Raise the bar
Business is back to normal at the Jeddah Hilton after the hotel raised the bar in industry standards and service while playing host to a major economic forum in February.
The five-star property was the venue for the annual Jeddah Economic Forum, which attracted over 1,800 delegates, including some of the world’s most important leaders, government officials, businessmen, financier, strategists and academics.
‘‘It took the hotel months of planning and preparations which saw the construction of a giant air-conditioned, carpeted and decorated tent, the laying of kilometres of multi-core fibre-optic cabling, and the deployment of a team of 70 chefs who prepared culinary delights for over 1,800 delegates,’’ says Jeddah Hilton general manager Hagop Doghramadjian.
He continues: Enormous amounts of food, ranging from vegetables, meat, poultry and fish, as well as more than 10,000 bottles of water and 2,500 litres of coffee and tea were served over the course of the forum.
“With the sheer scale of this year’s forum and delegates’ profile, our scope of work ranged from serving daily coffee breaks and lunch to ensuring prompt and quality set-up for several daily seminars running simultaneously, and managing technical set-ups alongside a team of experts, as well as accommodating any need of all delegates throughout the event.
‘‘Much attention was extended by each member of the hotel to ensure that all delegates’ needs were attended to. For example, when a VP of a major global company informed us that he forgot his business cards, we organised for the printing of over 400 cards in six hours.’’
The enormous logistical requirements of the forum included bringing in custom-made cradles to carefully remove two 1,000 kg chandeliers from the Hilton Hall ceiling to accommodate the projection on the biggest screen ever used for any conference in the Kingdom.
“We were prepared for all additional VIP seating set-up, transformation of venues for presentation sessions as well as provision of any unforeseen catering requirements.” he says.
Prince Sultan bin Salman, Madeleine Albright, Czech President Vaclav Klaus and Prince Andrew were among the 1,500 guests attending the forum’s VIP dinner which was held at the hotel’s poolside and featured culinary dishes from virtually every country in the world, including Saudi Arabian specialities such as gareesh, margoug, ouzi and mutabek.
Hilton International (HI), a division of the UK-based Hilton Group, owns the rights to the Hilton brand throughout the world, with the exception of the US, where the brand is managed by Hilton Hotels Corporation (HHC). HI currently operates 31 hotels in the Middle East: 17 hotels in Egypt, eight hotels in the UAE, three in Saudi Arabia and one each in Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait.