Ma Lin, general manager of Sheraton Huizhou Beach Resort, has rich experience in hotel management. China Hospitality News interviewed him to find out what distinguishing features Huizhou, a new resort, has to attract more tourists from China and abroad.
How does Sheraton Huizhou Beach Resort take advantage of its unique features to make use of the local tourism resources?
Sheraton Huizhou Beach Resort lies inside the two-hour economic circle of the Pearl River Delta Region. Huizhou where the hotel is located features rich tourism resource as a subtropical region, including the famous Luofu Mountain, Nankun Mountain, West Lake, East River, Pinghai Ancient Town and the only turtle breeding beach on the continental shelf. The reefs of Xunliao Bay and the numerous islands spreading across the sea have won the reputation of being a "Little Guilin on the Sea", the white slica sand, and the constantly changing sea-scape are so charming. All this has endowed us with natural advantages unparalleled in the Chinese mainland. When choosing our hotel, customers are given access to many different kinds of sea-based activities and the chance to visit the beautiful Kejia villages in the surrounding areas.
How do you position your hotel in the market? What is your strategic plan for average RevPAR?
We position ourselves as a natural lifestyle five-star hotel and the first international five-star hotel in Huizhou. The beautiful natural environment, the construction of the Financial Street by Huizhou Properties as well as Starwood's commitments have made the whole Jinhai Bay area, including Sheraton Huizhou Beach Resort, famous. As the best holiday resort in Chinese mainland, we aim to "develop ourselves as a premier choice for people who want to experience subtropical coast life". We adjust our room rate on a seasonal basis. In the peak season of summer, our rooms often need to be booked several weeks in advance. In winter and spring, the room rate is cheaper. So for those traveling from the northern part of the country, now [December and January] is the best time to arrive when the temperature averages 17-23 degrees and guests can appreciate the green grassland, white sands and blue sky while they are enjoying our hospitality.
What do you expect the percentage composition of your guests (e.g. corporate travel, MICE, or leisure) will be?
Our clients mainly come from the MICE sector. Several large size meetings and parties have recently been held in our hotel, and beach themed and garden themed activities as well as large banquet have also been held with us based on the natural scenery and ocean atmosphere nearby. In the hot summer months of July and August, FIT tourists of families are a major source of our clients.
How do you and your team face the post-Olympic environment in 2009 and the difficulties that result from the international financial crisis?
The current economic situation has actually provided a good market for domestic travel and short-distance travel. Now, multinational companies would rather to choose a hotel close to them instead of going a far way to hold their MICE activities, for this will not only achieve their desired goals, but also save costs f at the same time. The Pearl River Deltas beach area is more than ten times larger than that of Shenzhen's Dameisha and Xiaomeisha in total and it's about 800 kilometers closer [to Beijing] than Hainan. As a result, it can save groups or individuals more than half the cost of traveling to Hainan. For domestic travelers, it's also an attractive destination.