Free nights at the Meridien
Moving to counter the downturn in travel around the world, the luxury hotel group Le Meridien has introduced a Free Nights promotion for its seven properties in the UAE, as well as selected hotels across the Middle East and India.Central to the Free Nights offer is the 3 for 2 offer, whereby anyone booking two nights at one of the group's participating hotels in the Middle East or India gets a third night for free. "Le Meridien has long been focused on this region: we have 20 properties in the Middle East, which represents more than 18 per cent of the group's inventory worldwide," said Russel Sharpe, regional vice-president of sales for the group. "Intra-regional tourism is crucial at the moment, which we identified 18 months ago, and again acted on when our seven UAE properties undertook a GCC roadshow during February and early March. "To encourage both corporate and leisure travel just now, we have taken this opportunity to give something extra to those that choose to stay with us." The offer will run until September 15, and also incorporates the group's Passport rates. Sharpe added: "We are particularly aiming this promotion at both new and existing regional customers, and a key message for all our local markets is that, in fact, there has never been a better time to travel to the UAE." A new electronic 'butler' service is being tested at Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort, prior to being rolled out across Le Meridien hotels worldwide. The east coast resort has also employed graduates from the local technical college to assist with Arabic language telephone services, as part of its service initiative to provide facilities for all nationalities. According to hotel manager, Patrick Antaki, since opening in December, Le Méridien Al Aqah Beach Resort has catered for both overseas tourists and large numbers of UAE local and expat visitors, and services have been tweaked to accommodate the mix of cultures and languages. The new Dial One for Service initiative means guests need only dial one number, and their call will be redirected by the telephone operator to the relevant department - and then followed up to ensure that the request has been actioned. "Instead of remembering different numbers for laundry, housekeeping and so on, guests need only dial the one number - and then they will always speak to the same telephone operator who has the responsibility of ensuring their requirements are met speedily and with courtesy," said Antaki. "By introducing nationals from the college in these positions, we can assist our Arabic guests and also provide an opportunity for these girls to gain practical experience in the hospitality sector as part of their training." Antaki explained that the Guest Service Centre is a proactive department, staying in touch with all guests daily. He added: "All guests are called on arrival, departure and daily during their stay to ensure maximum satisfaction, as well as provide a forum for guest comments." Le Meridien Dubai has launched Bodega, the themed Spanish restaurant serving traditional and fusion Spanish cuisine. The latest addition to the hotel's Meridien Village, renowned for the variety of restaurants it offers the residents of Dubai, Bodega (Spanish for pantry), is a night-time venue custom-made to embody the essence of modern Spain, in food, music and ambiance. "Bodega is a unique fusion of modern Spanish culture and traditional food served in a laid-back, contemporary and comfortable setting," said Stephane Blanc, director operations of Le Meridien Dubai.