Shaza Hotels vice president operations Sanjiv Malhotra explains why the guest experience is at the heart of the Eastern-inspired hotel concept being rolled out across the region and beyond
The Shaza Hotels brand, which launched in 2011 with the opening of Shaza Al Madinah, is inspired by the cultural roots of the ‘Eastern region’, with every aspect of the hotel experience - from design to cuisine to service - expected to reflect this rich backdrop.
As a result, the Shaza team, comprising just six people in Geneva and two in Dubai, is currently focused on designing a range of brand concepts to deliver this heritage and character no matter where the hotel is located.
One of the team members tasked with nurturing the development of the Shaza brand and making it an operational reality is Sanjiv Malhotra, VP of operations.
Previously regional VP for East Africa with Kempinski — which along with Guidance Hotel Investment Company set up Shaza as a JV — and before that with Oberoi Hotels India, Australia and Egypt, Malhotra is dedicated to delivering the distinctiveness of the Shaza brand.
“We do believe our biggest theme is that we are a contemporary Eastern brand built on the aspiring values of its culture. And if you want to be authentic to it you must carry its values out in full,” he asserts.
“I have great admiration for Mandarin Oriental — it presents beautifully the culture of the Chinese civilisation. So wherever they are in the world, whether New York or Geneva, or in the East, they are representing the culture of the Chinese civilisation. We want to present the civilisation of the East,” he says.
“In Arabic there is a word called Sharq, which is not a region, it’s not a Middle East and North Africa, it actually extends almost along the silk route from Morocco to Persia and that’s our footprint — these are the cultures we wish to represent,” says Malhotra.
The hotels themselves may be built outside of this geographic zone — there is a property open and another upcoming in Sarajevo, Bosnia — but the Eastern culture will still be represented in these locations.
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