Interview: Hanna Azzi on meeting guests’ demands

Interview: Hanna Azzi on meeting guests’ demands

The Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Dubai GM reveals how he’s keeping up with hospitality trends

Hospitality has always been a passion for Hanna Azzi. He studied hospitality management in Switzerland and swiftly dove head-first into working with established brands such as Four Seasons, Shangri-La, Raffles and St Regis. He worked his way up, developed a passion for delivering luxury experiences and has never looked back since.

Today, he’s the general manager of Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Dubai. Not content to rest on the impressive RevPar figures he’s achieved during his three-year tenure, Azzi is spearheading the implementation of several new strategic offerings at the property. We caught up with him to find out more.

Connecting Travel: What makes you a good hotelier?
Hanna Azzi: I’ve been in the luxury hotel business for more than 20 years now and I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some of the world’s leading hospitality brands. What I’ve learnt most from these experiences is the importance of creating a fun, yet focused work ambiance, which is respected and appreciated by all team members. This is a philosophy that I pride myself on and is always my first priority in every role I hold.

CT: What are Nikki Beach’s USPs?
HA: Our location on the waterfront of Pearl Jumeira means the resort feels like a retreat away from the bustling city and boasts stunning, unspoiled views of the Arabian Gulf. The most magical part of our resort is the various elements of the world-renowned brand that guests can experience. They can discover the best of both worlds, with low energy areas focused on relaxing and reclining at Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Dubai and high energy areas focused on entertainment at Nikki Beach Dubai, the iconic beach club located within the resort. We really encourage guests who visit the property to enjoy their experience at their own pace and completely disconnect.

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CT: Where did the Nikki Beach concept begin?
HA: It was entrepreneur Jack Penrod who introduced the world to Nikki Beach, the original luxury beach club concept that combines the elements of music, dining, entertainment, fashion, film and art in one venue. Today, as Nikki Beach marks over 20 years in business, the brand has grown into a global, multifaceted lifestyle hospitality company that can be experienced across the world. Here in Dubai, we’re lucky to have this unique lifestyle concept that is a natural extension of the Nikki Beach brand bringing our beach club experience into a beautiful resort setting.

Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Dubai

CT: How do you attract and maintain good staff?
HA: We appreciate everybody’s talents and I believe that this is why we maintain our staff and always have talent wanting to join the Nikki Beach brand. We’ve had to come together as a team more than ever over the past couple of years and while it’s been a challenging time, it just goes to show that if we encourage people, great things will happen. As a group, we operate under the motto of staying humble. It’s not about personal fame or recognition, it’s about being appreciating everyone on the team. From the on-site staff to the owner of Nikki Beach Global, we’re all a family here and that’s what our employees appreciate the most.

CT: What are your strategies to increase occupancy and revenue?
HA: Our vision for Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Dubai is ever evolving. We stay in line with key trends and guest feedback, which we are continuously monitoring to constantly improve and develop our offerings. We want to ensure that our guests always have a reason to visit, so keeping up with their needs and desires is key.

For example, in keeping with the current travel trends and high demand for seclusion since the pandemic, we will be enhancing the privacy of the villa experience even further with updates such as direct access to each villa.

We also have a special Celebration Suite launching tthat will provide guests with the ultimate venue in which they can celebrate in a grand space while still having a sense of privacy.

We also saw demand for more culinary options, so we’ve taken this into consideration and will be introducing new concepts to our F&B portfolio in the very near future.

Private villa

CT: What are your key source markets?
HA: Our key markets are currently Germany, CIS, the UK, KSA and France.

CT: How do you attract and cater to guests from the GCC?
HA: Dubai has always been an attractive destination for business and leisure travel, this is especially true within the GCC market. The city has held onto an enviable image as the place to be and Nikki Beach Resort & Spa stands out from the crowd of city hotels by offering guests an escape, while still being close to all that Dubai has to offer. 

CT: How is the regional hospitality sector currently performing?
HA: Over the past couple of years, we’ve really seen how resilient this industry is. Even during the midst of a global pandemic, Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Dubai broke records in 2020, 2021 and 2022 in terms of room revenue and the demand for beachfront and garden villas.

Travellers will always make vacations a priority, and will simply adapt to the current environment, whether that be a transition to more staycations or ensuring that overseas trips are more isolated and private.

Beach cabana

CT:  What is your approach to sustainability at Nikki Beach?
HA: We’re seeing that the UAE is developing more homegrown produce, which is something we want to replicate and utilise at the resort. Our chefs have had the opportunity to visit local farms and see the innovative ways in which they are producing local products, which really inspired them. We are now aiming to maximise the use of these types of ingredients in the resort along with items grown in our own kitchen garden.

We had an incredibly successful launch of our Down To Earth Dinner concept, a limited-edition culinary experience that showcases consciously and ethically sourced products from local and international producers, as well as from the culinary teams’ own local farm and the ocean where the resort sits.


CT: Do you have any other developments in the pipeline?
HA: We will be launching a very special suite overlooking the Arabian Gulf. It’s set to be unlike any other suite in the region and we look forward to welcoming our guests to celebrate life in our new development.

At Nikki Spa, our award-winning wellness sanctuary, we have curated a range of new spa experiences, which will launch this year, including our unique Lava Shell Massage, an all-new beach cabana for treatments by the sea and personal training sessions on the beach.

We also want the resort to become a culinary destination in its own right and the new F&B openings will put the resort on that path. 

For more information, visit www.dubai.nikkibeach.com

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