Fairmont Bab Al Bahr bucks the trend

Abu Dhabi’s Fairmont Bab Al Bahr was recently voted Best Business Hotel in Abu Dhabi by Business Traveller Middle East 2020 Awards.

Elias Chakhtoura, General Manager, tells TTN. "Winning awards is not something new for this hotel but this year has been exceptional for us. Usually we get three or four a year. We have already received six awards so far in 2020 - including best resort, best view and best location in Abu Dhabi - and we expect a few more for our food and beverage offering before the end of the year."

Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, positioned at the mainland gateway to the city of Abu Dhabi, is the ideal location for exploring the beauty of this bustling and ever-changing city; a place where luxury and style are infused with timeless hospitality.

"It’s always interesting when a resort wins an award for the best business hotel. Business travellers need efficient and quick service, while in resorts people are more relaxed and laid back. I believe we can provide excellent quality of service to both types of customers.

"In fact, resorts make for the best business hotels. With a standard business hotel, the options of what you can do after a day of business are limited, but in a resort like ours, once your work is done you can enjoy a number of activities from dining out, working out, relaxing on the beach or by the poolside. You have the perfect infrastructure to mix business with leisure."

Fairmont Gold offers the ultimate exclusive lifestyle hotel experience. Fairmont Bab Al Bahr offers world class on-site amenities including an Olympic length lap pool, covered children’s pool, private sandy beaches, separate ladies’ and mixed-use gyms, as well as business services and conference and meeting facilities.

It is located at the entrance of Abu Dhabi and has a beautiful private beach – it is ideally located for Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company as well as the corniche in the city, Yas Island and other attractions of Abu Dhabi, with excellent views of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Nearby attractions also include Ferrari World Theme Park, Abu Dhabi Heritage Village, Al Maqta Fort and Louvre Abu Dhabi.

"The brand Fairmont is all about turning moments into memories. We believe that every customer coming to the hotel needs to experience something different. Their engagement with the staff or the establishment, any interface has to be controlled to ensure the best emotional outcome.

"While the safety measures since the start of the pandemic have been bordering on the extreme, they are here for a very good reason. We are running a very tight ship between two major safety standards – Go Safe, the certification by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi and All Safe, Accor’s global safety standards protocol, which is slightly higher in terms of requirements than the former."

Fairmont Bab Al Bahr features nine award-winning restaurants and bars. CuiScene, the heart of International dining, Café Sushi, a modern Japanese restaurant, Maison Beirut, offers exquisite Lebanese cuisine while Chameleon Terrace and Poolside restaurant present refreshing al fresco dining options. Bridges Bar is the centre of all sports broadcasts and entertainment. Marco Pierre White Steakhouse & Grill completely redesigned meat lovers’ dining experience while Marco’s New York Italian perfected the influences from New York infused into Italian heritage and cuisine.

"At the beginning of the pandemic, all our outlets were closed. Sometime in mid-June when it was announced that outlets could open with restrictions, we saw that people were very eager to come to us. Safety was an important consideration; people would go out to places that they were 100 per cent sure of.

"For the months of July and August, we performed much better than the previous years due to the revenge consumer - they had been locked in for so long they want to come out and shop, socialise and spend, enjoy and stay in hotels after months of lockdown."

"There’s never been a better time to stay at hotels than now. It’s safe, it’s great value and hotels are going out of their way to be creative, in terms of attractive packaging - they know people have not been travelling and want to spend on staycations. Hotels offer a safe environment, especially in the UAE and in particular Abu Dhabi, where the government is very strict about controlling the environment and making sure hotels are a safe haven."

To enter Abu Dhabi visitors need to show a negative PCR test. "It’s not the PCR test that is posing a challenge. If you live in Abu Dhabi you feel lucky that you’re staying in a city that is taking such precautions. It’s a good thing. It’s the 14-day quarantine rule that poses a bit of challenge for guests from outside the emirate and not because of the negative PCR. We have seen many cancellations in the month of October due to the 14-day quarantine rule."

Chakhtoura says, in any hotel there should be something new happening all the time, to remain relevant - right from improving and maintaining the property to renovating sections of the hotel, elevating the food and beverage offering to keeping it fresh and engaging. "Planning is important, of course, but equally, innovation and reacting quickly to what the market needs is also key."

"This year we renovated the ballroom and the meeting facilities and extended the foyer as well. We didn’t use it this year because there haven’t been any large-scale meetings or events. However, for next year, whenever this opens up, we will be ready with increased capacity and a fresh and new meetings product. Our food and beverage offering is up to par as we have been doing something or the other every year. Next year, we will likely look at renovating some of the rooms."

"I see this year as a great experience and a positive one. We have been lucky with this hotel – we have always had business – we managed to go through the crisis with decent numbers. We did better than our forecast, we really learned how to work as a team. The entire team of the hotel is responsible for our success. Multitasking, doing different jobs than what they usually do, we had to take some extreme measures to save here and there and go through the crisis.

"There are two ways to look at any challenge – I always choose to see the opportunity.

"Also, at the end of the day, no matter what is happening you will always need a hotel to stay in. The business of lodging has been around a long time and it is here to stay."