UNTOLD EXPAT STORIES. Female hotel housekeeping head becomes GM

Caption: ‘Being the person at the back of the house, I generally had less opportunities.’ – Alexandra Kelner, TIME Asma Hotel, on breaking the glass ceiling.

By Jojo Dass

The hospitality industry, they say, is a man’s world, where top posts are dominated by men.

Recently however, there have been more and more women breaking the glass ceiling, and Alexandra Kelner, who recently assumed post as general manager of the four-star TIME Asma Hotel in Dubai’s Al Barsha shopping district, is among them.

What made her story quite unique is that she was a dark horse coming from behind, if you will, at the housekeeping department.

“I believe working in the hospitality industry requires lots of dedication, persistence and commitment regardless of gender, especially if we have a passion for what we do,” Alexandra, born in France, tells Dubai Vibes Magazine.

“I started my career in the housekeeping department, and being the person at the back of the house, I generally had less opportunities compared to those who were working front of house,” she said. 

There’s more! 

Alexandra will be leading a management team of women.

TIME Hotels’ CEO Mohamed Awadalla, said it has always been integral to their corporate strategy to diversify our workforce and offer equal opportunities to all members of staff. 

“Under the leadership of Alexandra, all areas of the hotel operation will be managed by women, from HR to sales, F&B, finance, front office and housekeeping – even our executive chef is a woman. 

“I am sure that this talented all-female management team will provide inspiration to all women who want to carve out a successful career in hospitality,” said Awadalla.

To this end, Alexandra said she is “beyond grateful for the trust that the executive team of TIME Hotels has placed in (me), under the guidance of CEO Mohamed Awadalla.”

Alexandra said she is very excited to be leading the team. “Of course, we are still in the soft opening period and that involves a lot of hard work preparing for the grand opening. But so far, the experience has been rewarding and I am looking forward to welcoming our first guests to TIME Asma,” she says.

TIME Asma Hotel held its soft opening last month.

Alexandra had worked in Algeria for two years as part of the pre-opening team of Sheraton Oran Hotel & Towers in Oran, prior to coming to Dubai.

She has been with TIME Hotels since August 2010, where she worked as executive housekeeper and moved up to become rooms division manager. Prior to that, she was assistant executive housekeeper at the five-star Grosvenor House Hotel for three years from 2007.

Alexandra has been in Dubai since August 2007. She said her initial plan was to stay for two or three years. “But, I guess, fate had other plans for me. Obviously I’ve stayed a lot longer and Dubai has become my second home,” she says.

 “Dubai is amazing! I love the constant change here, it’s so vibrant and it’s a place where everything is accessible. It is a very diverse, clean and safe city that’s always striving to be the best with a variety of initiatives for the hospitality, tourism, real estate and other sectors. Dubai is a truly unique city, welcoming all nationalities for both work and leisure, creating a melting pot of cultures,” she says. 

Asked which part of Dubai she loves the most, Alexandra said: “I’ve been in Dubai for over 14 years now and I do not have a specific area or place that I can categorically call my favorite. 

“However, something I do adore is when a new experience becomes available. Recently the Expo site opened to visitors, I really enjoyed visiting the Dubai Safari and I can’t wait to look around the museum of the future next to Emirates Towers – it’s such a beautiful building. And I guess that’s my point, it is very difficult to have a favorite, when Dubai always has something new and exciting to offer.”


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