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Kuwait 2018 | TOURISM | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Marc Guenther, General Manager of The Regency Hotel Kuwait, on the evolution of the tourism and hospitality sector in Kuwait and combining business with leisure.

 Marc Guenther
BIOGRAPHY
Marc Guenther assumed the position of General Manager at The Regency Hotel Kuwait in 2016. A German native, he pursued an international career in hotel management two decades ago in London. After gaining valuable experience in Germany, France, Russia, and the Czech Republic, Guenther became General Manager of Kempinski Hotel Aqaba Jordan, Hotel Indonesia Kempinski Jakarta, and Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa, UAE prior to taking up the reins at The Regency. Throughout his two decades in the hospitality industry, he oversaw every aspect of hotel management and development.

Could you elaborate on the background of The Regency?

The Regency Hotel Kuwait is a beautiful hotel on the shores of the Arabian Gulf. It is the only independently managed luxury hotel in Kuwait and has been identified as the elite's favorite destination ever since opening in 1981. Many Kuwaitis embrace this hotel as theirs, and our lobby lounge in particular has become many people's living room, as it is widely seen as a symbol of luxury throughout the country. After an extensive renovation, we have 203 rooms, including 50 suites. We also have the largest convention center in Kuwait directly connected to the hotel, as well as five food and beverage outlets. Our emphasis is on providing a boutique hotel service. We are the only independently managed and privately-owned five-star hotel in the country, and are not part of a chain. For us, operating a Kuwaiti icon in a market such as this is a great advantage.

How do you see the hospitality and tourism sector evolving in Kuwait?

For the last few years, the hospitality industry has been changing dramatically, which can also be seen in guests' booking behavior. Nowadays, direct digital marketing is key as many guests book online. That is the great advantage of being independent as we can formulate and tailor our approach to reach beyond our customers' expectations.

Who is your target audience, and what is your client profile?

From Sunday to Thursday, our guests are mainly here for business as a result of the convention center and large collection of meeting rooms we offer. During the weekends and holiday season, especially in the summer, we are more like a resort hotel, thanks in part to our prime beachfront, Salmiya location, but mainly due to the facilities we offer. We experience this transition every week, from a corporate and business hotel to a resort during the weekends. It makes things exciting for the team. It is not always easy to constantly manage this change. However, for us, as a hotel it is beneficial because we do not solely depend on one sector or type of customers; we combine both business and leisure.

What are your competitive advantages?

Independence is key, but our location is also ideal. The design of the hotel is unique, and we offer our guests a personalized service as a boutique hotel. The hotel was locally designed and one of the owners was personally involved in selecting many of its details. We have five pools and two private beaches. One advantage we have over the competition is that we have a more traditional ethos at the hotel; we respect the local culture and have an exclusive facility for ladies only, “The Ladies' Lounge," which includes an outdoor pool and private beach served by a team of women for guaranteed privacy. The main pools and beach are mixed-family areas.

What are your expectations for the year ahead?

Last year was a year of assessment, reengineering, and improvements. We have undertaken a vast rebranding exercise, which is having a positive effect on many areas, such as our online presence and physical offerings and services to ensure that all guests are provided with a personalized and memorable experience. We will continue along this path in the years to come as we aim to stay at the forefront of luxury hotels in the region. In many ways, this is thanks to our independence.