Michel L. Goget — General manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Sanya
FOR more than a decade, Sanya on Hainan Island has thrived as China’s top seaside resort, with its year-round sunshine, white sand beaches and lush rainforest.
However, it is only recently that the island city with a tropical landscape has built itself a name as one of the country’s major meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) destinations, proving particularly popular with domestic clients.
"There’s been a notable change over the past few years," says Michel Goget, a French-born American who has been at the helm of The Ritz-Carlton, Sanya since 2007, before it opened.
"In 2008, about 80 percent of our MICE business came from multinational organizations; domestic customers now account for some 50 percent of our MICE business, a key segment of the hotel operation which contributes between 25 and 35 percent of our overall revenue," explains the general manager.
The Ritz-Carlton, Sanya is The Ritz-Carlton’s first resort in China and an upper luxury resort in Yalong Bay. Three months after opening in April 2008, the 450-room property gained the No. 1 position in Hainan in terms of average rates, occupancy and revenue per available room, and has retained this position ever since.
To strengthen its leadership and meet growing domestic MICE demand, the hotel has been gradually shifting its marketing focus from first-tier gateways, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, to the country’s much larger pool of vibrant secondary cities, such as Chengdu and Tianjin. In doing so, it has concentrated on brand differentiation, according to General Manager Goget.
"There are differences between luxury and upper luxury brands in China, even though they are all categorized as five-star hotels," says Goget.
"Luxury, however, has changed tremendously over the last 20 years. So we have to adjust to anticipate the needs of our customers. In the past they tended to be older, but now more and more are in their 30s, 40s or 50s."
In a demonstration of the brand’s commitment to service and guest satisfaction, The Ritz-Carlton, Sanya has launched several initiatives that add up to a great sense of place, together with immaculate detail and service.
In February, the hotel unveiled a luxurious eco-friendly garden, a haven for city dwellers and their families to sample country living, providing a wonderful escape from urban stresses.
As part of the Ritz Kids Club, Uncle Martin’s Secret Garden, created by the hotel’s Director of Engineering in his spare time, allows today’s tablet computer generation to have a more up close and personal relationship with nature. Watching a mother hen and her chicks, hearing parrots squawking in the trees and exploring gardens filled with fruit and flowers, families can reconnect with nature, and parents revisit happy childhood memories accompanied by their own children.
For couples, the Ritz-Carlton, Sanya provides the ideal location for an amazing and unforgettable romantic experience. Boasting Sanya’s first beachside wedding chapel, complete with stunning views of the South China Sea, plus the services of a professional "Romanceologist," the hotel’s wedding business has tripled over the past three years, Goget says.
The first hotel service of its kind in the world, the Romanceologist engages with guests by learning and understanding their expressed – and sometimes unexpressed – wishes, requirements and preferences, and offering proposals for different romantic occasions.
"A great location, an unbeatable product and service, a powerful brand and clear positioning are key factors to our success," concludes Goget, a hospitality veteran whose career spans more than 20 years in seven countries.
The Ritz-Carlton, Sanya’s 450 spacious guest rooms include 33 pool villas and 21 luxury suites. It also offers eight restaurants and lounges, aiming to satisfy the most discerning taste buds, as well as some 1,700 square meters of flexible space, including a 910-square-meter ballroom along with an additional nine meeting rooms adaptable to various events and occasions.
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