New recruit interview with Millennium Resort Mussanah Oman's Dermot Birchall
The new general manager discusses his vision and new initiatives planned for the resort
What inspired you to get into the hospitality industry?
At age 17, I was fortunate enough to volunteer for a 10-week programme in Ethiopia teaching English and building additional classrooms for the local school. It was a daunting experience, but I loved it and immediately set my eyes on a career that would let me travel the world and experience different cultures. After spending a summer working in a local hotel, I was hooked so I signed up for hotel school and haven’t looked back since.
How has your previous work experience inspired you to get to where you are today?
My first hotel job was as a porter and I have had the great fortune to work with many great colleagues in heart of house departments. Starting with this background and working with great mentors has been a tremendous inspiration and have contributed greatly to my success to date. Experience has taught me a lot and remaining open to change and opportunity has lead me to where I am in my career today.
How does this job add to your career progression?
I started my career as a management trainee at the Kahala Resort just outside Honolulu in Hawaii. At that stage I set my mind on becoming a resort general manager, so on a personal level, I am pleased to reflect on this achievement and the challenges I have overcome along the way. Being appointed as general manager at Millennium Resort Mussanah gives me the opportunity to develop a team of young talented leaders, and this responsibility is a great honour and step forward in my career.
Tell us a bit about the other markets you worked in and how that compares to your current role in Oman?
Prior to my new role, I spent the past five years working in Indonesia, which, like Oman is still an emerging tourist destination, with fantastic diversity, culture, history and nature. The success of Bali as a tourism destination is the culmination of many years of creativity and commitment by industry leaders and local community collaboration. The same will be required to achieve success in Oman; general managers must not only operate their property, but educate guests and travel partners about what emerging destinations have to offer whilst leaving a lasting positive legacy for future generations.
What are some of the challenges you foresee, and the opportunities you see crop up from them?
Millennium Resort Mussanah is located 100km from Muscat and 325km from Dubai, and this remote location is often presented by travel partners and potential guests as a challenge in attracting patrons to the Resort. Like with all hideaway locations, this presents the resort with a truly unique tranquillity. The property is set on the Gulf of Oman with an 850m beach, a world class Marina & Diving Centre and a vibrant local Arabian culture. With the right marketing message, we are confident of Mussanah becoming one of the most sought after destinations in Oman.
What would say are a few of your most significant accomplishments so far?
As with most professionals I have achieved accolades of recognition for work and study related achievements. Despite this, I think the secret to my accomplishments is recognising my career as a component of my lifestyle, embracing time with friends and family and helping my colleagues to achieve their dreams and aspirations. There is no better satisfaction than this.
In what ways are planning to add to the success of your new hotel?
There is no doubt that my team and I will achieve success once we continue to innovate, stay creative, dream big and commit to ‘Creating Happiness’ for our guests at every opportunity. The bond between great customer and guest services creates success and this is where the Millennium Resort Mussanah will excel.
Can you describe any new initiatives or programs that you are planning to introduce as part of your new position?
We recently opened our resort recreation desk, facilitating tours of historical and cultural interest in the local area. It’s exciting to hear the feedback from guests returning after exploring the local surrounds and experiencing a taste of Oman. Other projects this year include a beachfront mocktail bar, a grab-n-go resort concept, the addition of beach cabana’s and beach walk, along with and an action-packed daily recreation program designed by our new resort events manager.