Tell us about your two decades plus journey in the hospitality industry and what inspired you to take up this profession?
As the Complex General Manager of Al Habtoor City Hotel Collection, I have been in the hospitality industry for over two decades, starting my hospitality career in 1998 as an assistant front office manager.
As a child, I was always intrigued by the gorgeous buildings in Sweden, with bellboys opening doors for you when you enter, etc. One day, I walked in with my parents and I was in awe, with the gorgeous arches and the beautiful brick fireplace. When I saw the general manager of the hotel, who was well dressed in a black suit, I was taken aback and said: “I want to do this too.”
What, in your opinion, constitutes ‘an outstanding experience’ for your guests and how do you ensure it?
In the hospitality industry, customer service is ‘key’. Hotel businesses make it or break it through customer satisfaction, with one bad review spelling doom for you. As customer demands grow, so does the complexity of delivering an experience the customer will be happy with. In my view, an outstanding experience means personalisation. Before the customer checks in, learn a little about their background and understand where they come from, and use this to your advantage to ‘wow’ the guest.
We, at Al Habtoor City Hotel Collection, make sure to deliver an experience that guests will never forget with three distinctive hotels, two tranquilising spas, three roof top pools to beat the summer heat, over 30 dining venues including bars, a kid’s club — so that when the kids are away, parents can enjoy the miraculous water-based theme show La Perle by Dragone. The options at Al Habtoor City are simply endless.
What makes the reputation of Al Habtoor City Hotel Collection what it is today?
Providing high customer service has been Al Habtoor’s number one priority starting with – knowledge about the industry, the consumers, introducing staff training, providing personalised services across all properties and lastly, listening to the guests to understand their needs. It is no coincidence then that Al Habtoor City Hotel Collection’s Trip Advisor score as we speak is 5 out of 5. Habtoor Palace Dubai itself ranks top 10 in the city. This is an achievement we feel speaks so strongly about how unique the Habtoor name is when it comes to delivering exceptional and global hospitality like no other.
How has the hospitality and tourism industry overall adapted and what are your predictions about the future?
With the start of Expo 2020 Dubai in October last year, visitors were flocking to the UAE, with a high number of visitors from India, Bangladesh and the UK. The success of the global event has given the chance to Al Habtoor City Hotel Collection to host some of the most highly anticipated private and corporate events, since Dubai became the number one business travel destination. Some of these event include: the Emirates Literature Festival, the world’s leading international literary festival, as well as the Arab world’s largest celebration of the written and spoken world, the World Government Summit 2022, which focuses on the driver of leadership and excellence in the government through providing direct support to federal entities, the World Police Summit in which over 200 key leaders and more than 150 exhibitors participated, and lastly, the Arabian Travel Market, which took place in May at the Dubai Trade Centre. It was a huge opportunity for our brand, where we got to position ourselves as ‘The 1,001 Arabian Nights’ destination since we have the capacity to hold groups of both leisure travellers and group guests of over 1,000 rooms in a single property.
Moving forward, with travel restrictions finally relaxing, we are ready and thrilled to welcome back the Indian market who played a huge role within leisure travelers. Furthermore, not to forget the FIFA World Cup happening in Qatar presents a huge opportunity for Dubai to be the satellite city as FlyDubai has announced that they will be operating 30 shuttle flights per day during the world cup for easy travel. This is a huge win-win situation for the hospitality sector in Dubai and especially for Al Habtoor City Collection, located in the heart of Dubai, just 15 minutes away from Dubai Airport.
Any future plans with regards to new offerings?
We recently launched our new Indian Bazaar nights at Level Seven, V Hotel. Another one is Curio Collection by Hilton and Taikun’s relocation at the Hilton Dubai Al Habtoor City with theatrical cabaret performances and dancers entertaining the guests during dinner. The newly opened Sirali, the famed Turkish restaurant at Al Habtoor Boulevard, known for blending Turkey’s 500-year-old culinary culture with creative presentations is another must see. We also introduced our brand new certified ‘Kosher Kitchen’ for the Jewish communities coming from all around the globe.
Last but not the least, we have installed 12 Tesla superchargers in the complex, making us the only EV valet charging stations in the region. We have also introduced our summer stay packages, which allows guests to book a room at any of the three hotels and get two La Perle tickets and 25 per cent off on selected dining outlets till end of September.