becoming an increasingly major factor in purchase choices, with customers still demanding a quality and aesthetically pleasing design for products.” The consumer preference for environmentally friendly products has led the company to develop

The new touchless faucet by Kohler Co: Meeting the demands of customers by saving water in a funky style.

offerings which reduce the amount of water used by the purchaser, such as water-saving touchless faucets. “A framework has been created in Kohler’s new product development organisation to heavily invest in the design and engineering of waterconserving products that don’t

sacrifice performance or style,” explained Nada. He added: “Our aim has always been to help customers act responsibly to the planet by offering efficient products designed to consume only what is necessary — without sacrificing design or performance.”

The Tuscan Soul Lifestyle Guest Collection by Salvatore Ferragamo is now available exclusively in the Middle East from guest amenities specialist Sysco Guest Supply. Sysco Guest Supply managing director Andrew Keating said: “We feel very privileged to have secured the exclusive distribution rights for Tuscan Soul into the hospitality sector across the Middle East and look forward to sharing the Salvatore Ferragamo experience with our clients in the coming months.” Salvatore Ferragamo, a brand best known for its designer lines, created Tuscan Soul Lifestyle Guest Collection exclusively for the hospitality sector, following the launch of the Tuscan Soul master brand fragrance. Sysco has also secured the exclusive distribution rights for the collection across Europe (excluding Italy), India and Africa as well as in the Middle East.

UAE invests US $ 1.4 billion in food service industry The UAE is aggressively promoting the food service industry, with the government committing a total of USD 1.4 billion in investments. Recent figures from the Dubai World Trade Centre show that there are now at least 150 food processing plants in the UAE as the country continues to endorse food investments. The recent investments are in-line with efforts to attain self-sufficiency, as GCC countries currently import up to 90% of their food. One of the key growth areas for UAE companies is the halal market, according to Dulsco HR solutions, to meet increasing demand from 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide. Figures from the Halal Journal estimating that the halal food industry currently generates between US $632 billion and US $2.1 trillion annually.

Hotelier Middle East • September 2010




The appliance of business Miele managing director Gaby Koudsi explains the philosophy of the company’s motto and why striving to be “forever better” has led to high quality products and a loyal customer base COMPANY PROFILE ounded in 1899, the familyowned German company Miele has distinguished itself in the appliance market, offering high-end designs and innovative products through 47 subsidiaries on five continents. More than a century on, Miele managing director Gaby Koudsi says that the company remains strong in the market. “We are a company with more than 110 years of history and experience; generations have grown up with our appliances and this provides a very loyal customer base,” Koudsi asserts. “Although the construction of large-scale development has recently slowed down, our company continues to have stable revenue with certain sectors of the business experiencing very healthy growth. The main contributing factor for this growth is probably that more people are settling in to their homes and looking to improve them as opposed to turning them over for profit,” he adds.


COMPANY INFO NAME: Miele ESTABLISHED: 1899 BACKGROUND: Miele is an appliance company founded in Germany more than 100 years ago. A family-owned business, Miele offers a range of products and innovations for large scale projects and the retail sector. COMING UP: The company will soon be inaugurating a Miele gallery — the latest showroom in the Miele family worldwide — which will be based in Dubai. Miele has also promised new additions to the product range “which will further differentiate Miele from other brands”.

September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

Gaby Koudsi: Miele is known for its quality products.

And although the downturn has affected many companies, Koudsi says that positive developments have emerged from the crisis. “The downturn has allowed us to focus on key customers who provide us with the majority of our business. We have therefore been able to focus our resources and energy on providing our key customers with the best possible support,” he explains. He also believes that the company’s products, which he says are renowned for their quality and durability, have somewhat protected the business during the downturn, as customers are still prepared to invest in merchandise which they perceive to be long-lasting. Referring to its motto ‘immer besser’, a German phrase meaning ‘forever better’, Koudsi says that the company has dedicated itself to creating extraordinary products which will push boundaries and uphold this motto.

CURRENT TRENDS Koudsi says that it is important for the company to pay attention to trends in the appliances market.

WE HAVE DEVELOPED A SERIES OF ECO-FRIENDLY APPLIANCES WITH OPTIMISED ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND WATER CONSUMPTION “Currently the trends in home appliances are going towards a ‘green’ design. We have developed a series of eco-friendly appliances with optimised energy efficiency and water consumption,” he says. “Looking at the trend for being green really has encouraged us to look at the products we are putting out. We have developed the smart home system ‘Miele@home’. This feature enables our clients to operate the appliances with their mobile devices, saving time and money,” Koudsi adds. As well as the increasing interest in environmentally-friendly products, Koudsi says that customers in the Middle East have shown a great deal of interest in the kitchen appliances the company makes. “We have been working very closely with the top kitchen design companies throughout the GCC,

which has made our new ‘built-in’ range of appliances a great success,” Koudsi says. “We have also recently launched our new ‘MasterCool’ range of integrated cooling appliances which provide a very large storage space, perfect lighting, and a clear interior finish. They have already proved to be a great addition to our product portfolio in the GCC,” he adds. Although the company has already seen success in the region, Koudsi stresses that Miele must continue to build brand awareness. “We must provide the standard of service here that Miele customers have become used to in Europe and other regions where the company has a strong presence,” he explains. And with a promise to be ‘forever better’, there is little doubt that the company will continue to impress in the Middle East. HME

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Making waves The ballroom in the newly opened Amwaj Rotana in Dubai showcases a fusion of modern design and traditional style FITTED OUT he recently opened Amwaj Rotana, which was three years in the making, has been inspired by its beach-front location at Jumeirah Beach Residence in Dubai. The ‘waves’ theme — created by interior designer Décor Points and reflected in the hotel’s name which uses the Arabic translation of waves — recurs throughout the hotel and plays a key role in the design of the meetings and conferences facilities. According to Amwaj Rotana director of catering and events Rosine Labaki Chaccour, the waves concept was a vital ingredient in creating the style of the ballroom. “With the ballroom and pre-function area, it is the little details we have paid attention to — the tissue boxes were customised for us with the wave design, we matched the colours of the accessories to the colours in the ballroom and you can see the colours of the sea in the artwork as well.” The art-deco look of the ballroom and prefunction area provides a modern feel but, Chaccour warns, it is important not to over-do things. “With the cutlery, the glasses, the crockery, it is important to keep things simple and elegant. It is fine to have a theme for the walls and artwork but we have to keep the people who are attending these events in mind,” Chaccour asserts. And keeping the guests’ preferences in mind, Chaccour says that aspects of events at the hotel such as menu planning can be customised to suit the theme of the event. “Usually we have different kind of menus and we can adapt them to the tastes of the client. We also provide set menus,” says Chaccour. “But for every person who can’t decide, you also have people who are more demanding and know exactly what they want, or they are following a theme, so we will meet with the chef and discuss what they would like,” she adds. With a wealth of experience in the field, Chaccour says it is vital to ensure that guests with little event-planning know-how don’t make mistakes. “With people who are doing their first event, they will usually ask for our advice. Sometimes they will come with a pre-defined idea of what they want, so we will advise them if it is something that functionally cannot be done, because we are the experts,” Chaccour states. HME


September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

DINING An elegant place setting with glassware from Procurio – SchotSwissel, flatware from Renarte Sambonet and chinaware from Rak Ceramics.


ART-DECO A mixture of modern design and classic colours from Décor Points.

ALL LIT UP Large central light from Baituti gives the pre-function area some ambience.

DETAILS The exclusively designed customised tissue box from Baal sticks to the waves theme.



Wave-inspired mirror by Baituti.

Room dividers in the ballroom allow for conference rooms of varying sizes, with chairs supplied by Intermetal.

ELEGANT SIMPLICITY Keeping things simple with plain yet stylish chinaware from Rak Ceramics.

COMING UP ROSES Floral centerpieces by Exotica Dubai branch.



Keep things intimate with a smaller gathering.

Buffets can be provided at conferences and events, with chinaware from Rak Ceramics and flower arrangement by Exotica Dubai branch.

Hotelier Middle East • September 2010



Ray of light

Industry experts reveal how artwork and lighting can change the ambience of your hotel, turning empty venues into inspiring spaces

ANDROMEDA Andromeda was set up in Murano, Italy in 1972 and is one of the leading brands in luxury custom, hand-made Murano glass. In 2008, the Eurispes research centre put Andromeda among Italy’s 100 most innovative companies. Innovation and creativity can make a real difference in terms of demand for your products, says Andromeda press and communication manager Michele Giansanti, who feels that the company’s unique approach helped it to survive the financial downturn. “Andromeda produces artistic customdesigned, hand-made Murano glass lighting,” says Giansanti, explaining that the company’s “mission and activity” remains therefore largely unaffected by wider industry trends. “Of course the financial crisis is a reality. We can see signals of this in people’s approach to business,” adds Giansanti. “Last year wasn’t our best year ever, but it was better for us than the previous year”.

Dazzling lights from the Hydroargentum collection.

LIGHTING FOR HOTELS Giansanti advises hotels to think about the consistency between the lighting provided in individual guest rooms and the lighting in large spaces such as the lobby. Creating a link between the two is an important factor in hotel lighting.

For more information about Hotelier Middle East suppliers contact or +971 4 210 8475.

September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East


DESERT RIVER Desert River, the Dubai-based distribution company of European lifestyle products, has been in operation since 2004. The company has supplied products to many four and fivestar hotels in the GCC, and has been growing its portfolio of indoor and outdoor lights as well as lit furniture, which can add a funky lighting effect to any space.

NEW ADDITIONS “We always have new products in the pipeline as we want to be the most innovative lighting supplier for the hospitality industry,” says Van Der Werf. “We have got a range of illuminated space dividers that we just received from Extremis and Slide, which we are very excited about.”

Sticks by Extremis create a funky image for the lobby. Desert River owner Claudia Van Der Werf says that lighting plays an incredibly important role in effectively portraying the personality of a hotel to its guests. “Lighting used to be merely functional — now it forms part of the design and lighting

has become as important as the furniture, soft furnishings and artwork,” she says. Having seen a number of different trends in lighting, Van Der Werf says that the current fashion is for lighting which can be moved around to create ambience. “The trend at the moment is towards more flexibility and mobile lighting systems; for example, we are now offering battery operated wall-washers and uplighters which have a good seven to eight hours of battery life and a strong light output, which is great for hotels and events as you eliminate the need for messy cabling,” she explains. And during Ramadan, when many venues will be holding iftars, events lighting is an important consideration for hotels, who want to be able to use attractive temporary lighting solutions to illuminate their gatherings.


“We have modular lit bars from Slide, a nice product made in Italy, which is very popular at the moment,” Van Der Werf says. “It is made from very strong material that is lightweight and can withstand the heat and humidity. With straight and corner pieces, you can use these as temporary bars during events and create any size/shape bar you need. These pieces are so popular that we always keep a stock readily available in Dubai,” she adds. And although Van Der Werf admits that the lighting industry, like any other, was affected during the financial crisis, she feels that the ongoing demand for atmospheric lighting in hotels, along with the company’s creativity, has stood Desert River in good stead. “Business has been good for us because we have been expanding our range of exciting brands for the hospitality industry and all the hotel companies we deal with are looking ahead and planning refurbishments of existing outlets or new food and beverage concepts,” she says.

For more information about Hotelier Middle East suppliers contact or +971 4 210 8475

Our collection of innovative Buffet Stands in harmony with an attractive range of Accessories is the result of our enthusiasm and passion for luxury hospitality and a desire to design contemporary displays inspired by natural materials.

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Hotelier Middle East • September 2010

KD Sahan



RWN RWN Trading has been operating in the Middle East since 2007 and promotes British companies such as Rupert Lund Design, which has a range of bespoke chandeliers; Kevin Dean, who designed mosaic work for The Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi; and Merlin Glass, which creates art pieces in glass. RWN marketing director Carol Prince says that the Middle East is a very interesting region for art, and that hoteliers could embrace this to create exciting spaces in their properties. “The Middle East is on the whole a very proactive region to work in and characteristically open to new ideas and different textures. We are lucky that Dubai in particular is embracing art from so many different cultures and the enthusiasm is tremendous,” she explains. However, choosing the right sort of artwork for spaces in hotels does prove to be something of a challenge, says Prince, as artwork is a topic which is particularly subjective and, therefore, guests will have varying opinions on what hotels put on their walls. “The difficulty is to be able to present a piece of art in a manner that is going to appeal to more than one person and, in particular, appeal to a number of different cultures. We have such a diverse community here in Dubai, which in itself presents challenges to interior

The Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, photographed by Stephan Tschirch of Contrast Professional Photography, shows the innovative style of art in the Middle Eastern region.

ESSENTIAL ITEMS Prince says that the essential art items in hotels are those that stand out and really create a wow factor in a space. Elegance should also be a big consideration for hotels wishing to appeal to a variety of people.

designers and architects,” Prince says. Regarding specific trends in the region, Prince says that there is much variety — from classic mosaics, to funky statement pieces such as chandeliers. “Mosaic work is very popular and can be specially designed to incorporate the client’s theme and colours. We have also seen a rise in popularity in textual pieces, wall hangings and lighting,” she says.

“The spike chandelier is turning out to be very popular as clients can have it custom built to their specific requirements. It can be created with only a few spikes in cool or warm white or the vision of an explosion of multi colours. We are at present talking to a hotel in Kuwait which is requesting the spike to be 20-foot long and the LED light spikes to change colour gradually throughout the 24 hours,” adds Prince.

IRONY HOME Irony Home was founded in 2003 with the opening of its first store in the Jumeirah Village Mall. The company specialises in both contemporary and timeless classic furnishings and accessories for residential and commercial spaces, and opened its flagship store in Dubai Mall in 2008. Irony Home owner and founder Rima Dardenne says that lighting is a crucial part of hotel interiors; and one which is often not taken in to consideration when planning the design and layout of a space. “The use of lighting is the singular most important aspect of any great design,” Dardenne asserts.

“More often the mood that lighting creates is overlooked at the inception stage of design and is treated more as a furnishing selection at the end of the design process. A poor choice of lighting can ruin the potential of a great interior. Conversely, great lighting can elevate the design appeal and even camouflage deficiencies,” adds Dardenne. Lighting can really change the feel of a hotel, says Dardenne, so in order to create a fantastic space for guests, it is important that hotels use it to produce the right sort of ambience in their property. “The biggest impact is made in the lobby of a hotel,” she says.


“This is the first point of arrival for a hotel’s guests. In this space, in a relatively brief period of time, the quality and expectations of the experience will be assessed by the customer. Generally these spaces have the height to take larger lighting solutions, such as statement chandeliers. Obviously not every hotel style is suited to crystal, but generally a good lighting designer will use this space for maximum impact,” Dardenne adds.

WHAT NOT TO DO “Often, the lighting levels are either too low or too high in public spaces. As an example, with crystal chandeliers, the ‘bling’ factor is often overplayed. These stately pieces have a merit all of their own and don’t need to be over lighted,” explains Dardenne.

Lamp at Irony Home: Set the mood with small pieces.

For more information about Hotelier Middle East suppliers contact or +971 4 210 8475

September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East



PHILIPS Philips is a global company which has been operating in the Middle East for more than 50 years. It operates across three sectors; healthcare, lighting, and consumer lifestyle. The company’s strategy in the Middle East is aligned with its global strategy — to introduce products and services that really make a difference in the health and well-being of consumers and customers across the region. Louis Hakim, chairman of Philips Middle East and vice president of Royal Philips Electronics, believes that the current trend of ‘being green’ has now hit the lighting industry, with many hotel companies keen

WHY USE LEDS? “Everyone is becoming more informed and aware about the capabilities of LEDs for hotels, which offer the potential for energy saving without compromising the ambience for guests, as well as the major savings that can be achieved on the maintenance costs due to the extra long lifetime of LED products,” says Hakim.

to investigate more environmentally-friendly lighting solutions for their hotels. “The lighting industry is currently experiencing a drastic transformation with LED technology becoming a powerful light source and replacing many conventional systems in several applications for indoor and outdoor,” Hakim says. “Using LED solutions, such as spots, enables guests to enjoy a colourful environment or a warm relaxed feeling indoors. Such flexible lighting solutions allow [hotels] to adapt the lighting atmosphere for any occasion or specific activities and to stimulate working or relaxing environments — providing maximum usage of all facilities. “In addition, LEDs for façade lighting can create striking effects on the architecture in the most sustainable way and support the expression of the hotel’s identity, as well as create a landmark that people will remember and recognise,” he adds. Hakim believes the impact of lighting is not always fully understood, which means that lighting can often be left as an afterthought.

LED lighting at the InterContinental Hotel, Dubai Festival City: LED lighting is both eco-friendly and attractive. “Few people realise the effect of lighting on the human being. It has been proven that lighting in several applications can affect the state of mind of a person, in offices or schools and other applications,” he explains. “As a guest in a hotel room, one would be looking to feel secure and relaxed after a long business day or trip, or as part of a special

experience during a vacation stay. Effectively integrating lighting in the hotel rooms and in the surrounding areas helps to create different ambiences for guests, especially when the guest has the ability to control this ambience by playing with and changing the colour and the amount of light in his room,” adds Hakim.


THE FINAL WORD – RICHMOND INTERNATIONAL London-based Richmond International has been one of the world’s leading hotel and leisure design consultancies for the past 40 years. It has designed luxury hotel interiors in more than 40 countries and has worked for many of the world’s leading hotel operators, developers and owners. Here, Richmond International associate Jane Wickings shares her ideas about art and lighting in hotels. “The careful and appropriate selection of artwork, including three dimensional pieces, can bring a special quality to interior spaces. It can reflect and accentuate the location of the hotel by using artists and references that are contemporary and specific to a particular area and local specialist crafts and skills. It can prevent larger spaces from being overwhelming, by bringing colour, interest and intimacy to provide a welcoming experience for guests and visitors,” says Wickings.

“In the hotel industry there has recently been a movement away from using reproduced catalogue prints for areas of high volume, such as guest rooms and suites. The catalogue prints are now being replaced by specially-commissioned images that are reproduced exclusively for a particular hotel. In public areas, many owners/clients have seen the aesthetic and financial benefits of commissioning original pieces by some of the lesser known contemporary artists to form a portfolio of work that is unique to their hotel and that will also prove to be a good investment for the hotel over a longer period of time,” she continues. “Consequently, there is now a willingness to be much more adventurous with both subject and style, complementing the character of a hotel by forming a collection of contemporary and less traditional artwork,” adds Wickings.


Use a selection of carefully chosen artwork and lighting to create a beautiful room like the Langham lift lobby.

COMPANY PHILOSOPHY There is only one standard but never one style. Richmond’s philosophy is based on creativity, international experience, local knowledge and a detailed understanding of hotel keeping. The company believes that in an increasingly competitive marketplace, “more than any other form of development, good creative design is a crucial factor in securing success and achieving higher occupancy rates and profits,” says Wickings.

For more information about Hotelier Middle East suppliers contact or +971 4 210 8475

September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

Dalebrook® Melamine Solutions

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Dalebrook® provides innovative Buffet solutions designed to accommodate any food display requirements. Our solutions include reversible crocks and our popular Dalebrook® Dover Range which now includes a multipurpose lid.

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Product Guide: Furniture Hotelier Middle East brings you all the furniture you need to create ambience in your hotel

BO CONCEPT Lecco from BoConcept is a functional and flexible system, with a range of shelving lengths, fronts and colours to choose from. Lecco features mix and match elements such as file cabinets and drop down doors for computers. Available in white lacquer, walnut veneer and blackstained oak veneer, Lecco could be suitable for executive suites, business centres, or even the general manager’s office. BO CONCEPT TEL: +971 4 341 4144 FAX: +971 4 341 4114 EMAIL: WEB:

CASUALIFE TEL: +61 3 9702 3222 FAX: +61 3 9703 1699 EMAIL: WEB:

THE ONE TEL: +971 4 345 6687 WEB: THE ONE The Macho Mix collection from The One is a style which features a monochrome base and one bold accent colour, while contrasting urban accessories with natural pieces. Metal, glass, shiny textures, warm woods and smooth leather in cleverly coordinated circular and square shapes make for an inspiring mix that is complemented by contemporary furniture.

CASUALIFE Cabana and Aluminium SunLoungers by Casualife are suitable for the harsh Gulf climate. They have premium exterior fabrics and durable, low-heat retaining, powder coated aluminum frames, which can withstand many environments, whether hot, dusty or salty.

For more information about Hotelier Middle East suppliers contact or +971 (0)4 210 8475.

September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East


WOLFSON DESIGN This stool from the Split family of furniture by Wolfson Design uses a compound twist to manipulate a simple remnant of the material as a starting point, while the Split Chair High references the stiff upright Gothic refectory chair as the antithesis of its fluid base. WOLFSON DESIGN TEL: +44 207 229 3221 EMAIL: WEB:

ANDREU WORLD The Nanda Comfort armchair from Andreu World has flexible injected polyurethane construction, which provides exceptional ergonomics, accompanied by a wide

BURGESS FURNITURE LTD TEL: +971 4 304 2331 FAX: +971 4 304 2332 EMAIL: WEB: BURGESS FURNITURE The Flexe chair from Burgess Furniture features a unique flex bracket which allows the user gentle movement whilst seated. The Flexe is both contemporary and practical and is perfect for any office, meeting room or conference venue. Flexe is available as a side chair, armchair or a task chair in Cherry, Natural Beech or Walnut finish, complemented by a range of quality fabrics.

range of upholstery options; creating a comfortable armchair which combines a sleek and discrete design with elegant proportions.

ANDREU WORLD TEL: +349 618 05700 EMAIL: WEB:

For more information about Hotelier Middle East suppliers contact or +971 (0)4 210 8475.

Hotelier Middle East • September 2010



CARPE DIEM TEL: +971 4 344 4734 FAX: +971 4 344 3664 EMAIL: WEB:

OK FURNITURE AND CHAIRS TEL: +971 4 3946400 EMAIL: WEB: O.K FURNITURE AND CHAIRS O.K Furniture and Chairs features high-quality ranges of furniture with more than 22,000 designs. This European beech wood chair with Italian fabric makes the perfect addition to any space and creates a relaxing and attractive seating concept.

MOBILIA This sofa is a retro/ transitional design by Lounge Innovation, Mobilia’s sister manufacturing company in Australia. The sofa is 100% Australian made using Dunlop ‘Enduro’ foams with ‘Luxura’ overlays, designed to deliver the ultimate support without compromising on

CARPE DIEM The Jacob coffee table by Grange, available from Carpe Diem, is a beautiful piece with a unique finish that introduces a warm, decorative note to any area. It contains four drawers constructed using dovetail joints and featuring small overstitched leather handles and solid lime wood.

comfort. The frame features Jarrah hardwood that has been sourced from a sustainable growth forest, as well as being formed with structural grade Ply, ensuring the engineering has longevity for either domestic or commercial use.

MOBILIA TEL: +971 4 323 6988 FAX: +971 4 323 5919 EMAIL: WEB:

For more information about Hotelier Middle East suppliers contact or +971 (0)4 210 8475.

September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

design studio

level 15

Interior Design and Procurement

Head Office: Level 15 Emirates Towers Sheikh Zayed Road Dubai, UAE PO Box 118199 Tel: +971 4 330 4445 Regional Office: House 15, Street 25, F6/2 Islamabad, Pakistan Tel: +92 51 2201408 Tel: +92 51 2206198



Products: pick of the month Hotelier Middle East brings you a selection of the latest products to hit the hotel marketplace NOVABELL S.P.A Soft Look is a versatile porcelain stoneware tile range which can be matched to wall coverings of the same collection or to other ceramic wall coverings by NovaBell. The ‘magic’ of the innovative nanotechnologies improves the surface’s anti-slip performance. An advantage of this permanent surface treatment is that it only looks different to the indoor range when it is wet.

Seafood Bar Caviar House & Prunier TEL: +971 4 220 3522 FAX: +971 4 4270590 EMAIL: WEB:

NovaBell S.p.A TEL: +39 347 2286351 FAX: +39 536 851205 EMAIL: WEB:

PRUNIER CAVIAR The Prunier “Paris” caviar has a very low salt content, as taste takes precedence over shelf life. In the first two weeks after harvesting the roe maintains its unique consistency. After this the maturation starts. Each egg retains 100% of its oil content, endowing the caviar with a truly unique flavour that is beyond comparison, according to Seafood Bar Caviar House & Prunier, which says that it is thrilling to be able to serve caviar a week after its production and enjoy its exclusive, unique flavor.

Dubai Audio TEL: +971 4 343 1441 FAX: + 971 4 343 7748 EMAIL: WEB: ROTHDOCK The RothDock is a wireless device which allows hotel guests to play their iPod or iPhone through the in-room TV or sound system without having to tether their device to the TV. The RothDock comes equipped with wireless audio, streaming, remote control, and iPhone ring control.

NORTHMACE The elegance bedroom dry ironing centre is a neat solution to inroom guest ironing. The product is equipped with a space saving design and hook for wardrobe hanging. The product is made with a quality steel build to ensure a long life and comes with a metalised cover and an anti-theft iron facility. It has a cord tidy and feet for enhanced stability and comes complete with the Hotel Safety Dry Iron with autooff safety timer feature.

Northmace & Hendon TEL: +44 29 2081 5200 FAX: +44 29 2081 3275 EMAIL: WEB:

For more information about Hotelier Middle East suppliers contact or +971 4 210 8475

September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East


NEW TERRAIN Designed for use in the hospitality sector, New Terrain features patterns that are coordinated for public spaces and guests rooms in print, computer yarn placement (CYP) and tufted carpet. Each pattern is made with Cradle to Cradle Certified Eco SolutionQÂŽ nylon that contains 25% recycled content. New Terrain is completely recyclable and never has to enter a landfill. Since 2009, more than 232,000 pounds of Shaw Hospitality Group carpet have been reclaimed for recycling.

Kohler Co. Tel: +971 4 364 2650 Email: Web:

For more information about Hotelier Middle East suppliers contact or +971 4 210 8475






Hotelier Middle East • September 2010


KOHLER KARBON KITCHEN FAUCET Kohler Co. has developed a new kitchen faucet with all the functionality and performance of a pulldown faucet, yet this product also allows the user to position and leave the sprayhead right where it is needed, therefore freeing up both hands for kitchen prep and cleanup tasks. The new Kohler Karbon kitchen faucet, which is inspired by lighting and construction equipment with articulating joints, offers a unique visual aesthetic and has been described as an “outstanding piece of modern industrial design� by the senior product manager for Kohler kitchen faucets, Les Petch.

Shaw Hospitality Group TEL: +1 8 88 448 7878 FAX: +1 7 06 879 4069 EMAIL: WEB:

Hospitality Asia 2011 9 – 12 March 2011 t Singapore Expo

Contact us for more information. Email to or Call (65) 6569 6988.

Hospitality Asia 2011 is co-located with: International Furniture Fair Singapore 2011/28th ASEAN Furniture Show | Deco Asia 2011 |


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• News • Analysis • Innovations • Trends

Eco-friendly systems Hotel technology won’t provide ROI expert advises hoteliers to look at service provision can be cost-effective IT rather than overall profit when selecting technologies A/C manufacturer advises hotels to invest in affordable green solutions Effectively utilising technology to improve a hotel’s eco-friendly credentials will save properties money in the long-term, said air-conditioning systems manufacturer Trane. Trane marketing manager, Middle East, India and Africa, Peter Blanchflower said: “Hotels are faced with the triple bottom line; profit, people, and planet. Although air-conditioning is a major consumer of power, it is an excellent place to target, as good design and operational practices can lead to significant improvements in guest comfort and reductions in energy use”. Due to the constantlyoperational nature of hotels, they produce a lot of waste and consume large quantities of energy and water, Blanchflower explained. “Trane has worked with a global hotel player in Europe that estimated their

Trane marketing manager, Middle East, India and Africa, Peter Blanchflower.

annual spend on utilities across Europe at a staggering US $3 million,” he said. Trane believes hotels will be able to reduce energy costs by looking at low-cost initiatives which would mean hotels also reduced their environmental impact. “Older facilities will almost certainly achieve significant ROI by simply replacing the original chilled water system plant,” Blanchflower explained.

Hoteliers must look at service provision rather than ROI when they are looking at new technology for their properties, said an IT expert, speaking ahead of the upcoming Hotel Technology Middle East event. Emirates Palaces director of IT and AV Hakam Sourani — one of the conference speakers — commented: “I personally believe if you want to invest in technology, you shouldn’t put ROI between your eyes, and rather look at the exposure, service, benefit and your company image”. The potential for ROI was hampered by the fact that technology continuously changes and upgrades, he said, making it hard for hotels to keep up or expect particular technological developments to provide sufficiently enticing returns. “All new technologies which are worth investing in nowadays are over priced, making it very hard to generate a good ROI. Yes you

Emirates Palaces director of IT and AV Hakam Sourani: Technology is often over-priced.

can provide a good return on investment, if you invest in a new idea or concept, and spend wisely and carefully, and always make sure that you count for the disturbing fact of technology life cycle,” added Sourani. The need to incorporate new technology in to hotels, and the potential pitfalls

and benefits of hotel technology, will be discussed at the Hotel Technology Middle East conference, which will be held later this month. Organised by IQPC, Hotel Technology Middle East will be held on September 19-21 at the Amwaj Rotana hotel at Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai.

COUNTDOWN TO HOTEL TECHNOLOGY MIDDLE EAST EVENT From September 19-21 technophiles will be in their element as the second annual Hotel Technology Middle East conference comes to town. Organised by IQPC, the conference line-up includes discussions around the importance of investing in state-of-theart technology as a way to positively impact the bottom line, and exploring the innovations in cloud computing.

Sessions include: Exploring Technology & Energy Efficiency In The Hospitality Industry, held on conference day one at 13.15, hosted by ANN Industries’ Tarek Zakaria. The Challenges Of A Large-Scale Virtualisation Deployment, held on day one at 15.40, delivered by Atlantis, The Palm IT senior vice president Joe Tesfai.

Demonstrating The Significant CostSavings And Benefits Of Cloud-Based Computing, held on conference day two at 9.30, delivered by Rotana Hotel Management Corporation IT corporate vice president Samir Abi Frem. Integrating VoIP Into Your Property Communication Design To Reduce Costs, which will be held on conference

day two at 12.00, and delivered by E Horner and Associates managing director Ted Horner. Discussing State-Of-The-Art Management Systems, which will be held on conference day two at 14.20, and delivered by Royal Group Head of Environment and Sustainability Dr. Neil Kirkpatrick.

Hotelier Middle East • September 2010



Apple iPad: ‘froth and bubbles’ or something more? Movenpick’s IT guru Roger MacFarlaine shares his views

TECH EXPERT t’s here, it’s out now and it’s ‘wow’ — I’m talking about the recent release of Apple’s new iPad. This sexy little touchtechnology device has taken the world by storm. The sleek, touch pad style gadget is the big brother of the Apple iPhone with a significant difference; it has a bigger display to enable a better viewing, browsing and interaction experience. These advantages got me scratching my head and I knew from the start that such a device would be a welcomed tool for hotel staff and guests at all hotels. The iPad is the perfect amenity for a hotel and no way near as cumbersome or bulky as a notebook PC. It can sit very attractively on a writing desk or be carried easily by staff. But how can hotels best put the iPad to good use? With personalisation of a guest stay becoming increasingly important, direct interaction and communication are critical success factors in providing guests with the informed answers they are looking for. iPads will fast become a tool of choice for all concierges and guest relations staff. The iPad not only offers mobility, but is also constantly connected to the internet (via Wifi or 3G services) to provide direct access to news, what’s on and areas of interest – portals that are important for answering guest queries with immediacy.


September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

Technology just got better: the introduction of the iPad to hotels could open up a new era of concierge services.

WOULDN’T IT BE GREAT TO OFFER ‘DIGITAL BOOKS’ TO OUR GUESTS VIA ONE OR TWO APPLE IPADS? One company offering an innovative solution using the iPad is called iRiS ( Located in a guest room, the iPad tablet with iRiS Personal Valet software provides a multilingual content platform that delivers a variety of services and offerings such as room service, information on local venues, restaurants and even airline updates. This functionality greatly enhances the guest experience, as well as hotel revenues: the hotel can present special promotions and use data for targeted marketing to better manage guest profiling and loyalty. Guests can make specific personal demands — such as requesting the same breakfast for the duration of their stay, ordering a newspaper for the duration, setting a constant wake up call time, organising a regular taxi or even requesting an automated “do not disturb” for that well earned lie-in.

This benefits the hotel by enabling them to be more efficient, make better use of resources and offer a better service to their clients. It is important to note that the hotel now has information on file for future visits from this guest. Using such a well designed iPad application that is intuitive, the guest quickly falls into a sense of familiarity rather than shying away because of complexity. Hotel collateral can be recreated digitally using the iPad. Imagine no flyers, no ‘dogged eared’ brochures or compendiums ‘busying’ the writing desk. One of the first things that I, like many a traveller, do is sweep the desk clean from such clutter. No more — now poised attractively on the desk is the iPad containing a plethora of information from hotel room service menus to emergency evacuation procedures. Another great advantage of placing iPads in guest rooms is that if the

hotel wishes to update its in-room menus then this can be done minimising both costly human resources and financials. With the iRiS system the hotel only needs to send a list of the required updates to the iRiS software via its Dashboard and the updates are added. I also wanted to share and throw around an idea particularly for hotels with small libraries, club lounges/ floors, and also resort guests. Wouldn’t it be great to offer ‘digital books’ to our guests via one or two Apple iPads. Digital reading can be in the form of novels, magazines and daily newspapers — even videos — all of which can be downloaded free or at very low prices. Image yourself thumbing through these digital iBooks that are fully illustrated with magnificent colours and resolution. Gone are the days when hotel staff have to go around in the morning placing newspapers in front of guest doors. I know that digital books might not be for all but I think many tech savvy travellers would find it a great experience and far better than offerings salvaged from housekeeping’s ‘lost and found’. The iPad has made its presence felt amongst ‘geeks’ and ‘chics’ alike. Its touch technology and stylish big screen has made for a heightened level of pleasure when browsing digital content. From guest relations staff having immediacy of information to guests being able to view and interact with hotel services in the comfort of their room — the iPad is here to stay and will play a prominent role in delivering hotel services in the very near future. Watch this space! HME








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Effective email marketing Director of marketing at ResNet World Josiah Mackenzie says that despite the growth of social media, the use of email marketing by hotels still has a hugely significant role to play

12 IRRESISTIBLE BENEFITS OF EMAIL MARKETING FOR HOTELS 1. Email is cost-efficient and fast 2. Email is an effective branding tool for creating top-of-mind awareness 3. Email builds loyal relationships with existing guests through personalized communications 4. Email can assist in providing superior guest service 5. Email is a powerful vehicle in eliciting direct responses 6. Email provides the ability to send highly targeted offers to very specific audiences 7. Email drives action and profits 8. Email can function as an automated sales force 9. Email encourages direct bookings 10. Email makes tracking metrics easy 11. Email makes testing your different messages simple 12. Email encourages guest feedback

TECH COMMENT ith all the hype over social media during the past few years, the value of email marketing may have been something you have questioned. But an analysis of the numbers suggests that email remains a very powerful marketing tool when it is used correctly. It can serve as the cornerstone of permission-based relationship marketing — a concept which Seth Godin developed in his 1999 book Permission Marketing. For many of us, email has a higher psychological value than other forms of social media communication. If you are consistently delivering value in your messages, people will listen to what you have to say. And they’ll take action. A few years ago, RSS was going to eliminate email. People were working like crazy to build their Feedburner lists. This never worked because they weren’t able to build a relationship. Social media is good in this way because it helps to build that relationship. You’re showing pictures, you’re telling stories, and you can hear from your guests. Social media helps you collect email addresses even more rapidly: on a Facebook fan page, or in your Twitter feed. But ultimately, you often need email to close the sales loop and turn that social media fan into a paying guest.


September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

STARTING A CAMPAIGN Perhaps you’re doing some email marketing already, or maybe your hotel has never tried it before. In either case, I’d like to offer two practical action steps you must do right now to improve the results you get. First of all, who is your audience? Is each recipient quite similar, or are they split into distinct groups? A good example is... 1. People that have booked with you three seasons in a row 2. People who stayed with you once 3. People who never stayed at your property at all You should probably send different messages to each of these groups. Secondly, you need to know why someone would buy from you. Once you know your audience very well, it becomes much easier to determine why someone would book a reservation at your property. Maybe

you talk with your guests directly, or maybe you’ve done a survey to ask them why they stay with you. If you haven’t done either of these things then now is the time to begin. Knowing why someone is choosing to stay at your property is essential for crafting your messages. If you can understand what is important to your customers, it follows that you know which hot buttons to push to incite action.

SEGMENTATION What separates great email from mediocre email marketing is the level of personalisation and customisation. The more relevant you make your offer, the better ROI you’ll get, and the happier the recipients will be. This is accomplished with segmentation. Collecting guest preferences should be an ongoing process, but it’s helpful to get some basic details when a person first

signs up for your email newsletter. This can be done through a preferences centre, which allows people signing up to select the content topics that interest them and gives them the option to select how frequently they want emails from you. You may consider using some of the following interest groups as you plan your own list of segments: • Special rates and promotions • Monthly newsletter • Health • Women • Food & Wine • Pets • Romance • Green • Outdoors

INTEGRATE YOUR EMAIL However your email communications system is structured, I’d like to close by encouraging you to integrate your email. Email works best as part of a multi-channel campaign: cross-promoted with social media, combined with the direct mail piece, or followed up with a phone call. Additionally, we can increase the effectiveness of our emails when we also take the time to: • Match our website’s message, look, and feel • Create dedicated landing pages on our website that echo the message of the email • Use email to support our other marketing and advertising efforts. Step back and look at the big picture. Email is just one tactic in our toolbox, and when we synchronise it with other channels we can multiply its power. HME

Josiah Mackenzie is director of marketing at ResNet World, which is developing a pay-forperformance email system for hotels. Visit: or call the Dubai office at +971 4 448 7222.



Socialize founder Akanksha Goel explains why location-based networking is the missing ingredient to your marketing mix

Are you location-aware? ith the blithering hyperbole surrounding social media in the region over the past year, marketers now want to look beyond just Facebook, Twitter and ask ‘what’s next?’ Many have come forward with predictions of the biggest trends following social networking and microblogging. Sometimes they’re right and sometimes they’re wrong. And sometimes the only way for us to notice trends and change is to be a part of them. In social media it is becoming clear that the big thing for 2010 is location aware networks. Did you know your guests can now ‘check-in’ to your hotel or even one of your outlets virtually? And that you can track your guests by seeing where else they have ‘checked into’ during their stay? This is now possible with FourSquare, a new type of social networking tool that has re-invented terms like ‘checkin’ and given people an opportunity to be ‘mayors’. In a nutshell, Foursquare is a location-based network based on the new ‘where are you?’ rather than the old ‘what’s on your mind?’. With the creation of FourSquare,


September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

you can now inform your friends of your location by merely clicking ‘check in’ on your mobile device or laptop. This will update your status on the network, telling people where you are. FourSquare is a great tool that lets you share where you are and add tips and reviews of cafés, shops, restaurants, bars, and theatres. From a business perspective it can offer invaluable insight into who visits your business, how often, where else they go and what they think about it. I’m a self-confessed ardent user of FourSquare, but the hype about location-based networks is mounting and for good reason. Here are three ways that locationbased social networks, like FourSquare, can help you drive innovation in marketing: 1. FourSquare generates repeat business. People will keep coming to your hotel, bar or restaurant to become the ‘mayor’ of it. They will also compete to stay mayor and, as a result, customer loyalty is buoyant. 2. Location-based networks inform people that your business is in the

same proximity as them at the moment they come into the vicinity, which makes you more discoverable and accessible. 3. Various opportunities are presented to give suggestions, discounts or even receive reviews. For example, a new guest at yourr hotel could find a few tips on which restaurant in your hotel to eat at or what to order there. For years now, Facebook and

Twitter have been taking the lead, making people’s daily lives interactive and less monotonous. And now with location-based social networking, even the two giant social networks are starting to add optional geo-tags to status updates. According to the US research



firm, Hitwise, internet traffic too FourSquare has increased by 400% since October 2009; and that doesn’tt even count all of the users who access the service via third party mobile applications. In Dubai, hotels such as the Crowne Plaza and InterContinental Dubai Festival City have joined the wave of businesses utilising FourSquare, and now have intensive interactions with their guests through this medium.This is a clear example of businesses reaping the rewards of FourSquare’s meteoric growth by offering limited promotions to people who are “checked-in” the area. InterContinental DFC has co. been in the marketing forefront Pool villa design for Six Senses Essaouira in Moroc for a while now.



The hotel’s online marketing executive Rob Singleton says: “The potential of FourSquare for hotel marketing is palpable from the successes it has seen with bars and restaurants in the US. Presently, FourSquare is in its infancy in the Middle East, however, we have seen a rise in its use in the past few months, so the trend would suggest this could continue to grow. Geo-social networking is the evolutionary next step. In my view, it could become a valuable tool in encouraging loyalty amongst patrons of our outlets”. The fact that FourSquare is linked to social networking sites which are already used by hoteliers is an advantage noted by Marwa Sayed Afify, marketing and communications manager at Crowne Plaza Dubai. “It’s a new era of the word of mouth tool that provides last minute information as well as an open channel of communication between yourself and your guests which has an incredibly effective impact, especially since it is linked to two of the major social hubs, Facebook and Twitter,” says Afify.

“It’s a bit tricky being that exposed though, because if only one customer who has had a bad experience at your hotel or restaurant went there, it’s double the damage! Thus, ensuring that every and each guest experience is a positive one has always been a big priority in our industry,” she adds. FourSquare might take the lead in America, and potentially in Dubai, but it is not the only option out there; the most popular locationbased social network in Saudi Arabia is, for example. Indeed, location-based networking is not as new as you might think, although the history of it is somewhat shaky. Location features were incorporated into mobile phones as early as 2000, but earlier social networks built around the technology, such as Dodgeball, failed to gain a foothold. Dodgeball, which relied on text message blasts to update users on their friends’ activities, was founded by Crowley and then sold in 2005 to Google, which eventually shut it down. FourSquare and Gowalla stand a stronger chance of long-term success because, from the hospitality industry point of view, it’s free of charge, effective and although it might take some effort, the only downside is exposure to criticism. But if your standards are lofty enough and you need an innovative, low-budget marketing scheme, promoting your business in the virtual world of mayors and rewards may be another string to your bow. HME

Socialize is a dedicated social media marketing agency and consultancy headquartered in Dubai. It specialises in teaching and supporting international brands, NGOs and government departments how to leverage regional online communities/platforms to drive innovation in marketing and communications. Visit:


Hotelier Middle East • September 2010

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• News • Trends • Analysis • Hotel listings

Hotel Okura becomes majority owner of JAL Hotels Tokyo-based chain acquires hotel arm of Japan Airlines International to hold largest share OWNERS Hotel Okura Co. Ltd. has acquired 79.6% of the issued shares of JAL Hotels Co. Ltd. from Japan Airlines International Co. Ltd. The announcement came in August from JAL Hotels president and CEO Katsumi Chiyo, who said: “With regards to this transaction, JAL Hotels will continue to offer ‘superior quality airline oriented hotels’ to the public by maintaining and enhancing operational standards. “Furthermore, it shall be the commonly shared goal of JAL, Hotel

Okura, as well as JAL Hotels to further develop and expand strong global competition of our chain in order for us to attain the position of a leading high quality international hotel network.” Hotel Okura hopes the acquisition strengthens its global competitiveness and establishes it as a leading Japan-based global hotel chain. Hotel Okura is banking on synergies with JAL Hotels to enhance the marketing, business development, human resources and overall brand value for both companies. The share transfer is slated to be finalised by the end of September.

JAL Hotels operates two hotels in the region: Fujairah Resort & Spa (above) and upcoming Hotel JAL Tower.

The value of the transaction has not been made public. JAL, a company which filed for bankruptcy protection in Janu-

ary, will retain its remaining 11.1% stake in JAL Hotels. Hotel Okura operates 40 hotels, mainly in Japan and Asia Pacific.

First-half gains for InterContinental Hotels Group InterContinental Hotels Group posted a 22% rise in first-half profits, beating forecasts and signalling a recovery within the hotel market. Operating profits stood at US $219 million, up from $179 in 2009, while revenue for the first six months of 2010 was $772 million, up 6% on the previous year. IHG chief executive Andy Cosslett said: “Trading strengthened as the first half progressed with global

RevPAR up 3.9% overall and 7.4% in the second quarter. Asia is leading the recovery with Greater China reporting RevPAR up 29.4% in the first half. “As anticipated, occupancy drove RevPAR increases, with business travellers returning in greater numbers. Rates are now stabilising across the world, with most markets seeing rate growth towards the end of the first half. The economic envi-

ronment does remain uncertain, however, with short booking windows and limited visibility. “During the downturn we worked closely with our owners to reduce costs. In the first half we signed 130 hotels and opened 148. The quality of these new hotels is exceptionally high, particularly in China where both our pipeline and system of open hotels are skewed towards more upscale developments.”

Cosslett added that the $1 billion relaunch of Holiday Inn remains on track, with 2585 hotels out of 3400 operating under the new standards. “These efforts put us in great shape to increase share in what is a rising market. Having maintained the dividend through the recession and balancing the improvement in trading with economic uncertainty, the Board is announcing an increase in the dividend of 5%.”





BX Blackstone Group (NYSE)



CHH Choice Hotels International (NYSE)



MAR Marriott International (NYSE)



REZT Rezidor Hotel Group (SSE)



IHG InterContinental Hotels Group (NYSE)



LHO LaSalle Hotel Properties (NYSE)



HOT Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide (NYSE)



AC Accor (PSE)



WYN Wyndham Worldwide Corporation (NYSE)



Notes: Relevant exchanges are indicated in brackets: New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), London Stock Exchange (LSE), Stockholm Stock Exchange (SSE), Paris Stock Exchange (PSE). Quotes sourced from, and Figures for August 2010 are based on quotes from July 26, 2010, compared with August 31, 2010.

For a list of upcoming properties, see To update your company’s list, contact

Hotelier Middle East • September 2010



Contract termination: the last resort Head of property and hospitality at law firm Al Tamimi & Company, Tara Marlow, explains why every option must be investigated before moving to terminate a hotel management contract

COLUMNIST ery few people in the hotel industry will be unaware of the recent management agreement disputes affecting Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts regarding both the Al Areen Palace & Spa (formerly known as the Banyan Tree Al Areen resort) in Bahrain, and also The Meydan hotel in Dubai. As experienced industry professionals know, one of the toughest decisions to make in relation to development of a new hotel is finding the right partner — whether you are an owner or an operator. This is usually the single most important consideration and much time and effort is spent on selecting the right brand for the hotel, (and the right owner for the brand operator). Finding the right brand to achieve the best returns for an owner and enhance an asset’s value, financing and operational success is not the only consideration. Of equal value is the relationship, particularly given the long-term nature of a hotel management agreement. We have seen the recent boom of the Gulf hotel industry, and this is a wonderful wave to ride. However, a long-term view must be taken to ensure that you have the most appropriate tools (and partnership) to ride out the tough times when they happen. If this is not achieved, ultimately, it is not just the asset that will suffer, but also the brand value of the operator. Of equal importance are the employees, who can become caught


September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

The termination of Banyan Tree’s contact to management the Al Areen resort in Bahrain made headline news.


in the middle. There is very rarely a win-win solution in cases of dispute. It is never going to be perfect, however, a robust and carefully managed Request for Proposal (RFP) process will go a long way towards ensuring that both parties’ interests are aligned through the life of the management agreement. It will help to show whether the parties share the same vision of what the hotel should be and how it should operate, and should enable the parties’ interests to be balanced, so far as possible. Consideration of the owner’s ambitions, the timing and specifics of the project, and the underlying market conditions and competition against a list of potential operators and brands, with open and transparent negotiation of commercial terms, should give both parties comfort that the partnership which is ultimately entered into is the right one for everyone involved.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE RELATIONSHIP CRUMBLES? Termination of a hotel management agreement is not something to be undertaken lightly. In my experience, usually both parties will exhaust every opportunity to resolve a problematic situation before the button is pressed to terminate. In the current economic climate, where hotels may be struggling to service debt, or where RevPar and/ or occupancy levels are down but operating expenses are not, or where a new development is stalled or delayed, it may be tempting to look at termination as the right move. Many owners will be frustrated if they feel the operator is not responding to a critical situation and will be looking to them for proactivity in driving business, reducing costs and managing capex spend. Many operators, on the other hand, will be looking to the owner for continued financial support and commitment.

Most hotel management agreements cannot be terminated at will and they have complex procedures regarding notices of breach and remedy requirements. An unjustified termination of a management agreement will often result in a hefty damages award against the terminator. There is rarely a black and white example of breach of contract in these situations — there may be many reasons behind a failure to perform, and some of these may be caused by the other party’s action or inaction. Therefore, before the finger moves towards the ‘terminate’ button, it is essential that full investigation of the situation is undertaken. The discovery may not be pleasant but hopefully, it will allow the cause of the problem(s) to be dealt with head on, and a resolution strategy agreed. Operational analysis should be carried out, both parties’ performance should be considered, and a plan of how to resolve the situation (whether this relates to results, capex spend, FF&E contributions etc), agreed if possible. Additional considerations should also be examined. Has an express or implied covenant been breached? What is the true legal position of the aggrieved party? What are the risks of failing to remedy the situation? What will be the true damage to the asset/brand/reputation? How will this impact on other business operations or assets held? If at the end of the day all is lost, there is no way back, and the only option is to terminate — you must ensure that professional advice is taken and that damage limitation is a prime consideration of the strategy. This should serve you well in the long term. HME

Tara Marlow is head of property & hospitality, Abu Dhabi at Al Tamimi & Company. She can be contacted on +971 2 674 4535 or


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Demanding supply Warwick’s director of group development Jean-François Garnier on why the company only makes a move when asked to by its guests

Jean-François Garnier talks exclusively to Hotelier.

INTERVIEW arwick International Hotels is on the verge of making its first move into the Middle East. The owner/operator hotel firm began in 1980, when founder and president Richard Chiu purchased a hotel in New York, and has since gone on to own/operate 17 properties and manage more than 40. Director of group development Jean-François Garnier joined in 1999, having held senior positions for Pullman, Marriott and Accor. He set about putting in place a group development policy and, following meetings with president


September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

Chiu, it was decided that Europe was where guests were demanding more properties – the reason that 60% of the company’s portfolio is now based on the continent. However, that same “policy” of supply and demand is why Garnier has been in Dubai for the first time — searching for an opportunity for the company’s first property in the Middle East. “Up to now we have functioned as a receptive for people coming from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon and the UAE. These were Middle East guests staying in our product in Paris, New York, Geneva and London,” Garnier explains. “Because our customers became more global, they began to ask if we

WE ARE A EUROPEAN COMPANY, BUT WE HAVE AN AMERICAN BUSINESS MODEL, WHICH IS PROFITABLE were in certain cities in the US, or in certain parts of Asia, so we decided to expand. They then started asking why we were not in Dubai to cater for seminars and conferences, so that is why we are coming here.”

Garnier believes that one of the key differentiators with the group’s competitors is only expanding when their customers demand it, and it won’t be a case of setting targets like ‘300 hotels in five years’. But while he believes there will be no difficulties in operating in the Middle East — the company will not be investing in a property yet. While some analysts have predicted 2010 to be a vintage year for investment, citing sellers looking for quick capital by dropping prices, Garnier suggests that smaller companies need to be more careful. “We are not out of the credit crunch so the credit market conditions are stiff and sometimes scarce, so we look at investment very


fully. The flip side of being a private company is the importance of knowing when to invest, because we don’t want one investment jeopardising the whole company.” While this may be the case, he also adds the company does prefer to buy when it can, because it can control its “own recipe”. So while Garnier explains he is “not here to talk to speak with bankers,” he adds that the company is investing in the region by bringing the brand here, something that is definitely not “low risk”. “It’s a commercial risk to bring this brand out here because if it closes in six months, people will say ‘Warwick doesn’t know how to operate’” he says. “We take a risk when we buy an existing hotel, but I don’t see any hotel for sale in Dubai, but that’s not the purpose of visiting — it is answering demands of customers.” While a direct investment in a property may not be on the menu, this trip is more than a dip of the toe in the water for Warwick hotels. Garnier explains the company will open a sales office in Dubai, “by next spring” if possible.

“Not only will it sell Dubai and the surrounding regions, but also outbound traffic as we are in Asia so we have synergies,” he adds. So what exactly is Warwick going to be adding to the already competitive hotel market in the UAE? Garnier believes that the company’s lack of “standardisation” will set it apart from the crowd. “Each time you are in Warwick you are in a different product — a different hotel. We discovered that more of our customers want to participate in this collection of hotels and want to be in a different hotel each time,” he says. “For example, in Paris we own and operate two hotels; Warwick Champs Elysees, which is a contemporary product and a typical fourstar market product. Then you have The Westminster, which opened in 1810 and is very conventional with

traditional fireplaces — if I can say very British. That’s the Warwick product and the collection.” Although having only had a couple of days to sample Dubai’s hospitality offering, Garnier has already identified potential competitors in the city he describes as “amazing” and “unbelievable”. “I have seen several hotels, but as far as contemporary style goes, the Address Hotel is the type of hotel we can compete with,” he explains. “However, being in the same market segmentation as them, we can compete with Fairmont, the Palace or the new Ritz-Carlton. We will look also at location and it’s something I will be careful with — I could be close to the Burj Khalifa as that’s nice, but I am not against being present on Sheikh Zayed Road.” While the majority of operators in the Middle East have enjoyed good

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I HAVE SEEN SEVERAL HOTELS, BUT AS FAR AS THE CONTEMPORARY STYLE GOES I HAVE TO SAY THAT THE ADDRESS HOTEL IS THE TYPE OF HOTEL WE CAN COMPETE WITH relationships with owners, there have been a few examples recently of things turning sour — in some instances spectacularly so. But, Garnier doesn’t believe this will be a problem for Warwick as the company understands both the owner and operational side of the hotelier coin. “We are a European company, but we have an American business model, which is profitable. When you bring value to the owner, as we do, there’s no problem,” he asserts. However, while acknowledging that “in life, not only in hotels, you can have disappointments or disagreements”, Garnier says a discussion can normally work things out. “Being a private company we are careful about choices and owners.” And when asked if he can see 10 Warwick hotels in the Middle East in the future, he returns to his beliefs in investing in and operating hotels. “If we see demand increase we will pursue that through management, investment or affiliation — we will see what’s best and follow our customers’ demands.” HME



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Business insights for attractions, fitness, sports and spa professionals

ESPA opens long-awaited spa at The Yas Hotel Richardson Sadeki-designed facility has been inspired by a ‘traditional Islamic hammam’ SPAS The Yas Hotel has announced its ESPA spa will open on September 1. Created by the New York design firm Richardson Sadeki, the new ESPA at The Yas Hotel has been conceived as a luxurious contemporary reinterpretation of a traditional Islamic hammam. In addition to 10 treatment rooms, ESPA at The Yas Hotel also features a rotunda — a cylindrical space comprising a serene sculpture garden wrapped around a central column that reveals a refrigerated inner core providing a cool sanctuary from the heat of the hammam. An illuminated nightscape ceiling and an amorphous

The infinity pool at The Yas Hotel on Abu Dhabi Yas Island which is soon to be joined by the luxurious new ESPA.

sculpted stone lounge complete the hammam design. Treatments have been created specifically by ESPA, and combine the best of ancient and modern therapies

Technogym launches new CV kit for a ‘total body workout’ Technogym has introduced the Crossover, a new cardio machine enabling a combination of lateral and elliptical movement. The Crossover provides upper and lower body training, with complete muscle activation allowing optimal calorie burning and ensuring maximum glutes activation. It offers a fixed-stride cyclical exercise and completes the Technogym Excite+ line with the ‘Lateral Today Body’ concept. According to the manufacturer, the machine is suitable

for varying fitness levels and all types of workout. Meanwhile, Technogym was recently appointed as the official supplier for the first Youth Olympic Games, which took place in Singapore from August 14-26. The company will also be the official supplier for the upcoming Olympic Games, which will be held in London in 2012. Technogym Crossover.

with the finest quality ingredients and skin care, harnessing the natural healing elements of aromatherapy. Signature treatments include the two-hour Yas Detox (AED 725, US

$197), which is designed to detox and purify the body. The marine-inspired treatment incorporates techniques such as body brushing and a Spearmint and Aloe body polish, facial cleanse and detoxifying massage. Meanwhile, the two-hour Sun Escape (AED 725, $197) is a soothing and hydrating experience particularly designed for sun exposed and sensitive skins, to combat the effects of the Arabian sun. The treatment uses ESPA Deeply Nourishing Body Cream rich in Wild Yam, which is renowned for its repairing and skin conditioning properties, followed by a desensitising facial and deeply hydrating face mask, ensuring the skin is refreshed and renewed.

First Emirati tour guide gets global certification An Emirati tour guide from Sharjah has taken part in an international programme run by the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations (WFTGA) — a global forum for tourist guides. WFTGA represents tour guides internationally, promoting a universal code of ethics and skills by developing international training programmes and establishing the high standards of professionalism. The intensive two-week long ‘Train the Trainer’ course took place at WFTGA’s regional training centre in Nicosia, Cyprus. UAE national Majid A. Al Qassimi, who is responsible for overseeing the newly implemented Sharjah Tourist Guide Training and Licensing Programme, which was introduced in May 2009, took part in the course. Mohamed A. Al Noman, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) director

The group that participated in the international ‘Train the Trainer’ programme, a two-week long course.

general said: “We are aware of the critical role played by tourist guides in the tourism promotion process, and that is why we are committed to providing Sharjah’s guides with the best possible training format through our Tourist Guide Training and Licensing Programme as well as our WFTGA-accredited trainers. “We are delighted that Majid A. Al Qassimi has become one of the few Emiratis to be recognised as a WFTGA-accredited trainer.” Hotelier Middle East • September 2010


Revenues for hotel spas in Dubai rise by 45.5% Operational efficiency also on the up, according to E&Y Spa Survey Revenues for hotel spas in Dubai increased by 45.5% in Q1 2010 compared to the same period in 2009. The figures have been tracked by the Ernst & Young Spa Benchmark Survey, which compiles monthly performance reviews of five-star hotel spas in the emirate. Just as hotels measure revPAR, the Spa Benchmark tracks revPATH — revenue per available treatment room hour. In Q1 2010, revPATH increased 5.5% from Q1 2009 to AED 77 (US $20) and year-to-date utilisation of treatment room hours rose to 25% in Q1 2010 from 24% in Q1 2009. Year-to-Date utilisation of therapists’ hours stood at 54% in Q1 2010, which was an increase of 6.5% from 47.5% in Q1 2009. The findings suggest that Dubai spa managers have achieved better scheduling and higher staffing efficiencies in 2010. Principal for real estate, hospitality and leisure, Ernst & Young MENA, Paul Arnold commented: “Dubai hotel spa operators are beginning to incorporate formal reporting techniques and use standardised metrics towards evaluating their spa performance.

Increased attention to operational diagnostics and business improvement strategies are important factors underlying the positive trends in spa performance.” The Survey also revealed a shift in consumer behaviour, with a larger proportion of hotel guests now using spa facilities. In Q1 2010, 61% of spa treatments were booked by hotel guests while non-hotel guests or day spa visitors booked only 39%. On a monthly basis, the percentage of hotel guests visiting spas ranged between 60% and 62%, which is higher than the 48% to 58% range witnessed during all the months in 2009. Ernst & Young MENA spa industry specialist Nikita Sarkar said: “The increasing share of hotel guest visitors to spas, combined with the increase in aggregate spa revenues, is a positive trend as it points towards the return of hotel guests’ propensity to spend on spa services. Dubai hotel spa operators may now be able to create more effective marketing and promotion programmes and move away from price-based discounting of last year.” Arnold added that to maximise revenues in 2010, all potential reve-

Ernst & Young MENA spa industry expert Nikita Sarkar.

nue streams would have to be developed — treatment, retail and fitness. Total revenues in 2009 were comprised of treatments (70%); retail (9%); fitness and membership (19%) and other charges (2%). “In 2010, the focus will need to be on maximising revenue generation potential from each of the revenue streams. For example, retail sales remain an under-exploited component of spa operations, contributing only 10.6% to overall Dubai hotel spa revenues in Q1 2010, whereas some high-performing spas have achieved up to 25% revenue contribution from retail,” said Arnold.

Spa deals more aggressive in 2010 report travel agents Hotel, resort and destination spas are offering more, or holding firm on, special deals and low pricing in 2010 compared with 2009, a recent SpaFinder survey has found. According to the fourth annual State of Spa Travel Survey, 92% of 250 global travel agents said that spas were offering either more or equally aggressive travel deals in 2010 than they had done in 2009 — previously dubbed ‘The Year of the Deal’ by SpaFinder. Despite the “somewhat improved 2010 economy”, 44% of agents witnessed even more aggressive spa travel deals in 2010, while 48% said the bargains were holding firm. The trend has been seen in the Middle East recently, with offers including the “Double Dip Recession Body Treatment’ from Raffles

A promotion at the Anantara Spa at Kempinski Ishtar includes use of the hydro pool and a grape seed scrub.

Dubai, a 90-minute Thai treatment designed to combat the stress caused by a double dip recession. Raffles Amrita spa director Lindsay Nadeau said: “Stress takes an immense toll on the body and can drastically accelerate the aging pro-

cess. This Thai inspired Panpuri treatment is specifically designed to relieve this stress by not only detoxifying and renewing the skin, but energising the spirit and calming the mind as well. Keeping in mind the importance of value for money to our clients during these difficult financial times, we have priced the treatment at only AED 599 (US $163), and include a special complimentary absolute solitude gift set with each treatment.” Meanwhile, at the Anantara Spa at Kempinski Ishtar Dead Sea in Jordan, spa manager Shirley Meerson has launched a Scorching Spa Promotion, which offers a massage and facial and a free grape seed body scrub for JOD175 (US $246), plus use of the spa facilities including a Hydro Circuit. Hotelier Middle East • September 2010



Bliss out

Louise Oakley visited W Doha to find out from director of spa Liliana Matic Moore why Bliss deserved to win Spa of the Year at the first Middle East Spa Awards

SPA MANAGER INTERVIEW have never met anyone quite as full of energy and enthusiasm as Liliana Matic Moore, director of spa for Bliss at the super trendy W Doha. During our interview, which lasts close to two hours, Moore does not sit still for longer than 10 minutes, instead getting up to reveal the many different products hidden in her floor to ceiling cabinets, smearing different masks on my hands so I can “see and feel them working”, explaining prototypes of new collateral and demonstrating testers of products, scrolling through photos of her latest publicity campaign and, most surprisingly, printing off her P&Ls and occupancy records to prove to me that yes, Bliss Spa is indeed the best in the Middle East. Moore achieved this accolade for Bliss earlier this year at the first Middle East Spa Awards, which were announced at The Hotel Show in May. In addition to receiving the overall gong for Best Spa, beating Amara at Park Hyatt Dubai and the Six Senses Spa at Six Senses Zighy Bay, Bliss scooped the awards for best Spa Marketing and best Spa Design. Overall 25 spas across the region submitted 45 separate entries across five categories, and considering Bliss Spa was one of the newest, having only opened in May 2009, its domination was significant. But for Moore, winning the awards was a necessity — she had to win on account of promises made to her GM at W Doha, Safak Guvenc, and the hotel owners, both of whom she speaks very highly of. “I have my GM’s support, I have my owner’s support, in how many spas does the owner come into the office?” asks Moore. And she wouldn’t have been happy with just the Marketing or Design Awards, which she humbly attributes to the Bliss branding machine based in New York. While Moore in reality plays a major role in the promotion of the spa — from taking the therapists out to cancer wards and golf courses to providing 550 goody bags at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open — it was the management, not marketing, award she had her sights on. “When I first came here, I told him, ‘Safak I will make you the best spa ever’. Don’t give me marketing or design — this is not me,” says Moore, who sat nervously throughout the Awards waiting for the overall winner to be announced at the very end. “I truly believe that management is management — my obligation is to bring customers in


September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

The W Doha lobby, called the Living Room.

Bird's eye view of the hotel lobby.

The imposing exterior.

Director of spa Liliana Matic Moore.


Chris White general manager Aldar Golf/ Yas Links.

Bliss at W Doha features a spacious reception and retail area.


Relaxation the 'Bliss' way.

Bliss treatment room.

Hotelier Middle East â&#x20AC;˘ September 2010



Funky retail displays.


and make sure that my spa works and is profitable. Therapists are therapists, I don’t interfere in their work, I just measure their results. They are the ones who are running inside the spa. I make sure they have everything they need and the customers are coming. I make sure that we measure whatever we do, how much we use, and I make sure we have good feedback,” says Moore. “I’m not a therapist. I strongly believe that for a successful spa you need a manager with a business background, not just a therapist. It’s all about money, its all about my P&Ls. Since we opened the spa, from the first month, it’s positive. And it’s growing and growing. This is the secret and why I have such a support from my hotel.

They know I take the money, I make the money, I pay it back. So it’s just positive investment,” Moore explains.

FIGURE OF SPEECH And the figures speak for themselves, with overall revenue, retail, number of treatments and spa occupancy all riding high. Since opening to August 2010, Moore says the therapists have performed 17,000 treatments over 15 months, which is 1133 treatments per month. In 2009, Bliss finished with 58% spa occupancy, which Moore says “was excellent”. Retail contributes on average at least 20% of revenue, expected to go up to 30% after Eid and Christmas. And this year, Moore says the spa, with just eight beds, two pedicure and three manicure chairs, is making QR 7 million, or US $2 million. “My bottom line, that is how much money we give to the owner is around 45%, which is huge, but this is done by controlling expenses,” reveals Moore. “You cannot control your expenses if you don’t know them. At the same time my therapists

have huge salaries So my fixed costs are high, but compared to what we make, it’s not.” Paying good salaries is vital, says Moore, asserting that low pay is the biggest problem for the spa industry. “They are very highly paid therapists, they work on commission, there is no salary less than QR 10,000 ($2747), they go up to QR 18,000 ($4944). It’s more than my salary. But I have happy staff. Their basic salary is very low, QR 2000 ($550) for manicure/pedicure/massage and QR 2500 ($686) for a facial therapist, but they are very busy and they get their commission, they are fully booked. We measure them every four months and I check them. They have a quiz and reception has a test on all the treatments as well. If they don’t know the answers, they have to go on the training – they cannot work. It is all about knowledge and that’s why Bliss is a successful spa,” says Moore. The therapist are monitored extremely closely — if a massage therapist is not 65% occupied over their first year, they cannot continue at Bliss. For a facial therapist it’s 55% occupied and for nail technicians, they must be 70% occupied. In its money making mission, Bliss Spa adheres to strict rules where customers are concerned too, explains Moore. And she does not mince her

The changing room features a steamroom.

BLISS SPA BY THE NUMBERS Treatment beds: 8 Therapists: 11 Treatments: 1133 per month Spa occupancy: 58% Retail: 20-30% of revenue Revenue to owner: 45% Revenue: US $2 million

September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

W by night.

Manicures are very popular.



IF YOU DON’T SHOW UP FOR YOUR TREATMENT THREE TIMES, YOU CANNOT BOOK HERE words either — everything Moore says is to the point and from the heart. “It is very, very competitive and you need to be professional, you need your staff to be professional. They need confidence; self esteem is what we are working on. If you don’t show up for your treatment three times, you cannot book here. I lose money because someone forgot their treatment. Then they come and they shout at the receptionist — it’s not allowed. I'll call security. Sometimes I think I’m very arrogant, but no, I’m not, I just want guests to behave properly, as they would be expected to in New York or London.” Certain systems are in place to maximise treatment room turnover at Bliss too. After a treatment, rather than being left to sleep, guests are taken to the relaxation room, and offered some chocolate brownies and cheese. If they want a “half an hour shower”, that’s fine, says Moore, but it is to be had in the changing rooms, not in the treatment room.

PRODUCT KNOW-HOW Moore’s business savvy does not mean she is not passionate about the spa industry itself though, far from it. Her background is in physical education, although she also studied economy of tourism and later combined them in launching various fitness centres, ladies medical centres and children’s summer camps in Cyprus, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. As a result, Moore now also

Sweat, the gym at W Doha.

September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

Space to catch up with friends.

oversees the pool and gym at W Doha, and hopes to introduce pilates classes for hotel guests and the residences. She also has a firm belief in the Bliss range of spa products; along with their wonderful names and glorious scents, they achieve excellent results, says Moore. She also raises her own doubts about the whole organic spa movement. “Many spas go organic and I have my theory about that — organic is when you make your yoghurt at home, or you mix your egg with your olive oil and you put it on your hair. Once it is in a packet it has to have a preservative, ingredients will not survive. So these organic things cannot be. It is the best they can do, but it is not without anything. What is 100% natural? This is a big question,” says Moore. Bliss offers paraben-free body butter now, however, and is continually working on product development. Supplying the face wash, body wash, shampoo and conditioner as 100ml inroom amenities also means that hotel guests have a chance to try them, which increases retail sales further, she adds.

“The face wash and triple oxygen mask and triple oxygen cream are now my best selling products,” says Moore. The efficiency of the products means that the facials at Bliss are expensive, however. The triple oxygen treatment is QR 750 (US $ 206) for 85 minutes for example, while add-ons such as an eye or collagen mask are another QR 200 ($ 55). Pricing is designed to be in line with competitors such as Grand Hyatt, Four Seasons and RitzCarlton’s Sharq Village, with Moore carefully calculating what each spa charges per minute for a treatment before setting her own pricing.

BLISS EXPANSION There is no doubt that Bliss at W Doha has been an instant success — in addition to the financials, 60% of the guests are Qatari and people familiar with the brand from Europe and the US are flying into Doha from across the GCC to have their favourite treatment or stock up on their products. The demand for this New York style urban spa is widespread – it is simply for people who want to have a good treatment and go home looking good and feeling happy, says Moore. But expansion of the Bliss concept in the region is slow, as W Doha is still the only W hotel in the Middle East. Bliss spas and amenities are exclusive to Starwood in the hotel category at W Hotels, following the sale by Starwood of Bliss Spas to Steiner for $100 million, which Moore says provided her with even more support as a spa manager. She says the next Bliss Spas will be in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and hopefully Bahrain. Bliss products will also be sold at Starwood’s St Regis hotels, coming up in Doha and Abu Dhabi, and the partnership with Steiner means Bliss will also retail Elemis products, says Moore. No doubt Bliss will lean on Moore for her expertise as and when the roll out happens, but for now, she is content in her role at W Doha and keener than ever to give back to the GM and owner who have enabled her to develop the spa so successfully — which is the attitude she expects in return from her therapists. “When somebody takes care of you, you want to give them more,” says Moore. HME

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NEW RECRUIT How did you begin your career in the hospitality industry? I have always been drawn to hospitality; during my childhood we travelled around for my father’s work and stayed in beautiful properties. The magic of hotels has stayed with me and when I had the opportunity to work for the hotel industry, I grabbed the chance. I started in the guest relations department of a four-star hotel in the US, moving to business development at the Hilton Petaling Jaya in 2006, and subsequently I joined the team at Hilton Abu Dhabi in 2008. What is it about conferences and events that you enjoy? The conference and events department is my favorite department in the hotel. I meet and work with different people from such diverse backgrounds and cultures. I am in charge of organising very wideranging and high profile events, from corporate meetings and concerts in the gardens to elegant weddings or exhibitions. I feel honoured to share the “once in a lifetime experience” with people, creating the perfect meeting and memorable Hilton moments. What are your favourite types of events to oversee? My preference is really towards specialised events. During these events you have the chance to be more creative, to think outside the box, whether it’s the set up of the venue, extraordinary colour schemes, or playing with different concepts and together with the organisers coming up with ideas and suggestions from your own experience. What are the qualities you need to become a director of conferences and events for a hotel? Working in conferences and events, you have to be a people person, flexible, understanding and most

How is business in this industry following the downturn? Have you had to be more innovative? Despite the serious challenges resulting from the macroeconomic environment, we do see the hotel industry improving and the demand for organising conferences and events growing. We strive to be innovative every day, not only during the challenging times, but also during the good times, through

What attracted you the job? Hilton Abu Dhabi is well known for its conference and events in the UAE. We provide an extensive variety of food and beverage packages, which are tailor-made to the needs of the guests. Our banqueting operations team has a world of experience; they are a very tight team and know when a certain guest or company is coming in, what their preferences, likes and dislikes are — they provide an excellent standard of service. My team consists of eight conference and events specialists. We each have our own field of expertise and

What are your plans for the future? Together with my team, I am looking forward to providing and continuing the excellent standards that Hilton Abu Dhabi has maintained for nearly four decades. I hope in a few years’ time I will be working on a regional level and will be able to share my experience and enthusiasm with the different hotels in Middle East and Africa.


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importantly you need to listen to your guests; it’s all about putting their needs first, providing them with the excellent standards they would expect from a deluxe hotel. Not only does my job consist of organising events and conferences, I also have to make sure that my team comes to work motivated and happy every day. For encouraging team spirit I organise conference and events outings on a regular basis, and have just implemented a personal incentive for the person who has achieved the best results of the month.

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Hotelier Middle East • September 2010




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ON THE MOVE… FRENCH JOINS RAFFLES AS GM Raffles Dubai has appointed luxury hotel expert Peter French as its new general manager. A British national, French has 40 years’ experience in the global luxury hotel business, with his most recent role involving the complete renovation and repositioning of Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong. He has worked as GM in various top hotels including the Sukothai in Bangkok, the Carlyle in New York and Grosvenor House Hotel in London. AL BALOOSHI JOINS TRAVELPORT Travelport has announced the appointment of Ghulam Al Balooshi as director for the Lower Gulf Region. With overall responsibility for leading Travelport’s commercial activity in the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman, Al Balooshi will be overseeing the Galileo sales, marketing, product and customer support functions within the business. Al Balooshi is a Bahraini national with more than 35 years of experience within the travel industry. RENAISSANCE APPOINTS ZAKARIA Renaissance Dubai Hotel has welcomed Iyad Zakaria as director of sales and marketing. Zakaria, who has been working in the hospitality industry for more than 11 years, began his career at Grand Hyatt Amman. Zakaria joined Marriott as a senior sales manager at Doha Marriott in 2004 and from 2007 to 2009 was director of sales for JW Marriott Dubai. SULEIMAN JOINS KEMPINSKI MALL OF THE EMIRATES Wissam Suleiman has joined Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates as the new executive assistant manager. With a September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

career in the hospitality industry spanning more than 15 years, the last six of which have been with Kempinski, Suleiman has served members of the Jordanian royal family, as well as royalty from the GCC and Europe. Suleiman began his career as a receptionist in Amman and made his way up the ladder working in a variety of hotels in the Middle East. PROMOTION FOR REINISCH Fredrik Reinisch has been promoted to general manager of the Jebel Ali Golf Resort and Spa after two years as resident manager at the luxury beach property. Prior to his appointment at Jebel Ali Golf Resort and Spa, Reinisch held the position of resident manager at the Oasis Beach Tower and Hotel. JAROSCH JOINS ANANTARA As Anantara Al Madina A’Zarqa Resort and Spa prepares for its grand opening in early 2011, the five-star resort has announced the appointment of Axel Jarosch as general manager. Jarosch has held managerial positions in China and Malaysia, gaining valuable experience with elite global brands like Starwood Hotels and Resorts. Prior to his appointment with Anantara, Jarosch held the position of general manager at Desert Palm Dubai. BEACH ROTANA WELCOMES FATHY Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi has appointed Ayman Fathy as director of business development. Fathy started his career at Hilton hotel in Egypt as front office clerk and made his way up

to the position of senior sales manager responsible for Hilton hotels in Egypt. Fathy came to UAE in 2000 to assist in the opening of Hilton Jumeirah and Hilton Creek and held several positions before being promoted to area director of sales for Hilton Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. DOUBLE HELPING IN ABU DHABI Abu Dhabi City Golf Club has announced the appointment of two new members of its team; executive chef Suresh Babu, and food and beverage manager Yeshwant Naik. Babu has worked in the UAE for a number of years and also has experience working on cruise ships. Naik joins his new position from the Carlton Tower Hotel in Dubai, where he was employed as assistant food and beverage manager. He has also held positions at the Fujairah Rotana Hotel and with Hilton International Hotels in Al Ain. DELDELIAN JOINS ORYX ROTANA Kevork Deldelian has joined the Oryx Rotana, the first Rotana property in Qatar, as general manager. Deldelian has a 25-year career in the hospitality industry, and has worked in more than 13 different countries. He began his career in food and beverage and went on to hold various managerial positions across multiple IHG brands before joining Oryx Rotana. TWO NEW APPOINTMENTS FOR CHEDI Simone Broekhaar has been appointed director of sales and marketing at The Chedi Muscat. Broekhaar was

formally director of revenue and marketing for Swissôtel Hotels and Resorts. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience in sales, marketing, PR, and communications. The hotel has also appointed Andy Kunz executive assistant manager. Kunz, who previously worked as director of food and beverage for Four Seasons Hotel Amman, has more than 14 years of experience in food and beverage management, as well as preopening experience in luxury hotels. VAN GOOL RETURNS TO REZIDOR The Rezidor Hotel Group has announced the appointment of Georges Van Gool as director of sales, corporate, based in the global sales office in Dubai. Van Gool has more than 15 years’ experience in the hospitality industry having held a number of sales and marketing positions with Rezidor, IHG and Starwood. Van Gool has previously worked for Rezidor on several occasions; first as sales representative for Radisson SAS Palais, Vienna in 2002, rejoining in 2005 as sales manager — corporate and key accounts. NEW EXECUTIVE CHEF JOINS CORAL INTERNATIONAL HOTEL AL KHOBAR Tunisian-born Mohamed Bin Jamil Bin Hussain has taken over the role of executive chef at Coral International Hotel Al Khobar in Saudi Arabia, where Hussain has lived and worked since 1982. During his 35-year career, Bin Hussain has specialised in hotel catering and joins Coral from the Mercure International at Khamis Mushayt, where he headed up the restaurant and catering division. His credentials include spells at the Madina Palace and the Sheraton in Jeddah, as well as the Zam Zam Grand and Le Meridien Towers in Makkah.

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Hott the H i th time tto jjoin h ti d the f In between sumptuous iftars and suhours, Hotelier foun Hoteliers at Armani and Gary Rhodes at his new restaurant launch

Hot Hoteliers hit Armani This summer’s Hot Hoteliers event was held at Armani/Prive, the swanky and exclusive nightclub at the Armani Hotel Dubai. A record number of hoteliers attended, with more than 200 soaking up the super-cool vibe or going on tours of the hotel with Armani’s team of lifestyle managers.

Rhodes Twenty10 opening party Katie Harvey and Erin O’Neill of Hot Hoteliers.

Charity iftar at Hilton Dubai Jumeirah

Hilton Dubai Jumeirah organised a charity Iftar in partnership with Sayidaty, with children invited from the orphanage Madrasa Al Khairi, Dubai. The children enjoyed iftar at the Almas Ramadan Lounge as well as entertainment from famed Emirati singer Fayez Al Saeed.

Gary Rhodes gets to work.

Tasty treats for guests.

Iftars and suhours Throughout August, Hotelier was treated to a variety of iftars and suhours...

JW Marriott iftar.

September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

Michelin-starred celebrity chef Gary Rhodes’ hotly-anticipated second restaurant in Dubai, Rhodes Twenty10, opened at Le Royal Méridien Resort & Spa in Dubai on August 5. VIP guests were treated to sample dishes cooked by Rhodes. Le Royal Méridien and Grosvenor House complex GM Pam Wilby and the new Rhodes’ team were on hand to greet guests.

Rhodes Twenty10.

Iftar at Diwan Al Khayali tent at Jumeirah Beach Hotel.

BE PART OF AFTER HOURS... What exciting stories do you have to share? If you would like to feature in Hoteliers After Hours, send details and photographs of your parties, events, awards and charity challenges to: Tel: +971 4 910 8475





here has been some exciting movement in the industry this month, with both a hotel sale reported to be imminent and a surprise change in management at an upcoming luxury property. As Hotelier was going to press, it seemed that an investor had finally decided to take the Ritz-Carlton being developed at Dubai International Financial Centre under its wing. On August 26, Union Properties announced that it had agreed to sell the Ritz-Carlton hotel development for less than the asking price of AED 1.5 billion (US $410 million). According to Bloomberg, Union Properties chairman Khalid Bin Kalban said he planned to sign the agreement in the next 10 days — and the buyer will remain a secret until then. Union Properties halted development work after credit dried up in the financial crisis and more customers defaulted. In 2009, the company reported its first full-year loss and suspended work on F1-X, a Formula One theme park in the MotorCity development.

The developer’s second-quarter loss widened to AED 349 million (US $95 million) from AED 228 million ($62 million) a year earlier due to provisions for falling real estate values, according to a statement to the Dubai exchange on August 12. Still, Ritz-Carlton has battled on and has its opening team on board, with the launch still slated for the end of this year. Let’s hope the new ownership enables the brand’s sec-

ond property in Dubai to reach fruition soon. And on to operators now, with new management moving in to the luxurious and glamorous Zabeel Saray property on The Palm Jumeirah. According to our sources, former operator Rixos Hotels has been kicked out, with Jumeirah Group taking on the property. Rixos’ man on the Palm confirmed this, but Jumeirah has understandably remained tightlipped on the subject. Meanwhile, while on a muchneeded ‘staycation’ in Dubai to celebrate a loved one’s birthday, one of Hotelier’s spies was less than satisfied with their experience. Their complaints were many, and their frustration obvious, but to summarise: they spent a small fortune at a large, luxury five-star resort only to have their luggage lost on check-in;

September 2010 • Hotelier Middle East

Next issue • Country report: Qatar • Industry best practice: Sustainability • Roundtable: HR managers • Product analysis: Spa products • Product guide: Flatware and cutlery • Technology report: Sound systems

Don’t miss... Hotelier Middle East Awards 2010 Shortlist

Rosso — Bar, Enoteca and Ristorante at Amwaj Rotana.

Hotelier competition This month, one lucky reader has the chance to win a AED 300 (US $82) voucher to spend at Rosso — Bar, Enoteca and Ristorante, the new Italian outlet at Amwaj Rotana, Jumeirah Beach in Dubai. Rosso serves a range of international beverages and the finest Italian cuisine in an atmosphere of casual elegance. There are fresh homemade pastas and risottos on offer in the Ristorante, wines to match a choice of tapas in the Enoteca, and expertly mixed cocktails

were forced to pay for expensive bottled water because local water had run out; used the baking hot beach because there were no loungers by the less than luxury pool; paid AED 50 ($14) per glass to use the hotel’s champagne glasses in their room; and then were charged another AED 50 ($14) for valet parking, despite forking out for a two-night stay. Surely most guests would be unimpressed with this? We would love to hear your experiences, so good or bad, send them to HME

at the bar. Guests can dine indoors around an open kitchen with wood fired pizza oven, or alfresco. Contact +971 4 428 3088 or fb.amwaj@ for more details.

To enter, all you need to do is answer the following question: What does the Arabic word ‘Amwaj’ translate to in English? (See page 68 for a clue!) Send your answer, designation and contact details via email to louise. with the word COMPETITION in the subject line. Last month’s lucky winner of an iftar for two at Ewaan at The Pal-

ace — The Old Town was Monica Lentejas-Aguilando, accounts coordinator at Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Resort.

Hotelier Middle East - Sept 2010  

Hotelier Middle East - Sept 2010 - ITP Business

Hotelier Middle East - Sept 2010  

Hotelier Middle East - Sept 2010 - ITP Business