Terry Ko, the general manager of Le Meridien Shimei Bay, started his hospitality career in Taipei with Hilton International. Since then Ko, a Canadian citizen, has worked with a number of major international hotel brands in North America and across Asia Pacific.
What are the major challenges you have faced since the resort opened?
Shimei Bay is not a familiar destination to domestic and international guests. So creating and improving their awareness for our hotel and our brand is a key point for us, and at the same time, we must promote this new holiday destination to all travelers.
Of course, the financial crisis is a challenge as well, but we will overcome it, because we have confidence with our brand and our product.
You have worked in the hospitality industry in Greater China, North America, and South East Asia. How would you compare or contrast the industry in these different regions? What has been your favorite posting?
Every place is different from every other, even in China. Each hotel has its own style, the staff are different, depending on the type of hotel, they each target a different market segment. Hence the customers are different. However, there is one thing in common, all the hotels I've worked in strive to do their very best to exceed customer expectation. The staff are all dedicated, hard working, warm and friendly. I like everywhere I've been. A hotel is like a city within a city, we can create a lifestyle of our own.
But as a city, I thing Vancouver is very nice, the mountains and the sea, warm summers and mild winters and lots of outdoor sports.
How do you differentiate Le Meridien Shimei Bay from other top-level hotels on Hainan Island?
Our resort is designed by the Thailand based firm, LEO, that designed the seven-star Kempinski Hotel in Abu Dhabi.
Generally, our hotel is Southeast Asian style, combined with some special elements from both the Eastern and Western architectures. We have used a large number of local patterns from the Li minority people for decorating our lobby, guestrooms, and carved on the stone fabric of the buildings. This will enable guests to enjoy the local designs.
Our hotel is the first International upper-scale hotel to open in this fantastic area, and we have beautiful views of the South Sea of China. So people here can be more relaxed, because it is less crowded than other areas. Meanwhile, Jiajing Island in the middle of the sea is like an emerald which draws people to discover it.
We have 250 rooms, 16 duplex villas, eight seafronts villas and a Presidential Villa in Le Méridien Shimei Bay Beach Resort & Spa, plus 80 private swimming pools for guest rooms and villas. The Spa, our spa center, provides traditional treatments for all guests. Guests can choose to challenge themselves on any of the four golf courses around our resort.
Emerald Jiajing Island can be reached within seven minutes from our hotel, and it is covered by 14.2 acres of green vegetation. It is also a haven for diving and snorkeling, and the coral around the island is natural and fabulous.
Shimei Bay may not be as well known as other destinations in Hainan. What advantages and challenges has this brought the resort?
Advantages: A huge market is open to us since there are not many people know this destination. The natural beauty fof Shimei Bay plus the high quality hardware and software of our hotel can attract more and more people to stay with us.
Challenges: Because we are the first hotel in this area, the beginning will be tough, but we will try our best to overcome all challenges and to make our hotel famous and well-known.
Which do you see as the main focus of your business, the leisure traveler, the MICE market or a balanced combination of both?
We look for a balanced combination of both, our leisure segment will be approximately 60%, and the MICE market will be approximately 40%.
What level of support has Le Méridien Shimei Bay received from the local authorities? Are there any suggestions that you would like to make to them to help improve the hospitality industry in the Shimei Bay area?
The local government has been very supportive in facilitating our owning company, China Resources in the development of Shimei Bay. Moving forward, I think the government should further promote Hainan as The Tropical Tourism Paradise which will benefit the tourism industry as a whole – and we will also benefit from it.
What is your view of the prospects for the up-coming holiday season?
Because of the effect of the economic crisis, the market condition is not so optimistic. But at the same time, I hope that people who originally planned to go to the Southeast Asia would come to Hainan instead. And hopefully this will offset our losses.
What corporate social responsibility programs is Le Meridien Shimei Bay planning to implement?
Starwood cooperates with UNICEF to implement a program called Check-out For Children.
If you had just thirty seconds in an elevator to tell someone why they should stay in Le Meridien Shimei Bay what would you say?
The blue sea is before us; the green hills are around us; Jiajing Island faces us; there are pleasant sights under the sea; we have many water sports activities, a spa that makes you physically and mentally relaxed, and the endless fun of golf. Enjoy your stay in Shimei Bay.