A passion for hospitality with Catalina Silvana Susan, GM of Marriott Al Forsan Abu Dhabi

A passion for hospitality with Catalina Silvana Susan, GM of Marriott Al Forsan Abu Dhabi

Catalina Silvana Susan is deeply passionate about hospitality, cherishing the connections with dedicated colleagues and valued customers. In this exclusive interview, she talks about her role as GM of Marriott Al Forsan Abu Dhabi and upcoming plans for the property

What can you tell us about your journey in the hospitality industry?

I began my journey in hospitality in June 2000 at JW Marriott in Bucharest, Romania, my native country. I started out as an assistant director of finance. In 2006, I moved to Marriot Warsaw — the biggest Marriott property in Eastern Europe, with 523 rooms. I was the assistant director of finance for only one year. I then returned to Bucharest to take on the role of director of finance, where I was based for almost nine years, before moving back to Warsaw.

In 2016, I had my first GM experience at Courtyard by Marriott in Budapest, an upscale Courtyard. I spent a year and a half there, then shifted to a full-service property in Armenia, overseeing the Armenia Marriott Hotel Yerevan. Over the course of four years, I encountered unique situations —Velvet Revolution in 2018, the pandemic and war in 2020 — experiences fostering resilience. In September 2021, I transitioned to Sheraton Sopot, Poland, a resort hotel. This marked a turning point, as I was introduced to a resort property: something very different than my previous business-oriented roles. Since August 2023, I have been serving as GM of Marriott Al Forsan, marking my first venture into the Middle East; it has been a profoundly different adventure!

What measures do you take to ensure operational efficiency and excellence?

First and foremost, having the right employees is crucial for each hotel position. If they’re passionate and dedicated, service quality improves, ensuring satisfied guests will return. Equally important is the empowerment of other managers. Moreover, I avoid micromanagement, fostering a learning environment and enabling teams to deliver excellent service. Furthermore, I conduct daily tours to engage with employees, addressing any challenges observed in their duties. In addition, daily meetings with customers provide valuable feedback, crucial for understanding unique perspectives. Feedback is essential, and I refrain from using the term “negative” in the hospitality industry.

What differentiates Abu Dhabi’s hospitality scene from the rest of the UAE?

I have not worked in other cities in the UAE; thus, my insights are based on observations during business meetings elsewhere. Abu Dhabi, meticulously organized by the Department of Tourism and Culture, prioritizes tourism and service quality. Hotels in Abu Dhabi serve a distinct clientele compared to Dubai. Primarily hosting leisure guests, Dubai contrasts with Abu Dhabi, where business guests have different spending patterns and expectations.

What are your plans for the property?

We have some renovation plans, which include: Full renovation of the outdoor pool and then replacement of carpet in the conference area and room’s corridors. Regarding service quality, we are continuing training sessions for all employees to improve the satisfaction of our guests and then. Of course, we are always looking to hire the best employees.


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About author

Rita Ghantous

Rita Ghantous is a hospitality aficionado and a passionate writer with over 9 years’ experience in journalism and 5 years experience in the hospitality sector. Her passion for the performance arts and writing, started early. At 10 years old she was praised for her solo performance of the Beatles song “All My Love” accompanied by a guitarist, and was approached by a French talent scout during her school play. However, her love for writing was stronger. Fresh out of school, she became a freelance journalist for Noun Magazine and was awarded the Silver Award Cup for Outstanding Poetry, by The International Library of Poetry (Washington DC). She studied Business Management and earned a Masters degree from Saint Joseph University (USJ), her thesis was published in the Proche-Orient, Études en Management book. She then pursued a career in the hospitality industry but didn’t give up writing, that is why she launched the Four Points by Sheraton Le Verdun Newsletter. Her love for the industry and journalism led her to Hospitality Services - the organizers of the HORECA trade show in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as Salon Du Chocolat, Beirut Cooking Festival, Whisky Live and other regional shows. She is currently the Publications Executive of Hospitality News Middle East, Taste & Flavors and Lebanon Traveler. It is with ultimate devotion for her magazines that she demonstrates her hospitality savoir-faire.

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