Breaking Travel News Interview: Raja Zeidan, general manager, the St. Regis Downtown, Dubai
The Middle East hospitality market has welcomed the opening of the St. Regis Downtown, Dubai, the latest in a long line of glittering properties to join the market in recent months.
As Dubai itself bounces back from the Covid-19 pandemic, Breaking Travel News here speaks to Raja Zeidan, general manager of the hotel, about the latest offering and what it brings to a competitive sector.
Breaking Travel News: Thank you for taking the time to speak to us Raja, how has the new property been received by your first guests as you open the doors here in Dubai?
Raja Zeidan: We are delighted to finally open our doors as the St. Regis and welcome guests to the House of Astor.
Our guests have already started to arrive and enjoy the changes, and we are, of course, enjoying presenting the brand-new interiors and signature St. Regis service philosophy.
The property is beautifully renovated, with more to come in the following weeks with the addition of the first St. Regis Spa, featuring six suites and bespoke treatments including Flotation Therapy, and in March, we will debut the elegant Astor Ballroom with 564 square metres of space that opens up to views of the Dubai Water Canal.
It’s going to be a very special place indeed.
BTN: The hotel was formerly under the Renaissance flag, also from Marriott – what has changed now the asset has joined the St. Regis portfolio?
RZ: As the newest jewel in an exquisite global portfolio, the St. Regis Downtown, Dubai showcases the celebrated traditions, rituals, and personalised service a distinguished guest has come to expect from the original St. Regis in New York.
The hotel brilliantly blends the brand’s storied heritage with the modern vibrancy of the Downtown destination.
At the St. Regis Downtown, Dubai guests can look forward to the signature St. Regis Butler Service providing round-the-clock anticipatory service, as well as all the cherished St. Regis rituals including Champagne sabering, afternoon tea, the Bloody Mary and Midnight Supper.
We have made some bespoke design changes to the hotel as well; the enhanced décor and contemporary interiors have been accentuated with bespoke elements including two striking glass chandeliers twisted as a grand staircase, elegant gold chains in the lobby that are influenced by the jewellery found in Dubai’s Gold Souk and an elevated port cochere, entrance and lobby.
New dining additions include the St. Regis Bar, where guests can socialise and enjoy a modern take on the Bloody Mary cocktail which was first created at the St. Regis New York’s King Cole Bar in 1934.
The bar also features a mirrored mural on the ceiling, embellished by starry lights and is absolutely beautiful, especially at night when lit up.
The Library on the lobby level has also been renovated and offers an elegant space to enjoy our take on the acclaimed St. Regis Afternoon Tea.
BTN: Where does the property hope to draw guests from – which source markets will be important? Do staycations, from local guests play a big role in your operations?
RZ: We hope to welcome a diverse range of nationalities to the hotel, but we anticipate that our key feeder markets will be from the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and then further afield Russia, UK, Germany, USA, China and India.
Staycations will always play an important role to our commercial success.
As the world begins to open up, a huge focus will still remain on domestic tourism, with staycations forecasted to be a key stream of revenue for the hotel.
The St. Regis Downtown, Dubai pairs the bustling city with the timeless glamour of St. Regis, meaning those looking to check-in for a refined luxury break with the added benefit of not having to leave the country, will be in high demand.
BTN: How would you describe the mood in the hospitality sector here in the Middle East as we enter the final quarter of 2021 – how far along are we with the recovery from Covid-19?
RZ: Having come out on the other side of a challenging time for the hospitality industry, we stand united in optimism with our hotel partners as we enter the final quarter of the year.
We remain resilient and positive, and are opening the St. Regis Downtown, Dubai at a time when the market is embracing a full recovery.
Travel corridors are opening around the world, which will lead to the return of international travel during a highly anticipated peak season, and with the global showcase event of Expo 2020, we are hoping to see a rebound in the UAE’s tourism.
The UAE can take acclaim in how it’s tackled the Covid-19 pandemic, having one of the highest vaccine rollouts in the world, meaning people can feel safe visiting and discovering all of what the UAE has to offer.
We can’t wait for people to visit and enjoy the vibrancy of the St. Regis Downtown, Dubai, and now more than ever we feel inspired to offer an enhanced experience synonymous with the St. Regis brand to our guests, and continue to be innovative in an evolving world.
BTN: Dubai has recently welcomed the opening of Expo 2020 – what benefits will that bring to the emirate?
RZ: Expo 2020 is a welcome opportunity for us in the hospitality industry and will be a major growth driver for us over the next couple of months, and hopefully beyond.
The global event will no doubt catalyse the sector’s growth while offering a unique opportunity for hoteliers within the emirate to showcase and reinforce its position as a world-class destination for travellers.
With a forecast of over 25 million visits over the six-month event, we believe this is our moment to shine and we look forward to partner more closely with the Expo team during this exciting time for the region.
Combining timeless glamour with a vanguard spirit, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, part of Marriott International, is committed to delivering exquisite experiences at nearly 50 luxury hotels and resorts in the best addresses around the world.
Beginning with the debut of the St. Regis hotel in New York by John Jacob Astor IV at the dawn of the twentieth century, the brand has remained committed to an uncompromising level of bespoke and anticipatory service for all of its guests.
Join Breaking Travel News as we take a tour of the latest property here or head over to the official website here.