Speaking exclusively to TTG, complex general manager, Le Meridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre and Le Meridien Fairway, Shaun Parsons talks about the hotel’s latest enhancements and what is at the heart of a great hotel experience
TTG: After the Great Ballroom launch, are there any refurbishments planned at Le Meridien Dubai?
Dubai is in a constant state of innovation and we are definitely walking this talk with improvising our existing areas and creating newer spaces. We have just started our refurbishment for our restaurant Yalumba and we are aiming for an early October launch. The restaurant will reopen with an all new look and feel and some surprises to delight our regular guests. The outside terrace and pool deck area outside Yalumba will also get beautified in the process. Our lobby too will undergo refurbishment starting this summer in phases leading into 2017 summer for completion.
TTG: Which feeders markets are you currently focusing on?
We will continue to focus on our primary markets which are the UK, the US, Germany, Italy and France. However, we take direction from Dubai Tourism and Emirates Airlines new flight routes; seeing the trends of emerging markets, we are also looking at getting a fair share of travellers from India, China, Japan, Latin America and the Nordic countries.
TTG: How has Dubai’s tourism infrastructure changed over the years to accommodate more business and leisure tourists?
The efforts of DTCM to promote Dubai as a year-round destination with its innovative marketing campaigns plus their efforts in building Dubai as a MICE destination will go a long way to boost the tourist traffic in the city. Dubai plays host to several large scale events across various industries – Arabian Travel Market, Cityscape Global, Gitex, The Big 5, Dubai Shopping Festival, Arab Health, Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, International Property Show, Dubai World Cup, Dubai Rally, Airport Show, GulfFood and Intersec Dubai, amongst others. Dubai is ideally located from a geographical perspective and with the many routes Emirates Airlines flies to and from, the destination is within easy reach. Additionally, Dubai today has so much to offer the business and leisure traveller. From the best in business infrastructure to the largest malls boasting flagship stores and leisure, as well as sports activities that are second to none. The growth and improvisation process is an ongoing effort and recently announced projects such as the new Dubai World Central Airport, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid City, The Canal Project, EXPO 2020, and Bollywood theme parks are all great developments for tourism.
TTG: What trends are you noticing within the luxury hospitality industry at the moment and how is Le Meridien Dubai responding to them?
The travel world has undergone a substantial transformation in the last few years and the technology that incited the changes is growing at express speed. I do see more dependence on technology in the coming years. Even when it comes to booking a hotel room, travellers are resorting to technology, social media and online reviews and booking channels. But yet at the heart of every hotel is a supreme guest experience, and that is not complete without human interface, personalisation and warmth. Creativity, innovation and ability to adapt and change with the dynamics of the market will determine who stays in the game longer.
The key is to continue offering a unique and valuable proposition to our guests to discover something new every time they come back. This is the essential while we design promotions and unique offerings. We carefully differentiate all the 18 dining destinations in terms of their content and services. For events and conferences, we offer maximum flexibility and unique touches in the menus and coffee breaks to ensure we orchestrate a memorable experience for our clients. Retaining our clientele is of paramount importance. We strive to engage with them consistently through new and traditional media alike.
TTG: Tell me about yourself. Was it always your ambition to be a general manager? Why did you enter the hospitality industry?
I am from Australia and have spent over two decades in the hospitality industry. I am passionate about this industry and was always ambitious in achieving great results and the growth just followed. Hailing from Australia’s Victoria University of Technology with a Bachelor of Business in Catering and Hotel Management, I have spent 15 years with Hyatt Hotels & Resorts in the Asia Pacific region before moving to Starwood Hotels & Resorts. I was part of the Executive team at The Westin Dubai and Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort since 2006, as executive assistant manager – Food & Beverage, and complex hotel manager and was also responsible for the opening of Westin Dubai in 2008. I joined the Le Royal Meridien Abu Dhabi team in 2011 with the excitement of handling an extensive transformation project which extended from refurbishment of their guest rooms, public areas and extensive F&B facilities. A little over a year ago, I came back to Dubai as complex general manager, Le Méridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre and Le Meridien Fairway. Dubai is the undisputed hub of high-end hospitality within the Middle East region and I am delighted to be in a hotel that is constantly evolving with the changing times while retaining its true essence. What keeps this hotel successful are the diverse and varied F&B venues, eighteen in total. It has been an enriching experience working with the team towards offering guests a supreme hotel experience and most importantly I am enjoying it.