You can’t get away from the sheer Britishness of Dukes. Rumour has it that it was in the hotel’s London branch that patron Ian Fleming was so enamoured with one particular drink there, the vodka Martini, that he made it the tipple of choice for his most famous literary creation, James Bond.
It’s that level of quintessential Britishness that Seven Tides CEO Abdulla Bin Sulayem is banking on for the opening of Dukes Oceana in Dubai.
“We felt from our experience in London that we can deliver a far better experience and better service level than customers are used to here,” says Bin Sulaymen, whose company Seven Tides owns Anantara Dubai The Palm Resort and Spa and Mövenpick Hotels in both Deira and Ibn Battuta Gate.
“We know it will do really well in the market,” Bin Sulaymen says, confident that the success of Dukes in Mayfair can translate to the Middle East.
“There are more than a few hotels in Dubai; people say it’s over supplied, I don’t think it’s oversupplied when rates are as high as they are today and occupancy is still high.
“This year so far we noticed it is doing really well; bookings have improved from last year, this only shows Dubai has the strength to pump more occupancy into the supply.”
Despite his confidence, Bin Sulaymen knows that success won’t come without hard work.
“In today’s market with all the competition we need to have a unique product,” says Bin Sulaymen.
“We always need to be there promoting different things. If you go to some hotels they are known for one thing and that’s it but with Dubai you always need new advances.
“This is what we will be doing for the next 10 years, we’ll always have to keep on probing like we did with our other portfolio titles.”
Getting to a standard that’s acceptable to Dukes didn’t come easily, as Bin Sulaymen explains.
“Delivering quality is a challenge,” he says.
“If you’re in the construction business everything is a challenge. The challenging part is making sure each contractor delivers on time, what I do is I give them a very tight programme but the level of quality and service we get from our contractors is amazing.
“Dubai is so busy, each contractor is overstretched, the construction has come back very well since the global financial crisis. You can see all over the place projects being delivered.”
General manager Debrah Dhugga is equally buoyant about the new hotel’s prospects, especially when it comes to offering up 007’s favourite tipple.
“It is really a USP of our London property, it will be the first great Martini bar actually based in Dubai,” she says.
Another aspect of Dukes will be the Duchess floor, which Dhugga explains will be a female only floor, the showcase of which will be a tie-in with high-end department store Liberty London, where else?
“We will have the Tea Lounge too which will be female oriented,” she says.
Dhugga, who will be dividing her time as GM of both the Dubai and London hotels, stresses that it’s not all about the ladies at Dukes, with a cigar and whiskey lounge, harking back to the old gentlemen’s clubs that were synonymous with the English capital.
When it comes to picking her team, Dhugga’s very clear about what she wants.
“We really, really strive for attention to detail and excellent service levels,” Dhugga says.
“We have a multicultural team and we brought a lot of great team members from London, so we already have the UK experience and drive.”
She concurs with Bin Sulaymen that there is room in Dubai for Dukes to thrive.
“There are a lot of hotels opening and a lot of five-star hotels in particular but, as far as Dukes goes, it is very much going to bring something different to Dubai,” she says.
“We’ve got an awful lot, it’s going to be one of the best resorts on The Palm, offering great British service and attention to detail.”
She explains how she has every confidence that her team can deliver.
“My leadership is very much about creativity and excellence, I trust my team to deliver excellence and be creative,” says Dhugga.
“I also think knowledge of the industry is important, that your team has great knowledge of the business and hospitality to promote excellent management.”
To that end Dhugga has recruited 500 staff members.
“Commitment as well is vital, I’ve been really committed to this project and it’s great to see it come to the opening stages now and a lot of the executive team has committed to it, which is really important. It can actually be challenging,” she adds.
“I think the big picture is really important but the smaller details are just as vital. After all smaller actions lead to the bigger picture so it’s about being skilful in both sets.”