What motivated your career choice towards hospitality?
My career has always felt like a clear path, directly headed towards the hospitality industry. Primarily motivated by the love of not only working in a dynamic team but also serving and hosting people. I have also always been motivated by the benefits that come with working with people from all over the word; learning new things about different people and different cultures.
In hospitality I get to do all the things that make me tick; connecting with guests, making them feel comfortable and knowing that I can have a positive impact on their experience. Irrespective of whether I am in a big hotel chain hotel or a private boutique hotel.
How is luxury hospitality different?
Luxury hospitality is different from both sides of the welcome desk. The guests expectation in a luxury setting is more discerning and the professional skills needed to meet those expectations more finely tuned. Essentially, the attention to detail is key. There can be no short cuts when delivering 5 star service. Simply everything has to be perfect.
How would you define the key DNA components of a luxury brand in hospitality?
The defining DNA components of The Norman are entirely unique in the way we function in our day to day, develop our product and nurture our relationship with our guests.
We do this in 3 ways: Hiring the best people we can, so our teams are represented by people with both international experience and a connection to Tel Aviv. People who, like me, have a passion for details. The obsession with details needs to be the driving component in the service and the product, because its these 2 defining factors that lead us to the 3rd defining component of a luxury brand; the experience. Acknowledging the overall experience as well as the finer details of their experience is the all encompassing characteristic that makes a luxury brand unique.
The Norman Tel Aviv was firmly established as Israel’s finest luxury hotel from opening. What were the key features that have been contributing to ensuring consistency both in terms of customer service and product?
I think the key features of The Norman, it’s heart and soul that separate it from the crowd are best represented by our five pillars.
Firstly, the architecture of The Norman. Our three buildings were amongst the first buildings to be built in Tel Aviv in the early 1920’s and the 1940’s. To be in the of the White City, and to be staying in a hotel that has been architecturally restored in harmony with the city is a precious experience. Secondly, the harmony between the various histories of the buildings and the city is reflected in the splendour of the interior design. It took 8 years for both these components to come together which gives you an insight into the meticulous work that went into the shell of The Norman.
Our growing and ever evolving art collection is our third pillar. All the work in The Norman collection has been tightly curated with works by leading Israeli artists, including Ron Arad and Siaglit Landau among others. So in some ways, with these three aspects alone, we are a bit like a museum, or art gallery.
Fourthly, our award winning culinary offering really sets us apart. With Alena restaurant on our ground floor, Chef Barak Aharoni has helped The Norman gain an international spotlight, aided by the exquisite menu from Dinings, the Japanese restaurant on our rooftop.
Lastly, an all encompassing experience can’t rely on the product or amenities alone. Without exceptional, personalised service, the guests experience isn’t complete.
What are the competitive advantages of The Norman Tel Aviv?
Our competitive advantages are our 5 pillars; our architecture, art & design, restaurants, service delivery and without doubt – our location and size. We are a small hotel, with 50 rooms and suites across 9 different categories with the same amenities you’d find in a larger hotel.
How is the hotel positioned?
Today, I’m proud to say that The Norman is the benchmark for all hotels in Israel.
What has been the strategic approach to establish a new independent brand and not to affiliate the hotel to an international luxury hotel group?
The strategic approach and advantage to establishing The Norman brand has been in having the confidence to manage the hotel alone, as an independent, local business, with a strong ‘family business’ backbone.
What is the profile of your loyal guest (residing guest)? To what extent the hotel attracts local patrons?
Our loyal guest is hard to pigeonhole. We welcome back international guests from all over the world who visit for both leisure and business. The defining feature of our loyal guests is that they are returning guests whom we know well and welcome back as family. Our other thriving market are those guests who live in Israel. We even have Tel Avivi neighbours who come to stay with us. And of course the restaurants attract a local, loyal crowd.
With several upcoming luxury hotel properties soon to open in Israel, what is your view on the real potential of the country as a luxury destination?
Israel is a rich and diverse country with so many unique aspects to it – so in terms of its potential as a luxury destination – absolutely, there is great potential. In terms of the hotel product we can expect to see in Tel Aviv and beyond, the standard will be high. However, it will be challenging from service point of view, and without both strong threads, you can’t hit the luxury note.
What about Tel Aviv as a luxury destination?
There is lots on offer in Tel Aviv, but Tel Aviv is more about the experience of the city, the beach, the food, the party
What about luxury resorts versus urban hotels?
I think the international traveller of today wants both, a luxury, urban experience. They want a connection to the city which relies on a good location and exceptional staffing. TLV is a prime location but the challenge to source the right people is hard. The challenge in the periphery will be even greate
Are there any disrupting factors?
The disrupting factors are city laws, the bureaucracy and again, the staffing
What novelties should we be expecting from The Norman in 2020?
We are launching a new ALENA white wine and a third edition Rose. We will be publishing the third Bulletin Magazine that focuses on the art and design aspects of The Norman with contributions from leading figures in those fields. We will continue to grow the art collection and improving on the details that keeps the experience fresh.
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