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New bedding installation at Marriott in the Middle East
 
The new bedding is part of an aggressive program underway at Marriott, in cooperation with its hotel owners, to reinvent, renovate and refresh all its hotel brands globally to give guests the style, functionality and comfort they are looking for today.

The program is the result of three years' of in-depth customer research involving all aspects of how guests use a hotel. 'We learned that today's travelers want luxury, sophistication, easy access to technology, fashion and to be entertained,' said Anton Najjar, area vice president in the region.

'As baby boomers begin to retire and the Generation X and Y travelers come to the fore, they are demanding innovation, style and more personalized services. They want a hotel that delivers what they have at home and in their offices as well as memorable experiences that fit their lifestyles. We are responding to what they have told us,' he said.

New levels of comfort

The new bedding features 300-thread count sheets, down comforters, sheeted duvet covers, thicker mattresses with plush toppers and fluffier pillows, making Marriott's bedding the cleanest and freshest of any major hotel chain.

'It is the most ambitious product improvement in our history and the 'biggest bedding makeover' in the lodging industry,' Mr. Najjar said, adding that the bedding has received widespread customer acclaim.

At the same time, he said, that Marriott has completed installation of high-speed internet access in its nearly 7,000 guest rooms in the region and has made Wi-Fi accessible in its public spaces.

'Today's travelers work very hard,' he said, 'but in a very different way than the traditional eight-hour work day. They blend work with pleasure. They want to be recognized and they want their travel experiences on their terms.'

Customer service

To meet this need, Mr. Najjar said that Marriott is also expanding its almost 80-year legacy of legendary customer service. 'Today, we are a recognized leader in providing great customer service and we plan to keep it that way by taking personalized service to a new level.'

Earlier this year, the company launched its 'Spirit to Serve our Guests' initiative. From first contact to check-in, Marriott is engaging its guests in key service experiences with services including: Instant recognition at the time of reservations of personal preferences; Pre-arrival e-mails that help with trip planning; Virtual services that enable guests to select special services and amenities online in advance of their stay; E-mailing hotel bills to guests who prefer communicating on-line; Total trip pricing that gives travelers a full accounting of what their room costs will include before they book.

Now available to Marriott Rewards program members, the program will be expanded to all guests by year end. As a result of these enhancements and overall growth of travel to and within the region, Mr. Najjar said that Marriott's hotels in the region experienced a banner year in 2005 with average RevPar increases above 10 percent across the board.

He noted that some markets performed better than others with Dubai and Doha showing more than 40 percent and 50 percent increases respectively.
 
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