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SPECIAL ARABIAN TRAVEL MARKET 2018 EDITION

ALL THE NEWS FROM ARABIAN TRAVEL MARKET & AHIC

His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum opens ATM 2018


ATM SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018


ARABIAN TRAVEL MARKET 2018

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The future of hyperloop Hyperloop could transit passengers between Al Maktoum International and Dubai International in six minutes, says expert. Innovative Hyperloop connections could reduce travel times between Dubai International Airport (DXB) and Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC) by around 34 minutes at some stage in the future, according to expert panelists speaking on Arabian Travel Market’s Global Stage. Providing a lightening-speed Hyperloop transit system would allow airport passengers to travel between both airports in as little as six to seven minutes – a shorter transit time than travelling between terminals at Dubai International Airport. The future of Hyperloop and travel infrastructure in the UAE and wider GCC was discussed today (Sunday 22nd April) at Arabian Travel Market, taking place at Dubai World Trade Centre, during a seminar session entitled ‘Future Travel Experiences’. Moderating the session, Richard Dean, a UAE-based business broadcaster and presenter was joined by a host of high-profile panelists including Christoph Mueller, Chief Digital and Innovation Officer, Emirates Airline; Harj Dhaliwal, Managing Director Middle East and India Operations, Virgin Hyperloop One and Michael Ibbitson,

ATM SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018

Providing a lightening-speed Hyperloop transit system would allow airport passengers to travel between both airports in as little as six to seven minutes

Executive Vice President (Infrastructure and Technology), Dubai Airports. “Looking to the future, having both Dubai International Airport and Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC) as key stations on the hyperloop system is essential. At present, Emirates only operates from Dubai International Airport but the implementation of a

hyperloop system between both airports could allow the airline to effectively and efficiently work from both hubs, Michael Ibbitson, Executive Vice President (Infrastructure and Technology Dubai Airports), said. Virgin Hyperloop One, a futuristic transportation concept through which pods, propelled by magnets and solar, will move passengers and cargo at speeds of 1,200kph, is the most prominent tourism infrastructure development in the UAE at present. Backed by Dubai-based DP World, Hyperloop One has the potential to transport approximately 3,400 people an hour, 128,000 people a day and 24 million people a year. In November 2016, Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA) announced plans to evaluate a hyperloop connection between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which could reduce travel times between the two emirates by 78 minutes. Harj Dhaliwal, Managing Director Middle East and India Field Operations, Virgin Hyperloop One, said: “Providing a hyperloop connection that allows both


FEATURE

“It is a really exciting time for the Middle East and Africa region’s travel and tourism sector.” Alex Kyriakidis

UAE residents and tourists to travel between Dubai and Abu Dhabi in just 12 minutes is just the beginning. In the future, other emirates and indeed other GCC countries could also be linked, with journeys between Dubai and Fujairah as low as 10 minutes and Dubai to Riyadh in 40 minutes.”

GCC capital investments in tourism infrastructure are expected to reach US$56 billion by 2022, with the UAE ranked the most competitive in the region, driven by the development of multiple revolutionary transport projects, according to Arabian Travel Market’s research partner, Colliers International.

Hyperloop One isn’t the only concept to boost tourism infrastructure in the region, the development of key international airports in Saudi Arabia and airport expansion in the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait as well as cruise terminal expansions, improved domestic inter-city road and rail work and the growth of low-cost airlines will keep the GCC at the forefront of tourism infrastructure and innovation.

Air passenger arrivals to the GCC are forecast to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.3%, from 41 million in 2017 to 55 million in 2022. The development of new airports across the GCC region, combined with the introduction of various low-cost carriers such as flydubai and recently launched Saudi low-cost airline Flyadeal, are expected to contribute heavily to this growth.

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In Dubai, cruise tourism is expected to grow over the next two years as the emirate targets the arrival of 20 million tourists a year, ahead of Expo 2020. During the 2016/2017 season, Dubai welcomed 650,000 cruise tourists with this figure forecast to increase to one million by 2020. Expansion works at DP World’s Hamdan bin Mohammed Cruise Terminal at Mina Rashid are expected to contribute to this growth. Set to be the largest terminal in the world, the facility is capable of handling 18,000 travellers every single day.


NEWS

Deputy Ruler of Dubai opens 25th Arabian Travel MarkeT His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, inaugurates ATM 2018

His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, officially inaugurated Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2018 and marked the start of the 25th edition of the show. He was joined by Nick Pilbream, Divisional Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions, and other VIPs who embarked on a tour of the exhibition as the four-day industry showcase got underway.

ATM SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018

This year’s show, which took place at Dubai World Trade Centre, had more than 400 main stand holders with representation from over 150 countries. Over 40,000 visitors were expected, with ATM 2018 showcasing over 2,500 exhibiting companies – of these, 100 making their show debut - and 65 national pavilions.

Celebrating its 25th year, ATM 2018 adopted Responsible Tourism – including sustainable travel trends – as its main theme .


NEWS

Frequent travellers browse Instagram 28 days each month More than 500 million Instagram users share an average of 95 million photos and videos per day The advent of Instagram and advanced technology has changed the traveller’s journey from inspiration through to booking, according to a social media expert speaking on Arabian Travel Market’s Global Stage. Those travelling no longer rely on guidebooks or travel catalogues with out-of-date information, or even paper maps to navigate their latest holiday destination. Instead, travellers now have real-time access to various social media platforms such as Instagram. With more than 500 million users sharing an average of 95 million photos and videos per day, travel plans are continuously being made, shared and made again on Instagram. Today’s frequent travelers browse Instagram 28 days out of every month, searching for new ideas and new holiday destinations.

TERRy KANE, HEAD OF AUTO, FINANCE, GOVERNMENT, TELCO AND TRAVEL – MENA, FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM

During a seminar session entitled ‘Inspiring the Explorers – Destination Instagram’ at Arabian Travel Market today (Monday 23rd April), the unique opportunities Instagram’s visual nature has given to travel lovers around the world was explored. Terry Kane, Head of Auto, Finance, Government, Telco and Travel – MENA, Facebook and Instagram, said: “Today, more and more travellers begin their journey on Instagram, looking for inspiration for their next adventure, next destination to visit or next restaurant to dine in. Viewing pictures, videos or stories on Instagram gives users a sense of wanting to be there and wanting to experience what they are viewing. “With so many people sharing their experiences on Instagram, it is easier now than ever to research trips before you depart to find new ideas and new destinations to explore that are off the beaten track, allowing you to create your own individual journey and experience.”

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“Viewing pictures, videos or stories on Instagram gives users a sense of wanting to be there and wanting to experience what they are viewing.” TERRY KANE


WORLD TRAVEl AWARDS winners revealed in R The UAE’s most northernmost emirate, Ras Al Khaimah, was selected as the destination for World Travel Awards Middle East Ceremony 2018. and for good reason. Ras al Khaimah (or RaK as it is affectionately known) is an emirate that abounds in archaeological sites, historical structures and natural beauty – from mountains to deserts and pristine white-sand beaches. Factor in year-round sunshine, top notch accommodation and friendly locals – and you have an up and coming uae holiday destination. haitham mattar, Chief executive, Ras al Khaimah Tourism Development authority, said: “it has been a great honour to welcome the prestigious World Travel awards Gala Ceremony for the first time to Ras al Khaimah, an event that brings together travel industry leaders worldwide.

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AHIC SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018

“Choosing Ras al Khaimah to be the host of this event is testimony of our growing appeal within the miCe sector and we look forward to the guests experiencing our authentic arabian hospitality and diverse tourism offer.” The World Travel awards middle east Gala Ceremony, which recognised the best of regional hospitality and marked the start of the WTa Grand Tour 2018, took place on the evening of Thursday 19 april 2018. The red carpet event was compered by Tv personality, Katie Fielder. The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert, was among the big winners, taking the title of Middle East's Leading Luxury Desert Resort.

It has been a great honour to welcome the prestigious World Travel Awards Gala Ceremony for the first time to Ras Al Khaimah

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voters also honoured Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA), which was recognised as the Middle East’s Leading Adventure Tourism Destination. on a special night for the northern most emirate, the newly opened ToroVerde zipline was presented with the title of Middle East's Leading Adventure Tourist Attraction. as World Travel awards celebrates its silver jubilee, the organisation gave the prestigious title of Middle East’s Leading Travel Personality to Nasser Al Nowais, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Rotana Hotel Management Corporation.

AHIC SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018

The event took place at the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah, which was itself revealed as Ras Al Khaimah’s Leading Resort. in the hospitality sector, The Oberoi Beach Resort, Al Zorah, took the title of Middle East's Leading Luxury Villa Resort. elsewhere in aviation, Oman Air was honoured with trophies for both Middle East's Leading Airline - Business Class and Middle East's Leading Airline Economy Class, while Dubaibased Emirates took the title of Middle East’s Leading Airline. united arab emirates flag-carrier Etihad Airways took the titles of Middle East’s Leading Airline Website and Middle East’s Leading Airline Rewards Programme for etihad Guest.

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AHIC SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018

We have had the privilege to recognise many of the best hotels, airlines and hospitality providers from many destinations across the Middle East


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speaking after the ceremony, World Travel awards Founder and president, Graham Cooke, said: “What an evening it has been here in Ras al Khaimah at the Waldorf astoria. We have had the privilege to recognise many of the best hotels, airlines and hospitality providers from many destinations across the middle east and my sincere congratulations to each of them.” he added: “our winners this evening will now move forward to the Grand Final 2018, which is this year taking place in lisbon, capital of portugal, in December.”

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The World Travel awards middle east Gala Ceremony 2018 took place alongside the arabian hotel investment Conference, which visited the emirate for the first time. The leading hotel investment conference connects business leaders from the international and local markets, driving investment into tourism projects, infrastructure and hotel development across the region. it is attended by the highest calibre international hotel investors of any conference in the middle east.

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as part of the Grand Tour 2018, WTa is also hosting ceremonies in athens (Greece), Jamaica, hong Kong, Guayaquil (ecuador), Durban (south africa), with the winners progressing to the Grand Final in lisbon (portugal). The Grand Final will take place lisbon, portugal, on 1 December 2018. Find a full list of winners on the official World Travel awards website, www.worldtravelawards.com


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MIDDLE EAST GALA CEREMONY RAS AL KHAIMAH, UAE 19 APRIL 2018

EUROPE GALA CEREMONY ATHENS GREECE 30 JUNE 2018

GRAND FINAL GALA CEREMONY LISBON PORTUGAL 1 DECEMBER 2018

ASIA & AUSTRALASIA GALA CEREMONY HONG KONG 3 SEPTEMBER 2018

WORLD SPA AWARDS MALDIVES 27 OCTOBER 2018

LATIN A CEREMO GUAYAQU ECUADOR 15 SEPTEM

WO AWA LA M SPAIN 1-4 NOV


IVERSARY GRAND tOUR

AMERICA ONY UIL R BER 2018

ORLD GOLF ARDS MANGA CLUB N VEMBER 2018

CARIBBEAN & NORTH AMERICA GALA CEREMONY JAMAICA 22 SEPTEMBER 2018

AFRICA & INDIAN OCEAN GALA CEREMONY DURBAN SOUTH AFRICA 6 OCTOBER 2018

WORLD SKI AWARDS KITZBÜHEL AUSTRIA 16-18 NOVEMBER 2018

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Con Korfiatis flyadeal Chris O’Toole, Editor Breaking Travel News talks to Con Korfiatis, Chief Executive Officer of flyadeal on Saudi Arabia’s Newest Airline

BTN: One of the newest airlines in the region - flyadeal has been operational for just seven months. Tell us a bit about the motivation behind the carrier Con Korfiatis: Saudi Arabia is going through a massive transformation, more generally speaking rather than just in aviation terms. A big part of that transformation is the 2030 vision which is about creating economic stimulus and diversification of business in the country. The aviation industry is long founded in Saudi Arabia but the low-cost airline market not just in the Kingdom but across the region is quite immature. The lowcost entrants so far have been very much a hybrid model. We’ve recognised an opportunity to stimulate the market and actually grow a large segment of travellers not just in Saudi Arabia but across the region through the establishment of a pure lowcost airline – which are very prevalent in other parts of the world – but less so here.

ATM SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018

BTN: Saudi Arabia is growing all the time – new destinations there but you’re concentrating on the domestic market at the moment. Is that likely to change in the mid to long-term? Con Korfiatis: Absolutely – for both outbound travel as well as inbound potential. This would not just be for the sacred sites in the Kingdom – which are unique and have global appeal – but also in-line with the 2030 vision where the country is looking to diversify far more into tourism and broader tourism than what’s currently there. From that perspective we see enormous market opportunities. We’re an Arab operator right now and it’s easier to get a domestic foothold initially and focus as an airline of Saudi Arabia. We definitely have aspirations to go international and we expect that to happen sometime later this year.

“The aviation industry is long founded in Saudi Arabia” Con Korfiatis, CEO, FLYADEAL


INTERVIEW

CON KORFIATIS

BTN: I understand you have leased a number of A-320’s – can you tell me what the product is like on board? Con Korfiatis: We’re privileged to have started the airline with brand new Airbus A-320 aircraft, so from an operational perspective – they’re reliable and very efficient. We’ve chosen a very vivid and bright colour scheme – a vivacious personality for the airline and the interior reflects that as well. We’ve reflected the latestgeneration seat on board – it’s very comfortable but more importantly it’s so contoured

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and slim-line in design that it gives the effect of greater space than most other low-cost airlines. It’s a very comfortable product. We’ve also equipped the aircraft with some of the more modern conveniences that people are looking for including seat-back stands for loading devices and USB power so travellers can stay connected for the duration of the flight. BTN: I understand you’re going to be placing a large order form planes in perhaps the next 12months. Any news you can share with us on that?

Con Korfiatis: We did issue an RFP at the end of last year for 15-narrow bodied, new generation aircraft. The primary players here for the size of aircraft we are looking for are Boeing or Airbus. That campaign is in progress and we expect to make a decision on the RFP by July or August at the latest and an announcement soon thereafter. Depending on the selection we make we hope to be seeing the first of the newgeneration aircraft coming into the fleet sometime in 2019.


INTERVIEW

Aly Shariff Citymax Hotels Breaking Travel News catches up with newly appointed Chief Operating Officer for Citymax Hotels - Aly Shariff over the last 10 years and now is the time for us to introduce a new contemporary feel. We have adjusted the product to be much more in line with our guest expectations and in line with the competitive market. Our new look is fresh and lively and we’re describing it as ‘vibrant simplicity’. We're sticking to the basics and doing really well. BTN: Ten years ago you entered Dubai- do you think you were ahead of the game in introducing this sector into the market? Aly Shariff: I think that is true. Now there is a lot more competition coming to the market place. Here at the Arabian Travel Market there are a huge number of new hotels. I think the market's becoming quite diversified especially in the three and four star segment.

ALy SHARIFF

BTN: Here at ATM you are signing a new property in Ras Al Khaimah. What can you tell us about it? Aly Shariff: We are signing a management agreement for a joint venture property, a 204 bedroom-hotel in Ras Al Khaimah. This will be our first hotel in Ras Al Khaimah and

ATM SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018

our first hotel with our new brand identity - so really very exciting for us. BTN: The new identity is inside and outside as well everything's changing. Aly Shariff: Absolutely - it's a very fast moving industry. We’ve been very successful

BTN: You remain ahead of the game. You've been recognized at the World Travel Awards as the best in the market – again. Aly Shariff: We are very pleased to have won this award now for three years in a row. This award goes to our teams across all our hotels who work hard to make it happen.


INTERVIEW

Utkarsh Faujdar Hulhule Island Resort Breaking Travel News talks to Utkarsh Faujdar, the General Manager of the Hulhule Island Resort in the Maldives BTN: How important is it for you and the Hulhule Island Resort to be represented at the Arabian Travel Market? Utkarsh Faujdar: It is very important for us to be here at the ATM. It’s the perfect platform for us to meet and re-new relationships with tour operators from the region as well as from all across the world. This year we have met operators from Japan, Korea as well as Europe.

Utkarsh Faujdar: We have won the World Travel Awards title of The World's Leading Airport Resort a few times and are very proud of that. We are happy to be associated with World Travel Awards and the opportunity to be recognised

BTN: The Hulhule Island Hotel is in an ideal location in the Maldives. What can you tell me about the property? Utkarsh Faujdar: The Hulhule Island Hotel is located on the international airport island. It's a very attractive beach hotel with many facilities. It’s location on the beach makes us very different to other airport hotels. We categorize ourselves as an island resort. BTN: Certainly a very successful property. The Hulhule Island Hotel has been recognized as one of the best Leading Airport Resorts by the World Travel Awards. How does it feel to take that title? UTKARSH FAUJDAR

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as a Leading Airport Resort. As an airport island resort our guests get to enjoy increased leisure time rather than transiting or just stopping over as in most airport hotels. I think that’s what makes the Hulhule Island Hotel different.


Dubai Tourism wins ATM Stand Award Dubai Tourism claimed the Best Stand for Doing Business at this year’s Arabian Travel Market (ATM) Best Stand Awards. Recognised for creating a busy B2B atmosphere, Dubai Tourism boasted a wellplanned and easily navigable layout with a good presentation of their stand and its services. The hotly anticipated winners of this year’s awards were announced at a photo-call on the show floor on Tuesday 24th April. Launched in 2015, the Best Stand Awards were created to recognise the design creativity and business-friendly appeal of exhibiting companies’ physical presence at ATM. The judging panel comprised a line-up of top industry and design professionals: Leo Fewtrell, Managing Partner, Gulf Reps; Nicholas Hall, CEO & Founder, SE1 Media; Pippa Jacks, Group Editor, TTG Media Ltd and Matt Gibson, Travel Blogger, Writer and Photographer. Commenting on Dubai Tourism’s winning stand, Matt Gibson, said: “It was an exceptionally good business stand with an effective and efficient set-up. One of the few stands to boast a triple-decker layout, Dubai Tourism attracted huge numbers of visitors throughout the event. Everyone working on the stand was incredibly welcoming and hospitable and the whole approach and attitude really captured the ideas of Dubai

ATM SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018

and what it has to offer as an emirate.” The judging criteria for the Best Stand Design award focused on identifying an eyecatching stand with a creative design that made the best use of available space and attracted a high level of visitor traffic. And Lebanon’s stand ticked all the boxes. Pippa Jacks, said: “I was very impressed, the stand really stood out and presented a welcoming and homely feature. The stand featured a huge front door, with staircase which led to a well-laid out meeting space. It was a subtle, yet intelligent, way to showcase the country.” The Czech Republic was recognised as Highly Commended in the Best Stand Design category. Jacks, said: The stand boasted a large triangle in the middle of the stand with an interactive LED screen on one corner and creative posters of the country on the others. Both the stand and staff created a very welcoming experience, with lots of open meeting space.” The award for Best Stand Personnel is an especially important accolade considering hospitality is a people business. “The staff for SAUDIA were excellent,” said Leo Fewtrell. “From the executive team and

welcome hosts to pilots and airline staff, they were all a great representation of the brand and although the stand was very busy, they were welcoming, highly professional and very keen to demonstrate all amenities from first class through to economy.” The Best Stand Feature accolade was awarded to the stand that created the biggest impact and most creative ways of drawing in visitors, and they didn’t come more eyecatching than Turkey. Jacks said: “Not only did the Turkey stand have a great atmosphere surrounding it but it also featured lots of little interesting elements from urban marbling and a huge trojan statue to an ice cream stall and to round it off a group of traditional musicians, singers and dancers.” The Best Stand within the Travel Tech Show at ATM specifically highlights the importance of technology to the industry. Nicholas Hall said: “Travelport have done a great job with their stand and what I really liked was the creative way they used their space. The best feature for me was the five different coloured printers on the wall which automatically printed out photos tweeted by visitors to the stand. As well as meeting and workshop space, the stand also featured various charging stations.”


FEATURE

Babylon was recognised as Best Tech Highly Commended. Commenting on the stand, Hall said: “Judging on all factors, you see many types of stands at ATM, but to create something so minimal yet engaging and thoughtprovoking, while perfectly capturing what they do, is a huge achievement.” The winners will be put to the public vote on the ATM Facebook account, for the chance of walking away with the People’s Choice Award. Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director, Arabian Travel Market, said: “The fresh, innovative stand designs and concepts never cease to amaze and this year was no exception. These awards recognise the huge effort, investment and thought that go into creating and manning quality exhibitor space.”

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The winners of the Best Stand Awards are as follows: 1 Best Stand Design: Lebanon 2 Best Stand for Doing Business: Dubai Tourism 3 Best Stand Personnel: SAUDIA 4 Best Stand Feature: Turkey 5 Best Stand within the Travel Tech Show at ATM: Travelport


INTERVIEW

Haris Mohamed Maldives Marketing and PR Corporation Chris O’Toole Editor Breaking Travel News talks to Haris Mohamed, Acting Managing Director of the Maldives Marketing and PR Corporation — the Maldives Government Tourism Promotion Board. BTN: Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, 2018 how is trade this year? Haris Mohamed: Arabian Travel Market this year is very exciting. This year we have more visitors and a record number of industry partners. yesterday, the first day was very busy for every partner taking part at this year’s event. BTN: Is the Middle East and GCC an important source of market for tourism in Maldives? Haris Mohamed: Definitely, the Middle East and GCC countries are very important markets for us. The Maldives being a Muslim country there are many common factors we share with the Middle East countries including culture and food. Then there’s our history, the ecology, pristine waters, beautiful Islands and beaches - all that the Middle East travellers needs to holiday in the Maldives.

BTN: It’s been a very positive time for the Maldives recently, touching new highs in visitor numbers in 2017 Haris Mohamed: During the first three months of 2018 we double-digit growth compared to last year. We can look forward to continue that trend in the future as well. The opening of the new Male International Airport with a brand new runway will also help us to continue the growth in visitor numbers. BTN: Looking ahead to the World Spa Awards, which I believe have just been confirmed for the Maldives on October 26th - how important is hosting events like this for the destination? Haris Mohamed: Hosting the Fourth Annual World Spa Awards in Maldives is really exciting news for the Maldives as well as the organizers. We are very excited to be a part of it and look forward to having everything in place to make the event a complete success. HARIS MOHAMED

ATM SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018


INTERVIEW

Jaan Albrecht Saudia Airlines Breaking Travel News talks to Jaan Albrecht, the CEO of Saudia Airlines Jaan Albrecht: For Saudia this will be a big game changer. The new terminal will be our new home. We'll have greater connectivity and have prepared our schedule. We will build a bank system and a hub system. We're just eagerly waiting for the grand opening of this new terminal - it's a big move for the company. BTN: Regarding the type of passengers you're carrying – are you are seeing more business class passengers using the carrier?

JAAN ALBRECHT

BTN: How is the Arabian Travel Market going for you this year? Jaan Albrecht: It's going very well – we’ve been very busy. We have an attractive stand and it has attracted a lot of attention. BTN: There has been a very positive start to the year for the carrier. The number of passengers you've been carrying has increased significantly. Jaan Albrecht: We have just released the figures for the

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first quarter of 2018 and are very pleased with the result. We have invested a lot in the infrastructure of the airline. We have purchased 62 new aircraft which were integrated into the fleet over the last two years. However more importantly, we are investing a lot on the product, on the service, on our staff and on training in preparation for the opening of the new terminal in Jeddah airport. BTN: What can you tell us about the new terminal? Is that's going to be a big change for the carrier?

Jaan Albrecht: yes we are. We have invested a lot in the product, in the seats, and the on-time performance of the company. It's all part of the growth that we're seeing. The number of business class is growing as well as first class passengers. BTN: Regarding flydeal – the low cost airline I understand you've both been working on the low-cost sector within Saudi Arabia? Jaan Albrecht: The strategy for both airlines is to participate initially in the domestic market. There's a lot of low-cost competition in the Saudi domestic market. We will both play a role in offering a good product to the lowcost sector.


Haitham Mattar Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority Breaking Travel News talks to Haitham Mattar, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority on the back of the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference

HAITHAM MATTAR

AHIC SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018


INTERVIEW

BTN: It’s been a very exciting time for Ras Al Khaimah. You hosted AHIC last week what was the outcome? Haitham Mattar: We have been inundated with positive feedback from both the participants and the speakers on the venue, the way it was organised and the service. They also spoke highly of the facilities we provided within the structure which was erected on the beach at the Waldorf Hotel. We are very happy with the outcome and delighted to have hosted AHIC for the first time in Ras Al Khaimah.

BTN: You also hosted the World Travel Awards where you received a title and the new Zip Line was also recognised for its success. Haitham Mattar: This was again another fantastic event to host in Ras Al Khaimah. The World Travel Awards is a prestigious event and we were delighted and honoured to host this event as well. Ras Al Khaimah managed to bag two wins; Best Leading Adventure Destination in the Middle East and The Best Adventure Attraction in the Middle East for the Jebel Jais Zip Line. BTN: Now in Dubai for the ATM? Haitham Mattar: This is our fifth year in a row and each year we’ve managed to expand our footprint in the stand. This year we’ve gone with a larger double-decker stand to accommodate the overwhelming demand of participants including hotels, travel partners and attractions who have joined us this week to promote the destination. We have also been overwhelmed by the number of appointments on the stand as we start to feature our summer promotions and plan the winter for our European market. BTN: It’s the 25th anniversary of the Arabian Travel Market – the theme is sustainable travel and responsible tourism. You partner with the United Nations World Travel Organisation. What’s your involvement? Haitham Mattar: Last year the UNTWO dedicated 2017 to be the year for the development of sustainable tourism. This is a key pillar of our strategy and we supported this initiative by being an official sponsor.

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We’ve attended several conferences and shows with the UNWTO where I was given the opportunity to speak about sustainable tourism in Ras Al Khaimah and the projects we have in hand to further enhance the sustainability in the emirate. As a result of that we have invited the UNWTO to run an investigation across Ras Al Khaimah and provide us with a report to identify the gaps in sustainability. We have recently been presented with the report allowing us to set targets for hotels and tourism establishments to start working with us on those targets to achieve a more sustainable future. One of the recent initiatives is with the waste management authority to set a target with hotels to reduce their waste by 75% by 2021.

“We are very happy and delighted to have hosted AHIC for the first time in Ras Al Khaimah” Haitham Mattar, CEO, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority


Waldorf astoria ras al Khaimah A hidden haven in the peaceful Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah is an ideal destination for an unforgettable getaway. The resort offers signature attentive service, nine stylish restaurants and lounges, and elegant accommodation with pristine views of the Arabian shoreline. http://www.virtualworldinternet.com/portfolio/waldorfastoria-ras-al-khaimah


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INTERVIEW

AUM Fawzy Trans Maldivian Airways Chris O’Toole Editor Breaking Travel News talks to AUM Fawzy, CEO of Trans Maldivian Airways - the largest seaplane operation in the Maldives

AUM FAWZy

BTN: We're here at the Arabian Travel Market in the Middle East. How is the show going on for you this year? AUM Fawzy: It's going very well. I can see there are a lot of participants. I'm sure the Maldives will do well and they will be signing more contracts at the ATM. BTN: Do you welcome a lot of guests from the GCC, from the Middle East to the Maldives? How important is this market for your company? AUM Fawzy: The number of passengers from the GCC is

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increasing year on year. I don’t know the exact figure but the number is increasing in double digits. The GCC market is very good for the Maldives as the overall spend is high.

BTN: It's just been confirmed that the World Spa Awards is heading to the Maldives for the first time. How important is it for the country to host an event such as this?

BTN: How would you characterize tourism in the Maldivian market in 2018? Are you seeing a positive year?

AUM Fawzy: It is very important for the Maldives to be showcased. Maldives is a popular spa destination and most of the resorts have very good spas. The awards are being held at St. Regis, one of our partner resorts and we work very closely with them. I'm sure it will be a very successful event, not only for the World Travel Awards but for the Maldives as well.

AUM Fawzy: yes, it's very positive. We are in the seaplane business and even within the seaplane zone, there are more than 15 resorts opening in 2018. It is going to be a very good year.


INTERVIEW

Mubarak Al Nuaimi Abu Dhabi Chris O’Toole talks to Mubarak Al Nuaimi, Director of Promotion Offices in the Department of Culture and Tourism, Abu Dhabi.

MUBARAK AL NUAIMI

BTN: How important is it for you to be here at ATM to meet your partners from the hospitality sector? Mubarak Al Nuaimi: Arabian Travel Market is a major show and a great platform to meet our stakeholders and our partners. Last year, more than 29,000 trade visitors came to the show and this year there will be more. It’s a great opportunity for our team to discuss with the travel trade the packages and different incentives. In the first two days we had a lot of meetings and a lot of discussions and hopefully by the end of the show we will have signed some agreements.

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BTN: How would you describe the tourism sector in Abu Dhabi at present, is it a positive time for the first quarter of 2018? Mubarak Al Nuaimi: We are doing very well. In January and February tourism increased by 10% compared to 2017. This year we’re going to open the Warner Brothers Theme Park and F1 will be at the end of the year, this will increase tourism to Abu Dhabi. BTN: The theme park is an illustration of the widening market. You're welcoming a lot of different sectors now. It’s no longer just luxury travel.

Mubarak Al Nuaimi: The Warner Brothers Theme Park will add value and encourage tourists to stay longer than before. Our overall aim is to increase the length of stay from three to five nights. BTN: Where else are the guests coming from, is it from within the GCC, from Europe, North America, where are you targeting for more growth this year? Mubarak Al Nuaimi: We are targeting across the world and the numbers are increasing. The China market is doing well as is India. The UK is doing great and is the number one within Europe. In the GCC there is still a lot of potential.


INTERVIEW

Patrick Moukarzel Al Bait Phil Blizzard talks to Patrick Moukarzel, General Manager of Al Bait in Sharjah BTN: A tour of ATM takes us to Sharjah and a new/old development built in the heart of the cultural part of the emirate. Patrick, tell us about Al Bait Patrick: Al Bait translated from Arabic means the house. When you go there you feel you're entering a house. It's located in the heart of Sharjah, surrounded the Souk Al Arsah. We have 17 entrances, so it's a bit like an Aladdin’s cave when you walk in! Al Bait is spread across ten-buildings and so isn’t like a typical hotel – it’s like walking into someone’s home. BTN: Am I right in saying that some of the buildings are very old and have been renovated?

PATRICK MOUKARZEL

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Patrick: yes – we have two buildings and the tower which are more than 100 years old. We have spent a lot of time and money in the renovation and restoration. There are other buildings which are newly built but you can feel the difference in terms of atmosphere.

BTN: When can you expect to be receiving the first guests? Patrick: From 1st September, we can receive our first guests. BTN: Behind this, we've got the well-known Chedi in Muscat. Good heritage there. Patrick: The Chedi Muscat is an iconic resort. Soon with our owner we will be opening a new project also in the UAE, but it’s still in the development

“We have 17 entrances, so it's a bit like an Aladdin’s cave when you walk in! ” Patrick Moukarzel, GM, AL Bait


INTERVIEW JAIRAJ GORSIA

Jairaj Gorsia Gevora Hotel Breaking Travel News catches up with Jairaj Gorsia, General Manager of the Gevora Hotel — the tallest hotel in Dubai BTN: What does it mean to you and your team to win the Leading New Hotel in the Middle East 2018 at the World Travel Awards?

BTN: You’re in the Guinness Book of Records what is the height of the hotel?

Jairaj Gorsia: Receiving this award so early in our stage of opening is an added advantage for us. We’ve done all the hard work and now we see the rewards.

Jairaj Gorsia: The hotel is 356 meters and 33 centimetres.

BTN: Tell us about the Gevora - the tallest hotel in the world Jairaj Gorsia: We are an Emirati home-grown brand. That is reflected in the design of the hotel and in the very contemporary Arabian hospitality. There are also a lot of gold aspects to the hotel. BTN: What about the other key aspects? I believe you have a butler service Jairaj Gorsia: yes, that's our USP. We offer butler service to all our guests – something which you don’t find in other four-star hotels in Dubai. BTN: I understand the swimming pool is getting a lot of media attention? Jairaj Gorsia: yes, we have a very big swimming pool perfect to enjoy a day out in the sun.It’s around 350 meters high.

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BTN: Give us some indication of the type of rooms, the number of rooms and the suites which you have. Jairaj Gorsia : We have 528 units of which 230 are standard rooms. We have 265 one-bedroom suites and about 30 two- bedroom luxury suites. BTN: What can you offer in terms of food and beverage outlets? Jairaj Gorsia: The hotel has a coffee shop, an all-day dining restaurant, a speciality Mediterranean restaurant and soon to open a rooftop café and restaurant on the top floor. BTN: What sort of questions have you been asked regarding the hotel? Jairaj Gorsia: This year has been phenomenal for us. Everyone wants to know about

Gevora – it’s a very exciting time for us. BTN: It’s quite a challenging environment really for hoteliers at the moment in Dubai because there is a lot of supply. How would you say your rates compare with others? Jairaj Gorsia: We are very competitive. Nowadays, guests have a lot of choice and the main aspect is to provide the service at the best possible rate and that’s what we intend to do. BTN: What’s going to be the impact of Expo 2020 to you and your team? Jairaj Gorsia : I think 2020 is going to be phenomenal but I also think 2019 leading up to the Expo is going to be the time when we can capitalize on the potential of the hotel


ELLIE yOUNNES

Ellie Younnes Radisson Group Ahead of ATM Phil Blizzard caught up with Ellie Younnes, Executive VP Chief Development Officer of the Radisson Group at AHIC in Ras Al Khaimah

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INTERVIEW

BTN: In terms of development what can we expect from the Radisson Group across the region? Ellie younnes: This year to date we have opened five hotels. There are 23-hotels coming on stream in the region within the next 18months. BTN: Where are the 18hotels to be located? Ellie younnes: Between the UAE and Saudi Arabia. BTN: Saudi Arabia – very important – everyone is talking about the potential – what are you looking at there? Ellie younnes: We are looking at a number of new developments particularly in Medina and Mecca – our main focus now is religious destinations. When you look at the vision for the country – there’s a lot that’s going to happen there over the next few years. I think everyone has to look again at their plans for Saudi Arabia and adjust them to coincide with the exciting new plans which are taking place.

“We are looking at a number of new developments, particularly in Medina and Mecca” Ellie Younnes, Executive VP Chief Development Officer, the Radisson Group

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BTN: In recent times there have been many changes. Ellie younnes: What we can expect is a transformation and that will certainly necessitate a review of the existing plans. BTN: So throw out the old plans and start again? Ellie younnes: Definitely new planning! BTN: Talking of planning – there has been some re-branding?

Ellie younnes: Absolutely – we try to simplify life! We have capitalised on one brand name – Radisson – hence Radisson Hotel Group. All our new brand architecture is around Radisson – Radisson Collection. BTN: From a consumer perspective – having so many different brand names under one group – can get very confusing? Ellie younnes: Well if you look at how many brands we have compared to our competitors – we are much more precise – we have seven brands compared to about 30 which some of our competitors have! I agree it can get confusing and so we are very precise with our positioning. Seven brands – clear positioning. BTN: We’re here in Ras Al Khaimah – what do think about the potential of this emerging emirate? Ellie younnes: I think the potential is huge. The key is the vision and the execution of that vision. The natural landscape is here together with the opportunities. It’s all dependent on the leadership of this beautiful emirate and how the transformation and vision will be executed. Overall the opportunity is huge.


INTERVIEW

Michael Nugent Movenpick Hotels & Resorts Chris O’Toole, Editor Breaking Travel News talks to Michael Nugent, Regional Director, Movenpick Hotels & Resorts, Jordan

MICHAEL NUGENT

BTN: It’s the 70th anniversary for Mövenpick hotels – how are you commemorating this celebratory year? Michael Nugent: It is 70- years since Ueli Prager founded our company Mövenpick. As the core of Mövenpick is restaurants we all felt it would be very fitting to celebrate through food and beverage. As a result every single hotel throughout the world is using the same historical-themed menu of specially created dishes spanning the 70-years of culinary excellence within Mövenpick. BTN: Mövenpick is very engaged in the sustainability in the hospitality sector and how you can make it viable for the long term – how important is that for the brand? Michael Nugent: Many years ago we started with Green

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Globe when perhaps it wasn’t as fashionable as it is today. Now it has gone beyond fashionable to become essential as tour operators and clients are expecting sustainability. As a result we are the first company to have every single hotel certified by the Green Globe Organisation. Sustainability is extremely important whether we are in Jordan, Dubai or Europe. We want to make sure we minimise any negative impact on the local community and actually turn it into a positive. Now people are so aware globally, they are actually making their choice of hotel based on local sustainability and what each hotel is doing in the local community. So for us it is part of our DNA and something we will continue to master in the years ahead. BTN: I want to offer my congratulations as well as one of your properties has

been recognised as Jordan’s Leading Resort for the fifth year. What can you tell us about the hotel? Michael Nugent: The Mövenpick Resort and Spa, Tala Bay is the perfect place to relax in after viewing all the cultural sights in Jordan. The resort is probably one of our jewels – we have a fantastic spa, wonderful beaches and some of the largest swimming pools in Jordan. During the last five years our reputation has been excellent and we’re delighted that once again we’ve received recognition. Despite the new competition coming up we’ve still been voted number one and we intend to keep it that way! It really is a very special hotel, right on the edge of the Red Sea overlooking our Mövenpick in Taba in Egypt – it’s a wonderful place to stay.


INTERVIEW

MICHAEL MARSHALL

Michael Marshall MINOR Hotels Chris O’Toole, Editor, Breaking Travel News talks to Michael Marshall, Chief Commercial Officer of Minor Hotels BTN: You’ve just unveiled your third AVANI in Dubai tell us about the property. Michael Marshall: Yes – we have a great new AVANI coming on to the entrance of the Palm. It’s a beautiful allsuite hotel, perfect location, so very exciting for the AVANI brand. BTN: You’re already very strong here, you’ve got properties on the Palm – the UAE is a successful country for you?

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Michael Marshall: The UAE is very important for us. We have the Anantara on Dubai Palm which is number one in its concept and is still leading the way. Business is still good, so we’re very optimistic. BTN: How about the UAE from an outbound perspective? Do you welcome many guests to your properties around the world from this destination? Michael Marshall: Yes, the Middle East market is very important to us. It’s a strong market too. We welcome guests from the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Everybody meets here at the Arabian Travel Market - it’s a good opportunity for us to meet all our partners. We’re still witnessing good growth to the Maldives and to Asia, so we’re optimistic about the rest of the year and the future.

BTN: How about looking a bit further afield? You have properties opening in Tunisia and North Africa as well? Michael Marshall: Yes this is very exciting. It’s our first move into Tunisia and will be another new country for us. We have an AVANI opening in Tunis and an Anantara in Tozeur. The MENA region is very exciting for us to move into. BTN: How about Beirut? Not everyone’s choice of destination – but exciting for you. Michael Marshall: Yes we have an Oaks going into Beirut later this year. This will be our first hotel in Lebanon and we’re looking to expand there as well as Saudi Arabia. The Middle East is very important to us.


Slim Zaiane Kempinski Hotel, Mall of the Emirates Chris O’Toole, Editor Breaking Travel News talks to Slim Zaiane, the General Manager of Kempinski Hotel, Mall of the Emirates BTN: We're here at Arabian Travel Market, the leading hospitality event in Dubai and the Middle East. How's the show going for you this year? Slim Zaiane: I think it's always brilliant to be at ATM. The hotel is a flagship property in the region. We look forward to meeting with all the partners during ATM. It's great to be here in Dubai welcoming people from all different parts of the world. BTN: A flagship Kempinski property -as you mentioned has been in the market quite a long time. I understand you've invested quite a lot in recent months to bring the property up to an even higher level? Slim Zaiane: I think we're very fortunate, Kempinski Hotel, Mall of the Emirates is a flagship hotel not only for the owning company but for the Kempinski brand. We've been in the market for almost 12 years and now we have the luxury to offer a brand new product! We have spent hundreds of millions US

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dollars on the renovations which were completed a couple of months ago. I think this is what makes Kempinski Hotel, Mall of the Emirates one of the pioneers when it comes to the offerings to travellers to Dubai. Unlike many newcomers into the market – we have the experience – we know what our guests are looking for and now we have a brand new set of offerings. I think that’s why we are one of the flagship properties in the region. BTN: Kempinski has a tremendous European heritage -celebrating 120 years year, how did that impact on operations? Did you see an increase in guests because of the heritage? Slim Zainane: One of the things we are good at in Kempinski is that we really look after our guests. We are a people company – in as much we look after our colleagues and we look after our guests. Personalisation is some things we do on a daily basis. We treat every single guest as if

they were coming to their own home. Kempinski has been doing that for 120-years and to celebrate that we accelerated the people focus into all the guest experiences. As a big company, we try to celebrate every day - to share our success with our clients and our guests. BTN: Where are your guests coming from? I understand the UK is an important market for Dubai, but are you seeing any change in the demographics of people coming to your property?


INTERVIEW

SLIM ZAIANE

Slim Zaiane: We are attached to Mall of the Emirates, one of the best shopping malls in the in the region and by default our hotel attracts a lot of GCC clients. Our key feeder markets are KSA and GCC countries. During the last two years we have invested a lot in diversification of new source markets. China is one new source market and the second is the high- end Indian market. We also went to the Far East and as a European company we attract

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high-end Europeans from Switzerland, France, Italy and Germany. The UK is also an important market. The strategy for the next couple of years is to maintain the focus on diversifying and attracting business from different part of the worlds. However the key share of our business comes mainly from the GCC, primarily because we are attached to a shopping mall and because we have been in Dubai for 12 years.

BTN: I believe congratulations are in order as you’ve been recognized as the Middle East’s Leading Leisure Hotel by the World Travel Awards. How did it feel to take the title? Slim Zaiane: Thank you. I think it's always great to be recognized, and this recognition must go to the effort of our team and our colleagues who on a daily basis make sure that we always deliver outstanding guest services and experiences.

To be recognized as a Leading Leisure Hotel that gives us more fuel to make sure that we remain a pioneer in what we do and what we offer our guests. This award gives us greater motivation to super exceed everybody's expectations when it comes to our offerings and to being the leaders in the market. We hope that we may continue for many years to come.


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Guy Hutchinson Rotana Hotels & Resorts Chris O’Toole, Editor, Breaking Travel News talks to Guy Hutchinson, COO, Rotana Hotels & Resorts

BTN: Coming to the end of Day one at the Arabian Travel Market 2018, how’s the show been for you today? Guy Hutchinson: Very busy! That’s the great thing about ATM – is that the numbers grow each year. I think we’re up to 28,000 visitors this year! Every year there’s a little more activity, more business to do. It’s a great show. BTN: You’re certainly doing a lot of business with the number of properties you’ve opened this year. The Pearl Rotana is I believe the most recent, tell us about it. Guy Hutchinson: On 10th March we opened the Pearl Rotana which is attached to ADNEC the Convention Centre in Abu Dhabi. It’s a four-star hotel, an amazing property and already doing extremely well. BTN: An Abu Dhabi based hotel, your roots are there. You’ve opened a new property on Saadiyat Island as well? Guy Hutchinson: Saadiyat is a property we’re very proud of. It opened on the 15th March- it has rooms as well as villas. A

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stunning hotel on the most pristine beach in the Middle East – I think. Already it’s gained much attraction and has one of the highest customer review scores online on the island. BTN: I understand Rotana is aiming for 100 hotels by 2020. What can we look forward to in 2018? Guy Hutchinson: This is another big year for openings - I think we will open eight to ten before the year is out. This really is an unusual year – we have already opened four hotels in the first three months and the fifth and the sixth within the next four weeks! It’s been a very busy year for openings. In addition to our UAE hotel openings – The Pearl on Saadiyat, Al Bandar in Dubai – an amazing fivestar hotel on the Creek we’re also opening in Turkey. On the 10th May on the European side of Istanbul we’re opening two properties – a Centro and an Arjaan and in Tanzania we have the Johari Rotana opening in Dar es Salaam.


INTERVIEW

BTN: So really spreading your wings and going international? Guy Hutchinson: yes, it’s fun – new markets are always fun! BTN: The Rotana brand has been successfully recognised by the World Travel Awards as the Middle East Leading Hotel brand. How does it feel to have taken that title for the eleventh time? Guy Hutchinson: Very, very proud! We’re such a connective hotel brand – we live hotel values. For customers and industry to recognise that and celebrate that as being the

leading hotel brand in the Middle East, that’s very rewarding. BTN: I believe your Chairman was individually honoured by the World Travel Awards as well? Guy Hutchinson: yes our Chairman Mr Nasser Al Nowais received a Lifetime Achievement Award which we think is more than deserved. To have that vision to start a hotel company more than 25 years ago and now see that grow to a portfolio of 109/110 hotels is amazing. Really deserved – well done!

“This is another big year for openings - I think we will open eight to ten before the year is out” Guy Hutchinson, COO, Rotana Hotels & Resorts

GUy HUTCHINSON

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TIMOTHy KELLy

Timothy Kelly Atlantis The Palm Dubai Phil Blizzard talks to Timothy Kelly, General Manager and Senior VP Operations, Atlantis The Palm Dubai on the resort’s new attractions and Atlantis in China

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INTERVIEW

Timothy Kelly: It’s been a great ATM – we have met a lot of our travel and trade partners BTN: We’re going to find out about some developments at Atlantis you have some results for the first quarter? Timothy Kelly: Our results are very good. Occupancy has been very strong at 96% which is up 4% over last year and also an increase in rate – we are seeing a good projection for Atlantis for 2018. BTN: How is the rest of the year panning out? Timothy Kelly: We are looking at a great second quarter. We’ve been studying the summer bookings which are very important to us and are seeing great travel trends. We anticipate a great June, July and August and looking to close out on a strong year with the fourth quarter. BTN: Which are the most important source markets for you?

“We are very excited about our presence in China and we hope it will also grow our brand in Dubai.” Timothy Kelly, General Manager and Senior VP Operations

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Timothy Kelly: The UK seems to be doing very well, better than last year and Russia is picking up. We are seeing steady performances out of China and India. Germany, France and Italy have been very strong in the last couple of months. BTN: What are the new developments on offer at the resort – what can guests expect this summer? Timothy Kelly: We have just opened our new ‘Splashers Playground’ at the Aquaventure Water Park. It

has 11 different slides for children who are under 1.2 metres in height and we have just built an Atlantis Playground also for children. We are currently going through a re-modelling for our guest rooms and are also working on a family entertainment centre. We’re using around 9,000 square feet and building a bowling alley, billiards and other games for all the family to enjoy. BTN: An ever expanding resort – turning into a city! Timothy Kelly: We’re also working on designing our third phase – an extension to the Water Park. We will have a third tower which we will be introducing this summer. BTN: Let’s move onto China. Tell us about the official opening of the new Atlantis Timothy Kelly: Saturday April 28th is the grand opening of the Atlantis Sanya. We had a soft opening a couple of months ago and it’s been very well received. Now the Water Park is open and all our guests are using it – it is very popular. We’ve seen a lot of activity from within the Chinese market. As Sanya is a domestic Chinese destination, the hotel has been extremely well received. We are very excited about our presence in China and we hope it will also grow our brand in Dubai.


Darren Darwin Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort Chris O’Toole Editor Breaking Travel News talks to Darren Darwin, General Manager, Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort in Oman

BTN: How’s ATM going for you this year? Darren Darwin: It’s going very well. We’re here on the back of the BBC Show – Amazing Hotels Life Beyond the Lobby. We created a huge media buzz – it’s been great PR for us. We’re here meeting our partners from Europe and the GCC. BTN: You do have a fabulous hotel – tell us a bit about it

Darren Darwin: We’re 2,000 metres above sealevel perched on top of a cliff. We cover the entire rim of the mountain – it’s a 66,000 square metre plot offering the most spectacular views over the canyon. The whole resort is designed on an Omani village and we actually have an Omani castle in the middle of the resort. There are 33beautifully appointed villas, six restaurants, an Anantara Spa, a ballroom. It’s truly a

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spectacular resort where nature just blends in.

star resort was discussed and here we are now!

BTN: As I understand the Sultan of Oman personally selected the site for the hotel?

BTN: Why do you think Anantara was selected? It must have been a very competitive process

Darren Darwin: For many years this area of Oman has been popular with both locals and expats for picnics and just to take in the views. The Sultan had a vision, a long time ago to build something special and the idea for a luxury five-

Darren Darwin: There are many reasons. But firstly – Anantara does unique destinations very well and this is a unique destination. We are very remote – an hour and a half from Muscat and being on top of a mountain we face many


INTERVIEW

DARREN DARWIN

logistical challenges. The second reason applies to the strong cultural theme and heritage of this resort. Anantara is a very indigenous brand – we blend local traditions and culture with the luxury element of the operation. I think that was the most defining element of why we were chosen. We respect and appreciate the local environment and culture.

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BTN: I understand the hotel has British Royal connection? Darren Darwin: Three years ago when I was doing a site visit I was told that Prince Charles and Princess Diana had visited the mountain – where the hotel is - many years before. There is a platform at the edge of the cliff called ‘Diana’s Point’ and now is probably the most photographed point in Oman!

“we blend local traditions and culture with the luxury element” Darren Darwin, General Manager, Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort


Sheikh Majid Al Mualla Emirates Phil Blizzard talks to Sheikh Majid Al Mualla, Divisional Senior Vice President Commercial Operations, to find out the latest aviation news from Emirates BTN: We’re at ATM, in the re-defined A-380 lounge on-board the brand new Emirates stand. In July the A-380 celebrates 10-years in your fleet. Sheikh Majid Al Mualla: yes this is the tenth anniversary of the A-380. We started with the first one in 2008 and now we have more than one hundred A-380’s in our fleet. BTN: How has the aircraft evolved in both what we can see on board and in performance? Sheikh Majid Al Mualla: you cannot compare the first one to what we have now. In terms of the weight, the fuel consumption as well as inside the aircraft – the product has been enhanced based on customer feedback and what is available in terms of technology. The feedback on the A-380 from passengers has been fantastic. BTN: The A-380 is an iconic aircraft. Here on your brand new stand you are also showcasing one of your latest innovations for the Boeing 777

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– the enclosed suite which is receiving a lot of positive reaction. Sheikh Majid Al Mualla: Absolutely – this is something which has changed the industry. In First Class as well as Business the configuration used to be two-three-two, now it is two-two-two. I think it’s a fantastic product. We’ve also changed Economy Class, given it a new look and feel. The feedback so far has been fantastic. People love what they have seen. BTN: Which routes are you using that aircraft on at the moment and how will that evolve? Sheikh Majid Al Mualla: Currently we have two-routes – Geneva and Belgium and as soon as we have more aircraft – they will be deployed on new routes. We also have the newly configured Boeing 777 which we have deployed to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The seats again are two-two-two. BTN: Here at the ATM, showcasing some of your new products - What is the key message you are sending out this year to the travel trade?

“WE ARE COMMITTED TO DEVELOPING OUR FLEET IN TERMS OF PRODUCT, TECHNOLOGY AND GETTING A NEW TYPE OF AIRCRAFT” Sheikh Majid Al Mualla, Divisional Senior Vice President Commercial Operations, EMIRATES


INTERVIEW

Sheikh Majid Al Mualla: We always showcase what we have. Emirates is always bringing in the latest technology, the latest product both on the ground and in flight. This is an opportunity to show our partners and customers what we have. We are sitting in the new lounge of the A-380 – it’s fantastic. People are really enjoying the experience of travelling on the A-380. BTN: It is a fascinating product. You mentioned partners- you have a relatively new partner with Fly Dubai. How is this partnership evolving? Sheikh Majid Al Mualla: We have a code-share with many other airlines. However with Fly Dubai it is different - we are in the same hub, the same airport and we are under the same chairman. We co-operate very closely, they

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give us opportunities – they have 51 routes which we don’t fly to. We can enhance each other. Fly Dubai also have smaller aircraft which can deploy on shorter routes which we can’t accommodate. We have larger aircraft carrying 300 plus passengers and there are some routes where we can’t deploy those aircraft. Not all airports can accommodate the A-380 operation. So this is a win-win situation for both of us. Over the last six-months the feedback has been fantastic from the customers as well as the results – so it’s looking really good. BTN: A win-win partnership for both operations! A few days ago you won a handful of awards at the World Travel Awards. Sheikh Majid Al Mualla: yes, to date we have won around

500 awards and the latest will enhance what we have. This shows that Emirates is really investing in the product. It also shows we are committed to developing our fleet in terms of product, technology and getting a new type of aircraft. In the case of getting the new 787 confirms our commitment to reach different markets. BTN: To finish off – what can we expect to see from Emirates in the next twelve months? Sheikh Majid Al Mualla: We have announced two routes – Chille and Stansted, UK, with definitely more routes in the future. Our result for 2017/2018 will be announced in May – I can’t comment on the result – but I can tell you it is much better than last year.


Hotels and OTAs need to work together to maximise revenues Hotels and Online Travel Agents (OTAs) need to work together to find a collaborative approach that maximises revenues, builds brand confidence and rewards consumer loyalty, according to a panel of experts speaking at Arabian Travel Market (ATM). According to a report published on Monday 23rd April, by Colliers International on ATM’s Global Stage, rate parity agreements have led to a turbulent relationship between hotels and OTAs in recent years. The findings of the report entitled ‘Alternative Accommodation – Driving Growth for Destinations or Disruption’ were discussed by a panel of experts from Wego, AccorHotels, Expedia Group and Colliers International. The essence of rate parity is to have the same rate for the same product across all distribution channels. However, rate undercutting has created issues between hotels and OTAs and as a result, significantly reduced consumer confidence in brands. Filippo Sona, Director, Head of Hotels MENA, Colliers International, said: “Consumers are comparative shoppers, so when they see that the rate on a hotel website is higher than an OTA for the same product, this creates a negative sentiment about the brand in their minds. As the undercut rate

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percentage by OTAs increases, there is a drop in the booking conversion on the hotel’s website. “Today’s consumers have a more sophisticated mindset and level of needs, and as a result, rate parity is hindering the ability of OTAs to make more money and hotel companies to offer higher average room rates. If we removed the rate parity mechanism, we would be able to more effectively fulfil the needs of OTAs and hotels, while providing a more personalised product to consumers.” With continuous technological advancements in the online travel market such as metasearch engines, blockchain and augmented analytics, new strategies need to be devised to win back consumer confidence and increase their brand loyalty. Paula De Keijer, Senior Director of Market Management Middle East, Africa, Greece & Turkey, Expedia Group, said: “With the consumer in mind, blockchain technology provides services such as secured payment, identification and security, simplified loyalty programmes

and baggage tracking. “As we look to the future, augmented analytics will provide consumers with the power to make more informed choices. Considering the vast amount of data that hotels and OTAs accumulate, this technology is the perfect tool to understand consumer behaviour, preferences and booking patterns. Combining algorithms, artificial intelligence and machine learning will lead to providing better recommendations to customers and matching them to the properties best suited to their needs.” Hotels and OTAs have their own competitive advantages and limitations. While hotels have the micro information, OTAs have the purchasing and booking habits of consumers. In the evolving landscape, it is crucial that hotels understand direct bookings do not matter like they did in the past. Instead, establishing a collaborative approach, with the help of technological advances, that maximises revenues should be the focus. Sona, said: “The first emerging tool will be dynamic commissioning. This will


FEATURE COLLIERS - ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION - DRIVING GROWTH FOR DESTINATIONS OR DISRUPTION DISCUSSION

enable hotels to set a hurdle rate for OTAs, in turn incentivising OTAs to sell above that rate to earn a higher commission. Based on our research, we suggest for every $10 above the hurdle rate OTAs earn an extra 5%, with the maximum amount of possible commission capped at 35%. “The second approach is nano pricing which provides consumers with the power of choice and added confidence in brands. Today, hotel room prices are based on three factors: room view, room type and number of occupants.

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However, nano pricing is calculated by combining base price (room inclusive of limited amenities) with the cost of any requested extras (for example upgraded toiletries).” In recent years, competition in the market has further increased with the rise of alternative accommodation such as Airbnb. The success of this type of accommodation stems from their ability to create a more local and personal experience for consumers. Flavio Leoni, Vice President of Sales, Distribution, Loyalty & Marketing, AccorHotels Middle

East & Egypt, said: “Alternative accommodation should not be viewed by hotels and OTAs as a threat or disruptor. “It is just another tool that provides additional choice to the consumer and also presents hotels and OTAs with the option to explore new ideas and expand their brands. “If we break down the needs of both business and leisure travellers, as well as individual and family travel, it is possible for alternative accommodation to exist peacefully in the market alongside more traditional forms of accommodation.”


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Abdul Aziz Saud Al Raisi Oman AIR Phil Blizzard talks to Abdul Aziz Saud Al Raisi, Chief Executive Officer of Oman Air ABDUL AZIZ SAUD AL RAISI

BTN: Breaking news today, Abdul Aziz - you’ve just been confirmed as the CEO of Oman Air – you must be delighted. Abdul Aziz Saud Al Raisi: I’m delighted to be CEO of Oman Air. I’ve been acting CEO since October 2017 and today the announcement was made in Muscat by my Chairman and the board members of the company to appoint me as a fully- fledged CEO. It’s a great pleasure for me to lead this airline. BTN: We have a lot to talk about. I see Oman Air as being a ‘Boutique Airline’ which is growing into a fabulous product. What is going to be your focus in driving the airline forward?

AHIC SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018

Abdul Aziz Saud Al Raisi: My main focus is to make Oman a destination and the airline will be a key player to promote Oman to make it one of the top destinations. Oman is well known as one of the top ten destinations and my role will be to bring the country into the top three. Oman Air will be playing a key role in achieving that goal. BTN: Oman has a broad appeal – you have Salalah in the south, Muscat the capital and the enclave in the north of Mussendam. How are they all connected? Abdul Aziz Saud Al Raisi: Oman Air plays a big role. We have direct flights daily to Mussendam and 7/8 flights to Salalah, so the role of Oman

Air is to connect Oman to the rest of the world as well as within the country. We have a new airport in Salalah and also one planned in Sohar. So Oman Air will play a big role in promoting Sohar as a destination. BTN: What does it mean to have the new airport in Muscat – how will that enhance your product? Abdul Aziz Saud Al Raisi: The new airport will complement the airline. They will complement each other. The previous airport was designed to handle three-million passengers and we’ve been carrying 8.5 million! In the old airport there was a lot of congestion, but in the new one everything will be made a


INTERVIEW

“Oman is well known as one of the top ten destinations and my role will be to bring the country into the top three” Abdul Aziz Saud Al Raisi, CEO, Oman Air

destinations within China and Asia. The Indian SubContinent is a very good market for us too. The aim of the airline is to increase passenger traffic from Asia into Oman. BTN: What about fleet enhancement –you have the Dreamliner, the 787, you have a mock-up on your stand here of the suite which looks very comfortable. lot easier for all the passengers – those who are visiting Oman as well as those who are in transit. BTN: Which countries are your source markets – and how will those grow? Abdul Aziz Saud Al Raisi: Our European routes are doing quite well. We have daily flights to London and Paris, Milan, Zurich, Frankfurt and Munich. For 2019 we are trying to increase some of those frequencies from perhaps seven to 10 flights a week. We are also focusing more on the Asia market. Currently we have four-flights a week to Guangzhou and we’re looking at introducing daily flights. We’re also looking at introducing different

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Abdul Aziz Saud Al Raisi: Here at ATM this year we are investing today for Oman tomorrow. So this is our theme. As you can see we have our new first class seat – it is a beautiful product – this is going to be on our 787-9. We will be taking delivery of this aircraft sometime in June and the three-class air cabins will be deployed on the London routes. you will also see that we have un-veiled some of our new enhanced cabin products. This shows we are investing in Oman Air – in our product for Oman tomorrow. BTN: What’s the key message you are putting out to people attending the Arabian Travel Market?

Abdul Aziz Saud Al Raisi: Our message is very clear. Our stand with The Ministry of Tourism stand – we’re trying to promote the country Oman is a beautiful country with an outstanding landscape. BTN: You won a couple of awards last week at the World Travel Awards – what does that mean to you? Abdul Aziz Saud Al Raisi: I have a new dynamic team with me now and our role is to bring this airline to where it is supposed to be. When it comes to the awards – this is very important to any airline. For us when we win such awards it means that people know we are a leading airline. When you take a look at our First and Business Class product on our aircraft – we are the Best Business Class Leading Airline and we are the Best Economy Class Leading Airline. Our products speak for themselves. These awards complement our products – so the people become more aware that we have the right product on board.


INTERVIEW

Sebastien Mariette Kempinski Hotel & Residences Chris O’Toole, Editor Breaking Travel News talks to Sebastien Mariette, Managing Director, Kempinski Hotel & Residences and Emerald Kempinski, Palm Jumeirah

SEBASTIEN MARIETTE

BTN: How is ATM going for you this year? Sebastien Mariette: It’s been very hectic here! There’s been a lot of interest especially in the forthcoming Emerald Palace. People want to know when the property is opening. BTN: What can you tell us about the Emerald Palace? Sebastien Mariette: We call the hotel ‘the Palace by the Sea’ because of the location. We’re going to be located on the West Crescent of the Palm overlooking the Arabian

ATM SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018

Gulf on the one side and the Dubai Skyline on the other. It’s going to be an amazing property, inspired by 18th century continental Europe. BTN: Is there still space for luxury hospitality to grow here in Dubai? Sebastien Mariette: The supply is increasing rapidly here in Dubai but I’m confident in the demand as well. The advantage of the Palace is that we’re introducing something new. The hotel is going to be a statement in Dubai.

BTN: The Kempinski Hotel & Residences, Palm Jumeirah has been recognised by the World Travel Awards as the Middle East Leading Hotel Residences and Middle East Luxury Hotel Villa. How does it feel to receive those titles? Sebastien Mariette: We are very proud. I shared it with the team and we all celebrated together. The property is amazing and has been very successful over the last few years but it’s down to the people who offer the service and it’s this quality of service which won us the award.


INTERVIEW

Mehdi Othmani Hilton Salalah Breaking Travel News catches up with Mehdi Othmani, General Manager of Hilton Salalah, Oman BTN: How's the show going for you this year? Mehdi Othmani: To date we have signed nine very good deals and we're meeting some more partners today. BTN: Tell us about the property you're lucky enough to lead down in Salalah, in Oman? Mehdi: The beachfront property has 153 keys with a variety of facilities including diving and tennis. We have the club with Jacuzzi and sauna and two restaurants. BTN: The Oman government are putting a lot of effort into tourism. Tell us about the new Salalah airport. Mehdi: The new airport in Salalah has set a new chapter for Oman civil aviation. It’s an amazing airport on all levels from the infrastructure to the technology. Today the world's largest passenger carrier – the A-380 is landing in Salalah. There are now direct flights from all across the world including Europe, South Africa, South Asia and the Americas. Looking at the figures that were released recently by the Oman Center of Searches and Information, in the year following the opening of the airport the number of passengers grew by 22%. Comparing the number of passengers today to 2014, it has doubled from 845,000 to 1,500,000. I think this is an added value for the destination. Today Salalah is

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MEHDI OTHMANI

more than a fishing village – it is a destination for diving, for golfing and for shopping. BTN: I believe you've received a Green Globe Certification which is the global benchmark for sustainable tourism. Can you tell us about that? Mehdi: To me the Green Globe Certification is a matter of responsibility. When we started talking about the Green Globe Certification 12 years ago, we were trying to align everybody behind that goal. We were trying to draft the sustainability management and identify the "Green Team" who has been running the project. In addition, our legal team was

crosschecking with the government offices, with the law enforcement offices to make sure whatever we're doing complies with the rules and regulations. We meet every Thursday morning to check on the progress of our work. We are the first Green Globe Certified Hotel in Oman and the first Hilton to be a green hotel. I think this is an achievement. Green Globe is a mind-set however, that's only developed by the people who have the skills and the discipline to run their business in a way that guarantees a sustainable future. I think when you see what's going on around the world today I think it is our duty to take on the task. We're very happy living.


Maria Zarraluqui MELIA Hotels International Ahead of ATM Phil Blizzard spoke to Maria Zarraluqui, Global Development Managing Director for MELIA Hotels International at AHIC in Ras Al Khaimah

BTN: How do you find the event here in Ras Al Khaimah and why are you at AHIC? Maria Zarraluqui: I’m finding the event very interesting. This is the first time in Ras Al Khaimah and AHIC is a very important forum for us. We are really serious about the region and here you can find all the partners, meet everyone and find out what’s available in the market. BTN: What is the mood when it comes to investors in the region? Maria Zarraluqui There is alot happening! Everyone is talking about Saudi Arabia – the opening up of the country, how much money is being invested there – so there is a lot of interest in that market. We’re now in Ras Al Khaimah where the development in leisure is very important. There’s a straight forward vision on how they want to do things and there is great potential here for investors.

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BTN: You mentioned leisure – are heading more in the direction of leisure rather than towards business? Maria Zarraluqui: We want to be close to our clients on the leisure segment – but obviously we have to balance between leisure and business. We think this market has a great combination between business and leisure and so is very interesting for us. BTN: Looking at your properties, tell us how long you’ve been in hospitality? Maria Zarraluqui: We have been established for 63-years. Our founders opened the first hotel in Majorca – and the rest is history. We now have 400 hotels around the world. We are a public company, but it’s still the founding family who are running the business. BTN: How long has your company been in the GCC?

Maria Zarraluqui: We have been in the GCC for almost eight-years. We have a portfolio of 23-hotels taking in North Africa as well and are looking forward to expanding further. BTN: That’s a relatively short time when you look at the sixty plus years of the hotel group. Maria Zarraluqui: Well we have to have a focus. Initially we started in Majorca, from there to Spain and then to


INTERVIEW

MARIA ZARRALUQUI

Europe. Latin America was a natural move for us, taking into account the link with our culture. Sometime ago we took a serious decision to move into the Middle East and from then we have been constant, slowly growing our portfolio. BTN: What are the expansion plans for you here in the Middle East and possibly here in Ras Al Khaimah? Maria Zarraluqui: We want to expand further our presence here in

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the region. We want to go into Saudi Arabia and also want to expand further into Dubai. We certainly look at Ras Al Khaimah as a leisure destination because it’s very much aligned with us, with our spirit and our culture. Oman is also very beautiful and we’re looking forward to expanding there. So you can see there is a lot of potential for us in the region. BTN: Oman – yes is lovely and would make a great two-centre holiday – Ras Al Khaimah and Oman. To finish off – AHIC this

week, ATM next week and of course the World Travel Awards. How important is the World Travel Awards to you and your colleagues? Maria Zarraluqui: It’s really important. Our CEO has been in the World Travel Awards he’s been nominated as one of the best CEO’s in the world. All these events are very important to us to showcase our message, to convey our strategy and to convince partners to work with us.


Travel tech professionals need to collaborate to provide holistic customer experience A panel of travel technology experts from Sabre, wego and Tajawal, came together at the Travel Tech Show at the Arabian Travel Market to discuss the defining evolutions of hospitality technology.

During a panel discussion entitled “Distribution evolution and the latest industry trends”, panelists addressed the issues that are becoming increasingly prevalent throughout the the Middle East travel industry, which continues to evolve, driven by high adaptation of the latest technologies and significant growth in the online space. The panel identified three main global trends that are transforming the future of travel including; shifting customer behaviour, distribution evolution and the changing dynamics within direct and indirect sales channels and the digital transformation. One of the first issues discussed was that of fragmentation during the

AHIC SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018

customer experience. “Industry stakeholders - providers, intermediaries and sellers – need to work together to complement each other’s roles and address the industry changes collectively.” said Fatin Said, Regional Communications Manager, Sabre Travel Network, Middle East. “We all need to recognise how data can be used intelligently across the sector to achieve personalisation and how to recruit emerging technologies to improve the traveller experience. They need to work towards a less fragmented travel ecosystem,” added Said. Talking about customer expectations Said explained that it is no secret that today’s travellers want an optimal holistic experience. “They are

accustomed to personalised offerings and services from other industries and expect a similar level of personalisation, experience and flexibility. Consider Netflix – approximately 75% of what people watch is based on recommendation algorithms.” In a commissioned study Sabre conducted in the UAE last year, it found that 46% the UAE travellers are willing to be loyal to a brand if they provide them with personalised offers. “Mobile is also key to capturing people’s loyalty and winning the consumer game. Travel suppliers need to deploy advanced mobile and marketing strategies to serve the tech-savvy traveller, who expect to search and book on mobile. Travel players should be able to provide and offer travellers precisely what they


NEWS

“Industry stakeholders - providers, intermediaries and sellers – need to work together to complement each other’s roles and address the industry changes collectively.” Fatin Said, Regional Communications Manager, Sabre want, when they want it, at every step of their trip on the device they choose!” added Said. The shift in consumer expectation is changing the landscape of travel distribution. Travel suppliers are increasingly looking for ways to differentiate their offerings – looking to market to travellers in new ways – to maximise their revenues. New standards, such as New Distribution Capability (NDC), are becoming increasingly adopted by airlines experimenting with their distribution strategies. However, NDC is just one component of a wider shift in retailing and distribution in the travel industry, and this year Sabre is developing innovative new technology that will help

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suppliers to tell their stories effectively through an indirect channel. “NDC standards are just the beginning.” said Jorge Vilches, senior vice president Air Line of Business, at Sabre Travel Network. “Our broad portfolio of retailing, distribution, fulfilment, and data and analytic solutions, coupled with decision science allows us to take NDC to a new altitude. Imagine a world with ‘beyond NDC’ technology? “When a traveller goes to shop for an airline ticket, the airline is able to identify that person and their unique characteristics and can then sell directly to that person regardless of channel.

“For example, if an airline can determine that a shopper is interested in buying ancillaries like Wifi or a beverage, this presents an opportunity to bundle ancillaries and sell them in a way that otherwise might not be available. This is Sabre’s vision for evolving technology to benefit both travellers and our airline customers,” commented Vilches. Sabre is now launching the industry's first Digital Airline Commercial Platform delivering end-to-end personalised retailing, to further enable enhanced travel experiences for airline customers and increased revenue opportunities for airlines.


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Live the dream.


Gillian Hamburger Dubai Expo 2020 Phil Blizzard talks to Gillian Hamburger, Senior VP Commercial for Dubai Expo 2020 on the build up to the event BTN: Dubai Expo - 20th October 2020. What’s the key message you are putting out here? Gillian Hamburger: We’re trying to make tour operators, potential ticket re-sellers aware of just how special 2020 Dubai Expo will be. As it will run for only six-months we need to start signing up people now to help us to build up to the 25million who are projected to come to Dubai Expo 2020. We have here at ATM a fabulous model showing the infrastructure including beautiful buildings, more than 200 food and beverage on-site gastronomic experiences, more than 180 countries, exhibitions and entertainment. Here at ATM we are also promoting the importance of Dubai as a MICE destination during Expo 2020. BTN: What’s been the reaction from the travel trade? Gillian Hamburger: The traveltrade is really embracing how important this event is going to be. We just hope we can continue to meet and engage and provide as many opportunities as we can. We have wonderful partners also including Emirates and DTCM

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who are helping us spread the message. We’re not just one entity telling the world what Expo 2020 is – we have many partners who are helping us do that. BTN: Emirates are a key partner as they will be bringing in millions of people from all points of the globe Gillian Hamburger: Emirates are a marketing machine! Their social engagement in everything they do is just brilliant. We are working hand in hand with them to help showcase what Expo 2020 is going to be. When you get on a plane today you will see us on the inflight system – ICE. BTN: What stage are you at? Gillian Hamburger: We are working towards getting everything delivered approximately one year ahead. We want people to come along and see the sites and the progress being made. Everything is on time and is coming along spectacularly well. The countries have already received their plots of land and they’re starting construction.


INTERVIEW

“The travel-trade is really embracing how important this event is going to be.” Gillian Hamburger, Senior VP Commercial, Dubai Expo 2020

BTN: You are showing a time-lapse video which really gives people an idea of the size of the area and the location in Dubai. Gillian Hamburger: We’ve been gifted this fabulous site that’s going to be so essential to the future of Dubai, located adjacent to DWC in Al Maktoum

Airport. District 2020 is what Expo 2020 will become and this will be an amazing location. BTN: How many days is it to go before the opening – 20th October 2020? Gillian Hamburger: The countdown clock in our office states 910 days.

GILLIAN HAMBURGER

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INTERVIEW

Alessandro Cabella Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria Breaking Travel News talks to Alessandro Cabella, Managing Director, Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria BTN: How’s ATM going for you this year? Alessandro Cabella: We have had lots of meetings with new contacts and new business relationships as well as with our partners who are our support during the year. BTN: We spoke last year about the renovations to your property and the investment – can you bring us up to date? Alessandro Cabella: I’m happy to say that all the renovations are now complete. We have re-done the executive lounge, the junior suites have been re-decorated and the public areas have been completely re-done as well as our spa and fitness facilities. The outcome is very positive and the customers are very enthusiastic and the numbers are confirming that trend. BTN: The suites you mention are a key part of your marketing for the summer? Alessandro Cabella: The suites for us are a very important product and at the beginning of the year we launched a programme called ‘The Suite

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ALESSANDRO CABELLA

Experience’ where every guest has a tailor made experience while staying in the suite. Depending on the type of suite and the length of stay guests can have included in the suite different types of tailor-made experiences such as a ‘suite food experience’ or ‘handmade Roman sandals’. BTN: How important is the Middle East as a source market for you? Alessandro Cabella: The GCC market in general is very important to us not only because it’s representing a very important region but also because it is bubbling and evolving continuously. We also attract many guests from this region during the summer.

BTN: You have been recognised as the World’s Leading Luxury City Resort by the World Travel Awards. How does it feel to take that title? Alessandro Cabella: We are very honoured to be recognised as such. We are doing everything we can to maintain our leadership position and we want to further increase our position within the GCC market. This year we are introducing two dedicated chefs to guarantee authentic Arabic dishes on our menu. We are trying to work systematically and consistently in order to be at the top of our offerings.


INTERVIEW

Ateeq Mogal Al Khozama Hotel Breaking Travel News talks to Ateeq Mogal, Director of Property Leasing of the Al Khozama Hotel transition period and still win awards where you keep up that service level and you have these loyal members of the team which have been around for many years and still anticipate changes to come with upgrades and list of improvements. It's good to see that we can keep it going. That goes for the location. The location lends itself to being a destination. As you can see, it's an iconic tower and there's a green area. It's almost like you're in the middle of an oasis, in the middle of the desert, in the middle of the city.

ATEEQ MOGAL

BTN: You're a well-established organization in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Starting up with the hotels, what's your portfolio? Give us an overview of your portfolio? Ateeq: We've got an office in the Faisaliah District which has the Khozama Hotel. This is one of the first major hotels to hat have been built - many decades ago in Riyadh. That's still standing, gone through a couple of revamps. BTN: The hotel has won so many World Travel Awards. What does that really mean to your organization? Ateeq: What I like about that is something we need to be mindful of. To go through a

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BTN: Well your Mission Statement says you are “touching the heart of people”’. Do you to do that through innovation and change? Ateeq: Absolutely. Saudi is going through a lot of changes and we want to be part of that change. We would like to think that we've started that change, being one of the first towers in Riyadh and being one of the first hotels in Riyadh. It goes to show that the old can become new and align ourselves with some really exciting brands and exciting collaborations. BTN: Harvey Nichols – the department store must be an important retail operation for you? Ateeq: Harvey Nichols was the first department store in Saudi Arabia. We've had a very long partnership with Harvey Nichols as an anchor tenant of our sites and obviously of our Faisaliah Mall. They've gone through a

revamp a couple of years ago. They've got a great management team. I think Harvey Nichols will become stronger with the changes that we're doing in the shopping mall as well. Hospitality, retail and food and beverage are all merging and converging. It's interesting to see his new world of entertainment, hospitality and retail. you're getting this combined experience. This experience now really is about giving people something that they want all the time in a concise way and in one location. That's the district itself and being Faisiliah District which is one of the first things that we did is bring all our assets together as one district. Then try to create one experience, a unique experience and make sure that has kept us on a certain level so it's a niche and that's the niche that we're after. BTN: What's going to be the impact of places like Dubai? Ateeq: I think the simple answer to that question is everybody wants to try something new. How many places on earth are there that we have not been to? Who's been to Saudi Arabia? The business community will tell you it's a great place. We need to, now, tell the rest of the families all over our business community, the family members, our kids and our wives and what have you to come and see Saudi Arabia and bring them along. That's the difference now and I think it's exciting times and Faisaliah District will be part of that.


Ali Hamad Lakhraim Azaabi Millennium Hotels and Reso

Breaking Travel News talks to Ali Hamad Lakhraim Azaabi, CEO and President of Millen BTN: We're here on your fabulous stand at Arabian Travel Market. How's it going for you this year? Ali Azaabi: This year we expect to be much busier than few years ago. Today we have many properties and are a different company compared to many years ago. BTN: I understand you have 14 properties opening this year? Where are those hotels based? Ali Azaabi: yes, 14 maybe 15 if things go according to plan. The properties will be located in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Oman and Kuwait. BTN: I understand you are also expanding the number of brands you offer. Millennium Place and Studio M are two brands you're trying to develop here in the Middle East as well? Ali Azaabi: Millennium Place is our four-star brand which is associated with the Millennium Hotel. We will be announcing one soon probably in Dubai that is due to open during the fourth quarter of this year. Studio M is our lifestyle affordable brand which we are opening in Dubai at the end of the year as well as one Muscat next year. We are also introducing M Social - a lifestyle four-star brand, the first to open is in Singapore. We have also opened properties in Auckland New Zealand and opening soon in Silicon Valley in California.

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BTN: Is Muscat a good market for you? Ali Azaabi: It has to be a lifestyle medium scale property so it is suitable for everyone. Lifestyle hotels have gained confidence from all the segments in the market. Today there are wealthy and mid-income guests staying in the same hotel. BTN: You've also got four properties opening in Saudi Arabia – the destination everyone is excited about Ali Azaabi: In total, we have more than 20 hotels in Saudi Arabia which are either being signed or operational. We are aggressively targeting the Saudi market as we want to double our presence in the country within the next three years. Some of our hotels in Saudi are in excess of a thousand rooms which is massive compared to the average number of keys in many of the other hotels. BTN: At the World Travel Awards last week you collected a number of awards. How important are these titles for Millennium? Ali Azaabi: The awards are very important to us. They show that we are being recognised and have a strong presence in the market. We entered this region 10 years ago and have grown steadily and it’s an honour to be recognised by organizations such as the World Travel Awards.

The awards are very important to us. They show that we are being recognised and have a strong presence in the market. it’s an honour to be recognised by organizations such as the World Travel Awards.” Ali Hamad Lakhraim Azaabi, CEO and President, Millennium Hotels and resorts


INTERVIEW

rts

nnium Hotels and Resorts

ALI HAMAD LAKHRAIM AZAABI

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INTERVIEW

Christophe Schnyder Sofitel, The Palm Dubai Breaking Travel News talks to Christophe Schnyder, General Manager, Sofitel, The Palm Dubai

CHRISTopHe SCHnyDeR

BTN: How’s ATM 2018 been for you this year? Christophe Schnyder: For us this year ATM has been very hectic. We’ve been established now for five-years and we can see the market strengthening, with our travel partners worldwide being stronger than ever and we’ve had a very good quarter for 2018. BTN: How would you view the market here? Is it a positive time? Christophe Schnyder: I would say it’s a very positive time. This first quarter of the year

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has been very strong with MICe and conference business. Also the feeder markets from the UK and Germany have been very strong over the past year – so we are very satisfied with the outcome to date. BTN: What do we have to look forward to at the hotel this year – any developments? Christophe Schnyder: We are renovating our food and beverage offerings and we’re being much more creative – offering special packages and offers. The renovations have a positive effect on our repeat guests. We’ve also enhanced

our family activities and so we are attracting many more families to the resort. BTN: You’ve been recognised by the World Travel Awards as one of the Best in the Region – how does it feel to take the title? Christophe Schnyder: It’s always a great honour to be recognised by the World Travel Awards. As last year we’ve been very privileged to win a Green Award as one of the Most Sustainable hotels in Dubai and The Middle east and also the Best Themed Resort.


INTERVIEW

Aurelio Giraudo Kempinski Chris O’Toole, Editor Breaking Travel News talks to Aurelio Giraudo, General Manager of the Kempinski Villa Rosa Nairobi and the Olare Mara Kempinski, Masai Mara BTN: Congratulations on your new position with Kempinski – what can you tell us about the property you now lead? Aurelio Giraudo: I’ve been General Manager of this beautiful property for one month, the leading Kempinski hotel in nairobi. We have 200-rooms and one of the largest presidential Suites in the country. In addition I’m also in charge of the olare Mara, an extra luxurious hotel on the Masai Mara. BTN: Is the Middle East an important source market for Kempinski in Kenya? Aurelio Giraudo: It’s a very important market because people from this region travel to nairobi. Visitors can stay one night in our hotel in nairobi and then transfer by private plane to the Masai Mara where they can enjoy luxury tented accommodation surrounded by animals. BTN: How about Europe – do you see many visitors from the UK? Aurelio Giraudo: yes we do have a lot of visitors from the UK. There are flights from London to nairobi and as nairobi is englishspeaking – there are many British living there. our UK market is quite large and they enjoy our beautiful hotel. AUReLIo GIRAUDo

breakingtravelnews.com


David Wilson Waldorf Astoria, the Palm, Dubai Chris O’Toole, Editor, Breaking Travel News talks to David Wilson, General Manager of the Waldorf Astoria on the Palm in Dubai How is ATM 2018 going for you? David Wilson: It’s going really well. This is a very vibrant show and of course all our key markets are here for this event. This year seems to be even more energised than ever – we’ve had a really good turnout and received plenty of positive energy here at the show today. BTN: Dubai has grown so much over the last few years and is probably one of the most famous luxury destinations in the world. What is it that you offer which is unique to this emirate? David Wilson: It’s true – Dubai as a destination probably has more luxury product than anywhere else in the world. What we really focus on is our service, our personalised service. We focus on creating those exceptional memories

AHIC SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018

for our guests and I think it’s really encouraging when we read comments on Trip Advisor about our team members. Currently we rank number nine overall in the market on Trip Advisor – which we’re very proud of. Again I think that can be attributed to the care and attention which our team members give our guests. BTN: I know you are very proud of your food and beverage offerings - what is it you offer in that segment? David Wilson: We offer a great variety - we have a Vietnamese Restaurant and of course there’s our signature restaurant – Social by Heinz Beck. Heinz is an amazing chef – a three-star Michelin Chef in Rome and recently opened his restaurant in London in Browns Hotel. That’s one of our key source markets so that’s a really good link for us as well.

BTN: The UK is a key source market for Dubai – are you seeing any increase from any other markets such as Russia or China? David Wilson: Absolutely! We’re seeing a great increase in demand from Russia in the last 12-months and we’ve seen China growing in importance. The top-end of the Chinese market is a good source market for us as is Russia.


INTERVIEW

DAVID WILSon

BTN: We’ve been hearing much talk about mid-market travellers. So there’s still a demand in Dubai for the luxury, high-end traveller? David Wilson: Luckily there’s still a good buoyant market for luxury travellers and despite a lot more product coming into the market, the demand for five-star properties is still there.

“Currently we rank number nine overall in the market on Trip Advisor – which we’re very proud of. I think that can be attributed to the care and attention which our team members give our guests.” David Wilson, GM, Waldorf Astoria, The Palm,Dubai

breakingtravelnews.com


INTERVIEW

Jesse Vargas Ferrari World Abu Dhabi Breaking Travel News talks to Jesse Vargas, general manager, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi have been added to our portfolio. We’ve got Warner Brothers coming on July 25th, yas Water World. We’re very proud that yas Water World has just been voted the region’s Leading Water park. We’re also very happy that Ferrari World has been voted for the fourth year in a row – the Leading Theme park in the Region – as recognised by the World Travel Awards. There’s a lot going on here at yas Island. BTN: How does it feel to take the title?

JeSSe VARGAS

BTN: How’s ATM been for you this year? Jesse Vargas: We look forward to this show every year. It’s the one opportunity where we can speak to all the leisure and travel industry and show case what we have in store for 2018 and beyond. BTN: You represent one of the leading attractions in the Middle East what can you tell us about the park and what it offers. Jesse Vargas: Ferrari World is one of a kind. It’s the only one here in the UAe and whether

ATM SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018

you come for a day or a week you will feel what it’s like to belong to the Ferrari family. We make the brand come to life – whether it’s through our roller coaster ride attractions, through the food attractions and the general ambience in the park. people make the experience come to life – which is very important for us – it’s who we are and how we represent the community. BTN: We are here on the Yas Island stand – it’s a growing destination in Abu Dhabi? Jesse Vargas: Absolutely – we have a few more parks which

Jesse Vargas: The award is especially important to us because we know that the voting body is made up of our peers and industry specialists who recognise our challenges. It’s also made up of the voting public which is an amazing accolade to receive. BTN: The Formula One Grand Prix is obviously the high light of the year. What preparations are you making for that? Jesse Vargas: It’s a great time to be on the island – there’s a great excitement around motorsport – which is what makes Ferrari special. It’s particularly impressive to see the Ferrari Team racing in the shadow of the building. I would welcome anyone who has been to a Grand prix to come to Abu Dhabi – it’s particularly remarkable.


INTERVIEW

BTN: How has ATM been for you this year? Ignace Bauwens: The ATM is always a very important part of the Middle east where people meet. This year has been extremely busy – we see it growing every year. We have a good exchange with our commercial partners with people around the regions but also more and more with owners. BTN: You’ve decided to tie all the brands together under one umbrella?

IGnACe BAUWenS

Ignace Bauwens Wyndham Hotel Group Breaking Travel News talks to Ignace Bauwens, Regional VP Middle East, Eurasia & Africa, Wyndham Hotel Group breakingtravelnews.com

Ignace Bauwens: yes two weeks ago we had a global conference in Las Vegas and there our president and Ceo announced the hallmark ‘by Wyndham. All our mid-scale and economy brands will have the ‘hallmark by Wyndham’, so it will now be ‘Ramada by Wyndham’, and ‘Super 8 by Wyndham’. Research has shown that it gives our guests confidence when our brands are endorsed by the mother company – in this case Wyndham. Moving forward this shows us that guests will book more, stay longer and spend more, being part of this entire family of brands. Also our loyalty programme which has 55 million members today, we have added an additional five-million in the last 12-months. So with the Wyndham rewards this comes together well. This is very important for us now as moving forward we have been recognised in the Loyalty Magazine and are finalists to win Best Loyalty programme of the year and Best Long-Term Loyalty programme. The winners will be announced in June. BTN: You are certainly giving more options to travellers to the Middle East and you have opened a couple of flag-ship properties late in 2017? Ignace Bauwens: We have brought the largest Tryp by Wyndham to the Middle east. It opened here in Dubai last year with 650 rooms, we have opened the Wyndham Grand in Manama, 260 rooms and most importantly we have brought the Wyndham Garden brand to the MenA region with the opening of our largest one – 441-rooms also in Manama. next month we are opening a Wyndham Garden in Ajman – the first one in the UAe and then later in the year we are opening a Wyndham Garden in Saudi Arabia. We are focusing on bringing more Wyndham Garden’s into the Middle east as well as our Super 8 and Days Inn brands into the UAe at the beginning of next year and so our portfolio of brands in this region are growing year after year.


INTERVIEW

Tristan de la Porte du Theil Dukes Dubai Breaking Travel News talks to Tristan de la Porte du Theil, general manager, Dukes Dubai BTN: After being opened a year – how’s your property been received in the market? Tristan: Very well received, we are a stand- alone hotel on the Palm. We’ve received a lot of interest and enquiries – asking about the product and about the story behind dukes dubai. BTN: I know the aim of the hotel is to bring a slice of Britain to Dubai - do you get many British guests? Tristan: We welcome a lot of British as well as italian, German and French. The GCC market is also interested to come for the uK values and the russian market is very strong as well. BTN: What can we look forward to in 2018? Tristan: as a GM and as owners we are never satisfied, we always want to make our product better. We are reinjecting some investment to make sure that every corner of the hotel is well maintained including the service, the productivity and optimising every square metre of the

ATM SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018

TrisTan de la PorTe du Theil

hotel. We are concentrating on delivering a prime service. BTN: You’ve been recognised by the World Travel Awards as the World’s Leading New Hotel - how did that feel? Tristan: it was very satisfying for my team, for the owning

office, seven-tides, for dukes london, dukes dubai. it’s a big reflection of what we’ve been doing. as a stand-alone property on the Palm – it has given us much more energy and motivation for the next years ahead.


INTERVIEW

sydney Pierre

Sydney Pierre LUX Resorts & Hotels Breaking Travel News talks to Sydney Pierre, Head of Worldwide Sales, LUX Resorts & Hotels BTN: A few days away from opening LUX Bodrun, what can you tell us about the property? sydney Pierre: We’re very excited and we will be opening in one week. This is the first resort in Bodrun to offer an ocean view from wherever you are – in your room, gym or spa.

BTN: Will you be hoping to welcome guests from the UAE and the GCC? What are your key source markets for the hotel? sydney Pierre: The GCC will be a key market for the resort, but we will also be looking eastern europe, russia, Cis. There is also some interest from Germany, the uK and from France.

BTN: How would you describe the hospitality market in Turkey? sydney Pierre: it’s picking up this year – we have some very positive trends. Turkish hospitality is great. BTN: Are you a purely leisure resort or do you have MICE business as well? sydney Pierre: We are a purely leisure resort.

breakingtravelnews.com


aMMar hilal

Ammar Hilal Fairmont Dubai Breaking Travel News talks to Ammar Hilal, general manager, Fairmont Dubai

AHIC SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018


INTERVIEW

“the World Travel Awards is an institution and we are very honoured that we’ve been awarded for service” Ammar Hilal, GM, Fairmont Dubai

BTN: You run one of Dubai’s most respected properties here. How has the market changed?

BTN: How has ATM been for you this year? ammar hilal: The aTM is an anchor within the travel industry and after the WTM in london this is definitely the most important show for the Middle east. This year there are a lot more people attending the show from all over the world and there are new markets too. The calendars are busy! We have put a lot more focus on key tour operators in europe and the Middle east and the summer is looking very positive as well as getting some base business for the autumn and the winter.

breakingtravelnews.com

ammar hilal: our hotel is now 16-years old and is an anchor on sheikh Zayed road. The market has changed, our customers have changed. everything is last minute, we actually have guests arriving at dubai airport and making their bookings online and coming straight to the hotel. There is more supply in the market, where we are and in downtown, we have more than 3,000 hotels rooms coming onto the market increasing the total to 12,000 just on sheikh Zayed road and downtown. That’s a lot of supply! emirates and dTCM have done a lot for the city, so it was very important for us when they launched the day-passes for the visas. This means that people transiting from europe and australia can have a free day. This will have a very positive impact on hotels on sheikh Zayed road. BTN: What are you doing to meet the demand of these new guests? ammar hilal: Currently we are doing a lot of upgrades including our sports Bar which is being completely refurbished and will be open in time for the World Cup. We will also be upgrading our hotel pools. We are the only hotel to have a

sunrise and a sunset pool. We will be giving them a kind of st Tropez look and feel. This should have a positive effect on our clients who want to combine business and leisure. BTN: You have been recognised by the World Travel Awards as the Best in The Region for your service. How important is that to you? ammar hilal: extremely important, the World Travel awards is an institution and we are very honoured that we’ve been awarded for service. This goes back to our recruitment process – we are very rigid when recruiting new talent, they go through training and supervision and are introduced to the Fairmont culture of ‘Family’. We have the lowest rate of staff turnover in the city and that goes back to the leadership in the hotel and to the care we extend to the team. in regard to our luxury Business award, this is a new category which we entered and we are very proud to be honoured by it by our guests. i always say that ‘luxury is very simple’ – it’s the amount of time we allow our colleagues to spend with our guests. That for us is luxury and i am very happy that World Travel awards and our guests have appreciated our efforts. The award really goes to the team at the Fairmont dubai.


INTERVIEW

ChrisTian hirT

Christian Hirt Raffles Istanbul Breaking Travel News talks to Christian Hirt, general manager, Raffles Istanbul

BTN: How has ATM been for you this year? Christian hirt: The show is excellent – very important for us , 70% of our guests come from the GCC and so this is an important show. BTN: Can you tell us about the property you represent? Christian hirt: opened in 2014, raffles istanbul is a stunning property and part of the solar entertainment Complex in the heart of the city. 185 keys, 66

ATM SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018

residences Pan asian restaurant, 3,200 square metre spa and we have one of the largest ballrooms in istanbul. BTN: What do we have to look forward to in 2018? Christian hirt: We recently opened our 66-residences on top of the hotel, four-weeks ago we opened our Pan asian restaurant – Tokyo and just before coming here to the aTM we opened our raffles Club – our loyalty programme.


INTERVIEW

Bianca Sammut Yas Waterworld Breaking Travel News talks to Bianca Sammut, general manager Yas Waterworld, Abu Dhabi

BianCa saMMuT

BTN: It’s a fabulous facility you lead in Abu Dhabi. Tell us about it. Bianca sammut: We have more than 40-rides and attractions and we’re very passionate about creating a great guest experience. BTN: What’s happening on Yas Island? Bianca sammut: We have a brand new attraction which is opening in June – a five-d sea splash – it’s the first in the world and the first in the

breakingtravelnews.com

region. What’s important about this is as well as being an immersive experience we will be bringing yas Water World to life in a cinematic environment. The characters have become 3-d, we’re going to be translating into english and arabic. The 5-d is 3-d with motion seats. so you will have the glasses as well as all the different environmental effects. There’s a full waterfall inside the theatre, lasers, lights and wind. The big thing is that the theatre submerges into 67-metres of water during the film, so we’re really

excited about the experiences we’re providing for our guests and families. BTN: Yas Island has been recognised by the World Travel Awards as the Best in the Region, how does it feel to take the title? Bianca sammut: nothing could make us prouder and it’s a real treat for all our colleagues who work so hard to deliver the guest experience inside the water park. so onwards and upwards.


influencers M A G A Z I N E

Influencer marketing is quickly becoming a major part of the social marketing strategies for many marketers and agencies a like. With digital marketing spend increasing every year, more and more dollars are being devoted to influencer marketing programs due to their potential for significant ROI yields with often less resources. The value of influencer marketing is undeniable and no matter the size, resources, or sophistication, of a marketer or agency, all should be considering integrating an influencer marketing strategy into their social plans, even if their just beginning. The prospect of being able to reach consumers, inside and outside your traditional audience, in engaging ways, and through trusted voices is value that can’t be found through many if any other forms of social media marketing. This could not be more evident in the beauty, cosmetics and spa market, brands are more than comfortable when it comes to sponsorship and generic advertising strategies, but the role of the beauty social influencer is now at a stage where this too must be considered vital for any brands marketing strategy.

www.theinfluencersmagazine.com


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RAS AL  KHAIMAH UNITED ARAB EMIRATES | 19 APRIL 2018 VENUE Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah With over 7,000 years of fascinating history and culture, Ras Al Khaimah is the perfect getaway from everyday life. Offering magnificent landscapes, breathtaking coastlines and rich, terracoa desert planes, the emirate has firmly established itself as the UAE’s most authentic destination in the Middle East. With year-long sunshine and 64km of white sandy beaches, just 45 minutes from the bustling metropolis of Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah offers an entirely unique experience from its neighbouring emirates. www.rasalkhaimah.ae


WORLD TRAVEL AWARDS  MIDDLE EAST GALA CEREMONY 2018

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RAS AL KHAIMAH Ras Al Khaimah, the northern-most emirate of the UAE, offers its visitors a truly authentic Arabian experience; from its golden beaches, lush mangroves and terracoa deserts, to the towering Hajar Mountains bordering Oman. Along with boundless natural aractions and activities, Ras Al Khaimah boasts a number of ancient archaeological sites, giving visitors a fascinating insight into its history and the rich culture that still runs through the very heart of its local population. Bask under the emirate's golden sun rays or spend the day discovering Ras Al Khaimah's finest local products from artisanal textiles to delicious traditional cuisine.


WORLD TRAVEL AWARDS  MIDDLE EAST GALA CEREMONY 2018

THINGS TO DO DHAYAH FORT

AL HAMRA MARINA & YAcHT cLUB

With a backdrop of steep mountains, the bay of Dhayah has always been a very fertile area and has been seled in at least since the third millennium BC. A conical shaped hill at the edge of the palm gardens and at the foot of the mountains, served as a natural defense post for the oasis. People have used this hill since prehistoric times for selement and fortification alike. Today it is crowned by a fortress, built during the 19th century on the foundations of much older structures. It is the only hilltop fort still existing in the UAE and offers a fantastic view of the lush palm gardens, the sea and the dramatic mountains.

Sailing has traditionally been an integral part of Ras Al Khaimah's culture. Due to the favorable weather and water conditions, the emirate has been a destination of choice for sailors to practice their skills at sea. The Royal Yacht Club of Ras Al Khaimah, under the Patronage of HH Sheik Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, is a members club for sailing, yachting and water sports enthusiasts.

AL JAzIRAH AL HAMRA Al Jazirah Al Hamra is the last authentic and traditional town still standing in the United Arab Emirates. Once a small island, its inhabitants subsisted on maritime and pearl trading before they abandoned their houses in the middle of the 20th century, when the rush to modernized started. An undisturbed picture of life before the discovery of oil was le behind and preserved until today. This is a unique area for Ras Al Khaimah and the whole country. Al Jazirah Al Hamra shows all elements of a traditional town, including a fortress for defence purposes, a small market, several mosques and a variety of houses types. These range from simple buildings to ornate houses with courtyards which belonged to rich pearl mercahants. Al Jazirah Al Hamra is one of the best places to study traditional coral-stone architecture, used along the coast of the UAE.

JEBEL JAIS Jebel Jais is definitely the UAE’s tallest mountain and is every bit as exciting as a tall mountain should be. Rugged, at times wind -swept, valleys with sweeping views…and absolute isolation.

AL HAMRA MALL Al Hamra Mall is a 37,000 m2 two-storey shopping center set the stunning residential development of Al Hamra Village in Ras Al Khaimah, offering a perfect blend of shopping, entertainment, dining and recreational options. Al Hamra Mall houses a wide range of stores and services catering to its international customers, synchronizing perfectly with the demands and wishes of the multi cultural population in the UAE.

TOWER LINKS GOLF cLUB RAS AL KHAIMAH Tower Links has long been touted as the most natural golf course in the Emirates, with as many as 11 out of the 18 holes meandering around a mangrove reserve. Not only does the reserve provide a natural and safe habitat to many aquatic and bird species, but also presents new golfing challenges to test the skill level of every player.

AL WADI EqUESTRIAN ADvENTURE cENTRE A dedicated equestrian and adventure centre steeped in the stunning nature and culture of Ras Al Khaimah. The Al Wadi Equestrian Adventure Centre believe that their natural unspoilt environment and offering are totally unique and bring people back to nature through outdoor and equestrian activities.

www.worldtravelawards.com


ATHENS, GREECE 30 JUNE 2018

VENUE zappeion Magaron Hall Oen referred to as the cradle of Western civilisation, Athens is Europe’s oldest city and dates back 2,500 years. Since 2004, the Archaeological Promenade, a 2.5-mile long, pedestrian-only walkway skirts the foot of the Acropolis and links all the city’s major archaeological sites. This huge archaeological park has reconciled past and present, with the city’s cultural and social life once again taking place around the ancient monuments and surrounding neighbourhoods. But visitors don’t come here just for the ancient monuments. Contemporary Athens boasts one of the most thriving nightlife in Europe, from the urbanchic bars around Monastiraki (at the foot of the Acropolis), to lounge-bars and fusion-food eateries of up-market Kolonaki. www.visitgreece.gr


WORLD TRAVEL AWARDS  EUROPE GALA CEREMONY 2018

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ATHENS Athens is the historical capital of Europe, with a long history, dating from the first selement in the Neolithic age. In the 5th century Bc (the “Golden Age of Pericles”) – the culmination of Athens’ long, fascinating history – the city’s values and civilization acquired a universal significance. Over the years, a multitude of conquerors occupied Athens, and erected unique, splendid monuments - a rare historical palimpsest. In 1834, it became the capital of the modern Greek state and in two centuries since it has become an aractive modern metropolis with unrivalled charm. A large part of the town’s historic centre has been converted into a 3-kilometre pedestrian zone (the largest in Europe), leading to the major archaeological sites (“archaeological park”), reconstructing – to a large degree – the ancient landscape.


WORLD TRAVEL AWARDS  EUROPE GALA CEREMONY 2018

THINGS TO DO AcROPOLIS MUSEUM

PLAKA

Modern, up-to-date building on the foot of the Acropolis, housing important ancient Greek statues and much more.

Historic neighborhood located at the base of the hill topped by the Acropolis.

AcROPOLIS

EREcHTHEION

The most famous site in all of Athens, this large hill lies in the centre of the city and contains a cluster of ancient ruins.

PARTHENON The majestic ruins of an ancient Greek building, known for its dignified white marble columns and perfect sense of proportion.

TEMPLE OF HEPHAESTUS This ancient Greek temple, located on the Acropolis and dedicated to Hephaistos, god of the forge, is one of the few temples to be almost entirely preserved.

The second largest temple on the Acropolis has a complex and unique structure, including its famous Porch of the Caraytis with statues of six graceful maidens on the south side and a four-pillared porch with six Ionic columns on the north side.

MOUNT LYcABETTUS Walk or take the funicular tramway to the top of this hill for the best views of Athens.

HEROD ATTIcUS ODEON Second-century theater built into the hillside.

NATIONAL ARcHAEOLOGIcAL MUSEUM A truly wonderful museum that covers many eras of Greek history.

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HONG KONG 3 SEPTEMBER 2018

VENUE Intercontinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong A few weeks, days or just hours are enough to get you hooked on the incredible city that is Hong Kong! Whether you’re a first timer, or already have a love-affair with our great city, this series of guides has something new for you: it’s a compilation of stories, recommendations and tips on Hong Kong from people in the know. Pick a topic that interests you—from incredible Chinese superstitions in “Traditions and Spirituality”, to funky art galleries in “Industrial Revolution”—and you’ll discover many exciting experiences and adventures. www.discoverhongkong.com/uk/index.jsp


WORLD TRAVEL AWARDS  ASIA & AUSTRALASIA GALA CEREMONY 2018

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HONG KONG Global connection hub, autonomous country of china, former British possession, haunt of opium mongrels and pirates, Asia’s World city, and favorite visitor’s destination – Hong Kong is all this and more. Hong Kong Island itself, with its world-famous skyline, is the center of this archipelago set in the South china Sea, just off the mainland. It enjoys freedom from government interference unrivaled in china. Once a prize reluctantly given to British traders by the former chinese Emperor aer the first Opium War, Hong Kong was returned to the motherland in 1997, very much under its own terms.


WORLD TRAVEL AWARDS  ASIA & AUSTRALASIA GALA CEREMONY 2018

THINGS TO DO STAR FERRY

cHI LIN NUNNERY

Step back to the days of old and experience an era when third generation Star ferries were the major passenger connection between Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula. Step aboard the fabulous double-decker ‘Shining Star’ ferry, a beautiful re-creation of a 1920s ferry. Relax and enjoy the magnificent view while sipping a cup of fine coffee in an on-vessel cafe or soak up the sun on the open decks while enjoying the cooling sea breezes.

One of the most beautiful and arrestingly built environments in Hong Kong, this large Buddhist complex, originally dating from the 1930s, was rebuilt completely of wood (and not a single nail) in the style of the Tang dynasty in 1998.

vIcTORIA PEAK (THE PEAK) Hong Kong’s number one tourist destination features the Peak Tower and the Peak Tram, the city’s oldest mode of public transport.

TIAN TAN BUDDHA (BIG BUDDHA) Tian Tan Buddha, also known as the Big Buddha, is a large bronze statue of Buddha Shakyamuni, completed in 1993, and located at Ngong Ping, Lantau Island, in Hong Kong.

HONG KONG TRAMWAYS (DING DING) Since 1904, trams have been running from East to West of Hong Kong Island, and they remain the most economical mode of public transport in Hong Kong. Today, Hong Kong Tramways owns and operates a fleet of 163 tramcars, including 2 antique tramcars, carrying a daily average of 230,000 passengers. It is the world’s largest fleet of double-deck tramcars still in service.

NAN LIAN GARDEN Established in 1934 and renovated in Tang dynasty style (AD 618–907) in 1990, the Chi Lin Nunnery is a large temple complex of elegant wooden architecture, treasured Buddhist relics and soul-soothing lotus ponds. The complex also includes a series of temple halls, some of which contain gold, clay and wooden statues representing divinities such as the Sakyamuni Buddha and bodhisavas.

HONG KONG MUSEUM OF HISTORY Founded to preserve the historical and cultural heritage of China, the museum continually adds to its collection new items that are related to the history of Hong Kong and the territories of South China. Currently, its collection counts over 90,000 historical objects and materials. In the museum guests will see the unique collection of natural history, exclusive historical developments and materials, and a wide range of Hong Kong’s archaeological objects.

LANTAU ISLAND Buddhist architecture; fireworks over Sleeping Beauty’s castle; a long sandy beach; a mall of shopping outlets — Lantau Island has it all. Whatever your persuasion, Hong Kong’s largest outlying island brings solace to the soul, senses and shopping bags.

vIcTORIA HARBOUR The energetic Victoria Harbour is truly Hong Kong’s lifeline, and with its constant parade of vessels and breathtaking surrounding scenery, a harbour cruise is a must-do on any trip to Hong Kong. Step aboard for a journey into the true heart of Asia’s world city.

HONG KONG DISNEYLAND Get ready for non-stop Disney fun with all your favourite rides and characters! Extend the magic with a hotel stay to enjoy world-class hospitality and indulge in incredible meals by award-winning chefs. Don’t forget to pick up cool gis for your loved ones to share the magic of Hong Kong Disneyland!

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GUAYAQUIL ECUADOR 15 SEPTEMBER 2018

The most visited city in Ecuador, Guayaquil is bursting with energy and optimism. Thanks to a massive regeneration project of public squares, parks and urban areas, the city is evolving into one of Latin America’s most talked-about tourism destinations. The waterfront Malecón "Simón Bolivar" is a magnificent riverfront town square, which defines Guayaquil identity, and serves as the hub of its thriving cultural and gastronomy scene. Aractions range from historical monuments, artisan markets and botanical gardens to a new ferris wheel and several museums. The harbour and promenade of Puerto Santa Ana is the latest addition to the waterfront. Just across the river, set in mangroves, caiman, monkeys and parakeets can be observed in the Parque Histórico. Guayaquil, which is located on the western bank of the Guayas River, also serves as the perfect gateway for both the Pacific Ocean beaches and the Galapagos Islands. www.guayaquil.travel


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GUAYAQUIL, ECUADOR Founded in the 1530s, Ecuador's largest city and main port is the top access point for Galapagos cruises and home to a bustling import-export business. Tourism is on the rise as well, thanks to a new international airport and urban renewal projects along the River Guayas promenade and in the historic neighborhood of Las PeĂąas. The 465-step climb to the top of Santa Ana Hill provides sweeping views and a chance to stand on the site of the city's birthplace.


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THINGS TO DO PARquE HiSToRico GuAyAquiL

EL FARo dE GuAyAquiL

It includes eight hectares divided in three zones: Wild Life, Traditions and Urban - architectural, where the nature, rural and urban aspects are brought together in one concept: encouraging the environment preservation, rescue and promotion of our customs.

Walking up the 440 steps to the lighthouse was truly a delight. The view from inside the lighthouse was breathtaking!

MALEcon 2000 Stretching for several miles along the Rio Guayas, this lively boardwalk is well-patrolled day and night and features small food stands, other eateries and a blend of historic and modern buildings.

LAS PEnAS The Malecón ends in the north at the picturesque barrio of Las Peñas, itself at the foot of Cerro Santa Ana. There’s lile more to it than a short, dead-end road – Numa Pompilio Llona – paved with uneven, century-old cobblestones, but the colourful wooden houses here make this one of the preiest corners of Guayaquil. Many of the houses have been beautifully restored, but part of the area’s charm derives from the flaking paint and gentle disrepair of those that haven’t.

cERRo SAnTA AnA Like the ugly duckling to swan tale, this once poor area was transformed into a prime tourist araction – a 465-foot stairway flanked by colorful houses, eateries, gi shops and galleries.

PARquE dE LAS iGuAnAS Seminario Park is also known as the Iguana Park, since dozens of iguanas live in its ornate gardens. According to the tourists they give a prehistoric and natural ambiance to the Park. The reptiles that measure up to 1 metre in length are the main araction of the Park and mingle amiably among the people.

HAciEndA LA dAnESA Hacienda La Danesa (accommodation available) is a traditional dairy and cacao farm with over 145 years of rich heritage and history, located about an hour drive from Guayaquil, Ecuador. Family-owned and managed by the third generation Olsen family, the farm offers a unique selection of tailor-made activities for guests, including horseback riding trails, hands-on artisan chocolate making and other hacienda-related programs. La Danesa offers an intimate and authentic experience for those who would like to spend the night.

LA PERLA With 187 feet high, it’s the first giant ferris wheel in Ecuador and the biggest in South America. Enjoy a new view of the city and the landscapes that surround it inside a complex with all the facilities.

cAPTAin MoRGAn’S PiRATE SHiP A tour through the Guayas River on board of a pirate ship in which several renowned locations of our city are visited, like: Santa Ana Port, Las Peñas Neighborhood, Malecon 2000, Santay Island, Caraguay Market (south of the city), among others. Under the pirate theme, the boat with a capacity for 160 people and an exclusive zone for 60 people, also offers family tours, events like the famous “Pirate Parties”, which last an hour and include shows and free drinks.

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JAMAICA 22 SEPTEMBER 2018

Wherever you go in this enchanted paradise, you will find natural beauty so stunning, it will take your breath away. And people so genuinely friendly and hospitable, it will warm your heart. Jamaica is home to a magnificent landscape of rolling mountains lined by endless white-sand-beaches, covered by lush foliage and crisscrossed by streaming rivers and cascading waterfalls. Jamaica is a wonderland of allure and stunning, natural beauty. From scenic cliffs and majestic waterfalls to pristine lagoons and bubbling hot springs, the region boasts plenty of things to do amid a diverse terrain. Relax on a river ra ride along the Martha Brae or zip down a canopy at full speed over ancient sugar mill ruins – whatever your fancy, Jamaica offers tours and excursions that satisfy the whims of the most adventurous or the most laidback traveler. www.visitjamaica.com


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JAMAICA cOME ON AND FIND YOUR HOLIDAY RHYTHM We’re the island of happy days, vivid nights and dreams that come true. Paradise in Jamaica can be whatever you want it to be – lose yourself in the adventure and take it all in. Get back to nature in the magic of our rainforests, which seem to be as alive as any of the tropical animals that live there. Take your loved ones to hike the Blue Mountains and look at the world through new eyes. Meet our friendly people, try our food and watch the sunset over the caribbean Sea to the sound of slow reggae rhythms and good times. Join us, in the Home of All Right.


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THINGS TO DO BLUE HOLE (OcHO RIOS) Come experience a lile thrill and adventure, geing to see breathtaking views, and doing optional jumps on the way down, through a Jamaican jungle! The river is refreshing, and the views are once in a lifetime, it is a experience you won't regret, or soon forget!

SEvEN MILE BEAcH (NEGRIL) Pirates once haunted this seven-mile stretch of golden sand beach, now ruled by pleasure-seeking beach bums and sun-worshipers. This iconic stretch of paradise is a perfect example of a quintessential tropical seing.

DUNN’S RIvER FALLS AND PARK (OcHO RIOS) The famous Dunn’s River Falls is one of Jamaica’s national treasures. This major tourist araction is the perfect environment for fun and relaxation for the entire family, with many a delightful new discovery to be made around every corner.

NEGRIL cLIFFS (NEGRIL) Located on Negril’s West End, these dramatic and soaring ‘Thunderball.’ Situated away from the large beach resorts, this stunning area of high cliffs, sea caves and clear deep turquoise waters is famous as a location for professional cliff diving.

YS FALLS (SANTA cRUz) YS Falls boasts a magnificent seven-tiered cascading waterfall and an expansive wading pool fed by underground springs. You can take in the spectacular views on an exciting canopy ride which careens you

down the alley high above the falls, or enjoy the beautiful surroundings on a river tube ride. adventure waits for you in the jungle! This stunning location, just off the Black River, is lined with plenty of picnic areas for pleasant aernoon lunches al fresco.

BLOODY BAY (NEGRIL) On the West coast of this laid back island lies Bloody Bay. The heart and soul of the Negril, Bloody Bay plays host to a ribbon of white sands and lapping azure waters, as well as all sorts of beach activities.

RAINFOREST ADvENTURES JAMAIcA (OcHO RIOS) A must on the list of places to explore and activities to enjoy in Jamaica, the eco-friendly Mystic Mountain, 2010 Tourism Excellence award-winner for Ocho Rios aractions, is an unforgeable rainforest adventure for everyone in your family.

ROSE HALL GREAT HOUSE (ROSE HALL) The greatest of Jamaican great houses, the Rose Hall Great House has a story with all the elements of an engaging novel. Built in 1770 by John Palmer and his wife, it eventually became the residence of their grandnephew, John Rose Palmer.

BLUE MOUNTAINS (KINGSTON) Want a wild outdoor adventure that’ll leave you breathless, exhilarated and home in time for supper? Then push your way through the dense tropical forest of the Blue Mountains for an aernoon that will feast your eyes and work your quads.

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SOUTH AFRICA DURBAN | 6 OcTOBER 2018

VENUE The Durban International convention centre Known for its melting pot of cultures, beautiful coastlines, Big-5 Game experiences and spectacular mountain ranges, South Africa has become a major tourist destination on the African continent. Durban, the economic hub of the province, and one of the oďŹƒcial New7Wonders Cities, captures the heart of its visitors with its buzzing, vibrant atmosphere and warm hospitality. Aî…&#x;ractions in and around the city include the impressive Moses Mabhida Stadium, uShaka Marine World, a variety of cultural markets and museums, upmarket shopping centers and world-class golf courses, all of which combine to make Durban a must-visit destination. www.southafrica.net


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DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA The Indian and colonial influences in this South African beach city can’t be missed, and the blend of cultures and architecture makes Durban unique in South Africa. Durban’s Golden Mile is a destination for surfers, families and fisherman, due to its blend of natural beauty and modern resort. Major-city aractions abound, making this a good destination for families and couples alike. With its sunny beaches and fascinating Afro-Indian culture, Durban is becoming a don’tmiss stop in South Africa. Take an hour flight from Johannesburg or a two-hour trip from cape Town to explore this historic city in the Kwazulu-Natal province.


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THINGS TO DO ExPERIENcE INDIAN cULTURE

DIScOvER zULU cULTURE

More Indians reside in Durban than any other country outside India itself. Early immigrants worked on sugar cane farms in current-day KwaZulu-Natal, and many women still wear sarees, the national dress of India, and Indian cuisine is popular. Try a samosa (a savory fried pastry filled with spiced vegetables or meat) or bunny chow (a hollow, halfloaf of bread with curry).

Take in a Zulu experience to learn more about the culture of South Africa’s largest ethnic group (some 10 million Zulus live here). At Shakaland and PheZulu Safari Park, both located in the magnificient Valley of a 1000 Hills, you can walk through beehive huts (replicas of Zulu homesteads), sip traditional beer, watch tribal dances and participate in traditional ceremonies. Journey about 40 miles west of Durban to see Isithumba Adventure Park, an authentic, rural Zulu village. While you’re there, join a tour and experience more Zulu customs, go horseback riding, or see the sights on a 4x4 excursion.

cRUISE THE GOLDEN MILE Durban's Golden Mile, a 3.7 mile stretch of sandy beach, invites surfers and swimmers to enjoy the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Vendors sell assorted cras along the shore, and you can find many beautiful swimming pools along the esplanade. Hop into a rickshaw and ride along the beach; later, dine and dance at a beachside restaurant, trendy club or luxury hotel.

SEE MARINE LIFE AND MORE At the end of the Golden Mile, look for uShaka Marine World, a 40-acre theme park. There are five main sections to explore: a snorkeling lagoon, an interactive animal show area, a shark cage diving area, a water park with slides and a reptile exhibit. Save time to pick up a snack or shop for ethnic clothing, surfing gear or souvenirs at Village Walk.

SHOP AND DINE FROM DAWN TO DARK Look for fine dining, shopping and entertainment along Durban’s Florida Road, considered one of the city's top spots for nightlife. Sidewalk cafes open in the early morning hours, and locals and tourists browse the galleries, boutique shops, and eateries until they close late in the evening. But don't leave yet. That's when the trendy bars and clubs start buzzing.

DIvE INTO HISTORY Follow the Inanda Heritage Route, where you can take a deep dive into some of the city’s most important historical sites. You’ll find Mahatma Gandhi’s house and International Printing Press and Museum in his Phoenix Selement, a communal living society. Stop by Ohlange Institute to see the place where Nelson Mandela cast his vote for democracy. Continue to beautiful Inanda Dam to make a day of it.

PLAY AT MOSES MABHIDA STADIUM Like London’s Big Ben or the Parthenon in Greece, Moses Mabhida Stadium, with its distinctive arch, is an iconic landmark. This 85,00-seat stadium hosted the 2010 World Cup and is a venue for the Essence Festival Durban and many sporting events. Try one of its six signature activities, which include the Adventure Walk, a 500-step climb to the top of the arch, and the Big Rush - Big Swing, a 722-foot free fall adventure. If you’re not that daring, enjoy a Segway Gliding Tour or ride the stadium SkyCar for breathtaking views.

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LISBON, PORTUGAL 1 DECEMBER 2018

Discover Lisbon, a historical city full of stories to tell, where the sun shines 290 days a year and the temperature rarely drops below 15oC. A city where you feel safe wandering around day or night, where the cuisine is dedicated to creating over a thousand ways to cook the beloved bacalhau (salted cod), and where you’ll find hotels and restaurants to suit every taste, budget and requirement. Discover Lisbon, a city full of authenticity where old customs and ancient history intermix with cultural entertainment and hi-tech innovation. Lisbon is ageless, but it loves company, as you’ll find out if you meet someone and ask them to explain, with lots of gestures and repetition, where the best place is to listen to Fado. Aer all, Lisbon is famous for its hospitality and the family-like way it welcomes visitors. www.visitlisboa.com


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LISBON, PORTUGAL Seven cinematic hillsides overlooking the Rio Tejo cradle Lisbon's postcard-perfect panorama of cobbled alleyways, ancient ruins and white-domed cathedrals – a captivating recipe craed over centuries.


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THINGS TO DO BEYOND BAcALHAU: LISBON FOR FOODIES Dining in Lisbon is far more dynamic than navigating countless preparations of Portugal's beloved bacalhau (dried and salted cod fish; 365 recipes and counting!). While bacalhau à Brás (shredded cod with onions, eggs and potatoes; a Bairro Alto original) is never far, Lisbon's strategic seaside position on Europe's doorstep means a bounty of fresh seafood (octopus, tuna, monkfish, shrimp, sardines, clams, snails) rules the city's kitchens, from Michelin-starred restaurants to gourmet-food markets to countless corner tascas (taverns). Top-grade Alentejan beef beckons with juicy steaks and gourmet burgers; and you'll find everything from tantalising Indian curries to authentic Moroccan couscous in-between.

LAST cALL LISBON! The absence of open-container laws and cheap booze means Lisbon loves a night on the town! Don't be fooled by Bairro's Alto's sleepy daytime feel – by night, these narrow cobbled lanes transform into one of Europe's most raucous drinking addresses. Student dives, traditional fado houses, upscale wine bars and LGBT hotspots merrily coexist among the muddled mess. In Cais do Sodré, 'Pink Street' and environs are home to some of the city's classic nightclubs and best cocktail bars, while trendier megaclubs stretch along the waterfront from Santos to Santa Apolónia. Last call? Sunrise!

defined as before or aer the earthquake – and the Pombaline architecture that defined post-quake Lisbon reconstruction counts as some of the first seismically protected constructions in Europe.

MIRADOURO MANIA: ScENIc cITY vIEWS Lisbon's trademark seven hills are peppered across the cityscape like loy guardians of colour and history. Capped by a collection of terraces known as miradouros (viewpoints), a must-see web of no-filter-necessary views over Lisbon, the Tejo and beyond is formed. Our favourite miradouros – Portas do Sol, São Pedro de Alcântara, da Graça, da Nossa Senhora do Monte, Santa Luzia and, of course, Castelo de São Jorge – all offer stunning spots to get your bearings and while away aernoons overs bicas (espresso), elegant glasses of Touriga Nacional or refreshing pitchers of sangria, while rubbernecking the city's stupendous horizons.

THE GREAT LISBON EARTHqUAKE You couldn't blame your average lisboêta for thinking of the apocalypse when the ground gave way just before 10am on 1 November, 1755. What followed was up to eight astonishing minutes of city-shaering shaking spread across three tremors, followed 40 minutes later by a massive, city-engulfing tsunami, culminating in a weeklong firestorm that incinerated what lile was initially spared. Lisbon was decimated. Today, the modern city is shaped by that cataclysmic day – nearly everything is

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WORLD SPA AWARDS 27 OCTOBER 2018


WORLD SPA AWARDS  2018

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KitzbüheL AUStRiA 16-18 NOvEmBER 2018


WORLD SKi AWARDS  KitzbüheL 2018

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WORLD GOLF AWARDS La maNga CLuB, SpaiN | 1-4 NOvEmBER 2018


WORLD GOLF AWARDS  2018

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Ras Al Khaimah DELIVERS Arabian Hotel Investment Conference Modern leaders, forwardthinking investors and bold new hoteliers will TOOK centre-stage at THE annual hotel investment event at the purpose-built AHIC Village, in the grounds of the fivestar Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah, UAE.

The unmissable Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) 2018 programme also featured global hotel CEOs representing IHG, Louvre Hotels, 25Hours and Standard International, as well as regional leaders from Majid Al Futtaim, Al Habtoor Group, ORASCOM and Action Hotels. Spanning three days, the 14th edition of AHIC addressed the critical issues of innovation, leadership, destination development and industry disruptors amid the macroeconomic outlook from the investors’ perspective. The event welcomed 700 hotel investors, major developers, leading

AHIC SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018

financiers, and C-level hotel executives to enjoy content, networking and events, live-onstage interviews with some of the world’s most respected businessmen and hotel leaders and the first AHIC Global Project Showcase, featuring hospitality investment opportunities from around the world. Held in partnership with Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA), AHIC 2018 was inaugurated by His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, who gave a keynote opening speech. His Highness revealed further

insights into the Strategy for Ras Al Khaimah, one of the world’s fastest growing tourism destinations, and shared anecdotes that inspired fellow leaders at AHIC. His Highness’ welcome was followed by a keynote interview with one of the Middle East’s most respected businessmen, His Excellency Mohamed Alabbar, Founder & Chairman, Emaar Properties, who has not only played a critical role in establishing Dubai’s reputation as a tourism hotspot but is also renowned for his entrepreneurial outlook and passion for digital disruption. Alabbar said: “With its natural setting, diverse attractions and a


AHIC 2018 REVIEW

fast-evolving hospitality infrastructure, Ras Al Khaimah is setting new milestones in the industry, and evolving as one of the popular tourism hubs in the region. AHIC 2018 will put the spotlight on the emirate and drive inward investments, and underline the diversity of tourism offerings that our nation presents to the world. Through the Conference, which discusses future trends, we can collectively contribute to strengthening the prospects of the tourism and hospitality sectors, and unlock their true potential.” AHIC, now in its 14th year, is the annual gathering for the Middle East’s hospitality investment community organised by global

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hotel investment event organiser Bench Events in partnership with Meed Events. AHIC creates a knowledge and networking platform for global and regional investors of all backgrounds, offering essential insights to investing in hotels, showcasing regional and international hospitality investment opportunities and facilitating direct connections with hospitality industry stakeholders. Jonathan Worsley, Chairman of Bench Events and Co-Founder of AHIC, said: “We were delighted and proud to open AHIC 2018 with insights from two such respected business leaders.

“I’ve no doubt the contributions from His Highness Sheikh Saud and His Excellency Mohamed Alabbar will set the scene for highly relevant debate and discussion around the all-important topics of leadership and innovation as they impact the global hospitality investment industry.” www.arabianconference.com


Reality of hotel investment risks to come under spotlight AHIC 2018 will offer a showcase of regional and global hospitality projects with live investment opportunities and provide more networking events than ever before

The programme has been shaped following the AHIC Advisory Board, held at the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management in Dubai, at which 37 of the Middle East’s leading hotel owners, developers, and operators and consultants gathered to debate issues focused around the key pillars of hotel investment, innovation and inspiration.

Jonathan Worsley, chairman of Bench Events, organisers of AHIC, said: “Our annual Advisory Board meeting is an essential component of the programming for AHIC, and we are very grateful for the input of all members. Every year, the discussion is different, and this debate was dominated by a clear focus on the costs of development versus the reality of returns.”

The board revealed a collective desire to build hotels for ROI, with land, development and construction costs all coming under scrutiny. Participants look to better understand value engineering, the use of renewable energy sources and sustainable construction for decreased costs – all topics that will be featured in the AHIC 2018 programme.

He added: “There was a thirst for knowledge around issues such as risk adjustment and returns, supply and security, facilitation of foreign investment, ownership models and even exit strategies for distressed assets.”

AHIC SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018

Worsley continued: “Our Advisory Board also discussed new investment vehicles; innovative finance models; cryptocurrencies and digital

payments; the impact of the co-living and working movement on the hotel model; how to maximise the religious tourism market in KSA; and where and what is the new mid-market. These are the hard-hitting topics we plan to address at AHIC 2018.” Considering the latest Middle East hotel pipeline and performance data, presented to the board by Philip Wooller, area director Middle East, STR, owners and operators alike aired their concerns about the continuing imbalance between supply and demand and the inevitable consequence of declining RevPAR. Currently, the Middle East is one of only two regions globally, the other being South America, in which supply is outstripping demand, with supply increasing at a rate of


FEATURE

HAITHAM MATTAR

4.9 per cent versus demand at 3.2 per cent. The board also revealed a desire for insights from other business sectors and for the first time, AHIC 2018 will feature a ‘Spotlight on Innovation’ series with speakers from outside the hospitality industry taking to the stage.

their next hospitality venture. As Ras Al Khaimah draws closer to reaching its one million visitors target by the end of 2018 and charts a path towards attracting 2.9 million visitors by 2025, the need for quality hotel rooms has never been so important.”

In addition to three days of engaging content, AHIC 2018 will present its first Project Showcase, highlighting regional and international hotel investment opportunities.

He added: “To accommodate this growth in visitors, we are providing potential investors a range of innovative opportunities to develop stand out properties across the emirate,” Mattar said, adding that these would be showcased at AHIC.”

Haitham Mattar, chief executive, RAKTDA, said: “These strong performance indicators, which are expected to continue throughout the last quarter of 2017 and beyond, clearly outline the potential for investors in looking at Ras Al Khaimah for

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RAKTDA is working closely with the AHIC team to create the custom-built AHIC Village, in partnership with renowned designer Harlequin Arena Group

“These strong performance indicators... clearly outline the potential for investors in looking at Ras Al Khaimah for their next hospitality venture.” Haitham Mattar


Alan Stocker Waldorf Astoria Ras al Khaimah The Waldorf Astoria Ras al Khaimah is hosting both the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) and the Middle East Gala Ceremony, World Travel Awards. Ahead of these two prestigious events Phil Blizzard spoke with Alan Stocker, General Manager of the hotel Breaking Travel News: Last year you won the award for Ras al Khaimah Leading Resort, what does that mean to you and the hotel? Alan Stocker: It's fantastic. It's all about putting the name on a pedestal and I think when she start to get these awards people started to take note and you're being highlighted accordingly. It's a good feeling. BTN: How do you see these awards in terms of marketing what you have here, which is a very luxurious property? AS: We are quite discreet so we try not to overly plan, but I think for the team in particular it's really important. I think for their hard work and their dedication it's a nice payoff to see the awards coming through and so we spend a lot of time with the team to appreciate their hard work and their dedication, yes. BTN: It's a busy time for you with two major events taking place at the hotel, but before we go on to those, what has the first quarter of 2018 been like for you? AS: Super strong, so I

think our owners would be very happy that we've delivered so far. I think looking forward is well, the second quarter is also looking very strong. So in general, this is panning out to be after five years, we seem to be levelling out and quite consistent in terms of our business nowadays. BTN: What about your source markets? Do you find that they evolve, they change? How are they at the moment? AS: Little bit of change, so we saw a just little bit of the Russian market particularly last year. I think that was due to the change of flights going into some other areas of the region. There's also change in terms of visa, so the Russian market was certainly a pickup and that was excellent.

BTN: Coming on to events just, for example, at the side and front of the hotel some super cars there. This is something you do offer your guests, a motoring experience? AS We do, it's actually part of the Waldorf experience to have the driving experience. This happens periodically through the year, but beyond that we have the Super Cars Club that come up quite often and other clubs. We're quite blessed and I must say I've been on the doorstep quite often just videoing and photographing these vehicles because it's really stunning. In fact we had the highest number of cars any one time in the Arabian Peninsula which was 85 cars parked up on our doorstep.

BTN: What about the massive Chinese market? AS: Not so much for us, I think they tend to look at more of the iconic backdrops of the Burj and the Dubai skyscrapers. For us, we're a little bit more discreet in that respect and we haven't really pushed it, so very limited, if at all.

BTN: That's quite an achievement. Before we go to the corporate side of things, what other leisure type specials do you host and offer? AS: Well, recently, since the opening of the zip line up in Jebel Jais we've now packaged this in terms of a stay experience. A lot of our guests are coming through to go up into the

AHIC SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018

hills. As you know, recently, we won a Guinness Book of Records for the longest zip line in the world, where you're reaching speeds of a 120 to 150 kph at 1,600 meters above sea level. BTN: Looking at corporate events, we'll start off with the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC). You've created a village on the beach for this? How important is AHIC going to be to you? AS: Very important. I think it's been a true privilege to have this event come up. It's the first time after, I believe, 13 years of being in Dubai. A lot of pioneers have worked very hard to get us into the playing and, for us, now, to have it showcased on our property it's a great achievement. BTN: Attending will be investors and hotel leaders from major brands from across the world. How do you feel about hosting these important people from the industry? AS: A little daunting, I have to say, and in particularly with having World Travel Awards on the back of AHIC.


INTERVIEW

Because, it is not only the CEOs and the leaders in terms of business, but it's also leaders in terms of the hotels themselves. To have these events back to back, yes, it's a little bit off-putting, but a pride and joy to also have it here. BTN: Yes, the World Travel Awards are at the end of the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference. Again, leaders from the hotel industry across the Middle East coming to the Waldorf. A chance to showcase what you got as well? AS: It is not just for us at the Waldorf Astoria, but also for the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. A lot of people maybe don't know much about this Emirate and so for the first time, I think we're trying to really put Ras Al Khaimah on the map and this is a great opportunity.

for that. Now, moving on from AHIC and the World Travel Awards to digital media. In this changing world and in particular that of hospitality how important is digital media in the way you position yourself, your market, your property. How are you using the aspects of social media? AS: As you say, it's really important nowadays, so much that we've actually extended our team recently in this respect. Whereas, before we would have just run it in terms of the marketing team looking through press and dabbling. Now we have a team of people who are really delving a lot more in terms of the opportunities and the links that we have out there.

BTN: When it comes to the World Travel Awards, what do you hope to achieve for the Waldorf Astoria and your team here? AS: Let's see, what comes out of the cooking book. It would be good to see something significant.

BTN: What are the challenges because social media is global isn't? You're going into countries like Russia where you do have guests and also China, a new market. How do you approach those countries in the perspective of digital and social media? AS: A lot more complicated. We do have an office that supports us in Russia, as an example. Otherwise, what we do is we really network through the Hilton system. We have offices all over the world and wherever we need to reach out they will support and assist us to make sure we have that leverage. We also use our other hotels specifically. With Waldorf and Conrad as luxury properties we try to network as best we can through them.

BTN: All fingers crossed

BTN: Let's look a few

BTN: Ras Al Khaimah has a very strong dynamic tourism board. How do they assist you? AS: They've been incredible and it's really ongoing and consistent. Particularly Haitham Matter of the CEO, he's very dynamic, he's everywhere. I don't know when he sleeps because the amount of opportunities he's bringing into this region is really significant.

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things specific to your property here in Ras Al Khaimah. What would you say your key offerings are? AS: The key thing, for me, is the beauty of this palatial architectural building. It stands out on the horizon not only from an architectural perspective, but from an interior perspective. The design and the time and attention that's been put into really fine detail is there. We just need to ensure we're matching it from a service perspective so that when you see it and anticipate we deliver. For us, yes, it's to make sure our team is up there, but in terms of the offer internally the rooms are stunning, there's a large variety of rooms. We've got the various suites and so on, in different areas of the lookouts. You can have a golf view or sea view depends on the size of the room you're looking for, depends on how big you are as a family group and so on. We match them with restaurants and bars. There's 10 on offer here - ranging from Umi, the Japanese restaurant, to Lexington,

to Maison, the Arabic restaurant. BTN: With your wide range of offerings do you get much business from the local community? AS: We do and we're hoping for more. Recently, we launched within the immediate area ferry service both for our guests to move around the area a little bit, but also for residents living in the area to come across. It's a complementary experience to come through and we were doing a lot more that way now to ensure they are aware of us. BTN: Thank you very much indeed for joining us here in Breaking Travel News and good luck with the forthcoming World Travel Awards. AS: Thank you so much. Appreciate your time, thanks.


Discover Ras Al Khaimah

www.discoverrasalkhaimah.co


Day of Disruption to kick off Ras al Khaimah event The Arabian Hotel Investment Conference will kick off with a Day of Disruption, designed to shake-up traditional ways of thinking and bring insight to the hospitality investment industry from forward thinkers operating in various sectors .

Taking place at the purpose-built AHIC Village in the grounds of the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, in partnership with Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, AHIC promises to harvest knowledge from outside of the hotel industry and challenge the status quo. Jonathan Worsley, chairman of Bench Events, organisers of AHIC, explained: “The hospitality industry is often criticised for not keeping ahead of trends or driving innovation. That’s because hotels are a rooms-based business model, offering bed and breakfast – something that will always be needed, as long as people continue to travel. There is little motivation, quite understandably, to change this.” He added: “However, as the hotel market in this region matures, competition increases, putting performance and profitability under pressure, so investors are quite rightly focusing on the future and carefully analysing the potential of current and future assets alike,” continued Worsley.

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“Many of the hotel owners we speak with at AHIC invest in other industries as well and are keen to see how the hospitality industry will adopt new technologies and create alternative operating models. This is why we are kicking off AHIC 2018 with The Day of Disruption, which will bring together chief executives from some of the world’s most forward-thinking companies, such as Winding Tree, Vayner Media and TINT, to share their knowledge with the industry. “This will no doubt fuel the debate for the rest of AHIC, which will address business-critical issues including the macro economic outlook, global leadership, destination development, international investment opportunities, value engineering and asset management,” said Worsley. Headlining the Day of Disruption is Frits Dirk van Paasschen, author of The Disruptor’s Feast and former chief executive of Starwood Hotels & Resorts. According to van Paasschen, established interests, change-blindness and set ways of

“There is so much change still to come, and most of the industry is still asleep” FRITS Dirk van PaasschEN


FEATURE

FRITS DIRK VAN PAASSCHEN

working mean hotel brands will wake up too late to disruption, making it nearly impossible for incumbents to survive. “There is so much change still to come, and most of the industry is still asleep,” said Paasschen, who believes “lodging capacity in the space between traditional hotels and first-generation peer-to-peer accommodations” will be the major disruptor to the hospitality industry in 2018. In this highly-relevant kick-off to AHIC, van Paasschen will present his own thoughts – including those on how the hospitality industry can lead the way to a carbon-neutral future - and welcome other experts from outside of the industry to share their essential insights for hotel owners and operators. Speakers include Maksim Izmaylov, chief executive, Winding Tree, specialist in blockchain technology, who holds a similar view to van Paasschen.

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“There is no innovation in the hospitality industry, that’s the main problem. There are no and will be no new disruptors in the industry until we break the monopolistic grip on it,” said Izmaylov, who will present how blockchain can be used to circumvent OTAs. Partner of AHIC 2018, Haitham Mattar, chief executive, RAKTDA, said technology would be the biggest disruptor to the hospitality industry in 2018. “I am referring to technology that improves the customer experience, and tech that improves operator efficiency. The ultimate disruptors will be tech that achieves both,” said Mattar. “The UAE’s leadership has a clear plan to build smart cities, and a smart society. They are investing heavily in all the pillars that will enable this vision, including smart transportation, crowd management, smart buildings and smart tourism. Investors need to be aware of these developments, and align with them,” he added.

AHIC 2018, which promises to further knowledge, deepen existing relationships and forge new ones among the leaders of the hospitality investment community, will attract around 800 hotel investors, major developers, leading financiers, and C-level hotel executives to attend three days of content, networking and events.


Significant opportunities for Middle Eastern hospitality investment The Arabian Hotel Investment Conference 2018 is forecasting significant opportunities for hotel investors targeting the Middle East in light of new data from MEED Projects, which predicts that more than US$14 billion worth of hotel construction contracts will be awarded in 2018.

According to MEED Projects, the online projects tracking service, the value of new hotel investments in the MENA region could hit a record high in 2018. Ed James, director of content and analysis at MEED Projects, said: “After a relatively subdued 2017 up to end of November which has seen US$5.45 billion worth of new hotel construction contracts awarded, the value of hotels due to be awarded next year is more than US$14 billion. This total would comfortably exceed the US$8.5bn awarded in 2016 and the previous record of US$11.9 billion awarded in 2015.” James added: “On the back of its forecasted performance, investment in hotels will comprise about seven per cent of the total US$200 billion scheduled projects spending in the MENA region next year, making it one of the most important construction subsectors. “On a country basis, the UAE will be by far the largest market, with an expected US$8.4 billion worth of contracts, followed by Saudi Arabia at US$1.9 billion and Qatar at US$1.7 billion.”

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“These new figures are exciting for the Middle East hospitality investment community.” Jonathan Worsley


FEATURE

These figures will be discussed at the 14th edition of AHIC, which will be held at the purpose-built AHIC Village in the grounds of the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, in partnership with Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority. Jonathan Worsley, chairman of Bench Events, said: “These new figures are exciting for the Middle East hospitality investment community, which gathers annually at AHIC. With oil prices now trading significantly higher than the January 2016 lows, we expect to see signs of recovery and stability in most regional economies.” AHIC 2018, which promises to further knowledge, deepen existing relationships and forge new ones among the leaders of the hospitality investment community, will attract around 800 hotel investors, major developers, leading financiers, and C-level hotel executives to attend three days of content, networking and events. Partner of AHIC 2018, Haitham Mattar, chief executive, RAKTDA, added that hotel investors would need to rise to the challenge of meeting the shifting demands of travellers and the specific requirements

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of certain demographic and geographic groups, such as millennials, families, and baby boomers, as well as halal travellers and those from emerging markets such as China and India. “Investors need to understand these requirements and must also take into consideration from the outset which type of technology will drive the sector in the future – they need to consider this right at the beginning or risk becoming rapidly irrelevant,” said Mattar. He observed: “The biggest risk for hotel investors is not embracing the changes and challenges outlined above and expecting traditional business to keep on coming. It’s no longer a case of build it and they will come. It’s more a case of build what they want, and they will come. There’s a lot of competition on the global scene for the business of the new emerging markets. The hotel guest is now very much in the driving seat from


Jonathan Worsley Bench Events The Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah is hosting both the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) and the Middle East Gala Ceremony, World Travel Awards. Ahead of these two prestigious events Phil Blizzard spoke with Jonathan Worsley, Chairman, Bench Events Breaking Travel News: Arabian Hotel Investment Conference 2018 and the final preparations are being made in this amazing construction the AHIC village. Jonathan - in Ras Al Khaimah what does it mean to be here? Jonathan Worsley: It’s so exciting to here. After 13 years in Dubai now to be in Ras Al Khaimah in this fabulous venue. It’s incredible they’ve constructed this venue for this event. It’s very exciting we’ve got a great audience coming as well all very supportive. BTN: What brought you to what is known as the emerging emirate of the United Arab Emirates? JW: We’re all for supporting these events for the region for the Middle East. We had the Saudi Investment Conference in Riyadh in February, we have briefings in Bahrain, in Doha - we have a lot going on in the region. So we thought it was time we brought the main event to Ras Al Khaimah. We looked at an emirate which is also growing like Dubai was 15 years ago and still is.

BTN: So were talking hours before the opening. How long does it take you to prepare this enormous structure? JW: Well we’ve been working on it all year and of course designing it so it’s been quite fun. Normally you’re given a venue with pillars and you’re stuck with it! This time we’ve got this fabulous venue which we’ve been able to help design. BTN: Now going onto the agenda. The focus this year is called ‘Focus’, what’s going to be the key elements? JW: I think it’s important for us all to ‘Focus’. There’s a lot of stuff happening in the world at the moment and I think we all need to stay focused. Focus on your business focus on intelligence, focus on networking, just focus on what you do well and keep doing it! BTN: Focusing on those elements, also chance to focus on the attractions and on the important elements here in Ras Al Khaimah- driving people here. Alot of adventure of course…..

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JW: Well that’s right -we had 25 people here this morning who went up to Jebel Jais Zip Line. It’s good the emirate is doing things differently here through the ruler HH Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi. It’s good for Ras Al Khaimah to think outside of the box looking at the adventure travel, looking at the destination, looking at leisure tourism. Ras Al Khaimah enjoys high occupancies. There are good investment opportunities here. BTN: Talking of Jebel Jais the Zip Wire - have you tried it yet? JW: Absolutely, and I’m doing it again! BTN: Well, it’s great to be here again at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference in a different location and we wish you all the best for the next few days.


INTERVIEW

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INTERVIEW

Abdullah Al Abdooli CEO, Al Marjan Island the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) Phil Blizzard spoke to Abdullah Al Abdooli, Chief Executive Officer, Al Marjan Island, Ras Al Khaimah to find out what it means to host this event in the emerging northern emirate.

Abdullah Al Abdooli: It’s our pleasure to welcome the guests of AHIC to Ras Al Khaimah. The emirate presents unique investment opportunities on Marjan Island to hotel owners and developers who are looking for an investment opportunity in Ras Al Khaimah. Here investors can enjoy a 16.1 per cent return on their hospitality investment.

BTN: In terms of growth and tourism development- 19% growth in recent times, one of the strongest across the GCC region. What does that mean to possible hotel developers on Marjan Island? Abdullah Al Abdooli: It just

AHIC SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018

shows how hard Ras Al Khaimah is working towards the goal of 2.9 million visitors by 2025. This means 15,000 additional hotel keys are required. This is why we are encouraging hotel operators and investors to come to Ras Al Khaimah.

BTN: This is an investment conference and you are telling potential investors about the aractions of Marjan Island. What would you say are the key attractions? Abdullah Al Abdooli: Marjan Island offers Freehold plots to international investors and developers to develop either a hospitality asset or a

residential building. International investors and developers can enjoy beneficial investment opportunities.

BTN: Hotels in the pipeline come from local hoteliers such as Emaar through to international chains. What can we expect in the future and will you be making any announcements here at AHIC? Abdullah Al Abdooli: During AHIC Marjan Island will be making multiple announcements on multiple sectors. We have some exciting news - just wait and see!


PHOTO DIARY

PHOTO DIARY DAY ONE

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PHOTO DIARY

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PHOTO DIARY

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PHOTO DIARY

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PHOTO DIARY

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RAS AL KHAIMAH BRINGS ITS MOUNTAINS TO LIFE WITH ROCK VS CLASSIC CONCERT Ras Al Khaimah is set to take musical performances to new heights by hosting its Rock Vs Classic concert at the top of the UAE’s highest peak, Jebel Jais this May 4 and 5, 2018. The two-day concert brings together Moscow’s symphony orchestra in a unique mash-up with some of the greatest rock artists of all time. Featuring Bill Champlinformer CHICAGO front man, Bobby Kimball lead singer of TOTO and Dave Bickler Former lead singer of

AHIC SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018

SURVIVOR, the concert will bring together the musical genres under the direction of award-winning artist and conductor, Vladimir Rylov. The unique event, set at 1600 metres above sea level, will be a dazzling live performance and reiterates Ras Al Khaimah Tourism

Development Authority (RAKTDA) efforts to grow its lifestyle entertainment to attract more guests to the Emirate as it aims to reach 1 million visitors by the end of 2018.


FEATURE

Haitham Mattar, CEO, RAKTDA said: “We always strive to create amazing experiences for our guests utilising Ras Al Khaimah’s most iconic landmarks. Nightlife and entertainment is an important part of our strategy to grow the destination and attract a diverse range of visitors looking for experiences and adventure beyond the traditional sun and sand holiday. This concert will be unique in terms of line-up and location and we hope visitors will join us from far and wide to experience all Ras Al Khaimah has to offer.”

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The concert will assemble a large orchestra to cover classical and artrock instrumentation on a speciallyconstructed mountain stage. Featuring a complex and sophisticated light show utilising cutting-edge technologies to create an incredible musical experience. Tickets for the concert start from AED300 and are available at Virgin Megastores. Ticket holders going to Jebel Jais can reach the concert via shuttle buses for AED 10 from Ras Al Khaimah Chambers Building at 4:00pm.

The Rock vs Classic concert is in partnership with Marjan Island and in sponsorship of Stevin Rock, RAK Rock and Hilton Garden Inn. The event is organised by Double E. For more information about the Rock vs Classic concert, please visit

www.jebeljais.ae/event


Amit Aurora General Manager Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah The Waldorf Astoria Ras al Khaimah is hosting both the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) and the Middle East Gala Ceremony, World Travel Awards. Ahead of these two prestigious events Phil Blizzard spoke with Amit Aurora, General Manager Ritz-Carlton, Ras Al Khaimah Breaking Travel News: Looking at your second hotel Ritz-Carlton, Ras Al Khaimah al Hamra Beach, give us an introduction to the property. Amit Aurora: Our beach property has only recently opened. The resort was completely closed down and has gone through a full refurbishment including all the villas. We've introduced a new restaurant called the Shore House which is doing extremely well and is a complementary experience to the Farmhouse restaurant in the desert. The desert is all about sand and here we are on the ocean. The two restaurants really complement each other very well and provide guests the option of having the best of both worlds. BTN: For guests who are looking for a two centre experience the desert and the water, how do

they travel between the two properties? AA: It’s a 15 minute car journey between the two resorts. We have a luxury shuttle bus which connects the two and travels back and forth several times during the day. We can offer guests a great twin centre experience where they can experience staying in the desert for a couple nights and then go to the beach, or if they’re staying at the beach, they can come to the desert and dine at the Farmhouse or just enjoy the falcon show. BTN: In terms of guests staying at the beach property. What is the range of accommodation? What can they experience? What can they expect? AA: We have 32 beautiful secluded beach villas, all with private pools. There are two villa categories: the Al Bahar and the Al

AHIC SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018

Naseem. It's really a very boutique property and feels almost like you're staying on an island. In fact it is an island and is connected via a pathway to the mainland. It’s very secluded, island-inspired and unique to Ras Al Khaimah.

BTN: We're talking on the occasion of the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference and the Middle East Gala World Travel Awards which are taking place very close to your beach property. AA: We're right adjacent to the AHIC village which is where the Conference and the World Travel Award ceremony is taking place. Our hotel team are super excited because a lot of the delegates are actually coming to see the property. The delegates are in town, they've heard of the new Ritz- Carlton on the beach and they're booking the restaurants. Obviously

this is a great opportunity to showcase the property.

BTN: Moving on from the Arabian Hotel and Investment Conference to the World Travel Awards. Last year when they were held in October, for the Middle East region, your beach property was not operational. Now it’s open, what are your expectations for this year’s awards? AA: This year we’ve been nominated for an award and would love to see our hotel team be recognized for their hard work. Our ladies and gentlemen have worked very hard to bring this hotel to life. A luxury resort hotel with 32 private villas located on the most pristine beach of Ras Al Khaimah is something very unique, the scenography of the hotel is second to none.


INTERVIEW

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BTN: Last October, you won a couple of World Travel Awards. Tell us which ones you won and what they mean to you. Amit Aurora :The one award which really stood out was the Leading Middle East Luxury Resort for Families.That's really the positioning which we’re aspiring towards, and it was a key recognition because this is a conversion hotel that went through a major refurbishment, it was very pleasing to hear that we were on the right track.

BTN: That was one award, what was the other one? AA: The other was Leading Resort for Desert Experiences.

BTN: At that time you were a Ritz- Carlton partner hotel, and a month later you had the flagging ceremony. What did that signify? AA: Well it's called the branding process. There were a number of milestones which needed to be accomplished in order to bring the hotel to a level for it to operate as a Ritz- Carlton. On the 11th of November 2017, we raised the flag and we officially joined the RitzCarlton network as a RitzCarlton property.

BTN: What were the key aspects of the branding from what it was before to a Ritz -Carlton property? AA: There are three things we look at. The first is the product, where you upgrade areas in the hotels such as the restaurants. We've got brand new restaurant concepts, a brand new lobby which really changes the whole arrival experience. It's also about the people, bringing in new talent and about the processes, implementing all the marketing and sales network points to make sure the engagement is there to fulfil the Ritz- Carlton brand expectations.

BTN: A lot to be done and considerable investment no doubt? We're talking on the occasion of the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, which is taking place in Ras Al Khaimah, have you received support from the owners? AA: Absolutely, a lot of support and a lot of commitment from the owners. The idea was to re-position the hotel to really make it internationally renowned which is why Ritz -Carlton was brought in to really take it to the next level. This was supported by major financial

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investment in the product which has provided us with all the tools and resources we need to operate at the level of a Ritz -Carlton property.

BTN: No doubt a long-term plan when it comes to investment. What’s the likely time-frame for the return on that huge investment? AA: Well, it's a phased investment. The first phase was really to take over the property and implement the systems. The second phase was to re-do the restaurants which we've done now. There is still more commitment coming. We're going to be implementing a resort pool very soon. We're going to be redoing the rainforest and there are a number of other areas of the hotel that still need to be upgraded. By the end of this year, we will have fully completed every single aspect of the hotel.

BTN: A very much work in progress and this is a magnificent seing, the Farmhouse restaurant overlooking the watering hole. A quick overview of what one could expect to find here at this splendid resort? AA: Well, we are in a 500hectare nature reserve just an hour's drive away

from Dubai. That's what makes us so unique. We're far away to really switch off and be in a resort environment, yet close enough if people want to do business and want to do team building etc. We have our own stables and our own equestrian centre, 101 villas and four restaurants. The Farmhouse we're in is our signature restaurant. It's a farm to fork concept. We also have the Moon bar that just reopened, a fantastic setting overlooking the dunes. We have Moorish which is a Moroccan/ Spanish tapas restaurant and we have Cahuilla which is our all-day dining plus the lobby lounge.

BTN: On to the business side of things nowArabian Hotel Investment Conference is a key event being held here in Ras Al Khaimah as well as the World Travel Awards, what do you think this means to both Ras Al Khaimah and the hospitality industry? AA: It's a big coup to have the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference take place for the first time ever in the northern emirates. It really brings the northern emirates in to the forefront. There have been a lot of conferences in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, but now Ras Al Khaimah, is ready for


INTERVIEW

business. Talking of business our conference centre is also being renovated. We can offer companies the perfect location for team building, to spend a day away from the office to plan and strategize. Ras al Khaimah is really serious about tourism. The zip line at Jebel Jais has recently been launched, there’s the viewing platform and there’s more attractions coming. Ras Al Khaimah is really on the rise and they couldn't be a more opportune time to host the conference here.

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BTN: We started off talking about the World Travel Awards, so let's finish off with that and tell me how you use your awards to help market your two properties? AA: Well the World Travel Awards are really the Oscars of the travel industry. We take a lot of pride in it. It really is a commitment and a recognition and accolade for our ladies and gentlemen. We celebrate the success and of course, we use it in our sales and marketing

channels. This year we have been nominated for two exciting awards and I'm really looking forward to the World Travel Awards Middle East Gala Ceremony.

BTN: We’ll keep our fingers crossed for you!! Of course, social media is very important you have a very strong presence on the various social media platforms. How do you see that moving forward? AA: Social media is the way forward. We have great guidelines from our

brand to be active on all the channels; Facebook, Instagram, etc. We really use that to market our food and beverage as well as market our other products and offerings. We’re constantly updating and keeping ourselves up to date with all the social media channels.


X-GOLF SHOWCASES MARKET-LEADING TECHNOLOGY AT AHIC X-GOLF, THE WORLD’S MOST ADVANCED INDOOR GOLF SIMULATION TECHNOLOGY BRAND, will showcase a new standard in sports entertainment technology at AHIC 2018. Founded in South Korea, X-Golf was designed to address the conflict between an increasing demand for golf versus the global pressures of climate, time, affordability and space. In the digital and experiential era, XGolf simulators provide an innovative take on one of the world’s oldest and most popular sports. With over 10 years of research and development and 16 global patents, X-Golf simulators are the result of impressive engineering designed to re-create ball flight to within 98% accuracy and deliver insights on your game. The accuracy of this technology appeals to the golfing elite, whilst the modern, social approach to golf has popular appeal with millennials, families and time-poor corporates. Simply, golfers at any level can play, practice or compete on an extensive selection of beautiful world-class golf courses, driving ranges and chipping and putting greens. At a global level, X-Golf is rapidly expanding its footprint in the US, Australasia, Korea, China, Russia & Japan, and is set to take the Middle East by storm given the brand’s relevance and burgeoning demand in this market.

AHIC SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018

X-Golf’s elite virtual concept takes on the sophistication of the real game on your terms, however you imagined, in any space. Perfect as a unique amenity or revenue driver in hotels, residential or commercial developments, malls & other hospitality spaces, airports and at events. Simply put, X-Golf simulators are pure fun. A driver of curiosity. A room full of delight, a challenge to master. Totally addictive. Don’t miss the chance to test the simulator and compete in ‘Closestto-the-Pin’ competitions with some cool prizes to be won each day! www.xgolfnovi.com


FEATURE

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Ricardo Lizano CEO Toro Verde Chris O’ Toole, Editor, Breaking Travel News catches up with Ricardo Lizano, Chief Operating Officer, Toro Verde to find out more about the world’s longest and highest zip line

BTN: Ricardo - you head up one of Ras Al Khaimah’s most exciting tourist attractions – the world’s longest zip line. What can you tell me about it? Ricardo Lizano: We have the biggest cable in the world. It’s in the Guinness Book of World Records. It’s an amazing experience. The views of the Jebel Jais Mountains are beautiful and we’ve taken advantage of that! You can take a ride, have an adventure and see the mountains at the same time. BTN: I know you’ve had some key figures of Ras Al Khaimah try out the attraction, how’s it been received by your first visitors? RL: We’ve had VIP’s from all over the UAE. From Ras Al Khaimah we’ve received His Royal Highness and his sons. They love it and they keep coming back and

spreading the word.

parties.

BTN: Already recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest zip line in the world, but this is just the start and I understand you’re opening up a second phase?

BTN: You’ve certainly been very successful so far and have been recognised as the Middle East Leading Adventure Tourism Attraction by the World Travel Awards. How does it feel?

RL: Yes that’s right. Toro Verde is not just a ride – it’s a park. This is the first ride of a park we are building. Phase two will start in the next couple of months. We are aiming to be open by the end of this year, early next with more rides on offer.

RL: It’s an honour to be nominated for this prestigious award. This is a huge thing for us. We’re just beginning and have only been open for a couple of months and we have reached this stage. We are very happy.

BTN: We’re here at AHIC in Ras Al Khaimah, how important is this attraction to this destination? RL: I think it’s very important. Around the hotels you need attractions. Visitors come to the hotels and they need things to do. We are an essential part and it’s a win-win situation for both

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INTERVIEW

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van Paasschen urges Middle East hospitality to wake up to disruption Frits van Paasschen has warned hoteliers in the Middle East that digital disruption is radically altering the market in which they operate.

AHIC SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018


FEATURE

Change is coming, whether they are prepared or not, he warned. Pointing to the impact of Booking.com and Airbnb – both of which have grown to dominate sections of the industry in recent years – he warned traditional hotel companies they would have to change in order to survive. “The biggest mistake we make is to keep doing the same thing and expect the same results,” van Paasschen warned. Established interests, change-blindness, and set ways of working make it nearly impossible for incumbents to survive, he added. “We suffer from change-blindness: humans and companies overestimate their ability to understand the world around us. “We focus on what we are doing, what we do well, and we tend to lose sight of what is happening around us,” van Paasschen explained.

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Self-interest also played a role in the downfall of large organisations, the former Starwood Hotels & Resorts chief executive said. “If you are a successful business, you do not wish to disrupt it. This is a hard sell to investors – to explain that you want to cannibalise your own business.” However, this desire for change is essential in those organisations which prosper, van Paasschen argued on day one of the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference in Ras al Khaimah. “You wake up one day and you realise you are in big trouble,” he warned an industry audience. “Either you did not see that change coming, or you did see that change coming, and you did nothing about it.”


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RAS AL KHAIMAH

TH RAS


H

THE TOP 10 THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN RAS AL KHAIMAH Tucked away away at the northern tip of the UAE lies the country’s most underrated emirate, Ras Al Khaimah.

Make no mistake: Ras Al Khaimah abounds in archaeological sites, historical structures and natural beauty – from mountains to deserts and pristine white-sand beaches.

You won’t find the gargantuan skyscrapers, shopping malls and bars that dominate Dubai and Abu Dhabi Factor in year-round sunshine, first but you will be struck by a cultural class resorts and friendly locals – and authenticity that is hard to find in the you have an up and coming UAE other emirates. holiday destination.

HE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF S AL KHAIMAH Located in the western part of Ras Al Khaimah city in a fort that was the residence of the ruling family until the early 1960s, The National Museum houses a collection of archaeological and ethnological artefacts. Visitors will learn about architecture, pearl diving, date agriculture, farming and fishing in the various galleries.

www.rakheritage.rak.ae/en/pages/rakmuseum .aspx

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SCALING THE HAJAR HE The spectacular Hajar Mountains in the eastern part of the emirate, were formed over 70 million years ago and stand nearly 2,000 metres above sea level. The mountain range oers breath-taking scenery and a welcome respite from the heat of the beach resorts, with temperatures around 10 degrees cooler

than sea level. For those who wish to spend the night under the stars, there are a number of established camping spots or, to really get into the Arabian spirit, why not camp Bedouin-style in some remote wadis? jebeljais.ae/about-jebel-jais/


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JUST DESERT


No visit to Ras Al Khaimah is complete without taking a trip into the desert – the true heart of Arabia. Virtually every tour operator offers a half or full day desert safari tour: aer dune driving you can have your hands henna’ed, then make like Lawrence of Arabia and ride a camel, before enjoying a desert sunset, Arabic barbecue and a bit of belly dancing.

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GET WET Seven tenths of the world is covered in water and as satirist Dave Barry once quipped: “Staying on top of the water is like standing outside the circus tent.” As enjoyable as activities above the water are, it’s what lies beneath that is of real interest – particularly in Ras Al Khaimah, arguably the finest emirate in the UAE for snorkelling, diving and exploring the marine life. Adrenaline junkies will also be in seventh heaven: jet-skiing, fly-boarding, wake-boarding, parasailing and banana boat rides are all on offer along the 64km coastline.


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JAZIRAT AL HAMRA FISHING VILLAGE This abandoned ďŹ shing village, just outside of Ras Al Khaimah, is one of the oldest and best preserved coastal villages in the UAE (with roots dating back to the 16th century) and serves as a reminder of life before the oil boom. One caveat: watch out for ghosts – some of the abandoned buildings are believed to be haunted.

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AL MARJAN ISLAND Al Marjan, a series of four connected man-made islands, is located in the west of Ras Al Khaimah. Extending a vast 4.5km into the sea, the island covers an area of 2.7 million square metres. With waterfront homes, quality hotels and resorts, marinas, private resident beaches, leisure, retail and recreational facilities, this ambitious development represents the direction in which RAK is headed. almarjanisland.com

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TEE TIME

Most visitors flock to Ras Al Khaimah to fly and flop but the underrated emirate is also a great destination for golfers, thanks its enviable climate and world class golf courses including Al Hamra Golf Club. Designed by renowned golf course architect, Peter Harradine, the course incorporates both open water lagoons and desert landscapes resulting in a stunning par 72 championship course – measuring 7,325 yards at full length. www.alhamragolf.com


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DISCOVER DHAYAH FORT


This 16th-century mud-brick fort was built in a strategic hilltop position facing the Gulf to defend the region from aî…&#x;ack by the British and was the last holdout, before eventually falling in December 1819. More recently it housed the royal family until 1964 when, following a very short period as a local prison, it opened to the general public as a place to celebrate Emirati history.

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ZIP LINING A world record-breaking zip line measuring 2.83km – equivalent to over 28 football pitches – and reaching speeds close to 150km per hour is the latest addition to Ras Al Khaimah’s claim to be the adventure capital of the Middle East. Via Ferrata – which means iron street/path in Italian – includes three courses along the rocky facades of Jebel Jais, aka the UAE’s highest mountain. www.jebeljais.ae/book-now/


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PARK LIFE Opened in the 1990s, Saqr Park is the largest public park in Ras Al Khaimah, and is known for its vast areas of greenery. It is the perfect spot for big kids and liî…&#x;le kids alike to relax and unwind featuring, as it does, green spaces, playgrounds and other facilities.


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Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi welcomes hospitality industry to Ras al Khaimah Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council member and ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, has officially opened the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference 2018.

The event, taking place at the Waldorf Astoria Ras al Khaimah until 19 April, welcomed over 800 leading hospitality figures from across the Middle East to the northern most of the United Arab Emirates.

“The incredible vision of Saudi Arabia, for example, will show the true image of the Arabs: as thinkers, developers and achievers.

Addressing the opening ceremony, Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi said: “Ras al Khaimah is truly honoured to have you here.

Ras al Khaimah will be a major part of the booming future of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi said, pointing out the economy had been growing by five to seven per cent per annum in recent years.

“In a relatively short period of time we have changed from a quiet place, an agricultural place, where a formal education was hard to come by, to become a thriving emirate.

“Every day our job is simple,” he said, “to look at every measure we can take to make Ras al Khaimah a better place for investors and for our people.”

“Our economy is diversifying: our people, industry and infrastructure are on an incredible journey.”

Tourism has grown to become one of Ras Al Khaimah’s most important economic sectors in recent years and is now considered a key engine for growth and job creation.

Pointing to the growth of the hospitality sector across the Middle East, he continued: “I see the growth of others as a means for us to develop, an opportunity for us to learn and make progress.

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The segment currently accounts for five per cent of the gross domestic product in Ras al Khaimah, while manufacturing accounts for around 30 per cent.

Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi outlined a plan to double the size of the tourism sector by 2025. To accommodate the potential growth in visitors, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority is providing potential investors with a range of innovative opportunities to develop stand-out properties across the emirate during AHIC 2018. Haitham Mattar, chief executive of the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, said: “There was a misconception about Ras al Khaimah as a destination, that we are only a beach resort. “But Ras al Khaimah has so much more to offer than that. “We are home to the highest mountain in the United Arab Emirates, some fabulous mountainous terrain and those great beaches.


FEATURE

“Our economy is diversifying: our people, industry and infrastructure are on an incredible journey.” Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi

SHEIKH SAUD BIN SAQR AL QASIMI

“We have been diversifying our markets, our product, and this makes a real difference. “New hotel brands have made their way here, and we now have 5,500 rooms in operation, and a further 5,000 in the pipeline, from top brands including InterContinental Hotel Group and Anantara.” He added: “We have launched some ambitious targets, not least to attract one million visitors in 2018, rising to three million annually by 2025. “I can assure you, we are well on the way to meeting these targets.” Mattar pointed out that demand is not the issue for Ras al Khaimah, with room supply more of a concern. Ras al Khaimah must triple its room supply by 2025, he pointed out.

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“There are not many places left in the world that have beach front property at prices you can see in Ras al Khaimah,” he pointed out to investors. His sentiments were echoed by Jonathan Worsley, chairman of Bench Events and co-founder of the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, who said: “Our goal for the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference has remained the same – to establish and grow relationships among dealmakers and senior leadership teams driving the hospitality industry forward. “The networking, collaboration and meaningful knowledge shared have led our growing community to keep AHIC as a fixed part of their annual business calendar.” The Middle East has a total of 350,000 hotel rooms, Worsley pointed out, in comparison to more than five million in the Americas.

“We need plenty more Dubai-style success stories,” he added. The event is taking place in a custom-made complex built on the shoreline of the Waldorf Astoria, Ras Al Khaimah. In attendance at AHIC 2018 was Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al Maktoum, chairman of Dubai Airports, president of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and chairman of Emirates Group, who has been a long-term supporter of the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference.


NEWS

RAK Hospitality Holding reports strong increase in revenue Ras al Khaimah Hospitality Holding has reported a 17 per cent increase in revenue for the first quarter of 2018 as it continues to strengthen its position as a leader in the hospitality sector. Last year ended on a strong note, with an overall growth of 6.5 per cent and significant investments across its subsidiaries. RAK National Hotels, part of the group, successfully completed its two-year capital investment plan. The move resulted in the opening of the Hilton Garden Inn Ras Al Khaimah in May 2017, the official inauguration of the Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah Al Wadi Desert in November 2017 and the completion of extensive refurbishment at the flagship Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa in quarter one of this year. At the same time, the group was able to maintain robust occupancy rates across its portfolio.

this year’s forum where industry leaders come together to discuss trends for the hospitality sector and support development in the region.” The news comes as emirate of Ras Al Khaimah hosts the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference for the first time. Held under the patronage of the ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, and

founding patron, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al Maktoum, the event is now in its 14th year. The event brings the region’s most senior hotel investors, developers, operators and advisors, including Anagnostakis, who will be participating as a speaker alongside other senior executives to discuss trends and opportunities in the hospitality sector. RAKHH is deeply rooted in the emirate and as a leading sector focused hospitality organisation. The organisation, an integrated asset owner and manager of leading hospitality investments, aims to complement the emirate’s ambitious growth plans.

Yiannis Anagnostakis, chief executive of RAK Hospitality Holding, said: “We are thrilled to participate in AHIC and share our success with like-minded industry leaders. “As we are facing the opportunities and challenges that 2018 brings, we look forward to YIANNIS ANAGNOSTAKIS

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NEWS

Ras Al Khaimah sees strong increase in hotel occupancy for early 2018 Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority has announced its highest hotel occupancies in a quarter, averaging 79.4 per cent in the first three months of the year.

The figures which are up four per cent versus the same period in 2017 have been driven by ever growing visitor numbers in the region’s fastest growing tourism destination. Overall visitor numbers increased by 12 per cent in the first quarter versus 2017. This was largely driven by growth from international markets, which rose 18 per cent year-on-year and now account for 70 per cent of the total visitor arrivals to the Emirate. The UK and Nordics performed particularly strongly up 18 per cent and 26 per cent respectively year on year, while visitors from Poland grew by 46 per cent and Czech Republic by 34 per cent.

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The figures reinforce Ras Al Khaimah’s position as one to watch on the global stage, with quarter one progress well above the UNWTO forecasted global tourism growth of four per cent in 2018.

talks with hotel operators and investors for this unique, ecotourism project which complements the array of adventure tourism attractions that the Emirate is becoming globally known for.

The news was shared at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference which is being hosted in Ras Al Khaimah for the first time this year.

Haitham Mattar, chief executive of RAKTDA, said: “We’ve had a strong start to the year which is important as we look towards our goal of one million visitors by the end of 2018 and 2.9 million by 2025.

Hotel performance indicators in the Emirate also continued their upward trajectory with the average length of stay increasing to 3.7 days year-todate, an increase of 4.5 per cent versus 2017, marking positive news for investors and hotel operators at AHIC. RAKTDA is also working on the development of a luxury camp project in Jebel Jais and is in

“Our hotel performance is a key indicator of our propensity to grow and with record hotel occupancies recorded in quarter one we need to continue our focus on meeting increased visitor demand with a broader range of accommodation.”


Nehme Imad Darwiche Darwiche Worldwide Legacy Chris O’Toole, Editor Breaking Travel News, talks to Nehme Imad Darwiche - President - Darwiche Worldwide Legacy

BTN: Tell us about the hospitality element of your organisation Nehme Imad Darwiche: Great to be hear and seeing BTN all around the world. AHIC has been extremely successful for us with many leads. We have 4 very different brands and we are a company that is opportunists. Four years ago we started out as the first international Halal operator brand which is called Jannah (heaven and also garden in Arabic) , it is very successful now in UAE, we also expanded into Asia, we are looking at Europe and looking at many countries surrounding us by a 6 hour flight, we are very excited about this brand as it’s very unique. We started a new brand called Hierloom focussed in city centres, where you can no longer build mega hotels, so we are a little bit of air b&b and a little bit of hospitality and we combine both of them together. We pick up houses around city centres and turn them into this new innovation way of checking in with virtual reception etc. We

always have a cultural room in it and in this cultural room, each Heirloom is representing a legend from this city, so it’s nice you go there and learn a little bit and you are always close to the city centre with easy check-in and easy checkout. The Third brand we developed in Andalus, this is not representing Andalus as a city but Andalus as a time, a whole world living in tolerance and creating inventions around the world. So we copied that into a real estate product, combining a great market, the first opened in Abu Dhabi with great success. You can live there for a year if you want and also you can stay in the resort. It’s a great urban resort and real estate. Our youngest brand is called BedoInn. You know Bedouins were the first travellers some people called them nomads. The millennials are coming, it’s no hidden secret, they are coming in big numbers, they are interested more about the destination not the

AHIC SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018

accommodation. What we did there, we studied a bit about them and read reports and we created a new brand, a brand that focuses on social lobbys, you can sit and meet people, it is designed in that way so it can bring people together. We also changed the rooms, no more boring junior suite or executive suite, this is really history and that needs to change. BedoInn is that change and innovation. There is a fitness room, where you can do yoga or use a bicycle or rowing machine or you can stay in a family room but they are all 22sq meters. The brands are always between 6 and 33 rooms never more. BTN: you have a strong portfolio of brands in different markets, how are investors and potential partners here receiving them at the conference. Nehme Imad Darwiche: Well they each have a different investment model, that grows organically by management contracts


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and because of it’s uniqueness we have been receiving a lot of enquiries. In this conference we were very lucky that new markets opened up to us, they were in our target and it’s amazing that we meet each other in a very good presentation, this is 3 new markets for Jannah, and Andalus, it’s more a joint venture we always want to invest in it, because we want to make sure there is a real estate

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product that caters for the same experience. Heirloom is fun, in Luxemburg and very well set and we target financial organisation that are interested in 5 year exits and within this conference we did not find our target market but we actually spread the idea of this new thing that is coming out. BedoInn is the one that can get a lot of people on board.

“THE MILLENIALS ARE COMING, IT’S NO HIDDEN SECRET, THEY ARE COMING IN BIG NUMBERS!” NEHME IMAD DARWICHE


Marriott to rapidly increase footprint in Middle East Marriott International has announced ambitious growth plans for its Middle East and Africa region following signings for more than 30 properties and over 5,000 rooms in the last 12 months

The signings put Marriott on track to increase its portfolio in the region to nearly 370 hotels – an increase of more than 50 per cent over the next five years. This will amount to more than 80,000 rooms across 21 brands, including the introduction in the region of brands such as Edition, Element and AC Hotels by Marriott. Also in line with its development plans, the company and its property owners expect to add 30,000 new jobs across the region in the next five years.

AHIC SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018

Marriott International’s planned growth over the next five years underscores the substantial emphasis that regional governments are placing on growth and investment in the travel and tourism sector. The company estimates that the 30 projects signed in the last 12 months will drive investment of about $1.8 billion by the property owners.

“It is a really exciting time for the Middle East and Africa region’s travel and tourism sector. With clear and ambitious visions set out by regional governments to grow and invest in the sector, the industry is thriving more than ever,” said Alex Kyriakidis, president, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International. “At Marriott International, we are proud that we and our owners are opening a huge range of jobs, as well as contributing to the ongoing growth and diversification of the region’s economy.”


FEATURE

“It is a really exciting time for the Middle East and Africa region’s travel and tourism sector.” Alex Kyriakidis

FRITS DIRK VAN PAASSCHEN

Marriott International’s announcement of its growth plans in the region comes at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference. “Marriott International’s growth in the region is a result of consistently delivering value to our owners. “Our long-established presence in the region, global footprint, compelling portfolio of diverse brands, award-winning loyalty programs and strength of our distribution platforms continue to position us at the forefront, enabling us to leverage trends to benefit our

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stakeholders in the region,” added Kyriakidis. “We remain focused on working with our owners to identify synergies and increase efficiencies across hotels by implementing shared services, remote solutions, complexing of hotels where relevant and possible and by bringing stateof-the-art technology to leverage scale, ultimately improving profitability.”


Frits van Paasschen Former author of ‘The Disruptors Fe Chris O’Toole, Editor Breaking Travel News speaks to Frits van Paasschen, Former CEO Starwood Hotels and author of ‘The Disruptors Feast’ to discover the current wave of disruption in the travel industry

BTN: You’ve come with a stark warning that disruptors are coming to the hospitality sector. Are the people prepared? Frits van Paasschen: That’s absolutely correct. The pace of disruption driven by digital technology is only accelerating and the reality today is that travel is still inconvenient, anonymous and uncertain. There are so many pain points in the travel process that it’s inevitable someone will figure out how to give people what they want when they want it. Just remember the things that don’t make sense get disrupted and there are plenty of things still about travel that could make a lot more sense. BTN: How did your message go down with hoteliers in the region? Are they aware of these threats? Frits van Paasschen: People are aware of the fact there are disruptors out here and frankly there has been a lot of

disruption already. Airbnb is ten times the size of what Starwood was, Booking.com is worth more than the big hotel companies put together. Disruption is already here, the real question is ‘how much further and faster disruption will come and which other businesses will be put under threat by those different changes?’ BTN: In your former role with Starwood you were able to take some of their ideas and incorporate them into your company as well. Frits van Paasschen: Yes exactly. A couple of things we learnt from the Online Travel Agents was first of all people want price transparency, they want to know what it’s going to cost them compared to where else they can stay. Secondly they like online reviews they want candid comments by people who are as much as possible like them. There’s a real opportunity for us to do that in the context of Starwood and SPG when I was there.

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BTN: So it’s not all doom and gloom, there’s hope for the big hoteliers as well. What advice would you give them to tackle the disruptors? Frits van Paasschen: To continue to focus on what really matters in successful travel. Giving people great experiences, giving people a sense of place, making sure they are happy and want to come back. It’s really that simple. BTN: You’ve put all these ideas into a new book – ‘The Disruptors Feast’ – What’s the key message there? Frits van Paasschen: The key message from the book is on two levels. First is defining reality on which disruption is accelerating but also giving hope, knowing that there are things that leaders can do if they recognise change and reformulate their organisations. Change and transform to be able to make sure that they change the expectations people have.


INTERVIEW

r CEO Starwood Hotels and east’ KEYNOTE SPEECH AT AHIC FROM FRITS VAN PAASSCHEN

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NEWS

Taj Hotels expands into Saudi Arabia In a major milestone, the Indian Hotels Company has today announced its foray into the Holy City of Makkah, Saudi Arabia.

HISHAM EBEID, SENIOR ExECUTIVE, HOSPITALITY, UMM AL QURA, RIGHT, AND PUNEET CHHATWAL, CHIEF ExECUTIVE OF THE INDIAN HOTELS COMPANY, CELEBRATE THE DEAL

The move is in partnership with Umm Al Qura Development & Construction Company in the prestigious King Abdul Aziz Road project, one of the largest urban rejuvenation projects in the city of Makkah. Commenting on the signing of this agreement, Puneet Chhatwal, managing director at the Indian Hotels Company, said: “We are honoured to partner with Umm Al Qura Development & Construction Company in bringing the first Taj hotel to Saudi Arabia. “This signing is aligned to our strategy of a strong focus on global growth markets and to be present where our guests travel to. “We are committed to expanding our presence in the MENA region.” This hotel will be IHCL’s fourth venture in the MENA region.The company manages Taj Dubai located in the Burj Khalifa downtown area. It will also open another two hotels in Dubai in the next 12 to 18 months.

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The proposed hotel is conveniently situated within walking distance of the Grand Mosque (Masjid Al-Haram), the main attraction for over six million pilgrims who visit the city each year. It will also be in close proximity to commercial offices, retail stores and restaurants within KAAR project. The hotel, scheduled to open in January 2023, will have approximately 340 keys, banqueting facilities and several restaurants to serve all tastes. Commenting on the partnership, Mohammad Al Ganawi, chief executive of Umm Al Qura Development & Construction Company, said: “We are delighted to partner with The Indian Hotels Company. We look forward to working with them to bring the iconic Taj brand to the unique development project in Makkah.” As the birthplace of Prophet Muhammad and the site of his first revelation of the Quran, Makkah is the holiest city in the religion of Islam.


See the figures updated daily and live links to the big social media influencers, e.g. Richard Branson:

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PHOTO DIARY

PHOTO DIARY DAY ONE

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INTERVIEW

Carlos Khneisser MENA Hilton hotels CARLOS KHNEISSER

Phil Blizzard talks to Carlos Khneisser, VP Development, MENA Hilton hotels about the growing presence of Hilton across the region BTN: Ras Al Khaimah at one time was known as ‘Hilton City’ because of your presence here. Give us an overview of your presence here in Ras Al Khaimah Carlos Khneisser: Very excited to be here at AHIC in Ras Al Khaimah, being the first movers in Ras Al Khaimah 25 years ago with the first Hilton followed by the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort Double Tree then we extended our presence with the Waldorf Astoria the beautiful hotel next to us, then came the Double Tree Marjan Island and the Hilton Al Hamra. This is our current inventory which comprises of 40% of the total hotel

inventory in Ras Al Khaimah BTN: A strong heritage, 40 % of the keys and according to tourism board - the demand is growing. What are your future plans to increase the number of hotel keys? Carlos Khneisser: Last year we signed the The Hamptons by Hilton with the same owner as the Double Tree on Marjan Island. The hotel is going to break ground later this year, with the public opening planned in around two years. We’re very excited with the growth that we’re seeing in Ras Al Khaimah and we’re very confident with

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the trading expectations Overall we’re very excited to be here and it’s a great opportunity for everybody. BTN: Moving beyond RAK to the region what’s in the pipeline for Hilton and your various brands? Carlos Khneisser: In Saudi Arabia we’re going to quadruple our presence from 10 hotels to 40, in the UAE we’re going to double our presence. Hilton is growing its footprint with existing owners, 65% of the new signings over the last three or four years are with existing owners. This just shows the level of trust we have with our partners.

BTN: It’s a busy time for you, Arabian Travel Market next week and the World Travel Awards. In the past Hilton has won a number of awards - how important are they? Carlos Khneisser: The awards demonstrate the strength of the brand. It’s all about the experience you are giving the guest. The awards are relevant to this experience we are providing and the subsequent feedback. We are very thankful for the feedback which we get from our guests around the world.


NEWS

Record attendance FOR AHIC IN Ras al Khaimah The Arabian Hotel Investment Conference 2018 has welcomed a record number of registered delegates from the regional and global hospitality investment industry. Now in its 14th year, the annual knowledge and networking platform for the global hospitality investment community, held in partnership with Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, was inaugurated by AHIC host and patron Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, UAE supreme council member and ruler of Ras Al Khaimah. “In a relatively short period of time, Ras Al Khaimah has changed dramatically, from a quiet, agricultural town, where a formal education was hard to come by, to a thriving city with a diverse economy and great educational institutions. “Our Emirate, our people, our economy and our industries have been on quite an incredible journey,” said Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi. In 2017, Ras Al Khaimah saw an average yearround occupancy of 74 per cent, an average length of stay of 3.4 days and total revenues showing double digit growth year on year, while visitor satisfaction is at an impressive 90 per cent. Today at AHIC, RAKTDA announced its quarter one 2018 performance, which recorded the

emirate’s highest ever hotel occupancy in a quarter at 79.4 per cent. “These are all numbers I believe all point to an extremely bright future for the industry here in Ras Al Khaimah,” said Mattar. In his opening keynote discussion with BBC HARDtalk presenter Stephen Sackur, Mohamed Alabbar, founder of Emaar Properties, discussed the future of hospitality, the region and the opportunities of tomorrow, before announcing the launch of the company’s first hotel and residences project in Ras Al Khaimah. Located in the Views island of Al Marjan Island, a four-island mega-development, Address Al Marjan Island hotel and residences will be managed by Emaar Hospitality Group’s premium lifestyle brand, Address Hotels + Resorts. The hotel will have 249 rooms, including suites, while Address Residences Al Marjan Island will comprise 234 high-end apartments. As part of Views, the largest of the four islands that make up Al Marjan Island, residents will be in close proximity to the urban core of the master-planned community as well as the town centre. With direct access to over 600 metres of beachfront, residents and guests will have uninterrupted views of the sea in addition to a range of lifestyle amenities. Jonathan Worsley, chairman of Bench Events, said: “When we first started AHIC 14 years ago, we were the first event at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai. “Today, we are the first to hold a conference on the beach here in Ras al Khaimah and we have a record number of delegates this year, which just goes to show that the decision to bring AHIC to Ras Al Khaimah was the right one.”

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RAS AL KHAIMAH REPORTS HIGH QUARTERLY HOTEL OCCUPANCY Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) today announced its highest hotel occupancies in a quarter averaging 79.4% in the first three months of the year. The figures which are up 4% versus the same period in 2017 have been driven by ever growing visitor numbers in the region’s fastest growing tourism destination.

Overall visitor numbers increased by 12% in the first quarter versus 2017. This was largely driven by growth from international markets, which rose 18% year-on-year and now account for 70% of the total visitor arrivals to the Emirate. The UK and Nordics performed particularly strongly up 18% and 26% respectively year on year, while visitors from Poland grew by 46% and Czech Republic by 34%.The figures reinforce Ras Al Khaimah’s position as one to watch on the global stage, with Q1 progress well above the UNWTO forecasted global tourism growth of 4% in 2018. The news was shared at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) which is being hosted in Ras Al Khaimah for the first time this year. Hotel performance indicators in the Emirate also continued their upward trajectory with the average length of stay increasing to 3.7 days year-to-date, an increase of 4.5% versus 2017, marking positive news for investors and hotel operators at AHIC. The increased demand highlights the need for more hotel rooms and RAKTDA plans to grow its current resort

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portfolio from just over 5400 rooms to more than 10,000 by the end of 2020. Already, it is confirmed that 4,500 rooms will be added by the end of 2020 including the 5 star Anantara Resort at Mina Al Arab; the 5 star Avani Resort at Al Marjan Island; the 4 star Marriott Rak Beach at Al Ma’areedh; the 4-star Park Inn Rezidor at Al Marjan Island and the 4-star Rayhan Rotana at Khuzam. Al Marjan Island is also anticipated to have 15

“we look towards our goal of ONE million visitors by the end of 2018 and 2.9 million by 2025.” Haitham Mattar, CEO of RAKTDA

hotels by 2025 and is a key focus for investment at AHIC, in addition to other beach, city and mountain clusters across the Emirate. RAKTDA is also working on the development of a luxury camp project in Jebel Jais and is in talks with hotel operators and investors for this unique, ecotourism project which complements the array of adventure tourism attractions that the Emirate is becoming globally known for. Haitham Mattar, CEO of RAKTDA said: We’ve had a strong start to the year which is important as we look towards our goal of 1 million visitors by the end of 2018 and 2.9 million by 2025. Our hotel performance is a key indicator of our propensity to grow and with record hotel occupancies recorded in Q1 we need to continue our focus on meeting increased visitor demand with a broader range of accommodation.” “With a number of prestigious, international brands opening hotels in Ras Al Khaimah in the run up to 2020 we are continuing to grow our tourism sector infrastructure and working with property and product developers to attract


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further investment. There is huge potential in the Emirate for entities looking to develop resorts, niche accommodation options and new tourism products and hosting AHIC this year will give us an opportunity to show delegates the incredible diversity of our offer.” Developing tourism product remains an ongoing focus in the Emirate. The first quarter of 2018 saw the opening of Jebel Jais Flight: The World’s Longest Zipline which is helping to propel Ras Al Khaimah into the major league of global adventure tourism across the globe as well as cement Jebel Jais as the region’s capital of outdoor adventure sports. The zipline has already welcomed 5,000 visitors since opening and RAKTDA is planning to launch phase two to visitors in the third quarter of 2018. This will feature two new cables and

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will increase the capacity of the Jebel Jais Flight to 400 people per day, around 200,000 per year. In addition, night time ziplining will commence this summer, giving visitors the opportunity to enjoy a different experience whereby Jebel Jais is 10 degrees cooler than sea level. Further plans are in place for 2018 including the opening of official cycling and hiking routes on the mountains. RAKTDA also continues to focus on strengthening its sports, events and MICE offer which includes hosting AHIC and The World Travel Awards for the very first time. The Happiness Festival in February attracted more than 30,000 visitors, while the Emirate is due to stage another concert on Jebel Jais on the 4-5 May following the huge success of Vivaldianno – the UAE’s first live classical music concert at

1600 metres – which was held last October. Prestigious global sporting events are also increasingly being attracted to the Emirate with the recent announcement that Ras Al Khaimah will host the Grand Final of the European Tour Challenge Tour season at the end of October, marking a significant milestone for golf in the UAE. The aptly named ‘Road to Rak’ will join other major sporting events in the destination calendar including the RAK Half Marathon in February which saw hotel bookings from participants increase by 35% year on year, and the RAK stage of the international Dubai Tour cycling race which was in its second successful year in 2018.


HAITHAM MATTAR

Haitham Mattar Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority Phil Blizzard talks to Haitham Mattar, CEO Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority

BTN: We’re in the emerging emirate of Ras Al Khaimah for the Arabian Hotel and Investment Conference which has moved from Dubai. Tell me Haitham how did this all come about? Haitham Mattar: We had a discussion with Jonathan Worsley, the Founder of AHIC and the key players of the Conference to get AHIC to Ras Al Khaimah. There were concerns because the team hadn’t been to Ras All Khaimah and hadn’t seen what we have to offer. We organised a visit and the team came out here and saw the Waldorf Astoria and our lovely beaches. The other concerns they had at the time was the lack of convention space. So we suggested that they

design their own - and I think that’s what clinched it. And now here we are in this beautiful facility right on the beach on Ras Al Khaimah! BTN: Looking at the number of delegates and attendees here in Ras Al Khaimah, I think that you may have broken the visitor records of Dubai! Haitham Mattar: Yes we have broken the record! More than 900 people have registered this year compared to 750 in Dubai last year. We are proud to have broken the record BTN: We’re now half way through the second day of the conference, what sort of questions have been put to you by potential investors about opportunities in Ras Al Khaimah?

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Haitham Mattar: Potential investors here are really keen to look at performance and I think we’ve been able to demonstrate that. Potential investors are looking at a hotel performance anywhere more than 70% Currently Ras Al Khaimah is sitting at 79% occupancy year on year which is a long way from 64% which is what it was three or four years ago. We’ve done a good job in occupancy growth and also have achieved a healthy average daily rate and a very healthy rev par. We are the second in the UAE after Dubai with a fantastic growth and a great performance. Also the price of land for potential beachfront properties is really attractive. The government is also

providing great facilities for flexible payment terms and also potential joint venture opportunities with the right partners. Now we are not only seeing great interest from investors but also hotel operators who are all putting their names down on the list wanting to be part of this journey. BTN: In terms of occupancy I think you reached 87% earlier on in the year. You’ve got 5,000 rooms at the moment which needs to expand quite quickly going by future projections Haitham Mattar: We had 79% year on year and had a fantastic record in March with 87% occupancy. This is testament to all the hard


INTERVIEW

work we achieved last year to have a great spill over in tourist numbers. We’ve seen a 19% growth in tourist numbers last year and for the first quarter of this year we’re already at 12%. BTN: Which are the growing key source markets for you? Haitham Mattar: Poland and the Czech Republic are both growing at a fantastic pace. We’ve also seen growth from India, Germany, the UK and Russia. Since we introduced the visa on arrival we’ve seen a 60% growth out of Russia. The UK is still growing at 20% and the new markets which we’ve entered - the Scandinavian and Nordic countries have shown promising growth as well.

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BTN: What has been the impact of your key attraction to visitors – the zip line Haitham Mattar: We’ve worked hard on positioning Ras Al Khaimah as the future hub of nature-based activities and adventure. Building the zip line was on the back of launching the Via Ferrata which had three phases and three zip lines. That demand has encouraged us to build more zip lines which then led us to launching the longest zip line in the world, breaking the Guinness Book of World Records and receiving global headlines. BTN: Alongside AHIC on the Thursday night is the glittering occasion for the hospitality and tourism industry -the

Middle East Gala Ceremony of the World Travel Awards. What does it mean to Ras Al Khaimah to hold this regional event? Haitham Mattar: This is a really important event for us. It brings in investors and gives them the chance to see opportunities here on the ground. It also brings operators and investors together on common ground where they can see investment opportunities across the UAE. The other emirates like Ras Al Khaimah have great opportunities to offer. It also really contributes well to the economic engine of Ras Al Khaimah

BTN: Going back to the World Travel Awards taking place here in Ras Al Khaimah – a great occasion for so many of those who work hard in the industry - How do you view the awards? Haitham Mattar: Working with Graham Cookewe’re so excited about having this prestigious event being held here for the first time in Ras Al Khaimah and may the best win!


Olivier Harnisch Emaar Hospitality Group Chris O’Toole, Editor Breaking Travel News talks to Olivier Harnisch, CEO, Emaar Hospitality Group.

BTN: Tell us about your fabulous new property Olivier Harnisch: We announced today the Address Hotel on Marjan Island, a property which will open within the next three years. It’s going to have a fabulous location on the beach and will enrich the hospitality landscape of Ras Al Khaimah. BTN: We heard from HH Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi that hospitality is a growing and important part of the economy. How will you be participating in that? Olivier Harnisch: Indeed, Ras Al Khaimah has a lot to offer. It’s a very authentic place and unlike other emirates there is a large majority of Emiratis living here in Ras Al Khaimah which adds to the authenticity. There are some beautiful mountains here as well as

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beaches. We have announced one hotel project, there are a few others coming in the future which we will announce. We really want to participate in the building up of Ras Al Khaimah as a tourism destination because we feel that even though our current home is Dubai we are expanding in the UAE. Ras Al Khaimah being one and a half hours north of Dubai has a lot to offer and really enriches the emirates as a global destination. BTN: You are one of the pre-eminent hospitality companies in the UAE – how would you characterise the mood among developers here at AHIC this year? Olivier Harnisch: The mood is good. This is a very dynamic market, one of the most dynamic in the world. The supply is growing and demand is growing fast also, we’re very


INTERVIEW

THE MOOD IS GOOD. THIS IS A VERY DYNAMIC MARKET.” OLIVIER HARNISCH

optimistic. The UAE is establishing itself as a very diverse destination. Today there are still a lot of people overseas who associate the UAE with Dubai. However more and more people realise the UAE goes far beyond Dubai. I think the destination is growing a lot still and it’s great for us to participate. The mood here at AHIC really reflects this optimism. BTN: There’s been talk for a number of years about the mid-sector in Dubai – an area which needs to grow. You’re doing your part as your portfolio of brands is growing too. Olivier Harnisch: Absolutely, we’ve just opened our fifth Rove Hotel last week at the Dubai Marina. Last month we signed our first management agreement for Rove Hotel outside of the UAE in King Abdulla Economic

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City, close to Jeddah. It’s a fabulous product, a mid-market hotel, it appeals to the millennial traveller and other generations which have a millennial mind-set. It has smaller rooms, limited services, extremely authentic and pleasant, un-scripted service and very successful. We need those hotels in Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah. One mistake which many people make is when they believe the traveller staying at a mid-market hotel has less money to spend. This is not necessarily true. There is a growing segment of travellers who consciously decide to spend a lower percentage of his travel budget on accommodation in order to spend more on restaurants, entertainment, etc. Let’s embrace this segment because it will add a lot to the UAE as a destination.


See the figures updated daily and live links to social media, for e.g. Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah:

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COMING SOON - FORTHCOM

the coming year has a line-up of unmissable EVENTS for all t 17 - 23 APRIL

19 APRIL

23 - 24 APRIL

CLIA Cruise360

World Travel Awards Middle East Gala Ceremony

Canadian Hotel Investment Conference

RAS AL KHAIMAH, UAE

TORONTO, CANADA

The annual Gala Ceremony where the World Travel Awards Middle East winners will be announced.

The definitive source for information, insight and opinion on today’s Canadian lodging market.

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA

19 - 20 APRIL

24 APRIL

The leading B2B exhibition for the inbound and outbound African travel & tourism markets.

IBTM AFRICA

TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR DubaI

FLORIDA, USA The largest and only official conference of the cruise industry. 18 - 20 APRIL

World Travel Market AFRICA

18 - 21 APRIL

INCENTIVE TRAVEL EXCHANGE LAS VEGAS, USA Providing suppliers the opportunity to meet with fully-vetted, highperforming meeting and incentive travel buyers. 18 - 20 APRIL

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA

DUBAI, UAE

Where meetings, events and incentives industry decision makers meet for business adventures across Africa.

A series of one-day conferences around the world for leaders within the hospitality industry.

22 - 23 APRIL

Travel Law Update

ILTM ARABIA

GLASGOW, UK

DUBAI, UAE

24 APRIL

A brand new event for the Middle East luxury travel industry.

Helping you get ready for the major regulatory changes facing travel businesses in 2018.

Kazakhstan INTERNATIONAL TOURISM FAIR (KITF)

22 - 25 APRIL

24 - 27 APRIL

ATM — ARABIA TRAVEL MARKET

Food&HotelAsia (FHA)

ALMATY, KAZAKHSTAN

DUBAI, UAE

SINGAPORE

The most eagerly-anticipated tourism event in Central Asia.

The market leading international travel and tourism event unlocking business potential within the Middle East for tourism professionals.

A mega tradeshow synonymous with the food and hospitality industry in Asia and beyond.

22 - 24 APRIL

Priorities for the UK’s outbound tourism industry post-Brexit

19 - 24 APRIL

LHC — Hospitality Operations Management LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND In a complex world where competition is tight and profit maximization is key for shareholders, managers must be experts in taking decisions and monitoring operations.

ROUTES EUROPE BILBAO, SPAIN An efficient platform to discuss new business opportunities with the region’s leading airlines, airports and tourism authorities.

25 APRIL

LONDON, UK This seminar will discuss the future for the UK’s outbound tourism industry.

For a full diary of events from now up until May 2019 and beyond, please visit www.bre FORTHCOMING EVENTS from Bench include:

AviaDev (12-14 Jun) • SAHIC South America (24-25 Sept) • Saudi Arabia Hotel Investment Confe

FORTHCOMING EVENTS from REED include:

ILTM Asia Pacific (21-24 May) • World Travel Market London (6-8 Nov) • ibtm world (28-30 Nov)

FORTHCOMING EVENTS from WTA include:

World SPA AWARDS (26 Oct) • World Golf Awards (1-4 Nov) • World Travel AWARDS Grand Fina

AHIC SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018


FEATURE

MING TRAVEL INDUSTRY EVENTS

those in the travel industry. HERE IS JUST a taster for THE REST OF APRIL! 25 APRIL

27 APRIL

29 APRIL - 1 MAY

Customer Insight in the Travel Industry

Aspire Luxury Travel Forum

ACTE New York Global Summit

LONDON, UK

NEW YORK, USA

LONDON, UK

Connecting the best agents in the business with new contacts in the luxury sector.

The Association of Corporate Travel Executives global summit.

29 APRIL - 1 MAY

TO THE TABLE MEA

ACTE Global Corporate Travel Conference

ABU DHABI, UAE

How to gain insight into your customer at every touchpoint and how to use this intelligence to segment target markets, personalise experiences and influence customer decision making. 26 APRIL

Skift Forum Europe BERLIN, GERMANY The first conference focused on top marketers, strategists, and technologists in travel. 26 APRIL

Social Media in Travel Seminar LONDON, UK From researching the trip, to engagement throughout post-trip reviews and feedback upon return, this seminar is designed specifically for tour operators and travel agents. 26 APRIL

Accessible Travel Seminar LONDON, UK Exploring how to improve the inclusivity of the facilities, services and products you offer to customers with access needs.

eakingtravelnews.com/events/ rence (26 Feb 2019) • www.benchevents.com/events • www.reedtravelexhibitions.com

al (1 Dec) • www.Worldtravelawards.com breakingtravelnews.com

NEW YORK, USA Building upon the travel manager as the supporting hub of the various components that must come together in a unified fashion for a successful travel programme.

29 APRIL - 1 MAY

A business-to-business forum for senior decision makers in the restaurant and bar industry. 30 APRIL - 2 MAY

Digital Travel Summit LAS VEGAS, USA The premier interactive event for travel, hospitality and leisure executives.


Mohamed Hani Fakih Jannah Hotels & Resorts Chris O’Toole Editor Breaking Travel News talks to Mohamed Hani Fakih, Chief Operating Officer, Jannah Hotels & Resorts

BTN: Let’s start with Jannah the brand and what it can offer the hospitality market here in the Middle East Mohamed Hani Fakih: Jannah is a UAEgrown brand, established back in 2012. The first hotel was on the Eastern Mangroves in Abu Dhabi. We saw a demand for Halal tourism and decided to establish a luxury Halal brand. We currently have a portfolio of nine operating hotels - six hotels are under discussion and waiting to be signed. We have a few hotels in Abu Dhabi, Jannah Burj Al Sarab is our flagship. In Dubai there is one in the Marina, one also coming up in the Mankhool area. We also have one in Ras Al Khaimah. It’s great to see the growth here. BTN: It’s an exciting time for the brand, a number of properties in the pipeline. How’s it going for you here at AHIC?

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Mohamed Hani Fakih: It’s a great privilege to be here, we’ve been rubbing shoulders with all the big names in the market. We’re looking forward to a great outcome. BTN: Halal Tourism – you can take it around the world to different markets to any continent? Mohamed Hani Fakih: Absolutely, as we speak we have construction going on for the first Jannah in Sri Lanka. It’s going to be ready within the next few months and that’s when we go international.


INTERVIEW

“IT’S A GREAT PRIVILEGE TO BE HERE, WE’VE BEEN RUBBING SHOULDERS WITH ALL THE BIG NAMES IN THE MARKET” MOHAMED HANI FAKIH

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NEWS

AM:PM from STR goes live in Australia and GCC AM:PM, the new digital platform for tracking hotel supply and pipeline information from STR, is now available for Australia and Gulf Corporation Council countries. Previously only available in the UK & Ireland, AM:PM provides solutions for hotel brands, developers, investors and more to conduct analyses based on new hotel openings, pipeline construction and development, closures, rebrands and transactions. The tool enables hotel development teams to identify opportunities, at the same time enabling hotel-revenue management teams to better understand current and future changes in market dynamics. The database is updated daily by STR’s research team, building upon the information STR receives directly from hotel companies.

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“We are thrilled to bring this innovative platform to new markets,” said Robin Rossmann, STR managing director. “AM:PM allows STR to offer greater intelligence for the hospitality industry, enabling better-informed decision making that dramatically increases the range of insights users can gain on hotel supply and pipeline development. “At the same time, AM:PM saves clients a substantial amount of time that they can use to analyse these insights.”

In addition to AM:PM’s online database, the platform includes a fully-functional interactive map tool that enables users to pinpoint specific locations and information with a wide range of options for sorting. STR will also launch AM:PM for the U.S. and Germany in the coming months, with more information on the official website.


NEWS

One&Only launches Urban Resorts in Dubai Kerzner International has introduced One&Only Urban Resorts. The new brand will be introduced in Dubai’s latest architectural icon, One Za’abeel, a completely original destination with revolutionary design. “There is a duality to One Za’abeel, reflected in its two towers, that evokes pairings. “Timeless elegance with function, efficiency with leisure, tradition with modernity, inclusion and privacy,” says Mohammed al Shaibani, chairman of Kerzner International. “The paired concepts come together where The Linx traverses the towers offering all those who get in touch with One Za’abeel one complete, bespoke, and very individual experience every time. “That is why, it is very fitting,” he added, “that the first urban resort for One&Only opens in this development of the future.” The iconic One Za’abeel is due to open in 2020, and is being developed by Ithra Dubai, a fully owned subsidiary of Investment Corporation of Dubai. A symbol of ambition, innovation and the pioneering spirit of Dubai, One Za’abeel stands tall and proud in the Za’abeel district in the heart of the city, strategically positioned at the crossroads of the old and new business districts of Dubai. The two-tower, high-rise mixed-use development incorporates One&Only One Za’abeel, luxury residences, serviced apartments, and

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office spaces, in addition to The Gallery, an opulent retail podium, and a panoramic sky concourse, The Linx, which connects the two towers of One Za’abeel. “One Za’abeel will continue to develop Dubai in the global arena. Much more than a building, we are shaping communities to thrive and prosper.We are ultimately transforming the legacies of our past into landmarks of the future,” said Issam Galadari, chief executive, Ithra Dubai. “As the global benchmark of ultra-luxury, it makes sense for One&Only to operate the resort experience at One Za’abeel.” One&Only Urban Resorts will retain the glamour and style of its acclaimed beach resorts offering stunning, intuitive design, incredible culinary experiences, a strong health and fitness ethos and the renowned service that the

brand is known for. However, it will go beyond, offering something that has never been seen before within cities; an elevated experience for business, family and leisure travellers, as well as local residents, including the unexpected. “For One&Only, it is the perfect opportunity to deliver on the many requests from our loyal guests—to be in key cities throughout the globe, evident from the significant awards the brand has received,” commented Philippe Zuber, president, One&Only Resorts. “Our Urban Resorts will be a translation of the life and energy and entertainment of our world-renowned Beach Resorts, offering curated experiences for each guest, from business and leisure travellers, families, as well as the community, an utterly unrivalled urban oasis.”


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ras al khaimah www.rasalkhaimah.tv


Meet the emirates Ras Al Khaimah may be dominating the headlines right now as the host of AHIC 2018, World Travel Awards’ Middle East Gala Ceremony 2018 and as the holder of the Guinness World Record for world's longest zip line but there are six other emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Here Best in Travel gives you the low-down on the seven states of the UAE

Ras Al Khaimah Tucked away away at the northern tip of the uAE lies the country’s most underrated emirate, Ras Al Khaimah.

encompasses a desert, mountain range, a coastline and fertile land. – from mountains to deserts and pristine white-sand beaches.

you won’t find the gargantuan skyscrapers, shopping malls and bars that dominate Dubai and Abu Dhabi but you will be struck by a cultural authenticity that is hard to find in the other emirates.

So while the rest of the uAE is breaking world records, RAK is quietly revelling in its rich history and beautiful landscape, which no amount of money or oil could create.

Make no mistake: Ras Al Khaimah abounds in archaeological sites, historical structures and natural beauty. Ras Al Khaimah’s landscape

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RAK is also the gateway to the magnificent Musandam Peninsula, an enclave of Oman. en.rasalkhaimah.ae


FEATURE

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Meet the emirates Abu Dhabi Don’t confuse Abu Dhabi with its showy sibling up the Sheikh Zayed Road. For while the oil rich capital of the uAE may boast many of the same draws as Dubai (read 365 days of sunshine, a sparkling sea, sand whiter than a dentist’s chair plus hip hotels, top notch dining, chic bars and modern shopping malls crammed with delights), crucially the capital also wants to be regarded as an international cultural hub. Case in point? Seek out World Travel Awards’ nominee Saadiyat Island – a mere 500m off Abu Dhabi’s east coast and half the size of Bermuda – that’s become a tourism-cultural project for nature and Emirati heritage and culture. Saadiyat Island is set to house the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi contemporary arts museum. Designed by acclaimed architect Frank Gehry at a cost of between uS$200m and uS$400m, this is the world’s largest Guggenheim and the only one in the Arab world. Other meaningful coups include the first ever branch of the world famous Parisian art museum, The Louvre (designed by award winning French architect Jean Nouvel) and a Sheikh Zayed National Museum – designed by Norman Foster and devoted to Abu Dhabi’s history and heritage, as well as the legacy of the much revered late ruler of the uAE after whom the museum is named. There’s also a Maritime Museum by Japan’s Tadao Ando on the way, which will reflect the rich

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maritime history of the Gulf, and a Performing Arts Centre designed by Zaha Hadid. The Iraqi-British architect became the first woman to win the Pritzker Prize – aka architecture’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize – back in 2004. The emirate also boasts the most expensive hotel ever built – the Emirates Palace where there are over 1,000 staff for 300 odd rooms. Factor in the now annual Formula 1 race – the 5.55-kilometre yas Marina Circuit hosted the uAE’s inaugural Grand Prix back in 2009 – and there’s no doubting that this former fishing village is a city that is certainly going places. By contrast Abu Dhabi's second city, Al Ain, is a sleepy place where very little happens although it’s worth visiting in the height of the scorching uAE summer, as the elevation of the land makes Al Ain a good few degrees cooler than Abu Dhabi. Further afield, look to Liwa – the famed fertile crescent of the uAE and the gateway to the Empty Quarter which should be on everyones list of places to experience in the uAE. Visitors head here for the grand silence that echoes off the Empty Quarter and the beauty of the vast dunes that roll into the distance. visitabudhabi.ae/uken/default.aspx


FEATURE

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Meet the emirates

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FEATURE

Add to these outlandish projects, five star hotels with private white sand beaches, a vibrant nightlife scene, some truly outstanding restaurants and guaranteed sunshine – and Dubai’s allure is obvious. yet scratch beneath the shiny surface and you’ll find another side to the ‘city of gold’. Alongside the iconic skyscrapers, sit historical sites such as Bastakia and the creek – arguably the heart beat of Dubai. Here you can watch abras and dhows (traditional Arab sailing boats) weave their way across the water, as they have done for centuries. For further local flavour, factor in a tour of Jumeirah Mosque (Dubai is after all an Islamic state even if it isn’t quite how you’d envisage Arabia) on Beach Road, before sauntering through the bustling souks.

Dubai Dubai. If you weren’t aware of the ambitious emirate in the uAE, you must have been living under a rock for the past couple of decades. The former fishing village has become one of the most talked about town’s in the world thanks to the dream, drive and determination of its charismatic ruler: step forward Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Make no mistake: the desert kingdom is home to the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building at 828m), the world’s largest shopping mall – the Dubai Malll - plus Palm shaped man-made islands and an indoor ski slope complete with 6,000 tonnes of real snow.

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These traditional market places are alive with vibrant stalls selling everything from art and jewellery to pashminas (a necessity given the artic air conditioning levels that you’ll find in Dubai’s myriad malls), batteries, bananas, spices and other seasonings. All are sold out of large open sacks, making for sensory overload. For more glimpses of the ‘real Dubai’, explore ethnic residential districts such as Satwa and colourful Karama where you’ll get to mingle with the melting pot of cultures – there’s an incredible influx of expats from all over the world – that make up modern day Dubai. All of the aforementioned areas can be easily reached by the Dubai metro – the world’s longest self driving metro system that has helped ease road congestion since its inauguration in 2009.

www.visitdubai.com/en


Meet the emirates

Umm al Quwain Let's be honest, you've probably never heard of it have you? But that doesn’t mean the emirate of umm al Quwain has nothing to offer.

junkies can skydive through umm al Quwain Aeroclub or compete in car races via the Emirates Car & Motorcycle Racing Club.

For those interested in natural landscapes, umm Al Quwain has unspoilt desert dunes and the largest mangrove swamp on the west coast of the uAE where many bird species live.

Tourists will also want to check out Dreamland Aqua Park – one of the first theme parks in the Gulf, whose 30 rides and crazy slides keep people coming back.

umm al Quwain which means ‘Mother of Two Powers’ and refers to the enduring legacy of oceangoing among the emirate’s tribes is also a developing hotspot for extreme sports – thrill

For a far more calming experience, visit the nearby umm Al Quwain Fort where the emirate’s rulers used to reside.

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FEATURE

Fujairah Dubai invariably tops the itineraries of most visitors to the uAE. Some adventurous souls make it to Abu Dhabi and, increasingly, Ras Al Khaimah. However if anywhere really demands a couple of days of your time, it’s Fujairah. The youngest emirate – it gained independence from Sharjah in 1952 – Fujairah is separated from its neighbours by the towering Hajar mountains and is the only emirate to be located entirely on the east coast. Consequently it’s become known as the beach emirate, offering the best best snorkelling and scuba-diving in the region. you can take advantage of the many different diving courses on offer, where skilled instructors are on hand to guide you every step of the way.If you prefer to enjoy long, lazy days soaking up the sun, there are plenty of umbrellas and sun loungers lining the golden sands. Away from the beaches, Fujairah is just a stone’s throw from the mineral rich Ain al-Madhab Hot Springs.

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Furthermore, Fujairah is home to two stand-out mosques. The first, the Al-Bidyah Mosque, is the oldest in the united Arab Emirates. Made from a simple mudand-brick construction, the mosque is home to artefacts dating back to around 1000BC. Dwarfing it in size is Fujairah’s more modern mosque, the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, which covers an area equal in size to three football pitches. A major landmark on the outskirts of the city, it has room for over 30,000 worshippers. NonMuslims may not enter the building, but the grand, white exterior and sumptuous grounds are well worth a visit. To learn more about the archaeological finds unearthed in the area, head to the Fujairah Museum. Highlights in the exhibits include a stunning bowl made from an ostrich egg, Bronze Age weapons and painted pottery – all discovered locally. www.fujairahtourism.ae


Meet the emirates Sharjah Stretching from the Arabian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman, Sharjah is the third largest of the seven Emirates which form the united Arab Emirates – and was once the most important of the seven sheikhdoms owing to its importance as a trading hub. Rich in history and culture; a land with a wealth of values, warm and friendly people, all year-round sunshine and distinctive blend of glorious past and bright present, the emirate is an attractive and safe destination offering the right ingredients for leisure and business alike – in spite of being home to the strictest laws in the uAE (it’s the only dry emirate). Having been crowned the "Cultural Capital of the Arab World" in 1998, the Islamic Culture Capital for 2014 and the Arab Tourism Capital for 2015, Sharjah’s commitment to the arts isn’t in doubt. With landmarks such as the Heritage Area which includes the Islamic Museum, Bait Al Naboodah, Souk Al Asra and Qanat Al Qasba, the emirate has preserved its history and traditions making it an ideal destination for tourists who are looking to learn a thing or two about the uAE.

sharjahmydestination.ae

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FEATURE

Ajman At a grand total of 250 square kilometre (95 sq miles), Ajman is the smallest of the emirates and this is emirate’s greatest appeal. Its beautiful16km stretch of shoreline is best enjoyed with a stroll along the corniche, and its sandy beaches are heavenly for those who want to lie out under the sun or take a dip in the warm Gulf waters. Indeed, the Gulf and the coastline are important here and Ajman is renowned as one of the largest dhow building centres in the region. While mainly modern boats emerge from the yards these days, you may catch sight of a traditionally built wooden boat sailing out of the harbour. Further inland, the remote enclaves of Manama and Masfout enjoy the stunning backdrop of the Hajar Mountains, and provide an escape from the city and the summer heat.

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Ajman Museum, housed in an 18th century fort, delivers a slice of culture and history while Al Tallah Camel Racecourse, Ajman Arabian Horse Stud Farm and Ajman Equestrian Club offer a chance to witness ageless Arabian pastimes. For more modern distractions, Ajman boasts a variety of activities, shops, luxury spas and wonderful restaurants and hotels. A melting pot of old and new, Ajman is a laid-back, sun drenched destination with a world of adventure, wildlife and tradition to explore.

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Emaar reveals plans for first Ras al Khaimah property Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Properties, has announced the launch of the company’s first hotel and residences project in Ras Al Khaimah at the Arabian Hospitality Investment Conference 2018. Located on the Views Island of Al Marjan Island, a four-island megadevelopment, Address Al Marjan Island hotel and residences will be managed by Emaar Hospitality Group’s premium lifestyle brand, Address Hotels + Resorts. This marks the first expansion of the Address brand to Ras Al Khaimah, and the first development venture by Emaar Development in the emirate. Address Al Marjan Island will be a resort-style development that draws on its exceptional natural location, directly by the Arabian Sea. The hotel will have 249 rooms, including suites, while Address Residences Al Marjan Island will comprise 234 high-end apartments.

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As part of Views, the largest of the four islands that make up Al Marjan Island, residents will be in close proximity to the urban core of the master-planned community as well as the town centre. With direct access to over 600 metres of beachfront, residents and guests will have uninterrupted views of the sea in addition to a range of lifestyle amenities. Sheikh Khalid bin Saud Al Qasimi, chairman, Al Marjan Island, said: “We are honoured to welcome Emaar and its prestigious Address hotel brand to Al Marjan Island, which will further strengthen the appeal of our master-planned development as a preferred hub for visitors and investors from around the world.

“Emaar’s proven strengths in mixeduse developments will add significant value to Al Marjan Island with the Address hotel to contribute to our emirate’s tourism sector.” The announcement of Address Al Marjan Island follows a memorandum of understanding signed by Emaar in December last year to develop two million sq. ft mixed-use projects including highend residential, hospitality and retail components in Al Marjan Island. Alabbar said: “With its positive economic growth and focus on strengthening the tourism and investment landscape, Ras Al Khaimah has recorded robust growth in visitor arrivals and in attracting inward investments.


FEATURE

“It is a really exciting time for the Middle East and Africa region’s travel and tourism sector.” Alex Kyriakidis

Address Al Marjan Island will feature several unique restaurant concepts including The Restaurant at Address for all-day dining, meeting and banquet space, a business lounge, a modern fitness centre, spa, pool and other wellness amenities. More details on the hotel will be announced in due course. Residents of the branded residences can access the hotel amenities. Olivier Harnisch, chief executive of Emaar Hospitality Group, said: “Address Hotels + Resorts is our homegrown success story – a brand that has redefined the hospitality sector with its philosophy of ‘where life happens’.

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“Address hotels are set apart by their location, its service standards and the wide range of lifestyle amenities that assure a premium lifestyle for guests and residents. “Address Al Marjan Island marks our expansion to the fast-growing emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, which is focused on strengthening tourism and leisure developments to welcome visitors from around the world.” Emaar Hospitality Group had most recently announced its expansion to Sharjah with a management agreement to operate three hotels in Aljada, a 24 million square foot integrated lifestyle destination, and a new leisure and entertainment hub for Sharjah, developed by Arada.

Address Al Marjan Island will be a resort-style development that draws on its exceptional natural location, directly by the Arabian Sea.


NEWS

IHG signs with Al Hokair Group for Holiday Inn expansion in Saudi Arabia InterContinental Hotels Group has signed a master development agreement with Saudi Arabian business conglomerate, Al Hokair Group.

Speaking on the announcement, Pascal Gauvin, managing director, India, Middle East & Africa, IHG, said: “IHG has a strong legacy in Saudi Arabia, which is a key market for us in the Middle East. “We are proud to once again collaborate with our esteemed long-term partner, Al Hokair Group, to bring the Holiday Inn Express brand to the country, and further expand our offering to domestic and international travellers, alike.

THE DEAL WAS REVEALED AT THE ARABIAN HOTEL INVESTMENT CONFERENCE IN RAS AL KHAIMAH

The deal will see the debut of Holiday Inn Express brand in Saudi Arabia, with a rollout of at least 10 Holiday Inn Express hotels over next 15 years. This significant development, which was announced at Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, complements IHG’s robust pipeline in the kingdom and cements its position as one of the leading operators in the country, as well as consolidating its partnership with the Al Hokair Group.

AHIC SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018

Al Hokair Group currently operates six Holiday Inn hotels in Saudi Arabia. As per the exclusive new agreement, the first Holiday Inn Express will be a 200room hotel based in Jeddah, closely followed by openings in various key cities across the country. All 10 hotels will be operated under long-term franchise agreements.

“The tourism landscape in Saudi Arabia is rapidly changing and we are excited to leverage the huge growth opportunities that Saudi Vision 2030 presents, particularly given that one of the biggest pillars of the plan is to bring more tourism into the country.” He added: We are the largest operator in Saudi Arabia with a strong portfolio of 31 hotels across four brands, offering specialised stay experiences to varied guests’ profiles, and with this signing, we are further extending our consumer appeal by offering quality, yet affordable accommodation for savvy travellers.”


NEWS

RAK Hospitality Holding launches Hospitality Advisory Partners RAK Hospitality Holding has announced the evolution of its asset management subsidiary into a strategic advisory firm, Hospitality Advisory Partners. The news was revealed at the Arabian Hotel Investment Forum in Ras al Khaimah. Hospitality Advisory Partners provides a comprehensive set of consulting services ranging from investment and operator selection advisory, to asset management and management contract negotiation. Benefiting from wide-ranging industry knowledge of a senior team dedicated to providing hands on approach to the evolving complexities of today’s clients demands both in the region as well as internationally. According to yannis Anagnostakis, chief executive of RAKHH, said: “This strategic move first and foremost was driven by a solid client demand for an all-inclusive approach to asset management and advisory services as well as the desire to extend our reach and expertise beyond RAK and collaborate with like-minded partners to delivering value to owners and investors.

INDuSTRy ExPERT ALAN CHRISTIE WILL LEAD THE REVAMPED ORGANISATION

Leading Hospitality Advisory Partners is general manager Alan Christie.

“Most recent success is the strong performance of RAK National Hotels following 17 per cent revenue growth after significant investments in renovation and restoration across its portfolio.”

A recognised hospitality specialist, Christie has worked in hospitality operations, orchestrated acquisition, disposition and asset management in the hospitality, real estate and finance industries across 3 continents the past 20 years.

In the GCC, according to STR (from August 2017), the Middle East construction pipeline totalled 583 hotel projects under contract, where the uAE and Saudi Arabia both claim the most active hotel construction areas in the region, with 40,020 guestrooms in 89 projects in Saudi Arabia’s pipeline and 35,050 in 121 projects in the uAE.

Alison Grinnell, chief financial officer of RAKHH, who has over 20 years hospitality advisory experience working with firms such as PwC and in over 30 countries, said: “The trends in hospitality are shifting and as the ecosystem becomes more complex, solving multifaceted challenges requires an holistic approach to asset management.

Hospitality Advisory Partners has a leadership team with proven expertise and a track record of building strong and long-lasting relationships as owners, investors, and asset managers.

“We are advisors with real hands on industry experience as both owners and operators managing 4,500 hotel rooms.”

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DUBAI INFLUENCERS A CONNECTED PLANET


http://worldsocialmedia.directory/category/ dubai-influencer/


INTERVIEW

Noel Massoud August Hospitality Phil Blizzard talks to Noel Massoud, President of August Hospitality

NOEL MASSOuD

BTN: Tell us about August Consulting. Noel Massoud: August Consulting is just one year old. We're based in Abu Dhabi and our services concentrate on developers and hotel owners. What we try to do is advise our clients on what they should and shouldn’t be doing. BTN: What are the key aspects you're advising them on? Noel Massoud: Regarding the investment, we advise on what kind of developments or what kind of hotels our clients should enter and which hotels can give them the best ROI. We help them in the actual development of the hotel from when it’s just a green field to when it’s a working project. We then work with them until the hotel is ready to open. BTN: Let's pretend that I'm an investor. I want to create or invest in a hotel here in Ras AlKhaimah, what advice would you give me?

AHIC SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018

Noel Massoud: Go ahead and invest in Ras AlKhaimah! I think Ras Al-Khaimah has great potential and a great future. Actually, we're working with a client who's developing a hotel in Ras Al-Khaimah. We persuaded him to move here as we saw the potential of Ras Al-Khaimah and the need for more hotels. BTN: As an investor, which sector of hospitality do you think I should invest in – mass, luxury, or what? Noel Massoud: Invest in four star and three stars hotels especially in the uAE. I think most of the cities in the uAE have enough of luxury hotels and five-star hotels. The market needs four star and three star hotels. BTN: Noel, thank you very much indeed for that free advice from an investor perspective here at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference.


PHOTO DIARY

PHOTO DIARY DAY THREE

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AHIC SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018


PHOTO DIARY

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PHOTO DIARY

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AHIC SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018


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PHOTO DIARY SIR RANULPH FIENNES

AHIC SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018


PHOTO DIARY

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influencers M A G A Z I N E

Influencer marketing is quickly becoming a major part of the social marketing strategies for many marketers and agencies a like. With digital marketing spend increasing every year, more and more dollars are being devoted to influencer marketing programs due to their potential for significant ROI yields with often less resources. The value of influencer marketing is undeniable and no matter the size, resources, or sophistication, of a marketer or agency, all should be considering integrating an influencer marketing strategy into their social plans, even if their just beginning. The prospect of being able to reach consumers, inside and outside your traditional audience, in engaging ways, and through trusted voices is value that can’t be found through many if any other forms of social media marketing. This could not be more evident in the beauty, cosmetics and spa market, brands are more than comfortable when it comes to sponsorship and generic advertising strategies, but the role of the beauty social influencer is now at a stage where this too must be considered vital for any brands marketing strategy.

www.theinfluencersmagazine.com


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Mohammed Awadella Time Hotels

Chris O’Toole talks to Mohammed Awadella, CEO of Time Hotels, Gold Sponsor at AHIC

BTN: You have an impressive portfolio of brands, tell us about the company Mohammed Awadella: Time Hotels is a uAE based hotelmanagement company from Dubai. We currently run 11 properties including hotels, hotel apartments and residences. We are considered a mid-scale company and we look into budgets and the ROI to our investors and owners. We don’t serve alcohol and so there is a lot of demand for that in the Middle East. We are passionate about

hospitality and customer service. BTN: Dubai is very keen to expand the mid-scale sector, developing theme parks and attracting the family market. Do you see a lot of potential there? Mohammed Awadella: Huge! And actually this is the future - as HE Mohammed Alabbar Chairman of Emaar mentioned - for the Middle East not only the uAE but Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan – all across the Middle East they need the mid-market. This

AHIC SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018

represents 70% of the world population which needs somewhere to stay. We have to look at the customer and what he wants. It’s not the hotel business of 20/30 years ago when it was a room and a TV. Today it’s internet facilities and also back to basics and customer service. These things are very important to travellers of today. BTN: How would you describe the mood of the investors here today at AHIC? Mohammed Awadella: It’s great! I was so happy to

hear today the attendance was over 900. This is the first time in 15years. AHIC is one of the most important conferences in the Middle East. I like to attend every year as a speaker and participant, this year we are a sponsor and I think we will be participating for some years ahead. It’s the perfect opportunity to approach owners and investors. BTN: We’re here in Ras Al Khaimah - one of the northern emirates- do you have any ambitions for this destination?


INTERVIEW

MOHAMMED AWADELLA

Mohammed Awadella: Ras Al Khaimah has developed very quickly and from what His Highness said this morning, the emirate is looking to develop an extra 5/600 rooms over the next six years. The destination is growing in popularity - it has beautiful beaches, sun and sand – what tourists are looking for. It also represents the culture of the uAE and offers adventure – like the new zip line. We are currently under negotiation for two projects in Ras Al Khiamah, hopefully we will be signing the first

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one in the next couple of weeks and this will be our first venture in the emirate.

BTN: Looking ahead to the rest of 2018, what do we have to look forward to in the brand over the coming months? Mohammed Awadella: This year we’re quite active. We’re opening three properties, one in Jeddah and two in Sharjah, three-stars and hotel apartments plus a four-star property in Dubai – which I think will be delayed until the first quarter of 2019.

“AHIC is one of the most important conferences in the Middle East. ” Mohammed Awadella, CEO of Time Hotels


Paul Berger CEO of Arena, MEA Phil Blizzard talks to Paul Berger, Chief Executive Officer of Arena, MEA – the company responsible for designing the AHIC Village

BTN: Paul - the AHIC Village it really is quite amazing. Is this really a temporary structure? Paul Berger: It is very temporary. We built this in just over a month. It's just here for three days and then we take it all away! BTN: I saw a figure somewhere. It took ‘645 man hours’ or something like that to build the AHIC Village? Paul Berger: It's been an amazing job. Everything here is temporary and sustainable. We take it down and take it to the next event. BTN: We're standing in what I would say is the networking area, the refreshment area and exhibition area. It is quite long – what is the length?

AHIC SPECIAL EDITION APRIL 2018

Paul Berger: It is 90 metres in length and 30 metres in diameter.

“Ras Al Khaimah is very dynamic and great for us. It's like Dubai was 10 to 15 years ago, promoting tourism and development. ” Paul Berger CEO of ARENA, MEA

BTN: The length is Olympic size for a sprint. Usain Bolt could have gone from one end to the other in about seven or eight seconds, I think? Paul: yes, through all the stands! It's a big structure - it's a big exhibition. It's about seven and a half meters in height with a good clearance. Fully air-conditioned too, the temperature feels great at the moment and we've got more than 1,000 people in here. It just doesn't feel crowded. BTN: Looking around, you see the air conditioners, there's these tubes running along the roof of the structure as well. Outside it is 36 degrees - alot of AC power required to keep it cool in here?


INTERVIEW

Paul Berger: yes, it's probably about 22 degrees in here. A lot of power throws out the air equally throughout the structure. We've lined the ceiling as well to make it look more like an exhibition venue rather than a tent. Then outside you have the backdrop of the sea and the decking with the furniture. BTN: This is only one part you've also got the main conference arena as well, which is an amazing structure too. Paul Berger: yes, that's another such structure alongside this one. In there, we've got a revolving stage and seating for 400 people for the gala awards evening.

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BTN: The World Travel Awards? Paul Berger: yes – the World travel awards. 400 to 450 people all gathering for the glittering travel and hospitality event taking place here in Ras Al Khaimah. BTN: What is it like here in Ras Al Khaimah? How do you perceive Ras Al Khaimah from a business perspective? Paul Berger: Ras Al Khaimah is very dynamic and great for us. It's like Dubai was 10 to 15 years ago, promoting tourism and development. We're working very closely with the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Authority. We've worked with them on the zip line, the world's longest zip line

structure. We have also built a lot of Ramadan structures and obviously this big conference venue. When the Tourism Authority wanted to bring AHIC to Ras Al Khaimah, there wasn’t a venue. Together we designed this structure to convince the organizers that this was the place to host the conference and now we've delivered. Hopefully, it will come back here again in the future.


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ARABIAN TRAVEL MARKET OVER THE YEARS

Profile for World Luxury Media

BTN - Arabian Travel Market & AHIC - Wrap up  

BTN - Arabian Travel Market & AHIC - Wrap up

BTN - Arabian Travel Market & AHIC - Wrap up  

BTN - Arabian Travel Market & AHIC - Wrap up