Dealing in memories

Cooper at the Ritz Carlton.

"We began negotiations to take over the Le Meridien on December 20, 2002," said Simon Cooper, Chief Operating Officer of the Ritz-Carlton Company. He was in Bahrain to officially announce the re-branding of the Le Meridien Bahrain as the Ritz-Carlton Bahrain.

"The Ritz-Carlton group want our clientele to have the same experience - the Ritz-Carlton experience - no matter which of our hotels they are staying in. Be it the Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, or the Ritz-Carlton New York," Cooper added.

The Meridien Bahrain was an obvious choice for Cooper and the company. "It is the best hotel in Bahrain," said Cooper.

"The only thing we had to really look into, as far as revamping is concerned, were the rooms. They were definitely not up to our standards. But we will be changing them; bringing them up to our standards. We will also be adding villas, and basically raising the service bar. After all the only real competition for the Ritz-Carlton is another Ritz-Carlton," added Cooper.

But how difficult is the transition period when a hotel changes hands?

"Well it can be difficult. But as long as you have an alignment of vision it's okay."

Cooper said that the Company had brought down a team of trainers to make sure that the staff of the new addition to the Ritz-Carlton portfolio was brought up to speed as to what was expected of them as part of the group.

Cooper stated that only about 10 per cent of the Company's revenue came from the Middle East. "But we are certainly planning to boost are presence in the region and also in Europe," said Cooper.

Cooper hopes that Ritz-Carlton Bahrain will attract more leisure customers and even groups that are in the country for summits and conferences. He said that the resort was ideally located, had all the facilities that were required, including a beach.

So what is it that makes the Ritz-Carlton Company tick?

"Memories. We deal in the business of memories, and it is those very memories that give us a very loyal base of clientele. You can be sure that you will leave one of our hotels with very fond memories."