On the occasion of World Tourism Day (September 27), we will talk with Mohammed Ibrahim, a well-known figure in the tourism industry, with extensive know-how in the hotel industry acquired through international hotel chains. For the past three years, Ibrahim has held the position of manager of Sirona hotels, Velingrad.
In today’s interview, Ibrahim shares with us how Balneo Hotel Saint Spas 5 * Velingrad manages to offer the best to its guests, as well as the anticipated changes and the introduction of a sustainable development plan.
I will try to avoid trivial questions and ask those which I deem are of interest to our guests.
You’ve worked for many years in Dubai. How would you define the hospitality industry there and here? What are the most complex problems you face in a manager position?
Yes, Dubai is one of the four UAE emirates I’ve worked in. I would not say that in tourism we can talk about the standards of different countries. They are international for all hoteliers with a slight individual specificity for the particular country. This was also the main problem, or rather, the difficulty I encountered initially, to introduce, train and adapt people to international standards of service.
What is the best compliment you have ever received in your work?
For me, a good compliment is when our guests are satisfied with their stay at the hotel and appreciate the work of my team. I think we’re heading in the right direction and as a result, last year we were honoured with 4 prestigious Haute Grandeur 2018 International Hotel Awards, also known as the leaders in the hotel industry. For us, it is a great honour and a result of the work of the team of Balneo Hotel Saint Spas, as well as the high appreciation of our guests. Without this we would not be able to become the first chain of hotels to win this recognition in Bulgaria.
I am also satisfied with the fact that when our young staff accepts me as their mentor, and for those with longer professional experience, I manage to add something new to their professional development…
What is one of the most important qualities you look for in your team?
Always satisfy our guests’ requirements, initiative and support teamwork. I am glad to see the potential in them and the desire to develop. This is actually my biggest award… it means that I did my job well!
What makes you smile while at work?
To see the harmony between the guests of Balneo Hotel Saint Spas and my team…
Currently, Saint Spas 5 * Velingrad is undergoing numerous repairs that drastically change the services offered. Will you tell us about them?
Yes. We have already started and are gradually continuing to make the investments and implement new innovations that will drastically change the hotel in a better context. As you already know, this summer season our outdoor aquatic pool has been working, with which I dare say, we were able to pleasantly surprise our guests. In it you can enjoy a variety of aquatonic massages, as well as a cooling drink from the built-in pool bar.
The children’s indoor pool also has a new look. The large indoor swimming pool and wellness area as well as the relaxation area are expected soon and completely renovated. Here, I will also give a surprise to our guests – after repair, they will have the opportunity to enjoy the only 5 in 1 sauna in the city. In the long run, we have laid out the renovation of the lobby bar, the main restaurant and last but not least the hotel rooms.
I mentioned that we would also talk about the introduction of a sustainable development plan at Balneo Hotel Saint Spas 5 *. Will you share it with our readers in more detail about it?
We at Sirona Hotels strive to be a sustainable and responsible brand, as well as leaders in the implementation of new ideas on the Bulgarian market. One of our many successful initiatives is a campaign called GO GREEN or environmental protection. Last year, many of our guests supported this idea and asked that towels and linen not be changed every day to help preserve the earth’s vital resources.
We are also about to introduce a water pump at the hotel, which will help the warm water used by the overflows of our pools to be converted into energy for heating and cooling the rooms throughout the hotel. Another investment we will make in this direction is the installation of solar panels, thus regulating the use of electricity.
We have ideas and a desire to get involved in several local charity campaigns, but I will tell you about them in another interview.
My last question: What is your favourite place in Saint Spas?
Exterior common areas … our garden and our outdoor pool with unique views of the pristine nature. Their location is unique, cosiness in nature …