Q&A: Operating A Hotel During The Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix

Andrew Humphries, regional vice president & general manager at Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi, explains how the track side hotel copes during its busiest time of the year.



How do you prepare for such a large sporting event, when the hotel is at capacity and the world is watching?

Planning for the 2014 Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix started before the 2013 race finished. Being organised is the key to running a successful event of this size and scale. Each department has their own role to play from Guest Relations to House Keeping, and we make sure that all members of staff work together to deliver a seamless guest experience. We are fortunate to have a great team in-house, many of whom have been on board since the hotel opened and have built up many years of experience with the event and we also bring in additional staff from other properties to maintain customer experience.

What are some of the operational challenges and how do you the maintain guest experience?

The hotel runs at full occupancy throughout the event and is obviously our busiest time of the year both in terms of rooms and food and beverage. Again, it is planning. That is the key and lots of training as well as knowing the guest.

As this is our sixth year, we have managed to streamline our processes and ensure that all departments are adequately prepared both in terms of accommodation and our restaurants and continue to learn lessons from our past experiences. Of course there are operational challenges that come with serving such a large number of guests during this period, for example Amici serves 300kg of lobster during the event alone, however with proper planning and resources we can ensure that we deliver a fantastic experience to all of our guests… it is a great problem to have.

How much does occupancy go up during F1?

We are pleased to say that the hotel is sold out for the 2014 Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and we have a wait list.

How much of the hotel’s overall revenue for the year comes from the event?

Race Weekend represents the busiest weekend of the year for the Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi Hotel and contributes to a significant percentage of the hotel’s revenue. However the hotel is far more than just race weekend, due to a busy food and beverage portfolio and thriving MICE and group booking business.

How many celebrities/teams are you expecting to stay at the hotel?

Each year we are fortunate to host a number of VIP guests both during the race weekend and throughout the year. We expect to host at least two after race parties for the teams this year. Whilst we can’t go into details, the lobby is a favourite place to hang out for some celeb spotting! You’ll just have to come.

What is the impact of Formula One on tourism in Abu Dhabi and business for the hotel?

For Abu Dhabi it is the showpiece event and has a significant impact on the town all year round. Yas Viceroy Hotel Abu Dhabi is the only hotel in the world to be located above a Fomula One race track and the event obviously has a tremendous impact on the hotel over the race weekend. The race weekend showcases the hotel’s ability to host large scale events and functions and we receive numerous group bookings and corporate events throughout the year based on our reputation and experience with this during the race weekend.

Additionally Yas Island is fast becoming a unique multifaceted island offering a plethora of recreation and entertainment experiences, many of which are showcased during the weekend. Many of our guests are choosing to stay on the island to take advantage of all it has to offer. From the newly opened Yas Mall, to Yas Waterworld and Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Yas Links Golf Course and Yas Marina there really is a huge amount to do.

What’s new for the hotel this Formula One?

This year we will have Burlesque in house, the newest addition to the hotel will offer an innovative combination of lounge, restaurant and entertainment with live music and a late night DJ.

The hotel is again partnering with Podium Lounge who debuted their unique nightlife concept last year and for the first time this year they will be offering dinner at their pop up restaurant ROKU. We are also excited to have RICH LIST at Rush Bar, they offer exciting day and night experiences, while Skylite will have our resident DJ. Finally this year we will have strong social media coverage, with live updates, guests contest and more.