Tradition meets modernity

By: Editor In Chief
Thu 29 June,2017

Stephan Vanden Auweele General Manager, Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel & Towers Area Manager, Dubai

Filed Under: Hotels & Business

Born into a family of hoteliers in Belgium, it was only natural for Stephan to build a successful career in hospitality. After completing his hotel management studies, Stephan trained and held different operational roles; from front of house to accounting in major hotels and resorts in his home country. From here his career progressed rapidly working across the globe at various 5 star properties in Denmark, Korea, Bangkok, Luxembourg, Vietnam, Portugal, Spain and most recently the UAE.
Mr Vanden Auweele joined Starwood Hotels & Resorts in 2001 at the Sheraton Algarve Luxury Collection Resort in Portugal as the Executive Assistant Manager, where during his tenure he oversaw the opening of several new areas and outlets within the property. This would be the first of 4 Sheraton properties that Stephan would work in. From there he went on to oversee the opening of first the Sheraton La Caleta Resort & Spa in Tenerife followed by the Sheraton Salobre Golf Resort & Spa in Gran Canaria.
In 2009, he launched the Aloft in Abu Dhabi which was the introduction of the brand into the EAME region and also the largest Aloft property in the world with 408 rooms. The hotel was awarded Best New Hotel In The Middle East Award in 2011 at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, and it has also received the accolade of Best Business Hotel in Abu Dhabi by Condenast. Stephan joined Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel & Towers in June 2013 to oversee the refurbishment and relaunch, making this his fourth opening for Starwood Hotels & Resorts and fourth Sheraton property in his career to date. No stranger to large 5-star properties, Mr Vanden Auweele is very excited about the future for this property given the renovation exercise and the history of the hotel in Dubai.
He is also the Area Manager for 8 of the Starwood hotels in Dubai , Sharjah and Ajman. Stephan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Hotel Management from the Erasmus school in Brussels. He is married with 2 children and you will often find him running and cycling to stay healthy and prepare for triathlons. He speaks 7 languages, including Dutch, French, English, Spanish, German, Danish and Portuguese.

An iconic structure located on Dubai’s historic waterway since 1978, the Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel & Towers continues to be the destination of choice for the social and business traveller. Leading the way in revitalising the cultural and historic district of Dubai Creek and its surroundings, the hotel encourages the development and progress of initiatives to rejuvenate ‘old Dubai’ and experience ‘Life at the Creek’, encompassing everything that this notable area has to offer. Located in close proximity to Dubai International Airport and the city’s main commercial districts, modern shopping malls, traditional souks and golf courses, guests are within easy reach of business and leisure activities.
Following a complete renovation in 2015, the Sheraton Dubai Creek offers a modern, elegant look with the same familiar Arabic touches and hospitality the Hotel is renowned for, across 268 comfortable and contemporary rooms with spacious bathrooms and complimentary WiFi. Sheraton Club rooms and 30 expansive suites offer travellers heightened luxury, in an indulgent escape inclusive of Sheraton Club Lounge access and rooms located on higher floors, providing spectacular views of the Creek and striking Dubai skyline.
Designed to suit the modern social traveller, the Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel & Towers offers spaces and experiences that aim to connect guests with what matters most – each other. From the Sheraton Club Lounge to the lobby, each aspect of the hotel is designed to foster interaction and connect a like-minded community of travellers. Enjoy a dip in the outdoor pool, optimise performance with a workout in the Health Club or relax with a signature treatment in the luxurious Sheraton Spa.
With cultural packages and many initiatives on offer encouraging guests to discover the history of Dubai Creek and the city’s beginnings, the Sheraton Dubai Creek works closely with government entities and other organisations to highlight the traditional aspects of this modern city. Enjoy ‘Life at the Creek’, and see Dubai from a different perspective, to discover and be immersed in the simple elegance of the Emirati culture.
With award-winning international cuisine on offer and several of Dubai’s best restaurants on site, the Sheraton Dubai Creek has a range of world-class dining and lounge options to suit any taste. Indulge in traditional Italian with a modern twist, including trending seasonal menu concepts designed by Michelin Star chef Alfredo Russo, at the stylish Vivaldi by Alfredo Russo.  Judged the ‘Best Italian Restaurant in the GCC’ at the 2015-16 GCC Tourism Awards, Vivaldi offers quality dining in stunning surrounds.
Explore the ‘happy homes’ of India and take a culinary journey thanks to the explosive tastes and tantalising aromas of Ashiana. Enjoy family-style sharing dishes and live entertainment with a new concept of Asian fine dining that mixes tradition with innovation. 
For a taste of Asia, interact with a team of international chefs and enjoy the theatrics of a number of live cooking stations at the award-winning Creekside Japanese Restaurant, one of Dubai’s favourite restaurants. Enjoy indoor or al fresco dining over the freshest sushi, teppanyaki grills, noodles and more. 
With six flexible event spaces welcoming groups of 10 to 500 people, the Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel & Towers is a gathering ground for business and social events, from meetings and conferences to weddings and other milestone celebrations. Combined with state of the art equipment and attentive personal service tailored to your event requirements, any occasion held at the Sheraton Dubai Creek promises to be a memorable one.Vivaldi Terrace

Sheraton is one of the most respected and recognized names in the hospitality industry. What makes Sheraton Dubai Creek such an attractive destination for travellers?

Sheraton Dubai creek is indeed the oldest existing 5 star hotel in Dubai and located in in my opinion in one of the most authentic area in Dubai overlooking the charming Creek as well as the Burj Khalifa. Combining the new and old Dubai in an idyllic location combining traditional 5* hospitality with the creativity and quality of It’s F&B offering are the strongest assets of the hotel.  Live at the Creek …..

As the general manager of an internationally renowned hotel brand, what would you say are some of the essential aspects when running a 5 star hotel?

Daily focus on the customer well being is key in our industry. You can have the best hotel building in the world, when you don’t take care of your guests , you will not be successful.  Some aspects of hospitality are tangible while many others are difficult to measure or train… how do you measure a smile, a please, a thank you… it’s these things people remember and why they come back. Having the people with the right mindset & attitude which is key in the service industry..

Vivaldi Creek View

With Sheraton Dubai Creek situated in a fast growing emirate, what are your plans to stay ahead of the competition? How beneficial is Sheraton to the emirate as a leading destination?

Our location is unique. Combined this with a great hotel and quality F&B offering, I am sure the Sheraton Dubai creek with stay ahead of many of the competitors. After a few years of lesser focus on the “real” Dubai,  slowly more people are finding their way to what used to be the center of the city only a few years ago.  With the recent new developments in the area, Live at the Creek will soon be hip again.

Mr. Vanden Auweele, as a professional with more than 20 years of experience in opening and managing hotels around the world, what would you say have been some of the most memorable experiences as the general manager of the Sheraton, Dubai Creek in Dubai?

Opening a hotel is most probably one of the most rewarding – but also toughest – parts of our job.  Bringing bricks & mortar, furniture and light to be an living hospitality environment is for me the most rewarding part . I have done 4 openings in my live hence believe this is what make me stay passionate about my job.

Executive Suite

Dubai Tourism aims at attracting 20 million visitors per year by 2020. With an increasing number of mid-­‐segment hotels entering the market, how does the Sheraton Dubai Creek adapt to the changing market in Dubai? How do you differentiate yourself from others in the hospitality industry?

The star level is an expression of what customer can expect but in the end it’s the customer that will decide how popular a hotel is. There are many example where star level and customer choice do not always match. Making the hotel a place where people want to stay will drive it’s popularity and rate. I do believe the Sheraton Dubai Creek surely has a lot of potential …. Life at the creek is our main attraction… come and see us.