There are 222 rooms in total, all triple glazed and with a balcony. Koopman hopes the hotel will have the largest lead-in room type in the UAE of 65m2. There are 222 rooms in total, all triple glazed and with a balcony. Koopman hopes the hotel will have the largest lead-in room type in the UAE of 65m2.

Ramping up
The concepts are clearly defined so now, Koopman and Darwiche are focused on delivering the finished product ahead of their ramping-up period, which will most likely begin in March 60 days out from the targeted May opening.

“We’re really shooting for the month of May, perhaps a bit earlier, perhaps a bit later, so now what we’re doing is we have division heads on board and sales and marketing is already in full swing because we have a regional office so they’re already here selling the other properties,” says Koopman.

“And then we hire our associates eight weeks out, our unit heads eight weeks out, our section heads 12 weeks out, and department heads now around 16 weeks out.

“[We do] orientation in the ballroom, brand training, culture training, skills training, trial runs, then we give them all a few days off and then we open the hotel,” says Koopman.

“We’ll complete at least 1000 room nights before we open. We want at least four or five people to have stayed in each room before we open. And we will serve 2000-3000 meals,” he adds.

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Koopman says the hotel has already received a lot of applicants, tempted by Anantara’s accessible, entrepreneurial spirit.

“One of our key goals is to be an employer that people love to work for,” says Koopman. “We have a lot of talented people join us because they are tired of large corporations where they don’t know anybody…our owner, Minor Group CEO Bill Heinecke has been here every two months, he walks the site with us, has dinner with us.

It’s a very approachable company, a very entrepreneurial company, it’s a company with not many policies and procedures — of course we have the way that we work but we are all here to take care of our guests, give them an amazing story to tell, take care of our associates and take care of our environment.”

Being a small, young company has its advantages, says Koopman, who acknowledges that the approach to business is very different from that at industry giants such as InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), where he worked previously.

“You cannot compare us to an IHG where you have a massive reservations system pushing it and they spend millions of dollars pushing that and the websites, I just came from that company, I know how much they spend and we obviously don’t do that,” explains Koopman.

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