Breaking Travel News interview: Cenk Unverdi, regional general manager, Rixos Hotels, UAE
Earlier this year Cenk Unverdi took over leadership of the four, five-star Rixos hotels in the United Arab Emirates.
With Rixos the Palm Dubai Hotel & Suites, Rixos Premium Dubai, the newly opened Rixos Saadiyat Island and Rixos Bab Al Bahr all now operating under his leadership, he is uniquely placed to discuss the rapidly developing hospitality sector in the region.
Here he talks to Breaking Travel News about the Rixos brand, the upcoming Expo 2020 in Dubai and the importance of winning at the World Travel Awards.
Breaking Travel News: You now lead four of the most prestigious properties in Dubai, including the one of a kind Rixos the Palm Dubai Hotel & Suites. What does each bring to the hospitality sector in the emirate?
Cenk Unverdi: One of our main objectives is to position our brand as the ultimate resort destination in the United Arab Emirates.
Rixos offers unique, exclusive escapes set in iconic locations: Palm Jumeirah, Jumeirah Beach Residence, Abu Dhabi Saadiyat Island and Ras Al Khaimah Al Marjan island.
Each one of the four hotels is able to capture elements from its respective surroundings, and offer tailored facilities and services specific to their clientele.
As the United Arab Emirates’ first fully integrated multi-concept resort brand, we cater to the needs of everyone.
Thanks to our endless program of multi-generational entertainment and activities, unique dining offering and indulgent wellbeing, we are able to capture the whole spectrum of the leisure market, including families, couples, friends, holidays, staycations, and special occasions.
BTN: How important will the start of Expo 2020 be for Dubai tourism? After years of waiting, does the event have the potential to transform the sector?
CU: The stakes are understandably high, not least because it will be the first time the event will be held in the Middle East.
The organisers are hoping to attract around 25 million visitors to the Expo between October 2020 to April 2021, 14 millions of them from overseas visitors - mostly tourists taking a holiday in Dubai.
This is an incredible opportunity for the hospitality sector, and its impact will last well after the end of the exhibition.
We are working very closely with tourism authorities, not just in Dubai, but in Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah as well, to ensure that we meet the targets that we have set for ourselves.
We also have in place a core team who is actively approaching partners and exhibitors, to explore collaborative opportunities.
Expo 2020 is set to raise the tourism sector to another level, and is set to open up new travel markets also and we at Rixos definitely want to maximise on this opportunity.
BTN: French hospitality giant Accor recently took a significant stake in Rixos Hotels. What has this meant for the ambitions of the company?
CU: The partnership with Accor, which was signed around two years ago, is part of a joint venture between Rixos and Accor hotels - which sees Accor managing the existing 25 Rixos properties, while helping to expand the Rixos name and position it among the top luxury hotel brands globally.
With its resources, Accor brings to the table a bigger distribution with its own platform channelled through its 4,954 hotels in 111 countries, bringing more visibility and market exposure in countries and continents such as the USA and emerging feeder markets like Asia, where we were not present before.
With Accor know how and development team as well as their loyalty program, we have access to over 51 million members worldwide who can experience the Rixos brand.
We see this strategic partnership as a great opportunity to collaborate and develop the name of Rixos further.
BTN: It is quite a portfolio, with Rixos the Palm Dubai Hotel & Suites being considered the World’s Leading Lifestyle Resort by voters at the World Travel Awards, while Rixos Premium Dubai has been honoured with the title of Middle East’s Leading Landmark Hotel. How important are accolades such as these in the success of the brand?
CU: First of all, none of these awards and accolades could have been achieved without the hard work of our outstanding team, so I see this as a recognition to reward their tireless efforts and foster a sense of achievement.
Second, I think brand recognition is important to a company’s success, as it encourages guests to choose and stay loyal to a hotel.
I believe these accolades and other industry honours are also essential as they increase opportunities to build and strengthen partnerships, as well as business profitability and the brand’s overall reputation.
We are very happy with all the awards won between our four hotels, and are looking forward to adding more into our portfolio.
Established in 2000, Rixos is one of the world’s fastest-growing luxury hotel chains.
Dedicated to providing unmatched hospitality amid luxurious surroundings, the international hotel employees over 8,000 members of staff worldwide, each dedicated to providing the best in hospitality while offering innovative guest experiences that perfectly blend the best of old and new.
At the heart of every Rixos hotel and resort is a revitalising wellness spa with an authentic Turkish Hammam, renowned for its unique selection of spa experiences.
Each hotel offers a distinctive selection of restaurants and bars, an exciting entertainment schedule and a diverse range of opulently appointed rooms and suites.
Find out more on the official website.