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Sofitel Dubai the Palm has announced the appointment of Bianca Virkus to the role of director of rooms.
Virkus previously held various rooms division positions and brings a wealth of experience in the hospitality industry.
Originally from Germany, she started her hospitality career as a front office agent in Germany in 2001, after graduating from vocational school for hotel management.
She moved to the UAE in 2003 as revenue sales supervisor for JA Resort, Dubai and in the years that followed, Virkus advanced in her career and became the director of front office in 2012.
In 2016 she moved to Abu Dhabi as director of front office and her most recent role was director of rooms at Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort, Dubai.
“Sofitel Dubai the Palm is on a huge growth trajectory with so much potential in the region,” Virkus said.
“I am proud to be part of a team that strives to bring to life the outstanding experiences and spirit of the Sofitel brand to our guests.
As we look towards quarter three, I will be focused on driving key activities and ensuring the smooth operation of all services offered at Sofitel Dubai the Palm, budgeting and overall communications.”
Sofitel Dubai the Palm, is a unique luxury five-star resort on the East Crescent of the famous island Palm Jumeirah fusing warm Polynesian welcome with outstanding Arabic hospitality adhering to French elegance.
The hotel features 546 rooms including four outstanding private beach villas, 182 luxury serviced apartments and 360 contemporary guest rooms.
“We are very pleased to have Bianca on board with us.
“Her experience will undoubtedly add value to our operations, and we very much look forward to her contribution,” added Christophe Schnyder, general manager of Sofitel Dubai the Palm.
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Residence Inn by Marriott has welcomed the opening of its newest property, Residence Inn by Marriott Bogotá.
Marking Residence Inn’s debut in Colombia, the hotel is located at Calle 90 # 16-30, just a few steps from 93rd Street Park and in the middle of the most vibrant and cosmopolitan area in the Colombian capital.
Operated by oxoHotel, the property welcomes business and leisure travellers with upscale design and architecture that enhances the guest experience.
Residence Inn by Marriott Bogotá provides direct access to Chicó Market (Mercado del Chicó), an innovative gastronomic complex with more than 30 gastronomic offerings, located adjacent to the hotel, as well as to Bodytech Calle 90, one of the best medical sports clubs in Colombia.
“We are very pleased to introduce the Residence Inn by Marriott brand for the first time in Colombia,” said Diane Mayer, global brand manager of classic select brands, Marriott International.
“We’ve seen increased demand for longer stay brands that offer modern amenities, open room layouts and sophisticated design to spread out, recharge and maintain a healthy balance while on the road, whether for business or for fun.
“Travellers can make the most of their stay by choosing the Residence Inn by Marriott Bogotá.”
The hotel offers 131 all-suite, flexible guest rooms including studios and one- or two-bedroom suites.
Guests will feel right at home with separate areas for living and sleeping with plush bedding and linens, providing an intimate atmosphere that invites connection and productivity.
The hotel design makes use of organic materials and textures combined with warm colours, transition palettes, as well as textiles and ancestral Colombian goldwork that feature crisp and inspiring details, offering comfort the moment a guest enters the hotel lobby.
The property is designed for stays of five nights or more.
Fully equipped kitchens in each suite – complete with a refrigerator, cook top, microwave, dishwasher, residential-size appliances, dishes and cookware – set the stage for home-cooked meals, paired with Residence Inn’s complimentary grocery delivery.
Guests will also appreciate large in-suite workspaces with a well-lit desk, ergonomic seat and high-speed wireless internet access.
New leadership role for Virkus at Sofitel Dubai the Palm
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The hospitality sector has given warm support to a loosening of travel restrictions announced by the government.
From Monday, travellers from the European Union and United States will be able to avoid quarantine when arriving in England.
The cruise sector has also been given the go ahead to relaunch international sailings.
In response to the news, Virginia Messina, acting chief executive of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), said: “The sector – and the UK economy – will get a huge boost following news that fully-vaccinated US and EU visitors will at last be able to travel quarantine-free to England.
“The cruise industry will breathe a sigh of relief that the crucial relaunch of international cruise departures from England has been given the green light, giving hope to a sector which has struggled to stay afloat.
“It also throws a vital lifeline to airlines and businesses throughout the sector, by helping to restore much-need transatlantic travel and essential links to the EU.
“However, unless it is reciprocal and the US responds with a similar move, we won’t see the full benefit.”
WTTC research shows US visitors to the UK contributed more than more than £4 billion to the economy in 2019, underlining the importance of transatlantic travel.
“We urgently need internationally coordinated action to reopen borders to safe international travel for all visitors who are fully vaccinated or can show proof of a negative Covid-19 test,” added Messina.
An ABTA spokesperson welcomed the move, but said it was merely the start of a longer journey.
A statement explained: “The industry is not out of the woods and there is more that needs to be done to support travel businesses through to recovery.
“We know the sector is facing a more gradual relaxation of restrictions than the domestic economy, and we need to see a tailored package of support measures to recognise that, including ongoing furlough and income support schemes, full business rates relief, and consideration of tailored grants schemes.
“We also need to see the government make further progress on making testing more affordable and proportionate, and we need to see more destinations added to the green list at the next review.
“We are still seeing other countries reopen more quickly than the UK and we need to capitalise on the success of the vaccine rollout by getting our international travel industry moving again.”
With regard to the cruise sector, Nick Stace, chief executive of Saga Travel, said the reopening would allow for the market to rebound.
He said: “We are pleased that the government has confirmed that restrictions will lift on international cruising.
“The entire cruise industry has been working closely with government to reach this point and it is a huge boost to receive the news that we will once again be able to welcome guests on non-domestic voyages.
“Ensuring the safety of our guests and crew is our number one priority and we’ve worked tirelessly to create the safest possible environment on-board our ships.
“Our customers have been eagerly awaiting certainty from government so they can plan their cruises beyond UK shores and this news will give them the clarity they need to do that.”
In terms of aviation, Stewart Wingate, chief executive of Gatwick Airport, said the cost of testing would remain prohibitive for many.
“The cost of PCR tests remains prohibitive for many and should be replaced by cheaper, quicker lateral flow tests for those who have been double vaccinated, as many other countries already rely on,” he said.
“Double vaccinated travellers to designated green countries should also not have to take any tests at all.
“The EU and US aviation sectors opened up earlier and are recovering significantly faster, which is why European travel was already at 50 per cent of pre-pandemic levels in June compared to just 16 per cent in the UK, despite our more advanced double vaccination rates.
“We will continue to lose out on trade, tourism and other economic benefits unless the government removes the remaining unnecessary barriers to travel.”
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