Jabal Omar Marriott Hotel, Makkah is one of the most luxurious five-star hotels in Jabal Omar complex. It is an architectural masterpiece in the heart of the holy city, offering splendid facilities, a great view over Al Haram, and a pleasant stay for a memorable journey.
The hotel consists of two towers; the first has 11 floors and the second has 20 floors. The hotel has a total of 426 rooms and suites, owned by Jabal Omar Development Company, and managed by Marriott International Hotels and Resorts.
It is a 3 minutes walk to Al Masjid Al Haram. The hotel features two fancy restaurants and one welcoming cafe. It also has a prayer room overlooking Al Haram, and wired to an up to date sound system that completes the experience.
Following our series of interviewing the industry thought leaders and getting to know them, and the entities they represent while getting some market’s insights and latest updates, we were honored to have a phone interview with Mr. Waleed Awad Silan, General Manager at Jabal Omar Marriott Hotel, in which he took us on an insightful tour of the hotel, the industry and the expected scenarios for the coming season.
We, at Umrahme, are very much interested in the development of the establishments operating in the umrah sector, and the challenges they face and overcome.
Let me start by thanking you guys for having me. Firstly, Jabal Omar Marriott Makkah was the first hotel to be opened in Jabal Omar project, which is really a huge project with huge investments and big investors. Jabal Omar is really close to Al-Haram with a strategic location. All the hotels located on Jabal Omar are five-star hotels with international standards, only to offer the best for Allah’s guests. We have a strategic agreement with Jabal Omar Real Estate Development Group and we are planning to add more international hotels while Jabal Omar project is completed, as you know Marriott has more than 30 hotel trademarks worldwide.
Frankly speaking, Jabal Omar Real Estate Development Group, is the owner or the shareholding company. However, Marriott is the managing party with full authority over the operations and the systems and everything in the hotel is under the supervision of Marriott International.
I present Marriott, in this context. However, I can see the path taken by the Kingdom in these past few years. How all the hotels especially the ones in Makkah are following the international standards and abiding by their systems. Therefore, I can confidently say yes international partnerships are a must for offering impeccable services to the pilgrims.
We launched in Ramadan 2015, and we were a big hit in Saudi and worldwide. The nature of our hotel is more appealing to group travelers than individual ones which fit the foreigners more than Saudis. However, we had a huge marketing plan and activities prior to the launch and we were a huge success till the year of the pandemic. Due to our exceptional services we were always in the lead.
We follow Marriott standards of measurements and we use their systems. The system we use is called “The Guest Voice” in which we are keen to know how likely will our guest recommend us to others? Then we dive into other details of their stay. We send a survey through email and as soon as we receive a reply back, we negative feedback about any of the services we handle immediately to reach the guest’s satisfaction.
Before Covid-19, our occupancy rate was from 75%-80% year to date. We have 426 rooms, with 54 suites overlooking the Holy Mosque, with two restaurants that can hold up to 1500 guests, a large prayer room for 450 persons, and meeting rooms of different sizes. We also have 11 elevator guests and 137 parking lots. Nowadays, our occupancy rate reached 20% because of the situation we are in.
Indeed, we have been working for more than a month now on Ramadan preparations. Going on to special Ramadan meetings on weekly basis to discuss the rooms preparations, the front desks, welcoming guests, the drinks that we will offer, the restaurants, Ramadan themes, …etc. We are well-prepared. Although we don’t have any confirmed information when will things go back to normal. We are hoping for half the accomplishments that were attained in Ramadan 2019. Then we can say that we did well.
Yes, Of course. As we are used to dealing with the external agent as he is so keen to satisfy his client. Even when the booking is done through a Saudi agent, an agent from the external agency must be present to facilitate the process in terms of language, needs, understandings…etc.
We are favored by a lot of nationalities. We have pilgrims from the Far East, Europe, America, North Africa, Jordan. We are really close to the Holy Mosque with really big room spaces and top-notch food and beverages services. Hence we are very popular.
From day one we as operators and investors are supporting and working with the Kingdom’s 2030 vision. We are eager to implement the Kingdom’s instructions and regulations to the letter.
Additionally, we have been targeting the Saudi Market long before the vision. We have been studying the Saudi market and we knew what the Saudi guest prefers, what are his needs and how can we make him happy. We also send them great deals and offers all year long.
We have our own marketing department, that is working around the clock to communicate with our target clients. We are constantly offering discounts, doing competitions, celebrating the big days like international women’s day with huge competitions and offers, so we can attract more guests. We have signed with most of the OTA’s as we have been adopting the e-marketing activities since the launch.
I am a member of The Hotels Committee in the Trading Chamber. We are in constant meetings with the ministries like the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah…etc. The technological approach is absolutely amazing. However, I have a comment. Things need to be controlled more. Like controlling the prices and rates mentioned on the different platforms to avoid any confusion and attain the objective of building an online platform for reservations which was ending the illegal agents’ manipulation and false promises to pilgrims.
I am one of your fans. You guys are doing a great job. Umrahme has become the first choice in both internal and external markets, Umrahme is trusted. Also, the fact that you are so close with a really attentive support team is a huge plus. Umrahme is always there whenever an issue surfaces, your support team will work on it until it is resolved in a satisfactory manner to the client. And this is not only my personal opinion. This is the feedback I get from everyone who uses Umrahme.
We didn’t get any complaints from Umrahme, as it is user-friendly, and have little to zero downtime. We actually use to direct people to book through Umrahme as we will find support whenever needed.
I am optimistic. People are saying that the Hajj will be held this season, and if this happened, we will definitely come back. People are really missing Umrah and Hajj and we are all hoping for this pandemic to end and for things to go back to normal. Also, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah are doing a great job and the expansions around Al-Haram are really great, so I am optimistic.
Firstly, they need to be a role model with a higher purpose as we are chosen by Allah to serve guests of Allah. So materialistic gains need to be put aside when dealing with this higher purpose.
In the end, we thanked Mr. Waleed Awad Silan, General Manager of Jabal Omar Marriott Hotel Makkah for these valuable information and an enjoyable conversation.