Patria Puyat, pre-opening hotel manager, Holiday Inn Dubai Festival City, takes the team from Hotel News Middle East on an exclusive hard-hat tour of her property ahead of its opening. When the Holiday Inn Dubai Festival City opens it will be the largest Holiday Inn in the country, heralding in a new era for the industry.
With the number of hotels in Dubai showing no sign of slowing down anytime soon, it takes something special to stand out from the crowd. That’s exactly what Patria Puyat feels that she has up her sleeve as she oversees the opening of Holiday Inn Dubai Festival City.
The 520-room property is expected to open soon, so what better time was there for the team at Hotel News Middle East to pay a visit to the hotel.
The new hotel will represent the biggest Holiday Inn in the country, but as Puyat explains to Hotel News Middle East, that’s not the only selling point of the property.
“I see it as a brand-defining Holiday Inn here in the Middle East,” she says.
“It really is like nothing else you will ever see here and will help push the brand further in terms of what it can offer the guests. It is a marriage between what is practical and understated luxury.”
The hotel market in the Middle East, like anywhere else in the world, has experienced some turbulent times over the last number of years but Puyat feels that has provided an opportunity for her and the team at the Dubai Festival City property.
“I have worked in this market in Dubai for seven years now and remember seeing the room-rate rise to $300-400 a night,” she says.
“Now what people are looking for is actually value and to feel at home, while getting a taste of luxury at the same time and I feel that the Holiday Inn is perfectly placed to offer this. It is a marriage between what is practical, what people are looking for and understated luxury.”
Puyat is confident that she and her team can offer a unique experience – adding that her confidence is bolstered by the fact the property is part of a cluster in Dubai Festival City (DFC).
“The cluster at DFC here is close to my heart. You will never see another cluster in the Middle East that actually offers three-tiered hotel branding,” she says.
“The cluster has a deluxe hotel, it has a five-star hotel in the Crowne Plaza, it has a resident’s suite and now you have the new kid on the block – the Holiday Inn.”
Being part of a cluster is going to be a huge advantage, says Puyat.
“It’s going to be a strength because the marketing and sales teams are already embedded – it’s the same with the finance and technology teams,” she says.
“Also having a regional general manager (James Koratzopoulos) who sits within the cluster is such a comfort for me as a first-time new opening leader.”
Puyat is clear about what she wants from her team – obviously she wants the right people in the right roles but she values one trait above all others.
“I have been working in the hotel industry for 27 years and the one thing I admire in people is having the right attitude,” she says.
“You can submit a CV that is 15 pages long or one that is three pages long but it doesn’t compare to when I speak to a person and get a feel for their attitude and ability to think outside the box – that’s what I go for when picking a team.”
Puyat says that it is vital that people have the right attitude when it comes to working in hospitality, especially as it is a more demanding experience than people first realise.
“When you talk about hospitality people mention what a glamorous job it is,” she says.
“But people don’t see the back end of hotels, they think it’s all about people in heels and beautiful suits with nicely coiffured hair.”
The truth, says Puyat is that it is ‘super hard work’.
It is fair to say that Puyat knows what she is talking about. After all this is a woman who worked her way up through the ranks of the industry, all the way to the top rung – her work ethic is there for all to see.
“I always tell my children that I had to pay my dues to reach this point in my career,” she says.
“I used to work 24, 36 even 72 hours straight to get things done. Whenever there are walls in front of you, other people haven’t put them there, they come from yourself.”
The bigger picture is certainly something that Puyal places a premium on – that has come with over two decades of experience in the industry.
“I only worked for two chains – 18 years with IHG and five years with Starwood,” she says.
“Ultimately it doesn’t matter who you are, what gender you are, how many children you have – what it boils down to is having the work ethic to become anything you want.”
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Puyat is adamant that the Holiday Inn Dubai Festival City will want for nothing and that extends to the F&B offerings as well.
“We are going to have an all-day dining facility called Scirocco and a café called Zest,” she says.
“It is a place where you can sit and connect with your colleagues or friends. We want to ensure it is a comfortable area that makes you feel right at home.”
She describes the pricing strategy at the outlets as being “very friendly”.
“We are also going to have an event centre that can cater to people for banquets, meetings and gatherings as well a board room that has a fixed roundtable,” she says.
“This is something that I feel is really going to connect with our target market.”