High-end hotels are using a variety of methods to maintain revenue during the pandemic. Their income varies – although those designated as quarantine residences have benefited – but they all have high hopes for the future after learning lessons from the Covid-19 experience.
The luxury hotel market globally was valued at $174.9 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach a whopping $238.49 billion by 2028, but with the seemingly never-ending Coronavirus, they face the question how this is going to maintain income if and when quarantine is reduced or abolished because of a largely vaccinated world.
In Phnom Penh there is no shortage of luxury hotels but space limits us to just a few.
With only 108,000 international tourists registered in the first half of the year which is down 90.8 percent from the 1.18 million in the same period of 2020, according to the central bank, there is a long way to go.
They have adapted by hosting business seminars and special events, of course keeping in line with anti-Covid-19 regulations.
Frank Guglielmo, general manager of Baitong Hotel and Resort in BKK1 since 2019, commented: “Instead of burying our heads we decided to keep on going and see what the next few months will bring.”
“One big thing for us was the launching of our long-stay rooms back in April 2020 when Covid-19 first reared its head amid the community event outbreak,” he said.
“Using trial and error, if one thing doesn’t work, try something new. Baitong is known as a trendsetter, also launching special ‘staycation’ short-term escapes such as our ‘Take a Break weekend’ and ‘Soakin’ Up Sundays. Always have the fighting spirit in our business.”
He continued: “We have managed to keep a complete team since April have kept them with full salary and our staff turnover is minimal.”
Baitong means “green” in Khmer and the hotel has a very unique and niche look.
“Since 2019 Baitong has seen so much change in terms of clientele, initially opening as a business hotel, catering for business folk in the city or travelling.”
“Our motto is ‘grey to green’, meaning from your work day to a relaxed environment. Many of our guests comment it is like you are not in the city.”
“We are always thinking of new ideas and concepts to keep ahead of the rest. We will revise our strategy when the borders open to remain competitive, with a step-by-step approach. And, of course, host real parties when the restrictions end.”
“We used to have so many special nights: ladies nights, taco nights et cetera. And this is one thing we look forward to doing again. We already have live music on Fridays and Saturdays [with restrictions] and our famous jazz night on Sundays.”
“Last Christmas we had over more than guests and had a great night. This year we will still have a few months to plan ahead and do better.”
“One thing I have noticed is the positivity and the hope of there being better times to come with the borders opening and more tourists coming to enjoy the beauty of Cambodia.”
“Whether it be relaxing in Siem Reap and visiting Angkor Wat, to a pristine beach or to the capital Phnom Penh to enjoy a break in a luxury hotel and get five-star service, the opportunities will be endless.”
Hyatt Regency General Manager Herman Kemp commented: “When we first opened we were overwhelmed with the positive response from the market, until the Feb 20 incident [when some infected people bribed their way out of quarantine in Phnom Penh and went clubbing].”
“We had to partially close some of our food and beverage outlets. It’s been a very challenging six months to get through the lockdown, the extensions prakas and, to date, we are looking forward to the easing of restrictions and the road to recovery.”
“The hotel has partnered with Nham 24 and TADA to deliver our food. We have also implemented various tactical offers to assist our accommodation and events facilities. We also continue to follow guidance on Covid-19 and how to protect against transmission of the virus and operational procedures if a guest or staff member were to contract it.”
“Once the lockdown restrictions have been lifted we will be holding exquisite social events and dining experiences.”
“As a hotel business we have a moral responsibility to support the government and wait for the reopening of the borders, which won’t be forever because Cambodia has a high percentage of vaccinated people.”
“In the future we will be looking at chef collaborations but in the meantime we are partnering with locally based chefs along with live entertainment in the near future held in the Attic bar as well as our underground Metropole bar.”
Palace Gate hotel, one of the first five-star hotels to be in Cambodia said, “For two years we have been suffering from the February incident, causing the city to go into lockdown and curfew, and are really hoping for the borders to be open. These two years have been painful because we had to let some staff go and some staff remain with 50 percent salary. When the borders reopen, we can welcome staff and customers back.”
“We were the first business in hospitality to have a fully vaccinated staff – two doses – and now, with the third being available, we are slowly becoming that again. We will open with a new platform once everything is lifted with new measurements to keep in line with ongoing safety amid Covid-19.”
“At the moment we are at 30 percent occupancy with a lot of guests visiting us at the weekends to enjoy our pool and spa facilities. Our pool is salt water with very minimal chemicals.”
“Our monthly rate is $900 and we have staycation packages. The rooms have ultra-violet equipment to kill any bacteria so it is one of the most anti-Covid hotels in the city.”
Rosewood hotel at the top of Vattanac Tower is the height of luxury. Daniel Simon, general manager of Rosewood hotels, said: “Every hospitality industry has suffered greatly. Two months ago I joined the hotel amid the lockdown restrictions. I came from Bangkok. We had to close Cuts Japanese restaurant three months ago. We are now delivering through foodpanda and we are more visible on social media. Unfortunately our occupancy is 20 percent at the moment which is not what we want – but all of our staff are vaccinated with two shots and awaiting the booster shot. Since moving here two months ago I personally find Cambodia very accommodating and I look forward to the future when the borders are open and the restrictions are lifted.”
This article was first published in Khmer Times. All contents and images are copyright to their respective owners and sources.