Located in the heart of Dubai is the 5-star Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates, the perfect starting point to discovering a whole new world of lavish European-style grandeur. Here, Slim Zaiane, the hotel’s general manager, tells us all about his role, and the property.
Please share your career journey with our readers.
Over the last 20 years, I’ve been lucky enough to see the world thanks to my job. I graduated with a Bachelor’s in hotel management from Glion Hotel School and a Master’s degree from Oxford Brookes University in the United Kingdom. Since then, my career has taken me from Geneva, via Paris and London, to Dubai in senior management roles with several luxury hotel brands.
What’s your personal leadership style?
I thrive in achieving excellence in both guest and employee satisfaction. Something very important to me is getting really hands on and solving problems regardless of the area of the hotel – I like getting things done and at the highest level of service.
I also work closely with each member of the team to ensure they feel supported and valued every step of the way, every day. By doing so, the team feel appreciated and strive for better service for our guests and, all in all, provide a better environment for everyone.
When have you found your passion for working at luxury hotels?
Soon after graduating, I landed my first role as a F&B management trainee for Noga Hilton in Geneva and I’ve never looked back.
There’s something about creating long-lasting memories for guests that they take away and keep with them for years to come. This always drives me to become better and strive for greatness by listening to customer demands, market trends and continuously offering bespoke customer experiences to our guests.
What are the most unique features of the hotel and would you say that it’s more classic or distinctive?
Our hotel is home to a tasteful mix of gastronomy concepts, offering an excellent variety for food lovers from around the world. From the Levantine-inspired experience that is Olea to the Aspen Café lounge that’s loved by our visitors as the perfect place to gather, relax and unwind with its European Flair which represents the Kempinski brand and Salero, the most authentic Spanish outpost in Dubai – the hotel’s dining selection is exquisitely diverse and inviting.
The hotel’s location is another element that appeals to visitors. Its location enables us to be part of a much larger community – Mall of the Emirates – but at the same time, it retains its exclusiveness. Due to this, we’re able to offer guests easy access to all the popular lifestyle activities within the mall, including leisure and shopping. It’s also within close connectivity to the major arts and cultural spots in Dubai such as Art Dubai in Madinat or Alserkal Avenue.
Our unique Ski Chalet offering is also nothing like anything else you’ll find in Dubai. Inspired by a luxury lodge, guests can enjoy the experience of feeling like they’re escaping to a winter retreat overlooking Ski Dubai, while in the middle of the desert.
Also, the Kempinski brand of hotels come with a rich heritage, we bring the heart of Europe and its traditions to the heart of Dubai for everyone to enjoy.
What are five features at the hotel that reshape guest experiences?
As mentioned, our ideal location, gastronomy concepts available at the property with leading chefs in the region and Aspen Chalets provide guests with unique experiences that you won’t find anywhere else in Dubai.
The Lady in Red, an iconic Kempinski brand ambassador, is an enduring feature of the company’s hotels worldwide. With an intimate knowledge of the local destination, the Lady in Red is present in the lobby of the hotel, working alongside the concierge to recreate the beauty of a grand hotel tradition for today’s discerning guests. She goes out of her way to understand each guest’s individual needs, and craft memorable experiences with a personal touch throughout their stay.
The property is also the perfect hub for business travellers; our world-class meetings and events facilities with 17 event venues and exclusive limousine transfers with in-car Wi-Fi are something that our guests appreciate and value time and time again.
What advice would you offer those who aspire to become GMs in the hotel industry someday?
- Passion works like fuel and will drive you to succeed. As with any job, you’ll face difficulties, but as long as you have passion, you’ll overcome them and grow as a professional.
- Ambition is also important. This will help you set goals and create a healthy career path for yourself.
- And lastly, experience. There’s absolutely no substitute for this. Therefore, I would encourage anyone who’s thinking about a career in hospitality to throw themselves in the deep end and gain as much experience as possible as it will pay off in the long run.
As the GM, what’s the most important thing you do to ensure the hotel is a success?
As you know, the industry is constantly changing and evolving, to the extent that what might have worked for you until now might not work for you in the coming months or years. The hospitality market in Dubai is extremely competitive and, therefore, we must always look to adapt and stay ahead of the curve – both from the property and as individuals. Being open and willing to adapt, change and grow will be the differentiator between you and your competitor.
Also, the standard of luxury hotels in the UAE is very high – the benchmark for luxury here is recognisably higher than other global destinations. Therefore, it’s becoming increasingly substantial for hotels to overdeliver on their promise to create extraordinary experiences for travellers in UAE. Meeting such challenges definitely urges the need to boost creativity and innovation – a challenge I take on very seriously.
What’s next for Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates?
As we embrace more innovation and more tech-savvy offerings at the property, our goal is to ensure customer demands are answered and make their stay as easy and comfortable as possible.
We see two key trends in the market currently – one, guests are increasingly looking to be entertained in the hotel itself rather than just coming for a nice room. This is something we have taken on board and we’re currently working on some exciting projects due to be launched later this year, which will strengthen our unique position even more. Number two, we believe sustainability will continue to be a key focus – we’re are always on the lookout for ways to reduce our carbon footprint and pollution.