Sophia Fakhry describes The Smallville Hotel in Beirut as the ‘utopia of a civilized city’. Along with her superhero staff, Sophia promises each guest a unique, emotional experience and, thanks to the hotel mascot, one they’re unlikely to forget.
1. Please introduce yourself to our readers:
My name is Sophia Fakhry. I majored in Communication Arts & Education. I worked in Business Management Consultant for a school concept in Dubai and worked 20 years in hotels, Food & Beverage, Business Management and Marketing Solutions. I am the General Manager and stakeholder at The Smallville Hotel, an urban design lifestyle hotel in Beirut, partner at Beirut Homes Hotel Apartments, founder of The Superville Hospitality Management Solutions and the founder & CEO of #SUPER; an e-commerce and lifestyle brand and the creator of various restaurants, wellness and design concepts. Last by not least I am the author of Marvelous the Great Magician Series composed of 7 volumes.
2. How did you start out in the hotel industry? What inspired you?
I grew up with lot of dreams. Through my travel, I started exploring design hotels where I was inspired, and decided to have my own. I named it The Smallville Hotel after my beloved small town, Beirut.
3. Tell us about the Smallville Hotel. What makes it unique and sets it apart?
The Smallville Hotel is the reflection of the ideal city. The hotel is unique with its own identity. It is an exhibition for different artists’ works, a stage for creative ideas, and the home of Super Sophie.
Super Sophie is the mascot of the hotel. She believes in superheroes’ power and she infuses her thoughts and ideas in every corner. She lives in the hotel, crashes on weddings, gives a hand to housekeeping and helps our employees to be superheroes in their jobs. Ask to #MeetSuperSophie.
4. What is the atmosphere of your hotel? What types of guests does it attract?
The hotel is designed for everyone who is in love with fashion, innovation and creativity. It is young and hip. The hotel fits for both corporate and leisure. Who said that corporates cannot have fun and stay in a hotel with a nice atmosphere, melody, good vibes and delicious food?
5. What does the hotel offer in terms of leisure facilities?
The hotel offers a wide variety of services. As well as rooms and a full food and beverage service – it has four outlets, each with its own identity and unique design for both locals and travelers – there’s banqueting, hair salon, SPA, a Just Ask Alternative Concierge Services, activities, marketing tools for promotion and publicity, and a design store. You can skip to the rooftop to enjoy your favorite cocktail while tanning in the pool overlooking the hippodrome of Beirut. Moreover, an early morning or a late night work-out will help at our Superhero Gym. Everything is offered with a smile and a special touch. Also, you can enjoy a ride by renting one of our bikes and have a tour of the neighborhood.
The hotel offers special rates for day use, short or extended stays.
Come to reception and ask for a chance to look in our super design store, a very unique concept store that reflects art works and hand made goods.
6. What will guests rave about to their friends and family?
Well, what makes us different than any other hotel is the unique design made with a twist as we aim to provide every single guest with a unique emotional and memorable experience. The unique vibe, the dynamic interactive spirit of the hotel, and the experience is what makes us special. We like our guests to skip a heartbeat when they enter the hotel. For example, during Easter we have live rabbits and we have the #MeetSuperSophie character displayed with her feet upside down!
We are the only hotel where the Red Street Boom exists at the hotel pavement – one of our guests’ most popular outlet restaurant and pub. Cars are parked by the valet so you can just step in with music vibes and a nice atmosphere of pop art.
Sophia’s Live Kitchen; the main Italian restaurant was named after Sophia Loren’s 1971 Italian Cookbook. A carousel of flavors and a roller coaster of delights awaits the guests for the playful at heart and those who like to indulge their senses in authentic Italian dishes. Sophia & Sophia have passion for travel and are single-minded; a food-obsessed who are constantly on the lookout for food and cooking that’s unique to Italy. Their chef accompanied them on their voyages in search of the best, freshest ingredients to bring back home to their hip hotel.
You can also enjoy The Secret Garden – what happens in the garden, stays in the garden! A two floor plans venue perfect for private events, weddings, corporate conferences and birthdays. It has been created and managed to suit a variety of set ups as a guest desires!
And take the elevators where you can look at the hotel best videos, taking you back to your innocent childhood with a gentle smile.
At the 16th floor, you get to The Poolhouse / The Penthouse where you can ‘Stargaze’ a 360-degree view, enjoy the sunset and relax in a comfortable room that takes you all the way from the city view, to a ride to the hippodrome, until reaching the mountain. Refreshingly chill during the hot seasons, alluringly warm during the cold seasons The Poolhouse is open all year long!
Anyone, from the moment they enter, feels something unique and different. When using the hotel, you cannot fail to notice the art in the heart of the lobby surrounded by many designers’ and artists’ creations.
It is simply a hotel in the heart of the city that allows you to feel the heartbeat of Beirut. It offers you a panoramic view, located within walking distance from the trendy street of Badaro, full of happening places and bars; for a local shopping experience; and 15 minutes’ walk away from the downtown district.
7. How does your hotel embrace the digital world?
It is a high-tech hotel; ecofriendly, in love with digital gadgets. The minute you step onto the hotel’s pavement, you will be able to tell that The Smallville Hotel is a utopia of a civilized city that delivers all messages through its digital visual marketing means.
8. How do you get your inspiration and stay motivated?
When my superheroes deliver professional service and ensure each guest’s stay is embraced with a unique emotional experience by anticipating their needs and exceeding expectations. This is what pushes me to go further. Also, my employees’ happiness and satisfaction is what motivates me the most.
9. What authentic local experiences will guests have access to?
We are having a sort of farmer market brunch at The Secret Garden; and for the travelers, we have a Lebanese breakfast buffet.
All staff are well trained and get along with guests in a professional but friendly way; personalized but never casual. My superheroes will make sure to deliver to every single guest a high standard of personalized service where they will be anticipating needs and fulfilling requirements and preferences leaving each guest with a unique emotional experience.
The Smallville Hotel will offer every guest a ‘Just Ask Alternative Concierge Service’, recommend the city’s happening outings, theatres, bookings and all Lebanese-flavor arts and culture with add-ons and extras that you do not usually find in a non-designed hotel.
10. Your biggest achievement so far?
My biggest achievement so far is succeeding in building a successful team at Hotel resulting in it becoming one of the top 3 hotels in town for high occupancy, and one of the top 5 hotels on the Online Market. Although we are not a chain, we managed to create our own identity which is rarely found in the Arab region.
11. What are some of your hobbies?
Swimming is my major hobby. Also, creation and innovation is my passion.
12. How do you de-stress yourself on a busy day?
Take time off to swim at the end of each day.
13. What are your keys to success?
Never giving up. Persistence, continual follow up, having a sense of detail and a sense of vision and purpose are my main keys to success.
14. Your favorite quote:
What does not kill you will only make you stronger.
15. Your favorite holiday destination?
Any beach destination. Immerging myself into salty water in the sunlight makes me feel very relaxed.
16. What are your future plans?
To expand into this business further and engage as many people as possible. I am also writing a children’s book for the UN about sustainable development goals that have been signed in the Paris agreement.
17. Your favorite cuisine?
Italian and Japanese.
18. Your message for the citizens of Beirut
I would like to deliver a message of hope, beauty, innovation and provide a home away from home accommodation and services that are personalized to both the business and leisure traveler.