Zulal Gul, Fairmont Gold manager, Fairmont Dubai, tells us about her incredible journey throughout the industry…
Describe your first ever role in the hotel industry? I was given the opportunity to start my career in Turkey as a receptionist at the Six Senses Spa, at the Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay Bodrum in 2010. Initially, it was a job for just five months during the summer vacation, but turned out to become a passion for lifetime. Back then I had no thorough understanding of hotel operations, although at the same time I felt that immense passion for interacting with guests. Those summer months were treasured – I got to learn about all the spa treatments and had a chance to attend trainings together with our therapists. During that summer I was also noticed by the hotel’s guest relations manager, who then approached me to join her front office team. I was positively surprised and gladly took on the new career opportunity a year after the college graduation.
Who is the person who has inspired you most in your career? The person who has influenced my career the most is Darren Davis – currently holding a regional leadership position within Marriott International. Darren is an inspirational leader – he really walks the walk and inspired me as a mentor and a role model. During busy front office operations, he would always support his team. Darren is someone, whose guidance I will definitely follow throughout my career.
How do you view the hotel scene in the region? We are privileged to work in a region which offers great opportunities for everyone who is passionate about the industry. It’s such a dynamic playground, there’s always something new happening and the region is always moving forward, I believe it’s once in a lifetime opportunity for fresh graduates to get started. It would be challenging to get a similar work experience anywhere else in the world.
What is the biggest challenge of your role? I wouldn’t call it a challenge, but rather consider it as something very particular to my nature. Namely, there are simply not enough hours in one day, which would give me enough time to interact with every single guest at Fairmont Dubai. I wish one day would last for 48 hours – that would give me sufficient time to engage with all guests; to make sure I have spent enough time with my team of 15 colleagues; and ultimately take enough time as well for my regular daily tasks.
What is your favourite aspect of your role? I simply love the guests – and learning about their journeys and life stories. We have guests visiting the hotel from around the world, everyone has their own story to tell. I am passionate about interacting with them and becoming their key contact person during the stay at Fairmont Dubai. Even if they won’t return, I am confident that they have left with a warm heart and a memorable experience in their mind, and that means they willing to recommend us as well to their friends.
If you could work in any hotel in the world which would it be? The Plaza Hotel in New York, managed by Fairmont. It’s such a fascinating landmark property in the corner of Central Park, with a rich history dating back to 1883 and with so many stories to tell. The Plaza has hosted a number of famous guests, been the movie scene for numerous world-famous films and if there’s a hotel in the world that’s been in my heart since I was a little girl – it’s definitely The Plaza.
What tip would you share with new staff starting out in the hotel industry in the region? They should put their heart into it. It’s challenging to work at a hotel, if you are not passionate about it. We all have our best days and the ones that are not so good, but it is important to overcome challenges and move along with a smile, aiming to turn guests’ moments into memories. It’s one of those industries, where it’s important to be genuine, do things from the heart and believe that one day all the hard work and late nights will pay off.