Bahrain Confidential meets The Gulf Hotel Bahrain’s general manager, Fares Yactine.
How was 2018 for the hotel?
A lot of things happened in 2018 – it was a year of restructuring and improvement. This included the renovation of the convention center, the refurbishment of the restaurant outlets La Pergola, Al Waha and Sherlock Holmes as well as our recent collaboration with Giancarlo Perbellini (a multi-Michelin starred Italian chef), which proved to be a good addition to our collection of restaurants.
What is your plan for the rest of 2019?
We have several projects lined up for the rest of the year.
Our health club will soon be renovated with state-of-the-art equipment while our restaurant, Fusions, will be remodeled as ‘Fusions by Tala’. Tala Bashmi is a talented young Bahraini chef who has grown with The Gulf Hotel. It will be refashioned to cater to the younger generations like Tala, with fusion dishes and Bahraini flair, and an outdoor terrace with stunning views of Bahrain.
Sato is also on our agenda – we plan to refurbish it towards the end of the year. The new Sato will keep its Japanese authenticity but will be modernized. We are planning to have a partnership with a Japanese Michelin-starred chef while also keeping our resident chef.
Sato is already beautiful. What do you aim to achieve with a refurbishment?
I feel Sato lacks natural light so that’s one thing we’ll be focusing on. The sushi bar will also be brought inside the restaurant so people can enjoy it fully without feeling isolated.
What are the current challenges faced by the hotel?
All hotels are going through very tough competition, especially when it comes to room rates. This is in addition to the new hotels coming in Bahrain.
On the positive side, we saw growth in the first quarter in 2019. Some big conferences have helped the hospitality sector, and we expect more. We also anticipate more Russian tourists coming soon, which should help the next quarter.
What is your vision for The Gulf Hotel Bahrain?
The vision is to take partnerships and alliances with multinational players in order to be more competitive in the market.