Fabien Chesnais, general manager, Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan, discusses the property’s design highlights and exciting F&B outlets, how RAK is attracting more and more tourists, and the challenges of the ever-changing hospitality industry.

In 2011, you became the Movenpick Group’s youngest general manager. What is your success recipe?

The recipe for success is a consistent mix of hard work, commitment, passion, reliability, and trustworthiness.

What is the highlight of your career in hospitality?

I enjoy a good challenge, the ever-evolving nature of the industry and the urge to understand guest behaviour and needs, while keeping up with trends, is what builds up my passion away from the routine of any other field. I look forward to waking up every morning with a different day to tackle.

Fabien Chesnais, general manager, Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan

Ras Al Khaimah is becoming increasingly popular as a tourist destination. What distinguishes it from Dubai and what makes it appealing to people of all ages?

The authenticity of the destination makes it more and more attractive. With a diverse landscape ranging from mountains, sea, and deserts, there is no end to the immersive experiences to be found.

While Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan Island offers a wealth of activities, relaxation, and culinary offerings without leaving the resort, adventures around Al Marjan Island and the wider emirate of Ras al Khaimah are endless. It’s an escape to nature in the UAE. Guests can discover the thrill and beauty of the desert by visiting Bedouin camps, historic forts or even bouncing through the dunes, while adrenaline experiences are second nature at Jebel Jais to satisfy all adventure seekers.

Do you think that the tourism potential of Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) is utilised to the maximum? What do you think of the present situation and what is the going forward direction for tourism in Ras Al Khaimah?

The mindset of the destination as well as the initiatives and the support from RAKTDA will take the destination to continuous development. As part of our launching plan at Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan Island, we understand that travellers are seeking more and more authenticity and we are committed to immersing them in all the local activities of the destination while also offering a relaxed and fun experience at the resort. This is reflected through our modern accommodations, our six diverse food and beverage concepts, leisure facilities and ongoing live entertainment options.

How would you describe your management style?

I believe in hands-on practice, it’s one of the best ways to improve performance. I am more solution-oriented, rather than focussed on the challenge, I am also data-driven and I like to get creative, positive, and fun.

What are the main challenges you face in hotel management?

To always be out there, in front of the guests, for them to see you, follow you, and take an interest, you need to keep up to date with the trends. And these, just like technology, keep changing very fast. Today’s guest preferences might become tomorrow’s old news and therefore it is vital to stay up-to-date as it helps with connecting more with guests.

How does a hotel remain a part of the local community while also attracting guests from further afield?

The prime differentiator to any resort is the ability to extend authentic experiences showcasing the true highlights of the destination while offering value-added benefits. Involving the local community in our actions, and making them feel welcomed and at home always, regardless of where they are is at the core of what we do.

Giving back to the community is also a key factor, paintings and artworks around the resort have been developed by local talents, sustainable practices such as eliminating the single use of plastic planned excursions to nearby farms as part of our Starfish Kids’ Club programme and locally sourced Oysters from Dibba Bay on our buffets and menus are few ways to say we care.

How much do you depend on word of mouth and social media?

We are heavily invested in this as it is extremely vital. Social media with planned creative content has become a base for our marketing activities, we are experimenting and evolving, and we are learning by the day. This is a powerful medium as it is emotionally engaging and more memorable than the traditional ways. The audience is becoming more educated, content creators are offering a targeted reach and we are promoting our brand offerings and inspiring our followers while also entertaining them.

Word of mouth has always been one of the most efficient advertising channels, even more so in the Middle East. You always tend to trust a piece of advice or recommendation if it’s coming from a person you know.

Tell us something about the restaurants at the resort and their designs?

We are home to six exceptional restaurants and bars, with a variety of cuisines each designed with a twist to reflect the identity of the outlet. Möca Lobby Lounge, at the heart of the resort, offers a refreshing spot with sundrenched indoor and outdoor modern spaces, the vibrancy and interaction of a fresh food marketplace with live cooking stations can be found at The Market – All Day Eatery, feet in the sand seating and a poolside atmosphere create the casual California Coast vibe at Beach House while Ula Restaurant and Bar, the adults-only venue, features a private pool and is the ultimate state of relaxation and vibes, from day to night. Boons Brasserie and bar is the newest neighbourhood hotspot with its lush interior, comforting meals and live entertainment. Neo Sky Bar (opening September 2022) will be the island’s only rooftop lounge, where diners can spend a stylish yet classic evening under the stars, enjoying flowing cocktails and sweeping views of Ras Al Khaimah’s twinkling skyline.

In your opinion, what is the most impressive part of the resort?

I think one of the best words to describe the resort is tranquillity, the space itself extends a relaxed, island vibe for all guests and visitors. Here guests can detach and forget the fast-paced daily life and feel like they are on endless summer vacation from the moment they step into our sun-drenched modern space. To complement the design, the F&B options cater to many tastes and preferences. They can have traditional Arabic for breakfast, fresh Mexican for lunch and end the day with French favourites. Healthy options and power bites kid menus are on the list to ensure the needs of all ages are met.

Have you implemented any sustainable initiatives at your hotel?

Yes, and this is an ongoing process as it takes time to fully convert to a no plastic, no waste ‘lifestyle’. We are limiting plastic use as much as possible, opting for wooden key cards, for example, and limiting the use of paper with most of the materials being digital.

How do you see the hospitality industry evolving?

Technology and digitalised guest experiences play an important part in making the overall travel experience more personalised. Alongside more destinations and more niche markets, travelling will become sooner a lifestyle, rather than a simple vacation.

What are your targets and expectations for next year?

We want to increase brand awareness as much as possible and introduce more and more guests to our beachfront resort and the blissful life of leisure, both locally as well as international.