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Failaka...a General Manager's Story - Chapter 2
Failaka Island, here I am!
It was early morning, 6.00am, when the plane started its descent into Kuwait; the last time I had arrived by plane in July 1991, it had been through dense smoke caused by the oil fires started many months earlier by the retreating Iraqi army; this morning it was very clear and upon landing it was the start to a nice summers day.
I was met at the airport and taken to Safir International Hotel, my old home for six months during the GCC summit thirteen years earlier.
I checked in and was escorted to my room, had a quick wash, shave and change of clothing, and then down to see Peter Janssen and also say hello to many old friends from 1991.
We had a meeting to discuss the Failaka project with other corporate directors when Peter's mobile phone rang, "has he arrived", Peter mentioned that I had and the owners wanted me on the island immediately. At 2pm I was on the speedboat bound for Failaka Island arriving 30 minutes later.
What a surprise! did I mention a "Mad Max" movie? It could have been made on Failaka Island which had been completely devastated.
Two years previously I had left my last overseas posting on the beautiful island of St Lucia as General Manager of Anse Chastanet Resort and now here I was on Failaka Island, I felt that I had left Heaven and been transported courtesy of British Airways and a speedboat to the lower bastions of Hell.
Our last overseas posting before Failaka, Anse Chastanet is nestled in the hills
Failaka when I arrived, I thought I was Mel Gibson playing Mad Max in the movie
It was hot! Boy was it hot! I was taken to the Heritage Village in an old mini van that was so dented and damaged it had probably been used in the war. The Village was a hive of industry but at this time had no character.
I met the owners, had a meal, and then at 8pm in the evening became the 'Robinson Crusoe' of Failaka Island (without my 'Lady Friday' who would not join me for a month), when everyone left for the mainland. A room which was very basic was made ready for me, and after cursing Peter and everyone else I fell into a fitful and nightmarish sleep.
The next morning was different, refreshed and rejuvinated I was ready for the fray; I had been told that it would be hardship for the first six months, and beleive me this was hardship with a capital 'H'.
Failaka Heritage Village and Failaka Island in May 2004
Over the following pages you will follow the tials and tribulation experienced by myself, Denise and our management and staff. This website is a tribute to all of them, as it is to all at Masharee Al Khair.
Without the participation of everyone, Failaka Heritage Village would still have been a dream....we have all made that dream come true by creating a Heritage Village that is not only unique to Kuwait but to the Gulf region as a whole.
Join us in the next few chapters in building Failaka Heritage Village....................
Chris was born in Yorkshire, UK in July 1944; leaving school in September 1962 he joined the Merchant Navy as an Assistant Purser, seeing service as an Assiatnt Purser, and Chief Purser with Booth Line, Shaw Savill Lines, Cunard SS Company and many other well known companies. He married his wife Denise, who had just left the University College of South Wales with a BSc in Industrial Microbiology in April 1974.
It was a working honeymoon as Chris was a Purser with the Kuwait Shipping Company at the time and Denise joined him on the voyage to Kuwait onboard the MV Al Shamiya, they then roamed the ocean blue for a further two years.
1976 saw them in Egypt where Chris was the Port Catering Superintendent for oil rigs and shore establishments working for Offshore International.
The late seventies saw him working in Saudia Arabia, and the early eighties in the Sudan as General Manager for Institutional and Industrial catering companies; GrandMet Site Services, Taylorplan and ORS
In the mid to late eighties Chris joined Channel Island Ferries as Chief Purser onboard the MV Corbiere, and then came ashore as General Manager of the St. Mellion Golf Hotel & Country Club in Cornwall, UK.
1991, Kuwait called and he joined Safir International Hotel Management as a Project Director for the upcoming GCC summit at Bayan Palace, followed by stints as the GM of Safir Nile Cruise and Safir Hotel Hurghada in Egypt.
In 1996 the call of the Caribbean saw Chris and Denise working in St. Lucia and Jamaica at two of the top resorts in the World, Anse Chastanet Resort and CocoLaPalm Resort.
In May 2001 the UK called and both Chris and Denise worked in top class, Relais & Chateaux, country house hotels in the UK for three years.
May 2004 saw them both back again in Kuwait at Failaka Heritage Village on Failaka Island owned and operated by Masharee Al Khair a Kuwait Charitable company.
Chris is a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality, a Fellow of the Cookery & Food Association and a Master of the Restaurant Services Guild. Denise is a Member of the Institute of Hospitaly, she has a BSc in Industrial Microbiology and is an accomplished equestrienne.
Failaka...a General Manager's Story www.failakaheritagevillage.com.
To Explore the history of Failaka Island provided by "Rafahiya" Magazine, the in-flight magazine for Wataniya Airways 'Click Here' - PDF (1.5MB).
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