BusinessMonther Darwish Managing director, Palazzo Versace Dubai and founder,...

Monther Darwish Managing director, Palazzo Versace Dubai and founder, Palazzo Hospitality

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Last year, Hotelier Middle East adopted a new strategy for its Power Lists. Instead of just focusing on those leaders who head up hotel groups in the region, they shone a light on different roles within the hotel eco-system to highlight the essential work that can often go unheralded.

However, to start 2022 with a bang, they are reintroducing the original power list, the rebranded Hotelier Middle East Executive Power List. Monther Darwish, Managing director, Palazzo Versace Dubai and founder, Palazzo Hospitality is among the men and women at the very top of their hotel group’s organisational tree working in the MENA region.

Over the last year, Palazzo Versace Dubai’s managing director Monther Darwish put the property on the map, coming up with innovative campaigns aimed at increasing occupancy and revenue. As a result, the property had one of the highest occupancies amongst city resorts in 2021.

During the pandemic, Palazzo Versace didn’t close its doors as Darwish steered operations towards the domestic and staycation market. In August 2021, 2,700 people came through the hotel and amid a hospitality job crisis, Darwish did not make any redundancies nor did he do any restructuring, instead, he was able to hire people.
Darwish said: “We launched UAE’s first Hotel eCommerce platform which was received very well. This included contactless guest experience from F&B orders to online check-in and so on.”

The hotel’s e-commerce platform has since generated over AED6million in revenue. Darwish added: “Being an independent property gives you the freedom to experiment and that’s the beauty of Palazzo Versace Dubai. We’re free to throw into the market any crazy idea and our audience just likes how unique we are. We’ve been thinking outside the hospitality box for a while, bringing in new initiatives and projects that haven’t been implemented anywhere else in the industry. Our ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ idea was a tactic to attract younger guests, the new generation who like to experience luxury with ease of purchase.

“Health and hygiene remained our priority while we focused on enhancing the guest experience. The hotel’s key focus was to capture local staycation demand which was well achieved with a very extensive marketing plan on social media, influencer marketing, radio and others.

“We have worked very hard over the last year to stay well connected with our audience with curated packages. Besides focusing on our rooms, there has been a number of F&B experiences which were launched during the pandemic,” he added.

F&B revenue increased, too, as Palazzo Versace Dubai came up with unique concepts that proved to be successful among UAE residents. The ‘Into the Jungle brunch’ at Giardino, Palazzo Versace Dubai’s all-day dining restaurant, was a concept focused on child-friendly activities and a great F&B offering. It has been fully booked every Friday since it launched in July 2020.

In 2022, the hotel will revisit its strategies and formulate new ones to continue to bring in guests.

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