Face to face with Roland Duerr, Managing Director – Rosewood Abu Dhabi.

Roland Duerr is back in the Middle East for the third time, having been back in the States for a number of years, following stints with the Jumiera Beach Hotel in Dubai and the Burj Al Arab. Today he heads the team at a very ambitious Rosewood Abu Dhabi. We asked him to tell us more about his day to day role…

The job as managing director entails that you are quarterback in any situation. You are “the joker” when help is needed for your team… I am a strong believer in teamwork and supporting my staff on the ground; equally, supporting the sales team and getting the brand out there – particularly in a market where Rosewood is not as strong as in Europe or in the United States from where it originated.

Strategically we are very well-placed and we believe every day passing by will be a stronger day for us.

What makes Rosewood different?

I think Rosewood and in particular the Rosewood Abu Dhabi it’s the staff and the service. This intuitive service that we are looking for with every interaction with the guests. It’s not yes sir or yes ma’am; there is the name usage, there is the understanding of the guest’s needs before the guest has even understood that he or she has the need. Equally, we have a fantastic product, which is really tailor-made it for both for the local market and for the international markets. If you look at where Rosewood Abu Dhabi is located geographically, it’s also very visionary, in a part of Abu Dhabi which I would call the “new” Abu Dhabi. We are connected with the Cleveland clinic which is a renowned hospital in particular in north America but we are also connected to the Galleria mall… the Abu Dhabi global markets are 2 miles away and we have the cruise terminal coming up or already in place and then coming up hopefully in Q4 there’s the Louvre Museum, so strategically we are very well-placed and we believe every day passing by will be a stronger day for us.

With the reopening of the Crillon in Paris, news like that is going to create a buzz – because people travel and they know places like that. How does that affect your property?

In the US, Rosewood brand is very strong, and the opening of the Crillon is fantastic four our global image.

What about other expansion plans?

Moving on, we will have a strong focus in the Asian sector, where we are opening full properties over the next year. Until now we had only one property in Asia, which was Rosewood Beijing.

Are there any other plans for openings in your region?

Rosewood, just like many other luxury hotel companies, is very selective when it comes to location. I personally believe that Dubai is a very important hub, if not the most important hub here in the Gulf region. Equally it makes it even more challenging to find the right spot, because there are already some great brands in Dubai. Rosewood is very, very selective when it comes to finding the right site – not just for the next five years, but a site that will be predominant for the next ten to 15 years. So, Dubai is definitely a focus point, but we are also looking at places around the Gulf including Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

In this region, it’s very hard to get good personnel. How do you select and train your people?

In the selection process, we increasingly select by behaviour as opposed to technical skills. I am a firm believer that I can shape anyone who has the willingness or appetite to learn. So that gives us an approach of having a very diversified workforce. Once we recruit people, we have a very intensive training programme that starts with the “on-boarding”. This is three days where the new associates are treated like our top VIP guests. They will experience the restaurants, they will experience rooms, they will experience the spa. Each executive member will spend a good deal of time with them – and it’s not just one-way communication. This is what we do to bring them up to speed. Then we have milestones after 15 days and 45 days, and each associate has a mentor that can work with them, ensuring they comprehend everything and understand the culture and vision of Rosewood, and in particular Rosewood Abu Dhabi.