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Failaka...a General Manager's Story - Chapter 6
2006 was an explosive year with many new additions to the village, our sales and marketing worked well effecting good revenues for the year. Denise and myself took advantage of a short vacation in late March to go back to the UK to complete all the paperwork for a house we were purchasing; as the house was an old converted school built in 1880 (shown below across from the church) we also had to arrange some renovation works, hopefully to be completed for our next vacation in November.
Our House, Ysgol Fach, Welsh for 'Little School'
With the support of Masharee Al Khair the charity owners of the village and their projects supervisor, Mr. Nabil Al Ayyaf work started on converting the old police station and mortuary into the Ikaros Hotel and building an artificial lake which we stocked with fish and also rented pedal boats and kayaks.The old police station had originally been built in the 1950's out of coral stone and a further floor added in the 1960's built of cement block. The hotel has 23 rooms and suites all en-suite with satellite TV. The hotel which was fully self contained with its own pool became very popular with groups of around 45-55 guests, The courtyard was also exceptional and unique, this is used during the day for relaxation and the evening for dinner functions. The mortuary became the laundry for the village.
The main entrance to Ikaros Hotel
Ikaros Hotel Courtyard
Formal dinner set-up in the courtyard of Ikaros Hotel for a Silver Wedding celebration
Silver Wedding Group in the Ikaros Hotel Courtyard
Ikaros Hotel private swimming pool
During 2005 our guests requested that we build a Pizza House; I don't know why but everyone seems to love Pizzas. However we took this request to heart and in 2006 we built our own Pizza House, with a woodburning oven, seating inside for 20 guests and al fresco seatining for another 20 guests.
Work also started on the large artificial lake to the rear of the village. This was an enormous undertaking overseen by Nabil Al Ayyaf. The lake was first dug out and then lined, artifical islands were incorporated into the design and an old wrecked dhow, repaired and converted into the Al Boom Coffee Shop. Upon completion it was stocked with fish, we also brought some ducks and geese to live on the lake islands. The landscaping, design, enjoyment of the pedal boats and kayaks make this absolutely unique.
The lake area prior to construction
Failaka Lake after completion in 2006
The Village beginning to look like a village in August 2006
During 2006 we also increased activities for the children. We purchased six very large bouncy castles from a company in Liverpool in the UK, and brought them back to Kuwait by air freight. We built an area which we called 'Madinat Al Atfal' to accommodate the bouncy castles......and the kids loved it!
Madinhat Al Atfal (Bouncy Castle Park)
One of the Village's bouncy castles
In November Denise and I went back to the UK for our vacation, to return at the beginning of December for Eid Al Fitr. We had not seen our house since purchasing it in April of 2006, builders had been at work throughout the summer, the conservatory built, the gardens cleaned and the cellar stocked with wine for our homecoming. The house is situated in the countryside in the middle of Wales near to Builth Wells and our local Pub 'The Cambrian Arms' was only a short walk away.
Back home at last, we had not seen our house since we had purchased it eight months earlier, the photo was taken in late summer courtesy of our friends and their dog.
We arrived back in the village at the beginning of December 2006, and after a 100% occupancy throughout Eid Al Fitr we started to plan for 2007 and the construction of a large heritage tent to be called "Qa'at Al Khair", and the "Oasis Restaurant Complex", for this you have to go to chapter the next chapter.
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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