Viceroy Palm Jumeirah Dubai is one of the most eagerly awaited properties of 2017. Patrick Ryan caught up with general manager Mikael Svensson to find out just what we can expect from one of the newest additions to the market in the UAE.
It’s easy to see The Palm as being a bit out of the way from the rest of Dubai. That’s a perception that the soon to be opened Viceroy Palm Jumeirah Dubai general manager, Mikael Svensson, is all too eager to alter.
He says: “The Palm is sometimes seen as being a bit far out and doesn’t have the same day to day interaction as downtown or even hotels in the Marina. I think we will be able to bridge that gap not just for the hotel but The Palm as a whole.
“We are trying to enhance the attraction and appeal of The Palm, and that’s what all hotels here want to do. There is a great relationship between the hotels here and we want to tie that in a bit closer to what’s going on in the city.”
The sheer volume of five-star hotels on the market makes it a challenge to stand out, says Svensson, but he is not put off by this. He isn’t content to merely offer up a hotel that provides excellent services and facilities, he wants to bring the essence of Viceroy’s birthplace, Los Angeles – with an emphasis on relaxation and location – to Dubai. But what exactly does this mean?
“Like any new hotel we hope we are bringing something special and unique to the market,” says Svensson.
“What we wanted to do wasn’t go out and brand the hotel like so many others have done in Dubai, our idea was to build a hotel that represents the young, vibrant Dubai of today. Dubai today is very cool, it’s transitioned over the last 10 years and it’s a very happening cutting edge city.
“When you walk around the hotel it has a Los Angeles feel to it, a Miami vibe and that’s maybe where Dubai is, it has that cool representation without even knowing it.
“We want to bring that LA essence into what we do whether it be a Napa Valley grape list or the LA spa scene or where the sands of Santa Monica meet the sands of Dubai and do something quite quirky with that, the designers for our uniforms are from LA so the look, feel and style is kind of LA inspired, it will be an essence of LA wherever you go which is great but it won’t be obtrusive and you won’t even know it, it will just add to the experience.”
The size of the task that Svensson has taken on cannot be underestimated and that’s in the literal sense. With 447 rooms, 221 private residence, made up of two, three and four bedroom apartments, and 1,000 staff members this is a big project. That said, he’s more than confident about pulling it off and has come up with a unique way to make his staff share his confidence.
He says: “We have gone to great lengths with a third party improv company to train the staff by homing in on their confidence and communication skills and allowing them to adapt to certain things and build on certain skills so they feel like they belong to this environment. You need to make sure you are always delivering on the brand promise but it’s great when you have those partners and neighbours with us from a residential perspective.”
Avoiding the perils that come with employing a large work force is high on Svensson’s agenda as he was determined to hire the best available people, even if the options are limited.
“Sometimes what happens, especially in Dubai where there are so many hotels with a limited workforce that you are sometimes forced to hire in masses and what happens is you deliver a mass product, we are relying on each department to deliver something quite personal and in that way add to what Viceroy stands for,” he says.
“It’s not just one industry (running a hotel) it’s 10 industries under one roof. It’s an engineering industry, it’s a restaurant industry it’s a housekeeping business, so there are so many different aspects of hotels that make it interesting and complex.”