Breaking Travel News interview: Michael Koth, general manager, Emirates Palace | Focus
Seasoned hotelier Michael Koth has been appointed as general manager of Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates.
He is also area vice president of operations with the company, overseeing Mandarin Oriental Jumeira and the upcoming Mandarin Oriental Downtown, both in Dubai.
The latter is scheduled to open in 2022.
A German/Swiss national, Koth is a leader in the hospitality industry, bringing a wealth of experience and knowledge spanning over 40 years.
Here he tells Breaking Travel News about his plans for the coming year.
Breaking Travel News: Congratulations on your appointment as general manager of the iconic Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi – how can we expect the property to change under your leadership?
Michael Koth: The expectation of “change” in the context of this iconic palace is a big call.
Some things in life do not necessarily require drastic change but rather an evolution in order to go from strength to strength.
A large part of our focus is based on the redefinition of delivering luxury.
Nowadays luxury is more personal and experience-based with less emphasis on materiality.
Our journey is taking us, and will continue to take us, much more into delivering curated experiences in a truly palatial environment.
BTN: This is an exciting time for the property, as it joins the Mandarin Oriental portfolio. What can guests expect from the new branding?
MK: It is indeed exciting to contribute to the company’s vision “A World of Fans” and a privilege to feature our iconic palace alongside legendary Hotels such as the group’s grand dame, Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, the historic Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok and the newly renovated Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid, to name but a few.
During the renovation of Emirates Palace over the coming 18 months, we will tastefully transform all of our rooms and suites as well as bring to life multiple new gastronomic concepts.
While we will accentuate and modernise our existing heritage, we will also provide a reimagined resort experience to our leisure guests, who will be able to enjoy the lush green landscape, mile-long beach, and abundant water sports, all in the very heart of our capital.
BTN: Abu Dhabi, and the United Arab Emirates, is currently battling back from the impact of Covid-19 on the tourism sector. How far along is that process?
MK: We are very fortunate to be in the United Arab Emirates, a country that has swiftly and effectively managed the pandemic on various fronts.
However, I am truly hopeful that towards the end of 2021 the overall pandemic will largely be under control and thanks to the global vaccination progress, people can feel confident enough to travel again.
It is our obligation in the hospitality industry to ensure that we care for our guests and colleagues at all times, providing a safe environment with strict health protocols.
The world is already recognising the government’s resilient response and achievements in combatting the spread of Covid-19: the steadily growing number of touristic arrivals into the UAE is a testament to our gradual recovery.
To reach pre-Covid-19 business levels, patience will be a virtue to practice until at least 2023.
BTN: Mandarin Oriental is also currently developing a second property in Dubai – does this amount to an endorsement of the long-term health of the market?
MK: Indeed, our expanding presence in Dubai is and will be fuelled by the confidence in the forward-thinking leadership there, continuously pushing boundaries and fostering a hub of innovation whilst creating endless opportunities for the global community to experience and fulfil themselves in our part of the world.
BTN: Emirates Palace is seen as a place of sumptuous extravagance. Do you think the demands of travellers will change in the post-Covid-19 world?
MK: We believe that travel behaviour as well as our guests’ needs and demands will change for good.
As a response to long-lasting limitations, we see that many will be prepared to trade up and treat themselves to something special.
Luxury experiences are leaning towards experiential discoveries, which are environmentally considerate, sustainable and safe.
We are also welcoming better-informed travellers who are more discerning and well-protected against risks.
Located in a dazzling natural bay, Emirates Palace is the perfect destination offering a pristine private beach and marina.
With its stunning Arabian interiors and legendary five-star service, the resort brings a new experience of luxury to the heart of Abu Dhabi.
Find out more on the official website.