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Anantara’s Michel Koopman explains the group’s Abu Dhabi operations

I meet Michel Koopman in the Eastern Mangroves Hotel in Abu Dhabi. It has been open only a few months but is already making a name as a great business hotel, proving popular with locals and visiting businessmen. Anantara is a hotel operator – the hotels in the UAE are owned by Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC).

We talk about how hotels make profit. I ask about room occupancy. Koopman explains that occupancy is not how a hotel measures profit. “It’s more scientific than that – we have a figure in mind,” he says. “After all, I can sell thirty rooms cheaply or ten rooms for a lot of money. It’s an overall profit although the rooms are a central part of it.”

“We currently sell around 40 rooms a day,” he continues. “Departmental profit is 80 percent on a room. That’s the profit. Food and beverages are 35-45 percent. Then you have the spa where you can make another 45 percent profit. Our costs are fixed. We have administrative and general costs (A&G). Then we have property maintenance and engineering. And of course we have big energy costs even here. But some hotels are built to be energy efficient and those are cheaper to run.”

Koopman is firm about his most important business asset - the staff.

“This is not just something we say, because if our staff are happy, they will look after the guests better. All our staff have a development plan. PDR performance, development, review plan supervisory skills training.”

In addition, the hotel is also proud of its staff retention. Since opening in June 2012, it has only lost twelve employees in what is an industry with a notoriously high churn rate. There is a common belief that hotel staff are paid badly but Koopman says that’s not true.

“Hotel staff are pretty well paid now. We give our staff great perks. They have great accommodation. Never more than four in an apartment. Each apartment is more than 100 square metres with all facilities. People need to be happy.”

He feels that there is an engagement factor with the staff - a factor which helps the hotel’s stated aim to blend in with local culture.

“If the boss is a Westerner, then number two has to be local and vice versa,” Koopman says. “We want to be the preferred hotel for local residents.”

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