What is the concept behind Design Hotels?
Design Hotels, a member of the premium brand Marriott Bonvoy, boasts a remarkable portfolio of over 250 exquisitely designed hotels spanning the globe. More than a collection of hotels, the company is a collection of stories. Each property reflects the ideas of a visionary hotelier, his originality and passion for genuine hospitality, cultural authenticity and thought-provoking design and architecture.
The hotel debuted in 2018 but was forced to close during Covid-19. It reopened in 2021, repositioning itself as a top-tier boutique design hotel in the Al Jaddaf area. In 2022, the membership with Marriott Bonvoy revolutionized the whole business by giving access to a vast network of loyal Marriott customers, frequent travelers and benefit from the established reputation and recognition associated with the Marriott brand. FORM Hotel witnessed a significant boost and achieved 95 percent occupancy to position itself as number one in occupancy among its luxurious four-star competitors.
What can you tell us about the Al Jaddaf area?
Al Jaddaf continues to be in its development phase, with numerous projects and ambitious plans aimed at enhancing the area. Al Jaddaf boasts an impressive array of hotels and residential buildings, making it a vibrant and bustling hub for accommodation and housing. This cultural hamlet is conveniently located near tourist attractions and entertainment venues, such as Festival City and Old Dubai.
URB announced plans to build the world’s largest Urban Tech District along Dubai’s Al Jaddaf Creekside. Al Jaddaf’s vision of sustainable practices, as well as the project’s ambitions to deploy a variety of “green” programs and practices to attain net-zero carbon targets.
The most significant development in Al Jaddaf’s future is the construction of the UAE’s first sustainable building and a fully solar-powered Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) headquarters. Al Jaddaf is home to Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital, a bustling visual arts center, and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Library, Dubai’s largest library. Al Jaddaf, a dynamic area of Dubai, provides a diverse selection of cultural attractions, including Dubai Culture Village, Zabeel Stadium, Dubai Creek, the Floating Bridge, Dhow Wharfage and Al Jaddaf Waterfront Sculpture Park, as well as a variety of magnificent hotels and resorts.
What are the key factors that have played a significant role in FORM Hotel’s success?
The success of FORM Hotel is built upon three solid pillars: visionary owners, a dedicated team and servant leadership, all of which have played a crucial role in the hotel’s remarkable achievements. Our owners have consistently provided unwavering and unconditional support, empowering us to make managerial decisions with confidence. FORM Hotel is blessed with a team of dedicated, highly motivated, committed and passionate professionals, resulting in exceptional guest experience and service. Our commitment to servant leadership is reflected in the hands-on approach of our top management, who eschew bureaucracy and actively engage in every task, fostering a culture of direct involvement and proactive leadership.
How does your affiliation with Marriott Bonvoy and its focus on providing a premium brand experience within the luxury segment benefit guests?
By becoming part of the Marriott Bonvoy’s luxury category, FORM boutique hotel gained the interest of Marriott Bonvoy’s ambassadors, titanium and platinum members. Members earn 10 points for every dollar spent and enjoy numerous benefits, including late checkout, complimentary breakfast and room upgrades. Marriott Bonvoy members repeatedly seek FORM Hotel because of the personalized service, coziness, comfort and enhanced privacy measures.
Who is your target audience?
Half of our target audience is made up of individual travelers who book directly through Marriott Bonvoy and online channels; the rest are leisure and groups. By offering convenient services, such as breakfast and half-board options, shuttle bus service to major malls, beaches and tourist attractions, and a free kids’ stay, we are able to attract group bookings especially families and seeking a comfortable stay.
As a seasoned hotelier, how do you view the future of Dubai’s hospitality scene?
Dubai has consistently excelled in maintaining high occupancy rates, with its vibrant hospitality scene continually thriving and regularly hosting major exhibitions of international significance. Dubai is a renowned global destination and attracts a large number of leisure and business travelers. The city’s infrastructure, attractions and connectivity make it an appealing choice for visitors. New hotels and attractions are slated to emerge thanks to Al Jaddaf’s development. As competition intensifies, with the surge in accommodation demand, the average room rate will be impacted.
Furthermore, I believe that once Al Jaddaf is fully developed, the enhanced offerings and amenities in the area will attract a diverse range of guests, including luxury travelers, leading to improved owner profitability.
What are the major differences between managing a large hotel and a smaller property?
Regardless of the hotel’s size, my job is to ensure guest satisfaction, maintain high service standards, effective resource management and drive profitability. Managing big hotels involves overseeing multiple departments, coordinating complex operations and managing a diverse workforce, extensive facilities and high guest volume. In contrast, managing small hotels is more hands-on, with fewer employees and a focused range of services. Decision making in big hotels follows structured protocols, while a smaller hotel grants the general manager the flexibility to make quick and direct decisions.
What can you tell us about Design Hotels’ slogan: “Made by originals”?
We’ve embraced the slogan “Made by originals” because it portrays us. We follow the basics of hospitality and believe in hands-on, servant leadership. We remain steadfast in excelling as a design hotel and maintaining originality. Every aspect, from the architecture to the interior decor, is meticulously designed to reflect a unique and contemporary style.
What is your outlook for 2023?
As the general manager of FORM Hotel, my outlook for 2023 is positive. We anticipate a significant improvement in occupancy compared to 2022 and aim to maintain and sustain a high occupancy rate throughout the year. Additionally, we expect an increase in room rates, primarily driven by major events like COP 28, the environmental conference at the Expo, which will attract a substantial number of visitors. Being located at the center of such global events, we truly feel as though we are positioned at the “center of the universe.”
Our yearly growth trajectory is set to continue, with a focus on maintaining an impressive occupancy rate of 95 percent. While we plan for a slight increase in room rates, we believe it will be well received by our guests due to the exceptional experiences we provide.
We have high expectations for a booming fourth quarter, as we capitalize on the influx of guests attending the major events happening during that period. These events will undoubtedly contribute to the overall success of our hotel, leading to a great climb in performance and guest satisfaction. We are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead and are confident that 2023 will be a remarkable year for FORM Hotel.