Haytham Omar is the general manager of the newly opened Al Jaddaf Rotana Suite Hotel Dubai, a new 5-star property housing 318 modern rooms and suites.
Tell us more about your journey as a hotelier and how you arrived at Al Jaddaf Rotana.
My hospitality career began in 1998, when I took on the role of sales executive for The Jebel Ali Golf Resort & Spa in Dubai. Like many expats in the UAE, I planned to spend a few years here honing my skills and climbing the corporate ladder.
Within my first year, I realised the huge opportunities the country presented to me as an ambitious aspiring hotelier, which catapulted me into various sales manager roles in other hotel brands in the region. In 2010, I joined Rotana as an executive assistant manager, before taking a different role in the travel consultancy industry to broaden my skill set. I was appointed general manager of Rotana Rose Rayhaan in 2015 before taking on my current role of general manager of Al Jaddaf Rotana Suite Hotel.
What are the unique points of this property?
Al Jaddaf Rotana Suite Hotel is located in the cultural heart of Dubai, cradled on the border between the charm of old Dubai and the modern face of the city. The hotel is one of the only 5-star properties that can offer guests this level of luxury in such a convenient location close to Downtown Dubai, DIFC, Healthcare City, Sheikh Zayed Road and beyond.
Another unique feature of the property is the selection of elegant one-, two- and three-bedroom suites, which have become a popular option for long- stay guests. Boasting a diverse selection of F&B options – including Italian restaurant Timo, the elegant European-style List Bar and pool bar Aquarius – the property is more of a lifestyle destination than just a hotel.
What do you think are some of the main challenges that GMs face in hotel management?
My job gives me great satisfaction, but it’s not without its challenges. One of these challenges is the recruitment, training and retention of quality staff who will act as brand champions in their roles – from serving staff all the way up to management.
Communicating with such a diverse group of people from different nationalities and different backgrounds can be a challenge, but through transparency, empowerment and a transformational leadership style, great results can be wielded. Staff empowerment is something I champion daily in my efforts to develop hospitality leaders of the future.
What’s the importance of online hotel reviews and social media feedback?
As a customer-centric hotel, we place a great deal of importance on customer reviews. We strive for continuous improvement in all aspects of operations.
If ever there is a customer comment that is less than satisfactory, we take the time to listen to the customer and find a solution to remedy their dissatisfaction. We take a 360 approach to gather feedback; our front of house staff interacts with guests daily and our social media team monitors comments, messages and discussions regularly, responding in real-time.
How have you kept the team motivated throughout the pandemic, as you were opening the hotel?
I always try to be as transparent as possible, without overwhelming people with bad news, which were more prevalent during this year’s pandemic.
Recalling personal anecdotes when speaking to the wider team was one method I used to try and connect with my staff. It was essential they felt valued at all times in a market where job security was under threat.
What’s the F&B mix at the hotel and what cuisines are on offer?
Timo is our signature Italian restaurant, serving an inspiring fusion of traditional and modern Italian flavours, delivered with exceptional Rotana-style hospitality. Aquarius is the chic resort-style pool bar serving beverages and international dishes and small plates.
The List Bar is the European-style lounge bar serving an exquisite selection of beverages and tapas plates, complete with expert mixologists, and The Tea Room is the cosy lobby lounge café where guests can enjoy an exclusive selection of exotic tea and coffee blends, as well as the best cakes and pastries in this area of town.
How are you ensuring the safety of guests in times of pandemic?
The health and safety of our guests has always been our top priority at Rotana, but naturally the pandemic forced us to put extra measures in place to ensure guests felt secure during their stay. These measures are reflected in the ‘Rotana Safe Space’ programme, which focuses on two key areas – a contactless experience throughout the stay and enhanced cleaning and disinfection practices, certified by Ecolab.
We have adopted a wide range of digital services, with the Rotana app taking centre stage. This can be used for all in-room dining requests, check-in and check-out as well as many other functions.
Will the hotel be evolving over the coming year?
Looking ahead to the years to come, we aim to constantly enhance our services and respond to the wishes of our customers. We can’t predict what 2021 will bring in terms of broader economic circumstances, but we’re confident that our commitment to our vision will allow us to enrich the experience of the guests we welcome to the property.