An experienced hotelier with over twenty years of hospitality experience, Dominic Arel has a proven track record of leading international luxury hotels in the GCC, Europe and Americas. Overseeing all operations at Swissôtel’s first property in Dubai, Dominic started his journey with Accor in 1996 where he joined the front office and progressed to the revenue department at Novotel Montréal.
He played an instrumental role as Director of Revenue Management in the successful opening of Sofitel Montreal Golden Mile in 2002, which was the first Sofitel to open in Montreal and in Canada. Dominic was then promoted to Director of Operations in a span of four years followed by the position of Hotel Manager.
In 2011, Dominic moved to Dubai, where he worked as Hotel Manager at Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach and managed the property for two consecutive years. He then moved to Portugal in 2013, where he was the General Manager at Sofitel Lisbon for three years.
Dominic then decided to come back to the Middle East to successfully open the first MGallery in Doha andheld the position of General Manager since October 2016. Having held a number of leadership positions, Dominic returned to Dubai in September 2019 as General Manager of Swissôtel Al Ghurair & Swissotel Living Al Ghurair. Dominic successfully navigated the hotel and apartment complex during challenging business conditions in 2020 and continues to progress the business towards recovery in 2021.
A graduate from the Institut de Tourisme et d’Hôtellerie du Québec in Hotel Management and from the University of Montréal (HEC), Canada, Dominic also completed the International Hospitality Management Program at the Accor Academy in Paris, in partnership with ESSEC School in France.
Swissôtel Al Ghurair and Swissôtel Living Al Ghurair opened its doors in February 2018. It was officially launched as the first-ever Swissôtel in the UAE and comprises of 620 rooms, suites and apartments, three food and beverage outlets and Swissôtel Spa & Sport, an escape to unwind the body, mind and soul.
Tell us more about what makes Swissôtel Al Ghurair unique.
Swissôtel Al Ghurair effortlessly combines a unique sense of Swiss hospitality with a local flair for welcoming guests from around the world and encouraging them to live by our mantra – ‘Life is a journey, live it well’.
Our spacious rooms combined with our family friendly approach, allow for a perfect city escape with loved ones, exploring the rich Arabic heritage located right on our doorstep. The hotel is directly connected to Al Ghurair Centre, the first shopping Mall in Dubai and is in close proximity to the metro station being only a short drive from the airport.
Celebrating the Swissotel philosophy of well-being, our Purovel bathroom amenities take full advantage of the vitality deeply rooted in Switzerland, with products designed around renewal (spring), peak activity (summer), recovery (fall), and hibernation (winter).
Why have you decided to join the hotel and what was your journey like before your arrival?
I have worked with Accor for 25 years on three different continents and Dubai’s dynamic hospitality scene has always attracted me. This is my 2nd assignment in Dubai and having returned after a few years of being away, I remain just as awestruck as before by the amazing potential this market offers, continuing to lead the hospitality world.
Swissôtel Al Ghurair is a flagship property in the market for Accor and the first Swissôtel in UAE. I was excited about the prospect of working with a dynamic group of leaders to bring the Swissôtel brand essence to life within the property and gladly accepted the challenge to lead the luxury five-star hotel, with 428 rooms and suites, in the lead up to Expo 2020.
Our key focus remains on positioning the hotel as a leader within the Deira market, carrying a family-friendly image. We look forward to welcoming back our regular guests and many new ones when they are ready to travel.
How do you keep your team motivated, especially during tough times?
I really believe that leadership is not about titles and ranks, but about personal responsibility and setting a positive example. I aim to set the example through daily actions that demonstrate my deep commitment to my beliefs. I think it is the best way to inspire a shared vision, challenge the process, enable others to act and ultimately recognise contributions to the successes.
I believe that being approachable and down to earth plays a huge role in ensuring that all colleagues’ safety and support is secured through professional and personal challenges faced during these tough times. Motivating people for me comes from walking the talk, having compassion, being available, being serious when required, but also not taking things too seriously at the same time. I also like to take risks in order to be a part of the action but also execute it with speed and agility.
What are some of your most unique F&B offerings and how have you penetrated Delivery?
F&B has been an essential part of our recovery efforts last year. We’re actively focusing on positioning the hotel as the best family-friendly city hotel and a go-to place for families to enjoy a weekend staycation or a hearty meal. Hence, in our F&B offerings there is a recurring theme revolving around children offering engaging activities, giving their parents a break to enjoy their meal whilst we keep their young ones busy.
Our award-winning Little Explorers Brunch was relaunched in October last year with a revamped concept, creating memorable experiences for children through activities designed to keep them engaged whilst enjoying a healthy meal. We continued to showcase the theme with a family -ocused festive season back in December and now for Ramadan, Liwan restaurant continues to focus on families making sure their whole family can celebrate the season together enjoying delicious traditional flavors specially crafted for the season. To help kids of all nationalities and religions embrace the spirit of Ramadan, we designed a colouring book encouraging children to perform 30 good deeds during the Holy month (one for each day).
We were keen to bring the flavourful dishes from our passionate chefs to as many homes as possible. With that interest in mind, we started off by offering free delivery for our turkey meals during the festive season last year in 2020. Encouraged by the success of the concept, this year in 2021, we launched our ‘Ramadan at Home’ Campaign with a choice of two different meals in two sizes. Customers can choose between Chicken Biryani or our famous Syrian Lamb Ouzi, a specialty dish from our Arabic Chef, bringing the flavours of his home country into this traditional meal. Along with the main dish, the meals come with three types of hot and cold mezze, traditional lentil soup, Arabic breads, dates, dried fruits and desserts.
How does your spa offer a unique experience?
Our Swissôtel Spa offers a little piece of heaven in the middle of the city, unexpectedly spacious, welcoming and relaxing. We use high quality Anne Semonin products, combined with world-class service at a great value as we strongly believe that a relaxing spa experience should not be a luxury but part of everyone’s routine for a healthy body and mind. We’re proud to be ranked in the top 10 Spa’s in Dubai on TripAdvisor and our team continuously strives to deliver the highest level of quality service.
What’s coming up for the hotel?
The next few months will be very exciting and dynamic in Dubai as we all gear up to welcome Expo 2020. The team is currently working on a very exciting concept that makes children the centre of our guest experience. As parents we take decisions influenced by our children’s preferences, whether we are a fan of it or not. Our Little Explorers are in for a treat and we can’t wait to reveal all the details of the coming weeks.
Vitality for the body and for the mind is one of Swissôtel’s mantras that we want to highlight in the eyes of guests this year. Our guests are like us. Passionate. Energetic. Full of life. The importance of wellbeing has been brought to the forefront of our minds over the last few months and we are keen to engage the Dubai community in joining our recently launched vitality programs and F&B experiences. Watch the space for the Swissôtel Al Ghurair’s Vitality week in June!