In conversation with: Director of F&B at Waldorf Astoria Palm Jumeirah
Rodrigo Ofner, on his past experiences, what he expects from the role and his favourite thing about the brand
Waldorf Astoria Palm Jumeirah's director of F&B speaks to sister title Caterer Middle East.
What attracted you to the position of director of F&B at Waldorf Astoria Palm Jumeirah?
The Waldorf Astoria brand is the crown jewel of the Hilton family and one of the fastest growing luxury brands in the world. We promise our guests a "better than home" experience surrounded by unique architectural features and ‘True Waldorf service’. It is very exciting to join the company during the five year anniversary of the property and the 100 years of Hilton celebrations. Working with market leading restaurants including Social by Heinz Beck and Lao, as well as the iconic Peacock Alley which boasts so much history linking back to the Waldorf Astoria flagship in New York, makes it a real privilege to be part of this team.
How have your past experiences lent themselves to your expertise in this role?
Throughout my career I have been fortunate to have worked for fantastic properties in the Americas, Europe and the Middle East. All of the experience gained over the past 20 years working for major pioneers in the hospitality industry have helped shaped me and my career path. Traveling the world while working with experts from different cultures and backgrounds combined with my passion are the greatest assets that I can lend to this new role.
What are you most looking forward to as part of this new role?
I’m excited to work alongside the talented team as we tackle new challenges and help overcome different obstacles shaped by the constant change in the market in order to take our product and the guests’ journey to a higher level. This year we celebrate our fifth year in Dubai and Hilton’s 100-year anniversary, which are two very exciting milestones to be a part of. We have a fantastic product and helping to constantly elevate this will be challenging and fun at the same time!
How do you intend to increase the popularity of the hotel’s F&B?
We have created an exciting lineup of F&B offers and new programming for 2019. By constantly refreshing the product and launching enticing offers, it's a great way to reward our loyal customers and also gives them a new and exciting reason to come back. It's also a great way to attract new customers, which is so important in this transient market.
Can you share your thoughts on sustainability issues? Is there anything you and Waldorf Astoria will be doing to improve sustainability?
Sustainability is key to ensure a better future and it is everyone’s responsibility and duty to make a change and raise awareness on the importance of this topic. Here at Waldorf Astoria Dubai we have started by eliminating the plastic straws. By the end of June, all of Hilton’s hotels will have eliminated all plastic picks and stirrers. We are also one of the five properties in the EMEA region to pilot a food waste management system in order to reduce food waste at the property. Millennials are gaining spending power and they are driving the current trend, they are demanding sustainability on their vacations and they want hotels to acknowledge the importance of it by embracing green and sustainable practices.
What is your favourite thing about the brand?
Waldorf Astoria defines luxury, as Conrad Hilton used to call it “ the greatest of them all” in reference to the original New York property. The brand has so much history and has launched an impressive line-up of industry firsts that might not be known to everyone. For example Waldorf Astoria New York was the first hotel to introduce room service, eggs benedict by the Waldorf’s legendary chef, Oscar Tschirky, the Waldorf salad, red velvet cake, and the Rob Roy cocktail just to name a few.