FACE TO FACE: Dubai’s sea breeze

Posted under Interviews & Features, News.
by Sophia Soltani | Published 4 years ago

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Jumierah Al Naseem marks the completion of one of Dubai’s most iconic properties – Madinat Jumierah. Newly appointed Richard Alexander, general manager, Jumeirah Al Naseem tells Hotel News ME how the youngest member of the successful Arabian resort’s family of hotels is set to breeze onto Dubai’s shoreline and make its markrichard-alexander

Nestled away on Dubai’s longest stretch of beach lies Jumeirah Al Naseem – the fourth and final property to open at Madinat Jumeirah, where general manager, Richard Alexander sits at the helm of the new property. A British national, Alexander starts his new role with over 31 years’ experience in the luxury hotel and tourism industry. He returns to Jumeirah and Dubai after eight years since his last role as the general manager at Jumeirah Mina A’Salam in 2008. Since then he has undertaken a number of senior management roles across the globe, including the Viceroy Hotel in Anguilla, The Marylebone Hotel in London, with his career taking him ac Spain, Greece, Japan, USA, Australia and Indonesia.
Opening on December 1, 2016, Jumeirah Al Naseem – meaning sea breeze in Arabic is firmly anchored on the Arabian coast, whilst charting new waters in Dubai’s luxury hospitality scene. Warm and inviting, yet energetic and inspiring, Madinat Jumeirah’s latest hotel blends heritage and vision. The youngest member of the successful Arabian Resort of Dubai’s family of hotels is set to offer over nine food and beverage outlets interwoven by the common theme of The Arabian Explorer, five swimming pools, its own beach club, landscaped gardens and a custom designed seawater-fed turtle lagoon. The contemporary interior design of the 430-rooms and suites “has inspired by sand dunes, blue skies, sea breeze and Dubai’s heritage of pearl diving and Bedouin traditions”, explains Alexander.

A breezy challenge

Tasked with driving the success of the new property and equipped with over 30 years’ experience with prior knowledge of the Jumeirah brand, Alexander is no doubt placed in good stead for his new role, but expectedly there will be challenges associated with the new opening, namely the collaboration of new peers. “I believe that any preopening is a great challenge. Throughout my career, I have handled three hotel openings in the past and the greatest task is always building a new family of colleagues from scratch.” Explains Alexander.
“Jumeirah is all about the culture of inclusion and one of the biggest tasks for the senior leadership team is taking a diverse group of colleagues and fostering this culture of inclusion into their daily roles,” he adds.
Unphased by his new role and potential opening hiccups, Alexander emphasises the need for a close unit team, as he explains: “Ideally, with the preopening team at Jumeirah Al Naseem we are creating a family that is not afraid to challenge each other whilst being completely united in the objective of opening an extremely successful hotel that will provide our guests with memories to cherish. With the focus of building this family, for me it’s not a challenge but something that I relish doing.”

An eye on the future 

With the likes of Burj al Arab, Madinat Jumeirah and Zabeel Saray under its belt, the Jumeirah Group is no stranger to luxury concepts and hotels, which is why it is no surprise that the last property in Madinat collection – Jumeirah Al Naseem boasts 387 rooms, 43 suites, over nine restaurants, its own beach club plus a turtle rehabilitation programme. All of which Alexander must oversee the smooth running with a keen eye. Tasked with manning each sub-department’s success, he explains: “Every colleague who has been hired to work for Jumeirah Al Naseem is absolutely aware of the significance of the successful opening of the hotel. The opening has been embraced by every single member of the team and their commitment is unquestionable which will ensure we achieve our objectives.”
With half of the senior management team at Jumeirah al Naseem joining from other Jumeirah properties, Alexander adds: “Many of the staff come from solid positions in different Jumeirah properties with key experience in operating and managing hotels. This fits in perfectly with Jumeirah’s “The Place to Grow” HR strategy. Most colleagues have already joined and they are going through long training programmes whilst getting to know each other. There is a fantastic positive feeling in every department where everyone is working towards the same goal.”

Standing out from the crowd

As highlighted by STR’s October 2016 Pipeline Report which revealed that Dubai has a staggering 9,687 rooms in 67 hotels in construction – it no secret that Dubai’s shoreline is bustling with the hum of new hospitality projects, but Alexander is confident that Jumeirah Al Naseem will stand out from the crowd. “Continuing Jumeirah’s legendary hospitality and knowledge of Dubai, Jumeirah Al Naseem arrives with a fresh approach to service and a delivery of genuine experiences that reflect the Dubai of today – Jumeirah Al Naseem moves on from traditional Arabia into a more contemporary tempo, not only reflective in its décor and architecture but also in the style of service, being an extension of something new and exciting.”
And a testament to Alexanders claims of the property’s individuality, he adds: “Each selected art piece in the property has been chosen for its connection with Dubai’s past and present history. From the moment guests and visitors arrive they will be welcomed by a stainless steel sculpture of a caravan of camels in motion, designed by Emirati artist Mattar Bin Lahej to tell the story of Dubai.”
But the intertwining of the past and present doesn’t end just with art sculptures as the theme also extends to Jumeirah Al Naseem’s fashion collaborations, Alexander explains: “Emirati female colleagues wear traditional abayas which have been exclusively designed in Al Naseem with inspired tones by local luxury fashion brand Slouchy’Z. This collaboration with home grown brands extends to chocolate makers Mirzam, a bean to bar small factory based in Alserkal Avenue, a hub for arts and creative spaces. Guests will find in their room at turndown Mirzam’s carefully crafted chocolates inspired by the spice route, this links in with the Arab explorer theme that runs through our restaurants. Other similar collaborations are in the making to ensure guests are exposed to the Dubai of today experience.”
True to Arabic culture, where an open-door policy is customary, Alexander insists that true Bedouin customs are the key USPs that will secure the hotel’s place in the competitive marketplace, as he explains: “Al Bait Baitak is an Arabic expression used in the region for welcoming people into our homes. At Jumeirah Al Naseem we want guests to feel like they are arriving to their home in Dubai. The contemporary interior design of the spacious guest rooms is inspired by sand dunes, blue skies, sea breeze and Dubai’s heritage of pearl diving and Bedouin traditions. All rooms feature generous bathrooms, touches of Arabic décor and fabulous walk-in showers inspired by hammams. The balconies and extended terraces offer views of the sea, landscaped gardens, swimming pools and the Burj Al Arab.”

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