Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort, Oman general manager Darren Darwin was named General of the Year at the Hotelier Middle East 2017 Awards. Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort, Oman general manager Darren Darwin was named General of the Year at the Hotelier Middle East 2017 Awards.

Delivering authentic, experiential offerings which champion local culture and immersing in effective employee engagement in a challenging emerging destination earned Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort general manager Darren Darwin the coveted crown of General Manager of the Year 2017 at the Hotelier Middle East Awards.

MMI general manager Mike Glenn handed Darwin with his award onstage at 'Hotelier Ever After', the glittering fairytale-themed celebration hosted by Hotelier Middle East on October 25 at The Ritz-Carlton Dubai. The event's panel of judges selected  JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai general manager Bill Keffer as the Highly Commended nominee as "a general manager who really made their mark in a difficult market".

Since overcoming severe logistical, engineering and supply chain issues when opening the 66,000 sqm Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort located 2,000 metres above sea level on edge of mountainous cliffs in Nizwa, Oman, Darwin led the property in achieving and surpassing pre- and post-opening budgets and KPIs; the resort also exceeded financial expectations post-budget for both revenue and GOP.

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Darwin was instrumental in designing and delivering authentic experiential moments, over 100 such experiences, highlighting Omani culture and heritage for guests, which reflected in the resort's outstanding guest satisfaction scores, while simultaneously supporting local employment and optimising local community relations.

He also impressed the panel of judges with the tremendous extent he went to in order to ensure his resort employees were engaged, highly motivated and well developed, personally overseeing the building of excellent staff accommodation complete with a recreational courtyard, offering basketball, volleyball and football as well a homemade cricket pitch, built by the resort’s engineering team, trips to Muscat for shopping and relaxing at the beach and team mountain barbecues in which he himself occasionally cooks.

In addition, he actively championed the training and development programmes of his people, resulting in internal promotions for 74% of division heads, one of the highest internal promotion ratios within Minor hotels.

Not surprisingly, Darwin attributes his team as responsible for his success. "I owe it all to the excellent team members I have at Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar," he shared with Hotelier Middle East, after accepting his award. "When your property is located in a relatively remote destination, employee engagement becomes more crucial than ever because in the end, it is our employees who are responsible in delivering memorable guest experiences. This award belongs to all of them."

The Hotelier Middle East Awards 2017 was supported by the following companies: s​​​​​​ilver sponsor SNS Haute Couture Furniture; category sponsors SIAL Middle East, A. Ronai, Diversey, Jung, OSN for Business, Dimara International; supporting sponsor Pulsar Foodstuff; event sponsor Party Social; floral sponsor Forever Rose London; coffee sponsor Dallmayr Coffee; water sponsor Acqua Panna & S.Pellegrino and beverage sponsor MMI.