Olivier Six, General Manager of the Sunborn Hotel, is a professional hotelier with vast experience in the industry. Olivier heads up Gibraltar’s only five-star deluxe superyacht hotel, and tells us more about his exciting role aboard this special vessel.
What does it feel like to head up the first ever five-star luxury hotel in Gibraltar?
It is a unique opportunity to be chosen to head this fantastic new hotel. I feel very privileged but it must be said that it is a very demanding environment and a stressful product. I have always specialised in hotel openings but this one is a truly different experience and in the past 15 months, every day has been unique but also very rewarding. I love the challenge and it is very rewarding to know that I head the best hotel in Gibraltar. It is exciting to see that the quality of such hotel has been very well received and, as we are now profitable, there is only one way ahead and this is on building on the success we are enjoying.
What were the main three incentives for the Sunborn Hotel to come to Gibraltar?
I think the main incentives were the fact we identified that there was a lack of a five-star hotels with upmarket bedrooms in Gibraltar. The hotel is also to become a destination hotel with two restaurants, casino, conference and event space. It is a totally self-contained destination allowing incoming international conference to start considering Gibraltar as a meeting and incentive destination. Another aspect of this is of course the VAT situation and the short flights available to the UK. British companies can also enjoy a sunny destination within only a two and half hour flight. It is therefore a competitive option to consider Gibraltar as a destination for Blue Chip companies.
What can clients expect when arriving onboard?
Our clients can expect the most modern and comfortable bedrooms with amazing beds. The quality of food and service is second to none! The decor is very rich and includes one of the largest crystal designer chandelier in Europe. All guests will be welcome with a drink by our concierge team and they can expect the highest possible level of service. The pillows and amenities in the bedrooms are very much the subject of discussion at check out time, as they are of the highest possible taste and quality. The spa is available during long opening hours to relax or indulge in some fantastic massages and treatments. The views from the Sky Restaurant are fantastic and if you time it right, you can see the planes taking off and landing.
Other than the high quality accommodation, what other services are available?
We offer a high quality spa with sauna. The Sky Restaurant offers a contemporary offering and local dishes. The Sky Bar is available all day and delivers some of the most unusual cocktails for your delight. The Aqua Bar is open during the summer and offers a chilling pool area and sunbeds for the residents of the hotel. We open from early morning and the bar transforms itself as a late night venue. The upmarket casino is now open and if you enjoy table games or slots, you will feel at ease in this very discreet but very plush casino. We also offer a Casino Privee room for those who prefer high stakes. The Aurora Ballroom is also the ideal venue for beautiful weddings and can also be used as a conference room including the most elaborate technical audio visual equipment. Along the Aurora suite we also have the superb Atlas suites (6 in total) allowing smaller meeting or training courses to take place in a quiet and focused area. The Sunborn has 189 rooms, including 6 penthouses and 18 suites and is a regular venue for the rich and famous.
How competitive is the Sunborn?
The hotel offers a competitive offering and the rates are competitive within the market place. Of course, we are the most expensive hotel in Gibraltar, however the quality on offer is unique as this is a premium hotel. With this in mind, our rates are much lower to what you would expect in London for example and keeping in mind there is no VAT, we offer a real quality and value for money product. The idea of a five-star hotel can be deceiving and give the impression of "we can not afford it" but rest assured that our pricing structure is nowhere near a traditional five-star hotel. We are flexible, affordable and we deliver the very best of hospitality. We are also able to design packages to suit most budgets.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
My role is very varied as every day is different. As I manage the sales department amongst many things, I get the chance to travel extensively and I meet some very interesting people. I also organise some amazing and unusual events. There is never a dull day in a five-star hotel and Sunborn Gibraltar is no different! I really enjoy such a buzz but I am very lucky that my family supports me and understand my passion for hotels. I feel very privileged to work for such a fantastic hotel!
What makes your team special?
My team is unique because they have been selected by myself personally and I normally work with the same individuals wherever I go. They all know me very well and likewise I know them inside out. We spend months together and my team is very fast-paced and dynamic. They all know that I am very demanding and passionate and therefore there is no place for misunderstandings. I stand by them and they support me in what can be some very challenging decisions that I make from time to time. They are all different but passionate and focused. This is what makes a great team. Most of the management team have worked with me before and in more than one hotel.
What do your clients enjoy most of their experience?
Clients do love the plush decor and the comfort of the bedrooms and especially the beds. Our customers also enjoy the fact that under one roof, you can enjoy an infinity spa, a casino, a pool and a sunbathing terrace. The food is also part of the unique experience we deliver to our clients. We have a team of 22 chefs (two of which are Michelin-starred chefs). We deliver some incredible events — imagine holding your wedding party or even your company's event in total privacy taking over the entirety of the seventh deck with its wonderful views over Bay, Gibraltar and Spain. This is a new offering since May and we are taking large bookings for summer parties but also Christmas parties. Whilst we deliver a five-star service, we have made a conscious decision that we would deliver this quality service in a very friendly and relaxed atmosphere.
What exciting events can we expect in the future?
We are planning hundreds of events for the next couple of years. Some are very high profile and details can not be revealed for security reasons but we also are planning many charity events and will be holding the after-party events in September for the annual Gibraltar Music Festival. We are always surrounded by celebrities here at the hotel as we offer them a very discreet retreat. I am also bidding for some very large and high profile international events which in turn would give Gibraltar a unique exposure as a destination. As we have now settled in Gibraltar, we shall start to see some real changes in visitor numbers.
Editor, Marine Strategy
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