Exclusive interview – Pascal Dupuis, General Manager – Address Boulevard, Dubai.
We recently had the pleasure of staying at the new Address Boulevard Hotel in Dubai, and meeting with its General Manager Pascal Dupuis (pictured above). We asked him firstly to tell us a little about his own background…
I have been in Dubai for three years. First, I was at the Address Dubai Marina for about a year and a half. Then I moved to the opening of the Address Boulevard. It was a long-awaited opening in the Emaar Hospitality Group, because it’s been seven years since we opened an Address. It’s been an incredible journey to open such a beautiful property.
We have a saying: “One size fits one only”
Your CEO recently said that Emaar tries to “exceed customer expectations”. How do you achieve that?
We have a saying: “One size fits one only”. It’s not only through perfect location, great property and facilities we offer. It’s all about customising your engagements. So, over the past two or three years, we went through a number of programmes and activities to empower or associate; to really engage with the guests, depending on the needs, depending on the length of stay, depending on a lot of things. Everything we do is all about guest satisfaction, guest services and what guests want. We have a huge focus on the training, and even a review of our standard operating procedures, which are being made much easier, to be sure we have the availability to connect and engage with the guest. If you have great guest engagement and great guest satisfaction, automatically it will reflect in your occupancy rates. People are happy to pay a premium to get this kind of guest service.
What’s different about the way you handle human resources?
It’s all about recruiting the right people. We of course look for people with experience. But not necessarily. It’s all about the personality. People have to be emotionally connecting. They must be impassioned, because it’s not just a job. It’s much more. Our recruitment process has been very different at the Address Boulevard. Basically, we asked people to give a presentation on what they’re about. A bit of background – their childhood, the mentors they’ve had, whether they have any artistic skills, and so on. Automatically, this puts them at ease. People are really encouraged to express themselves.
Once you have a great personality, then you do the training on the standards of Address. They go through two or three days’ induction in an academy, getting the basics on who is who and the products. Then we put them in a stretch limousine, give them the experience of a five-star guest, and take them to all our properties. When they arrive at each property, the general manager welcomes them, they have lunch, visit the property, go back in the limousine, and get the real taste of what really constitutes a luxury experience. Then they go back to the property where they learn the basics of the property. We also have an open-door policy where all the managers are very visible and present, and wherein everybody is able to understand one another’s role. For example, the F&B manager will have no hesitation to carry or clear a table. We are all here for the guests, and that shows… and it puts them at ease. We give our staff members every opportunity to express their personality, their background and their knowledge. We started something called “I’ve got an idea”. Anybody can say something – to give an idea. We encourage everyone, if they have experienced something, maybe in another place, and they think it’s a good idea, to let us know. Every day, I receive between ten and fifteen ideas related to staff welfare or guest satisfaction, and the ideas we get are amazing.
Where does this philosophy come from?
We are a small company; we only have ten hotels, and we meet regularly with all the general managers and HR teams, and this concept was developed through a group workshop. I bring my ideas from my experience, and other people bring their ideas to the fore, and we have a lot of workshops, from which we have reinvented the whole induction programme and training programme for our staff. It even starts before people begin working here. We send them a link to videos, accompanied with questionnaires, where they earn points and begin learning even before they begin in the office. Everyone is encouraged to participate at all levels, so as to move forward, and finally to deliver amazing service, because they are empowered and impassioned by what they do.
What makes the hotel different?
First of all, it’s the uniqueness in the architecture of the building. It’s a new iconic building in downtown. It’s the second tallest building downtown and the seventh tallest in Dubai, and the 37th tallest in the world. Location is also key, as it’s connected to the Dubai Mall. Automatically it opens up to a leisure clientele, with a lot of families. We have the Dubai Opera as well, which was launched last year, also adding to the dynamic of the downtown area. It’s really a city lifestyle resort.
We have three swimming pools, which is unique in a city hotel. We have a dedicated pool for the spa, a main pool and a family pool. This is a mixed-use property, so that brings a lot of animation and movement. We have 196 rooms and 532 residential apartments. In terms of the interior design, it’s very “back to classic”. It’s very light, with the use of a lot of marble, and it’s a nice “cosy” size, making people feel at ease straight away when they walk into the lobby, with its amazing high ceiling. We also have a lot of focus on arts. We have more than 250 pieces of art in the hotel – all hand crafted. This includes the glass chandelier in the lobby area which was entirely hand-blown and crafted in the Czech Republic, as well as others in public areas of the hotel. The designer said the hotel inspired her to think of a “grande dame” like Audrey Hepburn – and this inspiration was behind the design of the first chandelier.
Then we created a new concept of dining. It’s a completely new concept and design for a restaurant, and it will henceforth be applied to all our hotels. It’s based on an apartment. Address Boulevard has very French, Parisian atmosphere and décor, and there are eleven different rooms making up the restaurant and bar. You have the library, the game room, the music room, the living room, the dining room, the collection room, the study room, the kitchen, and we even have a secret room. It’s a concept of a restaurant where you place yourself depending on your mood. It can depend on your situation. Are you alone? Are you with your friends? Your colleagues? Whatever you desire, you can find the atmosphere fitting with your mood and needs. You can visit the restaurant several times and never feel like you’ve been in the same place before. The menu is “family style”. It’s a 24-hour restaurant – and the concept is simply, “make yourself at home”. That’s why we don’t have timing for any particular meal. You can have breakfast at midnight if you just arrived from the other end of the world!
We have also dedicated an entire floor for the spa and wellness and fitness. The spa is very elegant, and we have 11 treatment rooms, focussed on wellness, skin-care and of course the usual treatments. We have a VIP suite for couples, where they have their own Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room and relaxing area. The spa also has an outdoor dedicated spa pool. So, when you’ve finished a treatment you can relax at the spa pool which has a great view on the Burj Al Khalifa.
I saw that it’s also possible to have a barman come to your room and prepare cocktails. That’s an original idea!
Yes, it’s part of our uniqueness. Because we are very GCC oriented, we decided to revolutionise the minibar. The minibar has all the juice and soft drinks and water, and for alcoholic drinks, one of the options is to have a barman come to your room. He brings the whole mixology trolley with him, so if you receive people in your suite this can be a very nice option.
Tell me about your “Lifestyle Events”.
For this, we have created a beautiful, different concept for meeting rooms. We obviously have the ballroom, but we also have a reading room and a boardroom… and in the middle of all these rooms we have created an atelier. This is basically an open kitchen, where the chef can do demonstrations and cooking classes, and it’s a very social hub for all the people coming for meetings to socialise in a different way during breaks.
What are the three key USPs of this property?
Without hesitation, I would say the location and the connectivity with the Dubai Mall; the fact that we can cater for both corporate and leisure clients – as it’s a city lifestyle resort; and the third is our highly innovative new F&B concept creating a new dynamic.