AS THE NEW COMPLEX GENERAL MANAGER OF THE WESTIN CITY CENTRE BAHRAIN AND LE MERIDIEN CITY CENTRE BAHRAIN, HOTEL VETERAN SAMMY GANI TALKS TO FACT ABOUT HIS PLANS FOR TWO OF THE COUNTRY’S TOP HOTELS…
Congratulations on your new role as General Manager. Both The Westin and Le Meridien have become such iconic brands in Bahrain. What’s your vision for the complex during your management?
I hope to further excel the reputation of both hotels with the aim of taking two great brands and making them even better.
What have been your first impressions of Bahrain and its hospitality market?
People make the place! I have seen nothing but amazing hospitality from the people of Bahrain, whether it is Bahrainis or the expats that have made Bahrain their home.
Tell us a little more about your hospitality background and what led you to this current position…
I started my career 24 years ago in Long Beach California USA at The Westin Long Beach. I have moved nine times within the company and my career has taken me to five different states including the Caribbean. My first Middle East post was in 2013 as Executive Assistant Manager for Sheraton Mall of the Emirates, followed by the launch of the Aloft brand in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Aloft Riyadh in 2015 as General Manager. My last role was as opening General Manager for the Aloft City Centre Deira. My ninth move in August 2019 has brought me to Bahrain as Complex General Manager for The Westin and Le Meridien City Centre Bahrain.
Tell us some of the ways in which you keep morale and motivation high – what’s your approach to making sure that people are happy and on the same page every day?
I always remember a training I attended years back about the Human Truths. We all want to have a sense of belonging, we want to be in control of our lives and decisions we make, we want to be understood, we strive to reach our potential, and we all want to feel special. Balancing all these elements effectively with the team is something I strive for daily.
The responsibilities of General Manager could get overwhelming at times. How do you manage your time, expectations and the need for attention to detail?
I believe the lucky General Managers are the ones who are blessed with effective and experienced team members. The great thing about the complex is that I am fortunate enough to have inherited a really great team.
Describe your day-to-day role and working style – are you the type of GM who does things from his office, or do you prefer to walk around the hotels and be more hands-on and interactive with staff and guests?
I can never get away from the office work no matter how hard I try. I prefer the walk around which gives me an opportunity to keep my hand on the pulse of the operation. The best part is talking to associates and guests, it’s kind of boring if you did it from the office.
Do you have a message for your guests – why should they choose either of these two Marriott properties as their hotel of choice when visiting Bahrain?
Three things: 1. Location, 2. Lifestyle Brands, 3. Unique Offerings. I can tell you a story of a guest who recently stayed with us and has experienced both brands. She travels extensively around the world and is a frequent customer of the complex. Her statement resonated with me. “You can’t beat the convenience of being attached to the City Centre mall, a short drive from the airport, and easy to get anywhere in Bahrain.” Le Meridien offers guests a chance to unlock the destination through the local art inspirations. Westin lives up to the promise of wellness in travel, and to top it all off the enhancements of adding Salero, an authentic Spanish tapas restaurant, and Nasmat shisha and sports lounge by the pool, even if I was a guest, I would not stay anywhere else.
Do you have a philosophy that you use to approach work?
Everything is possible, and “One hundred per cent responsibility, and zero excuses”.
Have you got any advice for young people in the hospitality industry who would like to work their way up the ladder?
When I started my career as a front desk agent, I always carried a philosophy that I wanted to be the best at any job I held; the best front desk agent, the best supervisor, the best manager, the best leader. So, my advice would be no matter what job you hold – even if it is a stepping stone to achieve your ultimate dream job – strive to be the best at what you do.
Finally, share with us some of your goals that you wish to make a mark with at the hotel in 2020…
We’ve got a lot of projects on the way this year, all scheduled for Q2 of 2020. Our new Spanish Restaurant “Salero Tapas & Bodega” alongside our Westin guest rooms refurbishment and Nasmat Sports Lounge and Shisha located at the 3rd floor of The Westin City Centre Bahrain. ✤