Serving as the Driving Force: Nugzar Makaridze Fostering Innovation and Nurturing a Culture of Excellence

Nugzar Makaridze
Nugzar Makaridze

In the hospitality industry, leadership holds a primary significance as it’s the guiding force that shapes the guest experience, drives innovation and fosters a culture of excellence within establishments.

Leaders in the hospitality sector not only manage the complexities of the industry but also inspire their teams to deliver the best service and create memorable moments for guests.

Enter Nugzar Makaridze, an experienced Associate Director of Food and Beverage with a remarkable journey in the hospitality industry. His expertise spans various facets, from food and beverage management to hotel operations, banquet operations, and leadership. Nugzar’s journey in hospitality was inspired by the vibrant atmosphere of his parents’ food and beverage business, igniting a passion for entrepreneurship and creativity.

Nugzar’s journey is evidence of the transformative power of leadership in the hospitality sector. Guided by visionary mentors and driven by a passion for excellence, he remains dedicated to shaping unforgettable guest experiences and contributing to the success of esteemed establishments worldwide.

Foundation in Luxury Hospitality

Graduating with distinction from the Sochi State University of Tourism and Health Resort Operations, Nugzar embarked on his career with Novikov Group before joining the prestigious Ritz-Carlton, Moscow. There, he refined his skills among the luxury hospitality, laying the groundwork for future opportunities.

Recognized for his dedication and leadership potential, Nugzar’s journey led him to diverse roles across the globe. From Kazakhstan to Ras Al Khaimah, Dubai, and beyond, he embraced new challenges, putting himself in diverse cultural environments and learning invaluable lessons along the way.

At Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah, Nugzar led the Lexington Grill, achieving remarkable milestones including prestigious awards and top rankings. His tenure at Shimmers, Madinat Jumeirah, marked another success story, as he transformed the venue into a culinary powerhouse and trendsetter in Dubai’s dining scene.

Nugzar’s leadership prowess shone brightly at Grand Hyatt Hotel & Residences Emirates Pearl, where he oversaw multiple outlets and drove unprecedented financial success. Guided by esteemed mentors, he harnessed innovative strategies to elevate performance and set new standards of excellence.

Returning to Jumeirah Group at Saadiyat Island Resort, Nugzar embraced the challenge of managing diverse establishments within a luxurious setting. His dedication to hospitality excellence and passion for innovation continue to inspire excellence in every endeavor.

Aligning Efforts Toward Common Goals

Nugzar believes in accountability and personal responsibility, values that guide both his personal and professional life. From the beginning of the recruitment process, he advocates for diversity in leadership within the food and beverage industry, understanding that different perspectives lead to successful teams. Setting clear and strategic expectations is essential to align efforts toward common goals.

In his leadership approach, Nugzar prioritizes empathy, warmth, and support, extending these qualities not only to guests but also to his team. Recognizing the challenges of managing workloads and deadlines, he promotes effective delegation and comprehensive training to empower his team.

Despite his outgoing nature in public, Nugzar values moments of introspection and analysis to refine ongoing initiatives. He encourages his team to engage in meticulous examination and performance tracking, emphasizing thorough preparation and continuous improvement.

Overcommunication is a vital aspect of Nugzar’s leadership philosophy, having witnessed the negative impacts of inadequate communication in the hospitality industry. Understanding the human-centric nature of the industry, he emphasizes fostering strong connections among stakeholders to avoid potential issues.

Visualizing the end result before starting new projects instills purpose and motivation within Nugzar’s team. Celebrating achievements and recognizing outstanding contributions are integral to nurturing a culture of excellence and camaraderie.

While holding himself and his team to high standards, Nugzar approaches feedback with constructive intent, viewing it as a catalyst for growth. Additionally, he prioritizes the well-being of his team members, providing support and assistance with personal matters to create an environment conducive to professional success.

Keys to Remaining Relevant in the Evolving Hospitality Sector

Nugzar highlights the significant impact of generational shifts, technology advancements, and changing societal values on the hospitality sector today. Each new generation brings unique expectations, prompting industry leaders to innovate and adapt to remain relevant. He acknowledges Generation Z’s influence as digital natives, driving a demand for immersive experiences and customization. Nugzar emphasizes the importance of flexibility, innovation, and adaptability for hospitality providers to meet evolving consumer preferences.

Sustainability has become a crucial focus, with hospitality businesses embracing practices like energy efficiency and responsible sourcing to minimize their environmental footprint. Social responsibility, including fair labor practices and community engagement, is also gaining prominence.

Personalized service is fundamental in providing exceptional hospitality, creating tailored experiences that cater to guests’ individual needs and preferences. Nugzar stresses the importance of creating meaningful connections with guests to foster loyalty and advocacy.

To stay updated with industry trends, Nugzar uses various resources such as industry publications, online forums, and professional associations. He attends conferences, workshops, and webinars for networking and insights from thought leaders. Additionally, he follows key influencers and organizations on social media for real-time information on consumer preferences and market trends. By staying informed and engaged with the hospitality community, professionals can navigate the evolving industry landscape successfully.

Strict Health and Safety Protocols

Nugzar and his team make sure staff members receive thorough training to keep service quality consistent across their restaurants. They focus on details, professionalism, and making sure guests are happy, creating a culture where everyone aims for excellence and takes responsibility for their work. Regular evaluations help find areas for improvement, and staff get chances to learn and grow.

To keep their restaurants clean, safe, and following the rules, they have strict protocols in place. They follow health and safety rules closely, doing regular checks to make sure everything is okay. They stick to cleaning schedules and use good equipment to keep things clean. Staff get training to know the latest safety rules and how to keep everything clean and safe, so guests can enjoy their meals without worries.

Expansion of In-House Concepts

As a luxury brand, Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts understands the evolving preferences of younger millennials and Gen Z audiences. Nugzar shares that in response, the brand has created a strategic plan, Mission 2030, with the aim of establishing itself as a global leader in ultra-luxury hospitality. This comprehensive plan focuses on four key areas: international expansion, brand and product development, operational excellence, and ancillary business. By sustainably doubling the size of its portfolio by 2030 and enhancing the brand experience, it seeks to meet the diverse and evolving needs of its guests while remaining ahead of industry trends.

In accordance with this mission, the brand has made the decision to open a second outpost of its popular Mediterranean restaurant and exclusive beach club “Sal,” which originated at Burj Al Arab. Expanding its in-house food and beverage concepts is seen as pivotal for achieving global reach, particularly in the highly competitive field of ultra-luxury hotels and restaurants.

Extending Impact Beyond Premises

In the field of hospitality business, Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts’ vision and mission extend beyond the internal workings of the establishment to positively impact the wider community in several ways. Firstly, Nugzar and his team prioritize sourcing locally whenever possible while reducing the carbon footprint. Additionally, they actively engage in community initiatives, whether through volunteer work or partnerships, to give back to the communities that support them. For example, they are partnering with American & French Schools in Abu Dhabi to involve the younger generation and their relatives in activities aimed at leaving a lasting footprint on the community.

Moreover, they strive to create inclusive and welcoming environments within their establishments, fostering connections and promoting cultural exchange among guests and locals alike. By aligning their values with those of the community and leveraging their resources to make a positive difference, they aim to leave a lasting impact that extends far beyond their premises.

Proactive Communication Strategy

In his role as Associate Director of Food and Beverage, Nugzar led successful change initiatives to enhance guest experiences, streamline operational efficiency, and drive revenue growth in our hotel’s dining establishments. One significant initiative was reintroducing hard copy menus based on guest feedback and challenges with digital QR code menus during the pandemic. Recognizing the importance of tactile experiences in guest decision-making, Nugzar reinstated physical menus to improve initial impressions and ease navigation.

Additionally, Nugzar introduced a comprehensive menu of 0.0% alcoholic cocktails in collaboration with a renowned brand, inspired by the creation process of high-end perfumes. This innovative offering catered to health-conscious guests and the local community, positioning our hotel as a leader in wellness promotion and providing a high-quality, low-calorie alternative.

To address potential stakeholder resistance, Nugzar adopted a proactive communication approach, involving food and beverage leaders to experience the benefits firsthand. He also engaged key decision-makers and department heads to ensure alignment with organizational objectives, emphasizing the positive impact on guest satisfaction, operational efficiency, and revenue. This initiative garnered positive media coverage, enhancing the brand’s reputation and market position.

Throughout implementation, Nugzar remained accessible and responsive, addressing concerns promptly and offering ongoing support and troubleshooting assistance. By fostering open communication, proactively managing resistance, and highlighting the changes’ value, Nugzar successfully achieved objectives and improved the overall dining experience for guests.

Meeting the Preferences of Generation

To gain a competitive edge and propel business growth in the ever-changing hospitality industry, Nugzar leverages industry trends to inform strategic decision-making and drive innovation. With significant shifts in consumer preferences, technology, and societal values brought about by generational evolution, Nugzar recognizes the importance of adaptability and innovation. For instance, acknowledging Generation Z’s penchant for immersive experiences and social media influence, Nugzar prioritizes enhancing guest experiences through personalized, tech-savvy offerings that resonate with their preferences.

In addition, embracing sustainability practices aligns with the growing emphasis on environmental and social responsibility, enhancing the reputation and appeal of Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts’ establishments to environmentally conscious guests. Personalized service remains paramount, fostering meaningful connections with guests and cultivating long-term loyalty. By staying abreast of industry trends through various channels such as publications, conferences, and social media, Nugzar ensures that the business remains at the forefront, delivering exceptional experiences that meet the evolving needs of guests and driving sustainable business growth.

Adapting to Evolving Consumer Preferences

Maintaining a subtle balance between meeting guest expectations and staying ahead of market trends is crucial in the ever-evolving hospitality industry. Nugzar recognizes that as each generation brings forth distinct preferences and expectations, hospitality providers must adapt and innovate to remain relevant. While personalized service remains the cornerstone of exceptional hospitality, catering to guests’ unique preferences and needs, staying attuned to market trends is equally important. By embracing flexibility, innovation, and adaptability, luxury hotels and restaurants can leverage technology to enhance guest experiences, adopt sustainable practices, and craft personalized offerings that resonate with evolving consumer tastes.

Nugzar understands that by integrating sustainability into operations and staying up to date with emerging trends through various channels such as industry publications, conferences, and social media, professionals can strike the perfect balance. This enables them to deliver memorable experiences that exceed guest expectations while staying ahead of market trends.

Strategic Career Goals

Recognized as the recipient of the International Best Business Awards in 2022 and 2023, Nugzar earned distinctions as “The Best Expert in the HoReCa Industry” and “The Best Top Manager in Hospitality Business.” He played a pivotal role in the successful launch of the Michelin Guide in Abu Dhabi, securing notable recommendations for one of the signature restaurants in 2023 and 2024. As a recognized expert in the hospitality industry, Nugzar participated on the panel as a judge of the work of others for the International Award “Successful Ladies Award” both years in 2021 & 2023.

Over the next few years, Nugzar aims to strategically align himself with key stakeholders in the hotel and restaurant sectors, advancing his corporate career in hospitality. Concurrently, he plans to lay the groundwork for establishing his consultancy firm, capitalizing on the burgeoning market for outsourcing services within the industry. This involves developing a comprehensive business plan while leveraging his position within a luxury hospitality company. After gaining valuable experience and insights over 2-3 years, Nugzar intends to transition to full-time entrepreneurship, dedicating himself entirely to his consultancy firm.

Building on his extensive corporate leadership experience and expertise in consultancy services for the hospitality industry, Nugzar is prepared to embark on the creation of an exclusive luxury boutique hotel and restaurant chain. With a focus on delivering bespoke experiences tailored to the discerning tastes of luxury clientele, his vision is to set new standards and diversify services within the hospitality sector. By prioritizing innovation, Nugzar aspires to establish a distinct competitive advantage, positioning his brand as an internationally renowned franchise celebrated for its unparalleled opulence.