The world’s largest Hampton by Hilton is set to make its debut in Dubai near the Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority (DAFZA) this August. The mid-market hotel, besides being the first of its brand in the UAE, has yet another feather in its cap — Nayla Chowdhury. Hampton by Hilton Dubai Airport’s general manager is the first female to hold that position within Hilton’s portfolio in the GCC.

While the title of the first female general manager for Hilton in the region is something Chowdhury is definitely proud about, the hospitality long timer and Hilton veteran isn’t new to the ‘GM’ game.

With more than 20 years of hospitality experience under her belt, the petite and personable hotelier first held the post of general manager at Embassy Suites located in Tysons Corner in Virginia, USA back in 2003 before moving over to hold the same position at Hilton Mclean Tysons Corner in the same area in 2007 five years later. After that stint, Chowdhury moved to Washington D.C. to head the Embassy Suites in the metro area in 2010.

Later on, when an opportunity cropped up for her husband to move to the UAE, Chowdhury, along with her three sons, decided to make the move to Ras Al Khaimah.

Soon after the move, given her background in operations, Chowdhury decided to take a detour to work in human resources and was part of the opening team for DoubleTree by Hilton Resort & Spa Marjan Island.

But when the general manager position at Hampton by Hilton opened up, Chowdhury decided to reroute her career back to an operations position and make the move to Dubai.

With 420 rooms and suites, the hotel is part of Hilton’s efforts to boost its mid-market footprint in the Middle East. The upscale mid-market hotel brand also offers guests a trademarked ‘100% Hampton Guarantee’ to its customers and this, Chowdhury says, is at the heart of hotel’s vision.

“I think the key to the team here would be creating the culture because Hampton as a brand has a unique culture. It’s very authentic, friendly, that’s kind of our vision for the hotel. So the result I would like to say for the hotel is, as a brand that from the moment a guest walks in, there’s warmth and that hospitality and that authentic, genuine feel of customer service,” Chowdhury notes.

In terms of adapting to being a general manager at Hampton during the pre-opening phase, Chowdhury is quick to credit her short stint in human resources for the huge learning curve it imparted.

“It was a little bit of a transition. But now, I realise that was the best thing I had to go through because it really made me a lot more resilient and got me to a point where I am more adept with dealing with different nationalities, how the management team will work even in my role as a GM, how will I manage the team, it’s different at the end of the day. You have to reach your goal, and how you make that work with the team is different. So it’s been interesting to take a ride in the HR world and then get back into operations once again,” Chowdhury relays.

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