General Manager, JW Marriott Marquis Dubai
The initial concept was conceived in around 2007. Many cranes stopped working in Dubai for a long period of time; however, they then started up again, and faster than before. We have really stepped up the pace recently in terms of development and technology. I joined a year and a half ago and began on the construction site. We had, at any given time, about 3,000 people working, and they were making really good progress. You see quite a few projects in Dubai that start well but then get delayed. Here, we have an owner who really wanted to benefit from a quick turnaround and make a statement. There is no better place than Dubai to make that statement. We are targeting the luxury business traveler. This does not mean, however, that we are not in the leisure or tourist market. Today’s business traveler is tomorrow’s leisure traveler and vice versa. Primarily, we are targeting the lucrative and increasingly important international MICE market. This sector is picking up, and the landscape is changing. Now, we have meetings coming in from South America and Russia. This is due to Dubai’s infrastructure and location, and the fact that people recognize that there is more to Dubai than just beaches. Many still think of Dubai as a place for a sunny vacation and shopping, but there are business meetings being held here as well. We can even host meetings in July and August, as we are fully air-conditioned.
General Manager, Millennium Plaza Hotel
We see very high demand in the five-star market. In the near future, the authorities are planning to classify five-star hotels in sub-segments and specializations. All of the five-star hotels will be specialized, so if a company operates a hotel on the beach it will be considered a resort. Hotels located in the city, such as the Millennium Plaza, will be classified as business hotels. Were we to open a conference facility, we would be considered a business and conference hotel. This is one part of the new classification system, but it will also extend to the service level of five-star hotels. We recently renewed our license for the second year. As we are a five-star brand, it takes a great effort from the team and the government to maintain our quality. Huge efforts have been made to change the way that we drive the business. Unlike a four-star hotel, which expects a return on investment within 12 to 14 years, the appreciation in value of a five-star facility grows at a much faster rate. This is very important from a real estate point of view.
General Manager, Raul Salcido
It has been an interesting and challenging project, and also very unique. I have been working for the company for the past 20 years, and I have been involved with many openings and property renovation projects. However, the unique thing about this situation was that both happened at the same time. When I joined the hotel in October 2012, the original building was in operation, but plans were being finalized to make the move into the new building of the resort. We needed to wrap-up and transfer hotel operations to the new property during the high season with an approximately 97% occupancy rate. This was the challenge. We could have waited until the summer, or a slower period, but we were so excited about the new facilities, restaurants, and rooms that we wanted our valued guests to experience them at the earliest. The logistics involved in shifting the operations to the new building were complex; however, the ladies and gentlemen were well prepared for this, and we managed a smooth transition thanks to their expertise and finesse. It was indeed a very exciting time for us since this situation is unlikely to ever come about again.
UAE, UAE, DUBAI - Health & Education
President & Head MEA Cluster, Novartis
UAE, UAE, DUBAI - Telecoms & IT
Senior Director and General Manager for United Arab Emirates, DELL Technologies
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