Hotelier Middle East presents the top 12 general managers and VPs we expect to be shaking up the region's hospitality landscape in 2012.
12 Daniele Vastolo
group director of operations,
Nikki Beach EAME Hotels and Resorts Ltd
Seasoned hotelier Daniele Vastolo made a bold move when he left the familiarity of Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts to join the Nikki Beach brand and deliver the group’s first ever hotel — planned for Qatar in the Middle East.
The $45 million property is located on The Pearl in Doha, perhaps an unlikely choice for the brand behind the Miami and Marbella beach clubs famed for their ‘white parties’. However, Vastolo is not phased, instead emphasising that he is developing a distinct concept for the hotels — which will provide a boutique mix of luxury and entertainment not experienced before in the region.
“Wherever we will operate we will adapt locally, wherever law allows us to be white, we will be white, but yet we will maintain a certain style and elegance - it’s very important,” Vastolo told Hotelier.
“We don’t only want to be perceived only as a beach club, we are changing, there is imitation in the brand, so we will maintain the link with the beach clubs but definitely the hotel will have its own identity.”
This will start with the design — created by Singapore-based ECO ID Architects with interior design by Gatserelia Design — the staff, recruited through a unique series of live talent spotting events to help Vastolo ensure their personalities would match the concept, and the service, which he is striving to make different from that typical of luxury hotels.
“If you ask our staff what music is playing now, they will know,” he says.
“Recruiting talented staff is of paramount importance for the Nikki Beach team and this novel new approach of ‘talent casting’ really worked. We learned about their personality as well as their skills,” recalls Vastolo of an event held in Dubai. “I come from Shangri-La and I have never done recruitment in this way, it’s a learning curve for us as well, we are very excited.
“I like to stress to them that we hire for attitude and we train for skills. Everyone has a dream in life to be somebody and with the right attitude you can achieve it. With proper training and guidance, we can help them reach their dream of becoming restaurant managers, housekeeping managers and more.”
Recruitment is well underway ahead of the opening of phase one of the project in summer, which will involve the launch of 24 Nikki Suites and most of the F&B. In total, there will be 47-luxury villas and spa suites include Satine, a pan Asian speciality restaurant, NikkiSpa by Espa, Envy, the Ultra VIP lounge, a signature Nikki Beach Club with private plunge pools and a Tone Fitness Centre.
However, the Pearl project isn’t the only property Vastolo is working on, as he reveals eight more projects are slated to open within the next three to four years, in places such as Croatia, Greece, Beirut — where he and the corporate team is based — and Abu Dhabi, although he says this one isn’t finalised.
According to a statement from the company, 10 new projects totalling $400 million are now in the planning stages in Europe, Africa and the Middle East — so we could be seeing a lot more of Vastolo in 2012 and beyond. This month, Vastolo will be one of the speakers at the Hotelier Middle East Qatar GM Debate.
Article continues on next page ...