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Fri 13 Jun 2008 04:00 AM

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The main man

Ritz-Carlton Dubai general manager Peter Mainguy tells Hotelier Middle East about his dedication to Ritz-Carlton and how utilizing lawn space has revolutionised the property.

Ritz-Carlton Dubai general manager Peter Mainguy tells Hotelier Middle East about his dedication to Ritz-Carlton and how utilizing lawn space has revolutionised the property.

How long have you been with the Ritz-Carlton Dubai, and what was the attraction of joining the group?

I've been there seven years, and before that I was at the Royal Mirage; I've been in the region since 1991.

Nothing’s taken for granted at ATM; you snooze for a minute and you lose.

The attraction, as with any new role, is the challenges it puts forth to you. I was always very curious of brands like Ritz-Carlton and what made it so special.

I felt that in the past I'd worked for some of the best chains around the world and I was always most interested in top-end luxury products, so I was intrigued to find out about this brand.

And it took me a while to understand it, because the culture's not something you learn overnight; you need to truly experience it.

I've had four different roles with Ritz-Carlton - director of sales and marketing, regional director of sales and marketing for the Middle East, my first GM shift at Ritz-Carlton Sharm El Sheikh, and then I came back to Dubai as general manager two years ago.

That normally doesn't happen; it's very rare. It's just a great match and worked really well.

What have you and your team changed or improved during the time you've been at the property?

Well obviously we're always looking for higher guest satisfaction results, greater employee satisfaction and so on. And performance-wise we've absolutely gone through the roof - but then again so has Dubai!

We've managed to really do exceptional things when it comes to Ramadan; we do very innovative things there.

Also we do close to US $3 million worth of catering for conference business, despite the fact we have a very small ballroom. It takes 100 max, using even the break-out rooms - the interesting part was finding how to get that kind of revenue with limited space.

But we have a number of lawns - so with our great team from banqueting and a partnership with Harlequin (Marquees, a Dubai-based company,) we manage to do all these marquees events, we do the wedding market, and we do exceptional things with our lawns, which were previously really under-utilised.

Being in such a hotel-heavy area of Dubai, what USPs does the property have that put it ahead of the competition?

Foremost, it's really the service and creating the feeling of serenity the customer gets - and ensuring the delivery of those qualities even when we're at full capacity.

The second is of course the physical product; this is boutique. Because of its boutique-ness, we are like a small club; very homey, everybody goes by their names. So that's what we deliver, and that's a very unique selling point which others really can't do because of their size.

Also, everyday our location [in Dubai Marina] is becoming more exciting; we have some amazing store brands just outside the door and it's becoming a really exciting destination of its own.

What are you up to at ATM?

We have our Ritz-Carlton stand here of course, then we're doing the catering for Qatar National Hotels and also for the prestigious Emirates [Airline]. Being chosen for that is a great accolade, especially when they have their own brand, but it's early days for them and they're just starting out.

But it's our third year doing their catering, which is good. It's fierce competition, Emirates is a top brand and there's a lot of work involved - hours of food testing and preparation.

Nothing's taken for granted at ATM; you snooze for a minute and you lose!

What do you hope to achieve from this year's ATM?

ATM is a great platform for summer business, so this is where we focus on our GCC clientele. That's our primary focus here; we launch our summer rates, we rekindle all our relationships, we do a lot together as a group.

It's also a great place for networking and sourcing new talent. We don't hire people, we select people: that's a key thing about Ritz-Carlton. So it's a long process, a rigorous process, and it's all about discovering natural talent and making sure that person fits with Ritz-Carlton.

What are you future plans for Ritz-Carlton Dubai?

It's too early days to give facts, but there is talk about an extension taking place. We're looking at that; we just want to wait until we're ready to announce exactly what we're doing.

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