In an exclusive interview, Thomas Fehlbier, Cluster General Manager at the Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara highlights the importance the resort places on employing trained and specialized Customer Service staff who are carefully selected to provide outstanding customer care. He sheds light on various services, features and activities, uniquely tailored to the individual requirement of each guest that combine to provide a holistic Customer Journey.
Q: What lies behind the name given to Banana Island Resort?
Thomas Fehlbier: The name Banana Island derives from the shape of the island, which is off the shores of Doha. The name also hints at the paradise that guests experience when visiting Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara. We deliver an intimate getaway with modern opulent facilities and rooms, and endless exciting activities and adventures on land or by sea. Our resort is a vibrant luxurious getaway destination and is the first of its kind in Qatar that melds traditional Thai and Qatari hospitality with contemporary amenities amidst breathtaking landscapes and ocean settings.
Q: What makes Banana Island Resort a popular choice for your customers and what are the chief attractions of the resort?
Thomas Fehlbier: Our mission is to cater to discerning clientele seeking more than just a getaway but want to be pampered and immersed into a complete and holistic relaxing journey. Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara offers guests exemplary luxury and a safe retreat from bustling Doha, yet is only a 20-minute journey by luxury ferry. At Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara, we also sustain and propel our brand forward through the superb setting that we have created. The 141 luxury guest rooms, suites and villas are designed in splendid Arabian style with signature Anantara touches including 54 Premier Sea View Rooms, 16 Deluxe Sea View Rooms, eight Sea View Suites, 18 Anantara Suites and 34 spacious Sea View Pool Villas featuring the tropical indulgence of a personal pool and poolside cabana. Elegantly poised above turquoise waters, the eight two-bedroom Over Water Villas and trio of prestigious three-bedroom Anantara Over Water Villas offer 360 square metres of luxurious space and a 62 square metre personal pool, ideal for families and groups of friends, revealing views of azure sea and unforgettable sunsets from a spacious private deck. It’s a one of a kind experience that no other resort in Qatar delivers.
Q: What are some customer service essentials incorporated in your staff training to provide the optimum Customer Experience possible?
Thomas Fehlbier: Our superior customer service is the true hallmark of Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara. Our team of specially trained hospitality experts have been carefully selected to provide the most outstanding customer care of any resort, hotel or travel enterprise in the Middle East. We were careful to vet our candidates thoroughly and only to hire those who bring not only expertise but a sunny and positive attitude into their work on a daily basis. Along this line, we believe firmly in a bespoke approach to visitor relations and we tailor our services to suit the individual and unique requirements of all our guests. We set high quality customer service standards and fix stringent targets to ensure that each of these benchmarks are achieved. In all cases our employees meet these standards in many cases they exceed them. We also recognize and award our employees that truly go above and beyond in client servicing. It is actually challenging to discern which employees deserve this recognition because our staff on a whole are very exceptional with what they do. What’s most important at the end of the day is that we take immense pleasure in going that extra mile to ensure that every visitor leaves our resort feeling that they received the star treatment and from the overwhelmingly positive response we receive from our guests we know that we are truly living up to this promise.
Q: What online customer support platforms do you offer to answer queries and help customers make online bookings?
Thomas Fehlbier: Guests and visitors are able to reach us by a number of convenient methods. Those looking to make a booking can get in touch with us via phone, website or in person. We also welcome queries via email from our website. At Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara, we encourage customer engagement and inquiries across all our social media channels namely, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. With our fast and friendly visitor relations team we remain committed to customer care no matter what channel or means our guests utilize.
Q: How important is guest feedback and what are your processes for measuring guest experience?
Thomas Fehlbier: Guest feedback is rightfully important and considered very carefully in everything we do. From menu items at our restaurants to leisure options to customer care and activity schedules, we encourage and welcome our guests to provide their opinions to us and we prudently ensure that we make changes and adjustments, as needed to accommodate these requests. Our top priority is to raise the bar in hospitality and one of our defining benchmarks is visitor relations. Realizing and then exceeding guests’ expectations are the cornerstones of the Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara experience.
Q: What medical and safety facilities do you have available to respond and attend to beach accidents and injuries?
Thomas Fehlbier: Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara is committed to the health and safety of all our employees and guests, and we have comprehensive health and safety procedures and protocols in place. Our employees have made a pledge to the duty and care of all our visitors including adherence to resort security and safety systems. We comply with all applicable local health and safety laws, regulations and standards. We train our employees appropriately and continually monitor our safety practices to confirm proper compliance. If there should be a medical situation at our resort, we have emergency response processes in place. It is our pledge that our guests leave our resort as well and happy as they arrived. And we have a 24 hour certified nursing team on the island.
Q: Please tell us about the leisure activities and entertainment available to customers?
Thomas Fehlbier: We offer a wealth of leisure activities for guests and visitors of our resort. We invite our clients to experience sensual holistic journeys at the dedicated Balance Wellness Centre and our luxurious Anantara Spa. Guests can also visit our conservation reef to plant beautiful coral and learn about precious marine life, before signing up for snorkeling or scuba diving or they can enroll in surfing lessons in our surf pool. We also cater to those looking to participate in physical activities by offering bowling, beach volleyball, tennis, putting golf or one can discover the beauty of Banana Island by bike. Kids are invited to enjoy a world of adventure in our Cool Mint Children’s Club. This play center engages children in arts and crafts, sand castle building, a games room, television and a large selection of toys. Teenagers have their own cool space in our Peppermint Teen’s club. This venue provides an abundance of fun with games, billiards, air hockey and Play Station. Additionally, at night the whole family can relax and enjoy the latest films in our state-of-the-art VIP cinema.
Q: What indoor and outdoor dining options are available to guests at the resort?
Thomas Fehlbier: At Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara we have an immense passion for Arabian and world cuisines prepared to perfection by our master chefs. Our restaurants are specialists at serving up a host of delectable delights. Everyone is welcome to start the day with our irresistible breakfast buffet at Q lounge or indulge in light bites in the afternoon at this trendy eatery. In Azraq restaurant, you will discover an innovative approach to all-day dining and a choice of stylish indoor and scenic outdoor spaces complemented by a mouthwatering array of food items. Riva restaurant, is a contemporary Italian trattoria dining room where you can sit outside on the balcony overlooking luxury yachts in the marina, and soak up the Italian Riviera atmosphere. Al Nahham allows you to relish scrumptious seafood, or delight in sublime Arabic selections. Zest Café is for those who love all things chocolate and for patrons who want something that’s both quick and delicious. We also invite our guests to try our scrumptious spa cuisine and to sample our pool side menu while spending a day at the beach or by pool at Tanzerin Beach Grill and Lagoon Pool Bar. However, what really makes eating at Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara uniquely special is our fabulous Dining by Design service. This is a customized option where guests can choose from our collection of menus and select a dream location from our range of scenic locales, and we will bring the restaurant to them by preparing a stunning table setting and delivering impeccable service.
Q: What loyalty and reward programs do you offer and in what ways do you make the experience a memorable one to keep them coming back?
Thomas Fehlbier: Our Privilege Loyalty Program invites guests to enjoy up to a 10% savings on some of our most popular rate categories at Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara and at select Minor Hotels worldwide. Enrolling into our Privilege Loyalty Program also offers member only rates, added savings on already low advance purchase rates and best available prices on last minute bookings. We also provide the Discovery Program where guests can choose between enrolling in Gold, Platinum or Black. In this program, members receive a range of options from complimentary Internet access, late checkout and luggage packing and unpacking to room and suite upgrades. No matter what programs our guests select, we are certain they will find a world of benefits that complements and elevates their stay at Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara.
Q: What upcoming plans and developments are in the works for an elevated Customer Experience?
Thomas Fehlbier: Our recent focus is our new state-of-the-art Balance Wellness Centre. The Balance Wellness Centre is one of the defining facilities that sets Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara apart and truly elevates the guest experience. The Centre is an elegant blend of luxury and relaxation offering guests a tranquil and holistic approach to rejuvenation. The facility provides separate accommodations for men and women, where they can escape from the pressures of their daily lives. As its name implies, the Balance Wellness Centre is an idyllic refuge for relaxation, rejuvenation and restoration of balance. In the Centre, we extend a diversity of treatments and therapies such as Relaxation, Detox, Fitness, Weight Management, Yoga and Alternative Therapy. Each program and treatment is uniquely tailored to each individual requirement and fitness and health goals, which includes an assortment of exciting fitness classes and related activities and settings. Guests cannot help but to unwind in our Zen Garden, and the Oxygen Fern Room boasts beautiful plants and flowers and tremendous amounts of oxygen that energizes the entire body. The Balance Wellness programs also include healthy food offerings from Zest Café. The Balance Wellness Centre is a one of a kind indulgence that every guest should experience.
About Thomas Fehlbier
Thomas Fehlbier is a hospitality professional with more than 25 years of experience in managing high-end leisure resorts and city hotels and is the General Manager of Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara since April 2015.
With a proven track-record of exceptional leadership in all areas of luxury hospitality, Fehlbier has strong skillsets in operations, business development, sales & marketing, revenue management, strategic budgeting and contemporary marketing communication, among others.
At Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara, Fehlbier is responsible for the day-to-day management of the property, enhancing brand reputation, strengthening revenue streams, ensuring top-notch standards of service and culinary excellence, while strengthening client loyalty by leading a team of committed international professionals. Recently, he was awarded with the “Tiger Award”, which is the annual ‘Entrepreneur Award’; the Chairman’s most prestigious award in Minor Hotels awarded in recognition for his exceptional achievements.
Fehlbier is a member of a number of sports clubs and non-profit organizations. His hobbies include golfing, soccer, roller blading and gourmet-cooking.