My first question is always, ‘What would you say makes a good GM?’
A hotel general manager is the leader of the business unit. That would be the textbook definition, but in reality, a hotel general manager is so much more than that. He is an ambassador for the hotel and the brand. They must, at all times, be ready to prepare the organisation for challenges and avoiding crisis while keeping in mind the long-term view of building the business. The general manager’s strategic vision forms the business, creating a culture of growth and success. By shaping the work environment, they steer the team into high performance by first understanding the current scenario, visualising future ones, and understanding people’s concepts and values. Only by nurturing talent and encouraging performance through exemplary passion can the hotel be successful. The most effective general managers are those who empower their team. If I was to sum up all of the above – simple passionate, committed engagement is the formula for success.
And what about you… What gives you the passion for your role as GM at Hormuz Grand Muscat, A Radisson Collection Hotel?
Being a hotelier, I learned early on in my career that it is not simply a job, it is a lifestyle. As an extrovert, I enjoy the presence of other people and thrive in engaging with empathy in all situations. I find it fulfilling to see people happy with their achievements or guests having a memorable moment.
Do you have a philosophy that you’ve subscribed to throughout your career?
As a general manager, I believe in being the true host at the forefront of life in the hotel.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt in the hotel game?
Engage fully with no compromise. Always expect the unexpected and be prepared to come up with the right solution for the team and the hotel.
Talking about the past few months – how did Hormuz Grand ride the wave of Covid-19 and how is it now combatting the lasting impact on travel and tourism?
From the onset of the pandemic, it was clear to me that this was a rare and massive change. Along with the team we decided to focus on bringing positive results and understood that the only way of succeeding is to become agile and dynamic. We engaged with all our guests and bookers in a way of looking forward to the end of the crisis, building lasting relationships that would benefit the hotel in times to come. Radisson Hotel Group was the leading chain in developing Safety Protocols in order to prepare for guests to return. This association with the Swiss-based SGS, the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing, and certification company, led to a full review of the best health and safety practices. The outcome was the 10-step and 20-step protocols that ensure that all aspects of wellbeing and safety of both the staff and guests are the primary focus of what we do. Those tools gave us the confidence to put go-to-market strategies that resulted in additional business for the hotel, increasing our market share substantially.
Oman has recently opened its borders, just in time for the beautiful winter weather. What does that mean for Oman as a tourist destination and for your hotel, specifically?
It is true the Omani winter is a beautiful time of year with the most enjoyable weather to visit the country. The border opening is only partial so far as the government (rightly so) still takes preventive steps to avoid a second wave of the pandemic. The local market however has learned to enjoy what Oman has to offer with more visitors experiencing our hotel for weekends and staycations.
Your hotel is perfectly located for business, pleasure and leisure. What are your highlights of what Oman has to offer tourists?
Oman has way more than its main attraction, the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. Head down to Muttrah, an old neighborhood that curls around the harbour with low-rise whitewashed Arabic style villas. Take a step back in time and let the laneways of the bustling bazaars transport you to the One Thousand and One Nights or explore the dramatically craggy coastline and tranquil coves. Adventure is at the heart of every journey through Oman, from exploring one of the largest cave chambers in the world, Majlis Al Jinn, to snorkelling the colourful coral reefs of Daymaniyat Islands or experiencing the sunset in the A’Sharqiyah Sands.
And what about your hotel – what are Hormuz Grand’s USPs?
What sets the Hormuz Grand apart is definitely the team. The hotel provides an exceptional setting for stays but it is the team that truly makes the difference through their approach to the Radisson Hotel Group’s “Yes I can” philosophy. It is our dedication to that philosophy that creates the environment necessary for the guests to have a memorable stay.
We’re just a few months shy of 2021, and following the impact of Covid-19, outlooks have changed, forecasts have shifted, and travel demands have been redefined… What does 2021 look like now for the hotel and the wider Oman travel industry?
There is still some uncertainty for 2021. As the pandemic takes hold in its second wave out in traditional source markets of Europe and Asia, it is yet again clear that a recovery is still further delayed. Our discussion with our partners in Europe indicates that travellers are eager and can’t wait to visit the exotic and beautiful Sultanate of Oman once the risks of the virus during travel are diminished. The interest for visiting is still there with many tour operators enquiring for future arrivals, however most of those are pushed towards the end of 2021.
Do you see any particular travel and hospitality trends arising in 2021?
It is now clear that people will want to first stay as close to home as possible. Staycations will remain the main focus of our industry for the next few months. After that people will start traveling long-haul with a focus on the luxury end of the market and longer stays.
There has been much in the news about Omanisation: what does this look like for Radisson Hotel Group?
The strategy of the government of the Sultanate of Oman has been to provide meaningful employment to Omanis. This in essence is no different than the strategy followed by all countries in the world as the economic benefit for the country’s people is the ultimate objective. Radisson Hotel Group, which operates in more than 100 countries with over 1400 hotels, has always prioritised the engagement and development of local talent. We have developed leadership with local talent in many of our operating theatres. I am very pleased that recently we have appointed our first Omani General Manager in one of our hotels in Oman. The process of developing this kind of leadership takes time and nurturing if it is to be successful in the long term. I am looking forward to identifying and developing more local talent in the near future.
And so, to the next few months - what can we look forward at Hormuz Grand?
We are constantly updating the activities we offer. We have recently introduced a bakery concept, a wellness package with yoga for those seeking detox from life’s everyday hassles. This combined with our staycation offer with candlelight dinner in our wonderful terrace setting is likely to create an even bigger loyalty to the hotel and the brand.