DoubleTree by Hilton Resort & Spa Marjan Island, Ras Al Khaimah is located just 50 minutes from Dubai. This family-friendly resort boasts 13 dining experiences, seven swimming pools, a Jouri Rose Spa, and an outdoor playground complete with a Pirate Boat Aqua Zone. Overlooking 650 metres of private white sandy beach, guests can admire the stunning panoramic sea views as they soak up the sun.
Those looking to indulge can go on a culinary journey throughout the resort – think Turkish, Asian, British, Arabic, and Italian cuisine. Stop by Brasserie for classic European dishes alongside innovative mixes and hearty home-style food or try the newly opened Turkish and Lebanese restaurant, Meze inspired by the beautiful colours and tastes of the orient’s spice markets. Whilst Vespa offers a wide range of homemade Italian delicacies and Sanchaya uses exotic spices and fresh ingredients to create mouth-watering modern Asian cuisine. Offering great indoor ambience and a large terrace with undisturbed views of the Arabian Gulf, this spot is a must-try.
DoubleTree by Hilton Resort & Spa Marjan Island Cluster General Manager Nader Halim tells Hotel & Catering News ME all about what it takes to run a successful, 700+ property in the emirate.
Tell us a bit more about your journey before landing in Dubai and arriving at the property in RAK.
Twenty two years ago, I started my career as a Sales Executive and have since gone on to work with several well-known international hospitality brands across the region. I’m proud to say that I’ve been working with Hilton for an incredible 19 years, where I’ve had the pleasure of working with amazing talent across a selection of properties including Hilton Al Ain, Hilton Salalah Resort and now Ras Al Khaimah across the DoubleTree by Hilton and Hampton by Hilton cluster.
I transferred to Ras Al Khaimah as Cluster Director of Sales for Hilton in 2006, before being promoted to Director of Business Development. This role saw me develop commercial strategies covering all revenue enhancing segments and channels, while 2012 saw me move to Oman as General Manager of Hilton Salalah Resort.
I’ve been at DoubleTree by Hilton Resort & Spa Marjan Island since 2016, where I was appointed General Manager. A few years later, I was then promoted to Cluster General Manager to overlook four properties in Ras Al Khaimah across the DoubleTree by Hilton and Hampton by Hilton cluster.
Managing a 700+ room property is no easy feat! What are some of your top tips?
Maintain a great team, listen to guests, and team members, always find ways to improve each service. Additionally, you must have an open communication with owners and the company, and always keep your team updated. It’s also important to embrace new trends and add new facilities to keep guests coming back.
How long has the property been around for and what are some of its most unique offerings?
DoubleTree by Hilton Resort & Spa Marjan Island opened its doors in 2014 and has changed a lot over the years. From introducing the unique Pirate boat, adding an additional 238 rooms to the resort, reaching a total of 723 rooms, making this resort the largest Doubletree by Hilton in the Middle East and the biggest resort under the Hilton brand in the UAE.
With the opening of Hampton by Hilton Marjan Island planned for July 1, we will no doubt attract more travellers to the Northern Emirate from both the UAE and beyond.
You have a rather extensive F&B offering; how do you maintain quality across all outlets?
We have a fantastic team, so it’s all about embracing their skills and offering training to perfect these even further. For us, it’s also important to listen to guest feedback and regularly update our menus.
Whether guests want to stop by Brasserie for classic European dishes alongside innovative mixes and hearty home-style food, try the Turkish and Lebanese restaurant, Meze inspired by the beautiful colours and tastes of the orient’s spice markets, to Vespa offering a wide range of delicious homemade Italian delicacies and Sanchaya using exotic spices and fresh ingredients to create mouth-watering modern Asian cuisine – there is something for everyone.
What are some activities that guests can enjoy and how do you ensure that they stay entertained?
DoubleTree by Hilton Resort & Spa Marjan Island is a family-friendly resort boasting 13 one-of-a-kind dining experiences, seven temperature-controlled pools including Indoor pool and in addition to a floating sea pool, a fitness centre fully equipped with top quality Technogym equipment and a Jouri Rose Spa with 7 treatment rooms.
For activity lovers, we offer beach volleyball, a Tarzan Boat, a teen and adults’ waterpark complete with two slides, two high dive boards as well as a rope swing. Plus, guests can enjoy morning gymnastic sessions, an aqua gym and yoga classes.
For those looking to spend time with family, they can treat their little ones to a range of fun-filled activities to keep them entertained. This includes a bouncy castle, kid’s swimming pool a kids club and a water trampoline, to gigantic inflatable football darts, an extensive outdoor playground and Pirate Boat Aqua Zone with water slides, sprinklers, and water buckets. Home to one of the largest Tarzan boats in the Middle East, kids can also enjoy a thrilling water slide.
The newest exciting attraction coming this summer is a Panoramic Padel Tennis court. A combination of squash and tennis, Paddle Tennis is typically played in doubles on an enclosed court, with the ability to play the ball off the walls with a solid, stringless racquets.
Additionally, our brunches are always in popular demand and we’re currently hosting our Summertime brunch. From now until September 10, guests will be able to sit back and admire panoramic views of the breath-taking Arabian Gulf, while indulging in mouth-watering multicultural food offerings from BBQ to Seafood with tasty specials and live cooking stations from 12.30pm-4pm every Friday.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face during high seasons?
Maintaining our world-class service to deliver unbeatable experiences in the heart of Ras Al Khaimah. Even with the high occupancy our service must be impeccable, which requires a lot of engagement and hard work from the full team.
How do you keep the team motivated and happy?
Communication is key which is why we host team forums monthly to ensure everyone is happy and supported. We also host team outings such as trips to waterparks and away days to Oman, as well as a host of other activities to show our appreciation.
From time to time, we arrange lunches with me and the leadership team and invite different team members to join where they have the opportunity to meet and talk in a relaxed atmosphere. For us, it’s important to continue to show our appreciation however that might be including promotions, a pat on the back for job well done, and different incentives for those who have been mentioned in guest reviews for their standout service.
What can we expect to see at the property in the coming months now that restrictions are gradually being eased?
News of the latest regulations on live entertainment, hotel and restaurant occupancy are testament to the UAE government and health authorities’ extraordinary efforts. With relaxed rules now in place, we’re excited to be able to welcome more guests to the resort, indulge in 13 dining options including our Summertime Brunch and enjoy a host of facilities suitable for the whole family. Together with Hampton by Hilton Marjan Island, we’re also putting together a robust plan of activities for guests coming into Ras al Khaimah for the rest of 2021.
We’re expecting high occupancy during the Summer, especially during the school holidays, where the safety of our guests and team members will continue to be our number one priority. We have partnered with RB, makers of Lysol® & Dettol®, to help deliver an even cleaner stay for our guests through the Hilton CleanStay programme as we understand our guests’ expectations for cleaning and disinfection have changed.
Hilton CleanStay builds on Hilton’s already rigorous cleaning standards to provide complete peace of mind. Hilton’s promise is to deliver the same level of reliable and friendly service one would expect from Hilton, but with the added confidence of industry-leading hygiene practices created to keep them safe.
What would you advise GMs during these tough times?
As challenging as the past year has been, stand out by continuously delighting travellers, whilst prioritising the health and wellbeing of your employees and guests. It’s important to be an example, always keep your team updated and remember there is always a light at the end of tunnel.