Marco Polo is setting out on a new journey of discovery this year as it expands its network in Asia and ramps up its marketing under a new global partnership.
“Like Marco Polo did a long time ago, we are setting out on a new journey of discovery this year. We are digging deep into our roots, which are firmly in Asia, to offer travelers a unique experience – a blend of contemporary Chinese meets modern Italian,” said Mr Jeffrey Flowers, President of the Hong Kong-based hotel group.
This means offering travelers “an Asian hospitality experience with a modern Western facility that reflects the culture and traditions of the host city, as opposed to the global chains that promise a predictable, but not necessarily memorable, experience.”
Marco Polo Hotels, owned by the Hong Kong Wharf Group, finished 2006 on a high note, with its nine operating hotels posting double digit financial increases in nearly all markets, namely Hong Kong, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.
It added two new hotels last year with the opening of the Marco Polo Plaza in Cebu, and the Marco Polo Shenzhen in the Futian District of Shenzhen in China. It added a new sales and development office in Shanghai, complementing existing sales offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, London, Singapore, Tokyo and New York.
It also announced new projects in Wuhan and Chengdu in China. In April, it will open the stylish Marco Polo Parkside in Beijing, located only 800 meters from the entrance to the 2008 Olympic Games.
A December opening is meanwhile planned for the Marco Polo Wuhan. “With its outstanding river front location, the Marco Polo Wuhan will become the leading hotel in the city and will be the flagship of the Wharf China’s new development, Wuhan Times Square,” said Mr Flowers.
“Each of our hotels will offer unique elements of what makes a Marco Polo experience, and that experience will have different nuances depending on where the hotels are. We are small enough to customize, unlike the big global brands that have to have a cookie-cutter approach to their services.”
In food and beverage for instance, Marco Polo Hotels will play up its Italian heritage fused with Asian cuisine. It is in the midst of developing a signature restaurant theme that will offer authentic Chinese food fused with Italian flavors with restaurants to be rolled out in its hotels.
Marco Polo is also kicking off 2007 as the latest Asian member to join the Global Hotel Alliance, the world’s largest alliance of independent hotel groups. Created in 2004, it comprises Dusit Hotels & Resorts, Kempinski Hotels, Landis Hotels & Resorts, Marco Polo Hotels, Omni Hotels, Pan Pacific Hotels and Resorts and Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts.
“We bring to the GHA table Hong Kong/China/Philippines while GHA will provide Marco Polo with a World Wide platform for marketing, offering opportunities and economies to better position the member groups against the Global Players.
“GHA has established a travel portal that not only provides an internet booking engine for member hotels, but destination information, airline booking capability, and special packages. GHA members will cooperate at trade shows, consortia solicitation and will participate in a unique group leads program called “G-Leads” that offers meaningful incentives to member hotel employees for confirmed group bookings at any of the GHA member hotels. Opportunities for participation in airline FFP programs that would not be available to the individual companies will be another opportunity for GHA as a whole. The notion of each hotel brand offering their own unique hospitality experience reflective of their own culture is consistent with Marco Polo’s approach as a regional hotel operator with an Asian flavor.”
GHA now consists of 152 upscale and luxury hotels and resorts, spread over 39 different countries. Each brand is a key player in their main region of operation. Kempinski in Europe; Omni in North America; Pan Pacific in the Pacific Rim; The Leela Group in India, Dusit in Thailand, Landis in Taiwan & China and Marco Polo in China and Hong Kong. GHA will continue to grow to include selected hotel brands in those regions not currently covered by the alliance.
Marco Polo Hotels has a portfolio of 13 properties in Asia including:
Hong Kong Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel
Hong Kong Gateway
Hong Kong Prince
Beijing Marco Polo Parkside (2007)
Beijing Marco Polo Xidan
Chengdu Marco Polo (2009)
Shenzhen Marco Polo
Wuhan Marco Polo (2007)
Xiamen Marco Polo
Wuxi Marco Polo (2011)
Cebu Marco Polo Plaza
Davao Marco Polo
Ho Chi Minh City Omni Saigon Hotel