You’ve held various positions as a GM in different regions around the world. How has this diverse experience shaped your approach to leadership?

My hospitality career broadly spans roles in countries such as Sweden, Denmark, China, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Furthermore, my international hospitality career across three major geographical regions, both as a leader and an individual, has had a lasting impact. Being exposed to many new cultures brings out something in you that you never knew you had. This includes a sort of curiosity, modesty and respect that ultimately makes for a richer experience.

When it comes to leadership, working abroad requires local knowledge and experience. Additionally, it requires a support system to truly understand and integrate with the local environment. Leadership is about empowering your team to work toward a common goal and fostering a collaborative atmosphere.

In a region like the GCC, with so many cultures and a multitude of ethnicities, there is an amazing opportunity. This opportunity allows you to almost travel without leaving the place at all, experiencing diverse cultures. Through my various appointments as general manager, I became close to the staff in the hotels where I worked and learned so much for the team. They would share with me their stories, and journeys, thereby enriching my perspective.

During my three postings in mainland China, between the cities of Beijing and Tianjin, I came to appreciate Chinese hospitality. Moreover, I discovered how local people are kind and hospitable, adding depth to my professional and personal growth.

 Collaboration seems to be a central theme in your approach to leadership. How do you encourage each team member’s contribution to the hotel’s success?

Through total and immersive engagement throughout the organization, we achieved remarkable results at La Maison Hotel in Doha, Qatar. During my time at La Maison Hotel, for example, we built a strong team and opened a beautiful property efficiently. This was just in time for the FIFA World Cup 2022, a significant milestone for our organization. We managed to open the hotel in less than 70 days, starting with only three core members of staff. Gathered around in one office, we demonstrated the power of collaboration and dedication in achieving our goals. Furthermore, collaboration is not just at the leadership level but across the entire organization. With everyone you hire and bring on board, it is crucial to make them feel welcome and valued. It is essential to ensure every team member feels as important as everyone else, fostering unity and motivation.

Additionally, motivating teams through daily meetings and briefings is what pulls it all together. These practices put a smile back on their faces, enhancing their daily work experience. I try to implement an empowered philosophy and a hands-on approach that enables everyone to make relevant decisions. This undoubtedly has a ripple effect, positively impacting the way team members deal with guests.

Currently, as GM of Hilton Dubai Creek Hotel & Residences, I always remain approachable to guests and staff. Leading by example, I strive to meet and greet as many guests as I possibly can daily. To date, I must have handed out over a thousand business cards, building personal connections.

 What measures are you taking to create a positive organizational culture within Hilton Dubai Creek Hotel & Residences and how do you believe this will contribute to the overall success of the property?

By doing what I do in setting up a full hotel and organization, I aim to cover every function, not just leadership. Additionally, I try to create a sense of security so that every person on board feels safe in their role. Furthermore, I want everyone to foster a sense of belonging to the team, enhancing their connection with the organization. When everyone in the organization feels valued, they do great work. If ever there is a gap in the chain, issues arise. For instance, a plate that is not cleaned by stewards has a negative effect on the food service team, impacting overall efficiency. At the end of the day, we work in a people-driven business; therefore, fostering positive relationships is crucial. I aim to surround myself with smart, bright and agile individuals, those who are extremely knowledgeable in their respective fields. This approach allows you, as a general manager, to develop and learn more effectively from your team. Ultimately, great people with the right demeanor and attitude are what we want to show our guests, enhancing their experience.

What makes the Hilton Dubai Creek Hotel & Residences unique and what are your plans for the property?

When I first arrived at the Hilton Dubai Creek Hotel & Residences, I immediately got a good feeling and positive vibe. I could see the tremendous potential and future the property carried, which was very exciting.

What’s unique about the Hilton Dubai Creek Hotel & Residences is its prime location on Dubai’s iconic creek. This location is close to where the history of Dubai first unfolded, adding a historical significance to the stay. Additionally, it offers some unforgettable views of both the creek and the city, which are stunning. The property consists of 180 private residences, which, in a normal hotel operation, would be equivalent to 350 rooms. For a chain hotel, it offers a lot of privacy and intimacy, making it stand out. It could easily be described as a luxury boutique residence due to its exclusive and intimate setting. The entire property offers a place to really enjoy short and long stays alike, catering to diverse needs.

My vision for the property is to further personalize all the services and offerings on hand for our guests. Additionally, I want to develop new concepts to better differentiate ourselves from other hotel residences around us. For instance, it would be good to create special themed nights, such as barbeque nights by the pool.

 Rita Ghantous