ME Dubai, the new flagship property of Spanish hotel brand ME by Meliá, is set to open in February 2020 with veteran luxury hotelier Stefan Viard at the helm.
Viard has assumed a significant role in leading this personality-led lifestyle destination from its earliest stages of construction, and is now guiding his team to the official opening. Located in The Opus, the newest development by The Omniyat Group is the first hotel to be designed in its entirety by legendary late architect Zaha Hadid.
Viard joined ME Dubai in 2017, having launched luxury lifestyle hotels in the Middle East including Vida Downtown and Manzil Downtown for Emaar, and Al Qasr in Madinat Jumeirah Resort for Jumeirah Group.
Please tell us a bit more about your career journey, and how working with luxury hotel groups has shaped your opinion on how ME Dubai should be?
My career was shaped by working in top international hospitality groups on a number of continents around the world, starting 17 years ago in Europe with the Hyatt hotel group when I worked across various divisions and cities. As I progressed into senior management, I took on roles in the Middle East and Asia, working for premium hotel groups which included the Jumeirah Group, The Andaman and Emaar Hospitality Group.
The experience I gained in managing various divisions and leading teams from pre-opening to full operation in five star properties in different markets has given me both insight and ability to lead the launch of the first ME by Meliá property in the Middle East.
This is an exceptional brand with a truly distinctive positioning that sets it apart from anything else in this region – it’s a personality-led hospitality brand which understands contemporary luxury in today’s world. ME Dubai will not only create the social epicentre of Dubai’s dynamic cultural scene, it will also bring to life the vision of its legendary designer and architect, the late Zaha Hadid, who was involved in every element of the hotel’s design.
The time has never been more right to launch a hotel like this here.
You joined the hotel in 2017; can you please tell us how you’ve maintained your vision for the hotel, and how you’ve painted a picture for the team on the ground in the build-up to the 2020 opening?
I’m privileged to have been on board from the beginning, enabling me to oversee all aspects of the design and development of the hotel property, including décor, F&B strategy and concepts, spa and gym concepts, recruitment, and setup of front and back-of-house processes.
We’re working closely with all parties involved to bring the vision of ME Dubai to life, from the real estate developers Omniyat who commissioned the spectacular The Opus building we’re located in, to the Zaha Hadid architectural practice and, of course, Meliá Hotels International.
Our core management team is now in place, and we have an active recruitment drive starting this month to build our operational team across all departments. Given that we’re a personality-led brand, we’re really focused on a talent-spotting drive, looking for exceptional people with personality, ambition, talent and a determination to deliver the best possible customer experience for our guests.
Being part of ME Dubai will be one of the most exciting career opportunities in the region.
ME Dubai is the first hotel to be designed in its entirety by the late Zaha Hadid; tell us more about what this represents in terms of aesthetics and the concept behind the property.
ME Dubai holds a unique place in the world, as the only hotel globally to have been fully designed – inside and out – by Zaha Hadid, and this explains why architecture and design are at the heart of the hotel. Her ground-breaking architecture and interiors showcase ME’s desire to challenge perceptions and reward curiosity with sensory fulfilment through art and design.
The look and feel is contemporary and futuristic, so expect to see fluid lines and curves, unexpected blends of colour and tone, smart design solutions, subtle lighting, bespoke furniture and more. We’re proud to be bringing her legacy to life at ME Dubai.
How would you like for guests to view the hotel and which category would be the best fit for it?
The definition of luxury today is very different to what it was 30 years ago, and ME Dubai perfectly articulates that. Luxury today is first and foremost about service, but most particularly, personalised service. Secondly, it’s about experiences – unforgettable, memory-making experiences that surprise, delight and are only accessible to those who are in the know.
Finally, today’s luxury is about design, aesthetics, and culture. ME Dubai understands this, and as a five-star contemporary luxury hotel our personalised approach, unforgettable experiences, unparalleled gastronomy and exceptional service in a design-led environment will know no equal.
Our AURA team, with its collective finger on the social and cultural pulse of Dubai – and the secret sauce for ME by Meliá hotels around the world, is exclusively dedicated to anticipating and delivering personalised services to our guests.
We want our guests to feel at home at ME Dubai, to be comfortable in knowing this is a hotel that understands them, with a team that anticipates their every need and is confident about delivering the best possible experience wherever they are – from the front desk, to their suite, from the gym to the nightclub, and from the lobby to any one of the 15 restaurants we’ll have. ME Dubai is about delivering cool and stylish elements at every turn.
How are you planning on developing the F&B offerings?
ME by Meliá’s F&B outlets bring world renowned gastronomy to their guests wherever they are, and that most certainly includes ME Dubai. We create social hotspots that bring together guests and residents alike.
Mingling expert mixologists, the most cutting edge sounds and a mixture of local and international movers and shakers with a regularly changing programme of famous and up-and-coming DJs and exciting events, ME Dubai will offer the perfect mix.
We will open four F&B outlets owned and managed by ME Dubai, an all-day-dining concept Central, the pool bar, R&R Bar and The Opus Studio, while The Opus as a whole will offer 15 F&B venues offering an eclectic mix of trendy and exceptional gastronomies, including the first ROKA restaurant outside London and the third Maine brand in Dubai, The MAINE Land Brasserie.
What would you like to tell your future hotel staff ahead of the 2020 opening?
Bring your personality and determination in order to be exceptional.
What are key factors we can expect from the property that will set it apart from others?
Spaces within the hotel will provide a platform for the culture and happenings of Dubai throughout the year, and through our team, our guests will gain privileged access to the local scene, as well as discover the undiscovered in the city. We’re about luxury today – design-driven, personal, stylish and interesting.