Hot hoteliers weather the storm

Downpour fails to dampen spirits at network bash

Hotelier editor Louise Oakley.
Hotelier editor Louise Oakley.
In from the rain: Hotelier's Louise Oakley and Caterer's Lucy Taylor take refuge behind Yasmine Hidalgo and Sonia Casonato from Renaissance Dubai.
In from the rain: Hotelier's Louise Oakley and Caterer's Lucy Taylor take refuge behind Yasmine Hidalgo and Sonia Casonato from Renaissance Dubai.

All the signs of the perfect storm were there last night: muggy air, blustery winds, a hint of drizzle, even flashes of lightning and the growing grumbles of thunder.

But instead of looking for cover, the 100 or so hoteliers gathered at The Westin Dubai’s Martini Terrazo bar for the monthly Hot Hoteliers networking bash continued to supp on their martinis on the terrace, brushing the occasional piece of flying sand from their eyes and expressing several “oohs” and “aahs” at the lightning.

After all, this was an event the hotel industry’s sales, marketing, F&B and leisure professionals had been looking forward to, with representatives travelling from as far as Le Méridien Al Aqah to be there.

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The chance to relax after a long day at work with like-minded people, who might just let slip some juicy industry gossip or an insider tip, is one that can’t be missed — and if the venue is outdoors then so be it.

Hot Hoteliers is all about getting to know the people that work in the same roles as you, the people that understand your day-to-day highs and lows, and the people that are the “bread and butter” of this industry.

Since its inception 18 months ago by Erin O’Neill, assistant director of sales at the Mina Seyahi Complex, the Hot Hoteliers network has grown organically, with more than 200 hoteliers accepting invites to last night’s event.

So popular is its fresh, friendly, fun approach to the business of hotels that the Doha Hot Hoteliers Chapter is set to launch in Qatar, thanks to Sandra Schulze, director of public relations and marketing communications for the Renaissance Hotel, Courtyard by Marriott & Marriott Executive Apartments in Doha.

And making friends was certainly the key to last’s night bash, as sure enough, the storm broke with a mere few seconds warning. It was almost timed to perfection, with the final raffle winner coming to collect his prize, as the skies opened and the power went out.

While the sensible option may have been to run for the welcoming haven of The Westin’s lobby, the hoteliers huddled together under a hastily retrieved cover, which was no match at all for the torrential rain but the perfect excuse to get closer than normal at a networking do.

As Renaissance Dubia Hotel PR and marketing communications manager Yasmine Hidalgo commented: “Would you believe, I held on to a hand of a nice Spanish girl taller than me who helped shield me from the rain, and there were two even taller guys who said ‘girls, we will protect you!”

And as the women hobbled through the puddles in their heels to get to the bathrooms and the men raced inside for a beer, the squeals, giggles and unmissable photo opportunities immediately brought everyone else together too. I doubt anyone left last night’s do without a new friend or two.

All that remains to be seen now is how the Hot Hoteliers team tops the entertainment at next month’s event, although with Wild Wadi keen to host a bash in the future, it might just be possible that we get even wetter.

Only just, mind.

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