Breaking Travel News interview: Margaret Paul, managing director, Emerald Palace Kempinski
Inspired by European palaces of the past, the magnificent Emerald Palace Kempinski Dubai has been meticulously designed with neoclassical architecture to the fore.
Having opened in November last year, the property has quickly cemented its place as one of the most desirable hospitality destinations in the Middle East.
Here Breaking Travel News chats with manager director, Margaret Paul, about the hotel, the inspiration behind its opulent design and her ambitions for its future.
Breaking Travel News: Emerald Palace Kempinski Dubai is approaching its first anniversary – how has it been received by luxury travellers in the Middle East?
Margaret Paul: I am very pleased that Emerald Palace Kempinski Dubai has enjoyed great success since the very first days of operation.
We have welcomed thousands of travellers from the Middle East as well as overseas over the past year, who recognised both the grand scale of the palace as well as the exceptional facilities, comfort and service.
We were also very proud to receive a number of international awards for our luxury accommodation as well as our restaurants and wellness centre, including the prestigious title of Middle East’s Leading New Hotel by voters at the World Travel Awards.
Seeing first-hand how personal the luxury market is becoming, our dedicated colleagues at Emerald Palace Kempinski Dubai have been making each guest feel special – and we certainly see the results already, just before our first anniversary.
We already see a high level of repeat business which, I believe, is down to our guests feeling valued through our personalised service.
We make guests our first priority and are constantly striving to exceed their expectations.
BTN: How has your leadership of the property differed from your expectations – what have you had to change from your original plans for the hotel?
MP: With more than 600 keys between Emerald Palace Kempinski Dubai and Kempinski Residences & Hotel Apartments, Palm Jumeirah, leading these two properties has been both challenging and very rewarding.
Our ambition has always been to elevate the standard of luxury hospitality in the Middle East. Dubai is a very competitive destination where travellers have access to almost every luxury hotel brand.
I have always regarded these two properties as truly extraordinary, both well-established and brand new.
In my role I have been privileged to work with a world-class team to ensure that we surprise and delight our guests at all times and ensure a seamless, thoughtful experience.
It has been an extremely exhilarating and fulfilling endeavour as the team works passionately towards a successful positioning of the hotel among the very finest in Dubai.
BTN: Kempinski is known for its lavish palace hotels – for example in Istanbul. How does Emerald Palace Kempinski Dubai compare with its sister properties within the brand?
MP: Inspired by the European palaces of the 18th century, Emerald Palace Kempinski Dubai is the epitome of classical palatial living merged with the latest technology and state-of-the-art facilities.
We travelled the world looking closely at other grand hotels and the experiences they offer to their guests.
Staying at a palace should not mean compromising on modern conveniences.
Guest comfort has always been close to our hearts and as we were working on activating this magnificent palace, we made sure to consider every guest convenience or technology that modern travellers would expect from a luxury hotel.
The service experience at Emerald Palace Kempinski Dubai centres around the guest and thrives on offering them, first of all, emotional luxury.
Today’s travellers are more discerning, more sophisticated and more demanding.
They are seasoned travellers who enjoy being social and are cultured, knowledgeable and worldly.
They seek personal enrichment through deep cultural connections to past and present, with a particular appreciation for authentic experiences.
At Emerald Palace Kempinski Dubai, we understand this evolution and recognise that luxury is thereby more than what one owns but about how they feel.
As such, we present to our visitors a perfect blend of legendary service which is gracious and intuitive, iconic design, culturally rich experiences as well as destination dining and celebrations where our guests feel sumptuously pampered and perfectly understood.
BTN: Dubai has been busily preparing for Expo 2020 – with the event scheduled to start on October next year. Will this have a significant impact on the hospitality sector in the emirate?
MP: Dubai’s economy is estimated to grow 2.1 per cent in 2019 and 3.8 per cent in 2020 driven by the Expo 2020, which is expected to contribute to tourism, telecommunications, financial services, transportation, real estate and retail, according to the Department of Economic Development.
The number of visits to the Expo 2020 is expected to touch 25 million, 70 per cent of which will be from outside the country.
Naturally, this represents a tremendous commercial opportunity for all of us within travel and tourism.
There will also be a number of events and activations during the six months of the Expo 2020, many of which will be taking place at hotels throughout the emirate.
BTN: Who have you been welcoming to the hotel? There is obviously a strong leisure market, but do you also serve MICE customers? Which are the key source markets?
MP: First of all, we are very fortunate with our location on Palm Jumeirah.
Other hotels may open in our market, but barely any can have a location as good as ours.
One of the main reasons people come to Dubai is for the beach, entertainment and shopping - and we are located in the best location for all of it.
We have been welcoming guests from all over the world with stronger presence from the Middle East, Europe, Russia and China.
With a pristine 500-metre white sand beach at our doorstep, we naturally attracted a lot of family leisure travellers, honeymooners as well as guests from the United Arab Emirates who enjoy luxury staycations.
Emerald Palace Kempinski Dubai has some of the most lavish suites in the region – and a collection of exclusive hotel villas which are the largest in Dubai.
Our villa guests appreciate discreet and attentive service of our butlers and the exceptional culinary and cultural experiences provided within the hotel.
We have also seen strong demand for MICE and weddings, as Emirates Palace Kempinski Dubai is one of the very few resorts which is fully equipped to accommodate the most sophisticated events and truly spectacular wedding celebrations.
I am also pleased that the hotel has become a firm favourite among Dubai residents who enjoy our restaurants and nightlife.
We are the home to the only restaurant of Alain Ducasse, a world-renowned multiple Michelin-star chef, in the United Arab Emirates, which is also the largest in his portfolio.
Naturally, miX Alain Ducasse has been a true magnet for both gourmands as well curious diners who wanted to experience the magic of Ducasse and exceptional Michelin-star cuisine.
Those seeking complete indulgence appreciate UAE’s only Cinq Mondes Spa, offering exclusive spa treatments in a stylish setting.
BTN: Emerald Palace Kempinski Dubai was honoured with the title of Middle East’s Leading New Hotel at the prestigious World Travel Awards earlier this year. How important are accolades such as this for the property?
MP: Indeed, international accolades like the World Travel Awards are very important for all of us in the tourism industry.
They reflect our commitment to providing the ultimate in luxury hospitality, international travellers see trust them – and I also see awards as a great recognition and motivation for the team working with me.
Set within 100,000 sq. m, Emerald Palace Kempinski Dubai lies on the West Crescent of Palm Jumeirah, the world’s largest man-made island and archipelago.
Its location gives panoramic views of both the sea and Dubai’s skyline, and offers a private escape just a short drive away from the city’s attractions.
Find out more about the property in the official website.