Interview: Exclusively boutique

Posted under Interviews & Features, News.
by Sophia Soltani | Published 3 years ago

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Newly appointed general manager of The Manzil Downtown Dubai Hotel, Riad Abu Haidar tells Hotel News ME why being “uniquely boutique” is key to waging the war against rate and occupancy dips, alongside his plans to reinforce real Arabian hospitality across the property. riad-abi-haider-2

Artistic in spirit and contemporary in presentation, the 197-room Manzil Downtown Dubai is led by seasoned hotelier, Riad Abu Haidar.  The property serves as a stylised hub that aims to provide an imaginative interpretation of Arabian culture for local guests and a culturally stimulating experience for international visitors. Targeting the new generation of business executives, entrepreneurs and leisure travellers, Manzil Downtown Dubai defines a distinctive niche in Dubai’s hospitality sector by serving as an international referral point for an ever-evolving and authentic Arab hospitality experience, offering a pragmatic approach suited to a demanding lifestyle.

Having recently joined Manzil Downtown Dubai, do you have any new plans for the property?

We are working hard on refining our brand and truly ensuring that our guests feel that they are in a ‘home away from home’ environment when staying with us. One of our key mantras is that we showcase true Arabian hospitality and it is imperative for our staff to live and breathe this when at the property. We are always looking at new projects and collaborations and have several exciting new events and promotions coming up.

What are the main factors driving revenue at your property and how do you strategise for its continued success?

We strive for personalised services. For example, our front office team must ensure that they are always available to assist our guests, to ensure their stay goes as smooth as possible. Similar to this, our concierge team are required to keep up-to-date with the latest events taking place throughout the city, enabling us to accurately advise guests on the local culture and monthly going happenings.  We are also constantly revitalising our F&B offerings to make sure that there is something new and exciting on offer. These elements combined support drive revenue to the property and build a faithful following of loyal guests. For the hotel’s continued success, we aim to further build guest loyalty whilst also encouraging new visitors to engage in promotional offers and engage with us.

Many hotels implement strategies to survive months of lower occupancy, how do you avoid a rate slump during these months?

While many hotels compromise their quality to save on costs, we do the opposite, whereby we increase our quality deliverables to ensure we stay ahead of the competition and demonstrate our commitment to customer satisfaction without dropping our rates too low and devaluing our product.

What role does F&B play in terms of revenue for the property?

Our Courtyard is at the heart of the property and offers the finest in Al Fresco dining. An incredibly versatile location, The Courtyard has built up a loyal fanbase and is one of the busiest locations in the hotel on a daily basis. Boulevard Kitchen is our all-day dining outlet which offers a wide selection of dishes and beverages which are popular in the region. Lead by our head chef, Anup Pawar, this outlet offers guests a true taste of the region. Lastly, we have Nezesaussi Grill which offers the finest fare and most popular dishes from the Tri-Nations – South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. All our outlets are incredibly different and so unique in their own ways but the real focus is on bringing people together to enjoy traditions and flavours inspired by the region.

How do you use technology to enhance your guests experience?

We are a Wi-Fi enabled property, ensuring that guests staying in the hotel and guests visiting the property can stay connected at all times. In addition to this, our social media channels are constantly active with new posts. Each room is equipped with an IPTV which can be used to do anything from online browsing to ordering a Café Latte directly to your room. It is important for hotels to engage with technology, guests want to be connected whilst they travel.

Given your experience, what are your thoughts on how the landscape of the hospitality industry has changed?

It comes back to the fundamentals of hospitality which includes quality of service and value for money. If we keep this at the core of our business, we will continue to thrive as a property. The industry has become a melting pot of personal experiences. It is no longer acceptable just to provide a clean room and breakfast, service and experiences are key and the industry will continue to shift towards emotional connections where personalised services keep the guests coming back.

How would you say a boutique hotel stands out from the crowd and remains competitive in a somewhat saturated market?

Manzil Downtown Dubai is a unique boutique hotel, located strategically in the heart of the city. The design of the property combines sophistication, style, comfort and convenience to ensure our guests can make the most out of their visit whether they are staying with us for work or for play. We like to think that a stay at Manzil Downtown Dubai is not a classic hotel experience but more of a lifestyle experience.

What are some of the challenges associated with running a boutique hotel?

The main challenge faced by any hotel, whether it is a local, regional or international brand is to maintain relevance. Furthermore, staying one step ahead of our competitors, constantly bringing our guests fresh and creative concepts, and staying true to our niche of Arabic hospitality is essential to our continued growth.

From a personal perspective, what would you consider to be the greatest achievement in your career and why?

The greatest achievement in my career, to date, is having successfully reopened Manzil Downtown Dubai to then becoming the general manager of the hotel. I am incredibly proud to be a part of the team that has successfully positioned the hotel as a modern, Arabesque boutique hotel and the first destination of its kind.

What are some of the essential skills required to succeed in the hospitality industry?

You should always strive to provide the absolute best experience possible for your guests which in turn becomes the reason you can build a loyal clientele. Furthermore, to succeed in the hospitality industry you most definitely must be passionate, generous, have a keen eye for detail and most importantly, be a team player.

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