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Fri 20 Nov 2009 04:00 AM

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Addressing fashion

The Address Dubai Mall is slated to be a shoppers' haven and a real draw for guests from the GCC, says general manager Olivier Heuchenne.

Addressing fashion
Addressing fashion
The pool offers views of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Dubai.

The Address Dubai Mall is slated to be a shoppers' haven and a real draw for guests from the GCC, says general manager Olivier Heuchenne.

Prior to joining The Address Dubai Mall, you were GM at sister property The Palace - The Old Town. What are your reflections on your 18 months there?

I think when I took The Palace over it was at a very elementary stage and what we were able to do over a year and a half was really to reposition the hotel and to give it its own identity. The areas that have most evolved are probably F&B and the spa.

The positioning of Ewaan didn't work; it was a Mediterranean restaurant but it really needed to be an Arabic / oriental restaurant. So we've done that and it really has become a favourite, especially at dinner with the local clientele. We kept the tents used during Ramadan last year because people loved them and continued a suhour menu à la carte with shisha. Now we have double seating capacity; it became a complete area.

Then we also repositioned what used to be Thiptara bar, now called Fai, and that was a complete exercise of a new identity, new logo etc. We gave it a proper entrance.

With the completion of the fountain and the lake it became natural that it evolved into a bar. It's a true retreat and I think that is what The Palace needed to be identified as. The lake has totally enveloped the hotel and with the fountains singing and dancing at night it's magical.

We've also recategorised some rooms to capitalise on the fountain views. Ninety rooms are actually full fountain views so that has helped create another category.

The spa really needed to be positioned correctly and we did that successfully. We also launched a membership programme through the recreation and the gym, creating loyalty for a number of customers.

I think the only outlet that was really well positioned was Asado and that just solidified its position. People go to Asado at The Palace, they don't go to The Palace at Asado.

The most important factor was the change in the feel of the hotel. When I took it over it didn't have that engagement, that warm and cosy feel, and now many people come to the hotel and note that. The team has really become dynamic, taking the concept of home to personalise the level of service offered to the customers.

Why did you move to your new role at The Address Dubai Mall?

I moved six weeks prior to the opening on the auspicious date of 09/09/09. For me it was a natural evolution, this hotel has 244 rooms and 449 apartments, it has probably the same amount of F&B [as The Palace] but the banqueting is quite different. The spa is also much bigger. In my career, I've always wanted to do an opening so doing it now rather than later was very suited to me.

What's unique about the hotel?

First of all, the access to Dubai Mall and the fact that it's a shoppers' haven. It's going to be a shoppers' favourite because it has three access points into the mall - all of them run into Fashion Avenue.

The hotel has a very contemporary feel to it but it has a strong influence of Arabic touches. We see that in the mashrabia that is replicated in many places of the hotel - in the logo, the uniforms, interpreted through leather, stencil, wood, plaster.

It has a very unique positioning relative to our sister hotels. The fact that we believe strongly in one size fits one means none of our hotels will look the same. The feel is going to be different; the level of service is the same.

How are you capitalising on the Dubai Mall location?

We'll have a natural footfall because of the access to Bloomingdales (opening spring 2010) into the outlets throughout the day.

For guests, we'll have a personal shopper and a fashion advisor who will run four different tailored packages from shopping to looking at the wardrobe and accessorising it. It's never been done in Dubai. None of the hotels are attached to so many top-class brands. Dubai Mall has more than 500 top-class brands and being attached to Bloomingdales makes it much more lucrative. Can you reveal more about the food and beverage offer?

The other highlight is the F&B aspect. We have five complete food and beverage concepts. One is Amatista, which will be a lounge / cigar lounge with an exclusive offering of up to 100 cigars and humidified lockers for around 60 guests.

Then we have Ember, which is going to be our specialty restaurant along with a grill concept attached and a bar, and the Arabic restaurant NA3NA3. I believe this will be a landmark Arabic restaurant.

In Karat, our lobby lounge, the highlight is afternoon tea. The tea [supplied by Damman] is presented to the guest out of a box that looks like a book and food presentation is quite different from the usual afternoon tea, which is normally on a three tier stand. Everything is delivered like a parcel, it's quite special.

What about leisure facilities?

We have a phenomenal attribute in the pool, which is on the natural seventh floor but on our third floor. By night it's quite spectacular and we'll have a lounge concept attached to poolside restaurant Cabana in the evening, which will really draw the clientele from the outside of the hotel. You don't expect it from the outside, it's a pleasant surprise.

The spa is on the third level and occupies the entire floor. It has nine treatment rooms, five for ladies, four for gentlemen, each with a rasul therapy room and relaxation area. We have fantastic treatments from Aromatherapy Associates and staff from Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and Europe. It's a real urban spa, as they would say in New York.

Why are the serviced apartments an important part of the hotel?

The formula is such that it's one third rooms and two thirds apartments. Apartments have been sold by individuals who will then opt to place their apartment into the hotel pool if they do not want to live in it. From those 449 apartments, we will take around 30% into the hotel pool which we sell directly from one night stays up to one year.

The level of service is exactly the same [as the hotel] with the exception of alcohol because serviced apartments in Dubai are not licensed. This part of the hotel is not going to be active until around January 1, 2010.

It is always a part of the formula for The Address. You want people to believe in a home away from home, so imagine that you have a home within an Address hotel, that goes very well. We service the apartments fully and on an à la carte basis.

You live within the hotel but you are not disturbed by the hotel every day. Residents use the same gym, pool and obviously use the outlets.

If you look at the history of the other hotels, I'd say around 20% [of bookings] is long stay of a month and above. A lot are corporate clients who live here and have their offices nearby. I think we'll have a draw from Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and from Emaar Square.

What are your plans for the meetings and events facilities?

We will do a lot of banqueting. I think we'll have a good number of groups, again because of the proximity to Emaar Square and DIFC and that also spills into meetings and conferences. Evenings will be more for social events. One exclusive thing in the ballroom is that we have car access, so it is the perfect venue for car launches.

What is your target market and how are you promoting the hotel?

We believe the stronger market segment will be GCC, but it will be a mix of corporate and leisure GCC.

Internationally, we are already a recognised brand even though we are only a year old. We have partnerships in the UK and German markets, they are our other feeder markets beside GCC. We also have a presence in China, co-operating with our Emaar office located there and we are putting in a sales point in India.

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