After a year of being the General Manager of The Domain Hotel and Spa, Gulf Insider revisited Frank Normann Eikeland to talk about his one year anniversary.
A year after our first interview, we met once again with The Domain’s Frank Normann Eikeland. The dapper and charming Norwegian is as cheerful as ever and welcomed us by saying “I am ready for you”.
The first year of Frank’s term involved a lot of integration and getting acclimatized with the culture of the hotel as well as a new team. Frank approached this venture with an open mind saying “We found our way very quickly”.
One of the first successful initiatives driven by Frank was for The Domain Hotel and Spa to become part of The Preferred Hotels & Resorts Group. “This opened up global accounts that we did not have access to before and we became recognized as a hotel preference for global travelers”, Frank explained. The Preferred Hotels & Resorts represents the world’s finest luxury hotels and resorts having an extensive global collection and representing more than 85 countries. The Domain is the only property represented in Bahrain.
This year, the hotel had two key indicators for growth. In terms of market share increase, The Domain has increased occupancy by 12% year on year. (This is according to STR, a global data benchmarking company that works globally with hotel chains). The awareness of the hotel’s Spa and Food & Beverage outlets has also increased.
The growth in revenue for food and beverage is mainly due to their signature restaurants Le Sauvage and Imari as well as signature bar Txoko Sky lounge on level 36 which has now achieved regular and loyal customers.
Despite the economic challenges in Bahrain and the GCC, The Domain has enjoyed steady growth. Initiatives within food and beverage include monthly Masters Vino Dinners in their signature restaurant Le Sauvage hosted by Domain’s own sommelier, Chad– who brings his innate knowledge and passion about vino to the guests, with a menu paired by Executive Chef Rukmal.
Le Domain  Friday Brunches continue to be popular with returning guests week after week. The Friday Brunch is renowned for those who wish to experience a sophisticated “grown up affair”, with sky high panoramic views and a gastronomical journey. Frank says “We have found a formula for Friday Brunch and guests come here to stay and return because we cater to their needs.”
Imari, an authentic Japanese restaurant and Imari Lounge mastered by Japanese Chef, Riichio offers spectacular sushi nights and specialty menus in addition to sumptuous business lunch bento boxes to tempt and delight guests.
Timing and Message
The message is consistency and quality. The Domain is a lifestyle hotel, an adult based grown up place. On weekends it is very popular with Bahraini and Saudi guests, as a destination location.
Growth and development of initiatives continue to be planned throughout the year. Summer 2016 saw the inauguration of the Summer Art Exhibition with a collaboration of exhibiting European, Bahraini, and Saudi artists. Currently, at Reception on the 16th floor, there is an exhibition with Monika Vaziri, an American decorative artist who resides in Bahrain. Continuing in the Art Lounge on the 16th Floor, there is an exhibition of paintings from artists from Europe, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
Over the past twelve months The Domain has introduced Movie Nights, which they call ”Classics at The Domain”. Taking place every other Tuesday, guests are able to relax and enjoy a curated pick of Hollywood’s classic movies in comfort and luxury, all with butler service, surrounded by the wonderful breath taking view of nighttime Manama. With ‘staycations’ becoming popular, The Domain also offers luxurious weekend stay and corporate business packages to their guests.
A League of Its Own
An example of providing a more personalized service is the addition to the food and beverage team of Neale, a South African trained coffee roaster and barista, to give the guests another layer to the experience and service at breakfast and dinner. As Frank says; “Not a lot of people will care whether the coffee is ready-made or brewed, but the connoisseurs will care, and they will notice…”
The Domain can be happy about their emerging clientele. As Frank said “we have a mix of guests, those older and sophisticated; and also an emerging crowd of the next generation.”
Frank praises The Domain’s incredible staff saying “I have a very strong, strategic, and creative management group that has been with me since Day 1”. Bravo Frank!