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Breaking Travel News interview: Kym Barter, general manager, Atlantis, the Palm

Breaking Travel News interview: Kym Barter, general manager, Atlantis, the Palm

Kym Barter was this month appointed to the position of general manager and senior vice president, operations, at Atlantis, the Palm in Dubai.

Originally joining Atlantis as the head of food and beverage as the destination began to emerge from the global pandemic, he cultivated a high-performing team of professionals, culminating in a record year for the culinary operation at the resort.

Speaking to Breaking Travel News following his new appointment with the property, Barter revealed his ambitions are simply to continue the success the destination has seen of late.

He explains: “I joined Atlantis, the Palm in May 2021 – this was a positive time for the resort as we began to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Dubai came out of it a lot more positively than a number of other places, so we haven’t really looked back since then.

“We have been riding the wave, not least as we see Atlantis, the Royal come to life following its opening earlier this year.


“Sentiment was strong in Dubai when I joined, and the emirate has been able to pick up where it left-off pre-Covid-19.

“As a newcomer, both to the property and the city, this was a great opportunity to get to know both and to rebuild in the wake of the pandemic.”

He adds: “Atlantis, the Palm is mature product, but one that continues to evolve.

“This is a very well-oiled machine I am part of here – and my plans are to take that forward.

“I have worked with the team here in Dubai over the past two years, we are a pretty close-knit organisation, with a lot of oversight across departments.

“My ambitions are to ride the wave of success we have seen in the past couple of years.”

The new role places him at the helm of Atlantis, the Palm, where Barter will oversee all operational aspects of the resort, enhancing the service and operational performance while sharing his passion for exceptional guest experiences.

In this role, he is well-positioned to meet the ever-changing needs of guests.

Barter continues: “Of course, the habits or travellers have continued to change, even over the past two years.

“Guests went without travel for a year or two, and this has left many more discerning; today, they want an experience, not just a nice hotel.

“Our focus is thus on entertainment, everything from Atlantis, the Palm, across Atlantis, the Royal, Aquaventure Waterpark, our spa, fine dining, our beach clubs or the whole of Palm Jumeirah itself.

“Expectations have risen at whichever spend point and it is our job to make sure we create an amazing experience for guests.

“Dubai already does this very well as a destination and we focus on how we can complement that as a destination in our own right.

“Guests can join us for four, five days – and stay with us the whole time – dining at Gordon Ramsey at lunch, diving into the pool and then eating at Heston Blumenthal in the evening.

“This is all within walking distance – and is a unique selling point for Atlantis, the Palm.”

He adds: “We have a large number of repeat guests, so it is important they see something new each time they visit.

“If the come back and there is less change, perhaps they will be tempted to try something different – but we ensure there is always something different in the hotel.

“We are always evolving – guests ask me direct what is coming up, what is new, and it is exciting to tell them.

“Atlantis, the Palm welcomes guests sometimes two or three times a year, and we receive feedback from them and are in many cases able to action that.”

Under his culinary leadership, Atlantis, the Palm secured three Michelin stars, as well as a spot for Ossiano on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list 2023.

At the same time, Ossiano took the title of Dubai’s Best Culinary Experience at the World Culinary Awards in 2022.

Dining is a big part of the attraction of Atlantis, the Palm, explains Barter: “At present, we have around 55 dining locations across the property – a huge food and beverage operation.

“We have had some success, and this definitely attracts attention to the hotel, guests want to eat in the best places.

“Competition is always increasing, especially among hospitality professionals; chefs are very competitive people.

“This has driven up standards.

“Guests will choose a holiday destination, they see where the best restaurant is and will decide to stay there – so the dining is very important for us.

“Expectations increase when they are going to a Michelin star restaurant, and we have to meet those expectations – it is a big deal.

“We are fortunate with Ossiano to have been recognised as one of the best – and it definitely helps us to attract guests and culinary talent.

“We are at the start of Dubai beginning to feature in these accolades around the world.”

Looking ahead, Barter reveals there is plenty to look forward to over the coming months.

“Following the splash we made with Beyoncé, we have already turned our attention to New Year’s Eve and our celebrations.

“We will be revealing the artist set to star this year soon.

“Toward the end of the year, in the fourth quarter, we have the reopening of the WHITE Beach, while we are also adding a new restaurant from Bjorn Frantzen, to be known as Studio Frantzen.

“Summer is normally the quieter time here in Dubai, but we have not seen too much of that here at Atlantis, the Palm.

“Nonetheless, this is an important time, as we reset and prepare, carry out maintenance and manicure the gardens – we have great support from the owners, so there is always something new.”

Dubai itself also continues to go from strength-to-strength.

He explains: “We have seen good traction out of the UK, Australia and Israel – alongside Asia opening up, especially China for group business.

“There are some challenges in different parts of the world, but demand is holding up.

“The United Arab Emirates itself is also a strong market, we do a lot of domestic business, as well as the wider GCC and India.

“As I mentioned, the summer is usually quiet – but we are not seeing much of that here.”

Barter concludes: “This is an exciting time for Dubai generally – people are blown away when they visit.

“What is on offer here is incredible – and it continues to develop.

“There is a real focus on guest experience, a seamless experience at the airport, for example, and then everything flows from that.”

Atlantis the Palm is considered the World’s Leading Landmark Resort, World’s Leading Hotel Suite and home to the World’s Leading Executive Club Lounge by voters at the World Travel Awards.

Aquaventure Waterpark at Atlantis the Palm is also considered the World’s Leading Waterpark.

Located at the centre of the crescent of the Palm in Dubai, Atlantis, the Palm is the first entertainment resort destination in the region.

Opened in September 2008, the unique ocean-themed resort features a variety of marine and entertainment attractions, as well as 22 hectares of waterpark amusement at Atlantis Aquaventure, all within a 46-hectare site.

It is home to one of the biggest waterparks in the world and one of the largest open-air marine habitats, with more than 65,000 marine animals in lagoons and displays including the Lost Chambers Aquarium, a maze of underwater corridors and passageways providing a journey through ancient Atlantis.

Aquaventure Waterpark features 23.5 million litres of fresh water used to power 105 thrilling waterslides and attractions, including several world record-breaking slides, and two river rides featuring tidal waves and pools, water rapids and white-water chargers.

Dolphin Bay, the unparalleled dolphin conservation and education habitat, and Sea Lion Point were created to provide guests with a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn more about some of nature’s most friendly mammals.

The resort boasts an impressive collection of luxury boutiques and shops as well as extensive meeting and convention facilities.

Atlantis, the Palm is also known as the culinary destination in the region where guests can take their pick from a collection of 35 world-renowned restaurants including the one Michelin star rated Hakkasan and Ossiano, as well as celebrity chef outposts Bread Street Kitchen & Bar by Gordon Ramsay and Nobu.

Atlantis is also home to a buzzing nightlife scene with entertainment destination Wavehouse offering something for everyone, while White Beach is the perfect place to unwind with a drink as the sun slips into the Arabian Sea.

Chris O’Toole