1 on 1: Hakan Ozel, General Manager, Shangri-La Hotel Dubai

What is your favourite Shangri-La memory?
In my three years at Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa in Muscat, my son was born.
It was the happiest day of my life! Going through the first years of fatherhood at that property made me very attached to it.
Describe your brand in 3 words
A family, caring, and heartwarming.
What made you decide to be a hotelier?
The hospitality industry was booming in Turkey during the nineties. Combined with my love for travel, food and culture, it was the perfect fit! I love experiencing different cultures, and meeting new people has always been a big part of my life. Trying local dishes, really embracing a local way of living in foreign countries is truly sublime. The things I love doing got me here.
Why join Shangri-La Dubai?
The Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts group believes in rotating their General Managers so that we can share best practices and innovative ideas with other properties. Allowing us to constantly excite and delight our guests, as well as our colleagues. When this opportunity came up, I gratefully accepted. I moved here with an open mind and new perspective.
What’s your favourite Shangri-La property aside from Dubai?
Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa, Muscat.
I was based there for a while, and have beautiful memories of working there. I loved that we had a blend of cultures coming together under one brand. It compliments traditional Omani hospitality. Three beautiful properties with great service, a variety of dining and leisure options make this resort truly spectacular.
What’s your favorite part of the hotel?
ikandy ultralounge; a vibrant lounge offering a relaxed environment with poolside service during the day, while at night it convert into a hot spot with shisha, DJs, signature nights and delicious cocktails, all in an al fresco environment. In my opinion, it is the perfect place to see and be seen.
What makes the Shangri-La Dubai experience so special?
We engage our guests every step of the way and we aim to do so from the heart. We want guests to feel like they are coming home every time they step foot into our hotel, we are there to ensure excellent service and memorable experiences.
What’s the best CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) initiative Shangri-La Dubai has been a part of and why?
Working with UAE Down Syndrome Association (UAEDSA) is the most inspiring and heart-warming for me. We have a strong and long-term partnership with UAEDSA and it has been such a wonderful collaboration between our colleagues and the wonderful individuals they support. We offer four individuals training in various departments throughout the hotel (culinary, HR, pastry, etc.), to introduce them to the workforce and provide them with skills to assist them in the future. Working side-by-side with our employees, it is truly an amazing thing to witness.