Building on his strengths after progressing from carpenter to hotel group director in 20 years, JASON HARDING is proud of the team he has built at taj group.
Power 50 new entrant Harding arrived at Taj Group — and the newly opened Taj Dubai, the company’s first luxury property in the Middle East — a year ago with a wealth of experience in hospitality businesses in the UK and UAE. A graduate of Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland, he commands an impressive two-decade track record in the industry.
After starting out his career as a carpenter in a London hotel, he has held GM roles at The Palace Old Town and Armani Hotel Dubai, before becoming regional general manager at Armani Hotels & Resorts, where he opened The Burj Club, stabilised hotel operations, improved sales and profit performances and won several awards for the hotels, their spas and outlets.
Taj Dubai is located in Downtown, and features 296 rooms, including Taj Club Rooms, 16 Junior Suites and 15 Luxury Suites with views of the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Mall. The hotel’s Maharaja Suite, on the 33rd floor, is inspired by palaces in Rajasthan, while the Presidential Suite, which occupies the entire 35th floor, measures 680m² and features its own fitness suite and yoga room.
Harding tells Hotelier he is proud to have put together “such an incredible team” at Taj Dubai in a relatively short amount of time. He says that transparency and clear communication create a strong team that can deliver high levels of customer service, superior attention to detail and an intuitive understanding of quality.
With recruitment sorted, Harding believes “the best is yet to come” for Taj Group. Following the opening of Taj Dubai, he has confirmed three further projects for India’s oldest hotel operator — including the opening of the group’s upscale brand Vivanta by Taj in JLT — and he promises even more announcements in the months to come, in line with his vision to increase the footprint of Taj Group in the Middle East, particularly in the UAE.
He says: “We take immense pride in bringing the 111-year old Taj heritage to Dubai, which is the undisputed hub of business, entertainment, retail and culture in the region, while maintaining the essence of Indian hospitality, so our guests enjoy traditional hospitality in the midst of an urban, contemporary and luxurious haven.”
A member of the Master Innholders, a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality and a Freeman of the City of London, Harding’s business philosophy is to “build on our strengths, remain humble and always be willing to learn from each other”.
Outside work, Harding is passionate about fitness and competed in Ironman Western Australia in December 2014. Fondly known as “Mr Boot Camp” for his passion for workouts and mental toughness, he said: “Personally, I truly believe that if your goals don’t intimidate you, then they aren’t big enough, and I deeply respect people who go out and achieved their goals, whatever they may be.”
Despite his tough-guy reputation, Harding also nevertheless enjoys his downtime, and particularly loves traveling and exploring new destinations.
“Professionally, I look up to Mohamed Alabbar, the chairman of Emaar, and Sir Rocco Forte, the chairman of Rocco Forte Hotels”