This week we caught up with the General Manager of one of the leading hotels in the city, the Rixos Premium Dubrovnik, Ayhan Basci. Clearly the city is close to his heart and the connections that he has made between Dubrovnik and the hotel are impressive. Basci has been at the helm of Rixos Premium Dubrovnik, and is in fact Cluster General Manager at Rixos Hotels, for fourteen years and over that time has really moulded the hotel with his vision and his touch.
“This is a city that gets into your soul,” said the General Manager with a broad smile when asked why he loved the city so much. After two challenging years, during which the hotel remained open, guests from the four corners of the world are once again discovering the generous hospitality that has made Rixos Premium Dubrovnik the leading five-star hotel in the south of Croatia.
“This is a city that gets into your soul" - Photo Mark Thomas
And Ayhan was quick to point out the work that goes on behind the scenes from the Chairman and founder of Rixos Hotels and the Land of Legends, Mr. Fettah Tamince, as well as his brother and Member of the Board, Mr. Akif Tamince. They both love Dubrovnik, and indeed spend their vacations in the city, and are happy to invest more each year and bring the destination to where it deserves to be. The Tamince family also have an official status, as they are the official culture ambassadors to Croatia in Antalya Türkiye.
How satisfied are you with the current season? Just how challenging were the last two years?
Firstly, the current season, so far we are very satisfied, we are in a good position. Of course everyone is comparing figures in the record year of 2019, as the following two years were out of any kind of statistics. So when we look at the current position compared to 2019, in the first six months of this year we are better placed, highlighting the hard work and the bounce back from the pandemic. This is largely the result of us changing our strategy, developing the hotel and adding new contents.
As far as occupancy is concerned we aren’t aiming to be 100 percent full, we aim for between 80 to 85 percent. We are happy with this strategy as we see that makes our guests satisfied. You can see this in all the positive reviews that we are getting, we are one of the top rated hotels in terms of positive feedback. Sometimes less is more.
We are happy with this strategy as we see that makes our guests satisfied - Photo Mark Thomas
Dubrovnik is very much in your heart. What is it about your adopted home that you love so much?
Oh, there are so many things. And yes I truly love this city. It’s the nature, it’s the sea, the warmness of the people, the culture. I could go on and on. I really feel at home here. I was born in Turkey and I when I am surrounded by this Mediterranean nature and the crystal, clear sea then I feel at home.
This is a city that gets into your soul. This is a very easy city to fall in love with.
Your hotel is one of the rare ones that remains open all year round. Just how challenging is it to stay open during the winter months?
It is definitely a challenge. However, there are obvious advantages. As we don’t close we of course don’t have to reopen every season, this means that quality levels can be maintained and indeed improved. Another obvious advantage is that we don’t lose our staff. And not only that we have the chance to train them, to explain our philosophy and strategy. And as the Rixos Hotel Group has hotels all over the world this gives us an opportunity in the winter months to send our team members to other hotels, in Dubai, Egypt or Switzerland, for example, to continue to work and learn from different countries.
We even have hotels in Qatar, which this year looks like being a popular destination for our staff as the World Cup will be held there. But it is important to mention that we give all our staff members the choice as to where they would like to go. And we are talking about up to 60 members of staff. And when they come back to Dubrovnik in April or May they always come with good motivation and ready to work with smiles on their faces. Confidence, our vision and way of operating is what we see from them when they return. We also want to keep the hotel open for the city and to help the destination in general.
What, in your opinion, is it that makes the Hotel Rixos Dubrovnik stand out? What are your unique points?
Our location is number one. We are located in the middle of the city, a 15-minute walk to the historic Old City, a 15-minute walk to the Lapad suburb with its restaurants and beaches. And although we are in the middle of everything we find ourselves in one of the most tranquil areas of the city. Our guests wake up looking at the island of Lokrum and the sun rising over the island, a truly magical experience. Our food and beverage departments are also very strong and something that we take great pride in, we have a really great chef and great team. And into the mix our team of sommeliers and the bar staff are excellent.
We are trying all the time to touch people’s senses, to let them feel the destination and the quality that we offer. Our aim is to give all our guests experiences, from local food from the region, to sporting activities, spa centre, yoga, swimming pools, bars, live entertainment, again I could go on and on. We have created a hotel that means that you have everything you need in one place, whether you want an evening of live jazz or to relax with a massage. The connection of Dubrovnik and the hotel is what drives us. Finding stories and products from this region and offering them in our hotel means that all our guests remember not only the city but also our hotel.
I am happy when other people are happy - Photo Mark Thomas
Over all your 14 years of leading this five-star hotel what are you proudest of?
I am always trying to make people happy. I am happy when other people are happy. So this means making my guests, my staff and my owners happy.
Over the years I think, I hope, that I have succeeded in this. And yes, this makes me proud.
I know that you are always willing to be a part of the local community. Are there are projects or events that highlight this connection?
Yes, it is true we are always looking for local projects to support. Here is one example, we always host the gala event of the traditional Good Food Festival every year. This is a program in August that is backed and indeed created by the Dubrovnik Tourist Board and the City of Dubrovnik. Now at this event in our hotel all of the revenue always goes to one local charity. Over the years we have donated to children’s charities, fire department and this is decided with the Mayor’s office and the tourist board. And this year I can reveal an exclusive, that we will host the gala dinner at the finish of the festival. We of course charge people to come to the event but all, and I mean all, of that money will be donated to the local charity.
What can we expect in the future? Can you reveal some developments?
Yes, we have projects in the pipeline. At the moment we have 16 deluxe suites in the hotel and this winter we will renovate them all to the highest standards. We will also fully renovate our beach area, it will be art, Dubrovnik deserves this. Only the best for Dubrovnik.
Fully renovated beach area - Photo Rixos Hotels
Wood and green areas in new beach area as investements continue - Photo Rixos Hotels
We will also fully renovate our beach area, it will be art - Photo Rixos Hotel