No stranger to Dubai’s hospitality, Maria Lamarche, General Manager, Mövenpick Hotel Apartments Downtown Dubai, gives an account of opening the hotel, embarking on a new role and leading a team of hospitality professionals.
Maria Lamarche, a seasoned hotelier who has worked in management roles for international hotel companies across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and North America for more than three decades, became the General Manager responsible for the recent opening of the Mövenpick Hotel Apartments Downtown Dubai. She has worked for international hospitality brands including Starwood, InterContinental Hotels Group, Millennium and Copthorne, Hilton and Rotana. “Dubai is not new to me. I was here 15 years ago and worked with various hotel brands such as Le Meridien chain and Crowne Plaza. But before coming to Dubai this time, I was based in Jordan for three-years in charge of a beautiful Mövenpick resort property near the Red Sea. Prior to that, I worked in Iraq for one year which I consider as a notable experience.” She narrates her experiences earlier on in her career, “My early career was a perfect blend of exposure on the Front Desk, and in the Sales and Marketing department. I have amassed a lot of learning from these experiences and it paved the way to opening challenging yet highly rewarding positions in various parts of the world such as the Middle East, Asia and Europe. I have held various senior management positions over the years like Resident Manager, Hotel Manager and now a General Manager of a newly opened hotel.”
Riding high on success
For Lamarche, hospitality is more than just business. “It’s an industry that is not limited to offering a place to stay in but rather an industry that creates experiences through human interaction as well as builds connections and this I think, is what drew me to be a part of this industry,” she mentions. She is a born leader with many accolades and achievements throughout her career. She also gained a spot and recognition as one of the ‘Top 25 Women in Hospitality’ in the Middle East and Africa. Lamarche is recognised for her commercial acumen, successful initiatives to heighten guest satisfaction, operational and management expertise, reducing costs as well as maximising profits. Lamarche speaks on what she describes as her own achievements in life. “Opening a hotel, embarking on a new role and leading a team of hospitality professionals all at once is probably my greatest professional accomplishment till date. It’s like a roller coaster ride that’s full of excitement, sleepless nights, courage and unexpected circumstances. It’s a great feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction to be able to witness and be part of how a project started from scratch and materialised into such a great product,” she shares.
The ‘hometel’ experience
Although the number of hotel rooms in Dubai has increased over the past few years, hotel apartments seem to have an edge as they endeavour to provide a comfortable space to accommodate families, which perfectly matches the needs of the Middle Eastern and GCC travellers. The property is distinctive with notable offerings, and Lamarche explains, “After careful research, conclusions presented a necessity for a deluxe category hotel apartment within the vicinity of the famous Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall, hence the process was initiated. Our key audiences are travellers who wish to experience home comfort with hotel services conveniently available during their stay. A ‘hometel’ suits this need perfectly as travellers can experience to live and not just stay. It offers flexible environment with a kitchenette and a space which resembles that of a home. Mövenpick Hotel Apartments Downtown Dubai has 244 deluxe apartments with studio, one bedroom, two-bedroom and one three-bedroom apartment offering ample space. We have an all-day dining menu with continental, Arabic and Indian along with options to tailor-make the food.”
Opening the property
The demands of her audiences are sacrosanct for Lamarche. She shares, “We opened in high season, so we made sure that food and beverage and rooms come up first. We dedicated the fourth floor as a greenery oasis for relaxation with an outdoor swimming pool, gym and sauna. When we started, we made sure that guests will be able to experience ‘hometel’ and simultaneously feel the overall brand experience from the choice of colours and themes. We also broke away from the buffet concept to introduce an à la carte experience for guests to have the flexibility to personalise. The terrace overlooking Burj Khalifa with canal views and Downtown Business Bay are some of the must-visit areas a guest can have a glimpse of while staying with us.”