Al-Ahram Weekly Online   1 - 7 October 2009
Issue No. 966
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875


Thai fest at Hyatt

THIS OCTOBER, dinning at Grand Hyatt Cairo will take on a new meaning at Fontana Restaurant. While enjoying a breathtaking view of the Nile, guests will be able to indulge in a promotion menu themed around exquisite Thai food by Chef Supattra Panyasombat. For 10 days beginning on 15 October, guests are invited to take a culinary trip to Thailand which food is influenced by India and China, since it is located between the two cultural and historical powers.

A Thai meal has no courses, and like most cooking of the region, is built around rice. Southern Thai people eat long-grain rice, while northerners favour short-grain or 'sticky' rice. Noodles, probably introduced from China, also play a role in Thai cooking. The dishes are mostly either stir-fried or steamed -- primarily in a wok -- while the rest is grilled. Fish sauce ( nam pla ) and/or shrimp paste ( kapee ) appear in nearly every recipe.

The other distinct flavours of Thai cooking come from the indigenous spices and produce: coconut milk, lemongrass, tamarind, ginger, black pepper, galangal, garlic, cilantro, basil, palm sugar, turmeric, cumin, shallots, and green onions. Last but not least is the chili, a late influx into Thai cooking, having arrived with Portuguese traders early in the 16th Century. The chili has become a central player and much Thai food is fiery hot.

Chef Panyasombat has almost 15 years of experience in Thai food, and a bronze medal from the Thailand Chefs' Association. She worked at a number of Hyatt hotels around the world, and since 2005 Panyasombat has been the Thai Chef De Cuisine at Park Hyatt Dubai.

Al-Ahram Weekly Online  
Issue No.
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Health and safety awarded
Al-Ahram Weekly Online  
Issue No.
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

IN RECOGNITION of its high standards of hygiene and efficient implementation of the Cristal system programmes, Sheraton Sharm Hotel, Resort, Villas & Spa was awarded the Cristal Certificate of Achievement granted by Check Safety First. Hotel General Manager Firas Irsheidat, Director of Food & Beverage Mohsen El-Hadary and Hotel Executive Chef Andrea Dipino received the award.

The Cristal Risk Management food hygiene and safety module provides the basic elements, with further modules covering general safety, fire safety, pool safety, and business continuity modules. These all serve to achieve the highest level of hygiene regulations and ensure safe food operation.

President's award in Sharm

AS INCENTIVE to develop, grow and excel, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide awarded Ayman Abdel-Fattah, Sheraton Sharm Hotel, Resort, Villas and Spa's human resources manager, the Starwood President Award for 2008. Abdel-Fattah was nominated by the hotel's General Manager Firas Irsheidat.

The Starwood President Award is an annual prize given for recognition to department heads for outstanding performance. Abdel-Fattah had demonstrated exemplary performance, dedication, hard work and passion towards his work. The vital aspect of his success is his ability to help and develop associates through a healthy team spirit.

Back in the Middle East

THE GRAND Hyatt Cairo has a new assistant director of food and beverage, namely Guillaume Delemarle. The hotel's General Manager Frederic Boulin announced the appointment, noting that Delemarle is a graduate of the Vatel Institute in Lyon, France.

He has held several positions with various international hotel chains in Europe, most recently as assistant director of food and beverage at Hyatt Regency La Managa, in Spain. Guillaume was raised in Saudi Arabia, is aware of Arab traditions, and very enthusiastic about his new position in Egypt.

Best of staff

LE MERIDIEN Heliopolis recently celebrated the annual staff party, where hotel employees enjoyed a joyful evening at the main ballroom, Aramis. General Manager Mamdouh Farag and Human Resources Manager Mohamed Tawfik distributed certificates of honour to the Employees of the Year. These were Magdi Abdel-Razik Gaber and Ashraf Eid Hassan.

Marriott price offers

FOR A BRIEF time, travellers can get 20 per cent off weekend stays with a global rate break at more than participating Marriott hotels and resorts around the world. Reservations must be made using the promo code F5X between 10-24 September, for weekend stays (and mid-week stays at select hotels) between 25 September and 13 December, 2009. The offer is available weekends (Thursday-Sunday) at most participating hotels in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Caribbean and Latin America. The offer is available seven days a week at select hotels and resorts around the world.

"We continue to find great ways for travelers to save on their next trip," said JW Marriott, Jr, chairman and CEO, Marriott International, Inc. "The global rate break allows guests to choose from affordable rates at eight of our brands, making it easier than ever to stay with Marriott."

The discount rates are available at a wide range of accommodations and services, luxury to moderately priced. These include Marriott Hotels & Resorts, JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts, RenaissanceHotels & Resorts, Courtyard by Marriott, Fairfield Inn by Marriott, SpringHill Suites by Marriott, Residence Inn by Marriott, TownePlace Suites by Marriott.

Price breaks for corporates

THERE'S no need to compromise on where you hold your next meeting or how many attend, with the new one- in-five offer from the Hilton family. Hilton launched its biggest meeting promotion, where up to 20 meeting attendees will go free at meetings held throughout 2009 at more than 180 participating Hilton Family hotels in the UK, Europe, Africa, and Middle East. Participating hotels in Egypt are Conrad Cairo, Ramses Hilton, Hilton Alexandria Green Plaza, Hilton Pyramids Golf Resort, and Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa.

According to Azza Serry, senior director of Business Development Hilton Hotels Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Africa, "the offer is very competitive within the current marketplace and provides real value for companies looking to streamline their costs for meetings and events." Serry continued that "businesses should not have to compromise on where they hold their next meeting or how many people attend, and a key objective of this new promotion is to make that possible."

The offer is available for meetings and events to be held until 31 March 2010, both residential and non-residential, and must be booked and confirmed between 25 August and 4 December, 2009. "We understand that corporate bookers are continually on the lookout for the best value agreement and with our 'one in five free offer' they not only reduce costs, but can earn Hilton HHonors Event Bonus points as well," noted Serry.

Coffee bean innovations

IN A CONTINUED effort to provide more choices to guests, Hilton Sharm El-Sheikh Fayrouz Resort officially inaugurated Caffe Cino in September. Hilton Worldwide President and CEO Chris Nassetta attended the outlet, which brings together Hilton's passion for quality and the flare of freestanding cafes.

The cafe reflects a new concept of better choices and quality of products with a variety of flavours and tastes, in addition to a selection of hot and cold beverages, sandwiches and pastries to satisfy all guest needs. Customers can be served at the counter, at the table or can have their order to go. The most distinguished offering at Caffe Cino is the coffee, with its rich and full-bodied taste, with a long lingering, aromatic flavour. In fact, the outlet serves an extensive range of coffees, all with specific characteristics and methods of preparation.

"Sharm El-Sheikh is characterised by having the best chains of international cafes, which offer a wide array of choices from all around the world," explained the resort's General Manager Magdy Metwaly. "However, I am sure that in a short period of time Caffe Cino with its contemporary, casual design and good coffee which is served at every Hilton hotel around the world will become one of Sharm's most prominent cafes."

FIFA on the roof

BETWEEN 24 September and 16 October, all soccer lovers can enjoy the excitement and enthusiasm of the FIFA U20 World Cup in an authentically palatial atmosphere. Almaz, the open-air location atop the Cairo Marriott Palace will be transformed into Champions Sports Bar. Guests will enjoy watching live games on huge cinema screens, while experiencing the royal service, great food and a wide selection of beverages.

Connecting with the needy

FOR THE seventh continuous year, the 'Ramadan Charity Tent' at Sheraton Cairo hosted orphan and deprived children from 66 charity associations, exposing them to daily cultural and artistic programmes. The event was initiated by Sheraton Cairo Hotel in 2003 and launched in collaboration with MobiNil, Mansour Group.

Activities included art workshops for painting, jewelry making, silk screen, pottery and carpets, followed by iftar, and complimented by cultural and behavioral modification and entertainment. Participants included school children and volunteers from the general public to help put a smile on the faces of the less privileged and help penetrate their isolation.

At the end of the Holy month, the management teams of the main sponsors celebrated Eid El-Fitr with 500 of the children, as a tribute to the community and to raise awareness about their philanthropic endeavour.

It also aims to boost their morale, improve their mental health and give them joy through a purposeful programme which promotes social acceptance, enriches their sense of belonging and contribute to their potential.

Capturing the Ramadan spirit

IN AN EFFORT to give back to the community and part of its sense of corporate social responsibility, Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at The First Residence continues to assist social and civic endeavours in the city. Hence, and in collaboration with Khayrazad Foundation for Social Care, it hosted a lavish suhour at its Arabian tent Tagine to raise funds and awareness for the Khayrazad charity, which does substantial work in Egypt for the underprivileged and children in need. This night focused on raising funds for Abu El-Rishe El-Yabani hospital.

Other support and sponsors came from Oriental Weavers, Omatra Company, Esprenza Aboul Fettouh, Coca Cola, Oriental for Urban Development, Kia, Americana and El-Rashidy El-Mizan.

But the night was more than just enjoying Tagine's delectable oriental dishes, or listening to enchanting music by Sherine and Ahmed Adaweiya, rather, it was about giving back to those most in need. The Khayrazad foundation is a non-profit organisation established to help everyone without discrimination, regardless of colour, sex or religion. Some of its activities include medical care for people in need of medical support, supplying medicine that is not easily affordable, donating to medical operation fees and costs, purchasing machinery for public hospitals with low funds, and supporting the establishment and development of new hospitals.

New low-cost carrier

TRAVCO Group, one of the Middle East's leading travel and hospitality group, and Air Arabia, a pioneer low-cost carrier in the Middle East and North Africa, announced on 9 September the signing of a joint venture agreement launching a new low-cost carrier based in Egypt. The new carrier will serve Europe, Africa and Asia markets and will represent Air Arabia's third hub after the UAE and Morocco.

Building on Air Arabia's existing services to 57 destinations across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia, the new airline will contribute to the ongoing development of the Egyptian travel and tourism sector, as well as offer a larger base of customer best value for money air travel. "The enormous commercial success of Air Arabia in the six years since its launch demonstrates the strength of its business model, which we are confident will allow Air Arabia 'Egypt' to reach new heights," announced Travco Chairman and CEO Hamed El-Chiaty. "As the country's most qualified tourism and hospitality group, Travco Group will provide its own keen insights into the European and Egyptian markets, as well as the wider region."

"I am delighted to announce this new partnership with Travco Group, that will expand Air Arabia services in Egypt and across the wider Europe, Africa and Asia region," said Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohamed Al-Thani, chairman of Air Arabia -- based in Sharjah, UAE. "At a time when the global aviation industry is witnessing serious challenges as a consequence of the worldwide financial crisis, we continue to move forward with our strategic expansion strategy, as demonstrated by this important announcement. Through this new partnership, we look forward to replicate the success Air Arabia has already achieved at its existing hubs."

Children of the Earth

AS PART of Sheraton Montazah Hotel Alexandria's community activities, outreach to the needy and maintaining sustainability, it recently organised "For Our Earth and Nature" green day for children. The event was held in cooperation with the Egypt Cognitive Centre and the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Authority.

A diverse programme was prepared for the children, focussed on allowing them to explore the natural world, teaching them about animals and the Earth, encouraging their creativity and enhancing their respect for the planet and all beings. The children also participated in fun, creative and informative workshops while learning how to use simple recyclables in drawing and making animal and fish shapes. Other workshops were designed to teach about tree planting, plant types, names, nature, caring and watering needs.

The children also enjoyed Bezra, a show presented by the Environmental Affairs Authority, revolving around an animated character who uses games, activities, cartoon movies and songs to present facts about pollution, the natural world, healthy food and general sustainable living issues.

An enjoyable pizza meal and fun songs by a DJ concluded the day, as the children danced and finally left with their self- prepared plants.

New Hilton name and logo

HILTON Worldwide (formerly Hilton Hotels Corporation) announced on 23 September the launch of its new corporate name and logo. Hilton's new name, Hilton Worldwide, signifies the company's global breadth and reach, and the logo incorporates key design elements which reflect the chain's heritage, vision for the future and commitment to excellent service.

"This is an incredibly dynamic time in our company's history," stated Hilton Worldwide President and Chief Executive Officer Christopher J Nassetta. "On the heels of a successful move into our new global headquarters, we're excited to launch our corporate identity which better represents who we are today and our aspirations for the company going forward. Nassetta noted that while the corporate name and logo have changed, "the best of our company -- the passion, commitment and high standards of our team members which translate into exceptional experiences for our guests -- remains the same."

The new corporate name and logo follow the company's recent relocation of its global headquarters from Beverly Hills, California, to McLean, Virginia. These changes have also been mirrored by the internal launch of a refreshed company vision, mission, values and key strategic priorities, which are intended to communicate more clearly how Hilton conducts business and plans to achieve company goals.

Hilton Worldwide's portfolio of 10 brands comprises more than 3,300 hotels in 77 countries around the world. The company is expected to open more than 300 hotels this year.

Revenues to charity

IN A PHILANTHROPIC gesture, the Nile Hotel, Cairo, launched a new contribution initiative to benefit the Children's Cancer Hospital 57357. "We took advantage of the large number of weddings at the Nile Hotel to donate a percentage of our own revenues to the hospital," stated the hotel's General Manager Jeffery Seward, as he announced the initiative. "We believe that a small act of giving is a good gift to be given by newly-weds at the start of their married life. Therefore, our donation is made in the name of the couple, as a lasting contribution to benefit the hospital."

The hospital's Fundraising Strategic Manager Hanaa Farid described that initiative as "great and the first of its kind, showing compassion for the children and passion for the hospital."

Escape and de-stress

MODERN life in a large, cosmopolitan metropolis can take its toll on even the hardiest city-dweller. "Just Escape" is the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza solution currently available at the hotel's spa. On offer is an invigorating 45- minute classic massage, which could be followed by either a cleansing 25-minute mini-facial or brown sugar scrub. At a cost of LE719, the "Just Escape" package was designed to meet the needs of burned-out city slickers and is very rejuvenating.

Once completely relaxed, you can take advantage of a healthy Spa Bento Lunch. The appetising menu includes tuna tartare, gazpacho soup, herb-grilled chicken brochette or "Catch of the Day", followed by a refreshing dish of glazed pineapple slices. This balanced and nutritious meal is available at LE125.

Reservations are required for this spa package, which is available at the hotel from Sunday to Thursday between 11am to 4pm, but is not valid during public holidays. The largest of its kind in the city, the spa offers 15 treatment rooms including a couple's treatment room, sauna, steam, whirlpool, cold plunge and a serene relaxation area overlooking the River Nile. The spa also features an indoor swimming pool.

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