AN OASIS OF HOSPITALITY

UAE, Dubai 2014 | TOURISM & RETAIL | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Chantel Moore, General Manager of BurJuman Arjaan by Rotana, on the tourism sector in Dubai, the hospitality industry, and the challenges of Expo 2020.

Chantel Moore
BIOGRAPHY
Chantel Moore is the General Manager of the boutique BurJuman Arjaan by Rotana in Dubai. Chantel has a wealth of expertise gained in more than 20 years of experience in the hospitality sector within Australia, the UK, and the Middle East. In 2011, she was ranked number 40 in Hotelier Middle East’s “50 Most Influential Hoteliers.” In addition, she was a keynote speaker at the Arabian Business Women’s forum in Dubai and featured on the cover stories of various publications in the region as a leading woman in hospitality. Chantel has been with the Rotana family since 2012 and is responsible for managing the four-star deluxe hotel apartments that are directly connected to the prestigious BurJuman Mall and Business Towers.

From your personal experience, what are the challenges of being a businesswoman in the UAE?

It is very challenging to work in hospitality here, whatever your gender. I have never felt at a disadvantage because I am a woman. I have actually worked for two leading local groups here where I've been the first female to come on board as General Manager. Dubai offers many opportunities for people that they may not necessarily have had at home.

What is the unique nature of the hotel?

BurJuman Arjaan is a very specific establishment; our smallest suites are 70 sqm. We have a trendy feel reflected in our modern furniture and furnishings, and we tend to look after our guests on an individual basis. We have about 40 long-term guests here, as well as individual guests, and we cater to what they specifically look for. From people welcoming you into the hotel to privatized service, we can customize experiences for our guests because our concept is quite boutique. We also have a number of beautiful duplex townhouses and penthouses here for VIP guests. One of our key selling points is that we are in the BurJuman Mall, which is actually being refurbished at the moment. The direct access to the mall we enjoy from the hotel is a key aspect for us and our guests. We offer everything from a personalized shopping service to special guest amenities in the room for Valentine's Day. Each guest can comment on the hotel, and we take all of the comments from our guests extremely seriously and are always following up to see what we can do better so that return or future guests can have an even better stay.

Dubai has an average occupancy rate of around 80%. How do your figures compare?

We are actually doing better than that, and are at the 93% level to date. The hotel closed with a similar rate of 91% in 2013, so we are already achieving higher occupancies than last year, which can be challenging for an apartment-style hotel. I would say there has been a higher demand in Dubai in general this year, but we are doing exceptionally well and that comes down to us having a very strong reputation in the market, many repeat guests, and a lot of long-stay guests.

The hotel has won several awards. How important is that for the staff?

It obviously helps us because we have been recognized for our unique identity. We actually even won a continental award as “Luxury Boutique Hotel" in the World Luxury Hotel Awards 2013, which is a greater accolade than our Dubai award. For us, it is all about recognition. Unhappy employees inevitably reflect in customer satisfaction levels. Therefore, we spend a lot of time developing our colleagues to empower them with a greater sense of purpose. This is what we really push for from our hotel and we spent a lot of time on that in 2013. We have also invested in extensive refurbishments to include our restaurant and pool area, while we have also built a brand new gymnasium. At the end of the day, we are particularly proud to see that our efforts merited an award. For a small boutique hotel like ours, it is a big achievement to be seen by our industry peers and our guests as doing a good job. We are really establishing ourselves as a leader in the region.