Dubai's Jumeirah still keen on hotel expansion despite coronavirus impact

Jose Silva says now is the time to be ‘stubborn and determined’ to develop hospitality brands

Now is the time to be “stubborn” and “determined” to develop your hospitality brand, according to Jose Silva, the CEO of Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts.

Speaking during a one-to-one session at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC), Silva revealed that, despite the global economic tailspin caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the hospitality giant is looking to expand its presence from 2021.

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The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) is estimating losses of up to $2.7 trillion around the world in 2020, with up to 100 million jobs at risk.

Asked what the company’s strategy for 2021 is, Silva said: “Seeking the right expansion opportunities for us and we’re looking at a few for the moment, and just continuing to build the brand. This is a time that you need to be stubborn and determined to push the development of your brand.

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“There’s as many opportunities today in the market as there were before Covid, if not more as people are concerned, worried or changing their mind about the future.

“Our focus is the long-term expansion and the strengthening of the brand,” he added.

The company currently boasts a portfolio of more than 20 properties based in the UAE, the wider GCC and across the world.

Silva also highlighted the key role staff have played and will continue to play in the post-Covid world.

Jose Silva, the CEO of Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts

He said: “Our employees have gone to tremendous efforts. These were tough times. We’ve asked for lots of compromises from them and they were supportive of the brand. Building morale, protecting morale, investing in our employees is our first goal in 2021. We’re doing it now and we want to continue doing it.”

In a wide-ranging interview with Business Breakfast host Richard Dean, Silva said one of the greatest issues facing the industry going forward is food waste and sustainability.

“No doubt that we all waste too much in the rich world, like Dubai and other countries,” he said.

He also revealed that buffets, taken off the menu during the Covid-19 crisis as a result of stringent new health and safety requirements, were returning, but in a different guise.

He said: “Buffets I think will come back, but we have introduced rolling buffets that make it more Covid-friendly but still give you that sense of generosity and abundance coming to you instead of you waiting in line at a buffet to help yourself.”

Silva also alluded to future plans to possibly enter the food delivery business. “We haven’t engaged yet on the front because that’s not our specialty, but the future there is huge. The future of service at home, any kind of service at home, everything will come to you in the future instead of you going to it,” he said.

“Service at home will be a huge part of the future. We’re not there yet, but we’re thinking about it.”

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