Business Live Middle East in conversation with seasoned hotelier Shaun Parsons, Complex General Manager, Le Méridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre and Le Meridien Fairway.
With twenty years of knowledge & experience in the hospitality industry, Shaun made the transition from Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi where he served as a General Manager during the opportune phase of the 5-star property’s refurbishment of its guest rooms, public areas, and extensive F&B operations.
We spoke to Parsons about his plans for Le Méridien Dubai and how they are gearing up for Dubai Expo 2020.
Given the current macroeconomic environment, how have Le Méridien Dubai and Le Meridien Fairway fared in 2019?
For a hotel that has spanned 4 decades of service excellence, staying relevant to global trends is as important as delivering the finest hospitality to our guests. Intent on reinventing our offerings, the renovations commenced in 2014, when the hotel added a total of 197 rooms, creating the exclusive 8-storey Le Royal Club building, adding to our existing portfolio of 383 rooms and suites.
With an aim to elevate guest arrival experience, the hotel’s lobby area received a dazzling facelift in 2017 and was relaunched as ‘Le Méridien Hub’. The revamped lobby exudes a modern, refined vibe and sets the stage for guests to experience the hotel’s bespoke hospitality.
Keen on keeping our F&B offerings in sync with Dubai’s evolving culinary trends, the hotel, as part of its 40th-anniversary celebrations, executed a 360-degree face-lift for Seafood Market, Beef Bistro and Kiku. With the recent launch of our newest Spanish Tapas bar, Bebemos, the hotel is among the few in Dubai to offer as many as 18 distinct dining venues in one destination. Similar upgrades were applied to the leisure areas of the hotel, with a particular focus to spruce up its fitness and wellness facilities.
Extending Natural Elements Spa and Fitness’ comprehensive offerings, the newly renovated fitness centre was re-launched in May 2018, in partnership with Optimal Fitness. To ensure that renovation of rooms, outdoor and indoor areas, do not inconvenience guests, the refurbishment across the hotel was executed in phases and will be completed by end of this month.
We offer discovery at every turn for our loyal guests, all the recent upgrades have transformed the hotel complex to brand new look and feel which is very well appreciated by our clientele. It’s been a very successful year for us so far with strong performance over all and looking forward for a stronger Q4.
What were the challenges?
When executing property-wide refurbishments, one needs to watch the market dynamics and act accordingly. We had strong plans in place to counter the market conditions which worked in our favour, helping us generate demand for all areas of our business during the summer. We look forward to ending the year on a high note.
Given your extensive experience in the hospitality industry, how are you planning to do things differently?
Playing safe and expecting better results is not the norm any more. One has to be agile and adaptable to the market conditions to generate more business. We work with a strong base and our prime focus is maintaining guest loyalty and exploring emerging markets to diversify our business further. We had forecasted the current situation last year and we have strategized accordingly for the current year.
The key is to have the flexibility to manoeuvre through challenging conditions with minimum adjustments to a plan already in place. I see a positive performance in Q4 and with all areas of the hotel renovated, especially our suites, fitness and wellness facilities, it should give us some brownie points from our loyal guests too.
During Expo 2020, there is expected to be a considerable rise in demand from the tourist and corporate leisure segment. How is Le Méridien gearing up for the same?
We are already working with several leads for EXPO 2020 and are geared to deal with any challenges the future brings. Customer demands in this specific industry are ever-increasing, as customers are now more aware and in-sync with global hospitality trends.
We at Le Méridien Dubai Hotel and Conference Centre will focus on giving our guests engaging experiences with world-class hospitality and continue to appeal to both our multicultural residents and global visitors.
With the Expo destination being only thirty-five minutes from the hotel by road and 45 minutes via metro, our guests will have the convenience of efficient transportation of Dubai whilst enjoying bespoke hospitality at our hotel. We will be ready with another 4 hotels by Q4 2020 to meet the growing demand.
One Aloft and one Elements branded properties in Garhoud and another Aloft and Element in Al Raffa. These are select serve brands to meet the demand for the budget travellers in the near future.
All 6 hotels will operate as one complex serving customers according to their business needs offering greater flexibility in availability and prices.
It has been reported that the emirate is aiming to complete 160,000 hotel rooms by Oct 2020. How are you planning to stay competitive and seize as much of the market share as possible?
Healthy competition is always welcome. It drives all the teams to put their best foot forward and deliver unforgettable results. The recent room renovations at the hotel blends comfort with understated luxury, whilst attesting to Le Méridien’s refined architectural language.
Each of the newly furbished suites is spruced with modern amenities, and the interiors are revamped with art and décor accents in jewel tones and brushed gold accents, lending a pop of colour to the suites.
It’s our attention to finer details and our constant drive to make memorable experiences for our customers, which gives us the confidence to stand apart and connect with our guests. Hotels are built to meet the demand of millions arriving at the destination; with the completion of our property-wide refurbishments, we are ready to welcome the demand.
What challenges do you foresee? How will you address them?
Dubai’s hospitality industry is pliable and will continue to surprise everyone amid changes. With an established brand name, a strong customer base, a product as good as new along with a passionate and motivated team, we are in a great position to handle all the changes and look forward to welcoming all our guests.