As the iconic Al Faisaliah Hotel celebrates 15 years of success, its owner Al Khozama Management Company is pressing ahead with a bold new vision for the future
In May this year, Al Khozama’s flagship Al Faisaliah Hotel celebrated 15 years of success since it first opened its doors in 2000 as Riyadh’s most exclusive address and joined the ranks of the world’s elite hotels to deliver exceptional levels of service combined with an impressive world-class product.
Since then, the hotel has consistently exceeded customer expectations and today enjoys a fine international reputation for warmth, luxury and exceptional cuisine and an elevated status as one of the world’s leading hotels.
Al Faisaliah Hotel is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World, which represents more than 400 luxury hotels in 80 countries. Each unique hotel is rooted in the location in which it is found and embodies the very essence of the destination.
Located in the heart of the prestigious Olaya district in the Saudi capital, Al Faisaliah Hotel forms part of the stunning Al Faisaliah Center, one of the most imaginative multi-use developments found anywhere in the world, and attracts business, family and tourism clients as well as governmental delegations.
As well as celebrating the success at Al Faisaliah Hotel, Al Khozama reached a milestone in terms of realising its exciting growth strategy by assuming direct management of Al Faisaliah Hotel and Hotel Al Khozama in April this year, ending a 20-year successful partnership with Rosewood Hotels and Resorts.
Taking over the management of the two properties is integral to the company’s exciting vision to become one of Saudi Arabia’s leading hospitality brands with a regional and international growth strategy. In order to pursue this vision, the management and operation of its own properties and assets is imperative to the company and Al Khozama will see both Al Faisaliah and Al Khozama brands further enhanced in the years ahead.
This summer, the company launched a raft of construction work which will see the entire area remodelled with renovations and new buildings, over the next few years. This includes an extensive renovation for Al Faisaliah Hotel, which is set to consolidate its leadership position in Saudi Arabia’s hospitality sector. In addition, a new 215-room five-star Hotel Al Khozama will emerge from the refurbished Al Khozama Center by late 2018.
Both properties play an integral part in Al Faisaliah Center, providing upscale hospitality services with immense conference and banqueting facilities that include The Globe, Riyadh’s ultimate private dining restaurant experience with a panoramic view dramatically overlooking the city from the lofty heights of Al Faisaliah Tower. Facing directly across the plaza is the luxurious Al Faisaliah Suites, which opened in 2010, forming the southern perimeter. This six-level wing was meticulously designed by Her Highness Princess Al Anoud bint Khalid Al Saud and features 106 ultra-luxury contemporary premier suites, La Cucina, a fashionable Italian restaurant with an open-kitchen concept, and Al Faisaliah Spa by ESPA, the kingdom’s finest ladies-only health and wellness centre.
Hussein Ali Hatata, Vice President of the Hospitality Division of Al Khozama, is a seasoned veteran of the region’s hotel sector, having first joined Hotel Al Khozama in October 1978. Hatata, who has enjoyed accelerated promotion over the years and understands the hospitality industry intimately, leads the hospitality division under the patronage of His Highness Prince Bandar bin Saud bin Khalid Al Saud, the Chairman of Al Khozama.
As Hatata explains, Al Khozama is a very different company by being part of the King Faisal Foundation, which means that profitability is returned back to the foundation which in turn reinvests these earnings into the business through an active asset management approach for its philanthropy.
“We have accumulated a vast knowledge over the past decades in the hospitality sector in the management and operation of all hotel asset types,” says Hatata. “This is not just from our success in Hotel Al Khozama and later the Al Faisaliah Hotel, and other properties. Through our hospitality division, we also have the necessary expertise in the management and operation of properties as well as designing venues and are looking to increase our property portfolio. We have a diversified business model including ownership, investment and management of properties and already have an extensive portfolio from leisure resorts and business hotels to properties in the religious locations.”
He continues: “We have been very active and assumed management of Al Shohada Hotel in 2007, one of the leading hotels in Makkah, a substantial property with 494 rooms and suites and events venue and conference facilities. We have proved our management expertise in a highly competitive environment.
“Al Khozama has long considered that with the heritage and proven track record of the company we should look to managing all our various assets utilising our vast experience. This is integral to our growth strategy to become a leading hospitality player not only in Saudi Arabia but also regionally and internationally.
“Another important property that exemplifies our approach is our management of Bay La Sun Hotel and Marina in the King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), north of Jeddah, which we manage on behalf of Emaar, The Economic City. Here, Al Khozama was in the development from the beginning and we have high ambitions in the Western region too as well as Al Khobar and Dammam in the Eastern Province. Later this year, we will open the prestigious Al Faisaliah Resort in Durrat Arriyadh, north of the city.”
Over the years, the company has built huge customer loyalty through properties such as Hotel Al Khozama and then Al Faisaliah Hotel and it has also adopted an open-minded approach in providing facilities and services, as Hatata points out. “We were the first to offer butler services, the first to provide a top-class ladies spa, and the Riyadh resort hotel will also be a first. We have looked across the world for restaurant concepts to meet customer expectations as hospitality changes every day, and certainly are committed to delivering a quality product that is enhanced even further through our expertise and local knowledge. This is also a reflection on the calibre of our staff – we are a people company – and the retention of so many of our employees that have been with us and trained with us over many years. We take care of our employees and our guests too.
“Part of our vision is also looking to meet demand in the three- and four-star properties segment in Saudi Arabia, so in addition to the hospitality brands Al Faisaliah and Al Khozama we are looking at various opportunities to reshape the hospitality sector right across the region and internationally,” he concludes.
Al Faisaliah Hotel and Al Faisaliah Suites comprises 330 guest rooms and suites which are elegantly designed, extremely spacious, and include a wide range of technologically advanced amenities and exclusive guest services. There is also the legendary round-the-clock signature butler service pioneered by Al Faisaliah Hotel and offered to all guest rooms and suites, a service still unmatched across the kingdom.
The luxury property continues to receive several awards recognising its service excellence and luxury hospitality, and was a big winner at the 2015 World Travel Awards (WTA) Middle East edition, walking off with no less than six awards. These included titles of the ‘Middle East’s Leading Luxury Business Hotel’, the ‘Middle East’s Leading Luxury Suites’, ‘Saudi Arabia’s Leading Hotel’, the ‘Middle East’s Leading Female Spa’, ‘Saudi Arabia’s Leading Hotel in Service Excellence’ and ‘Saudi Arabia’s Leading Hotel’.
With its massive banqueting facilities including the largest column-free indoor space in the kingdom, Al Faisaliah Hotel has also secured its special reputation as Saudi Arabia’s leading meetings, special events and conference venue. It also hosts the prestigious King Faisal International Prize Awards every year.
Al Faisaliah Center, a landmark complex designed by Sir Norman Foster and located in the heart of Riyadh’s most prestigious commercial district, is often described as a “city within a city” and more poetically as “an oasis giving substance to the soul of the city”. Combining the values and warm traditions of the capital, Al Faisaliah Center continues to act as a catalyst for mixed-use development by setting new trends in urban living.
Al Faisaliah Hotel is poised to raise the bar even further by setting new levels in the hospitality sector through an extensive refurbishment programme to complement constant product upgrades following on from the multi-million-dollar expansion of the south wing into Al Faisaliah Suites.
Al Faisaliah Suites is based upon a range of interior design concepts with each floor having a different colour scheme. Curved walls and the primary use of aquamarine and muted colours make this wing very contemporary and stylish, almost a ‘hotel within a hotel’. Accommodation comprises 106 suites – ranging from 61 sq m to 570 sq m for the duplex Royal Penthouse – meeting discerning guests’ requirements for business, family and tourism in the high-end hospitality sector.
Located at Al Faisaliah Suites, Al Faisaliah Spa by ESPA offers a sanctuary and an oasis of calm in the city, providing guests with a wealth of world-class, luxurious treatments. The first internationally branded ladies-only spa in Saudi Arabia, the world-renowned ESPA brand, is exclusively for women and a very popular facility among travellers and residents.
The $13-million spa was launched to great fanfare in March 2014 with guests including several members of the Royal family and other dignitaries. Al Faisaliah Spa by ESPA connotes sophistication and elegance and has been meticulously designed by HH Princess Al Anoud.
Spanning four floors, the spa features six treatment rooms, two private spa suites, relaxation rooms, whirlpool, nail studio, hair salon and a fitness zone with the latest Technogym equipment. In addition, the spa includes a 14-m-long swimming pool, a traditional hammam, and a tea lounge for guests to continue their ultimate spa experience.
In September this year, the spa won three awards at the inaugural World Spa Awards held in Danang, Vietnam, for the ‘World’s Best Female Spa’, ‘World’s Best Spa Design’ and ‘Saudi Arabia’s Best Hotel Spa’.
Both Al Faisaliah Hotel and Al Faisaliah Suites have direct access to Al Faisaliah shopping mall and the 267-m-high Al Faisaliah Tower with its corporate offices, associated facilities and The Globe restaurant.
Alexander Blair, General Manager of Al Faisaliah Hotel and Hotel Al Khozama, is a career hotelier with extensive experience in Saudi Arabia including Al Faisaliah Hotel where he was Director of Rooms and Residence from 2005 to 2008. During that period, Blair was responsible for ensuring that every guest received the utmost service and experience in the hotel as well as the 100 luxury apartments at Al Faisaliah Residence.
In 2008, Blair worked as Hotel Manager for the Rosewood Corniche in Jeddah and following postings in the Maldives and Thailand returned to assume the top management position for Al Faisaliah Hotel and Hotel Al Khozama in January 2014.
“It is very much business as usual with our teams continuing to deliver exemplary services as one would expect. Our business is about people, and people are our brand in Al Faisaliah Hotel and Hotel Al Khozama,” says Blair. “This, coupled with our extensive refurbishment plans and product investments, ensures we remain at the forefront of the hospitality sector in the years ahead. We have partnered with globally renowned design firms including HOK, Gensler and Super Potato to ensure we have the most innovative and creative product offerings in the Kingdom. We are finalising a collaboration with a celebrity chef/restaurateur which will see us house two of his signature restaurant brands within our facilities. We are committed to recruiting, developing and retaining the best Saudi talent and we are seeing an increase in the number of Saudis working with us throughout the operations.”
Meanwhile, Saeed Al Aseeri, Executive Assistant Manager of Al Faisaliah Hotel, is a fine example of a new cadre of Saudis that have made a career in the hospitality sector.
From the Asir region, Al Aseeri started his career 20 years ago rising through the ranks from housekeeping and concierge services to the rooms division, guest relations and then senior management, working with Hyatt, InterContinental and Al Faisaliah.
“In the early years, I was posted to Tampa in Florida and studied at a hospitality and hotel training school having been sent over from the Hyatt Regency in Riyadh,” he recalls. “At that time, it was a big responsibility to show that Saudis can work in this sector and provide the very best in terms of excellence. It is always a challenge to be successful in any career but my hotel experience in Saudi Arabia has taught me a great deal. As well as developing a strong perspective of cultural respect for our guests, it is great to make a positive impact on their experiences.”
“We are international home-grown company and a leading hotel in the world and must provide and deliver excellence in a highly competitive market. It is a people business and Saudi Arabian tourism and the hospitality sector is expanding fast,” Al Aseeri concludes.
Al Khozama will soon embark on an extensive refurbishment and renovation programme including the creation of a new Hotel Al Khozama to replace the existing property which first opened in 1978. In addition, all the rooms, restaurants and meeting spaces in Al Faisaliah Hotel will be completely refurbished to secure its leadership position in luxury.
Renovations started from this summer and will be completed under a phased programme to minimise disruptions whilst the Al Khozama Centre will be remodelled and upgraded to the new Hotel Al Khozama.
For Al Khozama, the future is undoubtedly very bright and the company is now confidently looking forward to the next 15 successful years as it seeks to further expand its hospitality footprint both regionally and internationally while positioning its luxury brands as destinations of choice for its elite local clientele as well as discerning business and leisure tourists visiting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
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