The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo, celebrated its second year of opening. It opened its doors on 12 October 2015. On this occasion, Daily News Egypt interviewed the general manager of the hotel, Joe Ghayad, who took the position in June 2017. Ghayad graduated from the University of Québec, Canada, where he specialised in hotel management, followed by an executive MBA from HEC in Paris.
What were the different positions you held before being the general manager of Nile Ritz Carlton?
I have been working in the company for 20 years. I worked as a valet, chef, receptionist, and waiter.
Moreover, I worked in the laundry and housekeeping, and then I joined the front office manager, before becoming the director of rooms. Later, I was the assistant general manager, then finally becoming a general manager.
In depth, tell us more about the history of the hotel?
The building has been here for 60 years. It was the first luxury five-star hotel to open in Egypt.
It has a very special location, which was well chosen, as it overlooks the Nile from one side and overlooks the Egyptian Museum from the other. Also, it is right in the middle of Tahrir Square, which makes it easily accessible.
Moreover, it has been the chosen venue for Egypt’s elite, who are eager to experience luxury and refined services from the prestigious brand.
Since its opening in the late 1950s, the hotel has been known to host high-ranking officials, celebrities, and presidents from all over the world.
Finally, when Ritz-Carlton opened, it brought new luxury standards to Egypt through this prestigious global brand.
What are the most important characteristics that make the hotel unique or different from other hotels?
It is a historic, iconic hotel in Cairo. Many local and international VIPs have visited us before.
Meanwhile, the hotel offers high-quality food, services, and luxury. It preserves the guest’s privacy and meets their expectations.
Moreover, I think that this hotel has a privilege that no other hotel has, which is that those who visit it and get married in it become very attached to it. In fact, I noticed that the sons and daughters of those who have gotten married in our hotel also have their weddings here.
Another incredible thing is that, sometimes, newlyweds whose fathers and mothers have gotten married here ask to stay in the same suite where their parents had stayed at.
I think this is the biggest and best marketing for the hotel.
Who are the most important celebrities that chose the hotel for their stay in Cairo?
In general, it is very important in our company to have confidentiality, so we cannot share this information as to preserve their privacy.
In the same context, we apply these confidentiality rules on our employees as not to disturb the celebrities’ privacy.
But we could mention those who have passed away, such as Elizabeth Taylor and Frank Sinatra.
What are the most important events that the hotel witnessed?
This hotel witnessed a lot of events even before the opening of the hotel. We had a very prestigious wedding for a very big Egyptian family before opening our rooms.
They knew that the hotel has not opened its doors yet, but they preferred to have their wedding in that historical hotel.
Moreover, the hotel is attached to the Arab League, so the delegations, ministers, and diplomats stay here.
What is your future plan to develop the hotel?
We work on many projects. First, we try to extend “Bab El Sharq”, which opens the gate to oriental food dishes from all over the Middle East in both taste and experience. It is really successful, especially among our type of guests and customers.
Second, we are also currently attempting to expand “NOX”, which is our our signature rooftop restaurant, lounge, and bar. It offers the ultimate nightlife experience for those who seek good music, food, and company.
Third, we are also currently expanding the hotel bar.
Fourth, we are trying to attract new tourists to Cairo. We need to see more Americans, Europeans, and Asians.
Is there a deadline to complete these projects?
There is no current time frame, but I think by early next year.
Currently, which countries are the hotel’s guests mainly from?
We have many nationalities here. We see tourists from Europe, North America, South America, but most tourists we get are from the Gulf countries.
Meanwhile, we are looking forward to Asians by the end of the month as EgyptAir just opened direct flights to Egypt from Asia.
How much is the occupancy rate or rate of the hotel?
The occupancy rate is 60%, and this rate is much better than last year’s.
In your opinion, what is the reason beyond the occupancy rate growth this year?
I think there are some reasons that help in achieving this growth, such as the country’s security, good reputation, and good image projected to the world now.
Do you think, Egypt is an attractive country for tourists?
Of course it has always been, and it will always be.
In the same context, Egypt is an intellectual and historical tourist destination as it has the Egyptian Museum, Library of Alexandria, Sharm El-Sheikh.
In your opinion, what needs to be developed in Egypt to attract more tourists?
We need more marketing campaigns that reflect Egypt’s nice image to the whole world.
In another context, I think the qualification of Egypt to the FIFA World Cup in Russia 2018 will positively affect Egypt’s reputation and image.
Are there new hotel branches to open in the coming period?
No, but we need to continue developing the Ritz-Carlton image.
What are the next events that are going to be held in the hotel during 2017?
We will host Chef Oliver Glowig, two Michelin star chefs from 20 to 25 November at our signature Italian restaurant, Vivo.
Vivo is the leading Italian cuisine in town with spectacular views to the Nile. It is open for lunch and dinner.
Also, we will have a special event for Christmas and the New Year. Of course, details will follow later, since we don’t have actual information as of yet.
Finally, being one of the brands of Marriott International, we are arranging an event on 28 October with the Halloween theme, in which key travel agencies, corporate figures, VIPs, and people from the media will be invited to join. The donations and sponsorships will be for Abu El Reesh Hospital.
Marriott International is based in Bethesda, USA, and encompasses a portfolio of more than 6,200 properties in 30 leading hotel brands spanning 125 countries and territories.