MOROCCO - Health & Education
General Manager, Fairmont Royal Palm
Chadi Chemaly was director of operations at Fairmont Mayakoba in Mexico and, most recently, hotel manager at the iconic Raffles Hotel Singapore before his current position. He holds a diploma in international hotel and restaurant management from College LaSalle, a master’s certificate in revenue management, as well as a certificate in hotel real estate investments and asset management from Cornell University.
What main challenges did Fairmont Royal Palm have to navigate during the recent pandemic?
Once we were three to six months into the crisis, we moved to a longer-term strategy. Being a hotel, our sector relies on human interaction first and foremost. From staff, admin support, and our guests, in terms of resilience it was important for us to protect that aspect financially as well as psychologically. In Morocco, we had great support from the government, which gave us the tools to plan. It was important for us to stay open and develop the local market. Our brand is more recognized internationally than locally, so we saw an opportunity to further build our brand here. We looked at what we could do in order to take advantage of the pandemic and reset the culture and morale of the hotel.
What has been your experience with the uptake in domestic tourism?
In 2020, we moved to almost 100% local, which includes foreign residents living in the country. We realized during this time how we had been putting all of our eggs in one basket by only focusing on the international market. For example, we have a Moroccan restaurant that generally targets international clients. We had been neglecting the needs of locals somewhat pre-pandemic. Having said that, we have always included local needs in our priorities, but the pandemic provided the opportunity to re-focus on our local offering. What played in our favor were our strengths, such as our large open spaces. Our pool is one of the largest, and we are the only hotel with a golf course on its premises. We have a small organic farm as well, and all these became a huge asset during the pandemic. We have been able to reach a level we are proud of. Looking forward, we want to increase our domestic market share, which will be crucial to our success.
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