Staying competitive is important in the face of increasing F&B outlets. Staying competitive is important in the face of increasing F&B outlets.

GMs agreed at the Hotelier Middle East Great GM Debate 2013 that reinventing hotel F&B concepts is important to stay competitive in the UAE's fast-changing landscape.

Jumeirah Zabeel Saray general manager Stephan Schupbach said: “In 1996, you didn’t have as many hotel rooms. You had maybe 8,000 hotel rooms and as Gerald (Lawless) said, today you have 70,000-80,000 so the landscape has changed.”

He emphasised the importance of looking at the destination, and who the competitors are first. He added: “And not only competing but also complementing each other at the same time.”

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Pointing to The Palm Jumeirah, he said it was a destination in itself. “First there was Atlantis, then us, then One&Only, now you have Fairmont, you have Kempinski, and in the near future you have Anantara and Sofitel. So the landscape is constantly changing.

“You might have established the food and beverage concept for the resort or hotel, but you have to plan for constant change.”

Schupbach revealed that the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray will also be applying change to its venue, with plans for a steakhouse outlet in the next 12 months, along with the introduction of a new Italian theme at the beach, and a Japanese component in one of its bars. “You have to constantly review and look at numbers.”

Burj Al Arab general manager Heinrich Morio added to the debate and said after 15 years, creating new concepts is necessary.

He said: “One company said once famously, ‘F&B creates image and rooms make money.’ What Burj Al Arab tries to do is exactly that alongside all other Jumeirah properties. We are going into our 15th year in December, and we have created new concepts at the right time with Jin Sui just before the Chinese market started to develop nicely and have further solidified the concepts that we had in the hotel."