Breaking Travel News Interview: Yas Viceroy general manager Heiner Werdeling
In many senses it has been a year of change at Yas, with Viceroy Hotels & Resorts taking over the management of the property and a host of enhancements coming on stream.
New general manager Heiner Werdeling joined the Abu Dhabi-based property in June, taking over the leadership of what is already considered the World’s Leading New Hotel by the World Travel Awards.
Here he joins Breaking Travel News to discuss what the future holds for this iconic property.
Breaking Travel News: As 2011 draws to a close, what have been the key highlights for the property over the year?
Heiner Werdeling: Obviously, the re-branding to Viceroy Hotels & Resorts has been the biggest highlight of the year 2011.
The new Yas Viceroy witnessed an outstanding Formula 1 week from all aspects, with a strong focus on personalised service on a luxury hotel level.
The hotel also hosted a number of large international conferences and as such has been highlighted to the international business community as well as diplomatic community.
BTN: How have occupancy levels been?
HW: Abu Dhabi’s market has performed well in the 60’s and for the new year 2012 many new properties are opening on new islands and the downtown market of Abu Dhabi.
BTN: What will be your main priorities for 2012?
HW: Yas Viceroy will continue to focus on building more base business in the corporate, MICE and wholesale segments.
With Yas Island’s enhancements in the new year - with the addition of a beautiful sandy beach and the new water park - it will have an exciting offering for all market segments.
BTN: What are the key challenges ahead for the Yas Viceroy?
HW Abu Dhabi’s hotel room supply is increasing tremendously in 2012 and hence competition will be challenging, yet the offering of Yas Island itself as a destination cannot be matched.
BTN: Which new or emerging markets are you hoping to tap into?
HW: We will be working to gain more business from the MICE and wholesale segments.
BTN: How important is the spa market for you?
HW: It is an extremely important market for us as we are proud to feature a true destination spa – a very luxurious ESPA facility that is not matched anywhere else.
It plays an important role to arrange for a full program and allows us to offer all spa services expected in a luxury property.
BTN: What types of in room technological innovations do you offer guests?
HW: Yas Viceroy’s hotel rooms and suites feature the latest in-room technology, with facility control panels that offer automated curtains, lighting, air conditioning and connections for game consoles and personal music players.
The hotel rooms are also equipped with several different mood lighting options for a relaxed atmosphere.
BTN: What are your predictions for the travel and tourism industry in the Middle East?
HW: We expect business to continue to be strong in the region, particularly with travellers from the region itself – whether expatriates living here or locals.