As the complex General Manager of Dubai’s highly acclaimed Grosvenor House and Le Royal Meridien Resort and Spa, Pam Wilby speaks exclusively to BTN about her recent triumph at the World Travel Awards Grand Final where she was named General Manager of the year.
BTN: How are occupancy levels and forward bookings at Grosvenor House and Le Royal Méridien? How does this compare to last year?
PW: Occupancy levels for the upcoming months are very healthy at both properties, driven by strong demand from corporate and leisure travelers and steady growth from the MICE market. Grosvenor House Dubai and Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort and Spa are both fortunate enough to benefit from a great deal of repeat business. At Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort and Spa in particular, we have a number of travellers coming in, particularly from the UK and Russia, many of which visit the hotel several times a year.
BTN: As complex GM for both properties, how are you managing to juggle things since the opening of Tower Two? How has your role changed?
PW: We are very fortunate to have very efficient and talented teams working across both properties. Launching Grosvenor House Tower Two has been both challenging and extremely rewarding. Guest satisfaction remains a number one priority for us at both properties and we are hopeful that our new outlets and facilities will further enhance the Grosvenor House and Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort and Spa Dubai experience.
BTN: What are your main priorities for 2012?
PW: Put simply, our aim is to maintain our high standards of service and unique facilities that our properties have become famous for.
We launched Grosvenor House Tower Two in September last year. To date, the new tower has been extremely well received. The focus for this coming year is to build on this success and ensure that the new property is running smoothly and that our business and leisure travellers are satisfied.
Similar to Tower One, Tower Two boasts 45 floors. It is a landmark of modern elegance, mirroring the existing property that has been an integral part of defining Dubai Marina’s skyscape. The highly anticipated new tower features the freshest trends in F&B and relaxation, as well as a host of premier rooms, suites, residence apartments and premier villas.
Exclusive outlets include Toro Toro, a Pan Latin American dining concept from famed South American celebrity chef Richard Sandoval; British inspired fare served at Rhodes in Residence, courtesy of highly esteemed Michelin Starred celebrity chef Gary Rhodes OBE and Siddharta Lounge by Buddha-Bar, an indoor and outdoor restaurant lounge which infuses Mediterranean and Asian flavours with futuristic sounds in a modish and sophisticated setting. Tower Two is also home to the multifaceted entertainment venue Embassy Dubai, complimenting the legendary Embassy London, famed for its celebrity clientele, funky music and glamour.
BTN: Can you comment on any trends you have noticed over the past few months (e.g. What are today’s travellers looking for / demanding)
PW: There has been a significant shift in both leisure and business travel habits over the past few years. Generally speaking travellers are taking fewer risks with their choices and are much more informed, looking to get the most from their travels. As online communication continues to grow from strength to strength, we have certainly noticed a significant rise in the number of visitors making both room and restaurant reservations directly through our websites, www.grosvenorhouse-dubai.com and http://www.leroyalmeridien-dubai.com/
In addition to this, world-renowned branded concepts remain a key growth area within the UAE hospitality industry. We led this trend back in 2006 when we introduced celebrity chef Richard Sandoval’s modern Mexican restaurant Maya to Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort and Spa. We have continued to expand our offerings in this arena across both properties offering guests an impressive choice of international dining concepts, including Rhodes Mezzanine, courtesy of Michelin starred celebrity chef Gary Rhodes OBE, Indego by Vineet, by Michelin starred Chef Vineet Bhatia and Toro Toro, Richard Sandoval’s popular Latin American restaurant at Grosvenor House Dubai.
BTN: What are your predictions for travel and tourism in Dubai in coming months?
PW: At both properties, we have witnessed a surge in the number of business and leisure travelers visiting from emerging markets, including GCC, North America, India, China and Eastern Europe Russia, as these countries open up and airline networks expand. The MICE sector also brings in a great deal of business for the leisure and tourism industry and as Dubai grows to meet this demand, hotels must also increase their offerings to match.
With a steady rise in the number of international business travelers coming into Dubai, this segment in particular are increasingly looking for enriching and ‘value added’ travel experiences. At the forefront of this trend, Grosvenor House has created Level 5; a privileged business and leisure lounge located on the fifth floor of Grosvenor House Tower Two, and is replete with the very best amenities for business and leisure travelers staying in the Premier Rooms and Suites in Tower Two. Level 5 is the largest facility of its kind in the UAE with no less than three lounge areas, in addition to a separate bar lounge, meeting room and family lounge.
Having recently been awarded “World’s Leading Business Hotel” and “World’s Leading Serviced Apartment Hotel” at the prestigious annual World Travel Awards held in Doha in January, Grosvenor House is well equipped to meet the needs of business and leisure travelers to the city.