HotelNews Middle East - - Contents -

I started writ­ing this ar­ti­cle some­what frus­trated with the sta­tus quo in the hos­pi­tal­ity world, a world I have cho­sen to spend the ma­jor­ity of my days and nights. This world has built it­self a false re­al­ity where peo­ple watch­ing food shows see them­selves as promis­ing chefs and be­lieve they have the right to tell a dec­o­rated chef how to pro­duce a clas­sic dish, just be­cause they saw it on the in­ter­net or tele­vi­sion.

Not be­cause they read Larousse or one of Bo­cuses' cook­ing books or be­cause they’ve had years of ex­ten­sive train­ing. Af­ter be­ing a chef for over 20 years, I of­ten have peo­ple telling me that they are also chefs be­cause they love to cook and re­li­giously watch cook­ing shows.

Bud­ding chefs and so called Trip Ad­vi­sor gu­rus could per­haps ap­pre­ci­ate that what is cre­ated in the kitchen and on the floor is a con­vic­tion to those in­volved, not a day-to-day chore.

The prospect of vi­ral crit­i­cism means we’re al­ways walk­ing on thin ice, never know­ing where the next com­ment will come from. Nev­er­the­less, it also en­sures we’re con­stantly striv­ing for per­fec­tion to counter bal­ance the wannabe Miche­lin star chefs.

It takes years to craft our trade to a level of ac­cep­tance within the lux­ury ho­tel sec­tor, some­thing we are all very proud of.

It is not just about the learn­ing, but also the ded­i­ca­tion, self-sac­ri­fice and in sim­ple terms, the ab­so­lute love of the job. And in to­day's en­vi­ron­ment, find­ing a ca­reer that one loves is very dif­fi­cult in­deed.

When I in­ter­view there is one ques­tion I al­ways ask be­cause it was asked of me once, I got it wrong by the way, none­the­less when I was cor­rected a whole new world opened up to me. Who is the most im­por­tant per­son in the ho­tel?

The an­swer is of course the guest. I al­ways look for the right peo­ple for the job, not nec­es­sar­ily the most skilled or the most ex­pe­ri­enced, but peo­ple with the right at­ti­tude. Peo­ple who nat­u­rally an­tic­i­pate a guests' needs, not be­cause they are trained or drilled to do so, but be­cause it is in their DNA.

Skills can be taught, and peo­ple trained but their core must be solid. Pos­i­tiv­ity, a will­ing­ness to learn and the un­der­stand­ing that we are all here for just one rea­son, to sat­isfy our guests, is para­mount. As Richard Bran­son so fa­mously once said; "If we take care of our em­ploy­ees they will take care of our guests".

I be­lieve, guests, es­pe­cially in the lux­ury sec­tor, are tired of the pre­ten­tious lux­ury en­vi­ron­ment, they want to feel un­der­stood and more than that, cared for.

The thing they can take home with them is the mem­o­ries that they've cre­ated and will last a life­time. Ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the "ahhh" mo­ment, where some­one un­der­stands what he or she is look­ing for, even be­fore they know them­selves.

Our guests are our liveli­hood so it’s im­por­tant they are our num­ber one con­sid­er­a­tion. Our chair­man has a say­ing, which I strongly be­lieve in, "Brands don't build peo­ple, peo­ple build brands". This is such a fun­da­men­tal con­cept that is em­braced by ev­ery team mem­ber here at Anantara Al Ja­bal Al Akhdar.

I love to see guests smile when they see my guys just hav­ing a good shift, gen­uine re­la­tion­ships forged though work­ing to­gether and new re­la­tion­ships forged through a gen­uine need to serve, and I say need not want for a rea­son.

In the 18 months since we opened, and we have man­aged to build an or­gan­i­sa­tional cul­ture of mu­tual goals, re­spect and an hon­est need to serve.

We have lifted many awards and our re­sults speak for them­selves. As my gen­eral man­ager keeps re­mind­ing us when­ever we re­ceive an­other ac­co­lade, "It's all about the team". The very real team we have built and nur­ture here on the Green Moun­tain, a place we all call home, our moun­tain home.

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