Al-Ahram Weekly Online   7 - 13 August 2008
Issue No. 909
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875


Airlines and airports

Amadeus goes to Travco

FOR THE SECOND consecutive year, Travco Travel was awarded the second Top Aviation Customer Award by Amadeus System for being one of the top producers in Egypt. At an event at the Fairmont Towers Heliopolis, Travco Travel was recognised for the sizeable amount of business generated by its seven retail offices and nine retail branches in Egypt, and 12 international offices in the Middle East, Europe and the Far East.

Travco's Aviation Manager Nabila Abdallah picked up the prize on behalf of her company at the event attended by Travco's EgyptAir Reservation Manager Mustafa Amin, Manager of Aviation Branches Abdel-Moeti Zanati, and Mona El-Wahsh. The awards were given by Amadeus Regional Manager Ahmed Youssef, the company's Middle East Marketing Manager Jacqueline David, and Sales and Marketing Manager Moody Maged.

Greener skies in historic deal

ETIHAD Airways has placed one of the largest aircraft orders in commercial aviation history at the Farnborough International Air Show in the UK. The total deal for up to 205 wide-body and narrow-body planes is worth approximately $43 billion at list prices. It comprises 100 firm orders, 55 options and 50 purchase rights in a combination of Boeing and Airbus aircraft.

Etihad Airways Chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Seif Al-Nahyan and Chief Executive James Hogan announced the orders on the first day of the air show, signing separate contracts with Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney and also with Airbus President and CEO Tom Enders.

The new aircraft are scheduled for delivery between 2011 and 2020 for the Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, and upon delivery will give the national airline of the United Arab Emirates a fleet of more than 150 aircraft. "This is a momentous day for Etihad Airways and Abu Dhabi," noted Hogan. "It represents one of the largest aircraft orders in commercial aviation history, and reflects the strength and pace of economic growth in the Emirates and the integral role Etihad will play in Abu Dhabi's future."

A key selection criterion in the deal was the environmental performance of the aircraft, he added. "The new generation aircraft we have ordered from both Boeing and Airbus are amongst the most fuel efficient and will help maintain Etihad's fleet as one of the youngest and greenest in the sky," Hogan asserted.

So far this year, the airline launched new flights to Beijing, China, and this month will witness the addition of Chennai (Madras) and Kozhikode (Calicut) in India and Minsk in Belarus to the network. Etihad will also launch new services in December to Moscow, Russia, and Almaty, Kazakhistan.

Hotels and resorts

Pool view lounge

THERE is more being offered this summer at the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza since the opening of a new open-air lounge overlooking the hotel's three swimming pools. The Upper Pool Lounge is the ideal location to socialise with your family and friends while enjoying the summer evening breeze.

With a spectacular view of the swimming pools on one side and the bustling city on the other, the lounge offers comfortable sofas and is open daily from 6pm to 1am. The food selection ranges from seafood hammour tagine, meat dishes including vegetable couscous with lamb, to an assortment of salads such as citrus salad with cinnamon and orange-flower water. The desert menu lists strawberry trifle with caramelised filo crisp and cinnamon rice pudding with orange blossom, among other mouth-watering delights.

Guests can relax to the sounds of a DJ while enjoying a shisha pipe, watching the latest sports news and action on several plasma screens, and taking full advantage of the Four Seasons service.

With summer in full swing, the Upper Pool Lounge provides the perfect setting to stay cool outdoors.

Hilton Hurghada ONQ

HILTON Hotels Corporation has now gone live with its proprietary groundbreaking technology platform, ONQ, in the Middle East and Africa (MEA). The system is designed to take customer loyalty within the hospitality business to new levels.

Launched for the first time in the region at Hilton Fujairah Resort in the UAE and Hilton Hurghada Resort in Egypt, ONQ represents an integrated suite of tools which will facilitate hotel operators to improve guest recognition at check- in points, provide enhanced levels of service based on real-time access to guest preferences, information about Hilton HHonours guest reward programme membership status, and past guest stays across all Hilton family brands.

All 44 families of hotels in MEA, and any new openings, will adopt this technology by the end of 2009.

Senior Director of Information Technology for Hilton Hotels MEA Wassim Farouk asserted that such technology will better help management to decisively respond to current market conditions, and make informed business decisions based on the revenue maximisation tools built into the system. Farouk added that it will significantly facilitate better guest relations and powerful business intelligence through seamless information sharing across every guest touch point -- front desk, reservations, the HHonours Service Centre and the brand website.

Hurghada Marriott philanthropy

THE WORD can indeed be mightier than the sword. A simple remark by one of the staff members of Hurghada Marriott Red Sea Resort led to the establishment of a formal community service programme at the hotel. Hurghada Marriott's Accounting Manager Hassan Hosni inspired Sameh El-Garf, the hotel's general manger, to turn a dream into reality. Today, more than 100 volunteers invest about 1,500 hours of community service to sponsor orphans, mentor students and plant trees.

"Community service is just as important as everything else we do to ensure our business success," explained El-Garf. "We wanted to create a voluntary programme that would engage associates all-year-round, and encourage their involvement at every level, from the development of the programme to its implementation."

Hosni, who was appointed as the programme's administrator, explained that the options are many to appeal to different people's interests. "If they don't want to actually volunteer to work, they can help with the planning," he clarified. This is especially important, noted El-Garf since the programme "needs great teamwork, rather than money, to work."

In the same spirit of philanthropy, associates decided to deduct money from their own salaries on monthly basis to be donated to 10 poor families with disabilities.

A night to remember

IN SEARCH of best customer entertainment, the Sheraton Montazah launched an innovative activity plan combining culture, food, fun and entertainment that caters to various tastes. Recently the hotel organised a Lebanese food and appetisers event, which was attended by a large crowd of Arab, European and Alexandrine guests.

It is the first in a series of events planned this summer, including a Bedouin night scheduled to take place soon.

Power of attraction

Ihab Sobhi, revenue director at the Sheraton Montazah Hotel, won the President Award for 2008. Sobhi received this valuable prize, which is granted annually by Starwood for Hotels & Resorts to distinguished managers, for his noticeable efforts in past years to enhance the hotel's occupancy and tourist flow from Europe, Asia and the USA.

His strategy positively impacted hotel revenue and profits, making Sheraton Montazah a prime choice for Alexandria's visitors.

Crystal safe food

RAMSES Hilton was awarded the Golden Crystal Certificate of Achievement this week. This is in recognition of its success in obtaining good standards of hygiene by implementing the policies of the E-Crystal System Programmes, based on the HACCP food safety management principles.

The E-Crystal system is applied at Ramses Hilton to ensure the production of safe and hygienic food for hotel guests.

Another recipient of the certificate is the Grand Rotana Resort and Spa Sharm El-Sheikh, recognising it as one of the world's safest for achieving an exceptional level of health and food standards. HACCP food safety management is recommended by the World Health Organisation.

The management at Grand Rotana Resort and Spa asserted that they always prioritise all aspects of health and environment to maintain high hygienic standards.

Rewarding the best

MAHMOUD Mokhtar, Ramses Hilton's general manager, recently held the Team Members' Annual Training Certificate Presentation. The ceremony took place at the Ramses Ballroom, where more than 400 team members were awarded and received their Courses Completion Certificates.

To the same end, Mokhtar held a party in appreciation of the hotel's staff who won various awards such as the Honesty Awards and Supervisor of the Quarter Award.

Pins of recognition

AS PART of Conrad Cairo's policy of recognition of its employees, it awarded team members who completed their one-year, five-year or 10-year service. The awards are pins of recognition depending on the years and certificate of service.

Promotion at the Hyatt

HYATT International announced the promotion of Ahmed El-Hadi as director of marketing at Hyatt Hotels and Resorts in Egypt and Jordan. El-Hadi has acquired extensive professional experience in the hospitality industry, holding several positions in Egypt and the Middle East.

El-Hadi's most recent position was director of marketing at Grand Hyatt Cairo.

Experience the Thai

LE MÉRIDIEN Heliopolis "Innovative and creative" organised a Thai food festival week at the Marco Polo fine dinning restaurant. Many dignitaries and guests of honour were invited to the opening night, including Ambassador Noppadon Theppitak of Thailand, Ambassador Muharram Bin Piah of Brunei, Ambassador Philip Mackinnon of Canada, Ambassador A Gopinnathan of India and Ambassador Jang Myong Son of North Korea.

Also attending were Mohamed Puzi Bin Haji Dahman, the charge d'affaires at the Embassy of Malaysia; Ambassador U Soe Myint of Myanmar; Ambassador Oscar G Valenzuela of the Philippines; Desmond Wee, charge d'affaires at the Embassy of Singapore; Ambassador Le Tien Ba of Vietnam; and Stacy R Starbuck, first secretary office of regional affairs at the US Embassy. They were joined by South Korea's Ambassador Dal-ho Chung; Juichi Takahara, the Japanese Embassy's deputy chief of mission; Rawya El-Dabi from IDRC; as well as Salah Mohamed, head of investment and finance at the Arab League.

The event was hosted by Mamdouh Farag, the general manager of Le Méridien Heliopolis; Barry Curran, area manager of Resorts Starwood Hotels and Resorts, who is also general manager of Le Méridien Pyramids. Other co-hosts included Hotel Manager of the Cairo Sheraton Sameh Abdel-Wahab, Mohamed Idris, the director of sales and marketing at Le Méridien Heliopolis; Nihal Zamzam, the hotel's marketing communications and PR manager; and May Ahmed, Le Méridien Heliopolis PR coordinator.

The Ritz-Carlton benchmark

THE RITZ-CARLTON Leadership Centre conducted off-site presentations led by certified Leadership Centre Ambassadors around the globe. General Manger Spencer H Wadama and Director of Human Resources Vivek Singh shared their chain's experience with corporations and organisations wishing to benchmark the outstanding service at the Ritz-Carlton in Sharm El-Sheikh.

The programme presented the hotel's philosophy and values, and how they translate into customer satisfaction and loyalty. These are business practices which led the Ritz-Carlton company to become the only organisation to win the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award twice.

Manager of the year

HAMDI Sakr, housekeeping manager at Sharm El-Sheikh Marriott Beach Resort, was named Manager of the Year 2007 for his dedication, professionalism and excellent performance. Sakr received his award during the hotel's annual management celebration, which was held recently at Taba Heights Marriott Red Sea Resort.

News and events

A rising star

TRAVCO Group International held a conference recently, at the JAZ Almaza Beach resort in Almaza Bay, Marsa Matrouh, one of the company's high-class development projects in the coastal city. Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif and Governor of Marsa Matrouh Saad Mohamed Khalil, along with a number of ministers, attended the conference during his tour around the governorate to launch several development projects in the area.

During the conference, Khalil talked about the different investments and projects currently taking place in the area. He also shed the light upon the company's 6.2 million square metre project which offers luxury through a host of leisure and recreational facilities. The resort also offers 3,500 residential properties of international standards. In line with the national strategy, the resort was built with an eye to attract an influx of foreign revenue to the country through the inbound tourism to the hotels and through the residential ownership which is now open for foreigners upon signing of the free hold real-estate law.

According to Khalil, the total number of guest rooms added to the hotel will reach up to approximately 1500.

"The current developments aim at placing the North Coast on the international tourism map and is built to compete with international Mediterranean destinations," explained Chairman and CEO of Travco Group Hamed El-Chiati.

JAZ awards

HONOURING the Top producing Travel Agents in Egypt, JAZ Hotels & Resorts hosted its Annual Awards party at the Imperial Boat last month. Awards were handed out to the top producers where Travco came in the first place followed by South Sinai, Natural Blue Tours, Bright Sky, Midland, Abanoub, MTS, Welcome, Regency and Expedia -- all received awards for generating the most tourist arrivals to the group of hotels in the year 2007.

New service manager for MTI

WITH more than 21 years of experience in the automotive field, Gerald Forester was appointed as the MTI, Egypt's sole distributor of Jaguar, Land Rover, Bentley, Maserati and Ferrari, new service manager on 4 August.

Before signing with MTI, Forester worked as after sales manager for The National Trading Company in Yemen, one of the most reputable and diversified trading companies in the country. He was responsible for the servicing of Porsche, Hyundai and Ford.

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