Sofitel Bahrain’s two emerging leaders are responsible for defining guest experiences at the leading luxury hotel. We had the opportunity to sit down with Emre Kirazci, Director of Operations in charge of Sales & Marketing, and Javier Camón, Director of Marketing to learn about their roles, their interests, and their journey to leadership in the hospitality industry.
Can you tell us about yourself and your Bahrain story?
Emre Kirazci: I am a hotelier from Turkey, with a strong background in the luxury hospitality industry in the Middle East and Indian regions.
After completing a double major degree in business and tourism from Middlesex University, I started my career in hospitality in 2009 at Kempinski Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, as a Sales Manager which provided adequate exposure to the Middle East market. In 2012, I joined FRHI Hotels & Resorts as Director of Global Accounts (Fairmont, Raffles, and Swissotel Hotels). After five years, I moved to Bahrain to lead the Commercial team at Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa, where I have been working for the last five years.
My success in the role and in driving revenue through targeted strategic plans have helped me rise up to the position of Director of Operations in charge of Sales & Marketing at the hotel.
Javier Camón: Hailing from Spain, I worked in multiple roles in Marketing & Communications for the last 12+ years across Spain, the UK, the Maldives, and the Middle East. I graduated in Business and Marketing Management at ESERP Business School in Madrid. I have been fascinated by hotel marketing in the luxury segment, so after a few years of working with marketing agencies in Madrid, I moved to London, joining Chiltern Firehouse Hotel & Restaurant’s opening team in 2014.
In 2015, I moved back to Spain, and after four years as PR & Communications Manager at PY Hotels and Resorts, where I played a critical role in creating the brand, I decided to explore the Asian continent to continue growing professionally and personally. In 2019, I joined Raffles Maldives to lead the marketing team and position the resort as one of the best resorts in the Maldives.
After 3 years of working with Raffles, I joined the Sofitel brand as their new Director of Marketing at Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa.
What does your role at Sofitel Bahrain entail?
EK: As Director of Operations in charge of Sales & Marketing, I am responsible for all aspects of the hotel and its day-to-day operations, including rooms, food & beverage, and Spa & recreation to ensure operative success and enhance the guest experience.
JC: I lead the design and activation of Marketing, Communication, and digital strategies aimed at helping drive the Sofitel Bahrain brand. I am involved in the production of creative content as well as the digital transformation of the hotel.
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned in your career that are valuable in this role?
EK: After an extensive career leading Sales & Marketing teams, I have deeply understood our guests’ needs. I am keen on adding further commercial value to the operations and it will be a great privilege to inspire the team and work together with fellow department heads to achieve our objectives while further enhancing the experience of our guests by providing a bespoke and intuitive service.
JC: With strong competition from some of the best hotels in the world, my previous role equipped me with designing different experiences that make the guests’ long journeys from all over the world worthwhile. At Sofitel Bahrain, my aim is to highlight and promote unique selling points that make the property a location far from the city crowd in which the guests can enjoy unique views of the Arabian sea from all the rooms, enjoy gastronomic events organized on a daily basis at the hotel or visit our Thalassa Sea & Spa, the biggest one in the GCC.
What is your favourite restaurant at Sofitel?
EK: With its charming Mediterranean atmosphere, the restaurant that amazes me at Sofitel is Fiamma. It offers a fresh and healthy take on Italian cuisine like homemade pasta and perhaps the most authentic pizza you’ll ever taste in Bahrain. At Fiamma, you can experience the passion of our talented Italian Executive Chef, Marco Terranova.
JC: A restaurant that blew me away since I joined Sofitel Bahrain is Pashawat, our Lebanese restaurant which offers an experience that stands out from any other culinary adventure that I have had so far. It promises an authentic ambience with live Arabic music, a Belly Dance show, and abundant high-quality, fresh, and consistent Lebanese delicacies that are out of this world.
What do you do and where do you go to relax in Bahrain?
EK: I am a passionate traveller and exploring different cultures has fascinated me since I was a kid. This passion together with my outgoing personality is what brought me to the hospitality industry and finally to this fantastic country.
In love with the gastronomic choices that the country offers, I spend my spare time discovering new restaurants and hotel concepts and getting inspired by the latest trends that are always useful to enhance the experience of my guests.
Combined with meditation sessions every morning, cycling, reading, and enjoying any activity related to the sea, I found martial arts a way to destress and release from my hectic daily routine. It is a very effective way to balance my body and mind.
JC: When I am not working, I try to minimize screen time and enjoy discovering the city, socializing, and dedicating time to my passion for photography.
I have lived in more than 10 cities across Europe and Asia and travelling and exploring new cultures has become one of my passions since an early age. In order to remain healthy mentally and physically, I try to work out 3 to 4 times a week.