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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

Week in the Life: Lava heats up Fujairah's hospitality scene

Omar Souab, 40, general manager of Lava Beach Club and neighbouring Fairmont Fujairah Beach Resort, talks about an average working week

Omar Souab, general manager of Lava and Fairmont Fujairah Beach Resort. The offering is paving the way for tourism growth in the Northern Emirates, he says. David Dunn for The National
Omar Souab, general manager of Lava and Fairmont Fujairah Beach Resort. The offering is paving the way for tourism growth in the Northern Emirates, he says. David Dunn for The National

Lava Beach Club is a first for Fujairah and the UAE’s only destination beach club with dedicated penthouse.

It has one eye on corporate functions and product launches and the other on fun-seekers - and also has teamed with the US electric car maker Tesla to provide free charging for guests. Omar Souab, 40, is general manager of Lava and neighbouring Fairmont Fujairah Beach Resort. The Moroccan was previously operations manager of Pullman City Centre, Deira, and Fairmont Dubai hotel manager before opening Fairmont Fujairah in December 2016. Here he tells The National about his week.

SUNDAY

I work weekends, so Sunday is my day off, a day of exercise, sports to stay in shape and healthy. I run, a bit of bicycling. My passion is golf; I started playing when I was 13. Whenever I get the chance I play in Dubai with friends and colleagues. There aren’t courses in Fujairah. I spend quality time with my wife and children. I have a three-year-old son and 10-month-old girl. My son enjoys Lava’s splash pad kids' pool. My wife enjoys the whirlpools and the restaurant. We do spin classes on weekends and she likes to stay fit. I’ll maybe take my family to RAK to do something. I disconnect as much as I can.

MONDAY

The first thing we do is look at what happened over the weekend. We have a quality committee looking at feedback from guests, the online reputation as well. We look at performance and take decisions on how to fine tune and adjust our service when required. Lava’s being welcomed nicely by guests, staying in-house. We’re pioneers, launching a beach club of this size and concept. It has added a lot of value to the hotel. I also sit down with the wellbeing committee, more focused on resort colleagues. It organises events - tournaments, basketball, volleyball, chess, a healthy day, a treat day, something of a CSR [corporate social responsibility] approach - to keep colleagues entertained, engaged and committed.

TUESDAY

More of a strategic day; we review the hotel in terms of financial performance, business we have coming. We look at the standards side and the strategy for the recreation and Lava and how to push the business, how to fine-tune the positioning of every outlet. There’s an element of adaptation – that’s what I like about my job; sometimes coming out of your comfort zone challenges you to do better. We’re in a learning curve; managing a beach club is something new and bringing something new to the Northern Emirates, different kinds of clientele. It’s a lot of fun. The city of Fujairah is excited. It’s something that was needed in the region.

WEDNESDAY

I spend time on recreation; look at ways of creating a wellness journey for guests within the hotel - I’m working with my spa manager. Recreational activities we provide – we make sure they’re properly exposed. We’ve BMW mountain bikes for guests and a track, spin bikes and classes throughout the week. We do sunrise yoga with one of the best sunrises in the UAE; aqua gym daily in Lava. I have a coffee session with colleagues, talk openly about their perception of the hotel, their accommodation, how things can be improved my end so I can come up with strategies. All of that is re-discussed with the executive team on Tuesday. We have 240 employees.

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THURSDAY

Getting ready for the weekend. We check what was discussed on Monday, what has been done or how can we enhance in a particular area. We fix ourselves internal targets. We look at business on the books, the arrivals, get ready for the evening ‘dupper’ (dinner/supper). This happens at the hotel but I’m working with the team to bring it to Lava. We started getting inquiries from individuals who would like to book out the whole beach club where they get access to the Lava four-bedroom penthouse with private access.

FRIDAY

Every Friday we have an afternoon pool party in Lava, catering to guests in-house but also trying to target the community from Dubai. The ideal scenario would be for them to have dinner at The Copper Lobster, our signature restaurant, very sustainable because all fish is caught on the Fujairah coast and the oyster farm one mile away. We have a sustainability programme called Planet 21. We teamed with Tesla and are a charging station. If you’re a Tesla owner and you come, you have free charging and an early check-in, late checkout, a day chalet free of charge. There’s a farm next door. We’re introducing beehives and, in front of Café Pronto, a vegetable garden; our chefs choose their herbs. Soon we’ll have tomato and eggplants.

SATURDAY

On the weekend I prefer to be here with the guests, on the ground; I don’t do office work. Hospitality is a passion and being in the resort is something I love. That’s why I only take one day off, and work long hours. Being a luxury brand we wanted something refined and on the healthy side. That’s why we have classes and recreation to keep guests healthy and entertained at the same time. We talk to guests; sometimes there’s constructive feedback so we make sure everything is captured and we study it on Monday. The complex is made up of the hotel, Lava, the beach, apartments and villas. I live next-door in one of the villa - walking distance - but as soon as I go home I switch off.

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