Jun. 11, 2015


Henri Ruiz

Azerbaijan

Henri Ruiz

General Manager, Kempinski Hotel Badamdar

TBY talks to Henri Ruiz, General Manager of the Kempinski Hotel Badamdar, on infrastructure in Baku, company strategies, and catering to guests.

BIO

Henri Ruiz joined Kempinski from the Paris-based leisure group Emeraude Group. In his most recent posting as its Director of Operations, he was responsible for overseeing the group’s exclusive portfolio of hotels including an infrastructure of casinos, spas, restaurants, and other leisure activities. He enhanced his professional abilities with five years prior experience as Director of Operations with the Paris Honotel Group. An experienced hotelier with a well-balanced background in all operational aspects of hotel management, including sales and refurbishment planning, Ruiz is well qualified to take the reins of Kempinski Hotel Badamdar. A French national, he completed the ESSEC IMHI Hotel Executive Program, and in addition to his native tongue, is fluent in English and speaks Spanish.

What is your assessment of the tourism sector in the country and of the hotel market in Baku specifically?

Currently, the market base of our industry is working in Baku. When we are looking at business in hospitality, it is necessary to have different sources for tourism. There are not enough right now, and we need more in the future, which is our main goal. We anticipate the tourism sector growing; however, it will take some time.

In terms of infrastructure that is available for tourists, such as hotels and public transportation, how would you assess this sector, and what needs to be done to attract more tourists?

In terms of hotels, we have a good range of two- to five-star hotels, and we also have the new airport with many flights coming in from other countries to support the tourists that will be coming. What we need is the construction of a nicely laid out convention center. If we want to attract new clients and major conventions, then we need to have a proper convention center, which will come soon. In terms of a hotel base, we do have that here in anticipation for the coming tourists.

How does the beginning of 2015 compare to last year's results, and what has changed in Kempinski's strategies?

Our business market in Baku has improved. The results since the beginning of the year are very promising in terms of average rate. We have a new chef, and we will re-open our Aquapark this summer, unique in Baku. We will offer packages for families and individuals, including food and animations for kids.

Can you describe the typical guest staying at Kempinski, and are they staying for business or for leisure?

We primarily have corporates and people who are coming from different companies ,staying three or four nights. That is a typical guest for us; however, since the beginning of the year, we have had some unconventional groups coming for different purposes. The last one was a university group that had to do with development, and our sales team is trying to attract these types of groups now. We have an auditorium for 500 people as well as different meeting rooms. We offer plenty of different leisure activities. Right now, the majority of our guests are coming for business, but we want to develop another facet of clientele, including more tourists.

From what particular sectors do you see more exhibitions coming here that will create the opportunity for business?

If you want to attract conventions, then the name of the host city is important, and the country is working hard on that. The European Games and Formula One coming over the next year will help to draw in people and will allow Baku to make a name for itself. The completion of a convention center in addition to our hotels will be able to attract major events.

How will Kempinski Hotel Badamdar benefit from the European Games, and what preparations are being made in regard to the upcoming event?

Preparations are already underway, and we have a number of bookings for June. We are involved, and the staff too, in exercises to find out how transportation from the lobby to the stadium is effective. Of course, it is the major event of the year, and we are ready to welcome the guests. There is a lot of stress, and we know how important it will be for us.

ADVERTISEMENT