“Creativity is key”: GM of The St. Regis Doha

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Widely known for its location, architectural design and its butler service, The St. Regis Doha opened in 2012 in Al Gassar Resort – the heart of Doha’s cultural heritage sites and the city’s business hub. 

The hotel currently boasts of twelve restaurants and lounges including Al Sultan Brahim an award-winning Lebanese seafood destination; London’s popular Hakkasan, and two Gordon Ramsay restaurants.

They appointed Raghu Menon as general manager of the luxurious abode. In this role, he will be responsible for overseeing the award-winning 336-room luxury property as well as managing its operations and maintaining the unparalleled service excellence that matches the legacy of The St. Regis Brand.

The St. Regis Doha is a property recognised for its elegance, luxury and renowned service standards. With its prime location, and award-winning restaurants, The St. Regis Doha adds potential to Qatar’s popularity as a tourist and business destination. In an exclusive interview GM Raghav Menon tells us how.

TD: Tell us about your new role and your career journey so far.

“The St. Regis Doha is committed to providing an unparalleled bespoke service”

RM: I graduated from the International College of Hotel Management in Sydney and started my career in the hospitality industry as an F&B intern, after which I worked my way up to the general manager position. I have filled various roles within The Ritz Carlton Hotels, including holding the position of GM at The Ritz-Carlton Bangalore and GM at the Ritz Carlton Dubai International Financial Centre, before joining the St. Regis Doha last October.

Managing a big hotel and a brand like The St. Regis comes with a huge responsibility. The St. Regis Doha is committed to providing unparalleled bespoke service for all its guests, and delivering it flawlessly by the signature St. Regis butler service, our F&B outlets, and our luxurious rooms and facilities requires meticulous attention and dedication, and I enjoy every minute of it.

Walk us through the unique aspects of the property and its location?

The St. Regis Doha is part of Al Gassar Resort, located in the heart of the rising city, adjacent to the Pearl-Qatar, Katara Cultural Village, and West Bay business district. The St. Regis Doha’s exterior and interior spaces feature a strong design concept that supports both the history of Doha and the legacy of The St. Regis brand. Local influences are brought to life in the hotel with the use of design details like the Middle Eastern-inspired archways and balance of soft and hard furnishing to create a unique guest experience.

The St. Regis Doha features 12 dining outlet venues, modern meeting spaces and lavish function rooms in addition to a variety of recreation facilities and activities, such as the legendary 5-star Remède Spa. The hotel encompasses 336 elegant guest rooms with a sea view, including a wide range of suites. The guest rooms and suites were designed by internationally acclaimed interior architectural firm, Wilson Associates.

One of the unique aspects of the hotel is the butler service. Everyone who stays at The St. Regis Doha is provided with their own butler for the duration of their stay. From a perfectly pressed suit ready for an important meeting, to a favourite book at hand for an evening read, or a thoughtful last minute gift for a loved one, no request is too small or unattainable no matter what the hour of the day.

The second aspect is the huge selection of dining venues. The St. Regis Doha offers the widest dining selection, which comprises of 12 award-winning dining outlets and lounges, including two restaurants by the internationally acclaimed celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsay – The Gordon Ramsay Mediterranean and Opal by Gordon Ramsay.

The hotel is also home to Doha’s finest New York steakhouse restaurant, Astor Grill, offering premium meat, Raw Bar, the prestigious Lebanese seafood restaurant, Al Sultan Ibrahim, and the famous international Chinese restaurant, Hakkasan. All-day dining is available at the Oyster Bay and Vine Restaurant. For utmost relaxation and comfort, The St. Regis Doha features a number of lounges, including the afternoon tea destination, Sarab Lounge, Vintage Lounge, a popular night spot, The Rooftop, and the region’s centre of blues and live music, The Club.

What are the goals for your new role?

“Position the hotel as the best business and leisure destination in Qatar”

The goal is to position the hotel as the best business and leisure destination in Qatar. In order to make it happen, we have to be more creative when it comes to our promotional activities and offerings whilst also teaming up with local and international partners to remain on top, especially with the over saturation of the hotel market in Qatar and challenging business environment.

What kind of challenges do you anticipate?

The challenge we expect is mostly the increasing number of hotels in the market, but while we will always treat driving room sales as a priority, it is essential that we are creative and innovative in generating revenues from new sources.

What tips would you give upcoming hospitality professionals?

“Be patient, focused and invest in excellent service”

Hospitality is a very hard industry, as guests expect a flawless service 24/7. So the tip would give the upcoming hospitality professionals is to be patient, focused and invest in excellent service.

What about the ME region? Is it easy to handle? Why so?

The Middle East region is like any other part of the world, wouldn’t say easy but also not hard to handle. Of course the challenging business environment around us makes it extremely hard for all kinds of industries but with our meticulous plans, strategic partnerships and creative offerings, will be able to lead the Qatar hospitality market.

Any special skills new-age hospitality professionals ought to know?

“Creativity is key”

Creativity is key. Whether in hospitality or any other industry, professionals need to have a creative approach in all what they do to differentiate themselves from the competition.

How do you keep your team motivated?

I think the best way to keep the team motivated is by engaging and involving them in decision-making and setting clear visions and goals. Setting clear goals for each and every team player, mentoring and supporting them while also holding them accountable to targets is a great way to motivate the team.

What’s the one mantra for keeping guests happy?

The only way to keep guests happy is by anticipating their needs and exceeding their expectations. Knowing guests’ preferences is key to personalising the service, and guests expect the finest service from international brands such as The St. Regis, which we strive to accomplish everyday.

What’s coming up next?

I do have some exciting news to share — we are in the process of finalising two big projects. The first one is the launch of our first pop-up Indian Restaurant ‘Riyasat,’ in collaboration with the renowned Indian chef Jolly. Riyasat will curate an ambience of fine dining blended with an air of classic traditions evolving into a modern, youthful and edgy space. It will truly be a space that invites you to dine as an Indian royal.

Our second project is the opening of our Tennis Academy in collaboration with Tennis legend ‘Nick Bollettieri’. Our academy will be called ‘The Bollettieri Experience’ and our goal is to make it the leading sporting centre for tennis programs that specialises in developing local talent and boosting the image of Qatar’s proficiency in tennis. Our tennis programs will focus on young children who are looking to start their journey, juniors competing at international level, along with recreational tennis players — here, there’s something for everyone.

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