Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa in Dubai scooped top honours at the recent Annual Starwood Awards in Brussels, taking home three accolades, including the highly sought after, “2007 Le Meridien Hotel of the Year” for the second year running. BTN spoke to Jaideep J.Bhatia, Director of Marketing, about what makes the Le Royal Meridien a cut above the rest.BTN: You three awards, including the 2007 Le Meridien Hotel of the Year. Why do you think you won?
JB: We are delighted to have won a hat-trick of awards this year at Starwood round tables in Brussels and are particularly proud of achieving the Hotel of the Year title.
Le Royal Meridien stands out from the competition due to the high standards of service and our ethos that ‘anything is possible’. It’s all also about offering choices and that is the key to winning this award.
We have a broad number of bars and award-winning restaurants including Maya which is the first modern Mexican in Dubai offering a unique fine dining experience, three outdoor pools and the Caracalla spa, one of the most well-established spas in Dubai, as well as a private beach for residents.
BTN: What kind of year has it been for the hotel?
JB: It’s been a great year for the hotel. Le Royal Meridien has broken all targets on occupancy and revenue and maintained its reputation for setting new benchmarks of impeccable service, choice and unique food and beverage concepts which are the talk of the town and will continue to be in 2009.
BTN: You also picked up the ‘EMEA Human Truths Award’ for guest satisfaction. Why is Le Royal Meridien so popular with guests and what makes the guest experience at your hotel a cut above the others?
JB: We have an unbelievable number of guests who return to the hotel year after year which is testament to all the hard work put in by our associates. The emphasis is on providing guests with a dazzling array of options supported by a uniquely personal level of service, which is why we are a cut above the rest.
BTN: Which other award did you win?
JB: The third award we scooped at the Annual Starwood Awards was the Best Hotel in the EMEA region.
BTN: How do you think winning these accolades will help you and Le Royal Meridien going forwards?
JB: It’s always great to be recognised and praised for the work that you do and to win a customer satisfaction award is really morale boosting for our associates. This recognition will go a long way to assuring guests that Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort + Spa, is amongst the best in the world as we constantly seek to exceed our customers’ expectations in all aspects.
BTN: What are your ambitions for the hotel?
JB: We want to continue to be a first choice for both holidaymakers and business travellers and it relies on everyone at the hotel to achieve this goal.
BTN: How do you see the global downturn impacting your business? And how do you propose to meet the challenges?
JB: Due to the strength of our offerings at Le Royal Meridien we have maintained a very loyal customer base which means our business model isn’t solely reliant on attracting new guests which can often prove challenging during such times.
BTN: What do you see as your biggest areas of growth for the hospitality industry? And what and where are the new markets for your business?
JB: The new markets for us are mainly in South America and Asia. We have really strong links where Emirates operates and with the new Airbus A380 taking to the skies visitors now have more luxurious and appealing travel options so we only expect business to boom. We also predict capacity is going to increase once the new Dubai airport is fully in operation.
Dubai is constantly developing which also goes in our favour. There is permanently something new to see or do and this will go someway to fight any downtown to visitor numbers.
BTN: Sustainability is the key challenge facing businesses - what provisions are you making in your strategy for green development?
JB: Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort + Spa is the only hotel in the Middle East to be TUV certified which measures eco-efficiency and has won a number of awards including the Kuoni Green Planet and Hotel plan.
The hotel has long been a supporter of environmental awareness, but recycling paper and plastic is no longer enough; waste water is recycled and used on our gardens, environmentally-friendly chemicals are used for washing laundry and cutlery but perhaps our most pioneering scheme is that steam from the laundry is used to heat the water in the swimming pools.
BTN: What further improvements would you like to deploy in order to improve sustainability at Le Royal Meridien?
JB: We are constantly looking at ways of improving sustainability at the Le Royal Meridien. The resort has an eco-team which visits companies that have tried-and-tested environmentally-sound strategies to see where initiatives can be incorporated into the hotels operations. The team is always looking for new ways of doing things and we truly believe we can move forwards by learning best practices from other industries.
BTN: What can the travel and tourism industry collectively do to improve its green credentials?
JB: The key is working together to share best practices. We all need to make it a priority to give back to the environment what we take from it and to realise that even the smallest change can make a huge difference.