Dubai’s Top Hotel Concierge Provides an Insider’s Glimpse to the Glitzy City - Kanebridge News
Share Button

Dubai’s Top Hotel Concierge Provides an Insider’s Glimpse to the Glitzy City

By JAKE EMEN
Mon, Jul 8, 2024 9:25amGrey Clock 6 min

Dubai’s Burj Al Arab hotel is regarded as one of the most extravagant properties in the world, and its sail-shaped architectural design has become an icon of the city and the region. One of the people making the magic happen behind the scenes for such an over-the-top luxurious outpost is its chief concierge, Roger Geadah.

Any hotel concierge must be prepared to cater to and meet the needs of their guests, fostering long-term relationships and turning first-time visitors into repeat clients by delivering memorable moments. But at Burj Al Arab, the bar is perhaps even more difficult to clear than it is elsewhere.

“Delivering on the expectations of our guests at the Burj Al Arab is not just about meeting their high standards—it’s about consistently exceeding them,” Geadah says. “To achieve this, I place myself on the same level as our guests, seeing the world through their eyes. This involves a great deal of emotional intelligence, storytelling, and fun.”

At a hotel regarded as one of the world’s most opulent, Geadah’s tasks are different from those of a concierge at a more typical city hotel. Guests make use of around the clock butler service and stay in gilded two-story suites bedecked in enough marble and gold as to border on the palatial, after entering the property through a world-record, almost 600-foot high atrium. Expectations are even higher.

Geadah, who’s been in Dubai for a decade and with the Jumeirah Burj Al Arab team for the past three years, strives to connect with his guests, think outside the box, and stay up to date with a city amid constant evolution. There may be no better person to offer his handpicked recommendations for what to experience in and around the city.

Geadah, 48, spoke with Penta about his top tips and insider recommendations for a memorable visit to Dubai. undefined

Stay

Beyond the swanky confines of his offices at the Burj Al Arab, Geadah’s top choice elsewhere in town is the XVA Art Hotel in Bur Dubai.

One of the people making the magic happen behind the scenes for such an over-the-top luxurious outpost is its chief concierge, Roger Geadah.
Courtesy of Burj Al Arab

“It’s a true hidden gem that beautifully combines heritage, art, and tranquility,” he says. The property is set within a traditional Emirati house in the heart of the Al Fahidi historical neighborhood, and guests enjoy the area’s charming traditional architecture, heritage sites, and history, along with the artistic touches of its 15 individually designed rooms.

“What I love most about XVA is how it fosters conversations around art, culture, heritage, and creativity,” Geadah says. For those looking to escape the city for a night or two, head to Bab Al Shams Desert Resort.

“It’s a luxurious oasis hidden away in the Arabian desert, just about an hour’s drive from the lively city,” Geadah says. “Bab Al Shams offers breathtaking desert views that make for a truly unique getaway, and the resort beautifully combines traditional Arabian design with modern comforts, and also offers unique activities like camel rides, adding a touch of adventure to your stay.”

Adjacent to the Burj Al Arab is the Madinat Jumeirah, the largest resort in Dubai at about 100 acres in size. It’s a destination to itself featuring a handful of different hotels and hideaways sharing an expansive property interconnected with walkways and boat canals, including a huge lagoon-style resort pool, a lengthy stretch of private beach, and a staggering lineup of about 50 dining and drinking venues.

Shop

Dubai is home to every luxury brand and retailer on the planet, including at Dubai Mall, one of the largest in the world. Finding smaller, local purveyors for a more authentic shopping experience may be more rewarding. “When it comes to immersing yourself in the vibrant culture and sensory delights of Dubai, the city’s souks [marketplaces] are an absolute must-visit,” Geadah says.

Different souks are focused on different types of goods, and Geadah recommends a few in particular. “First up is the Dubai Spice Souk, nestled in the heritage area; this colourful market is a sensory feast, brimming with aromatic herbs and spices that fill the air with their tantalising scents,” he says.

From there, the Gold Souk is close by, as well as the Perfume Souk, another of his top picks. “It is a fragrant paradise in its own right, and here you will encounter some of the most authentic and enticing scents Dubai has to offer: Oud, a signature fragrance derived from resin is beloved by both Emirati men and women for its earthy allure.”

Explore

The most difficult ticket in Dubai right now is the Museum of the Future.

“Delivering on the expectations of our guests at the Burj Al Arab is not just about meeting their high standards-it’s about consistently exceeding them,” Roger Geadah, chief voncierge, said.
Courtesy of Burj Al Arab

“It’s quickly become a must-visit destination and it’s easy to see why, as the building itself is an architectural marvel, featuring a stunning torus-shaped structure adorned with Arabic calligraphy across 1,024 stainless steel panels,” Geadah says. Visitors enter an experiential space that transports them to the year 2071. “It is a captivating experience for anyone interested in what the future might hold.”

A more off-the-beaten-path pick is the Al Shindagha Museum in the historical neighbourhood of the same name, which takes people on a journey through time in the other direction. “Visitors explore the meticulously restored heritage houses along the serene Dubai Creek, houses which aren’t just structures, but living museums, each telling its own story of traditional crafts and bustling commercial activities from bygone eras,” he says.

Another choice is the Coffee Museum. “Lose yourself in a treasure trove of antique items that trace the rich history of coffee, from its humble beginnings to its global significance,” Geadah says. “For a dose of authentic culture, head to the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding where locals offer hands-on explorations of traditional ways of life while showcasing hospitality and serving a traditional meal. The arts district at Alserkal Avenue, meanwhile, features contemporary galleries, studios, and exhibition spaces.

Visit the Al Farooq Omar Bin Al Khattab Mosque for a glimpse at a splendorous structure inspired by Istanbul’s Blue Mosque. “Beyond its architectural marvel, the mosque embodies a deeper purpose — to foster understanding, harmony, and unity,” Geadah says. “Within its walls, words like moderation, peace, and tolerance reverberate, echoing local values and serving as a bridge between Arabic civilization and the world beyond. Non-Muslims are welcome to visit the mosque outside of praying times.”

The most popular choice for an excursion outside the city is a desert safari to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. Ride in a heritage vehicle across the dunes and enjoy activities such as falconry, wildlife viewing, and a Bedouin-style barbecue feast. For a different take, Geadah recommends starting the adventure with a sunrise hot air balloon ride.

The terraforming marvels of Palm Jumeirah should be seen and explored by every visitor. There are several viewpoints to consider, and Geadah also suggests taking to the water with a yacht trip or jet ski tour to gain an additional perspective. And of course, the iconic Burj Khalifa remains one of Dubai’s signature sights. The best way to soak it all in is via the At The Top experience, sending visitors to the 152nd floor along with a series of viewing points and lounges on different floors.

“To achieve this, I place myself on the same level as our guests, seeing the world through their eyes. This involves a great deal of emotional intelligence, storytelling, and fun,” Geadah says.
Courtesy of Burj Al Arab

Eat & Drink

“Dubai’s culinary scene is incredibly diverse, offering everything from Michelin-starred restaurants to authentic street food,” Geadah says. Many of the world’s most well known culinary fixtures have locations in the city, from Massimo Bottura and Gordon Ramsay to Daniel Boulud , Nobu Matsuhisa, Jamie Oliver, and scores of others. When possible, though, Geadah prefers arranging for a more unique experience, once putting together a secret culinary tour for a food-loving family with the help of a local historian and guide.

“The older part of town boasts a rich culinary heritage, with influences from India, Persia, and the Arab world, and it’s home to some of the most unique and charming eateries,” Geadah says.

Geadah has no shortage of restaurant recommendations, though, many of which come with particular vantage points. He suggests Shimmers for an on-the-beach taste of Greek fare with a view of the Burj Al Arab; Coucou offers “festive French” from atop Palm Tower, offering a 360 degree view of Palm Jumeirah; and in downtown Dubai, Urla offers Aegean dining with a view of The Dubai Fountain Show and Burj Khalifa.

At Burj Al Arab, consider L’Olivo at al Mahara, an outpost of Capri’s only two Michelin-starred restaurant. The restaurant is immersed within an enormous coral reef aquarium providing a captivating scene.

Always one to look for a local touch, Geadah also suggests Orfali Bros. “Three brothers, Mohammad, Wassim, and Omar Orfali, bring culinary magic to life, blending tradition and innovation inspired by their cultural roots and adventurous spirit,” he says. “Their small bistro offers a sensory experience where flavors dance and ingredients shine, reflecting their culinary journey.”



MOST POPULAR

What a quarter-million dollars gets you in the western capital.

Alexandre de Betak and his wife are focusing on their most personal project yet.

Related Stories
Lifestyle
WHERE CEOS FIND TIME FOR TRIATHLON TRAINING AND MOTORCYCLE RACING
By Callum Borchers 19/07/2024
Lifestyle
YACHT BUYERS ARE GETTING YOUNGER, SAYS AZIMUT/BENETTI EXEC
By Shivani Vora 19/07/2024
Lifestyle
A Rare, Historic Porsche Racer Leads RM Sotheby’s New German Sale
By Jim Motavalli 11/07/2024

Leaders with epic hobbies seem to squeeze more hours out of the day than the rest of us

By Callum Borchers
Fri, Jul 19, 2024 4 min

Many of us can barely keep up with our jobs, never mind hobbies. Yet some top executives run marathons, wineries or music-recording studios on the side. How can they have bigger responsibilities and more fun than we do?

It can seem like ultrahigh achievers find extra hours in the day. They say they’ve just figured out how to manage their 24 better than the rest of us.

They also admit they take full advantage of the privileges of being a boss—the power to delegate and the means to do things like jetting to Denmark for a long weekend of windsurfing.

Dan Streetman trains as many as 20 hours a week for Ironman triathlons in addition to his job as CEO of cybersecurity firm Tanium. It’s a big commitment for anyone, never mind a corporate leader who travels to meet with customers every week. He pulls it off by sleeping fewer than seven hours a night and waking around 5 a.m., planning his exercise sessions months in advance, and switching his brain from work mode to sport mode almost as fast as he transitions from swimming to cycling during a competition.

“I tend to work right up until the day of the race,” says Streetman, 56 years old. “I remember being on a board call on a Friday night, and Saturday morning was an Ironman. That’s just part of it.”

Ahead of business trips, he maps running routes in unfamiliar cities and scouts nearby pools, often at YMCAs. He rides stationary bikes in hotel gyms and, if they’re subpar, makes a note to book somewhere else next time he’s in town.

Leaders who eat, breathe and sleep business can appear out of touch at a time when employees crave work-life balance and expect their bosses to model it. Today’s prototypical CEO has a full life outside of work, or at least the appearance of one.

Their tactics include waking up early, multitasking and scheduling fun as if it were any other appointment. When you’re a top executive, hobbies tend to disappear unless they’re on the calendar. One CEO told me he disguises “me time” as important meetings. Only his assistant knows which calendar blocks are fake.

Ben Betts calls himself a “spreadsheet guy,” which is a bit like saying Michelangelo was a paint guy. With Excel as his canvas, Betts creates cell-by-cell checklists for just about everything he does, from cooking Christmas dinner to building a coop for newly hatched ducklings.

Betts, 41, is CEO of Learning Pool, a professional-development software maker. The duck home is part of his ambitious effort to restore an 18th-century farmhouse in England. He’s been renovating for about five years and aims to finish this fall.

On a recent Saturday, Betts’s spreadsheet called for stripping overhead beams by 5 p.m. so he could refinish them. Otherwise, the task would have to wait until the following weekend, throwing off his whole timeline. His vision of the home as a cozy enclave—completed in time for the holidays—can only come true if he sticks to a precise plan.

“Sometimes I stand in the doorway, and my wife probably wonders what I’m staring at,” he says. “I’m picturing us on a corner sofa with our two kids and the dog, watching a film in front of the fireplace I installed.”

Back in the swing

John Sicard , president and CEO of supply-chain manager Kinaxis , got back into drumming many years after he let go of his dream to become a professional musician. He practices almost every day, but his sessions sometimes last only 20 minutes. He rehearses with bandmates two or three times a month. That’s enough to prepare Sicard, 61, to play Foo Fighters and Led Zeppelin covers at occasional charity gigs.

He also built a studio in his house, where he records up-and-coming artists. He finds time by sticking to this management philosophy: “The most successful CEOs do the least amount of work.”

For Sicard, that means letting his lieutenants take charge of—and responsibility for—their divisions. Many corporate leaders work harder than they need to because they micromanage or hire poorly and pick up the slack, he says.

Thomas Hansen , president of software maker Amplitude, is back to windsurfing, a sport he competed in as a teenager. He lives near the ocean in California but gets out on the water only about once a month, when the waves are just right. Hobbies don’t need to be daily activities to be fulfilling, he says, especially if they require training regimens.

To stay in shape for windsurfing, he rises at 4:30 a.m., seven days a week, for an hour of exercise. Hansen, 54, also guards his Saturdays and Sundays like the crown jewels of Denmark, his native country, limiting himself to two working weekends a year. Things that feel urgent can almost always wait till Monday, he contends.

‘Like a badass’

When Christine Yen isn’t calling the shots at work, she’s circling a racetrack at 80 mph on her Honda CB300F motorcycle. The co-founder and CEO of Honeycomb, which helps engineers diagnose problems in their software, took up racing a few years ago.

Prepandemic, her motorcycle was strictly for commuting in San Francisco—and making an impression. She loved pulling up to investor meetings in her hornet-yellow helmet and leather riding suit.

“It fits me like a glove, and it makes me feel like a badass,” says Yen, 36.

The keys to spending full days at the track are planning and being willing to work at odd hours, Yen discovered. Her favorite track publishes racing schedules in 10-week batches. As soon as a slate is released, she circles the dates when she expects her workload will be lightest, aiming to participate in roughly half of the events.

“I have also been known to bring my laptop to the motel and get some work done in the evenings,” she says. “It sounds boring to say hobbies can be scheduled, but that’s how I protect my time.”