FACT catches up with Jan Hanak, the General Manager of Dubai’s first five-star hotel, to discuss longevity, customer retention and the impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry.
Please tell us a little about Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek?
Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek was the first five-star hotel to open in Dubai in March 1975. The hotel has a rich history and has hosted many distinguished guests and celebrities throughout the years, including Bryan Adams, Elizabeth Hurley and the King and Queen of Nepal.
What can guests expect from a stay at Dubai’s first five-star hotel?
We pride ourselves on providing top quality service and personalised products. The hotel has a great location on Dubai’s historic Creek and offers fantastic views of the Dubai Skyline. In addition to the recently renovated and very comfortable rooms, our guests can indulge in a culinary journey and try one of our 15 outlets, including Korean Barbeque, our Japanese restaurant Minato, or our signature restaurants, The Fish Market and Shabestan.
Shabestan and The Fish Market have been serving customers for over three decades. What do you think it is about these dining destinations that has encouraged such longevity?
A few elements have contributed to the success of our restaurants. First of all, we never compromised on the quality of our products and our guests can be sure that it will always be the best. Secondly, we have a very stable and experienced team in both restaurants. They know many of our guests by name, but they also have an in-depth knowledge of our food and offers.
Our Chefs have also been with us for a long time. A great example is Chef Abol from our Shabestan restaurant, whose father was the opening chef of Shabestan. Chef Abol came to our hotel as an apprentice, learned the skills and recipes from his father and is now running the kitchen of Shabestan, delivering the same quality and taste as when we opened in 1984. The final point is the ongoing focus on the product with timely refurbishments and upgrades of our outlets.
What would you say sets your hotel’s apart from their competitors?
Our people, our history and the food and beverage options in the hotel. We proudly manage all.
As General Manager, please tell us about your day-to-day role and what keeps it challenging and exciting?
Working with people can be challenging but most rewarding (our guests and my team are critical to the hotel success). As General Manager, I have to ensure we set the correct strategies while ensuring the hotel develops and remains ahead of the competition. It is fascinating to see that a strategy set a few years ago has paid off and brought results.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the hospitality scene in the UAE. Do you think the industry is now beginning to bounce back?
We have seen an extremely strong recovery in Q4 2021, well ahead of all expectations and revenues above pre-covid years. I hope that this will continue and we have another solid year ahead of us.
What do you believe hotels have to do to stay relevant and ensure success during these unprecedented times for the industry?
The only positive that came out of Covid was that the digitalisation of the hotel industry sped up considerably. The hotel can now build on this by bringing extra comfort to our guests by implementing new technologies and allowing them to control their entire stay through their mobile devices. Internally hotels have to maintain flexibility and control over the costs. Finally, we all have to maintain high hygiene standards and protocols.
Do you believe peoples attitudes to hotel stays changed in light of the pandemic?
I believe people still want to experience hotels and travel, especially now that the pandemic is hopefully coming to its end. Staying in a hotel is a great experience and we all enjoy being looked after and pampered, even during a short staycation. We are also starting to see the recovery of business travel. We have adapted our product to include hybrid meeting rooms and bedrooms, allowing face to face meetings and online conferences.
Working in the industry, where do you like to stay when you have a day off? What are your favourite properties in the region?
I really like to spend time with my family and here in Dubai, we are fortunate to have a wealth of options to enjoy on weekends. We love to chill at the beach or by the pool. We also have annual passes for the Aquaventure Waterpark at Atlantis, The Palm, which is a great experience for the whole family.
Could you please share with us some of your professional goals for 2022?
We exceeded all expectations for 2021, which was great. My goal for 2022 is to further maintain our position as a leading property in the Dubai market in terms of guest satisfaction and market share scores. I am also excited about launching our events and catering brand, which we plan for Q2 of this year.