Elite Traveler: Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you came to be the GM of The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai?
Raul Salcido: I joined The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company 20 years ago as part of the opening team of the fantastic resort in Cancun, Mexico. I immediately became fascinated with the culture of the company and the structures to deliver uncompromising levels of service.
After leading numerous operational disciplines, I was transferred to the United States where I worked at properties in Washington D.C., Michigan and Florida followed by international assignments in Santiago, Chile, Barcelona, Spain and Istanbul, Turkey.
After Istanbul, I head back to US as General Manager of The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco for three years before coming to Dubai in 2012. I consider myself fortunate to take over this amazing resort, which has been an iconic property in Dubai since 1998 and also carried the distinction of being the first hotel of the brand in the Middle East.
ET: What are some of the changes you’ve implemented as GM?
RS: More than changes, I would say that I have re-energized the importance of finding and retaining the right talent. Having the right team is the key for exceptional performance, which is also an essential element for us at this stage with the recent expansion and repositioning of our intimate resort.
ET: The hotel just unveiled a brand new resort wing. What’s it like, and how does it differ from the property’s other offerings?
RS: The new wing of The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai has 148 new guestrooms and suites, including 115 Deluxe Rooms, 13 Junior Suites, 18 Executive Suites and two opulent Royal Suites.
Each room is oriented to the sea with private balconies, enabling guests to experience an intimate escape in the heart of Dubai Marina. A new suite category, which is the Junior Suite, has also been added as part of the overall room inventory due to high demand from valued repeat guests.
For added luxury within a relaxing and refined setting, The Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge offers the highest personalized service through an exclusive Club Concierge team complemented by numerous culinary presentations and unlimited premium beverages served throughout the day.
The new facility also incorporates sophisticated dining venues; Blue Jade – wherein diners are taken into an enchanting journey to sample authentic dishes from the East and La Baie Lounge, an outdoor chill-out venue that sets the scene for stylish evening gatherings.
The brand new Ritz-Carlton Spa complements to the whole resort experience with its new concept offering a tailor-made and holistic spa experiences. Completing the whole resort indulgence are additional swimming pools and new landscaped lawns and lush gardens that overlook the white sandy beach of the Arabian Gulf.
A new grand ballroom, which can accommodate up to 500 people has also been added along with a collection of well-designed day-light meeting rooms, a Majlis and outdoor pavilions to provide magnificent backdrops for any kind of event from weddings to high-powered business meetings.
ET: Visitors to Dubai have so many hotels to choose from. What sets yours apart?
RS: Dubai is the ultimate luxury destination and there is no denying that the competition in this market is tough. However, there is a growing demand for luxury propositions and with The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai we have been able to leverage our global and historical legacy to establish our position as the foremost luxury hotel.
In contrast to the other hotels in town, with only 148 guest rooms, The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai is a boutique property that provides travellers an intimate oasis overlooking the Arabian Gulf.
We were also one of the first hotels to arrive in this area hence, our location is unparalleled. We have the double advantage of being in the thick of the action at The Walk on Jumeirah Beach Residences, whilst our setting and expansive layout ensure that our guests feel secluded and removed from the city.
ET: The hotel opened almost 15 years ago, before Dubai underwent incredibly rapid growth. Has the hotel done anything particular to keep up? To cater to a changing demographic of visitor?
RS: The opening of the new resort’s wing on the eve of our 15-year anniversary is a sense of a celebration for us, as we reposition our legendary resort in this market. When we first opened our resort here, there was nothing around us. We were here before The Palm, before the Marina development, and before the Jumeirah Beach Residences. We are fortunate to have witnessed the expansion and progression of this dynamic market, and have benefitted from the opportunity to cater to its evolving needs.
ET: What’s the most outlandish request you’ve ever received (and fulfilled) for a guest?
RS: There’s this one request that came immediately to my mind. It was this time when we had to convert an entire floor of a particular hotel to accommodate the specific needs of a single guest that stayed with us.
ET: What about The Ritz-Carlton group as a whole? Any big picture plans or shifts on the horizon?
RS: Our focus continues on expanding our portfolio in key destinations and gate-away cities were our customers are travelling. We’ve recently opened two new properties in China, also The Ritz-Carlton, Bangalore and The Ritz-Carlton, Almaty which are both a first in each destination. We are set to open few more properties within the Middle East Region, North Africa and Asia.
ET: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
RS: Thank you for the opportunity to share the highlights of our new property to your readers. We hope to welcome them soon to experience our fantastic intimate resort in Dubai – an always vibrant city.