With distinctive square contours, resembling New York’s Empire State Building, the newly opened, ultra-luxury Grand Hyatt in Manila is already gaining a reputation for being a venue for brilliant, atypical MICE events, say its operators.
The hotel has been a year late in opening, but for PCOs already seeking bookings out beyond the year, it will be worth the wait, they say.
Why? For one thing, according to Director of Sales and Marketing Mellissa Ledesma (pictured below with Gottfried Bogensperger, General Manager of Grand Hyatt Manila) it’s set in Bonifacio Global City (BGC), a booming grid-style urban precinct once owned by the American military that features great shopping, entertainment, clubs, dining and museums within walking distance of the hotel.
“Because of all the action happening in the BGC area, it’s a destination on its own,” says Mellissa in an exclusive interview with The Siteseer. “That’s what we want to project to the world; it’s hugely exciting.”
Second, the building in which the hotel is located is a talking point in itself. It’s said to be the tallest structure in the Philippines at 66 storeys. From the ground to the sixth level is the podium level of the hotel.
The seventh to the thirty-fourth floors house the financial group that owns Grand Hyatt Manila. The hotel itself occupies the thirty-fifth to the sixty-sixth floors, with all 461 rooms having floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic views of Metro Manila and the blue waters of Manila Bay. “This is also a unique selling point,” says Mellissa.
Third and not least, the events and associated facilities – 2,281 square metres in total – are genuinely enticing, at the kind of competitive prices for which Manila is gaining a reputation. The pillarless grand ballroom, flanked on one side by a show kitchen, is the only one in the city with natural light, a singular architectural feat considering that it’s a 1,240-square-metre space.
“If they choose to, guests can watch chefs cooking to lights and music, with videos of what they’re doing screened around the ballroom,” Mellissa explains.
Ballroom seating for 900
The ballroom’s capacity is around 900. Its great advantage is that with so many guest rooms, which include 52 suites, for most events everyone can stay on site, Mellissa says. Moreover there are plenty of options for plenary and breakout sessions. “For conferences the ideal booking size is about 100 rooms and 200 people.”
The lobby lounge is set over three tiers. The top tier houses the Grand Kitchen, an all-day dining venue where, in a departure from typical buffets, food is cooked à la minute. “Everything is prepared fresh so you have no situation where food is sitting around in a serving dish for hours,” says Mellissa. “Everything’s served to order so if you have a dietary issue, like you want salt taken out, it’s easy.”
On the fifth floor is a soon-to-open restaurant, No 8 China House. And at the Cellar, a welcoming bar and eatery serving tapas-like meals, The Siteseer’s representative sampled savoury ham-and-béchamel croquettes here, followed by a fragrant, seafood-rich paella. The Cellar is open for lunch and dinner and in the afternoons and is available for drinks throughout the day. Guests here can enjoy craft beers and a vast selection of good wines, which they can select from a digital sommelier, Vinu.
Perhaps the highlight of the public spaces, to open soon, will be The Peak at the top of the building, where an entertainment centre will occupy two storeys, with a grill restaurant, bars, a band venue, club, and, like the Empire State building, an al-fresco area where visitors can drink and dine at a dizzying height.
“One of the strengths of us being a MICE property is that any of the public spaces in the hotel, including restaurants, can be converted to events venues,” Mellissa explains. “On the sixth level where the pool, spa and gym are located we have a pavilion that can seat a hundred and which opens up to a garden. Or the area can be closed off for an evening event.”
Significant MICE business is already being booked from the US, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong and Australia, says Mellissa. “We’re developing China, and tourists from China have tripled recently, with a number of enquiries for events. We had one last week from Beijing. In addition there are new markets emerging that were never previously on our radar, like the Czech Republic and Italy.”
An attraction for guests, too, is the fresh-looking guestrooms and suites, which have been set up with honeyed wood walls and maple-plank floors. Bathrooms are finished in veined grey-white marble and have a spacious glass enclosed shower stall and deep soaking tub. There’s a sizeable lounge area with a desk, plush couch, walk-in closet, safe and floor-to-ceiling mirror walls.
Compared with, say, Hong Kong, Tokyo or Singapore, Manila is widely known for being a low-cost city, especially in relation to luxury properties. Still, it depends how you define value, Mellissa observes. “We ensure our guests get what they need and what they want.
“When you compare this hotel to other destinations in Asia, it’s much more competitive. In the past Manila hasn’t generally been rated that highly as a MICE destination; now there’s growing interest.”
Grand Hyatt has been offering introductory rates on rooms, along with other special offers and arrangements. Going rates for the Grand King room start at USD182++ (PHP9,500++). The MICE rate for a Grand King room with buffet breakfast, morning snacks, afternoon snacks is USD229++ (PHP12,000++) for single occupancy and USD305++ (PHP16,000++) for double occupancy.
Hyatt has been in the Philippines since the ‘seventies, and was one of the earliest international hotel chains to set up in the country. Yet this is the first time an ultra-premium Grand Hyatt has been located in the islands. The brand is in a bold expansion phase, with six Grand Hyatt hotels currently in the pipeline round the world, including the one in Manila.
“By giving guests our full attention and making them feel celebrated, we hope to build an emotional connection with them to ensure their stay with us is unforgettable,” says Gottfried Bogensperger. “We want them to keep coming back, not just for the hardware, which is the hotel, but for the warm and authentic people working behind the scenes.”
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