Samir Arora, general manager, The Retreat Palm Dubai M Gallery by Sofitel, talks to Hotel News Middle East ahead of the opening of what he hopes will become the headquarters of wellness in the Middle East
It’s hard not to hum a certain Beyoncé song in your head when Samir Arora, general manager, The Retreat Palm Dubai M Gallery by Sofitel, tells you that his property is largely geared towards the “single lady” traveller market.
Arora says The Retreat Palm Dubai will have a strong emphasis on providing wellness and goes so far as to say the region has seen nothing like it on this scale before.
“Wellness is more for the ladies than the gents; we are thinking of coming up with lady-only areas. We are going to hugely focus on single lady travellers, with separate check-in and a separate escort for them,” he says.
One of the centres at the property is specifically designated for female patrons – Rayya Wellness.
“It is a nutritional clinic specialising in women-only treatments like hormonal issues or infertility, weight management and mood swings – we plan to treat these issues noninvasively. Usually if you go to the hospital they will give you medicines but we plan to treat these issues through nutrition and lifestyle changes,” says Arora.
“We have a Cryo Chamber which offers liquid nitrogen treatment. It freezes your body and arrests your aging; it repairs your tissues. These are key components of a wellness centre.”
The project is so tailored to female guests that there is a food menu that is also specific to providing wellness to women.
“The concept is called ‘Inspired by Her’; we have gone around the world and fetched dishes created by influential ladies such as Whoopi Goldberg and women like that,” he says.
Arora, who joined the industry as a waiter 25 years ago, says he wants The Retreat Palm Dubai M Gallery by Sofitel to become renowned as the region’s leading centre for wellness.
“Our objective is to educate the guests. We call our colleagues ‘Dream Makers’ in the hotel; all training is done to be able to educate the guest on wellness whether it is F&B, housekeeping or front office,” he says.
“I am 110% convinced and thrilled this is the right concept for the city; we have travelled all over the world and consulted with B2C partners and B2B partners – they were all looking for something like this to come to the region.”
It’s no surprise given his enthusiasm for wellness that Arora places a premium on the importance of corporate social responsibility.
“We don’t waste things. Buffets tend to cook food in big quantities – we are going to use small pots and cook it in small quantities,” he says.
“We are not using plastic and will be focusing on recycling; all of our hot water is created by solar power. We have a solar panel on the rooftop.”
“There will be a focus on slow cooking; it is very healthy and we plan to focus on programmes that focus on nutrition.”
A recent trip to Saudi Arabia, Arora says, proved the appetite for a large-scale wellness centre in Dubai was significant.
“The people we spoke to said this means they won’t have to undertake 14-hour fights across the world to find a facility like this as it will now be on their doorsteps,” he says.
The dedication to wellness has infused a unique bond among the staff, Arora posits.
“We have 29 nationalities in the team and we wanted to hire people who appreciate wellness,” he says.
There are many living examples in the team; we have a team member who was 140kg and is now 70kg. Many colleagues are also into yoga rituals and weight management.”
Arora himself has been bitten by the wellness bug, proving that he is very much leading by example.
“It’s a huge education for me, I never had any understanding of wellness myself a year ago but it is a fascinating topic,” he says.
“I changed my eating habits, I changed my lifestyle. I changed how I see life.”
The potential for the property is huge, says Arora, especially given the location.
“There is definitely an imbalance between supply and demand in Dubai,” he says.
‘While it is a major destination by anyone’s standards, we still had to come up with a way to position ourselves to stand out.
“We predict that 25% or 30% of business will come from wellness, the rest will come from the market.We are trying to get that piece of the cake everyone else is fighting for too,” he says.
“We see 2018 with more footfall for corporate, leisure and tourism sectors across Dubai. Our objective is to get the message of wellness out there in Dubai and attract visitors from Russia, Europe and the GCC.
“There are many issues in the city of Dubai and the top three are stress, weight management and a very sedentary lifestyle.”
One thing is clear – Arora and his team are not just paying lip service to wellness; he passionately believes in what his hotel is offering.