Al-Ahram Weekly Online   4 - 10 September 2008
Issue No. 913
Travel
 
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Guidelines


Top airline and hotel

Maktoob survey

IN A COMPREHENSIVE syndicated study conducted by the online Maktoob Research Centre on the travel industry in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, Emirates was voted the region's top airline, leading the table in terms of overall customer satisfaction. The Dubai-based carrier also bagged the distinction of being the most widely used among UAE travellers. Saudi Airlines emerged the most widely used among Saudi travellers. Similarly, in the hospitality sector, Hilton led all hotels in the Kingdom in terms of usage and overall customer satisfaction. In the UAE, however, while remaining atop the usage index, Hilton dropped down the table when it came to overall customer satisfaction, where the home-grown Jumeriah Hotels ranked first.

The online survey, The Travel Monitor, canvassed the opinions of 2,457 UAE and Saudi residents who travel at least once a year, and covered topics ranging from travel preferences and trends, brand awareness and usage, customer satisfaction levels and customer needs in both the airline and hospitality sectors.

Commenting on the survey, Tamara Deprez, director of Maktoob Research said, "in undertaking this study, we intended to provide a veritable portrait of consumer preferences and emerging trends within the region's travel industry, which is evolving at a dramatic pace. The findings of the study will serve as a handy guide for the movers and shakers of the travel industry to understand how customers perceive them and how best to cater to their requirements, while identifying aspects of business that need further attention."

Travel Monitor also examined a host of other travel-related trends and consumer attitudes. For airlines, it surveyed several aspects that determine passenger experience and influence customer perception such as safety and security, ticket fare, in-flight service quality, seating comfort, aircraft cleanliness, attitude and friendliness of cabin staff, adherence to schedule, availability of newspapers and magazines, efficiency of check- in and boarding, grooming and appearance of cabin staff, handling of delays and cancellations, and in-flight entertainment selection, in addition to overall satisfaction level, brand awareness and usage. A similar set of indexes was used to assess customer perception of major hotel brands. With online information and e-booking playing a critical role in the modern travel industry, the Travel Monitor took special note of airline and hotel websites, asking travellers to rate individual websites for their customer service content, ease of navigation, online reservation facilities, and payment options, among other factors. The study also assessed customer satisfaction across various categories for business class, first class and frequent flyers.

Hotels and resorts

Tailored for pleasure

THE RAMSES Hilton invites you to enjoy traditional Ramadan evenings throughout the hotel. Break your fast at the Terrace Café Restaurant and savour the sumptuous Iftar buffet.

As for Sohour you may experience a traditional Ramadan evening at the Garden Court Café from popular beverages and delicious Ramadan specialties to the taste of typical Egyptian flavoured shisha. You can also bring your friends along and enjoy a relaxing evening, play backgammon, cards or dominos to the sounds of traditional oriental music and lively Ramadan songs.

For a more casual setting, why not try the Rendez Vous Café located at the Hilton Shopping Galleria which offers a variety of Egyptian delights.

For those looking for special family Iftar and Sohour or Iftar for corporate companies, Banquet Sales have prepared a wide variety of menus, tailored to suit everyone's taste and budget.

Team celebration

IN APPRECIATION of its team, Le Meridien Heliopolis celebrated its annual associate party in the main elaborate ballroom Aramis where all and one received gifts and certificates of appreciation from the hotel's General Manager Mamdouh Farag, and Tawfik El-Shinawi, director of human resources. Special gifts were dedicated to those chosen the best employees of the year.

Birthday cake for all

INCREDIBLY motivating is working in a place that constantly seeks to raise the morale of its team members. To this end, Ramses Hilton's General Manager Haitham Nassar threw a party in celebration of those on his team born during this month, with more than 100 team members gathering around the mega cake prepared especially for the occasion by their own executive pastry chef.

A monthly routine, such celebrations strengthen the bonds that bind the team and their seniors, and consequently reflects a touch of warmth in the way such a team handles its guests.

Sheraton Bondokah

RAMADAN is upon us once again, and this year, Cairo Sheraton's new stylish and trendy outlet, Bondokah, is the place to be, with its magnificent atmosphere and exquisite location on the bank of the Nile. The exotic tent welcomes family and friends gatherings and outing and offers outstanding and tasty selection of food, sumptuopus entrees, premium desserts, fresh juices for sohour, prepared especially for the holy month occasion along with flavoured shisha, the oriental takht and DJ.

Indulge your senses

SHERATON Al-Montazah invites you to an unforgettable chilled-out vacation by its sandy private beach on the superb location by the seashore where you, by the Mediterranean, are sure to spend an unforgettable Ramadan that caters to all your senses.

Find your way to the daily Iftar and Sohour buffet at the Café Coquillage and lose yourself in oriental delights, then turn to the Sahlala Café and pick your favourite shisha blend while sipping on famous Ramadan beverages and listening to the takht or oriental band. If you wish to make the best out of the spectacular September weather, treat yourself to the open-air La Mamma Terrace and enjoy Sheraton Al-Montazah's own Ahmed Saad oud performance.

In need of a bit of a workout to burn the many delights you might indulge in during your stay, find your way to the newly introduced fitness facilities designed to help you get rid of the extra calories. After the vigorous workout, treat yourself to the hotel's relaxing sauna and don't miss out on their professional massage.

Sharm El-Sheikh Marriott philanthropy

HOW greater the world can be once we remember to take the time to think of serving our community and help put a smile on the faces of those less privileged. To this end, Marriott Sharm El-Sheikh Beach Resort with Disney has provided Disney cartoon character posters to be displayed on the walls of all patient rooms, halls and terraces in the Children with Cancer Hospital, the leading centre of excellence in the treatment of childhood cancer in the world. Its mission is to cure and improve the quality of life for all children with cancer regardless of race, creed or ability to pay. The hospital is considered a true example of the goodness of mankind and what can be achieved when people work together for a common goal. Egyptians and others from around the world, particularly in the Arab world, have contributed generously to the hospital in their wish to support change and improvement and also in their desire to contribute in any way to the future of our countries and our children, both the sick and healthy.

Spirit to serve

AS PART of its 'Spirit to Serve our Communities ' activities, the Taba Marriott Red Sea Resort hosted eight orphans from the SOS to spend the summer vacation on the property.

"We actively support our communities, building goodwill, fostering understanding, and creating lasting bonds with our neighbours," Taba Marriott General Manager Han Heesbeen said.

"What inspires us to be a good corporate citizen is the spirit to serve, a philosophy that we have valued for more than 80 years. This is at the core of so many Marriott activities that our community involvement has been given a special name: Spirit to Serve our Communities."

In Austria, Egypt and Switzerland, Marriott Hotels and Resorts have united with SOS Children's villages which provide family-based care for neglected and orphaned children. Employees have helped renovate homes and entertained the children in their annual Orphan Day celebrations.

Green desert

GREEN Globe winner and a very focussed participant in environmental management, the Movenpick Resort Al-Quseir invites its regular guests to plant a sapling as a token of its gratitude to their regular visitors.

Guests are invited to plant the saplings in the hotel grounds where they will eventually grow into fully-fledged olive trees. Guests returning in future years may tend the plant and even take the olives back home with them. Each tree has a small plaque with the planter's name and date of planting and a ceremony is held each time with the respective guests, the hotel's General Manager Klaus Graesslin and the hotel's departmental managers.

Having a tree to tend not only makes your visit memorable, but also provides an extra reason to return to the Red Sea.

New executive chef

AFTER the Ritz Carlton Sharm El-Sheikh last month announced the appointment of Jarret Beaulieu as the new executive chef, more delights are expected to be sampled at the luxurious five-star hotel. With over 18 years of experience in the field, Beaulieu worked for international hotel chains worldwide including the prestigious Conrad International Singapore, Danat Resort, Jebel Dhana, Abu Dhabi, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts Kenya. His most recent job was with the remarkable Marriott Sharm El-Sheikh.

Summer star

ARJEN ROBBEN, the Dutch football star who currently plays for Real Madrid and is also a part of The Netherlands national football team, stayed at the Hyatt Regency Sharm El-Sheikh on a summer vacation.

News

Mega merge

AS THE two leading brands in their fields, PepsiCo (for carbonated products of soft drinks, bottled water and snacks),signed a partnership and cooperation agreement with Hilton and Conrad hotels in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, on 27 August.

The agreement was signed by Mahmoud Mokhtar, country manager for Hilton Hotels Corporation in Egypt and Adel Garas, PepsiCo-Egypt managing director.

At press conference held at the Falcon Hall of the Ramses Hilton Hotel, Garas said he expected great success for a partnership that combines the two leading names in the world of food and tourism. Mokhtar expressed equal delight for having sealed such a merger.

New general manager

WITH more than 19 years experience in the hospitality industry, Haitham Nassar was appointed as the Ramses Hilton general manager. Described by his predecessor Mahmoud Mohktar, currently country manager of Egypt Hotel Operations, as dynamic and motivated, Nassar was chosen in recognition of his outstanding efforts and remarkable achievements.

Nassar started his career with Hilton International in 1988 where he held various managerial positions in Luxor Hilton, Nile Hilton and Hilton Al-Ain in the United Arab Emirates. Prior to the promotion, Nassar was general manager of the Hilton Sharm Dreams Resort in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.

Exploring creativity

NOTHING compares to a child's smile. Under that banner, the Ebtessama Charity Association organises various cultural events at the Mahmoud Mokhtar cultural centre throughout the holy month of Ramadan, serving orphans and children with special needs. The event is held under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture, the Sector of Fine Arts, and the Ebtessama Charity Association, in collaboration with MobiNil, Orascom Telecom, Mansour Group and Cairo Sheraton Hotel. Offering various workshops aimed at teaching children handicraft, the event is further meant to give the less privileged a chance to explore and utilise their potential to the fullest while enjoying other forms of entertainment including string-puppet shows and volunteer performances by famous singers.

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