Area General Manager – Kuwait
General Manager – Crowne Plaza & Holiday Inn Kuwait Al Thuraya City
“Any achievement that we make as a team puts a smile on my face.”
Meet Antoine Flouty, the hotelier who thrives on competition and recognizes the importance of a smile.
Please introduce yourself to our readers.
I am someone who loves his job and works hard on my reputation in the hotel and in the country. I am very competitive when it comes to gaining more market share and exposure in Kuwait.
Tell us about your education.
I hold a Hotels and Restaurants Management Diploma from Francel College, Lebanon and a Hospitality Management Diploma from American Hotels and Motels Association.
Why did you decide to work in hospitality?
Actually it was by coincidence. I didn’t plan to be a hotelier. However, when I started, I started as a waiter around 23 years ago. Since then I felt the challenge to grow to where I am now.
Tell us about your journey so far.
As I mentioned, I started as a waiter and then gradually moved up working in different capacities at various restaurants in Beirut and have been working with the InterContinental group since 1997. I worked with the group in Doha, UAE, Bahrain and Jordan at different positions and joined as the General Manager at Holiday Inn Kuwait Downtown in 2014. I have been working as the Area General Manager IHG Kuwait since 2016.
What have you always enjoyed about the hospitality industry?
Actually, the competition. That’s what I look at every day. I watch carefully what the competition is doing, I follow the market trends and the new things in the city. I identify things that we can do and others are not doing or thinking of. If you don’t move faster, others will overtake you. So, if you remain agile and move quickly, then you are ahead of the game.
What attracted you to the hotel the most?
The potential. I felt that this hotel has a lot of potential. Not only about the location but also about the people who work here. Really, since the time I joined, we have had a transformation. Today the entire team, including our owners and the company, is proud of this achievement.
What is unique about your hotel’s location?
We have two different brands in one location with two different guest experiences to offer. We are running a property of 550 rooms which is unique in itself. We have one of the biggest convention facilities in terms of ballrooms and meeting rooms. SPA Aquatonic is another iconic feature and is a unique concept as there are only 11 in the world. We house the biggest gym in town which is open 24/7 with around 3,100 members.
What were the latest and most important conventions that took place at your hotel in the past year?
2018 was full of mega events at the hotel. The biggest one was the Rebuild Iraq where none of the competitors were able to compete with us. So, we took it on board just 10 days before the event where we had 2500 people in the Baraka Ballroom and the hotel was booked to full capacity. The event went very smoothly and was well managed without anyone realizing such a large scale event was going on. We have also done several launches and important celebrations. Just to mention, we host around 400 weddings a year between both the properties.
What are the most challenging issues you are facing currently?
We are dealing with people every day and as much as it is a pleasure dealing with people, it is also a challenge. By people I mean our team members and our guests. We are a team of around 900 in the hotel. It is a challenge but we also enjoy it by turning it out to a happy outcome.
Can you think of a time when you made the impossible become possible?
Yes, the transformation of the hotel since I arrived. When I joined, we realized that the number of team members versus the business was not well balanced. So, we had to drop the head count by around 300 team members and we doubled up the business in the first year. So, this was a lesson to learn for everyone.
If you had to describe the Crowne Plaza experience in a sentence or two what would you say?
It’s a journey for us which is full of learning, enjoyment and achievements.
Beside the hotel, what are your favourite places in Kuwait that you would recommend your guests to visit?
The closest to us are the malls. The Avenues and 360 Mall are just 5 minutes away from our hotel. I would also recommend the beaches and other interesting projects such as the JaberAlAhmed Cultural Center and the Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem Cultural Centre.
When you dine in a restaurant, what else do you look at besides the menu?
I see how happy the people are who work there. If you have happy people working in the restaurant then the outcome on your table will be very interesting.
At work, what puts a smile on your face?
Any achievement that we make as a team puts a smile on my face.
Your message for women on the occasion of International Women’s Day.
It’s not only my personal message but rather a company strategy coming forward to increase the number of female employees in our hotel. We are working on this and always encourage the females working with us to believe in themselves and to think big.
What advice would you offer to those who aspire to become a GM in the hotel industry someday?
The first advice is that you have to love your job to be successful as you will have to work 24/7. It’s a non-stop operation. If you have this particular feature then you can be successful. What differentiates one hotel from another is not just the building or its structure but rather the smile you can see in one property and not in the other.
Your message for us at CP magazine.
I would like to thank you for this interview and for visiting me at my office. I hope to work together more. I am a new reader of your magazine and will try to keep reading it regularly to learn more about the events you cover. I wish good luck to the entire team at your magazine.