AS motorsport fans from all over the world checked out the hotel accommodation available in the kingdom for this coming weekend’s grand prix spectacular they would have discovered a new destination amongst the five star choices on offer.
For a name, probably more familiar with holidaymakers heading to neighbouring Dubai, has set up a beachfront location and yesterday an event was staged to mark the recent official opening of the impressive 174-room Jumeirah Royal Saray in Bahrain.
GulfWeekly was given an invitation to the special tour around the hotel to introduce its unique features and offerings and the chance to catch up with its energetic young general manager, Nordine El Yafi.
“Jumeirah Royal Saray Bahrain will bring a new wave of understated luxury to Bahrain and the GCC market in general,” he told GulfWeekly. “We are indeed very proud to complement the Kingdom of Bahrain’s hospitality sector with such a refined luxury offering.”
The property is Jumeirah Group’s first on the island, sitting on a private beach in Manama’s coastal district on the edge of Seef. The new 174-room hotel features stunning accommodation, unique summerhouses and royal residences, poolside cabanas and modern chic restaurants.
Nordine is ready for a battle royale against the more well-established names in the kingdom and prepared to challenge the growing number of newcomers to the sector who are also looking to entice weekend visitors, longer-stay tourists, as well as locals and expats living here.
“In my opinion the resort perfectly blends the type of service and attention guests come to expect when staying in the best hotels all over the world, with Western to Oriental touches throughout the property,” he said.
Certainly no expense has been spared and there appears to be no lack of attention to detail. Amongst its spectacular attractions is The Palm Lounge overlooking the turquoise blue waters of the Arabian Gulf where world-class coffee by Colombian baristas is served alongside innovative French patisserie.
The Al Hadiqa cabanas offer guests fresh, blended cocktails in a Mediterranean-style ambience complete with ancient olive trees that adorn the pool.
PLAY Restaurant & Lounge, a Dubai concept, its owners say, is also an ‘exciting addition’ to the hotel. And indoor and outdoor meeting spaces are able to accommodate more than 400 people, plus Talise, Jumeirah’s own brand, will eventually offer a wide range of signature treatments from its destination spa, sitting in its own wing.
The design of guest rooms within Jumeirah Royal Saray pay homage to the Bahraini pearl diving industry with mother-of-pearl and silver shimmering alongside ocean blue tones, and, across the resort, patterns from traditional and royal houses including the Royal Bahraini House of Khalifa have been used as inspiration in the furniture, glass and other oriental details.
The design brings together curated materials from all over the world, including hand-blown glass chandeliers in every bathroom from the Czech Republic, five different types of Italian marble and gold and silver foiled walls by master French artisans.
Under his leadership, Nordine has been tasked with developing and maintaining Jumeirah Group’s reputation for luxury hospitality and, at the age of 34, is considered as one of the rising stars of the hospitality industry.
He joined the company having gained more than 10 years’ experience working for major hotel brands and hospitality businesses. Most recently, he was director of hospitality asset management for Meraas, a Dubai-based holding company with investments in the property, hospitality, retail, healthcare, food & beverage, technology, leisure and entertainment.
He previously worked in Paris, spending six years with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, where he held a number of strategic managerial positions, and with Starwood Hotels & Resorts in revenue management. He also worked in Malaysia with YTL Hotels on the operations side.
Nordine holds a certificate in real estate finance and hospitality asset management from the prestigious Cornell University in New York and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality Management from IEMI, in Paris.
With French Moroccan heritage, he is fluent in Arabic, French, English and Spanish, and he has already made a favourable impression with guests and his team during the soft opening period.
“It’s my first time in Bahrain and I have been very impressed with how you can connect so easily with locals and expats living here, they are very open and friendly,” he said. “The country is extremely rich in history with a huge variety of unique culinary experiences available.”
There was huge local and international interest generated by the opening of Jumeirah Royal Saray which, as reported in GulfWeekly, replaced a proposed One&Only property.
The move was described as an ‘important addition’ to the Jumeirah Group portfolio and in line with the group’s expansion plan across the Gulf region. Jumeirah Group currently operates 20 hotels in nine destinations, managing more than 6,000 hotel rooms and suites.
It was also named the Middle East’s ‘Leading Luxury Hotel Brand 2017’ at the World Travel Awards and has won numerous awards and accolades.
Edris AlRafi, CEO of parent company Dubai Holding, said it had have been looking to bring Jumeirah to Bahrain for a number of years and was ‘delighted’ to partner with Sevens Holding for Jumeirah Royal Saray - Bahrain.
Its rooms include 10 summer houses and four royal residences. More than 80 rooms are currently available and the rest will follow by the end of the year.
Getting the hotel up and running has left Nordine with little time to play, although he admits to being excited about the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix 2018. His big race prediction goes in favour of the current world champion. “Lewis Hamilton with Mercedes … maybe?” he said.
However, he has no doubt that Jumeirah Royal Saray will be a winner in the hospitality stakes.
Stanley Louis Szecowka
Editor/Journalist & Blogger, Restaurant & Motors Reviewer, FinTech Writer, Manager, Trainer.
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