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Tue 3 Mar 2009 04:00 AM

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Sharing secrets

Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi recreation manager Donna Kenyon explains why co-operating and communicating should be a priority for those working within the health and fitness industry.

Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi recreation manager Donna Kenyon explains why co-operating and communicating should be a priority for those working within the health and fitness industry.

One of Dubai's fitness industry champions, Donna Kenyon, has recently uprooted and moved to Abu Dhabi to manage a team of 42 at the Beach Rotana Hotel & Towers Abu Dhabi.

Well-versed in Rotana's Bodylines brand following a similar role at Towers Rotana in Dubai for 18 months, Kenyon's passion for developing the region's recreation industry has been reignited by her move to Abu Dhabi.

We swapped ideas for what could work in various hotels, it motivated us to think outside the box.

"I would seriously say right now that Abu Dhabi is the undiscovered emirate. It's a lot more fitness oriented, everyone seems to be outdoors doing something, it's a lot more social in that respect," says Kenyon.

She says that links with groups operating outside of the hotel, such as the surf ski, golf and horse riding clubs, are good contacts for the Beach Club at Beach Rotana.

"We can help each other with crossing over our memberships and it gives more activities for us to offer our hotel guests."

She explains that on behalf of Beach Rotana she has also forged links with other  hotels and fitness clubs in Abu Dhabi, such as Sheraton Hotel & Resort and Abu Dhabi Health and Fitness Club, in order to help promote standards within the industry. Last month, a small group of the fitness managers held a meeting, which Kenyon hopes will become a regular gathering.

"We're discussing things like qualifications; between us we want to help the government standardise employees' skills."

Kenyon adds that while the hotels are all very competitive in the market, "it's the little things" that make the Beach Club stand out.

"We have the licensing for Body Pump and RPM, which brings in a lot of members. We still have a really good beach, watersports,  kids' activities, a nice swimming pool, the tennis courts and the best tennis coach in town -we've got the whole spectrum," says Kenyon.

The plan for 2009, she continues, is to therefore focus on "relaunching a lot of what we currently have".

"We're looking now at relaunching some of our classes and we've got a new fishing trip that's going to be outsourced, helping to boost revenue that way. We're looking at really tapping into the kids and offering specific programmes for them, maybe trying to get the schools in during the day," she adds.

"Customer satisfaction is our priority right now," she continues. "People are having a stressful time with their own jobs, then they come here to relax, so if they come here and are faced with an issue, that just makes everything blow up even more. It's a lot more than just trying to make sure that we've pleased the guests, it's the small things - making sure there's always towels available, there's apples when they come in to reception, that we greet them with a smile and ask how your day was."

In terms of monitoring customer feedback, Kenyon adds: "It's an open door policy, a complaint is always an opportunity. So whether it's a complaint or a suggestion, it's always valid for us to know those things".

As well as communicating with other recreation managers in Abu Dhabi and with customers, Kenyon says that Rotana is now focused on leveraging off the experience of its recreation managers across the region, following the launch of several new properties. The first meeting was held on February 5 at Media Rotana in Dubai.

"It brought fresh ideas to play. We swapped ideas for what could work in various hotels - it motivated us to think outside the box and listen to each other about what has and has not worked in the past", says Kenyon.

"We also discussed health and safety issues for lifeguards, staff qualifications and how we can work together  to unite Bodylines as a brand for Rotana, which would open up so many possibilities."

She affirms that "reinforcing the fact that networking and communicating is the best way to go" will be crucial in 2009.

"Our department can't cut costs; we're very much a face-to-face personality of the hotel and staff needs to be constantly trained and updated. It's all about creative thinking. Rotana has a fantastic product, Beach Rotana has a really good product and our reputation backs us up; it's just communicating that across to people," says Kenyon.

Beach club highlights

• One of only two venues in Abu Dhabi to offer the Les Mills Body Training Systems (BTS) exercise classes

• Main swimming pool, kids' pool and swimming lessons

• Tennis courts, tennis lessons and a new tennis wall

• Host of the Annual Beach Rotana Tennis Open

• Large gym with 25 CV stations plus resistance kit

• Changing rooms with a wet area consisting of steam, sauna and spa pool

• Group cycling studio and group exercise studio

• 1050m² beach offering fishing and sightseeing trips

• Variety of watersports including wake boarding, water skiing, wind surfing, plus scuba diving at the Dive Centre

• Two treatment rooms offering a range of massages

• Children's crèche and outdoor play area

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