Muhannad Hameed, GM of Dead Sea Marriott Resort & Spa, discusses Jordan’s hospitality landscape, the launch of Oak Tree Kitchen restaurant, and Jordan’s future.
How long have you served at Dead Sea Marriott Resort & Spa?
I have held the position of general manager of the Dead Sea Marriott Resort & Spa for the past five years. However, my journey with this remarkable property dates back two decades. Initially, I joined the property during its opening phase as the event manager in 2002. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to take on responsibilities in various departments. In 2014, I undertook a two-year international assignment with Marriott in Kuwait. Returning in 2016 as hotel manager, I became the general manager in 2018.
During this time, we’ve implemented several enhancements to elevate the guest experience at the Dead Sea Marriott Resort & Spa. From refreshing culinary offerings to upgrading facilities, our aim has been to align with the evolving expectations of our guests. Our latest venture, Oak Tree Kitchen, a new Jordanian-Arabic restaurant, holds a special place in our hearts.
How do you evaluate the hospitality sector in Jordan?
Jordan’s hospitality sector is experiencing very healthy dynamic growth, evidenced by the opening of new hotels in the past 10 years that cater to diverse traveler preferences. Indeed, Jordan has experienced a significant development in the luxury segment. Several projects were developed in Amman and key destinations such as Aqaba created new market demand.
Jordan’s genuine hospitality, diverse attractions and strategic investments in accommodations make it an attractive destination with unique appeal and charm. Furthermore, Jordan Tourism Board initiatives further support tourism growth. With a commitment to excellence and sustainable growth, Jordan’s hospitality sector is poised for continued success on the international stage.
What inspired the concept of Oak Tree Kitchen, and how does it reflect Jordan’s culinary and cultural legacy?
Oak Tree Kitchen encapsulates the essence of Jordanian and regional flavors, taking you on a culinary journey. The interior design draws inspiration from the Salt City in northern Jordan. Reflecting our cultural aesthetics in décor and featuring authentic Jordanian dishes, every aspect is crafted for an immersive dining experience. We collaborate with local artisans and culinary experts, ensuring each dish at Oak Tree Kitchen tells a story of Jordanian traditions and flavors. More than a restaurant, Oak Tree Kitchen is a story connecting international guests and the local community with our rich heritage.
How does the restaurant aim to convey Jordanian hospitality beyond just providing a delicious meal?
At Oak Tree Kitchen, we believe that Jordanian hospitality extends far beyond the plate. Our main goal is to create an environment where guests feel the warmth and authenticity of Jordanian hospitality. We designed our restaurant to evoke the feeling of entering a Jordanian home, drawing inspiration from the old houses in Salt. Furthermore, the Oak Tree Kitchen service and culinary team undergo training to serve meals and engage with guests. Consequently, we want our guests to feel like cherished members of an extended family. Each dish on our menu tells a story – a story of tradition, history, and regional influences. Thus, we encourage our team to share these stories with our guests.
This storytelling element enriches the dining experience and creates a connection between the guest and the culinary heritage. Beyond a restaurant, Oak Tree Kitchen aims to be a cultural exchange, where Jordanian hospitality is not just tasted but felt and embraced.
Given your vast experience, how do you see the future of the hospitality industry in Jordan and what trends do you anticipate playing a significant role in the coming years?
In Jordan, we’re witnessing some exciting shifts that are likely to shape its future. There’s a growing awareness and appreciation for sustainable and responsible tourism. Guests, mindful of their environmental impact, increasingly influence choices in accommodation, dining and overall experiences, shaping sustainable hospitality preferences. Furthermore, hotels and resorts are adopting eco-friendly practices to align with these values. We are fully committed to environmental contributions, and several initiatives reflect our dedication to responsible tourism. A notable highlight is our 100 percent reliance on solar energy to power our resort. Utilizing abundant sunlight, we reduce our carbon footprint and promote clean, renewable energy sources, aligning with sustainable practices.
This aligns with our commitment to sustainable practices and environmental responsibility. Modern travelers seek authentic, immersive experiences. Jordan, with its rich cultural heritage, historical sites, and local engagements, offers guests unparalleled experiences. The ongoing trend in guest services integrates technology. We offer online check-ins, a mobile key option for contactless guest services. Online platforms and social media shape travel decisions, emphasizing the importance of a strong digital presence, a key focus for us.
Guests seek well-being facilities: fitness amenities, spa services, and healthy dining options. We’re well positioned to capitalize on this growing trend. Travelers seek local cuisines, and Oak Tree Kitchen is a significant achievement, focusing on local products and herbs since its opening. The future of the hospitality industry in Jordan appears promising, with a focus on sustainability, authenticity, technology, health and personalization. Embracing these trends caters to evolving traveler preferences and positions Jordan as a dynamic, forward-thinking destination for unique experiences.