In Conversation with…Charbel Hanna

The new General Manager at Crowne Plaza Bahrain

Congratulations on your new appointment. You will be a familiar face to our readers from your roles at several of the island’s top-class hotels. What particular strengths from your long experience do you hope to bring to your new role at the Crowne Plaza?
I knew from an early age that the hotel business was where I wanted to be and I followed this dream relentlessly. Since then I have been passionately engaged in the hospitality industry for the last 21 years in which the majority of these years were spent in Bahrain working with reputable brands at operational level which provided me the opportunity to better understand the market needs and gain more experience in management and operations which will be a great asset in improving service quality and guest experience. In a nutshell, hospitality is my passion that I turned into my business and I am looking forward to contributing to the business for many more years to come!

The Crowne Plaza is one of Bahrain’s heritage properties with a great deal of history. How do you aim to preserve that heritage while putting your own stamp on the property?
Being part of one of the earliest and most reputable business hotels in the Kingdom, with its rich heritage and history, adds to the excitement. Placed right in the heart of Bahrain’s Diplomatic Area and the business district, it has easy access to Bahrain Financial Harbour, major shopping areas, the souq and popular tourist attractions. Our reputation is delivering the guests’ expectations is what our heritage is built on.
Although we have renovated a part of the property, we always aim to keep the historical touch of the hotel and focus more on repositioning the hotel as one of the prime destinations in the island.

What, for you, are the attributes that make the Crowne Plaza stand out among the Kingdom’s hospitality offering?
I believe that the Crowne Plaza has decades of memories that make our guests want to come back and visit us again. Being able to recognise familiar faces gives our guests a sense of reassurance that they will receive the best and highest level of hospitality. In addition, we strive to always reinvent ourselves to keep up with the current trends and opportunities.

Do you have any immediate plans for new initiatives or developments that you can share with us?
We are currently in the middle of relaunching Waves, one of the most famous seafood restaurants on the island. The restaurant will open with an upgraded concept but will still be a seafood restaurant like the old good days, so stay tuned.
In addition our beautiful terrace overlooking the pool has had a complete revamp with new furniture and accessories, with the bar area all set to receive guests in a pleasant outdoor environment. With the heat finally leaving the island, it is the ideal place to relax and enjoy an evening out, especially with the World Cup coming soon, it will definitely be the ideal place to be.
Moreover, we will commence the festive season with our Christmas tree lighting on December 4, at which visitors can sing along to carols from a choir of elves who will amuse the kids with their antics and hand out special treats. A special Christmas brunch will be taking place at La Mosaique and Harvesters.
Last but not the least, we are very proud to traditionally host the biggest New Year’s Eve Gala event on the island and we are back again with another spectacular theme this year – One Thousand and One Nights, which promises a memorable evening with great excitement in store for our guests, including a DJ and entertainment, an exquisite gala dinner and much more… I’m sure it will be a night not to be missed!
There are absolutely many more exiting projects in store for the very near future to further position the Crowne Plaza as the preferred hotel for business and leisure in Bahrain but, although I would love to talk about this, it is probably a bit too early at this stage. I’d say watch this space.

What would be the three things you would tell visitors to the island they simply must see or do?
That’s a tricky question because I have many favourites! But if I have to choose, I would list four.
A good place to start with is the Bahrain National Museum where you can learn about Bahrain’s rich history throughout the millennia and which is only five minutes away from the hotel.
Second, Muharraq Souq, you’ll feel the lively atmosphere of this bazaar and discover treasures to purchase such as quality fabrics and Bahraini pearls.
Third would be Bahrain Fort, which is an archaeological site composed of an artificial mound created by human habitation and, due to its archaeological importance, it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.
And, of course, the last thing would be none other than the Crowne Plaza, which will make everyone’s stay memorable. ✤