As a hotelier, you have to keep checking in

The Life: Henning Fries is a hotelier who often finds it hard to predict how his days will unfold.
Henning Fries, the general manager of Fairmont Bab Al Bahr hotel in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National
Henning Fries, the general manager of Fairmont Bab Al Bahr hotel in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National

Henning Fries is a hotelier who often finds it hard to predict how his days will unfold. The UAE's regional vice president for Fairmont, who also holds the position of general manager for the luxury Fairmont Bab Al Bahr hotel in Abu Dhabi, talks about his daily routine.

6.15am

Having kids who actually go to school quite early prompts me to get up much earlier. Normally they leave the house by 7, so I get up and have breakfast with the family.

7.30am

Sometimes I travel to other emirates for project meetings. If it's a day that I'm spending in Abu Dhabi, I'll go to the hotel and I'll try and see some key guests before they take off to their business meetings. It's really a great time to be around.

9am

We have a roll call getting all the key department heads together, a "line-up" as we call it, just to see what happened the day before and any issues that need attention during the day.

Late morning

There are a few fixed one-to-one meetings with department heads. I try to make a point of being out on the floor as much as I can. I like the fact that I still have operational involvement, although now I also have additional responsibilities that go more into strategy. I like to be close to the people who make it happen.

1pm

I go to the staff dining room and eat there. As a management team we try to not use the restaurants unless we're entertaining.

Afternoon

We tend to do site inspections, where clients such as conference organisers, are coming in and having a look around the property. I try to also have that exposure to clients as they come in. The attraction in the role is that there are maybe 20 to 30 per cent of things that you can predict in the day and the rest is quite unpredictable. No two days are the same.

5.30pm

Guests start coming back to the hotel and you have a chance to catch up with customers again.

6.30pm

At least every second day I try to exercise at the hotel. I'll go to the pool or to the fitness club. We have a dragon boat team that practices twice a week, so I'll join that.

8pm

Sometimes there are important events, or I'll entertain clients for dinner at the hotel. That's when I like to involve my wife. We're in a 24-hour business and, no, I do not work 24 hours, but it stretches the normal work day. Fortunately, I don't live too far away from the property, so what I do quite regularly is take a break and have dinner with the kids before they go to bed. I then pop back to the hotel if I want to catch up with anybody or for any particular reason.

10.30pm

I take our two dogs out for a late evening run.

11.30pm

I go to bed.

* Rebecca Bundhun

Published: September 28, 2011 04:00 AM

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