Baharain's beloved landmark The Gulf Hotel Convention & Spa prepares for extensive renovation this summer, ahead of celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019, which will also see the group unveiling its first Dubai outpost.
We spoke to Gulf Hotels Group CEO, Garfield Jones, for more information about what changes to expect at Bahrain’s original five-star property and what the new Dubai hotel will be like.
“From the Time The Gulf Hotel opened in 1969, it has never stood still and 2018 is no different. In the coming few weeks, we will kick off a number of projects.
“The Gulf Convention Centre will be completely refurbished and reopen in October with a stunning new design. We will carry out a refurbishment of our renowned La Pergola restaurant, which will reopen in September under the guidance of multi-Michelin starred Italian chef Giancarlo Perbellini.
The Gulf Hotel has been appointed as the official caterer for the Bahrain International Circuit Formula 1 Grand Prix for the next two years
“We are also refurbishing our Al Waha all-day dining restaurant and extending the capacity by 40 per cent, as well as refurbishing our Fusions Restaurant and creating a trendy roof top entertainment area. When Fusions reopens, it will be under the guidance of our talented young Bahraini chef, Tala Bashmi.
“Our entire refurbishment programme kicks off in April, when we close the famous Sherlock Holmes and give that a face lift too, in Time for the World Cup,” said Jones.
REFURB IN APRIL
While a few of the extensive food and beverage outlets in the property may be closed in April, the chefs will no doubt be kept busy catering to petrolheads at Bahrain International Circuit, where The Gulf Hotel has been appointed as the official caterers for the next two years. Catering for the Bahrain International Circuit Formula 1 Grand Prix this April will be a challenge, but a respectable one.
“Speaking of challenges, the last few years have been difficult and I am not expecting 2018 to be any different,” the CEO tells us frankly. “The huge increase in the number of available hotel bedrooms has created an oversupply, which has resulted in hotels cutting rates to gain business. Hopefully, the downward spiral of the last three years will start to bottom out.”
NEW GENERAL MANAGER
Meanwhile, The Gulf Hotels Group has appointed Fares Yactine as general manager of The Gulf Hotel Convention & Spa. Yactine is not new to The Gulf Hotel, having previously served as executive assistant manager, in charge of the food & beverage department, as well as health & recreation. In 2011 he left to join the Sofitel Thalasssa Sea & Spa Bahrain, as hotel manager and since 2013, he has held the post of general manager at the Sofitel Al Khobar the Corniche.
On his appointment, Jones said: “We considered a number of candidates for the position but Yactine was always our first choice and we are delighted to welcome him back to The Gulf Hotel family. The market has changed drastically from when he was with us previously but I am confident that he will do well and leave his mark on the history of the hotel.” Jones added: "One of the challenges facing Fares is overseeing the 50th anniversary celebrations of The Gulf Hotel in 2019, which will involve a whole year of activities to celebrate the hotel's opening in 1969."
* Gulf Hotels Group will be available on stand HC0700