Fairmont turns one

As Fairmont celebrates its first birthday this month, we spoke to the two men behind the success of the hotel.

Stephen Banks

Regional director of sales & marketing

We opened in February 2002 into a market that was still somewhat depressed following the events of September 2001, and our mission was threefold - to introduce the Fairmont brand into the region, to promote the destination and to sell our product into a market where we would be the 28th five star hotel in operation.

With 32.4 per cent of total room stock attributed to suites the urgency of the first three months of operation was also to promote the suite product within the GCC for summer business. Reviewing the year, we are delighted with the levels of awareness of both the Fairmont name and the product itself - locally within the UAE as well as throughout the region.

The make-up of our team also plays a large part in the success of our first year, with a successful marriage of Fairmont culture and local knowledge the ideal formula for reaching our key markets and getting the correct message across.

As a new hotel for Dubai and a new brand in the region we were thrilled to end the year with an occupancy two per cent higher than budgeted, and this was greatly aided by the successful promotion and ongoing support of the government in pushing Dubai as a destination. What is especially encouraging is the success of our leased office space and apartments, all of which filled up by the end of 2002 and already we are holding a waitlist for the apartments. Considering the amount of available office space on Sheikh Zayed Road and apartment availability in the city this is a great achievement.

Michael Kaile

General manager

This year will be a year of consolidation for the hotel following 11 months of staggered openings from our first day of operation on Feb 2, 2002. The first nine months of operation saw the hotel following an 'opening season' of events as we introduced our restaurants, the penthouse suites, the club and the cafe-deli to the market on a staggered basis, allowing the operation time to settle in as well as giving us the chance to showcase each outlet as it came on line. With 2003 our first full operational year we are keen to focus on fine tuning the business and will be reviewing all major areas of operation and tweaking where necessary. As regards development, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is very much a growth oriented company and continues to look for opportunities to grow the brand within the region as well as in other international destinations. However until projects are realised in absolute terms we are unable to comment on possible acquisitions and new properties.

The launch of this particular property has been a remarkable achievement for both my opening team and for Fairmont Hotels & Resorts.

One of our biggest challenges and I think successes has been the experience of working both within and with a multi-national team and environment, and this, coupled with the high degree of attention to detail required in all key areas of the operation.

To sum up 2002, we can all look back with a tremendous sense of achievement and pride. For me personally it has been a thoroughly enjoyable twelve months filled with new and challenging experiences. Probably the most satisfying thought is that there were some people who said we couldn't do it and yet we did.