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Elias Moukarzel: Bringing Life to the Dead Sea.

Motaz Othman, MICE Middle East >>

The Dead Sea is one of Jordan Treasures, Mr. Elias Moukarzel, G.M of King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Center and Hilton Dead Sea Resort & Spa shared his views during an Interview, I asked Mr. Moukarzel.
Q: Given your 40 months as the GM for King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Centre managed by Hilton and Hilton Dead Sea Resort & Spa, if you needed to write an article about the Dead Sea, what would be the headline of your article?
Bringing Life to the Dead Sea 
Q: How can you describe the Dead Sea to your friends in Lebanon and abroad; what would you tell them to encourage them to visit your hotel, the Dead Sea and nearby attractions?
A: Hilton Dead Sea Resort & Spa is the newest property to debut on the shores of one of the most astonishing natural wonders.  The resort is nestled between lush wadis (valleys) and the glistening shores of the mineral-rich Dead Sea. Located 410 meters below sea level and on a topography of exquisite terrains, the resorts 285 rooms provides scenic panoramic views that ensure a guests’ journey to relaxation. Incorporating a touch of nature’s riches, the resort is inspired by and built around the four elements; Earth, air, water and fire. It is built to converge with the Dead Sea, its panoramic views and easy access to the beach, in addition to the first pontoon in the area, and the existing King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Centre managed by Hilton, which transcends into the concept of the resort.  
Redefining the culinary arts experience, Hilton Dead Sea Resort & Spa boasts seven extraordinary dining venues. With celebrated and professionally trained chefs and our legendary, warm and attentive services, our guests can indulge in a spectrum of flavours that include a variety of local, regional and international cuisines. From celebrity Chef Joe Barza’s first restaurant in the Kingdom, “1312”, to “Bacchus” our Italian restaurant with authentic dishes crafted by our Italian Chef, to Sky Bar, our outdoor rooftop lounge that serves innovative cocktails along with the beats of our resident DJ, there is something for everyone at the resort.  
A short ten-minute drive outside of the resort’s grounds is the Baptism Site of Jesus Christ, Bethany Beyond the Jordan or “Al-Maghtas”, as well as “Tell Elias” or Elijah’s Hill, two sites revered holy by hundreds of millions across the globe.  Also within the same distance from the resort in the opposite direction is Wadi Mujib, a spectacular gorge that is an adventurers’ true dream with hiking, swimming, sliding and abseiling all in one location.  Not to mention, the resort is also just a 20-minute drive to Madaba, the city of mosaics, and 40-minute to Amman.  
Q: As there are a good number of resorts at the Dead Sea, are you joining efforts to promote the Dead Sea and the area together with other resorts, and are you satisfied with the Jordan Tourism Board’s efforts to promote the Dead Sea area?
A: The Dead Sea boasts myriad resorts, hotels, and world-renowned spas all within a close proximity of one another.  Each of these properties has a set of unique differentiators that collectively complements the area’s offerings in order to reaffirm the Dead Sea’s positioning as a leading tourism destination on the global map.  We work together and alongside the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (MoTA) as well as the Jordan Tourism Board (JTB) to create packages and experiences that are not only attractive but also truly capture the essence of this magnificent site while showcasing the best that Jordan has to offer.  I strongly believe that each of the stakeholders, the MoTA and JTB, are playing a major role to promote and revive the Dead Sea to make it a top of mind destination. 
Q:  I know that you are supporting locals and working hard towards sustainable tourism. Can you please explain some of your efforts in this regard?
A: In 2011, Hilton launched ‘Travel with Purpose’, our global corporate responsibility commitment that focuses on creating shared value and provides a cohesive, yet flexible framework to guide the activities of our business.  Since the launch of our resort, one of our core operating pillars has been to integrate this initiative and serve our community in every way we. Our professional team at Hilton Dead Sea Resort & Spa is comprised of some of the most passionate individuals you can meet.  Through their dedication and compassionate efforts, we have been able to implement several initiatives that has impacted the lives of many.  
Since our launch in 2017 Hilton Dead Sea Resort & Spa has focused its CSR efforts on three core pillars; youth, sustainability and women empowerment.  Just recently, 65 volunteers from Hilton Dead Sea Resort & Spa partook in several activities that focused on two core pillars that included youth and sustainability, as part of Hilton’s annual Global Week of Service. Orphans from the SOS Village - an organization focused on supporting children without parental care and families at risk - were invited for a private tour of the resort where they learned first-hand about the hospitality industry, what it has to offer and what it takes to be part of the team. The children also held an interactive session with the resort’s management that ended with lunch. On the environmental front, team members volunteered to clean the beach, surrounding streets and plant trees to preserve and sustain the community. 
Not to mention, we have also collaborated with many partners to continue to serve, such as the Royal Academy of Culinary Art (RACA), and Mabarrat Um Al Hussein - a home for disadvantaged, orphaned boys that was established in 1958 by the late Queen Zein Al Sharaf.  Additionally, our team members have volunteered with INJAZ, a Jordanian youth-centered non-profit organization that aims to bridge the gap between the educational system and the changing needs of the labour market, to give classes at the Sweimeh School for Girls and have also built an activity room at the SOS Village in Amman.  These are just a few of the activities amongst many that we have and continue to implement.    
Q: Are you happy and satisfied with the feedback that your guests write on TripAdvisor and other social media platforms? Please elaborate on the role that social media plays in promoting a resort.
A: The impact of social media has revolutionised the hospitality industry and proven to be an effective mode of communication.  This trend is no exception to us here at Hilton Dead Sea Resort & Spa.  Social media has not only enabled us to promote our brand, product, and service to a broader audience, but also allowed us to receive feedback from our valued guests in real-time.  
We are delighted by the amazing feedback that we continue to receive and are thrilled that guests are enjoying their stay with us.  We use their feedback as a key source to evaluate and monitor our services, but also to communicate it with our staff in order to inspire them and thank them for their exceptional levels of service.  Having been open for a little over a year now, we are overwhelmed by such great feedback and are delighted that guests are able to create cherished memories with us.
Q: The King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Centre, Hilton Dead Sea Resort and Spa, and other resorts, combined with the Dead Sea as the largest natural spa and other historical attractions in Jordan, are willing to welcome international conventions that could offer great benefits for the country. How do you think we can continue to bolster our position on the map for international conventions?”
A: The King Hussein Bin Tala Convention Centre managed by Hilton is one of the most elegant and unique convention centers in the region.  Uniquely located on the shores of Jordan’s Dead Sea, the three-story complex consists of 27 conference halls and has over 1,300 square meters of exhibition space.  This versatile centre accommodates conferences ranging from 500 to 3,000 people and since its launch in 2005 it has hosted some of the most prestigious events in the region.  
As to the latter part of the question, we strongly believe that Jordan is on the map particularly for the MICE industry.  The Kingdom has been attracting more international conferences and events and we have also received numerous requests for hosting events at the King Hussein Bin Tala Convention Centre. The World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Middle East and North Africa is officially hosted at the convention centre biennially and attracts world leaders, decision makers and influencers, businessmen and women, along with a crowd of international media that has consistently help put the centre and Jordan on the world map. Additionally, His Majesty King Abdullah II hosted regional heads of state for the 28th Arab Summit at the King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Centre.  Not to mention that the centre has also hosted some of the largest concerts in Jordan, including the likes of renowned singers such as Majida el Roumi and Kadim Al Sahir.  The variety of the events hosted at the centre reflects the calibre and the standards of the venue.  Thus, it is safe to say that the King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Centre is playing a prominent role in positioning Jordan as a leading destination for the MICE segment.
Q: May I ask about the facilities and incentives offered to international honeymooners, given that the Dead Sea is also a great place to honeymoon?
A: At Hilton Dead Sea Resort & Spa we are always delighted to welcome honeymooners and feel privileged they have chosen us as their destination of choice to start their magical journey together.  In March this year, we launched an exciting wedding campaign, offering engaged couples who plan to have their wedding at the resort a complementary European honeymoon to Turkey, Greece, Austria or even Portugal.  
As for couples who wish to honeymoon at the resort, our team is ready to create tailor-made packages dedicated exclusively for them.  From the most romantic suites with stunning views, intimate candle-lit private dinners on the shores of the Dead Sea, to the most sensual and relaxing couples’ massages, ensuring couples leave with a trove of cherished memories that will last them a lifetime.  

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