In Conversation with … Karim Tayach
We catch up with Karim Tayach, Cluster GM Manager of Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl – Doha and Kempinski Residences & Suites, Doha
How and when did you foray into the hospitality sector?
My father was a hotelier. Since I was a kid I’ve grown up and have been around the hospitality sector. I’ve known nothing else but the hospitality industry. I remember sneaking inro the pastry shop of the hotel my father used to work in, and getting my hands on the cakes and sweets very quietly, undercover. Interestingly my father didn’t want me to pursue this but, for me, hotels are home.
Where do you draw your inspiration from? Were there any mentors who influenced your career along the way?
I thoroughly believe in team work and that’s where I draw my inspiration from. Apart from that, each guest who comes and stays with us and their feedback sort of gives me a clear perspective of where we are, where we are heading to and how to go about it. I’ve had several mentors at different stages of my career. When for the first time I interned at a restaurant in Switzerland, the owner of the place really helped me navigate through and form a perspective about the service industry.
Then, when I entered the hotel industry, there was Fouad Melhem. He gave me quite an insight into effective leadership skills. Apart from these two, there was Pierre Perusset, who was also GM at The Ritz-Carlton, Doha and Jakarta. He’s at The RitzCarlton, Hong Kong now, he inspired me. And then, of course, I always had my father to look up to. I always wanted to make him proud and go one step further.
What is the role of tourism in the growth of cultural experience in Qatar?
Tourism is Qatar’s backbone in placing it on the cultural map of the world. Now more than ever, if you notice there have been many entertainment and sporting events being organised and that’s a really good approach to put a spotlight on a country like Qatar which is extremely rich in culture, customs and community. With the 2022 FIFA World Cup approaching, everything’s picking up its pace. I think 2022 will be a great opportunity to show the world what Qatar has to offer.
How do you unwind during your staycations and what advice would you give to our readers for a pro experience?
My staycation is the hotel itself. I thoroughly enjoy my work and it is a source of energy for me. Also, because it has a lot to do with my upbringing and childhood. The hotel feels like home and that’s my comfort zone at its best. Apart from that, I love sports. That keeps me active and refreshed. I also like travelling. Asia has a lot of new trends and places to visit. Lots of adventures there, intriguing, beautiful places. Anything new excites me but also places of history have their own charm. I’m a touristy person. So, visiting all such places and absorbing what the country or city has to offer really keeps me happy.
I do have a tip for staycations though — choose a new place that is out of your comfort zone for a great time. Enrich your experiences with something out of the ordinary rather than something mundane.
Tell us about your cultural background and what’s it like being a host back home?
I’m half German and half Tunisian. I was born in Germany but grew up in Tunisia. Throughout my life I travelled a lot through Europe. Also, my wife is an Asian – so it’s a good mix of all the elements and diverse backgrounds in one pot.
At my home, it’s like an open-door policy. I open my home to my friends and family offering them the same warm welcome and hospitality that we offer guests at the hotel. I try to make sure it’s a home-away-from-home experience for my guest, be it ambience, atmosphere or just anything. They should feel safe, relaxed and comfortable.
For my guests, Moroccan/North African Tunisian tea is a must that concludes with some Asian sweets as dessert. It’s a staple. ✤