Marc de Beer, general manager Saadiyat Resort & Villas Abu Dhabi, tells Hotel News Middle East why we should be excited about the recently opened property…
What can you tell us about your professional experience and history? I grew up in the Netherlands where I studied Hotel Management at the Hogeschool Zuyd in Maastricht. After graduating, I embarked on an international career rooted in F&B, taking me from the US, via the UK to China, Europe and finally Middle East.
How has that influenced your management philosophy? Through my travels I’ve realised what unites us as people as well as that our different backgrounds determine what drive us. I’ve seen diverse cultures, countries and traditions that I believe as a manager, you need to fully understand if you want to get the best out of your team.
What would you say are the main factors that make a great GM? By setting a clear direction, understanding the financials of the business and leading by example, you will be able to inspire your team – you also need to be quick-minded to be able to make decisions on the spot and have a keen eye for detail. But, above all, you have to be a great communicator.
How do you feel the hotel is performing? As the hotel just opened couple of weeks ago and still in soft opening, it is very early to say. However, our first guests loved their experience and already booked for next year, which says a lot about the coming months. As mentioned, we are still in soft opening and aiming to open in the coming weeks our two other outlets – Si Ristorante, the only Italian restaurant on the island and Hamilton, the GastroPub. Regarding our event facilities, these will be open in the coming months as they are still under construction.
What are your targets and expectations for next year? For next year, we want to establish Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas as the new flagship for the Rotana brand in the capital, and as always, to deliver on the high expectations.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the region’s hospitality market? It’s undeniable that the market has changed and will keep evolving during the next number of years. The hospitality industry has been touched by the lower oil revenues which puts pressures on the hotel rates, as the demand has remained the same. The industry needs to adjust its operating practices to ensure we remain a viable business model for investors, while at the same time continuing to deliver good value to our guests.
What are the operational priorities for you as general manager? To ensure that our team is growing in confidence, we aim to beautify the resort – every day is an opportunity to develop and expand.
How would you describe your approach to leadership and staff empowerment? I have a delegation management style. I believe all department heads should do the job they were hired to do, holding them accountable for results, allowing them the freedom to create and innovate.
What are your target markets? As the resort is built for leisure, we aim to target Europe, the CIS countries and the GCC but we are also appealing to the incentives market as well as attracting weddings and smaller conferences.
How do you approach your performance targets? We differentiate ourselves and position the resort as family friendly, relaxed luxury. We seek to be competitive in terms of rate positioning, offering many upgraded accommodations for the discerning traveller. We place an equal emphasis on activating our F&B to the local market.
Describe your sales and marketing strategy? Since we just opened, we need to create awareness locally, and support our European partners with marketing activities to drive bookings through the tour operator distribution channels. As F&B is very important to the local market, it will play an important role in our marketing campaigns as well.
What can you tell us about your digital strategy? We are active on all the social media platforms and engage on a daily basis with our followers to ensure real-time updates and rich content. We will also work with bloggers and vloggers to reach out to a wider network of lifestyle lovers.
Do you have any CSR initiatives? Being on the protected Saadiyat Beach gives us a responsibility to protect the surrounding nature and wildlife as well as creating awareness among our staff and guests. As a good neighbour we are looking to support local initiatives on Saadiyat and work with local enterprises and entrepreneurs.
How does the hotel fit into the hotel group’s portfolio? Rotana has established a strong service culture and Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas will be the embodiment of the founders’ philosophy. We are providing excellence by delivering high quality of service, food and beverage experiences. The success of the destination is key to our success. We compete with other cities and countries to bring events and individuals to Abu Dhabi. As a growing tourist destination, we need to bundle our efforts to have a focused approach to grow tourist arrivals.
What are your three personal favourite features of the property? Only three?! Alright, first I love the pool, with 1,500 square metres it is one of the largest pools in Abu Dhabi, and the bubble beds on the edge of the pool are just so relaxing! I am also super excited about our Italian restaurant Si – I think this is what Saadiyat needs, and the rotating pizza oven produces the most amazing pizzas. Finally, I think our spa is a little piece of heaven on earth to relax and rejuvenate.