IN CONVERSATION WITH KABIR WADHWANI
Numéro had the honor of talking to Kabir Wadhwani, the director of entertainment from FIVE hotels and resorts.
FIVE Hotels and Resorts boast the hottest destinations in Dubai and Zurich, bringing together music, art, glamour, design, and culinary experiences. Kabir Wadhwani is FIVE’s Entertainment Director, overseeing the brand’s music-driven offerings, from the top-notch talent they book to perform at their award-winning venues, to their signature weekly events, their own record label – namely, FIVE Music, and the inimitable ‘Sound of FIVE’ you hear while walking through their hotels or tuning into their hand-selected Spotify playlists. Numéro spoke with Kabir to see what it takes to give everyone that unique ‘FIVE-Styled’ 360-degree, multi-sensory immersive entertainment experience.
First, can you tell us how you connected with the FIVE team?
“I’ve always been passionate about traveling, going to bars, listening to music, and dining. My biggest dream has always been to make a living out of my love for nightlife. With FIVE I have hit the bullseye.”
Can you tell us what characterizes a FIVE event? Is there something that connects them all?
“Our events are mainly focused on driving excitement and happiness, which I believe comes through engaging with all of our guests’ senses. Ranging across – touch, taste, sight, sound, and aroma, to what we hear and how we feel about all of that.
At FIVE, the focus is to engage all of those senses with synergy. If you can hit them all simultaneously then it becomes incredibly easy to create a unique memory.
“As a result, it all starts with how people are greeted at the door, how they experience the decor, what they see when they walk in, what they will hear, what they smell, and most importantly, what they feel. Everything you do at that venue contributes to a distinct memory. What distinguishes our ‘Vibe at FIVE’ and our experiential destinations are that our guests always leave with a memory they will never forget – and therefore, keep coming back for more!”
After proving that FIVE is a lifestyle that many Millennials want to be a part of in Dubai, what motivated you to move to Zurich, and what is different about Zurich?
“FIVE is a home-grown Dubai brand – and we have done exceptionally well in the UAE. Zurich is our first step into globally expanding the brand. As a city, Zurich has a lot to offer, and we wanted to bring our unique FIVE concepts to the community of Zurich, showcasing our signature entertainment cum dining offering. FIVE Zurich will help drive tourism, promote the entertainment industry, and further put Zurich on the map globally. Many of our guests that visit Dubai are based in Europe, so opening FIVE in Zurich will give them easy access, closer to home.”
Do you anticipate different types of ‘FIVERs’ to come to Zurich and how do you respond to that? Are there different people you work with here, and will you also work with EU talents?
“What unites FIVE guests is that they are all looking to have the best time possible, and this is the ethos that is woven throughout our hotels. Music runs through our DNA and is a key focus point in every venue. There is a lot of planning that goes into providing the absolute best experience for our guests; which also varies depending on the location. As a result, selecting music for the setting is crucial. We have great relationships with musicians that want to play for FIVE – and return to our entertainment destinations regularly.”
“We love supporting upcoming artists, whether that’s locally, regionally, or from throughout the Middle East and Europe. At the end of the day, it will be a combination of us bringing people to Zurich with whom we already have relationships with, people who are superstars, people whom the community appreciates, people with whom we have never worked before, and people who are seeking for a platform to truly shine.
The following local artists have played at FIVE Zurich: Laureano, Dangle Twins, Xavi Music Gil Glaze, Gettobabyjesus, Sam Madi, Patric Pleasure, 7UBO, Drezlo, Swissivory, Dominik, Mueller, Passik and Circus.
In Dubai, we run 25 music-driven events per week, and each one of them has a DJ, meaning that per year we have over 500 DJs playing for us. With Zurich added to that, we are looking to add another 250 DJs to our schedule. There is a lot of opportunity for everyone and we are really looking for new talent that needs to be recognized. I think there will be a great synergy between us and the city.”
What is the most exciting part about organizing these events and letting people experience them? And what is the most challenging?
“The fact that I never know what will happen – However, I enjoy every aspect of the dynamism of my role and duties. We always have our hands full with pre-planning. What kind of theme or concept we would like to run, what the event’s flow will be like, how many guests we’d like to invite and where they’ll be coming from, what kind of DJs we should book, and how we will handle advertising and marketing… All these aspects, and many more, go into the planning of the events.
On the day of the event itself, you always expect certain things to happen but in the end, something else will happen. The excitement for me is trying to get those roads to cross.
Then post the event; reviewing how it went. When guests leave feeling really great, the event was a huge success. All these different parts in the process of the events make my job very, very exhilarating – on a daily basis.”
Are you always on-site?
“At. Every. Event.”
Can you share your vision for FIVE’s future, and what can we expect?
“FIVE’s future looks like this: I don’t see an end. It’s a very long scope, there are goals 6 months from now, 9 months from now, 2 years from now, 5 years from now… FIVE, in my opinion, is growing more and more as an entertainment destination and platform.
We have developed strong ties with DJs and will continue to bring in new talent and create music with the FIVE sound, which you will hear if you visit our venues. We will continue to evolve, keeping the conversation with our customers alive in order to discover what works for them while also surprising them with fresh ideas.”
Finally, when do you consider an event to be a success?
“We total over 3 million guests a year, with 80% of attendees across our 25 weekly events being repeat guests, it’s clear that they are aligning themselves with the FIVE brand. To us, creating these honest relationships with our guests is the true measure of an event’s success.
When you look at our numbers, you can see that all of our events are growing year after year. This year, our Saturday beach party’s (Bohemia on Beach by FIVE) revenue increased by 35%, thanks in part to increasing the number of visitors per event from 400 to 1200. We are also quite proud of the fact that the number of nationalities attending our events has increased (at least 50 different nationalities). We moved from having a hotel with 477 rooms and a 90% occupancy rate to a 99% occupancy rate. Every Saturday, we host a brunch dubbed Naughty Noodles in Dubai, which began with 150 seats and has grown to 300 seats every week. These are unquestionably successful indicators that showcase FIVE’s growth.
The only thing we have to do now is to keep growing our spaces to accommodate the guests. Expanding to Europe with the opening of FIVE Zurich is the first exciting step.”
Discover more about FIVE Zurich here:
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