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Lebanon 2019 | TOURISM | INTERVIEW

Sofitel brings a French sensibility to its Beirut location, with culinary offerings, interior design, and more.

Omar Saade
BIOGRAPHY
Omar Saade is General Manager at Sofitel. He started his career with Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) in the UAE and Lebanon, where he began as a management trainee focusing on food and beverage operations. He later held management positions at Radisson Blu, Le Royal and Hilton Worldwide. Saade was appointed General Manager of Sofitel Le Gabriel in 2018, bringing over 20 years of hospitality experience.

What are the trademarks of the Sofitel Le Gabriel?

Sofitel Le Gabriel has been operating in Beirut for almost 25 years now, offering a distinctive blend of French know-how and Lebanese hospitality. In all this time, Le Gabriel has become one of the leading luxury hotels in Beirut, and we strive every day to keep exceeding guest expectations. There are several attributes that allow the Sofitel Beirut to stand out: The first is the property itself, exceptionally located in Achrafieh's Carré d'Or and featuring interiors of high standards that were recently fully renovated. The hotel is also well known for its personalized service, thanks to professional and dedicated team members across all departments. In fact, most of the hotel's personnel has been here for over 10 years, some more than 20. In hospitality, this makes a significant difference, as they have acquired through the years an invaluable knowledge of our loyal clientele, and they truly manage to make guests feel at home. Although part of the Accor Group—one of the world's largest hotel operators—we have managed to maintain a certain “boutique" feel to Le Gabriel, which is a key differentiator in our market. Last but not least, the hotel stands out for its robust food and beverage offering, whether La Verrière restaurant or the banquets. The recent partnership with renowned Chef Nicolas Audi has very much contributed to raising the bar and making Le Gabriel a food and beverage destination in Achrafieh.

What is the rationale behind the “Live the French Way" global campaign of Sofitel?

“Live the French Way" is more than just a marketing campaign; it in fact lies at the heart of Sofitel's DNA. Sofitel has always been an ambassador of French style, know-how, and art-de-vivre across the world, and “Live the French Way" pays homage to the brand's origin and reinforces the brand's position as a global leader in luxury hospitality. This new campaign is particularly relevant for us in Beirut, as we Lebanese carry an important French heritage.

In 2019, Sofitel Beirut announced its partnership with famous chef/caterer Nicolas Audi. How will the partnership enrich your offering?

The partnership between Le Gabriel and Nicolas Audi Catering is an important milestone for both entities, and we share great ambitions for this joint endeavor. For luxury hotels, partnering with renowned chefs is a common practice, particularly for a luxury brand like Sofitel, which places food and beverage at the heart of its value proposition. For example, Sofitel has successfully collaborated with Christian Constant at Sofitel Paris Arc de Triomphe and Yannick Aleno at Sofitel Le Faubourg. Partnering with Nicolas Audi Catering was not simply about joining forces with an exceptional chef or revamping our menus. It is a strategic partnership that spans across the entire value chain of our F&B department. Thus, we have chosen a long-term partner with whom we share extremely strong values of tradition, hard work, and the sole objective of continuously offering an exceptional guest experience. The idea behind the partnership is to take the hotel's F&B offerings to the next level, covering restaurant, banquet, and private functions, as well as the pastry retail shop. La Verrière restaurant and terrace is an exceptional venue in the heart of Achrafieh, and its new menu is aimed at being an everyday brasserie and not a classic fine dining restaurant. The bill comes out to about USD40 on average per person, which is in line with the new identity and target market. Nicolas Audi managed to create a delightful menu that will appeal to the hotel's clientele, travelers, and locals alike. The restaurant can seat up to 40 persons outdoors and 70 indoors. The restaurant will host several F&B public events throughout the year such as wine tastings/pairings, themed buffets, gastronomic menus, and more.