Industry heroes: Walid Baroudi found the right ‘Key’ to the hotel door

Industry heroes: Walid Baroudi found the right ‘Key’ to the hotel door

It is known for a fact that on a global scale, all economic sectors are struggling and facing major challenges due to the outbreak of COVID-19. However, the hospitality industry could be among the most affected as it is all about servicing and human relations. Thus, it is mandatory for stakeholders to awaken their entrepreneurial side and try to innovate within their businesses in order to sustain and overcome this phase in the best possible shape.

Lebanese hotelier and restaurateur Walid Baroudi, owner of JRW Hospitality, the company behind The Key Aparthotel and The Peninsula Company which runs The Peninsula restaurant, has made his first step in that direction. Recently, the hotel initiated a new package, inspired by the new market needs.

“Turn your room to an exclusive office facility at The Key Beirut. Sanitized & clean room, high Internet speed, quietness, comfortability. Breakfast & lunch included, free parking, and gym,” the hotel announcement said. 

Walid Baroudi

HN spoke to him to know more about his new venture.

What triggered you to kick off such an initiative? 

In any type of crisis, it is very important to adapt quickly. Our team at The Key worked on finding the best environment that could create a new segment and a new demand category in the hospitality market. Today, social distancing and high hygiene are the only effective ways to fight COVID-19, and these are features we could easily integrate into The Key Beirut. The corporate world (Corporate Offices) will need to have separate rooms, as well as separate WC, kitchen and their equipment as well as office facilities (High speed internet, printers), quietness, comfort and these could be easily implemented at our property, not to forget the high hygiene services our housekeeping department is adapting.

Which companies or businesses are you targeting? 

We are targeting the corporate world, local companies, and individuals. By securing all these safety and hygiene measures, we have noticed a very positive effect on the local corporate world trying to escape home distraction (kids, online studying, etc.). At The Key, we will grant you a normal work atmosphere and daily routine: You will have to wake up early at home, wear your work suit, drive to The Key, park in the underground parking, express check in into your room where you will find all corporate needs (IT requirements), have breakfast and lunch delivered to your room in disposable packaging. Then after work, you can finish your day with an afternoon workout at our sanitized Key Gym, and go back home to your family before the curfew.

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How can customers book it? 

Our sales and reservation department are handling the demand and also provide the specific needs of each request. As you will not be sleeping at The Key, the cost of the room goes really low. This is why we came up with attractive daily rates and packages. 

How important is it for hotels to cope with such a situation and try to innovate to sustain? 

COVID-19 has affected the entire tourism and hospitality sector worldwide. Traveling may be restricted for a long time. We, at The Key, are working on discovering new hidden market segments and trying to adapt to the new needs. At this critical time, it is either you close your property or survive this period. The last months’ protests have driven us to focus on attracting long stayers. That helped us maintain a minimum occupancy rate to survive, and now with our new strategy #workfromthekey we hopefully will manage surviving this difficult period. 

What are your plans for the post COVID-19 phase? 

We expect it will be a long fight against the invisible enemy. We will have to cope with it, by taking heavy and severe precautions in terms of hygiene towards our staff and our guests. 

We at The Key Beirut, have taken specific measures regarding COVID-19, starting with our new reservation requirements which include filling a questionnaire, and having a copy of the passeport to review the areas visited in the past 20 days, which could tell us more if a COVID-19 test is needed. Upon check in, each customer’s luggages is sanitized, and temperature is taken. On premises, gatherings and visitors are not accepted, and social distancing measures are heavily implemented. All operational staff are sleeping at the hotel, to avoid contact with people that could be affected. Masks and gloves are always used, and social distancing is always respected. 

How do you think the hospitality industry will change?

We will have to adapt whatever is the case in order to survive, it could take time. We will also need to follow the World Health Organisation requirements and hopefully the rapid test will facilitate creating a safe environment and move forward till the vaccine is available. 


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