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The Frenchman, who has spent most of his career in the Middle East, notably with the Mövenpick group, is responsible for the group's first beach property in the United Arab Emirates.


The Frenchman, who has spent most of his career in the Middle East, notably with the Mövenpick group, is responsible for the group's first beach property in the United Arab Emirates.

Category: Middle East - United Arab Emirates - - Interviews
Interview made by Guillaume Chollier on 2023-07-21

Mövenpick Resort Al Marja Island Fabien Chesnais general manager

Fabien Chesnais has been managing the Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan Island since 2021.
Photo credit © Mövenpick

On the artificial island of Al Marjan, the first to be built in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, an angular, futuristic silhouette cuts across the horizon, on the edge of a pretty white sand beach, on which sparse palm trees provide a hint of coolness and protection from the sweltering sun. In the land of a thousand and one nights, to say that the design of the Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan Island stands out in comparison with other hotels is an understatement.

As well as 418 rooms and suites, all with sea views, this elegant property also offers 28 suites on the beach, with terraces, private pools and direct access to the sea. Six bars and restaurants offer a varied gastronomic offer, a spa and wellness centre offer a complete range of treatments and the hotel has a Witbit floating water park, which offers a host of water-based entertainment and is a delight for young and old alike.

Fabien Chesnais is the perfect person to set the gentle symphony that punctuates the daily life of the Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan Island to music. After a spell as food and beverage manager at the Nile Hilton Cairo in Egypt, the Frenchman joined the Mövenpick group as executive assistant manager in charge of food and beverage, then hotel manager at the Mövenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea in Jordan. In 2011, at the age of 36, he became the youngest general manager in the Swiss-based group, when he took charge of the Mövenpick Hotel Doha in Qatar. Since 2015, he has been working in the United Arab Emirates, where he has built up solid experience as general manager of Mövenpick Hotel & Apartments Bur Dubai, then as general manager of the Accor Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts UAE cluster since 2019.

In 2021, Fabien Chesnais will move to the neighbouring emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, where he will take charge of the group's new five-star resort on Al Marjan Island, bringing his management expertise, know-how and "French touch" to the first Mövenpick Resort in the United Arab Emirates.

For the Journal des Palaces, Fabien Chesnais explains his vision of the luxury hotel industry and distils his advice for those who, like him, are considering an international career.

Journal des Palaces: What is your background?
Fabien Chesnais: I have a varied educational background. I obtained a bachelor's degree in commerce and marketing in 1995 and went on to study languages (English, German and Arabic) at the University of Caen. In 1999, I graduated from a hotel management school in Paris, specialising in the hotel industry.

In terms of expertise, I excel in revenue management, sales-driven projects management and understanding market dynamics and customer behaviour. My F&B specialisation enables me to create exceptional dining experiences and deliver outstanding service to guests.

Why did you choose to work in the luxury hotel industry?
The luxury hotel industry matches my passion for creating a positive impact in my daily environment. I focus on people management, work efficiency, customer satisfaction and quality improvement. These are goals that I strive to achieve every day.

In this sector, I work with a dedicated team, fostering their growth and development. Witnessing their success gives me immense satisfaction. I'm motivated by operational excellence and efficiency, implementing streamlined processes and optimising resources to improve productivity and deliver a seamless experience for customers and staff.

What is your definition of luxury hotels?
It is the epitome of excellence and refinement in the hospitality industry. A luxury hotel goes beyond the conventional concept of accommodation and encompasses a holistic experience that caters the highest standards of comfort, service and attention to detail.

What do you see as the key challenges and opportunities facing the sector?
In my opinion, the luxury hotel sector faces both challenges and opportunities that significantly impact on its growth and success. Evolving customer expectations, intense competition, workforce management and technological advancements are among the key challenges that hoteliers need to address. To stay ahead, hoteliers need to differentiate themselves by offering unique experiences, leveraging technology and providing exceptional service.

Despite the challenges, the luxury hotel sector offers many opportunities. The desire to travel offers luxury hotels the opportunity to penetrate new markets and attract a diverse traveller base. Sustainability is gaining importance, with guests seeking eco-friendly practices. Implementing sustainable initiatives and responsible resource management enhances brand reputation and attracts environmentally conscious customers.
Technology-driven solutions such as mobile check-in, personalized experiences through data analytics and AI-powered chatbots are improving operations and customer satisfaction. Exploring emerging markets and niche segments such as wellness tourism and luxury ecotourism is opening up avenues for growth.

By seizing these opportunities and proactively addressing the challenges, the hotel industry can thrive and deliver exceptional guest experiences.

What is the state of the luxury hotel industry in Ras Al Khaimah?
Luxury hospitality in Ras Al Khaimah is an emerging segment with a promising future. The region is witnessing significant growth, with many upcoming luxury properties set to open their doors. This influx of new properties is expected to drive the growth of the luxury hotel industry and make Ras Al Khaimah a popular and sought-after destination.
The addition of these new luxury properties means that Ras Al Khaimah is increasingly recognised as a destination of choice for upscale travellers. The region boasts breathtaking natural landscapes, stunning beaches and a rich cultural heritage, making it an attractive destination for those seeking unique and luxurious experiences.

When was the Mövenpick Ras Al Khaimah created, and what are its assets?
Opened on June 16, 2022, the Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan Island is the first Mövenpick beach resort in the United Arab Emirates. It offers a unique experience, distinct from other hotels in the group. With a focus on families, the resort provides memorable stays for guests of all ages. It is also renowned as Ras Al Khaimah's premier water sports destination, offering a wide range of thrilling activities for aquatic adventure seekers.

The Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan Island is an ideal destination for a romantic retreat, offering an enchanting setting and intimate ambience. Food lovers can enjoy a variety of dining options and unforgettable culinary experiences throughout their stay. The resort is also a preferred venue for weddings and events, offering a picturesque setting, elegant facilities and professional event planning services for a memorable occasion.

How does it differ from other luxury hotels in the emirate?
The Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan Island stands out from other hotels in the emirate for its exceptional features. Each room and suite offer a breathtaking view of the sea, creating a serene and quiet atmosphere. The resort boasts spectacular and picturesque landscaping, including immaculately designed gardens that provide a soothing environment for guests to relax and connect with nature. With 300 metres of soft sandy beach, it offers a spacious coastal retreat for sunbathing, leisurely strolls and enjoyable water activities.

Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan Island features three swimming pools for relaxation and recreation. Guests can swim or lounge by the poolside, enjoying the sun. As a flagship property, the Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan Island upholds high standards, ensuring that every guest has an excellent and memorable visit. The Wibit Inflatable Water Park in Ras Al Khaimah adds excitement and adventure to the resort, setting it apart with thrilling water activities for guests of all ages.

The resort offers 14-day Kids Club programmes for different age groups, ensuring a fun and engaging experience for children.

Some properties have private swimming pools and secluded gardens, enhancing guests' comfort and privacy.

What type of clientele do you have?
The Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan Island welcomes a diverse range of clienteles. Our guests are of different nationalities, both international and local. We cater for individuals and families who are looking for relaxation and a peaceful retreat from the city. Our property caters for those who want to soak up the sun and seek a relaxing and rejuvenating getaway. With our tranquil beachfront location and array of amenities, we attract guests from all over the world looking for a memorable and rejuvenating experience.

What unique experiences do you offer your guests?
At Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan Island, we offer unique accommodations tailored to our guests' preferences. The Mövenpick Al Marjan Beachfront Suite with Private Pool offers a secluded oasis with its own pool. The Beachfront Junior Suite with Terrace allows guests to enjoy the serene ambience of the adults-only beach pool. With convenient access to the sea and breathtaking views of the coast, our accommodation guarantees you a memorable stay.

Our beachfront hideaways offer tranquil and private relaxation amidst beautifully landscaped gardens. With spacious accommodations up to 83 square meters, guests can unwind and feel at home. For larger groups or families, suites can be combined to create spacious villas with up to four bedrooms, ensuring flexibility and comfort.
We offer plenty of family-friendly rooms, including 78 family rooms and sofa beds in 80% of all rooms and suites. Our resort boasts a 200-square-meter Kids Zone, an outdoor playground, and a dedicated kids’ pool, offering engaging activities for children. Young guests can also enjoy specially designed water sports activities for added excitement.
Finally, we are proud to have a team that represents over 35 nationalities. We believe in celebrating our diverse cultures and backgrounds, as they contribute greatly to enhancing our guests' experience. Our multicultural environment fosters a vibrant and inclusive atmosphere, making every stay at our resort truly unforgettable.

What is the hotel's CSR policy?
At Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan Island, we are committed to sustainability and nature. Through our Accor Planet 21 program, we offer eco-conscious activities for guests to enjoy. Our CSR policy focuses on making a positive impact on the environment and supporting the community.
One initiative is the “Kilo of Kindness” program, where we partner with the Red Crescent to donate essential items to those in need. We also organize regular beach cleaning activities to preserve the cleanliness and sustainability of our coastal areas.
Guests can participate in eco-conscious activities, such as visiting a sustainable honeybee farm and engaging in hands-on green activities in our Starfish Adventure Kids Zone. We prioritize ethically sourced seafood, including fresh oysters from Dibba Bay and fish from sustainable markets.
With the development of tourism in Ras Al Khaimah and the arrival of new luxury hotels, what projects do you intend to develop within the hotel?
One of our primary focuses is creating unforgettable family-friendly experiences. We understand the importance of catering to the needs of families, and we are dedicated to ensuring that every member of the family has a fantastic time during their stay. One of our plans is to expand our children's recreational areas, for children to engage in outdoor activities and have a great time.

Moreover, we are thrilled about the addition of various water sports activities for our guests. From exhilarating water jet rides to thrilling wakeboarding and flyboarding experiences, there will be no shortage of aquatic adventures for water sports enthusiasts.

In addition to these exciting developments, our resort boasts a magnificent 300-meter beach stretch, allowing our guests to bask in the sun, swim in crystal-clear waters, and create unforgettable beach memories.

Furthermore, we aim to complement these fantastic experiences with nature excursions available in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. Guests will have the opportunity to visit historical landmarks such as Dhayah Fort, immersing themselves in the rich heritage and traditions of the region. Additionally, we offer desert excursions, providing a unique and immersive experience that connects guests with the natural beauty of the surroundings.
Why did you choose a career in the Middle East?
The Middle East has always fascinated me with its dynamic business environment and rich cultural heritage. Choosing a career in this region has allowed me to build on my international experience and apply it to new and exciting challenges. The benefits have been invaluable in driving the growth of Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan Island, and my future plans are focused on implementing visionary strategies that will position our resort as one of the finest in the United Arab Emirates. I am committed to the continued success of our property, and I look forward to the personal and professional development opportunities it offers.

In the luxury hotel sector, how are French people and French managers perceived in the Middle East?
French people and French managers are viewed positively in the Middle East. French culture is often associated with sophistication, elegance and a focus on culinary excellence, which fits well with the high-end sector. French managers are renowned for their professionalism, attention to detail and ability to create exceptional customer experiences. Their expertise in areas such as gastronomy and service delivery is highly valued. Overall, French individuals and managers are often welcomed and respected for their contribution to the industry.

What do you appreciate most about your adopted country?
What I appreciate most about my adopted country, the UAE, is the tremendous opportunity it has provided me. It has been a transformative experience, allowing me to acquire new skills, expand my horizons, and embrace new challenges. The UAE's vibrant and diverse culture, coupled with its dynamic business environment, has presented me with countless opportunities for personal and professional growth. I am grateful for the warm welcome, the rich cultural experiences, and the chance to contribute to the country’s progress.
What advice would you give to a young person who wants to work in the luxury hotel sector abroad?
To thrive in hospitality abroad, embrace these principles: recognise that hospitality offers opportunities for those with basic education. Attitude, growth mindset, and work ethic are crucial for success. Stay open to learning, as the industry evolves constantly. Expand knowledge through training, mentorship, and professional development.
Understand the importance of exceptional customer service, cultivating interpersonal skills and exceeding expectations. Lastly, be prepared for hard work and resilience. Embrace challenges as growth opportunities, overcoming setbacks to achieve your goals.

Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan Island pool

The 418 rooms and suites of the Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan Island open onto a beautiful white sandy beach and the sea
Photo credit © Mövenpick

The Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan Island is the group's first beach resort in the United Arab Emirates
Photo credit © Mövenpick

The 28 suites on the beach have an oasis of vegetation and an individual swimming pool
Photo credit © Mövenpick

Suites on the beach offer space and modern design
Photo credit © Mövenpick

The comfortable rooms at the Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan Island feature pleasant balconies with panoramic views of the Arabian Gulf
Photo credit © Mövenpick

Special attention has been paid to children at Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan Island
Photo credit © Mövenpick

About the author

A journalist for 20 years, Guillaume is a fan of exclusive places where comfort, quality of service and gastronomy are combined. All this, tinged with a simplicity and a smile that are the prerogative of the ultimate luxury.

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