ROOM FOR GROWTH

Morocco 2020/21 | TOURISM | INTERVIEW

As one of the only hotels in Casablanca with a prime ocean-front location, Four Seasons Hotel is helping Casablanca capture a larger share of the leisure market.

Mehdi Zaanoun
BIOGRAPHY

Mehdi Zaanoun joined Four Seasons Hotel Casablanca as General Manager in 2018. He has a degree from École Hôtelière de Lausanne. Zaanoun's hospitality experience began at the Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris, followed by a 14-year career that saw him advance in management through food and beverage with various international hotel groups in France and the Middle East.

What have been the main achievements of Four Seasons Hotel Casablanca over the last four years?
Opening and establishing the first luxury hotel in the city has definitely been the key achievement for us over these last few years. More importantly, our unique oceanfront location has also allowed us to tap into the leisure segment, which has always been overlooked in Casablanca. The city has become a major gateway for Africa and Europe, attracting tourists from around the world as well as being an economic hub for business. Previously, leisure travelers preferred to visit cities like Marrakesh and Fes over Casablanca due to the absence of a luxury hotel. We used this as an opportunity to capture a larger share of the leisure market. We have received positive feedback from our corporate clients, the majority of whom are international, as well as local companies that choose our property over other hotels because of the Four Seasons service.

How would you evaluate the state of tourism in Casablanca?
Casablanca has great potential as a tourism hub. The government realizes this and is upgrading the airport and looking to attract airlines from around the world. Morocco is well connected to Europe, the Americas, the GCC, and Asia, especially China, which has recently become a strategic market for us because of the visa-free program launched by the two countries. As of June 2019, Morocco received 8 million visitors, marking an 8% increase YoY. Marrakesh and Agadir are driving the growth, but other cities are also improving their offerings. The leisure sector in Morocco is strong, and this has helped both the country and cities like Casablanca unlock the full potential of the tourism sector.

Can you tell us about your average client profile?
We have two major categories of guests: leisure and business. The majority of our leisure guests come from the US, Canada, and China. The GCC is our third-biggest market, mainly Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain. Our business travelers are primarily from Europe, specifically France. The hotel is equipped with all the necessary facilities to cater to all kinds of guests throughout the year.

What is Four Seasons' added value?
Our location, service, and our unique F&B offerings are our main differentiators. Moreover, the design of the hotel also stands out. We are one of the few hotels in the city with a prime oceanfront location. Both leisure guests and locals enjoy our services and facilities, whether having lunch at our signature restaurant Bleu, afternoon tea in our lobby Mint, or a luxurious treatment at our spa. We have an extraordinary location just a few minutes from the city center, which allows both our leisure and business guests to disconnect from the rest of the world and relax in our garden oasis.

What are your goals for the future?
We continue to look at expanding our footprint in the leisure segment in key markets such as North America, the GCC, Europe, and China, as well as other emerging markets in Latin America, capitalizing on new airlifts from these markets. We will continue to invest in marketing to grow in other markets by participating in trade shows to showcase our unique offerings. An increase in hotel offerings in the city and a revitalized airport will attract more tourists in the future. The government is undertaking a number of ambitious initiatives, which will bring new opportunities in the future.