Comprising a prestigious trio of 5* hotels that offer unparalleled amenities, the Al Habtoor City Hotel Collection is a premium destination within a destination. Boasting more than 1,600 elegant rooms between them, including the Middle East’s largest Hilton, Hilton Dubai Al Habtoor City, Habtoor Palace Dubai, LXR Hotels & Resorts, and V Hotel Dubai, Curio Collection by Hilton the Al Habtoor City Hotel Collection is the go-to destination for any discerning traveller visiting Dubai.
Aside from offering chic design and facilities, its prime location on the banks of the Dubai Canal in Downtown Dubai also makes this trio of hotels an excellent choice when it comes to discovering the sights and sounds of this fabled city.
FOUR catches up with talented Complex Commercial Director Soufiane ElAllam, to understand more about how this world-class hotel destination continues to shine brightly in a city full of gems.
Tell us a bit about the history of Al Habtoor City Hotel Collection and what inspired its opening.
Al Habtoor City Hotel Collection was born from the ashes of the legendary Metropolitan Hotel Dubai, an iconic landmark of old Dubai and the first hospitality brand of Al Habtoor Group in Dubai. Al Habtoor City Hotel Collection was brought to life following a multi-billion dollar project in the heart of Dubai and at the crossroads of Sheikh Zayed Road and banks of the Dubai Water Canal. Opened in 2015 and transitioned to Hilton signature brands in 2018. While the conversion did bring a fast-paced transition and re-branding, it has also marked an era of consistent growth and stability with the greater involvement of Al Habtoor Group. In 2018, Al Habtoor City Hotel Collection was rebranded to Hilton with three brands under the Hilton and Habtoor Group name: Hilton Dubai Al Habtoor City, V Hotel Dubai, Curio Collection by Hilton and Habtoor Palace Dubai, LXR Hotels & Resorts.
Can you describe each hotel’s design and concept and the influence behind their aesthetic?
Al Habtoor City Hotel Collection comprises of 3 distinct hotels in one stellar destination. Starting with Habtoor Palace Dubai, Al Habtoor City’s jewel of the crown and the first flagship property of LXR Hotels & Resorts in the region. Habtoor Palace Dubai features 52 opulent suites (a custom made Bentley Suite and signature Sir Winston Churchill Suite). An expression of unmatched hospitality featuring personalised Butler Service and a palatial experience, where guests will be spoilt for choice with exclusive access to facilities and services available across Al Habtoor City. Habtoor Palace Dubai is also home to the multiple award winning World Cut Steakhouse that serves luxurious classic steaks served right out of the grill. Secondly V Hotel Dubai, part of Curio Collection by Hilton evokes a sense of curiosity while enjoying all the hallmarks of Hilton leading luxurious hospitality amenities and services. V Hotel Dubai has a special focus on nightlife that are desirable to the young and young at heart entrepreneurs, artists and creative minds who want to be known and in the known. Guests can now indulge in the hotel’s refurbished guest rooms and relax in the newly unveiled King rooms, twin rooms and the ultimate party suite. V Hub, now located on the 7th floor is a fully open area where hotel guests and visitors alike can access a hidden, yet exhilarating array of facilities, from the V gym, reception, 24 hours lounge and by sundown a DJ to set off the mood, variety of dining options to choose from, rooftop pool and much more. If guests want to add some oomph to their stay, they can always reserve the signature suites – The Penthouse or the Sky Villa. V Hotel Dubai is also home to La Perle, Dubai’s #1 water themed show. Lastly, Hilton Dubai Al Habtoor City, known as the perfect family getaway hotel, with connecting rooms that can convert into a mini apartment to give guests their own privacy with the family. With an in-house kids club which is complimentary for hotel guests and keep parents as ease, relax and enjoy the 20+ dining outlets within ‘The City’. Let’s not forget to mention The 44, located on the 44th floor of Hilton Dubai Al Habtoor City and has the highest bowling alley in the world. Truly the city of dreams.
How did you find your way into hospitality management?
I enjoyed growing alongside the city of Dubai, back in 2002 with a first role as a Sales Manager, driving the fast lane of career elevation as I was then selected in the opening team for the iconic multi-billion dollar Atlantis The Palm Dubai as Executive Director of Sales less than ten years later. This is where my mentor Serge Zaloof (RIP) used to remind me: “Fiston (French slang for Son)! In our industry, we work with the people for the people, and always remember: take your job more seriously than your title”. That’s where I realised my bond with Dubai and made the right career choice.
I missed Dubai and the hospitality sector when I moved back to my home town in Morocco. Did I expect a comeback to Dubai? But, I made the right decision to move back and join Al Habtoor City Hotel Collection. During my recruitment process, I had the privilege to be interviewed at our Head Office by our owners themselves. And in the interview with key stakeholders, I remember being asked: “Since you are a football fanatic, and a world-class competitor, this is the time in History when we need a remontada, can you make it?” To which I confidently answered: if I can’t do it, who else can do it (me being humble). So I decided to move my family back to Dubai and reposition this hidden gem Al Habtoor City. Both Dubai and Al Habtoor City are special for the sense of fascination they create, they are ahead of their era and I strongly invite everyone to plan a visit. Now is the time to return or experience it for the first time!
What does your job as Complex Commercial Director entail?
As the complex commercial director, I am responsible for developing strategies covering all internal divisions and external networks to maximise total revenue, profit and market share of the complex with a focus on all available business tools and intellect available to consistently exceed the budgeted revenues across all streams: rooms occupancy and ADR, MICE and Catering, Food and Beverage, recreation and Spa with optimised cost of sale, route to market and brand marketing opportunities.
I make sure to drive the planning and execution of the commercial strategies and activations by supporting the revenue, sales, reservations, marketing and group events teams. For example, it could mean supporting the complex revenue manager to establish an ideal marketing mix, review and validate forecasts, develop yielding strategies for different demand periods and review and scale up all retail and group pricing including MICE and FITs in a way that is cohesive with both our demands’ level, our inventory, and our perceived unique value proposition.
Being a key member of our senior leadership also entrusts me as a role model for the commercial team and Al Habtoor City community. I develop teams and talents across all functions. My role as an executive committee member is key to taking hold of new opportunities through strong relations and working as a representative for the company with our owners and all stakeholders.
What makes Al Habtoor City Hotel Collection so special in your opinion?
Al Habtoor City Hotel Collection is known here as ‘The City of Dreams’. It is located in the heart of Dubai, right next to Sheikh Zayed Road and on the banks of Dubai Water Canal, which makes it a very desirable location. Guests can arrive in style by road via Sheikh Zayed Road, through air via the hotel’s private helipad or through sea via RTA’s water taxi. We are a 15 minutes’ drive from Dubai International Airport, Museum of the Future, DIFC, Dubai Downtown, Dubai Mall and much more. Guests can even request for a private shuttle for beach access at our sister property Waldorf Astoria, The Palm.
With over 20 dining and entertainment venues, three rooftop pools, two rejuvenating spas and the gorgeous Winter garden that takes place every year. Not to miss the world class water themed show La Perle by Dragone. Truly ‘The City of Dreams’ with three extravagant hotels – Al Habtoor City’s jewel of the crown Habtoor Palace Dubai, LXR Hotels and Resorts, the iconic 44 story Hilton Dubai Al Habtoor City and the retro futuristic V Hotel Dubai, Curio Collection by Hilton.
Also, Al Habtoor Group is part of the top 100 Emirati family businesses in the United Arab Emirate and has grown with the country. Today, they are one of the region’s most respected conglomerates and an active industry pioneer with interests in hospitality, automotive, real estate, education and publishing sectors. Al Habtoor Group’s Chairman Khalaf Ahmed Al Habtoor and Vice Chairman Mohammed Khalaf Al Habtoor have earned a much respected reputation locally and internationally with seven distinguished hotels in the UAE and seven hotels around the globe.
Can you tell us about your favourite highlights of the hotel, including accommodation, facilities and amenities?
Before arriving to Al Habtoor City Hotel Collection or on your way out after a mesmerising stay, you could wander and end up dining at a nostalgic 1970 American diner décor at Sauce, step into the movie set of Kill Bill most dramaturgic combat scene at Gonpachi or dine at Justine Bieber’s all-time favourite restaurant Il Pastaio. Then make a grand arrival beyond temple sized doors of Habtoor Palace Dubai to feel awe-struck by the beauty of the grand lobby with dreamy décor French style symmetric marble gilded staircases, Versailles manicured gardens, which reminisces of a Maison de Maître, in true French neoclassical style. Surround yourself with motorbike stunts, capoeira acrobats, Dragon dance and other Ariel stunts at La Perle.
Tell us about the current experience of Al Habtoor City Hotel Collection since you joined the management team, and its latest offerings?
Al Habtoor City Hotel Collection has a plethora of experiences to offer. Every year we hold the Winter Garden outside Habtoor Palace Dubai, with over 50 stalls of different cuisines from around the globe, kids play area, a grooming centre for your four legged friends and much more. During the FIFA season, Ribs & Brews at Hilton Dubai Al Habtoor City became a fan zone of its own with guests cheering and supporting their favourite teams. Our world-class brunch every Saturday is the place to be at the multiple award winning World Cut Steakhouse at Habtoor Palace Dubai, set within an elegant space of natural dark wood, glamorous light fixtures and leather upholstered furniture, serving a sophisticated collection of steakhouse classics. The latest offering would be the soft refurbishment of V Hotel Dubai, which is very exciting, with V Hub at Level 7 will be an all-rounder – check in, V lounge, Restaurant and have pool parties taking place, this will define V Hotel as the perfect lifestyle hotel in Dubai.
What do you think is the most important thing for guests when they book accommodation, and how do you factor this into the Al Habtoor City Hotel Collection experience?
When guests book a hotel room there are a few main things they look for:
- Location – When on holiday, location is one of the prime aspects of when guests decide their holiday. When in a new city, you want everything close by and accessible and in the city. As of Al Habtoor City Hotel Collection, we are located in the heart of Dubai and on the banks of the Dubai Water Canal. We are 15 minutes’ drive from Dubai International Airport, Dubai Marina and just next door to Dubai’s tourist destinations such as Museum of the Future, Burj Khalifa, DIFC and more.
- Personal attention – We sell more than tables and beds, we sell experiences and this requires a thoughtful attention to detail and an understanding of today’s global travellers, even more so after COVID where we noticed every guest had an individual conception of travel. Hilton provides reassurance and historical expertise when it comes to international travel standards and services. Habtoor also being well-travelled are even more so aware and exigent on the level of personalization a hotel has to offer. Hence Butler Service that is provided at Habtoor Palace Dubai.
- Exceptional experiences – Creating a sense of destination within the destination, with the Winter Garden in front of Habtoor Palace Dubai, open during the season consists of over 50 food stalls, kids play areas, pop up shops and much more. The Winter Garden already gathered several 100 thousands of visitors, our social media page newly created gathers more than 15K followers.
What do you think will leave the biggest impression on guests who visit Al Habtoor City Hotel Collection?
Dubai has so much to offer and it is often difficult to find a location that provides access to it all. Because of Al Habtoor City Hotel Collection’s central location and direct affiliation with Al Habtoor Group conglomerate, our guests are privileged. You can very easily enjoy the best of Dubai and explore the city on your own with the fast track of Sheikh Zayed Road, or be transported in the comfort of a chauffeured Bentley service and be provided access to our partner private beach at Waldorf Astoria The Palm. And when at Al Habtoor City, you will still find your senses stimulated by an array of incredible facilities and experiences, La Perle being just one without precedent in the region, which are comparable to Las Vegas.
Starting from check in, guests are greeted with a welcome drink, and a smooth check in process. When the hotels have any VVIP guests check in, such as celebrities, royals and delegations, we make sure to customise every aspect of their stay. Such as customised key cards, where the team chooses the best picture of the guest and then prints the key card for them to use and keep as a souvenir. Each hotel has their own way to WOW the guests. Starting with V Hotel Dubai with their V moments. Guest services take their time to through each VIP guest’s social media to find the best images to place around the room and on the bed in the shape of ‘V’ with amenities kept as per their liking. Moving on to Habtoor Palace Dubai, each suite comes with a private butler to take care of all the guests’ needs regardless of the time of the day or night. The Royal Suite at Habtoor Palace Dubai has its own spa room, if guests don’t feel like going down to the spa, the spa can come to them.
Any upcoming developments that visitors can look forward to?
V Hotel Dubai has been undergoing a soft refurbishment for almost the entire hotel, while our loyal members will still recognize and enjoy little hallmarks and sense of curiosity evoked by Curio Collection by Hilton brand, with the enhanced funky quirky vibe of V Hotel Dubai. V Hotel Dubai being only one example of Al Habtoor Group’s ambition and support, which promise guests to always enjoy a distinct visit upon each returning visit. Since I joined Al Habtoor City Hotel Collection, we have witnessed our repeating guests have increased tremendously, and their feedback has grown more and more loving and positive, which encourages us to keep delighting them again and again. Habtoor Palace Dubai had ranked #5 on Trip Advisor and our Booking.com score is improving as well.
To take advantage of our Winter Sale, guests can call on +9714 437 3333 (Hilton Dubai Al Habtoor City), +9714 435 5555 (Habtoor Palace Dubai, LXR Hotels & Resorts) +9714 436 6666 (V Hotel Dubai, Curio Collection by Hilton) or Reserve Now.