Richard Alexander, GM Jumeirah Al Naseem speaks with Aviamost

By egor Sunday, 05 February 2017 5:42 PM

Richard Alexander, GM Jumeirah Al Naseem speaks with Aviamost

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Anchored on a stunning endless stretch of coast sits Jumeirah Al Naseem, bringing a new wave of energy, exuberance and excitement to Madinat Jumeirah. A breath of fresh air in today’s dynamic Dubai is now open.

Jumeirah Al Naseem’s extensive lush gardens edge the sandy beach, providing pockets of privacy and peacefulness. Proudly overlooking Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, this is a place where the rhythmic lapping of the waves gently filters through a bedroom window left ajar. Where the smell of the sea is carried on a warm breeze across to rooms, open terraces and outdoor restaurants. 

Q: Please provide a few paragraphs about Jumeirah Al Naseem

Opening on 1 December 2016, Jumeirah Al Naseem - meaning sea breeze in Arabic - is firmly anchored on the Arabian coast, whilst charting new waters in the Dubai luxury hospitality scene. It is the fourth and final property to open at Madinat Jumeirah, marking the resort’s completion.

Warm and inviting, yet energetic and inspiring, Madinat Jumeirah’s latest hotel addition expertly blends heritage and vision. Authentic Arabian culture and design is re-imagined for the Dubai of today, delivering a strong sense of place and the Jumeirah brand promise of Stay Different™. Jumeirah Al Naseem is ideal for the adventurous traveller who seeks an authentic experience, without compromising on luxury; as well as those who may not have considered Dubai before.

The youngest member of the successful Arabian Resort of Dubai’s family of hotels will offer exquisite facilities, including over nine food and beverage outlets  interwoven by the common theme of The Arabian Explorer, five swimming pools, its own beach club, landscaped gardens and a custom designed seawater-fed turtle lagoon. The contemporary interior design of the 430 large guest rooms and suites is inspired by sand dunes, blue skies, sea breeze and Dubai's heritage of pearl diving and Bedouin traditions. Jumeirah Al Naseem is ideal for the adventurous travellers who seeks an authentic experience, without compromising on luxury; as well as those who may not have considered Dubai before

Jumeirah Al Naseem joins the grand Jumeirah Al Qasr, the peaceful and recently renovated Jumeirah Mina A’Salam, and the exquisite summerhouses of Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf; becoming the fourth hotel within The Arabian Resort of Dubai.

Q: Please provide a few paragraphs about your career background

A British national, Richard has over 31 years’ experience in the luxury hotel and tourism industry. He returns to Jumeirah and Dubai after eight years since his last role as General Manager at Jumeirah Mina A’Salam in 2008. Since then he has undertaken a number of General Manager roles including the Viceroy Hotel in Anguilla, The Marylebone Hotel in London and was Senior Vice President of Food and Beverage at Wynn Las Vegas and Encore in the USA. His career has taken him to locations including Spain, Greece, Japan, USA, Australia and Indonesia.

Q: With over 30 years of hospitality industry experience, how do you think your new role will challenge you?

I believe that any preopening is a great challenge. Throughout my career, I have handled three hotel openings in the past and the greatest task is always building a new family of colleagues from scratch. Jumeirah is all about the culture of inclusion and one of the biggest tasks for the senior leadership team is taking a very diverse group of colleagues and fostering this culture of inclusion into their daily roles. Ideally with the preopening team at Jumeirah Al Naseem we are creating a family that is not afraid to challenge each other whilst being completely united in the objective of opening an extremely successful hotel that will provide our guests with memories to cherish. With the focus of building this family, for me it’s not a challenge but something that I really relish doing.

Q: What are you most excited about in your new role?

The most exciting thing about any hotel opening is taking almost a living entity and participating in how it evolves. The number of things that we have to work on at a preopening stage are very wide and go from recruiting the team that is going to run the hotel, deciding on the different food and beverage concepts for the demographic of guests that we hope to welcome to the hotel to selecting the colleagues uniforms amongst many others, all of this happening before the opening day on 1 December 2016.

Q: Having been Jumeirah Mina A’Salam’s General Manager in 2008, how do you believe this experience has set you in good stead to lead the team at Al Naseem?

Jumeirah is very fortunate to have a low colleague turnover and consequently the prime objective of the management team is to instil a sense of pride and ownership into the colleagues of the property so that they feel they are very instrumental part of Jumeirah Al Naseem. The vested interest of the colleagues leads directly to the success of the property. This is definitely something that I have been able to witness at Jumeirah Mina A’Salam since I have been back; that the colleagues are still as passionate about the hotel as they were on day one.

Q: Tasked with spearheading operations at Jumeirah Al Naseem, how do you plan on making the opening a success? And how will you plan for its continued success?

Every colleague who has been hired to work for Jumeirah Al Naseem is absolutely aware of the significance of the successful opening of the hotel. The opening has been embraced by every single member of the team and their commitment is unquestionable which in itself will ensure we achieve the objective.

Half of the senior management team of Jumeirah la Naseem come from having very solid positions in different Jumeirah properties and all of them have many years of experience in operating and managing hotels. This fits in perfectly with Jumeirah’s “The Place to Grow” HR strategy.

Most colleagues have already joined and they are going through long trainings while getting to know each other and getting the hotel ready to open and serve guests in only a few weeks’ time. There is a fantastic positive feeling in every department where everyone is working towards the same goal.

Success after we open is a really critical aspect because many openings have been successful but then the operating team has run out of steam once open. The leadership team and I see this opening as a marathon and not as a 100 meter sprint so that we have the stamina to ensure the hotel goes from strength to strength.

Q: Dubai hospitality industry is rife with competition, what makes Jumeirah Al Naseem stand out from the crowd?

Continuing Jumeirah’s legendary hospitality and knowledge of Dubai, Jumeirah Al Naseem arrives with a fresh approach to service and a delivery of genuine experiences that reflect the Dubai of today – Jumeirah Al Naseem moves on from traditional Arabia into a more contemporary tempo, not only reflected in its décor and architecture but also in the style of service, being an extension of something new and exciting.

Every element has been thought through to reflect the hotel’s unique inspiration. Each selected art piece, for instance, has been chosen for its connection with Dubai’s past and present history. From the moment guests and visitors arrive they will be welcomed by a stainless steel sculpture of a caravan of camels in motion, designed by Emirati artist Mattar Bin Lahej to tell the story of Dubai. This theme also extends to Jumeirah Al Naseem’s fashion collaborations; with Emirati female colleagues proudly wearing the traditional abayas exclusively designed in Al Naseem inspired tones by local luxury fashion brand Slouchy’Z. This collaboration with home grown brands extends to chocolate makers Mirzam, a bean to bar small factory based in Alserkal Avenue, a hub for arts and creative spaces. Guests will find in their room at turndown Mirzam’s carefully crafted chocolates inspired by the spice route, this links in with The Arab Explorer theme that runs through our restaurants. Other similar collaborations are in the making to ensure guests are exposed to the Dubai of today experience.

Q: What do you believe will be some of the key factors that will drive revenue into the property?

One of the best aspects of Madinat Jumeirah as a Resort is that it has, with the addition of Jumeirah Al Naseem, four different components. The creation of Jumeirah Al Naseem has a more modern, contemporary style to complement Madinat Jumeirah existing offering. It’s a clever positioning strategy to appeal to guests that perhaps never considered visiting Dubai before. From this, there’s definitely a niche market which we intend to leverage.

Our Restaurant and Bars’ concepts have been very carefully been put in place taking into consideration the wide offering which is currently available in Dubai and within Madinat Jumeirah resort. Jumeirah Al Naseem will feature nine restaurants and bars interwoven by the common theme of The Arabian Explorer and we hope that some of our outlets become landmarks for residents and visitors alike as is already the case with some of Madinat Jumeirah’s award winning restaurants such as PierChic and Pai Thai.

Q: How does the property tap into traditional Bedouin themes?  

Al Bait Baitak is an Arabic expression used in the region for welcoming people into our homes. At Jumeirah Al Naseem we want guests to feel like they are arriving to their home in Dubai.

The name Al Naseem translates to ‘a gentle sea breeze’ and reflects the hotel’s theme where the ‘outside is invited in.’ The contemporary interior design of the spacious guest rooms is inspired by sand dunes, blue skies, sea breeze and Dubai's heritage of pearl diving and Bedouin traditions. The stunning choice of rooms and suites include 12 specifically designed Family Suites. Ocean Suites, two Presidential Suites with extensive terraces featuring outdoor showers and a Royal Suite that can be found on the highest floor with its own cinema room amongst many other surprises. All rooms feature generous bathrooms, touches of Arabic décor and fabulous walk-in showers inspired by hammams. The balconies and extended terraces offer views of the sea, landscaped gardens, swimming pools and Burj Al Arab Jumeirah. The hotel is located so close to the water that the sounds and smells of the sea reach the guest rooms, open terraces and outdoor restaurants.

Q: Looking at the year ahead, what are some of the key facets of your 2017 business strategy?

I am very confident that the quality of the accommodation through the beautifully designed bedrooms will generate significant interest coupled with a comprehensive selection of food and beverage outlets available – 13 restaurants (including 4 external brands) across the Resort providing a variety of experiences from casual dining to higher end choices.

Our ability to introduce and attract hotel guests and local visitors to our restaurants and bars will be key to our success.

Q: What do you believe will be some of the defining trends across the hospitality industry in 2017?

Time is a precious commodity that guests don’t have enough of, regardless of their disposable income, and we will ensure our speed and quality of service is immaculate and exceeds their expectations. The trend to combine business with pleasure travel already exists and will only increase, especially amongst younger guests which are very much in our target audience.

Guests like to maximize the use of their time whether on vacation or business and we are gearing ourselves up through our training initiatives to ensure that colleagues can provide timely and emotionally engaging service that delivers memorable experiences.

Q: If you weren’t a hotelier, what would you be and why?

I became a hotelier because I like interacting with people. If I hadn’t come into the hotel industry, I would be a teacher of some form. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to see people grow mentally, emotionally, physically, and to witness people achieve their full potential is a very rewarding experience.