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The check-in desk with Anne Scott

  • Published 21 June 2018

Anne Scott is somewhat of a hospitality superstar – and she has the accolades to prove this. So when we heard the news that W Dubai – The Palm was opening its doors in late 2018, and that it had appointed Anne Scott as general manager, we quickly dialled the lady herself to get the inside scoop on what’s set to be one of the emirate’s hippest and most daring hotels to date. 

The Marriott Group’s W brand has been redefining luxury since conception and its newest Dubai venture certainly isn’t straying from its core values – instead it’s stretching the city’s imagination to provide a modern, vibrant and cool hotel that holds guest experiences at its epicentre; and with Anne at the helm, we’re certain this boat is going to rock!

Le Meridien Chiang Rai

A leap of faith

Edinburgh born and bred and a self-proclaimed ‘London Girl’, what made Anne decide to purchase a one-way ticket to Northern Thailand to start her successful career as a general manager for a string of luxury hotels worldwide? “I had a big birthday,” Anne recalls. “Sometimes, when you have a birthday with a zero in it, it does funny things to your head. And it was around my birthday that I realised I was either going to spend all of my life in London, or I was going to have an adventure.” 

And it is safe to say that adventure well and truly won. “The next thing I knew I was on a plane to Northern Thailand and I was doing the opening of Le Méridien Chiang Rai. I had never done an opening before, I had never been a general manager before and I had never lived outside of the UK before,” she admits. “I was so far outside my comfort zone, but it was unbelievable. The entire experience was fantastic and exactly what I needed to do.” 

Living in the Thai community, a small local village in rented accommodation, Anne’s Asian adventure flourished. “I then moved to The Andaman, a Luxury Collection Resort in Langkawi for four years, then on to China for 18-months at The St. Regis Sanya Yalong Bay and then I moved to The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur. But everything began with getting on that plane and thinking ‘this is good – I’m just going to keep going.’”


Throughout her eight-year tour of Asia, Anne certainly left her mark at each hotel she worked at. In 2011, Anne was named “Asia’s Leading Woman In Hospitality” from the Women in Leadership Forum. Then she received the Starwood President’s Award 2012 for “Outstanding Team” on the launch of a coral nursery in Langkawi. Speaking on this recognition, Anne says: “we worked with the local tourism authority and local Malay staff to renovate a coral reef that had been damaged in the Tsunami. We started with a bunch of ugly rocks and by the end of it we had a whole community helping to transplant live coral. Plus, we had around 20,000 guests a year visit the hotel who are now all educated on coral and the importance of a coral reef. We deserved to be publicised for a great project and it is an award I am very proud of.”

Making A Difference

Throughout her eight-year tour of Asia, Anne certainly left her mark at each hotel she worked at. In 2011, Anne was named “Asia’s Leading Woman In Hospitality” from the Women in Leadership Forum. Then she received the Starwood President’s Award 2012 for “Outstanding Team” on the launch of a coral nursery in Langkawi. Speaking on this recognition, Anne says: “we worked with the local tourism authority and local Malay staff to renovate a coral reef that had been damaged in the Tsunami. We started with a bunch of ugly rocks and by the end of it we had a whole community helping to transplant live coral. Plus, we had around 20,000 guests a year visit the hotel who are now all educated on coral and the importance of a coral reef. We deserved to be publicised for a great project and it is an award I am very proud of.”

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From Asia to the Middle East

“I spent eight-years in Asia and I kind of thought I would never leave,” Anne admits. “I thought I’d live there for all of my days, but this project is special.” And the project in question… Dubai and luxury hotel brand, W’s latest collaboration, of course. 

Set on the iconic Palm Jumeirah, where the curvaceous coastline of the Arabian Gulf meets the ever-changing city skyline, W Dubai – The Palm is a beacon of modern luxury. Set to open September 2018, the newest Dubai resort’s reputation precedes its launch. “In a city like Dubai where everything already exists, we’re going to wow the world with this incredible building,” Anne gushes. “People can be awe-struck by amazing architectural design, but my job is to make sure that the team delivers the guest experience that goes with it. I don’t just want W Dubai – The Palm to be a cool, trendy, showstopper design, it needs to come with incredible hospitality, surprises and guest-delight moments.”

One of these guest delight moments is the opening of Massimo Bottura’s second restaurant in the world, Torno Subito. “Foodies and gastronomic aficionados are so excited because it’s not easy to get a table in Massimo’s restaurant, but now that there is another opportunity to try his food – it’s worth getting on the plane just to enjoy a Massimo experience.” And from the sounds of things, it certainly is going to be an experience unlike any other. Forget Massimo’s trademark Osteria Francescana, a three-Michelin-star restaurant in Modena, Italy, as this new venture turns fine-dining on its head. “When Massimo was designing the restaurant with us he said ‘I don’t want fine-dining Italian. Please don’t make it that. That’s not who I want this space to represent,’” Anne explains. “Instead we decided on the concept of Massimo on holiday and focused on the Massimo who takes his shoes off and puts his feet in the sand. Our restaurant is a very playful and fun version of Masimo Bottura food which means it really is a unique experience. Nowhere in the world has this style of Massimo Bottura.”

Alongside Torno Subito, W Dubai – The Palm is also set to host six other dining destinations including self-titled restaurant from celebrity chef Akira Back and a rooftop bar that turns typical Dubai nightspots on its head. “On the rooftop of The W, we’re building a Miami-themed bar named SOBE, which is short for South Beach,” says Anne. “If I were working at a traditional luxury brand the rooftop bar would be celebrating views of the sunset with lovely cocktails and chill-out music, but because this is for a W we have the opportunity to do something that other hotels wouldn’t dare to do,” she adds. Instead, at SOBE you can expect voodoo artistry on the walls, fire-eaters, a guy with a snake draped over his shoulders and a team of mixologists decorated with full sleeve tattoos, beards, piercings and colourful hair. “The vibe of the team is so much more streetwise than a traditional luxury hotel would ever do. But at W we will and at W we can!”

“I spent eight-years in Asia and I kind of thought I would never leave,” Anne admits. “I thought I’d live there for all of my days, but this project is special.” And the project in question… Dubai and luxury hotel brand, W’s latest collaboration, of course. 

Set on the iconic Palm Jumeirah, where the curvaceous coastline of the Arabian Gulf meets the ever-changing city skyline, W Dubai – The Palm is a beacon of modern luxury. Set to open September 2018, the newest Dubai resort’s reputation precedes its launch. “In a city like Dubai where everything already exists, we’re going to wow the world with this incredible building,” Anne gushes. “People can be awe-struck by amazing architectural design, but my job is to make sure that the team delivers the guest experience that goes with it. I don’t just want W Dubai – The Palm to be a cool, trendy, showstopper design, it needs to come with incredible hospitality, surprises and guest-delight moments.”

One of these guest delight moments is the opening of Massimo Bottura’s second restaurant in the world, Torno Subito. “Foodies and gastronomic aficionados are so excited because it’s not easy to get a table in Massimo’s restaurant, but now that there is another opportunity to try his food – it’s worth getting on the plane just to enjoy a Massimo experience.” And from the sounds of things, it certainly is going to be an experience unlike any other. Forget Massimo’s trademark Osteria Francescana, a three-Michelin-star restaurant in Modena, Italy, as this new venture turns fine-dining on its head. “When Massimo was designing the restaurant with us he said ‘I don’t want fine-dining Italian. Please don’t make it that. That’s not who I want this space to represent,’” Anne explains. “Instead we decided on the concept of Massimo on holiday and focused on the Massimo who takes his shoes off and puts his feet in the sand. Our restaurant is a very playful and fun version of Masimo Bottura food which means it really is a unique experience. Nowhere in the world has this style of Massimo Bottura.”

Alongside Torno Subito, W Dubai – The Palm is also set to host six other dining destinations including self-titled restaurant from celebrity chef Akira Back and a rooftop bar that turns typical Dubai nightspots on its head. “On the rooftop of The W, we’re building a Miami-themed bar named SOBE, which is short for South Beach,” says Anne. “If I were working at a traditional luxury brand the rooftop bar would be celebrating views of the sunset with lovely cocktails and chill-out music, but because this is for a W we have the opportunity to do something that other hotels wouldn’t dare to do,” she adds. Instead, at SOBE you can expect voodoo artistry on the walls, fire-eaters, a guy with a snake draped over his shoulders and a team of mixologists decorated with full sleeve tattoos, beards, piercings and colourful hair. “The vibe of the team is so much more streetwise than a traditional luxury hotel would ever do. But at W we will and at W we can!”

W is for… whatever

Anne certainly touched upon one of W’s most appealing motifs… the hotel brand metaphorically turns its back on typical luxury hospitality and instead embraces the now. Current lifestyle elements, innovative architectural design and bold colour choices are fused together to create a new style; but the five-star facilities, the unparalleled hospitality and unrivalled guest experiences you would expect from any high-end resort still reign supreme. 

“I was a St. Regis lady for many years, so moving into W is a new brand and new brand experience for me,” Anne explains. “I went to New York for my W training and my trainer said the number one criteria for a great W hotel is to have a disruptive GM. You need to find a general manager who is the epitome and is passionate about disrupting traditional views.” Truly embracing this statement, it wasn’t long after her training that Anne proved she has what it takes to lead the opening of a new W hotel. “The first thing I did when I got back from NYC was something that I never thought I would be able to do in my career – I put pink highlights in my hair,” she admits. Completely committed to the cause, it’s touches like this that sets W, and Anne Scott, apart from the crowd.


But it isn’t just Anne who is bringing W Dubai – The Palm into fruition. She has a dedicated team behind her who together bring a wealth of experience to the new hotel. “I wanted to hire people who had local knowledge of Dubai,” Anne says. “Our hotel manager Brendan McCormack used to work at Atlantis in Dubai and W Hong Kong. What’s more, our executive chef Daniel Nuss opened St. Regis in Saadiyat, Abu Dhbai which means that he has very good connections in the local marketplace. Because I am new to Dubai, I knew I needed a really strong team with Dubai connections.”

But how new to Dubai is Anne? “I wouldn’t claim to be a local, but when people say how much Dubai has changed I can really see what they mean,” she comments. “In 2001 it was not the city it is now. I used to drive down the desert roads that are now six-lane motorways.”

Teamwork makes the dream work

But it isn’t just Anne who is bringing W Dubai – The Palm into fruition. She has a dedicated team behind her who together bring a wealth of experience to the new hotel. “I wanted to hire people who had local knowledge of Dubai,” Anne says. “Our hotel manager Brendan McCormack used to work at Atlantis in Dubai and W Hong Kong. What’s more, our executive chef Daniel Nuss opened St. Regis in Saadiyat, Abu Dhbai which means that he has very good connections in the local marketplace. Because I am new to Dubai, I knew I needed a really strong team with Dubai connections.”

But how new to Dubai is Anne? “I wouldn’t claim to be a local, but when people say how much Dubai has changed I can really see what they mean,” she comments. “In 2001 it was not the city it is now. I used to drive down the desert roads that are now six-lane motorways.”

Luang Prabang, Laos

A little more about Anne

A hotel aficionado, hospitality and travel is deep-set in Anne Scott’s blood, and it seems she likes to experience the world’s best kept secrets. “My favourite place in the world is Luang Prabang in Laos. I went there in 2009 and I got a riverboat from Northern Thailand down the Mekong River. After two days of sailing we arrived in this lost corner of the world,” she describes. “It used to be a French colony so in this little town you have Buddhist temples next to patisserie shops and a Buddhist monastery next to a fromagerie. It’s an amazing mix of local Asian culture and French references and it blew me away.”

Unusual travel experiences were spurned from school when Anne made a bet with her oldest friend to see who would do the A-Z of countries first. “I was 18 and we thought it would take us five to 10 years. Here we are, 30-years, later still crossing off letters from the alphabet,” Anne explains. With three letters left, D, N and V, it looks as if Anne’s next trips will include these letters. “I’m kind of annoyed at myself because there are some letters that I should have crossed off. Like Denmark – I should have been to Denmark, it’s so easy to get to,” she muses. 

What to expect from W Dubai – The Palm’s early days

The second W hotel to stand proud in the emirate, Anne says that there is a distinct difference between the new venture and the current W Dubai Al Habtoor City. “Al Habtoor is a great urban hotel in the heart of the city which offers great access into the business district and entertainment side of Dubai. W Dubai – The Palm is low-rise, next to 450m of private beach and is a real escape within the city,” Anne describes. “Most people in Dubai are familiar with the term staycation and there will be a huge market for Dubai-based and Abu Dhabi-based guests who’ll get in the car for a weekend away on the iconic travel destination of Palm Jumeirah for a change of scenery.”

Starting to trade in September, it isn’t until October that W Dubai – The Palm will officially make its presence known. “We’ll start to really make some noise from October 4th,” Anne confirms. But how will the hotel make a racket? “Guests will experience four big festivals during the opening of the hotel that are in association with the W passion points; music, fashion, design and fuel,” she adds. “The music festival is already in the diary for 8th November and we’ll announce the headline act soon. It’ll be fun and I think our guests for that weekend will be really delighted with the live acts and DJs they’ll be able to experience.” The calendar of events also includes a design festival, fuel activation and fashion event. 

To discover more about W Dubai - The Palm click here and to enquire about your next Dubai holiday, click here.

The second W hotel to stand proud in the emirate, Anne says that there is a distinct difference between the new venture and the current W Dubai Al Habtoor City. “Al Habtoor is a great urban hotel in the heart of the city which offers great access into the business district and entertainment side of Dubai. W Dubai – The Palm is low-rise, next to 450m of private beach and is a real escape within the city,” Anne describes. “Most people in Dubai are familiar with the term staycation and there will be a huge market for Dubai-based and Abu Dhabi-based guests who’ll get in the car for a weekend away on the iconic travel destination of Palm Jumeirah for a change of scenery.”

Starting to trade in September, it isn’t until October that W Dubai – The Palm will officially make its presence known. “We’ll start to really make some noise from October 4th,” Anne confirms. But how will the hotel make a racket? “Guests will experience four big festivals during the opening of the hotel that are in association with the W passion points; music, fashion, design and fuel,” she adds. “The music festival is already in the diary for 8th November and we’ll announce the headline act soon. It’ll be fun and I think our guests for that weekend will be really delighted with the live acts and DJs they’ll be able to experience.” The calendar of events also includes a design festival, fuel activation and fashion event. 

To discover more about W Dubai - The Palm click here and to enquire about your next Dubai holiday, click here.

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