The royal touch of luxury

The Royal Mirage hotel.

Jonna Simon talks to Keith Blott, regional director sales and marketing at Royal Mirage Dubai, on what it takes to run a top-notch resort

Q. Can I please clarify the name change for this complex? One & Only Royal Mirage consists of The Palace (the original hotel), The Arabian Court and The Residence & Spa. In fact three exclusive five-star hotels in one complex. Is this correct?

A. Yes, that is correct. They are three distinctive hotels under one umbrella of One & Only Royal Mirage. The Palace opened in 1999 and The Arabian Court and The Residence & Spa opened in December last year, just before the start of the peak season. We were very fortunate that within eight days of opening in December, we were running at 100 per cent occupancy all through the entire resort. We were the second resort to be re-branded One & Only.

Q. I presume the complex must be the only such top-notch resort in the Gulf and the Middle East?

A. From our aspect, if that is what customers say, then we are delighted with such a statement. We are not a company prone to boasting we are the best at this or that, but what we are proud of is being uniquely different.

Q. It has been said that One & Only Royal Mirage is a fusion of Middle Eastern mystique and modern luxury - would you agree with this description?

A. The complex was certainly the first five-star property in Dubai to specifically exhibit luxuriously Arabic charm. The property has all modern facilities, but the overall impression is of Arabic hospitality, charm and luxury combined with modern technology, making that a key selling point.

Q. Tell me in your opinion what are the highlights of each of the three hotels of the One & Only Royal Mirage?

A. Viewing the Palace, the word that comes to mind is majestic. Combining the substantial grounds, the design and the architecture. of the hotel. When it comes to The Arabian Court, the word coming to mind is dramatic with the unique design and architecture. Standing in the Gallery with the seven arches depicting the UAE's seven emirates, the view is dramatic. The Residence & Spa really does give a residential feel to the complex. It evokes the feeling of not so much being in a hotel, but a home. Our guests do get the feeling of being in residence. The Residence & Spa is adjoined by the Givenchy Spa and the Oriental Hamman, both have taken the local community by storm.

Q. Which type of hotel and destination would you list as your toughest competitor?

A. The One & Only Royal Mirage is a unique product, which does not exist anywhere else in Dubai. Worldwide, I would say the best of the Four Seasons resorts or the resorts of the Ritz-Carlton.

Q. From which countries do your guests mainly come?

A. Our key market is Europe and the UK has clearly become the number one market for us out of Europe, followed by Germany as number two. Then there are a number of European countries such as Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland, where we also generate good business. What many' hotels are currently experiencing is an increase in guests from the GCC markets. The business market in Dubai has also come to us, although we have not specifically targeted this segment.

Q. How long would you say the average stay lasts?

A. The average stay with us is about 5-6 nights; we very rarely have leisure guests staying less than 3-4 nights. We also have many gests staying ten nights or more.

Q. Do you anticipate residents of Dubai to use your facilities?

A. They already do. We have had great support from local residents for The Palace and we have enjoyed continuing support for The Arabian Court and The Residence & Spa offering the Givenchy spa and the Oriental Hamman, which has encouraged residents to come to the complex.

Q. What type of special staff do you employ, which you would possibly not find at another five-star property?

A. The recruitment process focuses unrelentingly on finding staff with1the right attitude. Technical skills can be taught, but unless the applicant at the interview stage exhibits genuine warmth and a caring disposition, willingness to be proactive in helping guests and going that extra mile for our guests, we will not employ them. This is a core value of the One & Only Resorts to express genuine hospitality.

Q. Do you see any new markets not yet covered by the Royal Mirage as targets for One & Only? If so - which ones?

A. Surveying the local markets - certainly we would like more executive retreats and more meetings, as we now have more facilities to offer, so we can focus on that segment of the corporate market. The corporate market will continue to grow in Dubai as the emirate continues to develop and there are no signs of that slowing down.