Dunes Hotel Apartments – Interview with Faisal Abdul Rehman
Insight World is delighted to speak to Faisal Abdul Rehman, General Manager at Dunes Hotel Apartments.
Please tell us about yourself and your role at Dunes Hotel Apartments.
I am a Hotel Management graduate from the Asan Memorial Institute of Catering Technology, Chennai (India). After training in several 5-star properties in India, I completed my CHA (Certified Hotel Administrator) from the American Hotel & Lodging Association. A business degree is a practical essential for managers so I went on to pursue my MBA from Anglia Ruskin University, UK.
I moved to Dubai in 1995 and have been working in the hospitality industry here since. I currently manage the Dunes Hotel Apartments portfolio in the UAE as their General Manager.
Dunes Hotel Apartments is regarded as one of the leading luxury hotels in Dubai. Can you give us an overview of Dunes properties, facilities and services that you provide to customers? What are some of the distinctive or unique features that have made Dunes Hotel Apartments so successful?
The Dunes Hotel Apartments portfolio consists of 3 strategically located properties in Al Barsha, Oud Metha and Muhaisnah. The properties offer a range of well equipped and fully furnished accommodation options ranging from fully fitted studios to 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom and 3-bedroom connected apartments, available on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis. Our facilities also include health clubs equipped with swimming pools and jacuzzis and multi-cuisine restaurants to cater to the diverse tastes of our guests. What sets us apart is truly our personalized service. Our TripAdvisor and Booking.com excellence awards are testament to this. Our staff is trained to be flexible and proactive and offer the best possible service and solutions to our guests, with a personal touch. This has made us a favorite with our guests and it is always such a pleasure to see our guests come back to stay with us each time, even though they have several stay options to choose from – both hotel apartments and International hotel chains. This is nothing less than receiving an award for us.
What types of guests does Dunes Hotel Apartments attract? Where do they come from?
We get a lot of corporate and business travelers where the booking is done by their company and leisure travelers who book online. With the rise in exclusive and affordable travel packages offered by travel agencies, we have seen a rising trend in families booking during holiday season. Our guest demographics is quite varied depending on the season. Having said that, the majority of our guests come from Europe and the GCC.
Congratulations on Dunes Hotel Apartments being nominated for highly prestigious Haute Grandeur Global Hotel Awards and World Luxury Hotel Awards in 2016. What is your strategy to ensure your team consistently delivers world-class service to guests?
Human resource is our biggest asset and we believe in investing in our staff. Unlike large chains that sometimes lose its human and personal touch, at Dunes, we consider our staff like family and their wellbeing, self-advancement through training, reward and recognition is high priority on our agenda. This has over time helped us build a strong team of employees who are loyal to the company and take ownership to deliver superlative customer service. Moving forward, this is how we will continue to remain and function.
In the hiring process, do you prioritize hotel education or personality fit? What is your approach to training hotel staff?
Both are equally important attributes. To serve customers in the best possible way, employees must firstly have adequate industry knowledge about their duties and flair in delivering the service. This can only come from a systematic education in hotel management. Personality fit and appearance creates the right impression.
Amicability, open mindedness to learn and proactive nature are personality traits we look for when we hire.
We believe in regular and consistent training to maintain our service standards. Through our training programs, our employees get to enhance their existing skills and get exposure to trends, industry best practices and new service qualities.
Why did you decide to work in hospitality? What do you enjoy most about your role?
As a child, I grew up in a household where people were always made to feel welcome at home. We frequently had visitors and guests over and I’ve closely watched how my parents would lovingly cater to their needs and how they engaged us children to be joyfully part of it. I believe this is what triggered my passion in hospitality and fueled me to build a career in this industry. Meeting new people and engaging with them is something I thoroughly enjoy and this has paved my way to endless connections and professional relationships in the industry. Meeting people from different cultures and learning about new ways to make guests feel at home is the best part of my role. I am very passionate about building and maintaining relationships – be it with clients, colleagues or associates, and this has given me success in my role.
What advice would offer to those who are inspired to become successful in the hospitality industry?
Those who want to be successful in the hospitality industry need to be extremely dedicated and patient. The needs of every guest are different and dealing with their demands can be very taxing. The sheer level of personal interactions required on a daily basis to deliver good service can also be quite overwhelming. Unless one has a real passion for hospitality, it is hard to pull through. The hospitality industry is truly an industry that never sleeps therefore one looking to be successful in this industry must be ready to take on all the challenges that come with it.
Dedication, passion and a clear vision is an absolute must to succeed. Strong international competitors are forces to be reckoned with, but I believe if you have passion and a strong dedication to work then it won’t be long before your name leads the front page.
How did the hospitality industry change over the past decade? Do you see any new trends?
One of the main characteristics of this industry is that it is ever dynamic. Changes in this industry occur every second. Most of these changes are influenced by the advancement of technology. Service protocols and standards are constantly changing due to advancement in technology and services offered both offline and online. The introductions of artificial intelligence such as humanoid robots are seen as the future of the industry by many industry specialists.
Dubai has developed a strong position as one of the leading tourism destinations globally. What are your thoughts on the way forward for the tourism industry in the United Arab Emirates?
With the arrival of specialized theme parks we can definitely foresee a tremendous increase in flow of family travelers towards this region during the coming years. Expo 2020 and other major Exhibitions & Events will bring in lot of corporate & business travelers to Dubai which is indeed an advantage for the hotel industry to pick up pace in occupancy & room rates.
What are the future plans for Dunes Hotel Apartments?
Our focus this year is to continue to establish the Dunes brand and consolidate our properties and service offerings. In the future, we are looking to expand the Dunes properties regionally first and then globally.