- First of all, please tell us about your start (your studies, qualifications and why did you choose the hospitality field)?
I’m Karim Helmy, the General Manager at Hilton Alexandria King’s Ranch, a position I hold since May 2014. I hold a BSC in Hotel Management from the faculty of Tourism & Hotels, Alexandria University and fluently speak Arabic, English and French. The hospitality field is my passion as I proudly have more than 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry with Hilton Hotels & Resorts. I had the opportunity to travel to Europe, USA and Canada since I was a child as I have family there. So, I fell in love with travelling and the hospitality industry in general. Therefore, I decided this was my dream career and that’s what I wanted to do when I grow older.
- What about your vision for developing and boosting tourism in Egypt?
The tourism sector in Egypt is promising and has achieved remarkable growth rates over the past period with tourist arrivals in Egypt reaching 11.3 million visitors last year, up from 8.3 million in 2017. In order to further enhance the tourism sector, all stakeholders need to join forces to promote Egypt as a destination and uplift the quality of services and products offered to tourists. We cannot forget the vital role played by the government to support the tourism sector and help ease the hurdles it faces to help get it back on track. And from my side as a hotel manager, I also find that my responsibility to the sector is through delivering the highest levels of quality of services and products in everything that we offer to our guests during their stay at our hotel to ensure their stay with us was memorable and make them want to come back and to promote to the hotel and the destination through their memorable experiences with us.
- How do you see the competition?
I believe that healthy competition creates a healthy environment. The Egyptian market is huge and with the constantly improving tourism sector, there is enough room for all players to excel, compete and offer the range of services that caters to the different requirements and segments of guests. This will ultimately reflect on the overall performance of the sector and the standard of services offered for local visitors and tourists alike.
- What about Hilton Alexandria King’s Ranch?
Hilton Alexandria King’s Ranch is the latest addition to the Hilton family in our beloved city of Alexandria. The hotel offers 199 rooms, six food and beverage outlets, an executive lounge, four meeting rooms, two boardrooms, a spacious ballroom, an indoor and an outdoor large swimming pools, a kids’ playground, various leisure facilities, and the first of its kind treatment, rehabilitation and prevention spa in Egypt. With this diverse scope of products and services, we aim to provide our guests with the quality of services that they expect from the brand name “Hilton”. I would also like to add that the hotel’s prime location near the Mediterranean north coast, Borg El Arab international airport, the industrial zone and the stadium makes it ideal to attract all categories of businesses from leisure, corporate and sports teams.
- Does your hotel have any CSR initiatives?
Corporate social responsibility is a key element of Hilton’s strategy which we refer to as “Travel with Purpose”. Travel With Purpose aims to create job opportunities, support local communities in which we operate and adapt sustainable practices to protect the surrounding environment. Hilton Alexandria King’s Ranch was proudly one of 14 Hilton hotels that signed an agreement with Tagaddod to recycle used cooking oil which is then used to produce biodiesel – a green fuel that is used in conventional diesel engines, and that is just the latest of many other Travel With Purpose activities that we participate in to support our community.
- What are the most recent awards your hotel received?
Awards are a testament to the hard work and dedication demonstrated by Hilton’s team members. Hilton Alexandria King’s Ranch was recognized by the World Travel Award 2018 (WTA) as Egypt’s Leading Hotel which is a significant achievement, but it’s even more noteworthy given the fact that Hilton Alexandria King’s Ranch has only been open for less than four years. During that time, our hotel has received numerous industry awards including The International Hotels & Property Designs Awards 2016, Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence 2016, Booking.com Guest Review Awards 2016, Luxury Travel Guide Award (Africa & Middle East Awards) 2017, Luxury Travel & Hospitality Award winner 2017, Luxury Travel Guide Award (Africa & Middle East Awards) 2018, and Trip Advisor Travelers’ Choice 2018 and Corporate Travel Award 2018 for excellence in corporate service for 2018.
- What does the administration of Hilton King’s Ranch Hotel provide for the staff to make everyone feel comfortable and increase their sense of belonging to the hotel?
Our hotel is keen on providing a healthy, clean and safe environment, and looks after the career development of team members. We are committed to diversity and inclusion and giving every team member a chance to develop themselves and enhance their own skills through various training programs. We always maintain a friendly and professional relationship built on respect and hard work as one team. By giving clear objectives, monitoring performance, energizing and empowering our employees, and finally celebrating success through various awards, we help make our employees feel they are part of the hotel and remain loyal to the place. Hence, they keep delivering better results.
- Away from work, would you tell us more about your family?
I am married and my wife is originally from Romania. We have a beautiful 9-year-old daughter who happens to love travelling and the hotel lifestyle as well.
- If you were not working in the field of hotels, what would you have preferred?
Probably become a professional football player or rock singer, as I’m very much into sports and music.