By Ahmed Abdul Wasey
- Describe your leadership style and how you would motivate and inspire a large and diverse team to achieve the hotel’s goals.
As the General Manager of an exceptional property, Jumeirah Makkah, I am deeply passionate about hospitality, and this passion is the cornerstone of my approach.
Firstly, I would say that our collaborative approach is central to our success. I believe that the best ideas and solutions emerge from a culture where every voice is heard and valued. This belief drives me to create a workspace where dialogue and teamwork are fundamental to our operations. Our open-door policy is fostering a sense of ownership and collective responsibility. And by blending the diverse perspectives and skills of our team, we can innovate and deliver services that are truly unmatched.
Secondly, I would describe my leadership as strategic and forward-thinking with an analytical mindset. My approach involves continuously scanning the global hospitality landscape to anticipate future trends and adapt our operations accordingly. With long-term planning, setting clear, achievable goals that align with both our brand’s ethos and the evolving needs of our guests, we can set new benchmarks for luxury hospitality in Saudi Arabia and beyond.
Thirdly, having a hands-on approach to leadership is another important facet, and it is all about blending wisdom gained from years of experience with a keen, active involvement in our day-to-day operations. Being out there on the floor, engaging directly with both employees, partners, and guests. This is about understanding the heartbeat of our hotel at a granular level. By participating in various roles, one may gain invaluable insights that inform our strategic decisions.
Fourthly, on leading the team at Jumeirah Makkah, I strive to balance visionary thinking with a detail-oriented approach. This means not only conceptualizing ideas to stay ahead but also immersing myself in the daily operations to understand and refine every aspect of our service. For instance, while planning long-term strategies for enhancing guest experiences, I am also passionately committed to routine quality checks. This could involve personally inspecting rooms to ensure they meet our high standards or working closely with the culinary team to fine-tune menu details. It’s about understanding and appreciating the nuances of each role and process.
Finally, and most importantly, I am deeply committed to nurturing our brilliant and promising local talents, with a special focus on empowering women. It’s a source of great pride to see them grow and excel in their roles and setting new standards in the industry. Their success stories are a testament to the potential that lies within our community and the transformative power of inclusive leadership.
In essence, my leadership at Jumeirah Makkah is about guiding with vision, connecting with heart, and inspiring with action. It’s about creating a legacy of empowerment and excellence in one of the most vibrant hospitality environments in the world.
- Given the hotel’s unique position as the largest in Jumeirah portfolio and its location in Makkah, how do you plan to balance operational excellence with catering to the spiritual needs of pilgrims and other guests?
Balancing operational excellence with catering to the spiritual needs of our guests at Jumeirah Makkah, especially given its significance as the largest hotel in our portfolio and its location, involves a nuanced approach. Recognizing the diversity of our guests, we plan to divide the tower to better cater to different needs – one segment focusing on leisure guests and the other on groups, particularly those here for pilgrimage.
For leisure guests, the focus will be on providing a serene, luxurious experience that aligns with the true essence of the Jumeirah brand. This means offering bespoke services that cater to individual preferences. For both segments, this involves offering guidance and assistance for their religious activities and ensuring that their stay is comfortable and spiritually fulfilling.
- What is your vision for the hotel’s role in the Makkah tourist landscape and how will you contribute to enhancing the city’s reputation as a global destination?
My vision for the role of Jumeirah Makkah in the city’s landscape is closely aligned with our commitment to upholding a high price and a luxury service, staying true to Jumeirah’s mission of offering distinct, unparalleled experiences.
The emphasis on luxury is strategic, reflecting the exceptional quality service we provide. This pricing strategy aligns with our aim to attract a specific market segment seeking premium hospitality experiences, differentiating us in the Makkah hospitality sector. From the elegance of our decor to the excellence of our service, every detail will reflect the high standards synonymous with the Jumeirah brand.
In line with Jumeirah’s mission to ‘Stay Different’, we plan to offer unique services that set us apart. This could include exclusive access to historical and cultural tours or personalized spiritual guidance for pilgrims.
Lastly, our focus on serenity and tranquility is crucial, especially given Makkah’s significance as a spiritual destination. Our aim is to create an environment that not only complements but enhances the spiritual journey of our guests. This involves curating spaces within the hotel that offer a sanctuary.
Through these strategies, Jumeirah Makkah aims to enhance the experience of visitors to Makkah, respecting its unique position as a spiritual hub while providing an unmatched luxury hospitality experience.
- How will you ensure the hotel reflects the values and cultural sensitivities of the region while maintaining the Jumeirah brand’s standards of luxury and hospitality?
To ensure that our hotel reflects the region’s values and cultural sensitivities while maintaining the high standards of luxury synonymous with the Jumeirah brand, we adopt a holistic approach.
The recent recognition of Jumeirah as a “Great Place to Work” is a testament to the inclusive and respectful culture we have fostered. This accolade underlines our commitment to creating an environment where our team members, from diverse backgrounds, feel valued and empowered. This internal culture directly influences the way we interact with our guests, ensuring that our service is not only luxurious but also culturally attuned and empathetic.
Our successful presence in 11 different countries showcases our ability to operate with a deep understanding and respect for various cultures. We apply this global experience to our operations in Makkah, tailoring our services to align with the local customs and traditions. This involves everything from our culinary offerings, which respect local preferences, to our guest interactions, which are sensitive to the cultural norms of the region.
- Describe your approach to creating a sense of community and belonging within the hotel, especially for pilgrims who may be visiting Makkah for the first time.
To create a sense of community and belonging within the hotel, especially for pilgrims visiting Makkah for the first time, we focus on harmonizing the renowned Jumeirah experience with the unique ethos of Makkah. This approach is about offering an immersive, culturally rich experience that resonates with the spiritual significance of the destination.
We understand that for many pilgrims, their journey to Makkah is not just a trip but a deeply personal and spiritual experience. Recognizing this, we tailor our services to cater to their emotional and spiritual needs. This involves creating spaces within the hotel for reflection and prayer, organizing community events that allow guests to connect with each other, and offering guidance and support for their religious activities.
Our staff plays a crucial role in fostering this sense of community. They are trained to not only provide impeccable service but also to engage with guests in a manner that is warm, welcoming, and respectful of their various backgrounds. This personal touch helps in making our guests feel at home.
Additionally, we incorporate elements of Makkah’s rich cultural heritage into various aspects of the hotel experience. From the design and decor that reflects the local art and architecture to culinary offerings that celebrate traditional flavors, every detail is thoughtfully curated to enhance the sense of belonging and connection to Makkah.
In essence, our approach at Jumeirah Makkah is to provide a nurturing and welcoming environment that goes beyond mere hospitality. It’s about creating a community where every pilgrim feels a deep sense of belonging, making their spiritual journey even more meaningful and memorable.
- What personalized services and amenities will the hotel offer to cater to the diverse needs of pilgrims, business travelers, and leisure tourists?
To cater to the diverse needs of pilgrims, business travelers, and leisure tourists, we offer a range of personalized services and amenities:
Signature Arabian Hospitality:
We provide impeccable and authentic Service. Rooted in the regional heritage, our services are designed to reflect the warmth and authenticity of Arabian hospitality. This includes respectful and attentive service to all guests, ensuring a comfortable and enriching stay.
Recognizing the unique needs of each guest, we offer customized experiences. Whether it’s providing specific room amenities, arranging cultural tours, or offering personalized dining options, our aim is to make every stay memorable and bespoke.
Smooth Arrival and Departure:
We ensure a stress-free arrival and departure process. This includes efficient check-in and check-out procedures and respectful service that pays attention to the needs of our diverse guests, from business travelers to families and pilgrims.
Our hotel features exquisite dining options, serving Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Moroccan cuisines, with special attention to vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. This culinary diversity caters to the tastes and dietary requirements of all our guests.
Accommodation and Facilities:
We offer a wide range of rooms and suites, including Deluxe Rooms with city or Haram views, Junior Suites, One Bedroom Suites, and Two- or Three-Bedroom Residences. Each room is equipped with modern amenities like flat-screen TVs, kettles, and private bathrooms.
All rooms come with essential amenities like bed linen and towels. Specific rooms also feature terraces and city views. Our hotel boasts free WiFi, two restaurants, a fitness center, facilities for disabled guests, room service, and a 24-hour front desk. We also provide tea/coffee makers in all rooms.
Location and Accessibility:
Situated 250 m from Masjid Al Haram, our hotel is ideally located for pilgrims and tourists, offering a serene sanctuary with splendid views across all our rooms.
Our aim at Jumeirah Makkah is to blend luxurious accommodation with personalized services, ensuring every guest, whether on a pilgrimage, business trip, or leisure vacation, experiences the true essence of Jumeirah in the heart of Makkah.
- What innovative or groundbreaking initiatives do you envision for the hotel that would further solidify its position as a landmark destination?
Envisioning groundbreaking initiatives for our hotel in 2024 and beyond involves a blend of technological innovation, sustainability, and personalized guest experiences. Here are some of the key trends I foresee:
- Technological Integration: With the rise of AI, implementing cutting-edge technologies to offer immersive cultural and historical tours of Makkah. Guests could explore historical sites or learn about the region’s rich heritage from the comfort of the hotel, adding a unique dimension to their stay.
- Sustainability Initiatives: In response to the growing importance of environmental consciousness, we plan to introduce sustainable practices such as energy-efficient systems, water conservation programs, and waste reduction measures. These initiatives not only align with global sustainability goals but also resonate with our guests who are increasingly eco-conscious.
- Personalized Wellness Programs: Recognizing the growing trend in health and wellness, we plan to offer personalized wellness programs that integrate mental wellbeing, and nutritional guidance. These programs would be tailored to individual guest needs, combining traditional practices with modern wellness techniques.
- Culinary Innovation: Introducing a farm-to-table concept in our dining options, sourcing ingredients locally to provide fresh, organic meals. This initiative would not only offer guests a taste of local flavors but also support local farmers and reduce our carbon footprint.
- Cultural Engagement: Hosting cultural events and exhibitions that showcase local art, music, and traditions. These events would not only provide guests with an authentic experience of Saudi culture but also position the hotel as a hub for cultural engagement.
- Smart Room Technology: Upgrading rooms with smart technology to enhance guest comfort and convenience. Features like voice-controlled environments, personalized room settings (lighting, temperature, entertainment), and AI-assisted services would set new standards in luxury accommodation.
Through these initiatives, we aim to reinforce the hotel’s status as a landmark destination, offering guests an unparalleled experience that combines luxury, culture, and sustainability in the heart of Makkah.
- How do you handle pressure and navigate complex situations, especially in a cultural context that may be unfamiliar to you?
Learning to handle pressure and navigate complex situations has been a significant aspect of my career journey. My approach is grounded in two key human aspects: respect and recognition. These principles are universal and have been instrumental in establishing a fair and inspiring culture wherever I have worked.
Showing respect builds trust and openness. This approach has enabled me to navigate challenging situations with sensitivity and understanding. I make it a point to learn and appreciate the cultural nuances of the places I work in, ensuring that my actions and decisions are considerate and appropriate.
Recognition plays a crucial role as well. Acknowledging the efforts and achievements of my team, understanding their challenges, and valuing their input has helped foster a positive and supportive work environment. This is especially important in high-pressure situations, where morale and teamwork are key.
- Share an example of a time you faced a significant challenge in your career and how you overcame it.
Throughout my career, opening hotels in various countries has presented a series of significant challenges, each contributing to my growth as a leader. While there isn’t a single standout instance, these experiences collectively have been instrumental in shaping the leader I am today, recognized among stakeholders for my resilience and adaptability.
One such challenge was navigating the complexities of different market dynamics, regulations, and cultural nuances in each country. Each opening required a deep understanding of the local environment, meticulous planning, and the ability to adapt strategies to meet local needs while maintaining our brand’s high standards.
To overcome these challenges, I focused on building strong, diverse teams with local expertise, encouraged open communication, and fostered a culture of collaboration. This approach enabled us to effectively address local market challenges, adapt to cultural differences, and successfully launch each hotel.
These experiences have not only sharpened my problem-solving and leadership skills but also enriched my understanding of global hospitality, reinforcing my ability to lead and succeed in diverse and dynamic environments.