Breaking Travel News interview: Mehdi Othmani, general manager, Hilton Hurghada Plaza
Overlooking the Red Sea, the Hilton Hurghada Plaza Hotel offers breath-taking views from all 218 guest rooms and suites. From casual beachfront dining to romantic candlelit meals the range of fine dining on offer will suit all tastes, while the chance to relax in the sauna and whirlpool is also a welcome escape.
Having been recognised as Africa’s Leading Green Hotel by the World Travel Awards in 2015, Breaking Travel News editor Chris O’Toole here sits down with general manager Mehdi Othmani to discuss what 2015 holds for this stunning beachfront property.
Breaking Travel News: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us here at Breaking Travel News today. Perhaps we could start with a brief overview of the Hilton Hurghada Plaza? What is on offer at the property and what makes it unique in the destination?
Mehdi Othmani: Thank you for having me.
Located on a private beach, Hilton Plaza boasts panoramic views of the Red Sea and is set within a magnificent garden.
The resort is within five kilometres from the city of Hurghada.
All our rooms have a view of the sea and some of the garden.
The hotel offers a selection of restaurants and bars.
The signature à la carte restaurant The Jasmin, serves oriental cuisine.
The Planet SPA and Fitness offer a selection of treatments and wellness facilities.
Hotel facilities include tennis, volley ball, squash, children’s playground and aqua centre.
Free Wi-Fi is available in the lobby area and Hurghada International Airport is within 15 kilometres.
What make us unique in the destination are our people. Our people are our success.
Early in my career, I learned to know that the highest contributions in the hotel industry or any industry are volunteered each day by people who could easily choose to go and work somewhere else.
Since then, I have never stopped seeing my people as “whole people” – body, heart and spirit and manage them accordingly, as a result our efforts as manager are spent creating a place where our people want to stay and in which they are able to offer their best, such approach has served us well.
Most often today, the difference between a hotel and its competitor is the ability of its people to execute.
Executing better than your competitors, better services, better EBITDA, better GOP, better return to owners…will give you an unbeatable advantage.
Obviously you can’t do that by yourself, you need the right people around you and I am blessed to have these people at Hilton Plaza.
BTN: There is an impression that Egyptian tourism is finally on the path to sustained recovery, after one or two false starts in recent years? Is that the impression you get working in the market?
MO: Tourism and travelling have survived big setbacks in the recent years yet we were always confident that recovery was just a question of time.
Clear business pickup has already been seen since quarter three of 2014.
Today, more than ever the Egyptian government is sending a strong message to the world that the Land of Pharaoh is back on track and the Sharm El Sheikh economic development conference that took place few days ago lets no doubt that Egypt is on the path to regaining its usual ranking in the global assessment.
We look at the future with lot of confidence and excitement in this regard.
BTN: Which inbound markets particularly excite you in 2015? Are the British returning to Egypt in significant numbers? Have they been replaced from visitors from elsewhere in the world?
MO: Traditionally, the UK has been considered the number one west European feeder market.
Egypt used to welcome one to 1.3 million British travellers yearly, yet the decline in charter capacities flying to Egypt has reduced the flow of tourism stemming from the UK.
On the other hand, a variety of emerging and new markets have been introduced to Egypt with increasing numbers through late 2014 and with an ongoing pattern during the past few months of 2015, primarily Chinese, Indian, Georgian, Serbian, Baltic Countries and Indonesian out of which we are getting our fair and unfair share.
Obviously replacing the Brits with these markets won’t be an easy task in view of the larger number of British that used to come to Egypt.
We look at our long lasting business relationship with the British tour operators with lot of confidence and are optimistic about current year.
BTN: Hilton Hurghada Plaza was recognised as Africa’s Leading Green Resort in 2014 by the World Travel Awards. Could you tell us a little about what inspired voters to select the property and what ecological ambitions you have for the property moving forward?
MO: I believe it’s crucial in the hotel industry to have a sustainability label as its becoming more important to lot of voters, travellers and consumers alike, by choice they prefer to stay, support and vote for a hotel they know its credited with an environmental program and aligned with their own sense of responsibility to the environment.
Our recognition as Africa’s Leading Green Resort by the world travel award acknowledges our engagement in building a sustainable future for the community where we live, work and travel every day.
Hilton Hurghada plaza adheres to sustainable best practices in all of its operations, investments in water saving devices including faucet aerators, dual flash, toilet systems and waterless urinals have reduced water consumption.
In addition, guests are encouraged to become involved with the hotel eco-friendly policies by reusing towels.
Effective energy saving measurements include a state-of-the art boiler that uses waste heat from the refrigeration system as part of its heat recovery process and the instalment of LED lighting and motion sensors.
Also new electrical appliances are purchased in accordance with specified energy criteria.
Over the years, we came to realise the importance and financial benefits of environmental sustainability and we are positive that the eco-friendly business will continue to benefit from favourable opinion and massive customer loyalty, these facts go along with our ecological ambitions and we are not welling to slow down.
BTN: The hotel has also been recognised for its all-inclusive offering this year, nominated as Africa’s Leading All-Inclusive Resort by the World Travel Awards. Can you tell us a little about the thinking behind the all-inclusive offering in this competitive market?
MO: From 1930s when it was first introduced to 1950s when it becomes globally popularised, the all-Inclusive concept has come a long way.
Since then new luxury versions of all inclusive were developed primarily ultra-all-inclusive and premium all-inclusive representing a growing share of the tourist accommodation sector worldwide.
Our nomination by the World Travel Awards to 2015 Africa’s Leading All-Inclusive Resort is a recognition to the step further Hilton Hurghada Plaza has taken in term of all-inclusive offering.
Our customers, repeaters and first time visitors alike are confident we are the right address to unwind and distress themselves, they do trust our product and they do trust our peoples who are performing their job with care and personal touch.
Our guests know it, our owners know it and our competitors know it and this is exactly what makes us leading from the front in term of all inclusive offering.
History proved that our image and customer satisfaction is a translation to our performance in term of food and beverage, reception, recreation activities, housekeeping services and SPA packages.
Visitors are assured of increased financial certainty and physical security while enjoying their vacation at our hotel.
Our attraction of all-inclusive stems from the fact that we provide value for money to everyone involved in the value chain.
There is more information on Hilton Hurghada Place on the official website.