Rose Park Hotel – Al Barsha

By Shereen Shabnam

Inspired from past success in hospitality and the enviable reputation for delivering excellence in guest service over the last 10 years, the award-winning Rose International Hotels Management recently introduced us to the Rose Park Hotel in Al Barsha.

Over a sumptuous lunch, Thameem Razick, Director of Sales & Marketing at Rose Hotels & Hotel Apartments tells us that the 4 Star hotel is the newest addition to the growing portfolio managed by Rose International Hotels Management.

Located close to Mall of the Emirates and only a metro ride away from Dubai’s tourist attractions and business centers such as the Dubai World Trade & Exhibition Centre, the hotel is the ideal base from which to explore the surrounding areas. Rose Park Hotel – Al Barsha gives guests a 360 degree access of Dubai. The cozy new hotel is easily accessible to the Ski Dubai, the largest Ski zone at Mall of the Emirates, one of the iconic shopping malls in Dubai, the Jumeirah Beach and to Dubai Internet City and Dubai Media City.

Thameem hopes that locals, hotel guests and visiting tourists will enjoy the hotel’s exceptional hospitality services and feel at home during their stay in the city. The hotel’s target market includes travelers and tourists from GCC, Asia, Europe and CIS and fast growing markets such as Eastern Europe, Far East and Latin America who visit UAE for business or pleasure.

Combining fully equipped business space with luxurious rooms and premium facilities, the hotel meets the needs of those travelling for work as well as leisure. The 4 Star hotel comprises of 168 contemporary bedrooms with a choice of deluxe rooms, including 24 suites, all equipped with high speed internet and 49”inch LED TVs. Dining options include the ‘Bombay Urban Cafe’ restaurant with its lavish, fine dining ambiance. There is also a business lounge for busy executives.

A well-appointed meeting room with a capacity up to 20 – 25 guests ensures all business meetings can be handled with ease. Guests can benefit from complimentary access to the hotel’s health and leisure facilities, take a dip in the swimming pool on the deck while sipping fresh juices amidst Dubai’s panoramic skyline view. Accessible 7 days a week, guests can keep fit with gym equipment, weights, sauna and steam room.

Centrally located in Al Barsha, across the street and a minute away from Sharaf DG Metro station, and adjacent to Sheikh Zayed Road, guests can have a warm and relaxing haven to stay in. With its calming ambiance mixed with intriguing design elements, guests are in for a one-of-a-kind atmosphere.

Rose International Hotels Management continues to strengthen its portfolio with a focus on acquiring and managing properties. Since 2006, the group has been in the forefront of the development of luxurious commercial properties across key locations in UAE & Oman. The group has about six more hotel properties in the pipeline with around 687 keys, which will be delivered before Dubai Expo 2020. These are being developed in Science Park, Al Barsha, Sheikh Zayed Road, Jaddaf, Bur Dubai and in Oman – Ruwi.

Classic Elegance – Luxury at every turn at Villa Magna, Madrid

By Shereen Shabnam

On the way to my Spanish home recently, a stop in Madrid led me and my family to discover the luxury Villa Magna in Madrid where the ambience celebrates the old and new in a space that only be described as classically elegant.

In the last century, where this modern building stands today on the Paseo de la Castellana, was the Palace of Anglada which was demolished in the 1960`s. The hotel on the same site shows the same sophistication and after an extensive renovation, the luxury hotel has become a home to regular visitors who love the Bauhaus concepts and Chinese screens that combine to create a welcoming and luxurious atmosphere.

From the moment we were picked at the airport by a private chauffeur to the moment we left, the experience we had was more than amazing. The Concierge led us to the most interesting exhibitions and fashionable boutiques in Madrid but the highlight of the excursions was our teenage daughter experiencing the VIP shopper experience at El Corte Ingles…a must for all GCC visitors.

The hotel lobby is warm and welcoming with a large window offering a marvelous view to the Magnum Patio. To add a sophisticated touch the walls were adorned with Bauhaus and Vienna Secession designs. Different styles also combine among the furnishings: Louis XVI rosewood consoles, exotic screens and rugs with their geometric shapes give warmth to the marble floors.

The Restaurante Villa Magna has beautiful natural light, complimented by the choice of light colours and a large framed mirror that reflects the space as a painting. The beauty of the carpentry work and the relaxing upholstery combine to make a perfect ambience relaxing. 

The Lounge, off the Lobby of the Villa Magna, is the ideal setting to meet friends, discuss business or enjoy a relaxing meal at any time of the day. We spent our lunchtime mainly there with a selection of snacks, light lunch dishes whilst enjoying views onto the Lounge Terrace and Paseo de la Castellana beyond.

The room we stayed in was spacious, comfortable and washed with soft lighting, bright colours and warm fabrics. It was tastefully done and every detail was taken care of…from attending to my love for chocolates to the availability of prayer mats in the cupboard.

 Our day excursions meant revisiting our favourite Madrid attractions starting from the “Art Triangle” the Prado Museum, the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum, the Mercado and the Reina Sofia Museum to walking through Plaza Mayor and retail streets dotted with local and international brands.

The Villa Magna´s Fitness Club is equipped with the latest Technogym equipment and a team of fitness experts to provide a personalized fitness programme. The Wellness Club is a quiet area to be pampered with luxurious body treatments and skincare in a retreat of tranquility and naturally I opted for a massage on arrival.

Withthe city’s main shopping streets and attractions at the doorstep, the Villa Magna offers the most exclusive and ideal place to stay while visiting Madrid.

 

Hotels and OTAs need to work together to maximise revenues, say experts

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  • Dynamic commissioning and nano pricing will maximise revenue for hotels and OTAs
  • Alternative accommodation such as Airbnb should not be viewed as a threat or disruptor to the market

Hotels and Online Travel Agents (OTAs) need to work together to find a collaborative approach that maximises revenues, builds brand confidence and rewards consumer loyalty, according to a panel of experts speaking at Arabian Travel Market (ATM).

According to a report published on Monday 23rdApril, by Colliers International on ATM’s Global Stage, rate parity agreements have led to a turbulent relationship between hotels and OTAs in recent years.

The findings of the report entitled ‘Alternative Accommodation – Driving Growth for Destinations or Disruption’ were discussed by a panel of experts from Wego, AccorHotels, Expedia Group and Colliers International.

The essence of rate parity is to have the same rate for the same product across all distribution channels. However, rate undercutting has created issues between hotels and OTAs and as a result, significantly reduced consumer confidence in brands.

Filippo Sona, Director, Head of Hotels MENA, Colliers International, said: “Consumers are comparative shoppers, so when they see that the rate on a hotel website is higher than an OTA for the same product, this creates a negative sentiment about the brand in their minds. As the undercut rate percentage by OTAs increases, there is a drop in the booking conversion on the hotel’s website.

“Today’s consumers have a more sophisticated mindset and level of needs, and as a result, rate parity is hindering the ability of OTAs to make more money and hotel companies to offer higher average room rates. If we removed the rate parity mechanism, we would be able to more effectively fulfil the needs of OTAs and hotels, while providing a more personalised product to consumers.”

With continuous technological advancements in the online travel market such as metasearch engines, blockchain and augmented analytics, new strategies need to be devised to win back consumer confidence and increase their brand loyalty.

Paula De Keijer, Senior Director of Market Management Middle East, Africa, Greece & Turkey, Expedia Group, said: “With the consumer in mind, blockchain technology provides services such as secured payment, identification and security, simplified loyalty programmes and baggage tracking.

“As we look to the future, augmented analytics will provide consumers with the power to make more informed choices. Considering the vast amount of data that hotels and OTAs accumulate, this technology is the perfect tool to understand consumer behaviour, preferences and booking patterns. Combining algorithms, artificial intelligence and machine learning will lead to providing better recommendations to customers and matching them to the properties best suited to their needs.”

Hotels and OTAs have their own competitive advantages and limitations. While hotels have the micro information, OTAs have the purchasing and booking habits of consumers.

In the evolving landscape, it is crucial that hotels understand direct bookings do not matter like they did in the past. Instead, establishing a collaborative approach, with the help of technological advances, that maximises revenues should be the focus.

Sona, said: “The first emerging tool will be dynamic commissioning. This will enable hotels to set a hurdle rate for OTAs, in turn incentivising OTAs to sell above that rate to earn a higher commission. Based on our research, we suggest for every $10 above the hurdle rate OTAs earn an extra 5%, with the maximum amount of possible commission capped at 35%.

“The second approach is nano pricing which provides consumers with the power of choice and added confidence in brands. Today, hotel room prices are based on three factors: room view, room type and number of occupants. However, nano pricing is calculated by combining base price (room inclusive of limited amenities) with the cost of any requested extras (for example upgraded toiletries).”

In recent years, competition in the market has further increased with the rise of alternative accommodation such as Airbnb. The success of this type of accommodation stems from their ability to create a more local and personal experience for consumers.

Flavio Leoni, Vice President of Sales, Distribution, Loyalty & Marketing, AccorHotels Middle East & Egypt, said: “Alternative accommodation should not be viewed by hotels and OTAs as a threat or disruptor.

“It is just another tool that provides additional choice to the consumer and also presents hotels and OTAs with the option to explore new ideas and expand their brands.

“If we break down the needs of both business and leisure travellers, as well as individual and family travel, it is possible for alternative accommodation to exist peacefully in the market alongside more traditional forms of accommodation.”

For more information on Arabian Travel Market 2018, please visit the website at www.arabiantravelmarket.wtm.com

Pure Indulgence – DoubleTree by Hilton Resort & Spa Reserva del Higuerón

By Shereen Shabnam

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This has been a year of exploring my adopted country Spain and during a road trip, we stayed at the DoubleTree by Hilton Resort & Spa Reserva del Higueron, belonging to the Hilton brand family.

The first thing that greeted me at the hotel was the most beautiful classic car in the lobby and being a motoring enthusiast, I was in love. The hotel is a unique, modern, comfortable, spacious and airy complex. The Hotel is leader in design, leisure and services, with a combination of entertainment, health, sports, relaxation, culinary and activities.

Ideally located in one of the most exciting destinations in Europe, “Costa del Sol” between Malaga and Marbella, is known for its sandy beaches, golf courses and subtropical climate with 320 days of sunshine a year. The Resort combines the quietness and the proximity to the best beaches. It is easy to reach from the international airport, and Málaga town center, 10 minutes by car or 30 minutes by train from the station just 200 meters distance from Resort entrance.

The beautiful city of Malaga, one of the oldest in the world and known as the capital of the Costa del Sol. Through the combination of magical and monumental surroundings, this city offers visitors a cultural and cosmopolitan appeal with several major European museums (Picasso Museum, Pompidou and Thyssen) among others. Also just minutes away you can visit Marbella and Puerto Banus to enjoy a luxurious and exclusive shopping.

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The Resort has 177 rooms, including 24 junior suites, all with spectacular views of the Bay of Fuengirola, areas with permanent artworks,9 meeting rooms for up to 500 people, 5 restaurants. All in accordance with the standards and services of the Hilton brand.

Sport Club and Spa Nagomi

Within the complex you can find Sport Club, a sports entertainment center with fitness facilities, monitored activities (Pilates, Yoga, TRX), 11 paddle courts, 2 tennis courts, an exclusive area of sand of 4,000 m2, two heated indoor swimming pools and 3 outdoor pools.

Learn a new concept of wellness through Nagomi SPA experience with dynamic jet pool, massage, waterfalls, contrast pools, sauna, steam room and relaxation area. And a wide range of treatments for health, welfare, beauty and nutrition, with the help of the best professionals, also having hairdressing, manicure and pedicure.

Infinity pool and terrace

The Infinity top roof terrace, is one of the most impressive areas of the hotel, an infinity pool waterfall in south side that blends in harmony with the vision of the Mediterranean Sea. Impressive, pool accompanied by Balinese beds with stunning views of the Mediterranean where you can enjoy the best cocktails, drinks and snacks.

Dining options

The Resort offers a comprehensive food and beverage concept where 5 restaurants including SOLLO´S, quality restaurant awarded Chef Diego Gallegos with Michelin Star 2016, specializes in river fish and caviar. ARARA BISTRO BAR by Diego Gallegos with the best options of Brazilian and Peruvian cuisine. PALMERAL BUFFET is an open and modern restaurant in the heart of the hotel offering breakfast buffet, a la carte lunch and dinner buffet, INFINITY BAR with fresh choices of meals and snacks, and Snack Bar LA HIGUERITA completes the offer healthy foods for sport people.

 

Beach Paradise – Grand Beach Hotel, Miami

In between meetings in New Orleans and Nashville last month, I took a short break at the Grand Beach Hotel in Miami, which is a new beachfront addition to Miami Beach with panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean. The property is located on Millionaires’ Row, close to the excitement and nightlife of South Beach and easy to get to from both Miami International Airport and Ft. Lauderdale Airport. It was the perfect break and we are delighted to share our thoughts on the property.

I stayed in one of the hotel’s 430 spacious suites that offer a balcony and two full bathrooms. In-room amenities include two flat-screen TVs, complimentary internet access, international Satellite TV, a refrigerator, wet-bar, coffee-maker, iron, safe, work area and had enough space to open two of my suitcases and a carry on comfortably in the space.

In the afternoons, the best thing to do is enjoy the two beachside pools and hot tubs or head to the 7th floor pool overlooking the Atlantic while enjoying Miami’s year-round perfect weather. The best part of the hotel is having access to more than 200 feet of beautiful white sandy tropical beaches on the Atlantic Ocean or if you like working out, head to the hotel’s well-equipped gym.

I opted for the beach experience and was told I had access to two beach chairs and one umbrella under my room included in our daily Resort Fee. It was perfect and the hotels helps to make the most out of your stay in Florida, whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, relaxing retreat, convention accommodation, a family escape, or are travelling on business.

The hotel completed an exciting $10 million suite renovation in 2015 hence majority of the suites have been refreshed but a few of the original classic suites remain for nostalgic guests. The refreshed suites feature a sleek modern design dressed in a bright color scheme and vibrant fabrics for an energized fresh appearance, new bedding, new carpeting, new sleeper sofa(s), and carefully recrafted furniture with glass countertops, new artwork, and floor to ceiling shower glass doors.

If you feel like a meal, “Chez Gaston” and the lounges serve culinary delights or tropical refreshments. The Chez Gaston kitchen has been expanded to allow the culinary team to service more guests at a faster pace which complements the recently renovated and extended Espresso Gelato Bar that offers many more food and beverage options than ever before.

You can choose to dine in the privacy of your room with the room delivery services, or leave your Miami Hotel for the entertainment of South Beach, which is what I did to catch up with friends from my last visit to Miami.

The checked out the meeting spaces in the hotel and it had all the latest technology and offered a first class selection of catering options for an exotic Miami Beach meeting, family gathering or social event. A business center and a library are just some of the other amenities offered as services.

Grand Beach Hotel is using the next generation of TravelCLICK’s award-winning booking engine, iStay, which revolutionizes the online booking experience with an enhanced user interface and superior property merchandising to drive higher conversion, increase revenue per stay, and enhance guest satisfaction.

It integrates hotel packages and enhanced stay options on the same screen as room reservations and displays up to six large, compelling photographs per room type hence the best way to get to know the hotel before booking. I certainly enjoyed my stay at the Grand Beach hotel in between two major international conferences and recommend it for a good rest and relaxation venue.

 

Exquisite Athenian Riviera – Grand Resort Lagonissi

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Helios Hotels and Resorts have devoted more than three decades to refining the perfect blend of elegance, personal service and exclusivity in their properties, with the gorgeous natural beauty of the Greek landscape as their constant inspiration. The exquisite Grand Resort Lagonissi is one of their most beautiful properties for holidays that offer sun, sea and sand with exceptional service and a wide range of rest and relaxation venues and activities.

In a simply glorious setting on a private peninsula, dotted with private sandy coves, in Attica on the Athenian Riviera, the impressive Grand Resort Lagonissi offers a high level of service, a wealth of facilities and an exquisite choice of award winning restaurants.

The Helios Hotels and Resorts Group has rightfully won the title of one of the most important hotel chains, not only in Greece but also internationally, as it boasts hotels of unique aesthetics and luxury, distinguished by the top quality they offer both in terms of accommodation and service.

Among their portfolio is the Grand Resort Lagonissi, which stands on a verdant peninsula, just a few miles from Athens and a few minutes from the International Airport. The resort, which is a member of ‘The Leading Hotels of the World’, combines luxurious ambience and exceptional service in a true sun and sea world.

The Grand Resort Lagonissi represents the consummate in luxury in terms of location, design, facilities and service. The highest level of pampering, relaxation, leisure and recreation are values offered to the discerning visitor who wants covert this experience. The resort is located on the south side of the Athens area, amid lush greenery.

The resort provides endless choices of luxurious accommodations in standard rooms and suites, the private Mediterranean bungalows and in the lavish villas and suites, which have their own private swimming pools. All bedrooms offer access to sandy beaches and boast a steam bath and a Jacuzzi bathtub.

A range of restaurants and bars situated on the waterfront serve an imaginative selection of local and international  cuisine in a breath-taking natural setting. The dining facilities suit every occasion and palate, from buffets to a la carte specialty restaurants serving a range of world cuisines, each with its own style and ambience. Most of the resort’s restaurants hold Five Star Diamond Awards from the American Academy of Hospitality Science.

Recreational facilities include a host of land and water based sports, outdoor pool, a children’s club, open air cinema, plus a state of the art spa where highly skilled therapists offer rejuvenating holistic treatments for mind, body and soul. The state-of-the-art Thala Spa Chenot Spa offers holistic rejuvenation in a tranquil setting. Guests may also benefit from the special balanced-diet menus.

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The water sports activities on the magnificent Mediterranean Searange from sailing and windsurfing, to waterskiing and scuba diving. Rental of yachts and Lear jets is available on request for guests keen to enjoy the clear blue seas on their own. Private sandy coves surround the hotel for those who want a day alone on the beach.

The Grand Resort Lagonissi is an ideal choice for leisure visitors and business travelers, providing a vast choice of lodging and conference facilities. It offers its guests an exclusive private ambience and an atmosphere that makes you feel truly at home without making any compromises in the style or quality of its services.

Located around a 30-minute from Athens City Centre, the Grand Resort Lagonissi certainly sets a benchmark in first-class service and facilities for business and leisure trips. It’s unique peninsula location, in south Athens, offers a peaceful Mediterranean setting and easy access to cultural attractions.

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Breathtaking Views: Hassler Roma

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One of the most insightful encounters I had recently was with the team from Hassler Roma. Set atop the Spanish Steps and featuring a panoramic view of the entire city, the Hassler Roma is owned by President and Managing Director Roberto E. Wirth, fifth generation of a famous Swiss hotelier dynasty.

Hospitality is in the DNA of the owners. For more than a century, the Hassler Roma continues its legacy as Rome’s five-star lodging of choice for the world’s elite and discerning travelers. Its rooms and suites, its terraces and its 1 starred Michelin panoramic restaurant offer the most breathtaking view over Rome’s city center skyline.

The hotel has 93 rooms, 13 of which are suites, individually designed with an elegant combination of classic and contemporary touches and with panoramic suites. Located on the Hassler’s 8th floor, the 400 sqm Hassler Penthouse Suite offers the most breathtaking view over Rome’s city center skyline, including the Spanish Steps and Piazza di Spagna with its Barcaccia fountain by Bernini and the famed Via Condotti, Rome’s most exclusive shopping street.

Speaking passionately of the contemporary elements that enhance the ambience of the property, the representatives from Hassler rave how the elegant, contemporary décor blends seamlessly with a state-of-the-art music and lighting system. The elevator provides direct access to the suite, which features two panoramic terraces in Travertine marble, a grand piano and fully-stocked cocktail bar area in the spacious and elegantly-decorated living room.

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The suites feature a dining area, two beautiful large King bedded rooms and a single room, Wi Fi, a kitchen with custom-designed fine bone china tableware, and of course the incomparable views of the city, which may be admired from every room, including the spacious bathrooms, complete with chromotherapy-enhanced rain showers.

Located on the 7th floor, the Penthouse Suite Villa Medici has a breathtaking view from its private 150 sq. mt. terrace. It is a magical space offering a unique location where to relax and enjoy the view of the city with a late afternoon cocktail, a private dinner or for private events. Upon entering the suite

Also on offer is the Presidential suite San Pietro, located on the 6th floor, is named to celebrate the view over St. Peter’s Basilica. The exclusive terrace running along the entire apartment is equipped with chaise-longues, tables and chairs ideal for an outdoor drink or simply to enjoy the spectacular view of the city and the Spanish Steps..

Located on the 5th floor, Presidential Suite Trinità dei Monti, overlooks the Spanish Steps. The bright, airy corner suite features large floor-to-ceiling windows with balconies which offer an unforgettable view of Rome The suite has black and white marble floors, as well as black/ white carpeting and the living room is decorated with original paintings and classically-styled furniture with a modern accent.

There are also the Grand Deluxe Suite Forum, the Grand Deluxe Suite Hassler and the Executive suites should you prefer even more options.

For dining and relaxation, visit the Michelin-starred panoramic restaurant, Imàgo, the Salone Eva and Palm Court restaurant and the Hassler Bar, as well as the neighboring, Hassler-owned Il Palazzetto: a hotel, wine bar and special event space.

Given its unique position, elegance, style, luxury, quality service and discretion, the Hassler Roma is the very symbol of international hospitality and the ideal location for an unforgettable and one-of-a kind stay in the Eternal City.

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