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Breaking Travel News interview: Michael Nugent, general manager, Mövenpick Hotel Ibn Battuta Gate

Breaking Travel News interview: Michael Nugent, general manager, Mövenpick Hotel Ibn Battuta Gate

With its iconic arch standing proudly over New Dubai, Mövenpick Hotel Ibn Battuta Gate is considered an icon of this rapidly developing Middle Eastern destination.

Here Breaking Travel News catches up with general manager Michael Nugent to discuss the latest developments at the property.

Breaking Travel News: Perhaps we could begin with a quick overview of the Mövenpick Hotel Ibn Battuta Gate? What is on offer to visitors to the property? What are the unique selling points in what is a very competitive market?

Michael Nugent: In addition to being a landmark in a shape of an iconic Gate that, at 60 meters, is higher than the ‘Arc De Triomphe’, Mövenpick Hotel Ibn Battuta Gate is the only hotel in Dubai where guests can experience the exciting journey of Ibn Battuta, Arabia’s most famous 14th century traveller.

Through its themed suites and eight restaurants, the hotel allows guests to immerse themselves into the cultures of the ten countries visited by Ibn Battuta.

In addition to being one of the only themed hotels in Dubai, Mövenpick Hotel Ibn Battuta Gate is also one of the few establishments in the city that offers an all inclusive package, providing great value for money for its leisure guests as it includes a room stay and unlimited consumption of food and beverage.

On the other hand, in order to cater to business guests’ needs, the hotel has devised a business bundle package, a value-added package that delivers a range of benefits tailored to corporate travelers, such as daily buffet breakfast, high speed in-room internet, late check-out up until 18:00 and express pressing services.

Other key selling point that sets it apart are that hotel guests also have access to the private Oceana Beach Club on Palm Jumeirah, which features a lazy river, an infinity swimming pool and a private beach overlooking Dubai Marina’s impressive skyline.

The hotel also offers complimentary shuttle busses to the beach club that run on an hourly basis.

For those guests that prefer to remain at the hotel they can enjoy the roof top pool, spa and health club.

Furthermore, what sets the hotel apart is the convenience of its location.

Situated in “New Dubai”, the hotel is at a five minute walk to the Ibn Battuta Mall Dubai metro station, making commuting easy for both business and leisure travellers.

Beach and nightlife attractions of Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Beach Residence are a mere ten minute drive making the hotel’s location suitable for leisure guests.

Also for the convenience of business travellers, the Jebel Ali Free Zone is only a 15 minute drive away.

In addition, the hotel is also situated across the street from Ibn Battuta Mall, the only themed mall in the UAE, which has an impressive array of shopping and entertainment options.

BTN: Mövenpick Hotel Ibn Battuta Gate recently welcomed a host of industry leaders to the official Arabian Travel Market launch party. Do events like this allow you to show of the property to key players?

MH: Absolutely. The number of guests who attended our official ATM 2013 party exceeded 2,500, many of which were local and international bookers, hoteliers, entrepreneurs and tour operators.

The party was also a perfect excuse for us to showcase our stunning property in its best possible light to local residents.

Our grand lobby, Al Bahou, with its 88 grandiose Moroccan lanterns dramatically descending from a 40 m high ceiling, set the ambiance, while the world class entertainment set the scene for a pretty spectacular evening.

BTN: You yourself have been with the property since November of 2012. What have you learnt over the first few months with the hotel? Are there any changes you have in mind to ensure you continue to meet the expectations of guests?

MN: Even though I have already been general manager of two previous properties within the Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts (Mövenpick Hotel Bur Dubai and Mövenpick Hotel Deira), working in such a large hotel requires quite an adjustment.

As such, I have had to fine tune my delegating skills to go in line with the size of the property.

This is, of course, crucial for the hotel’s success.

Even though delegating can be time consuming, it is essential as it maximises the allocation of resources which in turn results in an efficient use of time and the effectiveness of my team.

Also, with eight dining outlets, 399 rooms and a large number of both corporate and leisure guests, prioritizing the numerous daily tasks is key to success.

In order to maintain and improve the levels of customer satisfaction, we constantly invest in training and development of our team members, to ensure that that our service is up to the highest of standards.

Moreover, we hold monthly team panels where I convene with selected representatives from each department to discuss and address any of the issues they experience both in their work place and accommodation.

Employee satisfaction is of great importance as it directly affects their individual performance and in turn the experience of the guests.

Happy motivated and respected employees equate to happy guests!

BTN: Who are the key clientele for the hotel? Are you aimed at the business market, leisure travellers? Are you welcoming guests from the UAE? GCC? Europe?

MN: As previously mentioned, the hotel’s packages and facilities are tailored to fit the needs of both business and leisure travelers. 

Even though we are quite popular in the UAE, GCC and European markets, recently, we have seen an influx in the number of Chinese and Russian guests both in our dining outlets and rooms.

There has been an evident increase in demand from Chinese tour operators due to the efforts of our sales team at the DTCM road shows in China.

As such, we receive constant group requests which directly boost our business particularly when the corporate business is lower during the summer months.

Moreover, our access to the state of art leisure facilities at the exclusive Oceana Beach Club on the Palm Island have been one of the main reasons behind the hotel’s large popularity in the Russian and European markets. 

BTN: Mövenpick is a market leader in the United Arab Emirates, with five hotels in the destination. What attracts the brand to the UAE, and do you see further expansion in the mid-term?

MN: In addition to being one of the Middle East’s major business hubs with a blossoming economy, the country’s impressive tourist attractions such as the tallest building in the world, and the worlds’ largest mall, have placed UAE on the map as one of the most sought after locations to visit in the Middle East.

Other factors that have helped Dubai grow into a world-class destination are the continuous major investments being made in travel and leisure infrastructure.

The city has also been and continues to be a preferred tourist destination for visitors from other GCC countries.

Furthermore, factors such as Emirates Airlines’ continuously expanding the number of destinations it flies to, and the UAE frequently hosting major global and regional exhibitions, contributes significantly to secure a constant influx of both tourists and business travellers.

In addition, the fact that DTMC continuously promotes new markets increases the volume of leisure business in the city.

These market trends demonstrate the immense and continuous growth of Dubai’s hotel industry.

Our five existing hotels in the city have had a very positive start this year due to on-going success and demand for everything the city offers.

Moreover, we are expecting similar positive results for the remainder of 2013.

In average, our properties in Dubai are expected to grow ten per cent this year versus 2012 in terms of total revenue, due to the politically stability and high demand.

As for our expansion within the United Arab Emirates, earlier this year we opened the Mövenpick Hotel Apartments The Square and during quarter four 2013 we will be opening the Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Lakes Towers, the company’s sixth Dubai property offering 168 rooms and 307 apartments. 

Mövenpick Hotel & Spa Oceana will eventually become our seventh hotel in the city when it opens on The Palm Jumeirah

BTN: Do you feel Mövenpick Hotel Ibn Battuta Gate, and the brand generally, has benefited from the tremendous spending by the UAE government to boost tourism in the destination?

MN: The UAE government’s immense investment in factors such as marketing & promotion, aviation, utility services and even security have significantly contributed to the success of our business.

The country’s marketing efforts to promote its tourism worldwide have put UAE on the map as one of the most desirable tourist locations that offers numerous tourist attractions and attractive hotel packages.

Also, UAE’s investment in aviation is evident in the increase of Emirate’s flight destinations as well as the rapid development and construction of the new Maktoum International Airport near Jebel Ali.

More Information

For more information on the property head over to the official website.

Interview: Chris O’Toole