Breaking Travel News interview: David Wilson, general manager, Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah
An icon on the Palm Jumeirah, the artificial archipelago than dominates the hospitality sector in Dubai, Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah welcomes an elite client from around the world.
Here Breaking Travel News speaks to David Wilson, general manager of the hotel, about what it brings to the market, his plans for the future and the likely impact of Expo 2020 on the United Arab Emirates.
Breaking Travel News: Palm Jumeirah in Dubai has recently welcomed a number of new properties – how has Waldorf Astoria responded in order to stay ahead of the chasing pack?
David Wilson: The focus for us is always on delivering exceptional, consistent quality of service and creating memorable experiences for our guests.
It is easy to say, but of course much harder to deliver.
At Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah we have built a culture of engagement and service that has driven positive results for us over the years.
We have wonderful facilities in the hotel with some of the largest rooms available in Dubai, specialised dining opportunities such as Social by Heinz Beck and Lao, a wonderful private beach and selection of pools.
The main thing we want our guests to remember from a stay with us is the interaction with our team members and how we made them feel.
If you can achieve this, you have every opportunity to compete successfully with new hotels coming into the market.
BTN: You have been with the property since September 2015 – how has the hospitality market on the Palm, and in Dubai more generally, chanced over the past four years?
DW: It has changed enormously with new properties opening, new restaurants launching and soon more retail options with the new Nakheel Mall.
The quality of these developments is really outstanding, the Pointe is a good example and with the addition of the mall, guests and residents on the Palm will really have no need to leave.
I believe over the years the Palm has built a strong identity and has become a global destination in its own right.
BTN: How would you describe the mood in Dubai hospitality in 2019. There have been some reports of over supply leading to room rate cuts. Has this been the experience at the Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah?
DW: There is no denying that the market has been under pressure this year with issues such as Brexit hampering tourism from the UK, for example, and the increased room inventory has put pressure on hotels.
I don’t believe there is as much pressure on the Palm perhaps as other areas, however, these increases in supply versus demand are normal in a growing industry and we certainly hope for stabilisation as demand grows to fill the extra capacity.
Dropping rates is a desperate measure, it can create panic in the market and it’s not a strategy that we would advise as it is extremely difficult to build those rates back again after the demand picks up.
BTN: After many years of preparation, Expo 2020 is now just around the corner. How will the mega-event impact on the Dubai tourism sector?
DW: The Dubai World Expo 2020 is absolutely an exciting event for us and is coming at a good time for our business.
With many interesting features, entertainment and dining as well as technology and sustainability focuses, this will be attractive for regional and overseas tourists.
I believe this Expo will also draw attention to the magnificent destination that Dubai has become, shining a spotlight on some of the best facilities and attractions in the world.
We are eagerly looking forward to it!
BTN: Waldorf Astoria Palm Dubai Palm Jumeirah recently welcomed the new Pearl Club – what does that add to the hotel?
DW: Our exclusive and personalised lounge facility was recently rebranded to the Pearl Club, in recognition of the historical significance of pearls in the region and in Dubai in particular.
It remains one of the highlights of the hotel, a sanctuary for our member guests.
Set on the fifth floor, overlooking the Palm and Dubai Marina skyline, it provides a real home away from home.
BTN: The Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing has set ambitions visitor targets for the emirate – with 20 million guests expected next year. What more could authorities do to support the sector?
DW: Having worked in many countries and regions in my hospitality experience, I believe we are very fortunate to have such a professional and active body in the DTCM.
Their promotions and awareness campaigns are without a doubt some of the best I have seen.
As a property, we receive regular market information and there are organised road shows to key markets which provide great support to the industry.
I believe as we move into the first quarter of next year, the awareness of Dubai Expo 2020 will be very high on the agenda in key markets which will start to translate into bookings and increased occupancy levels.
With ongoing and continued efforts, I am confident that together, we can reach the target.
A haven within the vibrant city of Dubai, the Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah boasts a private soft-sanded beach, six distinct restaurants and lounges and elegant sea-facing guest rooms and suites.
Situated on the iconic Palm Jumeirah island, the property in a haven of tranquillity.
Find out more on the official website.