Karim Bizid has one very clear vision for The Oberoi, Dubai: to become the most luxurious hotel in the Middle East and Dubai. It’s a bold assertion, but having spent 24 hours at the hotel in mid-July, just a month after it opened, I found a surprising number of elements that bring substance to the claim.
The product, created by Oberoi’s in-house design team with many details dictated by P.R.S Oberoi and owner Sheikh Meher Al Aujan themselves, has several unique features. Rooms have clear, as yet unobstructed views of Burj Khalifa; the main restaurant, spa and gym are 24-hour facilities; and the precious top floor, normally reserved for presidential suites, is dedicated instead to the business centre and meeting rooms — intended to offer added value to corporate clients.
The hotel is elevated with a ramp up to the entrance, intended to give a palatial feel — part of the Oberoi legacy. Restaurants look over a central courtyard, rooms have extravagant four-metre high ceilings, natural light is abundant and no white light is used anywhere in the hotel, and the signature Oberoi scent permeates the hotel through burners on every floor.
The Oberoi offers 24-hour butler service, rare in Dubai but nothing new; it was the way that staff genuinely listened and interacted so personably with guests that was impressive. I made the mistake of telling a little white lie while touring the recreation area – that it was a shame I’d forgotten my gym kit. I had no intention at all of doing a workout, but an hour later, was presented with full kit and trainers, magically in my size. I had some toiletries that were running low; these were replenished with my own brand. Little touches that made a big difference. True, the hotel was very quiet and I was clearly being given the VIP treatment, but the sentiment was evident and it was one of the most personalised hotel experiences I have had.
Bizid admits that striving for consistency where such service is concerned will be critical to the hotel’s success.
“I guess what Dubai has been struggling to achieve is a consistent good standard; it has been sometimes good, sometimes bad. Here we will do our utmost, we will work hard as a team to achieve the consistent excellent standard, consistently exceeding guest expectation, consistently providing that wow factor and to make the guest feel home away from home,” he says.
Like many hoteliers in Dubai, Tunisian-born Bizid comes from the Jumeirah stable, having worked his way up the ranks at Jumeirah Emirates Towers and then opening The Meydan for Jumeirah. He’s been in Dubai for close to 20 years and now clearly relishes his role heading up a new brand in the emirate, where he is determined to make an impact with both the corporate market and the Dubai community.
“I can’t recall any five-star luxurious hotel locating on the top, high end of the building business centre and meeting rooms. They would normally use it for the largest suite, presidential or panoramic. We wanted to give added value to the corporate clients and business partners and we have raised them on the 26th floor. The executive boardrooms have a private balcony, ceiling-to-floor windows and are all equipped with latest technology,” he says.
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