Ahead of ATM, general manager, Amwaj Rotana, Mark Deere brings TTG up-to-date with the property’s latest news, while granting a glimpse into the world of the Dubai-based hotel.
TTG: What exciting developments have been going on at Amwaj Rotana?
What an appropriate and apt question to ask as we have just launched our fourth signature restaurant, JB’s, which is a gastropub offering predominantly British and American cuisine. Possessing an entirely different dining concept from our existing restaurants, it is the first and only true gastropub along Jumeirah Beach Residence in Dubai – an area that is flourishing with numerous local and international dining concepts.
In addition, we have just completed the refurbishment of our American-Japanese restaurant, Benihana, and are also nearing the completion of the refurbishment of our signature Italian restaurant, Rosso, which we intend to reposition to capture a larger market share.
Other developments around the hotel also include the integration of technology such as mobile applications and IPTV to enhance the overall guest experience. This will allow communication between our guests and colleagues to be increasingly more seamless and efficient.
TTG: How does your property stand out among the ever-multiplying, fierce competition in Dubai?
Everyone knows that the hotel industry in Dubai is not only extremely competitive but also subject to highly volatile market conditions. Moreover, being located in a prime location such as Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR), the Amwaj Rotana is no stranger to the pressure of having to continuously move forward and market itself. We are proud to say that despite the introduction of new hotels in the vicinity, we are still able to boast the largest rooms in JBR (at 42m2) and all of our rooms have a balcony that enjoys views of the Arabian Gulf sea and Palm Jumeirah. We house two of the area’s most popular restaurants, Benihana and Rosso, which have won awards year after year. Our newest outlet, JB’s, enjoys a street-front entrance, which again is unique as other hotel restaurants are either not on the street level or need to be accessed from inside the hotel thereby, enjoying less visibility to outsiders.
Last but not least, we boast an award-winning loyalty programme – Rotana Rewards – where our members of the exclusive programme not only earn and redeem points but also enjoy generous discounts on their stays and dining, which can be up to 50 per cent off when they dine with one partner. This gives us a major step-up over our competition.
TTG: What initiatives are in the pipeline to further promote Amwaj Rotana and encapsulate visitors?
Our vision in the aspect of food and beverage is to be a leader for dining in the Jumeirah Beach Residence area. We want to continue to providing top notch experiences and quality food in order to still be able to contend with many other new establishments for awards especially consumer-nominated ones.
Another key aspect for us to look at is to remain technologically advanced at a time where new hotels that are constantly introduced tend to have more enhanced features in terms of technology. It is important for us to keep abreast with the times and to study guests’ patterns and preferences. At the moment, we are reviewing a series of initiatives such as the integration of mobile apps with ordering food and drink from the pool side or in the rooms as well as room features such as keyless entry, remote control access for in-room services, contacting Guest Relations, making requests, etc.
We have now enabled some of these functions on our Rotana mobile app and are in the midst of unveiling more. There is also the possibility of in-app notifications such as an alert popping up on a guest’s phone when he arrives at one of the restaurants in the hotel – the notification would tell him what’s on offer at that very restaurant in that very instant.
In terms of promoting the hotel, we are shifting our efforts to digital marketing more and more as it has proven time and time again to be successful. Digital marketing breaks a lot of barriers and helps us penetrate markets that we otherwise would not be able to with traditional means of marketing. Furthermore, we are able to target potential guests based exactly on their demographics and psychographics.
TTG: What visitor trends have you picked up on?
Wellness is a trend we see growing quite rapidly, which is why the hotel has introduced a number of room packages and special offers for guests.
Sustainability remains a very strong point for the hotel and we are stepping up our efforts to engage in as many sustainable practices as possible. We also see a strong emphasis from the government gauging by the appointment of a new Minister for Climate Change and Environment.
We have switched to the use of local and organic ingredients and also just completed the planting of our own garden. This is all on the back of recently gaining the ISO 14001 certification.
Lastly, we believe that as Dubai increasingly becomes an entertainment hub with the construction of new theme parks such as Lego Land and Riverland. We feel that being in a leisure area such as JBR where hotels offer room packages with activities such as a tickets to KidZania, desert safaris and exclusive discounts to attractions in the area is popular with guests. Without a doubt, we will look to continuing this trend in order to seize the opportunity. Furthermore, we see that attractions slated to open by the end of the year such as the Dubai Safari Park, Dubai Water Canal, IMG Worlds of Adventure and the world’s largest ferris wheel at Bluewaters Island will play to our advantage given the relative proximity to our hotel.
TTG: And on a more personal note, why are you passionate about hospitality?
I chose hospitality as a career because of the variety of work every day, travelling, dealing with people as well as the fact that I have keen attention to detail, which is a must in our business.
The most defining moment of my career is that I have had extensive experience in my field in the UK and then I was given the opportunity to go and work in Indonesia in 1992. Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity and have not stopped travelling since. I am now living and working in my seventh country.