Joe Ghayad

INSIDE THE MIND OF THE NILE RITZ-CARLTON’S GM

With its incomparable view and location, The Nile Ritz-Carlton, is one of the most sought after and highly acclaimed luxury hotels in Cairo, with a loyal clientele consisting of both Egyptian and international guests. The glamorous hotel has exclusive amenities and is well-known for its impeccable service, luxurious accommodations and tailoring high profile social events and weddings. Leading the hotel since 2017 and building on its solid reputation for excellence, Joe Ghayad Lebanese-born General Manager, arrived at Cairo with almost three decades of experience in the hospitality industry to further inspire exceptional excellence. EniGma’s Ezz Al-Turkey sat down with Ghayad to learn more about his journey in the business and his plans for The Nile Ritz-Carlton moving forward.

Can you tell us how you started in hospitality?
I was born in Lebanon and grew up in Canada, where I started my career in hospitality. I started by working in the culinary field for seven years during my education. In 1992, I joined The Ritz-Carlton, Montreal as a trainee in the finance department. In 1994, I was lucky to work for Club Med for three years in the Caribbean, Bahamas and Mexico where it was a great learning experience. I returned to the Ritz-Carlton, Montreal in 1997 as a receptionist and progressed gradually within The Ritz-Carlton company till today. Throughout my career with The Ritz-Carlton company, I had the opportunity to work in different locations such as Montreal, Boston, New York, Atlanta, Doha, Sharm El Sheikh, Jakarta and Kazakhstan, before Cairo.

When you started in 1992, did you think you’d ever become a general manager?
Yes. I always had this vision. I am a self-motivated person. I set goals for myself and no matter how long it will take – I always reach them! I was fortunate enough that during my time with The Ritz-Carlton Company I had the opportunity to continue to learn and grow within the company until I developed into a General Manager position.

When you first became general manager, was it everything you thought it was going to be?
Absolutely not, it was a lot harder. It is more than controlling costs and running the business, it is all about people. Motivating employees, exceeding guests and owners’ expectations, meeting financial obligations while adapting to continuous change. As a General Manager, it is preferable to be people-oriented and socially active. I must take the time daily to meet our guests and thank them for their feedback.

How do you balance your work and personal life?
A good work-life balance has numerous positive effects including less stress, a lower risk of burnout and a greater sense of well-being. I usually balance between my work and personal life by going to the gym and practising yoga and meditation – this helps me stay focused. On weekends, I spend quality time with the family as it is dedicated to them. You have to be well equipped mentally, physically and emotionally. You need to develop a healthy habit to recharge your energy. This gives me the opportunity to assess my actions and reach better possibilities.

What do you think makes guests come back to The Nile Ritz-Carlton?
At The Nile Ritz-Carlton, our most important asset is our employees. If you take care of them, they will take care of the guests. Egyptians are naturally hospitable people; welcoming people and extending genuine care is second nature to them. We focus on the three steps of service which consist of a warm greeting, anticipation of guest needs during their stay with us and giving them a warm fond farewell upon departure.

What advice would you give aspiring GMs?
Believing in yourself is crucial to be a successful leader. The level of success you see in your life is a direct result of your belief system. When you have full trust in yourself, you can overcome self-doubt and have the confidence to take action and get things done to reach your goal.

Knowing what you want to achieve and having a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Bound) road map for every stage will assist you to stay focused.

You have to be patient and accept failure, stand up every time you fall and analyse what you have done wrong. Patience, resilience and open-mindedness are key to success.

Where do you see the hotel within the next year?
Business is improving and things are looking better despite the pandemic crisis. The hotel is respecting the precautionary protocols set by the government and Marriot International. Now with the COVID-19 vaccination, people have started travelling again to visit Egypt. We are working on penetrating new markets and upgrading our rooms and enhancing our outlets. In addition to hosting big social events in our spacious garden, we will be working on expanding our catering services to include the guests’ preferred venues outside the hotel. Moreover, we are working closely with our owners’ “MISR Hotels Company,” on our new Rooftop concept design overlooking Tahrir square and the Nile river.