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Interview: Sami Matta on making a hotel a dining destination

Matta aims to increase footfall and revenue at 25hours Hotel One Central with food, parties and a new cinema

Sami Matta is the multi-outlet general manager at Dubai’s new 25hours Hotel One Central. Located near Dubai International Financial Centre, the 434-key hotel overlooks the landmark Museum of the Future and offers flexible events and co-working space. With five “characterful” restaurants and bars, F&B is focus.

As a third-generation family restaurateur, Sami Matta grew up in the hospitality industry starting with his family’s first restaurant, L’Os, which opened in Beirut back in 1964. Hospitality, he says, is in his DNA.

Here he shares his insights into his time before 25hours and what he intends to do now he’s at the helm.

CT: Where were you before 25hours?
SM: I joined Restaurant L’Os as a group managing partner after completing my BMA in Hospitality Management, which allowed me to gain insight in terms of implementing innovative strategies, reshuffling the organisation to achieve maximum efficiency and developing brand equity. During my tenure as group managing partner, I also had the opportunity to successfully launch two additional outlets and oversee a total of three different outlets across Lebanon, which provided me with the necessary skills for my current role. Being part of the 25hours Hotel brand is a privilege. It gives me the opportunity to build a legacy for the brand in the Middle East for the first time.

Monkey Bar Monkey Bar

CT: What are the USPs of the hotel’s restaurants?
SM: Impeccable customer service and unforgettable experiences. For instance, Monkey Bar’s distinct ambiance and beautiful outdoor terrace are two massive selling points, and the impressive views of the Museum of The Future are an added plus.

CT: How do you attract and maintain good staff?
SM: A company’s reputation and fostering a positive work culture is super important for retaining good staff. We give team members the freedom to be themselves and encourage them to take responsibility for their departments.

Offering opportunities for clear career progression is crucial, as this motivates staff to stay with the brand as they move up the career ladder

As we attract new recruits on a global scale, adapting to Dubai can sometimes be challenging at first. Mannerisms, cultural changes and etiquette are important to keep in mind when having team members from all over the world.

Dibba Bay oysters No4, tamarillo sauce, cucumber picklesDibba Bay oysters No4, tamarillo sauce, cucumber pickles

CT: How do you intend to increase footfall and revenue?
SM: High-quality entertainment is definitely a big part of the strategy. We have a really great DJ roster at our venues with some very talented musicians. Launching exciting new activations to ensure we always offer something new for our guests is incredibly important. For example, 25hours’ latest event, the ‘Cool Runnings’ pool parties will create a buzz around the pool bar this summer. We also have an ongoing relationship with Factory People and Hot Mess parties. To increase returns in the summer, we are looking to diversify our audience by targeting different patrons and nurturing existing ones, such as those looking for after-work drinks and the dinner crowds.

CT: Who is your target demographic?
SM: Most of our target demographic are cool, young millennials, but we also have a larger audience aged from late 20s to 40s. In-house guests as well as residents from Downtown Dubai also frequently pop by the bar. In true 25hours style, we encourage you to ‘come as you are’. We are open to everyone at any time!

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CT: How is the regional hospitality sector currently performing? Has confidence returned?
SM: Absolutely! Dubai’s hospitality sector is forecast to be the busiest in the region this year, with high occupancy rates in certain targeted areas. 25hours Hotel One Central is exceeding the budgets set and there’s a lot of confidence that Dubai is the destination to visit, thanks to its dynamic F&B scene. Q1 and Q2 of 2022 have been extremely positive so far, with an increase of visitors from a number of key international feeder markets.

CT: Any developments in the pipeline?
SM: By the end of summer 2022, I’ll be overseeing two additional F&B outlets at 25hours Hotel, one of which is the Shisha Garden that offers splendid views of the Museum of the Future, as well as a new Levantine concept that I’ll oversee in terms of culinary offering, music and entertainment.

An additional project we’re working on is launching an outdoor cinema in partnership with Cinema Akil this winter.

Across Ennismore group, Mama Shelter and SO/ will be great additions to our existing portfolio in Dubai.

For more information, visit www.all.accor.com

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