Luxury Hotels


What a difference it makes when a hotel GM is passionate and professional when it comes to food.  JUMEIRAH ZABEEL SARAY is obviously incredibly lucky to have Mark Hehir (shown above) on hand. This is an outgoing Aussie who started life as a chef and for the past 11 years he’s been working his way around the best Maldivian resorts, as GM.

Girlahead visited him at many such resorts. At AMILLA he created a Crab Shack, out of nothing. When he arrived on solid land, in Dubai, one of the first things he did was convert a garden shed into a Miami Beach-style icecream parlour. Investment in refrigeration units and cans of lemon and pale pink paint result in daily income of at least $1,000, all from scoops of icecream.

The Crown Prince, who owns this hotel, must be delighted not only with the business results but with the hotel’s increased sustainability-ESG elements. There’s a new hydroponic garden, with tubes set vertically in a climate-controlled greenhouse. Every day an average of 6.5 kgs of lettuce are produced, for the 405-room resort’s many outlets. Next to the hydros is Arcadia, an outdoor restaurant consisting of one big table, assorted seating and no walls. Dine, o rstudy hydroponics at the table – or perfect culinary, say learning the secret of a Zenzi Beach Signature, salmon ceviche, fresh salmon, tiger milk, chipotle, sweet corn husk, olive oil, coconut milk. Zenzi, what’s that?

Well, this very Saturday, 14th January, sees the launch of Zenzi. The hotel had a very-boring, minimal-income beach restaurant. The GM took it in hand. He had all the woodwork, including tables, bleached to whitewood, he instructed a new floor, sustainable wood, be laid. He brought in offwhite cushions and matching rush and hemp place mats. He enticed a long-time professional colleague, Nikki Crist, to relocate here from Sydney, to be restaurant manager. Hey presto… from a one-meal preview tasting, this will be a wow.

That tasting started with Aguachile de atun – yellowfin tuna, orange, serrano chili, cucumber, coriander.  It continued with Lubina Chilena, also known as Miso Chilean seabass, squid, asparagus, confit tomato. See why it’s so obvious, all you decision-makers, to appoint a GM who has food sense, which turns into tangible business sense?

We finish today with America’s leading global food conceptor: hear her here