The St. Regis Dubai at Al Habtoor City stands out from the crowd. It is the epitome of class and timeless elegance. Joanna Andrews caught up with Guido de Wilde, Senior Vice President, Regional Director, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Middle East to find out more about the days running up to the opening of the ultra-luxury hotel.
Congratulations on the successful opening of The St. Regis Dubai in Al Habtoor City. What happened behind the scenes?
Ahead of an opening you want to make sure that everything we have planned for is in place and ready for activation. We work with the entire team to run simulations across all areas of the operations to ensure teams are ready to welcome our guests. It is also extremely important that all functions are fully aligned. We have a great team in place to open our first St Regis hotel in Dubai, a milestone for our company. They have done a spectacular job in opening the hotel and the goal is to keep the momentum going.
What is the atmosphere in the hotel post opening?
There is a lot of excitement and a sense of pride and accomplishment among the associates. They have been working extremely hard preparing for the opening of this world class property. There is a lot of curiosity and buzz around the hotel, so the team is focused to deliver a luxury, St. Regis experience for anyone that steps into the hotel. Since the opening, the feedback from guests and visitors has been very encouraging.
What experience should guests expect?
From an experience point of view, the hotel will bring to life St. Regis rituals such as afternoon tea, Bloody Mary and the evening ritual of sabering at sundown. Guests will also experience our signature St. Regis Butler service. We will also activate the brands passion around Speed & Sport and Jazz by collaborating with our St. Regis Connoisseurs for memorable experiences at the hotel. Additionally, our eight different dining venues and the city’s first Iridium Spa present guests with a plethora of opportunities for entertainment or to just relax.
Explain some of the traditional St. Regis elements that have been incorporated?
The St. Regis Dubai truly pays homage to The St. Regis New York, which was the brand’s original hotel which opened in 1904. From its French beaux-arts architecture and neo-classical interiors, to the grand staircase, captivating murals and sparkling chandeliers, the hotel fully reflects the identity of the brand.
This is the first St. Regis in Dubai. Why did it take so long?
We have always believed in working with the right partners in the right places on the right hotels. Starwood introduced the St. Regis to the Middle East in 2011 and Dubai was always a city where we knew we would introduce the brand, it was a matter of waiting for the right opportunity. We are privileged to be working with the A l Habtoor Group to introduce the St. Regis as a part of the iconic Al Habtoor City, along with our W and Westin brands.
How hard is it to stand out from the array of five star hotels in Dubai?
What sets St. Regis apart, even in a city like Dubai, is its combination of classic sophistication and modern sensibility together with the focus on delivering exceptional experiences. Whether through personalization or bringing to life the passion points of the brand, St. Regis is committed to providing a bespoke, ultra-luxury experience.
What is so unique about The St. Regis Dubai Al Habtoor City?
Apart from the debut of the St. Regis brand in Dubai, the fact that The St. Regis Dubai is located within the highly anticipated Al Habtoor City, the Emirate’s first fully-integrated urban resort, is a unique selling point in itself. Featuring along two other Starwood hotels under the distinct W Hotels and Westin brands, three residential towers, a spectacular water-themed show by Dragone and located along the upcoming Dubai Water Canal – the magnitude of this project is unlike any other development in the region. It is a truly unique and world-class destination.
Tell us about some of the phenomenal suites you have at the hotel?
Of the 234 rooms we have at the hotel, 52 our suites. We have eight categories of suites at the hotel which include the Bentley Suite, the first of its kind in the Middle East and a 3 -bedroom Royal Suite which is at a spacious 913 sq. metre which has its own plunge pool and is located on the top floors of the hotel.
How many staff do you have?
We currently have close to 500 associates onboard across 68 nationalities, with the majority dedicated to The St. Regis Dubai. Starwood takes great pride in the diversity of our associates which in turn helps us accommodate the unique cultural needs and requirements of our guests. As we ramp up efforts for W Dubai - Al Habtoor City and The Westin Dubai, Al Habtoor City and complete recruitment for all three hotels, we expect to have over 2000 associates onboard.