In an exclusive interview, we sit down with Sean Spinks, the accomplished General Manager of Centara West Bay Hotel & Residences Doha.
With a career spanning continents and a wealth of experience in the luxury hospitality industry, Sean sheds light on the unique features of Centara West Bay, his inspiring journey in hotel management, strategies for maintaining exceptional guest experiences, fostering a culture of excellence among his team, and navigating the challenges and opportunities faced by luxury resorts in today's evolving travel landscape.
Join us as we delve into Sean's insights on the future of the hotel industry and his exciting plans for the hotel's upcoming ventures.
FIRSTLY, CAN YOU PROVIDE US WITH AN OVERVIEW OF CENTARA WEST BAY HOTEL & RESIDENCES DOHA’S UNIQUE FEATURES AND WHAT SETS IT APART FROM OTHER LUXURY HOTELS IN THE REGION?
Centara West Bay Hotel & Residences Doha provides exceptional features that set it apart from others. Centrally located in Doha’s vibrant financial & business district, with easy access to the finest shopping centres, cultural sights, and tourist attractions. The hotel is a short walk from the metro, Corniche, City Centre and North West Bay Beach, accessible directly from the hotel via the treelined Boulevard.
Boasting an impressive range of 16 accommodation types, from spacious studios to 371 square meter penthouses, all featuring captivating city or sea views and equipped with modern amenities. A sea-facing pool, state-of-the-art fitness centre, Kids Club, and business amenities cater to the diverse needs of both business and leisure travellers.
An array of international dining specialties from award-winning restaurants includes Dalchini progressive Indian cuisine, Thai Kitchen Restaurant serving Thai and International gastronomy, and The Mezze House a modern Lebanese Resto lounge serving handcrafted beverages, mezze platters and grills, while the outdoor terrace serves classic Shisha flavours and Sommelier Selection.
The hotel demonstrates a commitment to sustainability, incorporating eco-friendly practices to reduce its environmental impact.
As part of the Centara Hotels & Resorts group, guests can expect genuine Thai hospitality and exceptional service. These unique features combine to make Centara West Bay Hotel & Residences Doha a standout luxury destination in the region, appealing to both business and leisure travellers seeking a premium and memorable stay experience.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN HOTEL MANAGEMENT, AND WHAT PATH LED YOU TO YOUR CURRENT ROLE AS GENERAL MANAGER?
At the age of 14, I had the opportunity to work as a 'porter' at The Royal Albion Hotel in Broadstairs, Kent, England, during a summer vacation. This experience sparked my passion for the hotel and hospitality industry. I pursued my interest by graduating in Hotel Management and then embarked on a transformative journey through Southeast Asia. During my travels, I became deeply enamoured with Asian cuisine, culture, and the vibrant hospitality scene.
My career began with the innovative restaurant group in 1997. While in Hong Kong, I had the privilege of meeting Paul Hsu, a renowned and creative restauranteur behind Elite Concepts. He became my mentor and inspired me to set up the first Elite Concepts venture in Indonesia. My background in Food and Beverage led me to assume high-profile roles across various continents, such as Director of Food and Beverage in the UAE and Egypt, Executive Assistant Manager in South Korea, and Director of Operations in Canada.
As my career progressed, I took on challenging roles as Corporate Director for hotel pre-openings, Asset Management, and General Manager positions in both Qatar and Africa. My time in Dubai proved particularly impactful, as I had the honour of working with Anthony Liddiard, an inspirational and visionary leader. His mentorship enhanced my creativity, and work style, and enriched my knowledge. To this day, Anthony remains a valued mentor and friend.
My journey in the hospitality industry has been one of continuous growth, fuelled by passion and guided by exceptional mentors and opportunities across the globe.
WHAT STRATEGIES DO YOU EMPLOY TO ENSURE EXCEPTIONAL GUEST EXPERIENCES AND MAINTAIN HIGH SERVICE STANDARDS IN A LUXURY SETTING?
The hotel prioritises service excellence by providing personalised attention, luxurious accommodations, exceptional dining experiences, attention to detail, a highly trained staff, and a focus on guest safety and security.
Offering a range of 5-star facilities, including a well-equipped fitness centre, studio for classes, steam and sauna rooms for men and women, jacuzzi, large indoor swimming pool and a kid's pool, and supervised Kids Club.
Our spacious, well-appointed apartments and penthouses feature high-quality amenities and views of the city and Arabian Gulf. Guests can expect comfortable beds, cleanliness, and luxurious toiletries.
The team is courteous, knowledgeable, and readily available to assist guests at any time. Paying attention to each guest, from personalised Thai style greetings, “Sawasdee”, upon arrival to remembering guests' preferences.
Additionally, guests can enjoy award-winning restaurants including, Dalchini Indian cuisine, Thai Kitchen Restaurant and The Mezze House.
AS GENERAL MANAGER, HOW DO YOU FOSTER A CULTURE OF EXCELLENCE AND MOTIVATION AMONG YOUR TEAM MEMBERS TO DELIVER OUTSTANDING CUSTOMER SERVICE?
As a hotel General Manager, fostering a culture of excellence and motivation among team members is crucial for delivering outstanding customer service.
I would set the standard by demonstrating a strong work ethic, positive attitude, and commitment to delivering exceptional customer service. Leading by example inspires and motivates team members to follow suit.
Communicate with a clear vision and mission for the hotel, emphasizing the importance of customer satisfaction and the role each team member plays in achieving that goal. Provide comprehensive training programs to equip team members with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in their roles. Maintain an open-door policy and encourage regular communication with team members. Actively listen to their concerns, feedback, and ideas for improvement, making them feel valued and respected. Create a supportive and inclusive work environment where team members feel comfortable expressing themselves and contributing to the hotel's success.
IN YOUR VIEW, WHAT ARE THE KEY CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES FACING LUXURY RESORTS IN THE CURRENT TRAVEL LANDSCAPE, AND HOW DOES CENTARA WEST BAY HOTEL & RESIDENCES DOHA NAVIGATE THEM?
The oversupply and increased inventory of hotel rooms post World Cup, makes it challenging for luxury hotels to predict and manage occupancy levels effectively. These economic uncertainties have made some luxury travellers more price-sensitive, leading to increased demand for value-added packages and discounts.
Travelers are also increasingly conscious of sustainability and social responsibility. Hotels must adopt environmentally friendly practices and support local communities to meet guest expectations. The shift towards digitalization and contactless services requires luxury hotels to invest in technology and ensure a seamless guest experience.
However, Centara West Bay is focusing on the domestic and regional markets that can provide a stable source of guests amid international travel restrictions. We offer both short and long-stay options. By creating enticing packages for extended stays, we cater to guests seeking longer escapes. We also demonstrate a commitment to sustainability and social responsibility through eco-friendly practices and community engagement.
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE FUTURE OF THE HOTEL INDUSTRY, AND HOW DO YOU PLAN TO POSITION YOUR HOTEL TO THRIVE IN AN EVER-CHANGING LANDSCAPE?
Future trends in the hotel industry will increasingly leverage technology to enhance guest experiences, such as contactless check-ins, personalised services through AI-powered systems, and smart room features. Environmental concerns will also drive hotels to adopt more sustainable practices, including energy-efficient operations, waste reduction, and responsible sourcing.
At Centara Wet Bay, we will focus on several key strategies to grow its reputation, expand its market presence, and maintain its position as a hospitality destination in Qatar.
The hotel will continuously invest in upgrading its facilities and amenities to meet the needs and preferences of guests and a highly trained staff to maintain the excellent service standards. Embracing eco-friendly practices and sustainability initiatives will be a priority, aligning with global trends and environmentally conscious travellers.
Additionally, we will embrace change and remain flexible to adjust strategies and offerings as new trends and technologies emerge.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ASPIRING HOTELIERS?
Hospitality is all about providing exceptional service to guests. Cultivate a genuine passion for helping others and go the extra mile to exceed their expectations. Always prioritize guest satisfaction and focus on creating memorable experiences. Happy guests are more likely to become loyal patrons and spread positive word-of-mouth.
Pursuing a career in hospitality can be incredibly rewarding. Stay passionate about your work and be patient with your career progression. Remember, the hospitality industry is all about creating positive and lasting impressions. Be genuine, approachable, and dedicated to delivering exceptional experiences, and you'll find success in this dynamic and fulfilling field.
ANY EXCITING FUTURE PLANS FOR THE RESORT?
We are excited to announce the upcoming renovation and expansion of Dalchini Restaurant & Bar. The outdoor terrace project, known as "Dalchini Wraparound," is scheduled for launch in mid-October 2023 alongside the new additional menu concept - Ayush.
We aim to introduce a new vegetarian menu featuring a diverse range of innovative and delectable dishes that will not only cater to the vegetarian community but also attract new clientele from all backgrounds. Our goal is to expand the restaurant's customer base and solidify its reputation as a preferred destination for vegetarian cuisine. In addition to the vegetarian offerings, we plan to enhance the overall experience by introducing Tandoor delectables, international beverages, and shisha options. As part of this project, we are also considering a refresh of the Dalchini logo and exploring the possibility of including the two Michelin starred chef’s name alongside Dalchini to leverage his influence and promote the new menu in the market.
Qatar expansion for Centara Hotels and Resorts will encompass six distinct brands making their debut over the next few years. An expansion plan is in place which has developed key talent to support both the growth of Centara and retain our position as preferred employer. This has translated into the hotel brand of choice for Owners.