As general manager of Park Rotana and Park Arjaan by Rotana, Abu Dhabi, Eleni Tsolakou knows what it takes to lead a team. We spoke with the seasoned hotelier to find out what’s trending in the hospitality landscape.
How did 2023 start for your hotel?
So far, it’s been positive. As the restrictions were fully lifted late last year, we have been able to embrace the influx of business — both business and leisure travelers. We have witnessed a significant increase in occupancy and RevPar compared to the same period last year, so the outlook is promising for the rest of the year. With the right strategies in place, we are looking forward to a healthy 2023.
How is Rotana catering to the evolving needs of travelers?
This is a very dynamic process, and the basics come down to flexibility and desire to serve guests in a pure and authentic manner. The needs of guests vary; a business professional seeks the accessibility and location we provide, as well as the technical support needed for a company meeting hosted in our meeting spaces, while vegans pick us because of the availability of vegan and locally-sourced options in our restaurants. The list could go on and on. The key is for us to customize each guest experience at Park Rotana and Park Arjaan.
What does sustainability mean for the future of your hotel?
Sustainability plays a big part in hospitality in general and is integral to the travel and tourism industries. Just recently, Park Rotana & Park Arjaan by Rotana, Abu Dhabi, was certified for ISO 21401 (sustainability management system for accommodation establishments certification), which we consider a milestone as it reinforces our commitment to sustainable hospitality. We also partner with various local organizations in sustainable activities and practices.
How is Rotana shaping tomorrow’s hoteliers?
We welcome future hoteliers through our training programs, internships and full-time employment for young professionals who are interested to join our team. We always strive to have an inclusive, open and inspiring environment for future hoteliers.
What are the hotel industry trends to watch out for this year?
There are several trends to look out for this year. These include:
1.Digital transformation: Hoteliers in the UAE are investing in the latest technology to improve operations and provide a better customer experience. This includes investing in digital check-in, automated bookings, and mobile applications.
2.Experiential Travel: The UAE is known for its vibrant nightlife and luxurious offerings, making it the perfect destination for experiential travel. Hotels are investing in unique experiences, such as cooking classes, cultural tours and spa treatments.
3.Sustainable Practices: More hotels in the UAE are embracing sustainability by implementing green practices, such as energy-saving initiatives, waste management and water conservation.
4.Smart Home Technology: Smart home technology is becoming increasingly popular in the hotel industry, with hotels in the UAE investing in voice-activated systems, automated lighting and connected appliances.
5.Wellness Tourism: The UAE is becoming a popular destination for wellness tourism, with more hotels investing in wellness-focused amenities, such as yoga classes, spa treatments and healthy cuisine.
In your opinion, what will hotels of the future resemble?
Tomorrow’s hotels will be designed with opulence and modern technology while still maintaining a commitment to sustainability. Hotels will likely feature high-end amenities, such as high-speed Wi-Fi, high-end entertainment systems and cutting-edge health and wellness features. They will also likely incorporate automated services, such as voice-activated systems, smart rooms and automated check-in/check-out. Furthermore, they will also likely focus on providing personalized experiences with staff trained to provide exceptional service. Additionally, many hotels will focus on creating unique experiences, with innovative features like virtual reality tours and interactive displays.
How would you describe a day in your life as general manager of Park Rotana and Park Arjaan by Rotana in Abu Dhabi?
Every day is active, unique, vibrant and exciting. There are endless opportunities to tackle new issues, think creatively and make people happy.
What’s your leadership style?
Empower the team to make decisions and create a culture of collaboration and trust by motivating them with clear expectations and deadlines, as well as recognizing and rewarding them for a job well done.