Q&A with David Thomson, VP of The First Group Hotel Management & Mark Patten VP of Food & Beverage

Q&A with David Thomson, VP of The First Group Hotel Management & Mark Patten VP of Food & Beverage

Q: Integrated lifestyle-hospitality brands have emerged as a major industry trend. What differentiates The First Collection from your main competitors in this market? 

David: I think our whole approach to hospitality is what differentiates us. We are not a cookie-cutter brand but a dynamic organisation that adapts to our guests’ needs, the market, and to meaningful trends that can make a positive difference to their experience. We are all about people and not process; caring and being curious is what defines us. We operate on the principle of ‘no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care’. We created our own core values, and we are clear about our purpose, our ‘Why’ and we live by it. We really want our guests and colleagues to ‘make the most if it’ – of all that life has to offer. We are acutely aware that we are the curator of people’s memories and that is why we are focused on the person and what we can do for them to have the best possible experience.

Q: What are some of the key brand messages presented by The First Collection? 

David: The First Collection is a homegrown hospitality brand that encompasses a unique portfolio of great-value hotels, restaurants, and entertainment experiences. Each destination has its own personality and character, with a focus on providing comfortable, hassle-free hotel accommodation combined with authentic and value-driven leisure and dining experiences that inspire our guests to ‘make the most of it’.

We want to deliver outstanding hospitality experiences tailored to our guests’ needs and give them the freedom to enjoy life’s most valuable luxuries, time and connection. We want to uplift our communities and enrich lives through inspiring initiatives and long-term partnerships.

Q: What can customers expect to experience at a TFC venue, whether it be a restaurant, hotel, or lifestyle destination? 

David: Quite simply they can expect to receive authentic warmth and understanding from our Team Players, who will take a genuine interest in their wellbeing and work to ensure their stay is everything it should be.

All our hotel guestrooms are well laid out and feature every modern convenience, from a wonderfully comfortable bed to TVs that allow guests to connect their own personal devices. Our guests will also discover that we have fully embraced a sustainable lifestyle, from removing single-use plastics to adopting in-room technologies that are highly energy efficient.

Mark: Our F&B venues represent an important component of The First Collection lifestyle brand. In a crowded F&B market like Dubai, we strive to enhance our guests’ experiences through exciting dining experiences in unique venues that offer exceptional quality food and value for money.

Our outstanding dining facilities at The First Collection at Jumeirah Village Circle aim to exceed guests’ expectations in every way. Our friendly and engaged service team provide highly personalised service to guests who can choose from an extensive menu of authentic cuisine in a warm and friendly environment.

Whether you’re dining at our vibrant Latin American restaurant, Santè Ria, or our family-friendly venue, Village Bistro & Terrace, you will be treated to a superior culinary experience, right in the heart of JVC.

Q: The First Collection Jumeirah Village is the first hotel to open under the new brand. What are some of the unique features of this property and how is it being marketed to potential guests? 

David: The property has been carefully designed to ensure that our guests’ needs are met. A small but perfectly formed gym and spa rooms are complemented by a stunning pool and pool deck that create the feeling that you are in an urban beach club.

Guests who prefer a beachside experience will also enjoy complimentary transport to a private beach club located on The Palm Jumeirah as well as complimentary transport to key shopping and leisure areas and of course Expo 2020 Dubai, which is just 15 minutes’ drive from the hotel.

Q: F&B is a major component of The First Collection offering – what are the main USPs of your F&B portfolio?  

Mark: Authentic cuisines, engaging, friendly service, and an accessible approach to all our offerings is at the heart of what we aim to deliver within The First Collection portfolio of F&B outlets. Every touchpoint needs to be congruent with the premium aspirations of the brand and it’s positioning as Dubai’s most progressive hospitality group.

Today, diners are highly food savvy, so our aim is to create homegrown, highly relevant food and beverage brands that differentiate us from our competitors and offer our guests new and innovative experiences.

Q: What new F&B openings and hotel openings are on the horizon and how will they carve a niche in Dubai? 

Mark: The First Group has three hotels opening soon in Jumeirah Village, while a further three are due to open in Business Bay over the next 18 months. Each hotel will feature new and exciting signature restaurants that combine exceptional cuisine with truly personalised dining experiences.

Our food and beverage portfolio features an eclectic mix of exciting dining concepts with each venue having its own unique vibe. We want to bring innovative experiences to Dubai, create exclusive brands and spark inspiring partnerships to reflect the dynamic nature of the city and really cement ourselves as leaders in the hospitality market.

We are excited for what the future holds and look forward to developing our portfolio of food and beverage venues into admired, high-profile brands.

Q: How does The First Collection intend to drive guest loyalty in the months and years ahead? 

Mark: As a food and beverage operator, being authentic is how we will continue to build our credibility within the Dubai hospitality market. Providing complementary offerings throughout the business without cannibalization or cross-over of concepts and products is key to our success. Working unilaterally and being the only operator exclusively selling a signature product will differentiate our venues in a crowded market.

We are focused on choosing quality and simplicity over-complicated menus to enhance our food and beverage offering and growing through consistent evolution of our dining concepts to meet the ever-changing needs of our guests.

David: Authenticity is the word that epitomises the whole hotel experience. We want guests to really feel and enjoy our value propositions. We want them to feel free to be themselves, to sleep well, and recover quickly from travel. To be able to stay connected with friends and family, stay healthy, and feel they are in a fun, warm, and safe environment.

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