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Friday, January 24, 2020

Up close with Khaled Ghaleb

by Joanna Andrews

American Gastropub Cook Hall

It is exciting to be part of history in the making, and as the third and final hotel, not to mention largest hotel within Al Habtoor City, we have saved the best for last!

Khaled Ghaleb, the General Manager of The Westin Dubai, Al Habtoor City is a seasoned hotelier. He has over 20 years of hospitality experience within the UAE, Egypt and France. Joanna Andrews asks him about the momentous task ahead as the GM of the largest Westin in the region, which is set within a dynamic new destination.

Explain the journey to the opening of the largest Westin in the region?

We’ve been fortunate to have time on our side to ensure we get even the smallest details right. Being the last of the three hotels in Al Habtoor City to open and following the opening of our sister property in Doha earlier this year, we have had a lot of openings to learn from leading up to this moment.

Being the largest Westin in the region, we had a lot more put in – in terms of design and furniture, layouts and logistics … we wanted to make sure the size of our product didn’t hinder guest experiences so we’ve had to look repeatedly at our logistics so, for example, we have 12 lifts and have split their access to the two sides of the hotel to ensure there isn’t a delay in reaching any destination within the hotel.

What has been the biggest challenge to opening day?

Every hotel opening presents its own challenges and this has been a fascinating journey to experience. For me, this is my first time as a General Manager and my first opening on a project of this scale but I am more than ready to rise to the challenge. It is exciting to be part of history in the making, and as the third and final hotel, not to mention largest hotel within Al Habtoor City, we have saved the best for last!

Each and every one of us on this project is proud and honoured to be part of the team that is making the vision of our Chairman Khalaf Al Habtoor a reality.

Al Habtoor City is a destination within the bigger destination of Dubai. There will be so much for guests to experience, and we have special focus on wellness so that, upon check-out, our guests feel better than when they arrived.

We have a big job ahead of us to educate the market and our potentials guests on the benefits of staying with us at Al Habtoor City, but this will also be part of the fun and will definitely be rewarding!

What are the advantages of being situated in Al Habtoor City?

With so much to offer in terms of hospitality, leisure and entertainment, Al Habtoor City is set to become Dubai’s newest neighbourhood and we’re extremely lucky to be located here as it is on the verge of becoming the new heart of Dubai.

As Dubai’s first ever fully integrated urban resort, Al Habtoor City, which is made up of The Hotel Collection, The Leisure Collection, and The Residence Collection, and promises to become a destination within the bigger destination of Dubai.

At the heart of Al Habtoor City is the Hotel Collection, which is composed of the three Starwood hotels: The St. Regis Dubai; W Dubai, Al Habtoor City; and The Westin Dubai, Al Habtoor City. All the hotels offer something very different and unique to anywhere else on Dubai’s hospitality scene.

Of course, our guests will have so much more to experience than a hotel stay. In addition to a wide variety of hotel experiences, The Atrium offers hotel guests, and Dubai residents an alternative range of dining options with seven international restaurants and bars.

The Leisure Collection presents a spectacular 1,000-seater water theatre with a Vegas-style residential show La Perle, due to open in March 2017.

And there’s more, Al Habtoor City will also offer a boulevard lined with cafés and boutiques, marina promenade, and a professional standard tennis academy with an indoor air conditioned tennis court.

Our prime location in the heart of Sheikh Zayed Road presents easy accessibility to old and new Dubai are a huge bonus for us. The landmark development of Al Habtoor City is just minutes’ drive away from tourist attractions such as Burj Khalifa and The Dubai Mall, a 20-minute drive to Dubai International Airport and 30-minute drive to Al Maktoum International Airport.

In a hotel of such magnitude how do you manage to make each guest feel special?

I’m extremely proud of the front office team, everyone is extremely warm and welcoming. I have every faith that the team will go over and above to make our guests feel special from the moment they walk in the doors of our hotel until the moment they drive off again. We will make sure to get to know our guests so that we can greet everyone by name. We will anticipate their every need and make sure to learn their preferences.

How have you incorporated the brand’s wellness aspect into the Dubai property?

The Westin Dubai, Al Habtoor City follows six pillars of wellness that have been incorporated into every aspect of the hotel’s facilities and service.

Sleep Well: Each of the hotel’s 1,004 rooms are fitted with the signature Westin Heavenly Bed® and the Westin Heavenly Bath®. The hotel’s top Suite is the luxurious Heavenly Suite, an inviting two-bedroom haven. We offer flexibility with connecting rooms and suites to make The Westin Dubai, Al Habtoor City convenient for family trips.

Eat Well: The Westin Dubai makes eating healthy impossible to resist at its six venues including: Seasonal Tastes, American gastropub Cook Hall, our upscale new York Italian restaurant, Daily Treats the lobby lounge, Firefly rooftop lounge, as well as the cocktail lounge Blinq. The Westin Dubai, Al Habtoor City also presents SuperFoodsRx™, which includes fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins, at every opportunity possible.

Move Well: For those that prefer the outdoors, with RunWESTIN®, the hotel provides local maps with various routes and fresh towels and bottled water upon return. There is also the Run Concierge and Gear Lending programme so there are no excuses to not exercise when staying with us!

Feel Well: To restore energy, a range of spa treatments has been created especially for Westin. Guests can destress at Heavenly Spa by Westin™, which features 20 treatment rooms including two couple treatment rooms and a stimulating Hammam offering. Steam room, sauna, hot tubs and speciality showers ensure a variety of options for total relaxation.

Play Well: The Westin Dubai, Al Habtoor City has everything families need to ensure younger travellers are included. The hotel is home to the Westin® Family Kids Club and offers kids aged 4 to 12 exciting activities such as storytelling, games and physical activities to inspire imagination.

Work Well: To uphold Westin’s Work Well mantra, The Westin Dubai presents 15 meeting rooms of various sizes for convenience and flexibility, each offering clutter-free and fully equipped spaces with SuperFoodsRx™ meeting breaks. Complementing the conferencing facilities is the 1,450 square meter Al Joud Ballroom with a separate entrance and pre-function hall, ideal for a banquet style event for up to 850 guests.

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