Everyday would feel like a vacation. These were my first thoughts when I first considered a career in the hospitality and tourism sector, especially in a beautiful resort situated on the coast of Kuwait’s Arabian Gulf Sea. I remember walking into the gorgeous lobby of the multinational world-class hotel and wondering what it would be like to actually work there — great atmosphere, great perks!
As a Kuwaiti female, it’s pretty uncommon if not common at all to work in a hotel in Kuwait. The tourism industry is not as advanced and progressive in the country making it an unpopular career choice. People also have this misconception that if you do work in a hotel then you’re either a receptionist, doorman or a housekeeping attendant which are all absolutely false assumptions and merely stereotypes.
Being in the PR & Marketing field, I was eager to start off my career promoting a hotel. If people were opting for the banks and oil companies, I was heading the opposite direction. The deciding factor mostly had to do with my interest in the trade itself and to avoid a mundane job that I would dread waking up to every day. After some persistence, I managed to land a position in the PR & Marketing department in Kuwait’s luxury resort and I was thrilled!
Knowing I had to sacrifice some of my work-life balance, I still willingly accepted the offer to start my journey in an industry completely new to me and I couldn’t wait to discover it.
First and foremost, working an 8-6 job wasn’t easy after all. Being a 24-hour based business, the long hours with a few quiet breaks between the rush all come with the package of working as a hotelier.
In hotel life, there is constantly something happening somewhere to someone at sometime, whether a colleague or a guest. It’s full of life, action, stories and involves a great deal of variety. It’s never-ending drama. I was always expecting the unexpected. At some point, it gets exhausting but almost in a good way.
There is so much that goes on behind-the-scenes. The beautiful surroundings, content guests, smiling staff and impeccable service are merely the surface of what really happens. There is more than meets the eyes. Everything extends far beyond what the customer sees. The amount of intricacies that go into effectively running the complex operations of a huge resort was challenging, but being part of each layer of communication to make something happen was rewarding and satisfying. To the guest, it’s merely like waving a magic wand!
There is always a new experience to promote; whether a product, service or event. Behind creating that perfect instagrammable 5-course set menu to upload on Instagram, for instance, there is a team of passionate culinary experts mastering the plating and presentation, keeping the food “alive on set” by stroking it with a brush of oil to maintain a “just-cooked” look, while service colleagues arrange the table and adjust the lighting at the venue and the restaurant manager ensures that everything else looks flawless. Over at housekeeping, the team add their own personal touches in the rooms ahead of a guest’s arrival, who is delighted to find an origami towel creation of an animal on their immaculately-tucked bed. Then somewhere on the beach there’s an energetic Zumba class or yoga session taking place, a romantic candle-lit dinner to impress, a team of chefs getting read to cook up tonight’s beachside barbecue, or an embassy prepping to celebrate their national day with festive activities.
The hotel is made up of a giant team all of which are interconnected in one way or the other in a chain reaction – if a detail goes wrong, everything else tumbles down. Ultimately, the goal is to serve up memorable moments to guests meticulously, be it an elaborate wedding, VIP arrangement, media welcoming, or celebrity hosting. Some of my colleagues are so dedicated with this, that I wonder how they are able to maintain their positive demeanor at all times even in the face of stress and chaos, which is something I myself have picked up on and got used to. Handling the image of every aspect of a hotel required being a perfectionist in every sense of the word to ensure that everything was up to the highest standard of luxury. Everything is detail-oriented.
As a PR & Marketing practitioner, I wasn’t dealing directly with guests the majority of the time. However, from time to time, I did face some of the dozens of guest interactions that took place on a daily basis, especially when it came to celebrity visits, media, and commercial photo-shooting. There’s ample of networking opportunities, as I got to meet with people from all walks of life. Hospitality simply thrives on interaction with all types of people.
Overtime, the hotel culture becomes part of you, a lifestyle. I befriended multi-cultural chefs, foreign journalists, local personalities and socialites and industry experts. There were a couple of times when I met well-known travelers visiting Kuwait for the first time to enjoy both the culture and hospitality and I was tasked with planning their entire itinerary in Kuwait along with a tour throughout the hotel, having a moment to act as an ambassador to my own country.
There are vast avenues to explore within the hospitality world. This meant that I could get as creative as I wanted in tackling unique challenges. I could tell the chef exactly what personalized pastry I envisioned to place in the rooms for the guest, which specific dinner set up I wanted for that sumptuous magazine photo shoot, which prestigious new publication to approach for an advertising campaign, which interesting local associations to partner with to add value to the brand, which influencers to collaborate with in creative aways to tell the story of the hotel experience, which top travel and hospitality publications to write for and much more. There was also the excitement of ongoing seasonal events throughout the year. And of course, being spoiled with the perks of traveling and experiencing the brand’s distinct properties in other countries, which have their own signature culturally-connected characters and it was interesting to observe the variety and differences in their type of services.
Even when I tried to unplug and de-focus from the chaotic and frenzied time at the hotel I simply couldn’t. If I wasn’t at the premises itself, I was engaging with our online guests on Facebook or Instagram, answering their inquiries and producing fresh content. There’s not a moment of calm. Each day is unique which kept my job stimulating at all times. All I can say now is that it was an eye-opening experience! As fun as it was, an industry so fast-paced and demanding of my time and energy eventually meant it really was time for me to take a breather.
I gathered all the experience I needed, and it was only a matter of time before I took that experience with me to new ventures. At the end of the day, being part of a hotel was indeed a unique encounter from which I gained new insights and perspectives.
The fun part of it all is that in between all these experiences and encounters, I constantly raised the bar in accelerating my own learning curve. I didn’t just grow professionally, but even personally by learning so much through a journey I had been crafting for myself along the way, and most importantly one that I had initiated and believed in pursuing. My family and loved ones always encourage me and provide me with remarkable support in anything I’m passionate about, no matter how much of that thing may be a departure from “the norm”. And I am so grateful for it!