Blogs » Opinion » James Hewitson from Anantara The Palm says "signs are positive"

James Hewitson from Anantara The Palm says "signs are positive"

  • James Hewitson from Anantara The Palm says "signs are positive"


    The Anantara brand is loved in the Middle East., with hotels in Oman and the UAE's most iconic locations, from The Palm in Dubai to the Mangroves National Park in Abu Dhabi. One hotelier who knows the brand well is James Hewitson, as he has worked for the company for more than ten years.

    In January, Hewitson was appointed general manager at Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort, having previously been resident manager at the same hotel in 2013. He then moved to general manager roles in Asia, Africa and Oman, and most recently was cluster general manager in Thailand.

    Speaking to us at Arabian Travel Market, he said: “I’ve worked with Anantara in Thailand and Oman. I’ve done projects for Anantara in the Maldives and Qatar. I was recently in Anantara Phuket and returned to Dubai to take over here. Knowing the property from before, it made sense to move from Phuket to Dubai, where the market is open.


    “Anantara have looked after me and developed me, since I joined them back in 2011. I’ve had interesting projects and exciting times with them – it has kept me engaged and motivated. The brand allows for an entrepreneurial style of leadership. We are given a certain amount of freedom to run the business as if it was our own – that’s something I enjoy and feel like it works well with my personality. So it’s been a good marriage so far and long might it continue.”

    Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort’s has plenty of new projects across its restaurants and spa. Crescendo, the all-day Middle Eastern restaurant, is being renovated. Hewitson revealed: “We have some great new things coming up within the resort itself. Cresendo is closing in the summer for a full revamp and will launch right after the summer. For the market coming in for Q4, it will be an exciting addition.”

    Anantara Spa is tapping into the latest trend for IV drips. The treatment grew in popularity on social media after celebrities, from Rihanna to Cara Delevingne, posted pictures using them.

    In terms of occupancy numbers, the hotel has been hitting at the recently-removed cap of 80 percent. Hewitson commented: “We’ve done very well this year. A good increase from last year. Not all markets are open, but the markets that are, are travelling.”


    However, the recent addition of the UAE on the UK’s red list, banning travel to the country except for essential purposes, has had a negative effect on visitor numbers. Hewitson added: “It’s definitely not helping. We are losing business from the UK, but we are picking up business from other markets. With the regional markets starting to travel, this is a positive sign for the months ahead.”

    With Covid-19 changing expectations from companies, especially managers, how has it affected Hewitson’s style. Not much, he explained: “As the GM, my main goal is to maximise shareholder returns. But to do that, my job is to look after the team. If I look after the team, then I believe that they will look after our guests. For me, my main priority is put the right people around me, make sure they are well taken care of and drive them to deliver a great performance. That in turn takes care of the guest experience, which in turn takes care of our shareholder’s returns.”

    Looking ahead, Hewitson is optimistic about the future of Anantara and tourism. He said: “In 2013, we had boom years. I have the same feeling now that I had then. There’s lots of competition in the market, so there’ll be more marketing spent on the destination, which can only help us. From seeing information in the media, we are headed for another good solid few years of growth. We have very exciting times ahead.”

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