Having been in the UAE for 15 years Patrick Antaki, complex general manager for Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort Fujairah and the Al Maha, A Luxury Collection Desert Resort and Spa has witnessed the steady progression of each Emirate. Here he tells Hotel News ME how an establishment can flourish in Fujairah and why focusing capitalising on the local attractions can help bolster business.
Wadi Wurayah National Park
With a splendid variety of topographical variations, Fujairah has a refreshing flora and fauna that is unlike any other Emirate city. Wadi Wurayah is a rare protected site and a haven for wildlife in the Middle East, filled with number of endangered species and stunning natural beauty. Located at the magnificent Hajar Mountains, a coastal road takes you to this exceptional national park through splendid surroundings of seaside and mountain views along the way.
An ideal place for nature lovers, the retreat is home to some of the rarest animals in the world; you can spot several bird species, Blanford’s fox, Arabian leopards, mountain gazelles, caracals and the extremely rare Arabian tahr. This hidden gem of nature at the Hajar mountains with breathtaking scenery is a refreshing excursion not to be missed while visiting Fujairah.
Souq al Juma
A sober village with beautiful natural springs located on the edge of Hajar mountains is quite famous for its markets, especially Masafi Friday markets or as it is locally called ‘Souq al Juma’. The town market that lies on the Dubai-Fujairah route is the best place to buy numerous handmade crafts from the locals as well as neighbouring cities and countries.
The fabulous local market welcomes you with a range of attractive antiques, carpets, earthenware, and local handicrafts. Here you can stop en route your drive and shop for indigenous and good quality articles at much cheaper rates than the high-end outlets elsewhere and take advantage to shop at bargain prices.
The only Emirati to face the turquoise Gulf of Oman waters, Fujairah is blessed with a perfect setting of a spectacular coastline stretch. The neat beaches with crisp sand and inviting warm waters attracts tourists from all over the world and is a great place to experience loads of water activities such as swimming, surfing, yachting and much more.
The clear waters rich with aquatic life and untouched reefs makes it a happening spot for underwater exploration, so gear up and venture into the waters for some close encounters amid the mesmerising ocean life with snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities.
Those who just want to have a sun soaked lazy day can wander around and enjoy our beach with plenty of recreational and dining facilities.
Madhab Sulpheric Spring Park
Fujairah has fascinating geographical elements with a mountainous terrain and beautiful beaches that makes it different from the other cities of UAE. One remarkable aspect is its picturesque hot springs set at the foot of Hajar Mountains.
The Ain Al Madhad Hot Springs is a great retreat to enjoy a refreshing soak in hot pools, quite popular among tourists and a favourite family weekend spot for the locals.
The mineral springs here produce warm sulphuric water that is pumped into two swimming pools making separate bathing areas for males and females. This is an amazing natural spot to just relax among Fujairah’s natural surroundings.
Another historical monument in UAE – the Fujairah Fort takes you into the past revealing the legacy of its ruling family and the city’s era being a defensive base. Perched on a hill top surrounded by lush date gardens, this fort is a wonderful structure comprising of three major sections, one square tower, two round towers, and several halls.
One of the area’s prime attractions, the fort holds an imprint of the city’s historic significance. The nearby Heritage village gives you a glimpse through its restored houses and exhibits about the traditional lifestyle and methods of living of past Emirati inhabitants.
Fujairah is home to the oldest mosque in the UAE – the Al-Bidyah Mosque. Built of stone and mud bricks, the creation of the mosque dates to past centuries where no materials were used for making structures other than mud and stones available in the surrounding areas and is considered an accomplishment for the architecture in which it was designed.
The main prayer hall has arches with a central pillar that divides the space into four sections each with domed ceilings and has number of small decorative windows that allow light and air to enter the mosque.
Also known as the Ottoman Mosque, this holy shrine is functional, performing daily prayers and holds a major significance in history. The mosque’s peaceful ambience is worth the visit.
What stands out in both properties is the exceptional service provided by each and every individual in the resorts which falls in line with our motto of ‘every guest leaves happy’.
The personalisation of service is noticeable amongst not only returning guests but also amongst first time customers from remembering someone’s name to what dishes they liked in the restaurant or what food the children like everything must be focused on creating memorable experiences for our guests.
Innovation leads to excitement
Being in remote locations it is even more important to constantly innovate the brand and the product offerings, because this leads to excitement amongst guests as well as people that are looking for a quick getaway from the busy city. Innovation also leads to more engagement from our associates as they are more involved in the operations and bringing their own ideas forward.
Being on with the local community
We must work together to make the destinations better and that only happens when we involve the local community.
Over the years, we have really wanted to not only be a 5-star resort but also a place that the community can turn to for support. Through tree planting activities, beach cleans and school visits we have been able to educate not only kids but also adults on the importance of keeping our beaches and surroundings clean and take care of the environment.
With the help of all we have been for many years now a Blue Flag certified beach and hold a green key – an eco-label for tourism and leisure establishments and is awarded to establishments that fulfill a list of environmental requirements.
Learn from your mistakes
Every organisation can always be better and hence we also aim to work harder and keep improving our experience. The feedback that our customers give is of utmost importance as they are the ones that come and stay at the resort.
Through various channels we ensure that we can listen to what they have to say being it the guests’ cocktails that we do on a weekly basis or the feedback forms that go out after one stays. Keeping in mind that every guest should leave happy it does not stop there as we like to talk and investigate issues and do our best to resolve them during ones stay. We want everyone to feel like they are at home and we do everything in our power to make sure that happens.