Joe Ghayad: Running a hotel is all about people

Mr. Joe Ghayad is an experienced and respected hotelier with over 23 years of experience in the hospitality industry, and he currently serves as the General Manager of The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo. With a passion for delivering exceptional service and creating memorable experiences for guests, Mr. Ghayad has been instrumental in the success of The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo, earning numerous accolades, including the prestigious “Best Historical Hotel in Africa” award.

In this exclusive interview with Wanderlust Tips USA, Mr. Ghayad shares his insights on the hospitality industry, his journey to becoming a successful general manager, and his vision for The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo. Readers will have a grasp of the hotel’s unique offerings and the team’s commitment to providing world-class hospitality.

Stay tuned to Wanderlust Tips USA for the full interview, where you’ll discover the secrets behind The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo’s success and get inspired by Mr. Ghayad’s leadership and dedication.

Good day, Mr. Joe Ghayad. Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

Good day to you!  It’s a pleasure meeting you. My name is Joe Ghayad, an avid traveler who enjoys meeting guests and welcoming them to a world of luxurious service.  A veteran of the luxury segment in the hospitality industry where I have worked for almost a quarter of a century at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company – an affiliate of Marriott International.

What initially drew you to the hospitality industry and what has kept you passionate about it for over two decades?

I was born in Lebanon and grew up in Canada, where I started my career in hospitality. I started by working in the culinary field for seven years during my education. In 1992, I joined The Ritz-Carlton, Montreal as a trainee in the finance department. In 1994, I was lucky to work for Club Med for three years in the Caribbean, Bahamas and Mexico where it was a great learning experience. I returned to the Ritz-Carlton, Montreal in 1997 as a receptionist and progressed gradually within The Ritz-Carlton company till today. 

Throughout my career, I had the opportunity to work in different locations such as Montreal, Boston, New York, Atlanta, Doha, Sharm El Sheikh, Jakarta and Kazakhstan, before Cairo.   I was fortunate enough that during my time with The Ritz-Carlton Company I had the opportunity to continue to learn and grow within the company until I developed into General Manager position.

Running a hotel is all about people. Motivating employees, exceeding guests and owners’ expectations, meeting financial obligations while adapting to continuous change.  I am people oriented by nature and I ensure that I take the time to meet my guests and employees on a daily basis and thank them for their feedback.

What do you consider to be the most rewarding aspect of being the General Manager of The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo?

The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo carries a rich legacy.  The hotel is renowned for its legendary reputation among Egyptians and is long-celebrated as an icon of luxury within Cairo.  Its views are unmatched where it encompasses the famous Tahrir Square and the Egyptian Museum from one side and the majestic River Nile from the other side. All this whilst guests get immersed in the diversity of Egyptian culture, and treated to the service of Kings and Queens.

The hotel upholds its legacy and the city’s ancient history while located in the heart of the Nile. The Nile Ritz-Carlton embraces a distinctive location from which you can marvel at Cairo’s Skyline featuring the Cairo tower, Nile River and Opera House from one side and the remarkable Egyptian Museum from another. It is an iconic property where boundless luxury meets unmatched views and intuitive service while being in the center of Egypt’s business, political and cultural hub.

How would you describe the unique blend of Egyptian hospitality and Ritz-Carlton’s global standards that The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo embodies?

When we speak about the Ritz-Carlton as a brand, we automatically see 100 years of history unfolding before our eyes. It is a brand with an unshakeable credo and corporate philosophy of unwavering commitment to service, both in our hotels and in our communities. 

One of our core beliefs lie in our Ladies and Gentlemen being our most valuable resource in our service commitment to our guests. As our motto says, we are “Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen” at every Ritz-Carlton.

With such rich history and class, the brand sets itself apart from any competition globally being home to genuine care and comfort. We aspire to create #RCMemories wherever our guests go and thrive to make every Ritz-Carlton guest, a guest for life.

What are some of the most memorable guest experiences that have taken place at The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo under your leadership?

One of the most unforgettable stories that took place in our property is that of a little girl who left behind her teddy bear only to discover that it was missing after she had arrived home. To overcome this situation, we prepared an album full of photos of the teddy bear by the pool, at the spa having a massage, having tea at our Lobby Lounge …etc and sent it back to the little girl saying that it was not missing but rather spending quality time at our hotel!  You can imagine the impact of this on the little girl and her family!

Creating guests for life is what we, as Ladies and Gentlemen of The Nile Ritz-Carlton, thrive to achieve every single day. The essence of our job is to enliven the senses and fulfill even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests. With that being top of mind, we ensure customer happiness and satisfaction through guest engagement and communication. The more we engage with our guests staying with us, the more we are able to anticipate their needs and leave them with memorable experiences. 

As a seasoned general manager, what advice would you give to aspiring hospitality professionals seeking to make a mark in the industry?

Believing in yourself is crucial to be a successful leader. The level of success you see in your life is a direct result of your belief system. When you have full trust in yourself, you can overcome self-doubt and have the confidence to take action and get things done to reach your goal. Knowing what you want to achieve and having a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time bond) road map for every stage will assist you to stay focused.

You have to be patient and accept failure, stand up every time you fall down and analyze what you have done wrong. Patience, resilience and open-mindedness are key to success. At the end, you should have a passion for serving others and if you do; you will never feel as if you are working but rather enjoying your days!

What are some of the most significant challenges and opportunities you have encountered in managing a luxury hotel in the dynamic Egyptian market?

The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most significant challenges that the tourism industry has encountered.  It had a severe and sustained financial impact on our overall business and in all honesty is considered to be a true testament to our resilience as well as flexibility at times of difficulties.   From the very first warning signs, the company took a number of precautionary measures to adapt and strengthen its business by reducing costs dramatically and improving its liquidity.  

At The Nile Ritz-Carlton, health and safety of our guests and associates is and remains to be of paramount importance.  It is worth mentioning that Marriott International has been recognized as a hospitality leader for almost a century due to its commitment to quality, exacting standards, and rigorous training of its associates. 

How does The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo effectively leverage its prime location and captivating views of the Nile River to enhance the guest experience?

First and foremost, by creating fond memories for all our guests and associates and by providing them with personalized service.  With ceaseless attention to every luxurious detail, we set the bar for creating memorable guest experiences in world-class settings. Our motto is “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.” This motto exemplifies the anticipatory service provided by all our ladies and gentlemen.

Furthermore, being part of Marriott International, one of the most powerful hospitality chains in the world, we reward our guests for their loyalty with our Marriott Bonvoy program.  Marriott Bonvoy gifts its members’ benefits in over 30 hotel brands and 7000+ properties. 

What role does cultural immersion play in the overall experience you strive to create for guests at The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo?

Everything we do at The Ritz-Carlton is centered on guest experience, and there’s no better way to understand this than by experiencing a Ritz-Carlton’s scenography moment where all our efforts coupled with the hotel’s and country’s heritage come together to create indelible memories for all our guests.   

The Scenography concept is a series of experiential moments portraying a unique theme specific to our property – an emotional and sensory story, authentic to our destination that engages our guests’ senses with their surroundings to make their stay more memorable.  There is no cost for it and it is executed diligently on property every day. 

What sets The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo apart from other luxury hotels in Cairo and how does it attract discerning travelers from around the globe?

STRONG BRAND NAME: The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company has enjoyed more than 30 years as an award-winning, luxury hospitality organization, it has become the synonymous of the finest personalized service provider in the Hospitality industry.

THE ICONIC LOCATION: Iconic Location in downtown Cairo. Attached to the Egyptian Museum and Facing the River Nile. Several dining options. Daily entertainment program

CONVENTION FACILITIES: Largest conference center and facilities in downtown Cairo. Al Qahira is the biggest conference hall, featuring 1700 sqm with state of the art meeting facilities in addition to six breakout rooms to accommodate all types of conferences and business events.

LANDSCAPING: Unique outdoor Landscaping: Set amid beautifully landscaped gardens with water fountains while the Egyptian museum stands as the one of a kind backdrop providing our guests with the perfect setting for glorious and elegant outdoor social events.

LARGEST POOL IN DOWNTOWN: The pool span exceeds Olympic pool regulation lengths, offering a sense of scale, it is sunny year round and offers guests a private haven to relax in with seventeen cabanas and direct access from guest rooms elevators.

Distinct flavors from around the world were brought together to create a culinary journey at The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo. Each restaurant specializes in a superlative experience that celebrates various flavors, offering both fine dining and relaxed lounge experience.  The hotel’s restaurants and bars feature panoramic views of the Nile, offer open-air seating and a wide variety of local and international wines.

As for The Nile Ritz-Carlton Spa; we offer various treatments including innovative facials, classic massages and purposeful body wraps. Of the nine treatment rooms, one is reserved for couples as well as a well-equipped Gym along with weekly yoga classes.

What are your aspirations for the future of The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo as it continues to serve as a beacon of Egyptian hospitality and excellence?

Business continues to improve!  We are working on penetrating new markets and upgrading our rooms as well as enhancing our outlets. In addition to hosting big social events in our spacious garden city, we will be working on expanding our catering services to include the guests’ preferred venues outside the hotel.

Moreover, we are working closely with our owners’ “MISR Hotels Company”, on our new Rooftop concept design overlooking the renowned Tahrir square and the River Nile.   

What message do you long to send to travel enthusiasts around the globe?

Cairo is a vibrant destination and no matter what your purpose in visiting the city, business or leisure or visiting family, there is always a sense of discovery. Egypt is indeed a beautiful country with a rich history and mesmerizing sights!  

The people of Egypt, known for their warm hospitality; make visitors feel welcome and embraced.   

Finally, the team and I eagerly look forward to welcoming you to Cairo!

On behalf of our readers, Wanderlust Tips USA would like to express our deepest gratitude to Mr. Joe Ghayad, General Manager of The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo, for graciously accepting this exclusive interview. His insights and perspectives have provided invaluable guidance to those seeking to learn more about the hospitality industry and the exceptional experiences that The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo has to offer. Mr. Ghayad’s inspirational journey and dedication to excellence have been an inspiration to us all. 

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