Simplicity in Luxury: Interview with InterContinental Regency Bahrain’s new GM Philipp Economou

How are you finding Bahrain?

I’m not new in the GCC so it was quite easy for me to transition in Bahrain. I found Bahrain more family-oriented and easier to adapt to. I’ve also read an HSBC survey saying that Bahrain is in the top ten list of countries where you can settle in quite fast. With its simplicity, I believe it is one of the best countries to live in.


The number of luxury hotels in Bahrain has doubled in the past four years, where are the guests coming from?

Yes, we have more hotels being built and I’ve read that they are building a new convention center next to the BIC. Bahrain has a vision of bringing in more international conferences which in turn, increase the demand for rooms. The number of attractions in the island raise the demand as well.


What is your vision for this property?

Our dream is to bring back the Regency. We have people who’ve been visiting the hotel for more than 30 years. They’ve met here, they’ve married here, and even their children are now getting married here. There’s a lot of history in this property and I’d like to incorporate its heritage, tradition, and luxury in all our future plans.

How do you plan to achieve this?

I’m not here to change people, I’m here to give direction to them. I often say this to my staff: we’re not only here just to serve food, drinks, or provide a room. We’re here to get an emotional connection with our guests, build this lifetime relationship slowly. This property is 38 years old and we want to move forward taking in mind its rich culture and history.


Internationally, the luxury hotel sector has become more crowded and more demanding. How are you catering to the modern traveler?

In whatever we do, we perform with flare. Whether it be in serving a simple cup of coffee or creating something grand, we do it with flare.


What would you say you most enjoy about your job? And on the flipside, what do you dislike the most about your job?

I love the interaction I get from people; it is something I always look forward to. I grew up in a hotelier family and from a young age, I already knew that I wanted to work in the hotel industry.


On the other hand, I dislike the long working hours. I have never celebrated a New Year’s Eve outside of work in over two decades. Nobody wants to be stuck in a repetitive routine. Nevertheless, this is a routine I enjoy. I always find myself going back to the hotel I work in because this is where I feel most comfortable.


Is there a particular saying or motto, that guides you?

“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible”, a quote from Walt Disney. This is what I always aim to do. It’s a short life so it’s always fun to create something new. Who knows? Maybe in the near future we’ll have hotels on the moon!