The O interview: Arabella EL Barkouki, Regional Director of Sales Europe at Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group

The O Interview is proud to present Arabella El Barkouki, Regional Director of Sales, Europe at Mandarín Oriental Hotel Group.

Arabella oversees the 3 regional offices that cover UK, Europe, Russia and CIS (Community of Independent States) for Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group.  In addition to being responsible for the annual outgoing sales budget for these regions, she works closely to support the strategy of key hotels in the region and is part of the global MICE committee to introduce brand standard concessions to this dynamic segment.

We want to invite you to discover more about Arabella in the following interview.


o   Describe yourself in three words

Energetic, passionate, genuine

o   What is your professional background?

I started off in PR and marketing in the US and then I discovered my passion for the luxury hotel industry.  Since then, I have been lucky enough to work with some of the leading boutique and global hotel companies on the property and at the corporate level –  including The Hempel, Four Seasons and Dorchester Collection – prior to arriving at Mandarin Oriental 2 years ago.

o   What do you find most challenging about our industry?

Retaining top talent in such a global industry

o   What is the best thing about working for Mandarin Oriental?

Our current pace of change – this is a very exciting time for our brand as we are expanding quicker than ever before with new openings around the world and the energy is contagious across the global teams!

o   What is your favourite destination in the world and why?

St Mawes, Cornwall – a slice of the Mediterranean in the south of England.  This will always hold a special place in my heart as my grandparents taught me to sail here, I caught my first mackerel off the coast and my husband proposed to me here – they also have the best fresh crab sandwiches

o   Did you have any mentors or people who deeply influenced your career?

My first GM constantly raised the bar which rapidly accelerated my learning curve during my first 2 years in the hotel industry.   Later in life, my husband moved away from England with me to allow me to follow my career…and then took me back as he followed his!

o   Proudest moment in your career to date?

I’m grateful to have a lot in my career to be proud of, so rather than choosing one moment, every move in my career has been a proud moment, especially joining Mandarin Oriental

o   What would it be your recommendation to young professionals starting to work in the MICE industry?

      1.- Work it from all angles – try agencies, corporate companies and hotels to see which is the best fit

      2.- Every moment in your career is an opportunity to learn, absorb, understand various points of views, these are all additions to your skill set and will remain with you for the rest of your career

      3.- Have fun in your job and make friends, it’s the greatest asset in the hospitality industry

o   Your favourite band(s)?

Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen,  you know big hair 80s rock bands

o   Your Favourite Book?

Le Parfum – Patrick Suskind.  This was the first novel I read in French and was the start of an exciting rite of passage that was my gap year in Paris

o   Professional that you admire and why?

Jean Claude Biver, CEO of TAG.  Because he has a uniquely philosophical approach to luxury that has led him to be a pioneer in a very traditional industry through his daring innovation – and because he has a fabulous sense of humour!

o   Your favourite brand(s)?

Sisley (best plant-based skincare), Zoggs (the only goggles that don’t fog), The Times (because they do the best crosswords)

o   Other favourite destinations?

Getting away from it all…Canouan, Bodrum, Marrakech and Formentera.


Thank you very much, Arabella! It is an honour to know a little bit more about you and your professional career. We wish you a fantastic 2018!

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