Anticipation Ahead Of Demands: GM Bill Keffer Leads The JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai With Instinctual Excellence
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"Executives choose us based on our business-oriented facilities and capacity to cater to their individual needs, and to do so intuitively,” says General Manager of the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai, Bill Keffer. After a solid quarter century with Marriott International, Keffer has pretty good instincts when it comes to the expectations of the business traveller, and he’s sure that there is no one better equipped to handle your corporate event no matter how big: “First and foremost we are a Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions [MICE] hotel, and what makes us different as a business hotel is our capacity to host groups of up to 1,000 to meet, eat and sleep in one location. We are the only hotel in Dubai that can host groups of this scale. Previously, conference and event organizers would have needed to split their group between numerous different hotels within the same city."
Appointed in January 2012, the GM has built up his hospitality repertoire across continents, and he has acted in a senior capacity at various group properties including the JW Seoul, Korea, and the Renaissance Hotel in Sapporo, Japan. “2005 saw a move to Europe taking on the role of Area Director of Opera- tions in the United Kingdom and Ireland until 2009, when I came to the UAE as General Manager of Marriott Dubai Harbour Hotel and Suites.” With a grand total of 1608 luxury suites and rooms, 32 meeting rooms, and over 8,000 meters of indoor and outdoor event space, convention and meeting rooms, Keffer is overseeing a mammoth operation, and he says that service is the heart of the JW Marriott Marquis offering. The property’s guest roster last year were “primarily here for business. Our top five source markets for group bookings in 2014 were broken down as UAE (31.8%), Western Europe (16.6%), Asia (15.4%), GCC (6.4%) and North Africa (5.4%), [which] were the biggest drivers.”
Logistics plays a clear role in Keffer’s strategic management; he points out that being conscious of a guest’s specific requirements are part and parcel of how the hotel strives to over-deliver a seamless experience for those who are often working across multiple time zones and visiting several countries for business. “We know business travellers value time above all else, which is why we have strengthened the appeal of our prime downtown location with a range of 24/7 facilities. Business travellers also value connectivity, which is why we launched online check-in, and have equipped every room with USB connections to the LCD TVs, iPod stations, fast Wi-Fi throughout the hotel, and control tablets for the master rooms. Service is obviously at the heart of our offering, and we focus on training and upskilling our associates as an absolute priority to ensure we provide exceptional service that is crafted, intuitive and authentic– the central pillars of the JW Marriott brand.”
Finally, no one knows the brand’s strengths like someone who has spent 25 years in the company; his favorite of the group’s international properties? “The Marriott Beach Resort Fort Lauderdale in Florida, one of my first positions, and where I first met my beautiful wife Stephenie."
RECOMMENDED BY THE GM
“Guests can reserve an Executive Level room for special benefits like complimentary hors d’oeuvres and cocktails in The Executive Lounge. The lounge is open 24/7 for business travelers to relax and enjoy snacks and beverages in privacy, both day and night. They also benefit from access to complimentary business facilities including secretarial services, a meeting room for up to eight people, and a business center equipped with fax machine and printer. We strive for ‘no distractions’ around the clock to allow business travelers to focus on the actual business they are doing.”
“Our owners Emirates Group had the vision to build a convention hotel with scale and facilities on par with those in New York, Hong Kong and Paris, making Dubai a viable and attractive option for high volume international conferences. As a result, we hosted the largest segment of the NuSkin group from China in 2014, the largest incentive group ever received in Dubai. Not only do we have Dubai’s largest ballroom which can accommodates a large number of conference attendees, but we have enough hotel rooms to comfortably host them during their visit. JW Marriott Marquis also recently launched a brand new initiative called ‘Meetings Imagined,’ allowing for businesses to get creative when holding conferences or meetings on a large scale. Meeting planners can facilitate modern meetings with a creative spin that stimulate attendees through cutting-edge approaches; big screen multimedia, energizing breaks, interactive activities and relaxed meeting configurations are all part of out-of-the-box ‘Meetings Imagined’ experience.”
“JW Marriott Marquis is home to nine award-winning authentic restaurants and five lounges which offer world class dining options suited to both business and pleasure. We also host international concepts such as the VIP Room and GQ Bar within the hotel, further cementing our position as a destination hotel. Prime 68 is a personal favorite of mine, with panoramic views of the urban skyline complimenting delicious cuts of steak. Of course, I have enjoyed countless business lunches and dinners here- the New York Strip with mushroom truffle sauce is sensational. I also am also very fond of Rang Mahal, with Michelin-starred Chef Atul Kochhar at the helm. It is a multiple award-winning modern Indian restaurant, presenting an exciting menu in a vibrant ‘Palace of Color’ (Rang Mahal)- it really is a feast for the senses, and a great venue for a more relaxed business dinner.”
“I recommend a session in the Dead Sea Floatation Pool, a hammam, massage or steam room session in Saray Spa. Work off stress in the gym, take a dip in the outdoor pool, have some shisha, or indulge in cuisines from around the world.”