Cover Story

Change at the top

May 16 - 22, 2018

Gulf Weekly Change at the top

Experienced hospitality executive Alban Dutemple has this week taken over the hot seat at one of the kingdom’s most highly-prized properties.

Alban has been appointed general manager of the Swiss-Belhotel Seef, Bahrain replacing fellow Frenchman Herve Peyre, who was promoted to become the company’s area general manager, and is now on the move to Algiers.

The pair met members of the media on Sunday night for a handing over ceremony at the hotel which stunned the tourism sector recently by beating famous five star properties to the Bahrain Tourism Food & Travel Awards’ Hotel of the Year crown.

Alban, 55, is under no illusions that Herve will be an easy act to follow but he loves a challenge. “I feel very excited and motivated,” he said. “I applied for the post and I’m very grateful to Swiss-Belhotel International for giving me the opportunity to join the prestigious Swiss-Belhotel Seef, Bahrain that has been consistently recognised over the years as the best hotel in the kingdom.

“I believe no task is easy in the hotel business. Each has its own peculiarities and underlying challenges. The beauty of our industry is no matter how successful a hotel is, there is always room for improvement.

“The team at Swiss-Belhotel Seef in Bahrain has done a tremendous job in establishing it as one of the group’s flagship hotels in the region offering the highest level of service and standards. I look forward to working closely with the team to build on this exceptional success.”

Over what he describes as a ‘long and beautiful career’ spanning 40 years, he has become both a front and back of house expert. A passion for the hospitality and the food and beverage industry has taken him around the globe supervising numerous global pre-opening tasks with assignments taking him from Europe to South and North America and to the Middle East.

Working for some of the biggest names in the industry, including French AccorHotel’s Sofitel and Pullman brands, America’s Starwood Hotels & Resorts and Japan’s Nikko Hotels, his last port of call was as GM of the Leylaty Group in Jeddah adding to his Gulf regional experience after spells in senior hotel roles in Dubai.

“Though I have never lived in Bahrain, I have been visiting the country over many years on business matters,” Alban explained. “We all know continued investment in tourism infrastructure is transforming Bahrain’s sector. It is wonderful to be in the kingdom at this exciting time. I love the spirit and culture of Bahrain and look forward to discovering more about the local customs and traditions.

“Saudi Arabia is no doubt one of the biggest source markets for our destination and of high significance for Swiss-Belhotel Seef, Bahrain. Travel to Bahrain from the neighbouring kingdom will continue to grow and thrive. Saudis love to travel and explore and are very knowledgeable in terms of hospitality and food and beverage concepts. Having a good experience in the Saudi market will help us to customise the services and meet their expectations.

“Bahrain, like the other Gulf Countries, is a very competitive and exciting destination. There are a lot of new hotels and developments as well as many new tourism attractions. The challenge is to differentiate from the masses through innovation and personalised service – creating our own unique identity.

“And this property is truly outstanding in terms of product and design. It offers a fabulous range of facilities with world-class service standards that translate into memorable experiences and excellent value for money for our guests.

“The plan is to remain the best four-star hotel in town offering outstanding value and to stay close to the local community.

“Every day is a new day, with new learning, new collaborations, making new friends, discovering new cultures and meeting new guests. The hospitality industry is unique in every aspect where a new story awaits you around every corner.”

Alban plans to create some new stories here, to add to the many he has made on his travels.

“I am eager to meet with all our friends, associates and guests,” Alban added. “I want to meet their expectations. I believe ‘success is not created by one person but by a team that comes together as one’.

“I definitely have some new ideas, however, but it is too early to share those. My objective is to first and foremost assess the market to see what our guests’ desire and how we can serve them better.”

Born in Reims, he is married with two children. He met his Mexican wife, Margarita, in 1993 when he was an executive chef and she was a manager at the same hotel in Mexico. She went on to become a DeRose Method yoga personal coach, concentrating on high performance and meditation. Their son, Edouard, 23, is studying renewable energy at engineering school, and their daughter, Paloma, 19, is studying business and management, both in Paris, but as many living an expat existence, they are children of the world having been born in Mexico and also lived in the UAE and Brazil.

Herve is happy to leave the property in safe hands. He will be taking over as GM of the new Holiday Inn - Cheraga Tower in the capital of Algeria.

“It was not an easy decision to leave Bahrain,” he admitted. “I spent five years on the island and loved the country. I leave behind a lot of friends. Being in the hospitality industry, I came to meet many clients and over time we moved from a business relationship to a true friendship.

“What is particular to Bahrain is that it’s very easy to connect with people and to make friends. Things are easier than many other places. I valued my time spent with Bahrainis and members of the expat community.

“We often say that the people of Bahrain are welcoming and approachable. This is a reality and I will add that their kindness is something very unique. Bahrain is really safe and the environment for the family is second to none. 

“I leave behind me a fantastic team at the Swiss-Belhotel Seef and I’m confident that with the new management they will continue achieving many successes and accolades.

“I take this opportunity to thank all my friends and clients for a fantastic five years in Bahrain.”


More on Cover Story