Hotel management – Atlas Hotels http://atlas-hotels.com/ Thu, 29 Sep 2022 05:13:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.9.3 https://atlas-hotels.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/icon-15-120x120.png Hotel management – Atlas Hotels http://atlas-hotels.com/ 32 32 Exclusive: the event changes its name to EVT, unveils luxury and economical experiences https://atlas-hotels.com/exclusive-the-event-changes-its-name-to-evt-unveils-luxury-and-economical-experiences/ Wed, 28 Sep 2022 02:47:18 +0000 https://atlas-hotels.com/exclusive-the-event-changes-its-name-to-evt-unveils-luxury-and-economical-experiences/ Event Hospitality and Entertainment is rebranding as it enters a new phase, combining its strengths in entertainment, business and travel to operate under a shared vision – EVT. “Our name change to EVT is more than just a name change,” said EVT CEO Jane Hastings. “It’s about making sure we can get more out of […]]]>

Event Hospitality and Entertainment is rebranding as it enters a new phase, combining its strengths in entertainment, business and travel to operate under a shared vision – EVT.

“Our name change to EVT is more than just a name change,” said EVT CEO Jane Hastings.

“It’s about making sure we can get more out of what we do and how we do it. We have faced unprecedented challenges over the past few years, and we have made the decision to take advantage of this time to transform our business and seek new ways to maximize our assets – and we are stronger for it. We are more agile, innovative and crystal clear on our growth priorities.

A new direction

With this new chapter comes a new hotel strategy, which sees the group expand into all market segments – from luxury to economy – by acquiring new brands and assets and strengthening the positioning of existing brands.

“Our new hotel expansion strategy shifts the group from a focus on midscale, design-driven hotels to all market segments,” Hastings said.

EVT presents a luxury rooftop cabin experience at QT Gold Coast

“This development has given immediate results and proves that we are moving in the right direction..”

As an experienced owner/operator, one of EVT’s main strategic objectives is to maximize assets, from major new build developments to conversions and upgrades of key assets.

“We challenge ourselves daily to innovate and commercialize underutilized space,” Hastings said.

The Group also promotes its expertise by introducing new hotel management models as part of the Independent Collection by EVT.

“We recognize that there are owners who are looking for flexibility in branding and business models,” said EVT’s Director of Hotels, Normal Arundel.

“Independent Collection by EVT allows hotel owners to leverage the scale and expertise of our hotel solutions and also to design a unique brand with us or leverage an existing independent brand. It is an agile and highly transferable model for all properties and has resonated very well in the market. »

Innovative experiences

EVT will introduce several new experiences to the market as part of its new strategy, SM can exclusively reveal. Among these is qtQT, a luxury rooftop cabin experience at QT Gold Coast targeting new-age travellers.

Rydges Melbourne will be the first to launch a new concept of Rydges apartments to offer guests the premium service of a hotel with the comforts of home; while Atura is exploring several room concepts, from compact apartments to studio-style apartments, to offer guests more choice and common areas that promote connection.

A preview of EVT’s new budget hosting offer

EVT will also launch an innovative budget accommodation experience in Auckland later this year.

“Over the past few years the budget segment has evolved, travelers are now looking for multi-purpose spaces where they can play, eat, work and sleep,” Hastings said.

“Our new hosting experience is all about tech style; from pods to compact en-suite rooms catering to the value mindset.

Digital request

EVT will also use CX technology to streamline and automate operations at EVT hotels and resorts.

“We’re leveraging our group’s expertise to digitize the end-to-end customer journey,” Hastings said.

“We know how important a seamless check-in and check-out experience is to our customers and we want to put that within easy reach.”

EVT builds and tests platforms to deliver this exact experience and other enhancements to customers’ stays.

EVT will meet the needs of budget travelers with accommodation modules and compact suites

“The arrival experience at QT Newcastle is a great example of this – a hotel without a traditional reception. Easy-to-use check-in kiosks take all the hassle out of checking into a hotel, with our teams free to ensure a warm and prompt welcome to every customer,” said Arundel.

“Rydges Melbourne will offer a similar arrival experience, making it one of the region’s largest full-service hotels in this space. We are also testing online check-ins at several of our hotels. »

give back

At a time when many hospitality companies are struggling to hire enough staff, EVT is doubling down on employee growth and development through its Elevate program which focuses on improving people, communities and the environment.

“Elevate our people includes flexibility to help our employees achieve balance, comprehensive wellness programs including paid parental leave and job mobility across our various industries, and amazing benefits,” Hastings explained.

The program also incorporates workplace giving, outreach and volunteerism, education and community engagement programs, and addresses environmental challenges in the industries it operates through design, transparency and sustainable reporting, and sustainable practices and purchasing.

“We can have a greater impact by working with our partners, including hotel owners, on implementing our environmental goals,” Hastings said.

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IHG extends partnership with Rugby Australia https://atlas-hotels.com/ihg-extends-partnership-with-rugby-australia/ Fri, 23 Sep 2022 01:58:52 +0000 https://atlas-hotels.com/ihg-extends-partnership-with-rugby-australia/ IHG is extending its long-term partnership with Rugby Australia until the end of 2024 as Official Supplier and Official Hotel Supplier to the Wallabies. After two decades of working in partnership, Rugby Australia has commended IHG for its longstanding commitment to the sport. “They have stuck with us through the ups and downs, always making […]]]>

IHG is extending its long-term partnership with Rugby Australia until the end of 2024 as Official Supplier and Official Hotel Supplier to the Wallabies.

After two decades of working in partnership, Rugby Australia has commended IHG for its longstanding commitment to the sport.

“They have stuck with us through the ups and downs, always making sure our teams feel welcome and at home away from home,” said Rugby Australia CEO Andy Marinos.

“Being able to expand this relationship shows an alignment of values ​​and passion for the game, and we are extremely grateful to have IHG as a long-time partner in our game.”

IHG has also extended its agreement with SANZAR as exclusive hotel partner at the Super Rugby Pacific and The Rugby Championship tournaments.

“IHG has a long relationship with Rugby Australia and we are honored not only to extend our partnership with Rugby Australia and SANZAR, but also to celebrate 20 years of successful collaboration and to welcome players and staff to our network,” said said IHG’s vice president of commercial. for Japan, Australasia and the Pacific, Dean Jones.

As part of the partnership, the Wallabies, Wallaroos, Men’s and Women’s 7s and Super W teams, as well as Rugby Australia operational teams and executives, will all stay at IHG properties in Australia and Nova Scotia. Zeeland.

“Our hospitality teams love welcoming Wallabies and players from around the world and providing a safe and secure environment for them to perform at their best on the pitch,” Jones said.

“The extension of the Rugby Australia and SANZAR contracts is a clear sign of confidence in our abilities, and we are delighted to extend these partnerships.”

SANZAR CEO Brendan Morris praised IHG’s support.

“In running two of international rugby’s top competitions (Super Rugby Pacific and The Rugby Championship), it’s important to provide teams with world-class support so they can perform at their best,” he said. he declares.

“With IHG, we know we partner with the best in the business. We would like to thank IHG and all hotels for their incredible support over the past two years throughout the global pandemic and look forward to of a successful extension of our partnership.

IHG also announced a partnership with European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) until the end of the 2025 season.

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Hotel management company launches site in Singapore and upgrades Scottish properties https://atlas-hotels.com/hotel-management-company-launches-site-in-singapore-and-upgrades-scottish-properties/ Thu, 22 Sep 2022 16:52:30 +0000 https://atlas-hotels.com/hotel-management-company-launches-site-in-singapore-and-upgrades-scottish-properties/ The hotel management company will operate all front and back of house departments, including sales and marketing, at the new 134-room Telegraph Hotel in Singapore. The heritage building, once a telecommunications hub in Asia, has been run as a hotel since 2014. It will transform into The Hotel Telegraph on September 28 under new ownership […]]]>

The hotel management company will operate all front and back of house departments, including sales and marketing, at the new 134-room Telegraph Hotel in Singapore. The heritage building, once a telecommunications hub in Asia, has been run as a hotel since 2014.

It will transform into The Hotel Telegraph on September 28 under new ownership and management from ICMI, with a definite intention to invest in the property and target cultural and business travellers.

Read more

Read more

Caledonian Sleeper and toiletries brand Arran embark on a greener journey

Norbert Lieder, MD of ICMI, said, “Singapore is widely regarded as one of the most attractive cities in the world for both business and leisure, and demand for hotel rooms continues to rise. The company also operates in the Caribbean and offers consultancy services in countries including the Netherlands and Thailand. He added: “International expansion also helps us attract top talent, who are able to develop their careers across Scotland, the Caribbean and now Asia.”

Significant investment is also underway at select ICMI hotels in Scotland, including the launch of a new Michel Roux Jr. restaurant and the restoration of the stables at Inverlochy Castle near Fort William to create eight new bedrooms . At Crossbasket Castle, on the outskirts of Glasgow, a major expansion is underway to create a new restaurant, spa and 40-bedroom hotel. ICMI also manages Scotland’s Isle of Eriska and Rocpool Reserve hotels.

Mr Lieder added: ‘The Inverlochy Castle and Crossbasket Castle projects represent a significant investment for owners and are the result of continued demand for luxury bedrooms across Scotland.’

Inverlochy Castle Management International launches the new Hotel Telegraph in Singapore. Photo: contribution.
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Eastbourne hotel management changes following ‘stage tender’ https://atlas-hotels.com/eastbourne-hotel-management-changes-following-stage-tender/ Wed, 21 Sep 2022 14:54:00 +0000 https://atlas-hotels.com/eastbourne-hotel-management-changes-following-stage-tender/ The Best Western York House Hotel has been taken over by Vine Hotels. A spokesperson for Vine Hotels said it was a “multi-stage competitive bidding process” and that management would change with “immediate effect”. The property has been in the Sangiuseppe family for over 16 years and will remain under their ownership. Vine Hotels will […]]]>

The Best Western York House Hotel has been taken over by Vine Hotels. A spokesperson for Vine Hotels said it was a “multi-stage competitive bidding process” and that management would change with “immediate effect”. The property has been in the Sangiuseppe family for over 16 years and will remain under their ownership. Vine Hotels will provide an overall leadership team and strategy.

Daniel Sangiuseppe said: “The tender process we went through was extremely robust and we were extremely impressed with Vine Hotels’ demonstrable expertise in all areas, as well as the fact that they would like to keep our existing team in place while they take over the hotel before, something that was particularly important to us. We are confident that Vine Hotels has the right management team to drive sales and attract the right guests to continue to make our property a huge success.

Vine Hotels CEO Garin Davies said: “We are delighted to take over the management of York House Hotel. We look forward to supporting the hotel management team in developing a strong sales and marketing strategy, and using our extensive expertise to capitalize on opportunities and move the hotel forward. We especially welcome members of the existing hospitality team into the business and look forward to providing them with new learning and development opportunities. Having recently launched several training initiatives aimed at bringing promising individuals into leadership positions, there couldn’t be a better time to join our organization. »

Best Western York House Hotel, Eastbourne joins Vine Hotels

This decision brings to 13 the number of hotels owned and managed by Vine Hotels.

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Olympia Hotel Management to Operate Boone Tavern Hotel & Restaurant | New https://atlas-hotels.com/olympia-hotel-management-to-operate-boone-tavern-hotel-restaurant-new/ Mon, 19 Sep 2022 20:00:00 +0000 https://atlas-hotels.com/olympia-hotel-management-to-operate-boone-tavern-hotel-restaurant-new/ BEREA – Olympia Hotel Management (OHM) has announced that it will operate the Historic Boone Tavern Hotel & Restaurant, which is owned by Berea College. Now a LEED Gold-certified green hotel, it is located in Madison County, central Kentucky, where Bluegrass meets the Appalachian foothills. Berea is the folk arts and crafts capital of Kentucky […]]]>

BEREA – Olympia Hotel Management (OHM) has announced that it will operate the Historic Boone Tavern Hotel & Restaurant, which is owned by Berea College.

Now a LEED Gold-certified green hotel, it is located in Madison County, central Kentucky, where Bluegrass meets the Appalachian foothills. Berea is the folk arts and crafts capital of Kentucky and is home to many artists and artisans.

“We are delighted to bring in Olympia Hotel Management to manage the historic Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant, the centerpiece of our campus,” said Berea College President Lyle Roelofs. “Olympia Hotel Management has achieved great success managing hotels on college campuses like Duke University in North Carolina; the University of Chicago in Illinois; Kent State University and Oberlin College in Ohio; and Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. We look forward to a long and successful partnership that will make Boone Tavern a popular destination in our area.

The Boone Tavern Hotel has 63 guest rooms and six suites furnished with antique American-style furniture handcrafted by Berea students through the College’s Student Craft program. Two miles from the hotel is Pine Croft Cottage, adjacent to the Berea College Forest and The Pinnacles hiking trails, named “Best Hike in Kentucky” by Outside magazine. It offers three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a kitchen, dining room and living room.

The hotel has 8,552 square feet of meeting and event space across seven separate rooms, with each space accommodating up to 150 people for weddings, meetings, conferences, and other gatherings. The kitchen sources hyper-local organic produce from the 500-acre Berea College Farm, one of the oldest continuously operating educational farms in the United States. The award-winning restaurant has been serving the legendary cornbread soufflé known as Boone Tavern Spoonbread at the start of every lunch and dinner for over 75 years. It’s one of many dishes made with regional “Kentucky Proud” ingredients.

One of nine federally recognized work colleges, Berea hires every student to work a minimum of 10 hours per week on on-campus jobs to support college operations, making it one of the first true country work-study programs. Approximately 50% of the hotel staff are students enrolled at Berea College meeting the school’s work program requirements.

“It is an honor to partner with Berea College and add this distinguished historic property to our growing campus hospitality portfolio,” said Sara Masterson, President, Hotel Management, for Olympia Hotel Management. “This hotel aligns perfectly with our expertise in running campus properties that are successfully integrated into the community and have such great stories to tell.”

OHM currently manages campus properties such as The Alfond Inn at Rollins, The Hotel at Oberlin, The Inn at Swarthmore, and Kent State University Hotel & Conference Center.

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Third-party hotel management companies face higher guest expectations as room rates rise, says JD Power https://atlas-hotels.com/third-party-hotel-management-companies-face-higher-guest-expectations-as-room-rates-rise-says-jd-power/ Fri, 16 Sep 2022 09:45:23 +0000 https://atlas-hotels.com/third-party-hotel-management-companies-face-higher-guest-expectations-as-room-rates-rise-says-jd-power/ TROY, Mich. – With average daily rates at hotels in North America now averaging nearly $150, about 15% higher than before the pandemic,1—Hotel guests have become more critical than ever of the decor, amenities, and dining and dining options offered by the world’s largest third-party hotel management companies. According to the JD Power 2022 North […]]]>

TROY, Mich. – With average daily rates at hotels in North America now averaging nearly $150, about 15% higher than before the pandemic,1—Hotel guests have become more critical than ever of the decor, amenities, and dining and dining options offered by the world’s largest third-party hotel management companies. According to the JD Power 2022 North America Third-Party Hotel Management Guest Satisfaction Benchmark,SM released today, customer satisfaction is down 4 points (on a 1,000 point scale) this year as higher prices lead to increased scrutiny.

“It’s no secret that many large hotel companies have postponed upgrades and postponed maintenance while in survival mode during the pandemic,” said Andrea Stokes, Head of Hospitality Practice at JD Power. “Now, however, as demand has exceeded pre-pandemic levels and consumers are paying record rates for hotel rooms, expectations are rising rapidly. Now is the time for hoteliers to invest in the maintenance and renovations that improve quality in the eyes of customers.

Here are the key additional findings from the 2022 study:

  • Overall satisfaction decreases as the bar increases: On average, overall customer satisfaction among the largest third-party management companies is 837 this year, down 4 points from a year ago. The decline is due to lower satisfaction with room cost and charges; guest bedroom decor/furnishings; and variety of food and drink.
  • Busy reception staff carrying heavy loads: Guest satisfaction with front desk staff is up slightly this year, with staff receiving high marks for speed of check-in, courtesy and knowledge. However, before reaching reception, less than half of hotel guests (48%) report being greeted by staff, down 10 percentage points from 2021.
  • Bring back true hospitality: Beyond investments in maintenance, installations and furnishing updates, training service staff is one area where third-party management companies can have an immediate positive effect on the guest experience. When guests say hotel staff make them feel like a valued customer, overall satisfaction scores are 139 points higher. When staff care about customer needs or warm and sincere treatment, satisfaction scores increase by 135 points.

Reference ranking

Davidson Hotel Group ranks first for overall customer satisfaction, with a score of 875. Atrium Hospitality (870) ranks second and Crestline Hotels & Resorts (856)
takes third place.

The North America Third-Party Hotel Management Guest Satisfaction Benchmark, now in its third year, measures guest satisfaction with branded hotels operated by the largest third-party management companies. It is based on six factors (in alphabetical order): arrival/departure; cost and fees; food and drink; guest room; hotel arrangements; and services and amenities. The benchmark includes third-party hotel operators with over 14,000 rooms under management and is based on 3,804 guest responses for stays at branded hotels from May 2021 through May 2022.

For more information on the JD Power North America Third-Party Hotel Management Guest Satisfaction Index, please visit https://www.jdpower.com/business/travel-and-hospitality/third-party-hotel-management-guest-satisfaction-benchmark.

1STR Market Recovery Monitor, June 2022.

Source: JD Power
Source: JD Power

About JD Power

JD Power is a global leader in consumer insights, advisory services, data and analytics. A pioneer in using big data, artificial intelligence (AI) and algorithmic modeling capabilities to understand consumer behavior, JD Power has been providing incisive industry insights into customer interactions with brands and brands for more than 50 years. products. The world’s leading companies in key industries trust JD Power to guide their customer-facing strategies.

JD Power has offices in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. To learn more about the company’s commercial offerings, visit JDPower.com/business. The JD Power Automotive Buying Tool is available at JDPower.com.

Geno Effler
+1 714 621 6224
J.D. Power

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Pro-invest opens second Sebel property in Canberra https://atlas-hotels.com/pro-invest-opens-second-sebel-property-in-canberra/ Thu, 15 Sep 2022 23:31:11 +0000 https://atlas-hotels.com/pro-invest-opens-second-sebel-property-in-canberra/ Pro-invest Group has opened its second Sebel-branded property in Canberra, The Sebel Canberra Campbell, in partnership with Accor. The new 63-key serviced apartment hotel, which opened Thursday, offers a mix of studio, one-, and two-bedroom apartments with kitchenettes, washers, and dryers. This is the first hotel purchased under the third Pro-invest Hotels discretionary fund. “We […]]]>

Pro-invest Group has opened its second Sebel-branded property in Canberra, The Sebel Canberra Campbell, in partnership with Accor.

The new 63-key serviced apartment hotel, which opened Thursday, offers a mix of studio, one-, and two-bedroom apartments with kitchenettes, washers, and dryers.

This is the first hotel purchased under the third Pro-invest Hotels discretionary fund.

“We are extremely excited to open our second branded property The Sebel in Australia’s capital and know it will benefit from year-round strong demand from business and leisure travelers while offering guests the “perfect home away from home,” said Pro-invest Hotel COO Shantha de Silva.

Accor Pacific CEO Sarah Derry said the accommodation offering is suitable for a variety of travel needs.

“We will offer guests incredible experiences that match the vibrancy of Canberra, in serviced apartments that offer increased flexibility and more space,” she said.

“The property is designed to suit business and leisure travelers who want to be located in the heart of Canberra and appreciate high standards in style, amenities and thoughtful design. Looking to the future, Canberra will continue to develop as a highly attractive travel destination for visitors.

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Turkey-based hotel management and franchising company reveals Vietnam expansion plans https://atlas-hotels.com/turkey-based-hotel-management-and-franchising-company-reveals-vietnam-expansion-plans/ Mon, 12 Sep 2022 21:26:50 +0000 https://atlas-hotels.com/turkey-based-hotel-management-and-franchising-company-reveals-vietnam-expansion-plans/ Continent World Hotels today announced the signing of a master franchise and development agreement with Ritz International Co.Ltd to introduce and develop the six distinctive brands of the company in Vietnam. This announcement confirms Continent’s strategy to continue to develop its brands by South Asia. Despite significant challenges in recent years for the travel and […]]]>

Continent World Hotels today announced the signing of a master franchise and development agreement with Ritz International Co.Ltd to introduce and develop the six distinctive brands of the company in Vietnam.

This announcement confirms Continent’s strategy to continue to develop its brands by South Asia.

Despite significant challenges in recent years for the travel and hospitality industries, Continent Worldwide Hotels has successfully secured several master and territorial franchise agreements as well as opening new hotels in South Asia, the Middle East and Africa this year, and according to plans, expecting to have more than 20 hotels open by 2025.

“With the limited number of internationally branded properties in Vietnam, this anticipated partnership with Ritz International Co.Ltd will help us accelerate our growth plans and make a significant impact on the Vietnamese hotel market in a relatively short period of time,” said Bernard Houppertz, President of Operations and Franchise Development – ​​Asia.

“Introducing our brands from Continent Worldwide Hotels will also help the market create demand from developers to explore new and new brands to bring the Vietnamese hotel market.”

Separated from the Ritz International Co.Ltd this new master franchise contract, the first Continent Worldwide hotel opened in Hanoi with the Hotels and hostels in Ancyra brand and also the same hotel owner converted his Da Nang property at AncyrA mark earlier this year.

Amir Ahmad Mohamad, CEO of Ritz International Co. Ltd. said, “Following extensive research, Ritz International Co. Ltd has confirmed that the Vietnamese hotel sector offers tremendous growth opportunities. The choice of partner for this sector was critical and the new approach to the franchise business of Continent Worldwide Hotels convinced us to choose a partner; giving us the confidence to be sure that this partnership will be a huge success.

Bernard Houppertz added: “We believe that Vietnam and South Asia in general currently represent one of the greatest potentials for hotel growth in the world and we are delighted to partner with Ritz International Co. Ltd on this potential.

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Learning for Change at ICHM https://atlas-hotels.com/learning-for-change-at-ichm/ Wed, 07 Sep 2022 03:51:38 +0000 https://atlas-hotels.com/learning-for-change-at-ichm/ ICHM’s new campus sits in the heart of Adelaide’s CBD on Currie Street and celebrates the heart of what they do best – hospitality – by offering industry-leading, warm and welcoming spaces. welcoming. Designed by Liquid Design in close collaboration with the staff of ICHM, a project managed by Trice and built by SHAPE, the […]]]>

ICHM’s new campus sits in the heart of Adelaide’s CBD on Currie Street and celebrates the heart of what they do best – hospitality – by offering industry-leading, warm and welcoming spaces. welcoming. Designed by Liquid Design in close collaboration with the staff of ICHM, a project managed by Trice and built by SHAPE, the campus is focused on student-centered learning.

Cutting-edge research into educational spaces has informed design decisions, resulting in 10 collaborative teaching studios, the latest educational technologies, student social centers and state-of-the-art wellness spaces for students and staff. One of the most unique spaces on the three-story campus is the dedicated training bar and wine room. A fully equipped cocktail bar, training room, and wine tasting facilities sit at the center of campus, allowing students to practice mixology, food and beverage service, and wine tasting before heading off to work in industry, the key to ICHM’s unique strength in hospitality. education.

While these features are bold and exciting, the ICHM has also considered the small touches. The campus features several biophilic design elements, like green walls and living plants. These touches create a peaceful and inspiring study space and make the campus truly inviting. Moving away from generic teaching spaces, the campus feels more like home, especially for international students living in Adelaide while studying. ICHM wanted these students to feel a sense of belonging and belonging on campus.

ICHM leads change by educating students to be equipped for the future and ready to join the workforce as high-performing talent. They believe their new campus will play an important role in giving students the skills, networks and practical experience needed to get started, thereby strengthening ICHM’s relationship with the hospitality industry in Australia and around the world.

Campus Address: 131-139 Currie Street, Adelaide, SA, 5000
Telephone: (+61 8) 8228 3664
Email: admissions@ichm.edu.au
https://www.ichm.edu.au/

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Saudi women excel in hotel management after training in Europe https://atlas-hotels.com/saudi-women-excel-in-hotel-management-after-training-in-europe/ Fri, 02 Sep 2022 19:38:38 +0000 https://atlas-hotels.com/saudi-women-excel-in-hotel-management-after-training-in-europe/ RIYADH: Saudi Arabia may be famous for its sand dunes and jagged mountain ranges, but it is also home to a lesser-known and quite different environment – a cool, silent, kaleidoscopic environment teeming with animal life and vegetable. This is the underwater world of the Kingdom’s coastal zone, which is rapidly becoming a global scuba […]]]>

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia may be famous for its sand dunes and jagged mountain ranges, but it is also home to a lesser-known and quite different environment – a cool, silent, kaleidoscopic environment teeming with animal life and vegetable.

This is the underwater world of the Kingdom’s coastal zone, which is rapidly becoming a global scuba diving destination, with a simultaneous increase in the number of Saudi divers.

But despite all its wonders and beauty, diving without proper training can be dangerous and even fatal.

All the equipment including bodysuit, oxygen tank, breathing regulator, mask and fins can cost you upwards of SR4,000, but everything is available to hire from one of the many diving that have emerged in recent years.

PADI, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, a global organization based in California, offers training and certification, and has been active in the Kingdom for decades.

Raul Ausemestre, a Riyadh-based PADI Master Instructor with 20 years of diving experience, explains the certification process.

“The first part is the knowledge exam, which is the theoretical aspect,” he told Arab News. “It is made up of nine chapters with a test at the end, which is either manual or online.

THE RAPIDITYLILY

• The total cost of training and certification is between SR2,000 and SR3,000.

• The Kingdom’s scuba diving scene has been transformed by recent social reforms allowing Saudi women to dive without restriction.

“Then you are qualified to move on to confined water training in a swimming pool, where you learn a total of 24 skills, including how to assemble your scuba gear, becoming familiar with the breathing regulator, removing equipment, etc

“Once you complete confined water training, you move on to open water training and testing, either in Jeddah on the West Coast or Alkhobar in the Eastern Province. This consists of four dives over two days, again practicing these 24 skills, to less than 60 feet deep.

“There’s a formula for how many minutes you can stay at a certain depth, and you have to stick to the limit to avoid decompression sickness (also called bends). If you go too far and come back too fast, there is a risk of air bubbles forming in your blood or even in your brain, which is potentially fatal. Today, the calculations are automated on a dive computer, which is worn on the wrist like a watch.

The total cost for training and certification is between SR2,000 and SR3,000 ($500 to $750).

All the equipment including bodysuit, oxygen tank, breathing regulator, mask and fins can cost you upwards of SR4,000, but everything is available to hire from one of the many diving that have emerged in recent years.

The Kingdom’s scuba diving scene has been transformed by recent social reforms allowing Saudi women to dive without restriction. This has been a boon for Noura, who refuses to give her last name.

“I have been fascinated with scuba diving since my childhood as several members of my family were qualified divers,” Noura told Arab News. “Plus, I’ve always loved swimming and snorkeling, so diving was the natural progression.

“I got my diving certificate in 2016, but until a few years ago I couldn’t go out on a boat without a male companion – brother, father or husband – so I was limited to diving ever since. land. It was quite frustrating for me as I wanted to go and see some of the wrecks and coral reefs further off the coast. Now I’m free to do all of that.

“My most incredible experience as a diver was in Jeddah. I went diving with a buddy and there was no one else in the water. It was octopus mating season, and it t was the first time I had seen an octopus in its natural habitat. The two of them did a dance and changed colors. It was a fascinating showcase of what they could do with their bodies, and a unique moment in which we were witnesses.

So far, Saudi Arabia has been spared the mass tourism that has plagued the coasts of Egypt and most Mediterranean countries, and its coastal waters remain clear, with many pristine marine environments.

The reefs around Yanbu on the Red Sea coast, and around the Farasan Islands further south, are particularly spectacular, with multicolored corals and an abundance of marine life, including mostly benign sharks, scorpion fish , manta rays and even the occasional whale.

Plunging into the Realm also serves a more serious purpose. A team of marine archaeologists are currently excavating an 18th-century Red Sea shipwreck of Egyptian origin with a hoard of around 2,000 ceramic tableware items, while Ausemestre led a group of geologists on a landscape survey submarine and the life it contains, near the Saudi border with Jordan.

But this spike in underwater human activity poses the risk of damage to the sensitive tissue of marine life, threatening the very qualities that make Saudi Arabia unique as a diving destination.

Medylene Ocampo – who couldn’t even swim when she arrived in the Kingdom from her native Philippines and became a diving coordinator with RIA Divenet, based in Riyadh (a PADI-qualified training organization) – warns that the explosion expected in tourism in Saudi Arabia could jeopardize its marine ecosystems.

“Just touching or stepping on a coral growth could potentially destroy it and many newbie divers don’t understand that,” Ocampo told Arab News. “There is a bright future for tourism of all kinds in the Kingdom, but this must be accompanied by advocacy to care for the ocean.”

“It’s great to see the growing interest in diving,” Noura said, “but I also want to see more protection for the marine environment.”

She described the growth in the number of people interested in the sport as “a beautiful thing” which also helps to take care of the underwater world.

“Divers are invested in this world,” she said.

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