Somebody has to lead the way.”
She said the words with firm conviction you can feel that it was something she was very committed and serious about.
“My predecessors have not necessarily thought it through, but one of my priorities is removing single-use plastic from our seven hotels,” said Anna Marie Dowling, the petite, blonde, no non-sense new general manager of Intercontinental Muscat.
“We are living with something and now is the time to have a paradigm shift. To change the outcome of what might affect our children as well,” she added.
Only in Oman for a few months, Anna Marie has been busy with her key five-point agenda. While she’s busy getting to know the who’s who of Oman and networking with key industry players, she does not forget the little things that make a difference.
As the new dame of the Grande Dame, Anna Marie is committed to putting the spotlight on the people who are the foundation of the hotel.
“I was a room attendant, so I make sure that our back of the house heroes are always recognised for the job they do because they are doing the hardest job in the hotel,” she said.
While her programme and plans for the development of her people are robust, she was very vocal about making a difference in the environment.
“It’s fundamental that we look at our business as a whole and look at every bit of plastic used. How can we eradicate that and change it to something more important or more friendly to the environment and reduce this landfill that every country in the world is facing not just here?”
“Somebody has to lead the way. This is my aspiration, to get IHG to eradicate single-use plastics. It’s a big priority for me at the moment,” she said.
Course of action
International researchers reported that approximately 8 million pieces of plastic find their way into the oceans every day with around 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and about one million sea birds being killed by plastic pollution.
Hotels were also identified as key contributors to the plastic conundrum.
“We are looking at eliminating the use of plastic bottles. We are looking at having our own filtered water so we can remove the plastic bottles in the bedrooms, meeting rooms and elsewhere. That’s the challenge at the moment, of how to get rid of plastic bottles out of the hotels and replace them with something sustainable,” Anna Marie said.
For Anna Marie, it is fundamental that one takes a critical view of how plastic is being used. She is concerned even by how shower gel packets have a massive impact on the overall effort.
“We have to look at biodegradable alternatives. That’s a great strategy for us. It is my hope that when our staff are crucial about how plastic is used in the workplace, it will also allow them to reflect and rethink the way they do things at home and thereby eradicating plastics from home,” she said.
With seven hotels under the IHG brand, the collective refusal of plastic containers and pollutants will have an impressive effect, and hopefully, the initiative will spill over to other properties as well.
“This is an area we can combine our energy to make a bigger splash and bigger difference,” she said.
Before Oman, Anna Marie has been the general manager of a property in Bahrain. All of her previous experiences before Bahrain were from the United Kingdom.
“When I was in Bahrain, when people asked me where I would like to go next, Oman was on top of my list. I am delighted and blessed to find myself in this beautiful place,” she shared.
“It is the most beautiful country in the Middle East without a doubt. So many people have said this before. The Omanis, they had been very welcoming and made me feel welcome in their midst. It was easy for me to come here, settle and feel a sense of belongingness,” she added.
Other than her goal of eradicating single-use plastic from all IHG properties, Anna Marie’s agenda included driving client sales and collectively working with relevant industries to entice more people to come to Oman, development of people especially the Omani talents, and furthering her connections with the who’s who of Oman society.
“We have 45 per cent Omanisation at the hotel which I’m very proud of. I am looking into what we can do more to develop our talents not only in the business but in providing training as well for those who are just getting started,” she said.
Anna Marie is committed to her programme of “Giving for good,” a global IHG programme that included giving back to the community. She will be leading her team not only in cleaning beaches and feeding less-fortunate communities but also expanding to other areas even raising awareness about breast cancer.
“People can expect a lot of activities. Expect IHG coming together with the aligned approach of working with tourism. They can expect us combining our energy and raising the profile of tourism to entice more people to come to Oman. Tourism has never been more important for any country than now. The hotels are a fundamental part of the tourism industry and have become an important part of sustaining the economy of the country,” she said.