Out and About… A Walk to Remember

Been busy these past few days preparing for my plans on my vacation, particularly my cross training to sales department. I had the chance to go out for a walk after an hour chat with my son, Xam. He’s growing up so fast I couldn’t seem to follow on on his what-abouts. He said he was crying because he misses me. After that he asked, “Are you crying too mommy?” I said, “Yes, because I miss you too, so much!” Then he started to ask when will I come home, when will he see me. He even wanted to come over to Dubai. He surely miss a mom. He knows he got a mom.

So I decided to leave my comfort zone and release the longings. Too scared now after suffering from depression months back. I need to re-condition myself.

Along Jumeirah road…

While walking down to the bus stop along Jumeirah road.

On the right is the Wild Wadi waterpark full of flags from the recent Eid Al Adha. You’ll also see a double-decker tour bus heading down the Jumeirah road. Now is the perfect weather to have some tour around with this bus. Cool wind is already blowing.

A closer shot of Tour Dubai bus

A closer look of the Tour of Dubai bus.

While waiting for the green light to pop up, I took a shot of the famour Burj Al Arab like as if I don’t see it everyday (for not being a pro-photog, I even got a scrape shot of the stoplight pole on my right. Shame). I also heard the screaming fun and the whoosh of water rides inside the Wild Wadi but I skip on going further for three obvious reasons: I’m on jeans not on my suit, I’m alone, and it’s cold.

Burj Al Arab

The topmost of Wild Wadi Waterpark

Further down more is a glimpse alongside our sister property Madinat Jumeirah. Before joining Jumeirah Beach Hotel, I first worked in Mina A’ Salam as a Receptionist at the Front Desk. It’s been 4 years now since my visit to the hotel. A lot of memories and I just couldn’t help but to get sentimental as it was not a ‘good’ goodbye for me.

Road signs. Don't get lost. Brown background means you're almost there. Madinat Jumeirah right next to your right 😀

Mina A' Salam

The entrance to Mina A' Salam

Mina A' Salam sign. Quite unnoticable for guests coming to the hotel especially at night.

Road that leads down to the main hotel. Full of palms. Full of flags.

Oh, I forgot to get some shots of the bust stop as I was catching up the bus itself to go right up to Jumeirah area. I think I have one photo during the night before I headed home. Will see later.

Next stop, Mercato Mall. It’s the first mall that I went to when I first arrived here in Dubai in 2005. Quite a small shopping area but I like it more because besides the nearest one to our place, you’ll get smooth light traffic flow down here. You don’t have to waste bucks for a long trip and get stuck in heavy traffic just to get to the big malls at the city center. Anyway, Mall of Emirates and Dubai Mall are still being built then and the Dubai Metro was still on planning stage. Mercato is a themed Venetian architectural style that makes it unique from the rest.

Mercato Mall along Jumeirah Road

A shot from first floor. Natural daylight coming through from the piazza saves the mall of loads of electricity during the day.

 

The cinema is not bad at all.

Around 5pm, I took another bus trip down further until I reach the almost-end part of Jumeirah area. Suddenly I felt a little light and drowsy so I went down to get a snack at the nearest McDonald’s, just a walking distance from my last stop, Spinneys. After the snack, I grabbed my pack and walk down still a little weak that I didn’t managed to pull out my cam for some shots before I reach the grocery. I was so tired and it was getting late anyway that all I wanted is to buy the stuff that I need and finally head home.

So it was already dark outside at about 6:00pm when I cross the other side to go back to the hotel to the catch the 7:10 trip back to the accommodation. While waiting for the return bus, I managed to get some shots of the main Jumeirah center where most of the shops, restaus and other establishments are located.

The famous Jumeirah Grand Mosque

There I found it! I took the photos of the airconditioned waiting area at the bus stop.

The air-conditioned wating area at the bus stop.

Schedule check. Nos. 8 bus going to Ibn Battuta will pass by Jumeirah Beach Hotel. I need to take the 18:20 bus to get there exactly 18:50 or 19:00 just right in time for the 19:10 bus to accommodation.

Finally, reached Jumeirah Beach Hotel. Last shots thrown to my home hotel and the Burj at night.

Jumeirah Beach Hotel. Shot taken from the bus stop. I could have found a better side without the trees. Next time.

Great shot at night. Whoah! I made it though not clean enough. Really need to be a pro.

Until the next walk!

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“Let’s go to McDonald’s”

I took this picture of a "retro" McD...

Famous line: “McDonald’s or others?””Let’s go to McDonald’s” No one beats McDonald’s when you try to argue which place to hang out after a long day 4:oo pm-2:00 am shift. Just this morning, 2 colleagues and I tag each other for a dawn snack before we head down to the accommodation. I’m actually on a second thought since I’m really into saving each and every single penny I could have in my pocket for my upcoming local vacation. I choke on answering yes but my heart (and my taste buds) are guilty of missing my favorite McChicken meal. Anyway it’s been I think two weeks since I had a nice drive thru meal.

Recently, McDonald’s COO and the top management team had a conference in Dubai and stayed in our hotel for days. I even met the COO himself and checked in one of the VPs and it’s really a privilege to get to know them. They were not so fussy at all even if they are VVVIPs, in fact the COO didn’t care if he only have a deluxe room. I believe he was just upgraded by the Front Office Manager to a suite, and it’s already a big thing to him.

We were all talking about McDonald’s on some chances whenever we come across them in the lobby. One colleague even joked of asking the COO to place a small store near the hotel, at the colleague bus stop. Then the other commented that its should be right next to the cafeteria and we were all started to burst into laughter.

McDonald’s is a witness of all our foolish games, grudges, dark secrets and all the fun. But after a good meal of BigMac, Chicken McWings and Spicy McChicken, everything goes to history. Oh, I miss the breakfast meal as well. We’ll see, I might drop by one of these days and I will take a photo of the branch to change the one above.

Rain that Drops in Dubai

courtesy of Malou E. Valdez-Montallana

So it’s really raining! After quite a while, here goes the drizzles and the hassle of going out. But rain is everything (although quite unusual in Dubai but it naturally happens!). It’s a sign that something is changing and in this case, the rain today is a transition from hot summer to cold summer which is commonly observed yearly in the late months like November and December.

Funny though that we will be encountering annoyed guests bothering us with questions and comments: “why is it raining where it’s not supposed to be?” “We paid bucks and traveled all the long way from the snowy side of the world to come and enjoy the sun in the Middle East only to find out that it’s also raining here! It’s so disappointing!” (As if we have something to do with the rain! If only we can control it!) What are we supposed to say? Yes it’s also raining here and we can’t do anything about it. There are still a lot of indoor activities and attractions to enjoy rather in Dubai. There is the famous The Dubai Mall, the largest in the world, the ever soaring Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower or you may want to have a glimpse and capture the views along the long Sheikh Zayed Road by taking the Metro from Rashidiya station down to Jebel Ali.

So we don’t have to feel sorry about raining in Dubai. It won’t be long anyway. Let’s just savor it. It’s not bad after all. We’ve been complaining for the long hot summer and now that it rained only for days? It’s ridiculous to complain.

A Not-So-Good Week: Frustrations and Hope

Coffee break

Image via Wikipedia

It was probably the most unhealthy, unproductive, depressing, down-to-the-lowest week I’ve ever had. All the odds that I could think of rotten what’s good that’s left in my innermost nerves. Everything fell where I’m not so good at — finding the antidote to my insanities and depressive moods. Then I realized just a moment ago, it was only a selfish reaction to the current reality around me.

The hotel was busy – technically is because of the major refurbishments of about 70 rooms – yet we had a restful shifts in a sense that besides we don’t have much rooms to sell, most of our arrivals in the past few weeks come between 11:00pm to 3:00am. Did I just say restful? No. I would say most of us were bored, leaving 1 or 2 hours early ahead of our shift (with supervisor’s approval of course). Some would just had to take 2 to 3 times smoke and coffee breaks in between. Apparently it is as close as getting bored most of the time but still we had tasks to finish and targets to achieve. So it was all just a manifestation of humanly lazy acts and attitude when the environment is so conducive to it.

It was also supposed to be a week when I am preparing for my plans on my local vacation. I decided first and foremost to get a 25-day leave this November to get my career plans materialize as much as opportunity allows. It took me the whole time although I know I need more to figure out which area in my present job and current industry will I be more productive and at the same time allows me to earn more — which is why I’m actually here in this country — while I would see myself enjoying the job itself. The best thing about our company is that it allows colleagues or staff to grow in their chosen career. One of the ways to achieve that is the opportunity to cross train in another department to learn and develop new skills that they think may would contribute to their personal professional career and at the same time help them contribute more to their present position and department. I have thought of going to Public Relations and Communications since it is an area where it’s close to my heart — communication, particularly writing. Unfortunately there are no doors open for me there yet. My second choice was Learning and Development but I thought it will not give me career and self-worth and satisfaction as I know myself more as a writer (frustrated one I guess), not a speaker and I don’t have the in-born talent and attitude of speaking to inform and inspire. I think I have a sleepy voice so it doesn’t make sense at all. I definitely don’t want my audience listening to a mellow and boring me and eventually sleep in my training sessions.

So I skip the idea of me becoming a trainer. My back-of-the-office skills is where I want to improve on — though I’m considering to mix it with my interpersonal skills and charm. It gave me an idea to shift on marketing. I urgently sent an email to the Director of Market Strategy department stating my interest to spend time to learn with them. But then again, I also immediately received a reply saying that they have a lot of commitments this month that they won’t be able to accommodate my request. Again, a failure to my side. I started to get depressed that this is now hopeless. I couldn’t move my career forward. I will be stuck in the mud until I get the time and opportunity to try it again.

However, there was something in the email that gave me an assurance. He said that he spoke to his colleague, the Director of Corporate Sales and Marketing and she confirmed that the department is open to consider my request if I’m interested to get a cross training with them. Although it seems a little awkward for me for some personal reasons that’s why I unlikely considered sales as an option, I thought it would also be best to try as it is the closest department in terms of its connection to my present position at the Front Office. So, I formally sent an email to the Director. Although I haven’t received a feedback yet, I’m a little frustrated now that I’m not getting to where I’m supposed to go. There is no clear sketch yet on my career blueprint until I receive a confirmation. Frustrations. I feel I’m so into the idleness of the situation. I’m just convincing myself that maybe the Director is busy or maybe because it’s a long weekend holiday in Dubai because of the Eid.

Enough of it this time. I still have a chance to call to the office tomorrow. This is what I hate when I’m pushing it so I just leave it for now. Maybe I’m just rushing things when there may be ample time for it.

Relationship. I miss my love ones. After all that I’m going through this is I’m sure the most that I need right now — someone to listen, understand and encourage despite the disappointments. However, they are unreachable right now. It gets worst when I wanted to feel them close to me and they’re not here, especially my son. But to tell you I have a so-called close friend who’s always been reassuring that everything will turn out fine. I talk to him once in a while when time and schedule allows. I just had a 10-minute talk with him while he’s on his way to work and I felt good. I’m just happy when I know I have him for now. I’m more contented and relieved after a not-s0-good week.

I wish this week will be better though.

Respond the Five-Star Way

Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Image via Wikipedia

The Front Desk is most often, though not always, the ‘hot seat’ for guests’ comments, requests, and complaints. Being in a five star hotel and as the main point of contact with the guests, it is important to know and practice dealing and responding to guests concerns the five-star way.

As the common quote “it is easier said than done” implies, it is frequently difficult for most of the colleagues to respond and handle even the most common guest concern. Why? Because of the driven attitude towards the guest himself and the situation at hand. Why do we often seem to fail the guest even if we think we have listened to them and assured them that their concerns will be satisfied? Why is it that even if we are constantly reminded that guests are the most important people that we have to take good care of, we still receive unsatisfactory feedback about their stay with us? I think it is all rooted to the fact that we tend to forget the basic characteristic a front-line staff should possess: strong interpersonal skills. If we embed in us the true meaning of this, we would be able to provide professional service to our clients.

I myself want to internalize how I may be able to religiously practice Interpersonal Skills. I want to think about the time when I didn’t demonstrate professional service and list ways to improve on my appearance, personal behavior and working attitude to be more professional. I’ll also try to note down the common factors why we are not behaving in a five-star way. It is best to understand and point out the areas of improvements when we are observant of our own behavior and keeping on track our daily job.

Dubai

via Hotels.com

Scary big men with beards and mustache, wearing crease-free white kandura (wonder why they don’t get dirty at the end of the day) and guthra (headscarf) fixed with egal (black rope); reserved women in their black abaya and shela; sizzling 45 degrees humid temperature during the long summer months; no fun in Ramadan; dry Christmas celebration are just among the many other culture-shocking moments of my stay in Dubai, UAE.

I wouldn’t say I’ve been harrased or intimidated by these Arab people and their norms. Perhaps it’s just a little part of the cultural indifferences that we have to understand and accept when we go out of our national territory. In this place, I rarely experience the taste of raindrops but rather a shower of sandstorm (literally, it’s stick on the scalp for days). I experienced watching belly dancers (they’re really on their fluppy bellies) that almost had their waists detached from their bodies (obviously, an exaggerated description). While working in the hotel, I worry myself so sometimes of threats thrown at me by some Arab guests whenever they are not promised of something they want.

Nevertheless, I coped up with the culture-related idiosyncracies and had a cautious sense of living in Dubai. It’s a motivated mechanism of self-defense that pull me off and put me just right into my place. Working in a multi-cultural environment is not a quip. Insisting yourself is not as easy as you think, no matter you believe how right you are. The technique is minding your own business. The more you involve, the more you get yourself into trouble.

I don’t really feel this way at all. I am not what I am now if I didn’t step in the desert land. I couldn’t have met Xam’s dad if I didn’t cross the boundaries. I sure had a lot of wonderful memories to share, having met new friends and families: Asian, Arabic, Egyptian, German, Russian, to mention the least. The reality seazes and brought me to know and use my sensibilities by familiarizing and acknowledging other nationalities’ background and culture.

Being a Hotelier: Working with “The Team”

With 36 colleagues(and counting) of 19 different nationalities in the team is definitely something. We’ve got Indians, Filipinos, Serbian, Japanese, Mauritian, South African, Russian, Emarati (UAE local), Romanian, Chinese, French, Jordanian, Mexican, Egyptian, Lebanese, Pakistani, German and Dutch (did I forget one?.. oopps! I’ll try to remember).

Team Building September 2011

For me it is something because I don’t only get to know each of their cultural backgrounds but also I was able to adapt to such a multi-cultural environment, getting along with people who has different lifestyles and different working attitudes, though of course it’s quite normal when we collide at times especially when it comes to grips. I was also able to know myself more through our daily connections at work or during our bonding times – team buildings or a simple get-together. I have also noticed a lot of changes in me. Coming from a non-English speaking country, I was a late-bloomer but I didn’t had to strike it hard to get used to my new environment. Funny as it may seem but I am clueless of where my self-confidence is coming from. But I realized my colleagues played a great part of helping me bring it out.

I was just asked lately how I’m coping up with work and the team. I have a lot to say about the job, the department, to each colleague in the team, but the most important thing at the end of the day is my relationship with the people I work with. I value this special connection that I have with them as it helps me grow up as an individual and as a professional. I respect our individuality and as I try to be the person that I am when I’m with them, I feel that I’m also responsible with my actions affecting the people around me and that I have to be sensitive and consider our differences per se.

Sounds a drama, but it’s true. Live and let live.