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Splendid selection

Released at: 10:45, 14/06/2017

Splendid selection

Photo: Viet Tuan

Despite some short-term challenges, Vietnam still offers great opportunities for high-end hospitality.

by Linh San

According to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, there were approximately 10 million international arrivals in Vietnam last year. Such growth is expected to continue, with approximately 18 million annual visitors anticipated by 2030, and is driving substantial growth in the country’s hospitality sector. 

Emerging Phu Quoc

In early June, Fusion Resort Phu Quoc will officially open, becoming the latest five-star resort on Phu Quoc Island. Located in a private bay, the resort boasts 97 cozy, thatched villas in a natural atmosphere of relaxed luxury with a breakfast anytime, anyplace concept so that guests can take life at their own pace. Each villa has its own private pool, for comfort and privacy. The resort is the perfect place for individuals, couples, families, or friends travelling together. 

Mr. Fernando Arroyo, General Manager of Fusion Resort Phu Quoc, told VET that the island is experiencing exponential growth in tourism and will continue to develop aggressively for many years to come. “Travelers worldwide are looking for new and exciting destinations, and Phu Quoc meets those criteria,” he said. “The island offers natural beauty and other requirements visitors seek. Investors are also recognizing the great potential the island possesses and are therefore coming here to invest.” 

In just one year, from a hidden paradise off the coast of the Mekong Delta’s Kien Giang province, Phu Quoc Island has seen breakthrough development. Considering it a key investment area, the CEO Group has focused on the development of world-class resort real estate products on the island. In April, it opened Novotel Villas, part of its Sonasea Villas & Resort complex, which covers 132 ha at Truong Beach, just a five-minute drive from the new airport. Novotel Villas is an extension of Novotel Phu Quoc Resort, bringing its total area to 13.5 ha and the number of five-star rooms to more than 700. It is the first resort of the Novotel brand allowed to sell to customers, affirming the trust and appreciation of Accor Hotels in the CEO Group.

Sun Group, meanwhile, recently cooperated with JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts to open JW Marriott Phu Quoc, Emerald Bay, which is the second hotel of the brand in Vietnam and joins a portfolio of more than 80 JW Marriott hotels across 25 countries. “The opening of JW Marriott Phu Quoc, Emerald Bay celebrates the arrival of the first international luxury hotel to this picturesque island paradise,” said Ms. Mitzi Gaskins, Global Brand Leader, JW Marriott & The Luxury Collection. “This stunning destination offers guests a variety of experiences, from white-sandy beaches to dense tropical jungle, and now with the addition of the JW Marriott brand, travelers will really have it all.”

A number of other developers, such as Vingroup and BIM Group, together with foreign investors, have flocked to the island and poured money into building mega resort and recreation projects. During a working session with Kien Giang provincial officials last month, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc advised the province to develop Phu Quoc Island into a unique, world-class tourism and resort center and a precious pearl, attracting new investors and providing momentum for the province’s economic development in the time to come.

Planned as one of three exclusive economic zones in Vietnam, Phu Quoc has introduced incentives such as zero land lease fees and a 50 per cent discount on personal income taxes and corporate income taxes, which has made investment even more attractive. All preferential policies of the highest level for investment are also being applied on the island.

The efforts of local authorities and investors to support tourism development are certainly paying off: visitor numbers are at an all-time high. According to a report from Savills in April, Phu Quoc is an attractive destination and a new alternative for international travelers, with arrivals growth of 40 per cent. “Phu Quoc is an ideal destination for high-end hospitality and as of Q4, 2016, the five-star segment accounted for 71 per cent of the 2,500 three- to five-star hotel rooms,” the report stated. “However, as an early-developed market, a large future supply may challenge developers to improve performance.” 

Interest greater than ever

Growth in tourism and visitation has spurred investment in Vietnam, especially in the hospitality, real estate, and industrial sectors. Not only Phu Quoc and other main economic centers such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are developing; coastal resort destinations such as Da Nang, Nha Trang, Quang Ninh, and Quang Binh have done likewise due to improvements in tourism infrastructure and enhanced accessibility. Many investors as well as major hotel and resort projects have therefore been developing throughout the country. 

Fusion Resort Phu Quoc is the sixth resort opened by Fusion in Vietnam to date, joining Fusion Resort Nha Trang, Fusion Maia Danang, Fusion Suites Saigon, Fusion Suites Danang Beach, and Alma Oasis Long Hai. Fusion has more than 1,500 employees, including 300 spa specialists. Mr. Marco Van Aggele, Founder of Fusion, told VET that since it was launched in 2008 its business performance has been extremely positive. “For Vietnam as a whole, even the last year or so, with the release of the new King Kong movie, and with numerous international magazines, TV shows, and websites listing it as one of the world’s most spectacular ‘must-see’ destinations, global interest is greater than ever,” he said. 

Mr. Aggele wants to expand the Fusion brand across Vietnam. “The next exciting phase for our team will be to introduce Fusion Retreats and Fusion Residences,” he said. “We will also be launching Fusion Originals, a range of boutique-style properties that will be entirely different from the rest of the Fusion range.” 

The InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort & Residences, meanwhile, will begin operations in the third quarter of this year. Located on one of the most beautiful white beaches on Phu Quoc Island, the project is being developed by the prestigious BIM Group in its Phu Quoc Marina Complex. The InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Residences consists of 115 condotels and five resort villas with original, exquisite architecture that are in harmony with the scenic landscape of the island.

Viceroy Hotel Group, a member of the Global Hotel Alliance, last month shared a first look at its upcoming Viceroy Danang Vietnam, an iconic five-star hotel found in the heart of the soon-to-open Cocobay entertainment and hospitality hub. The hotel is set to open in 2020. Its more than 700 luxury hotel rooms, suites, and condos will make guests and residents feel truly at home. “This is Viceroy’s first foray into Asia’s most highly-anticipated market, which is being created from the ground up,” said Mr. Anton Bawab, Regional President of Viceroy Hotel Group. “The mix of culture, nightlife, and hospitality that will come to life here will solidify Viceroy Danang Vietnam as a must-visit destination.”

Other major hotel brands active in hotel construction in Vietnam include Eastin Hotels and Citadines, with five and four hotels, respectively, projected in the years to come, Wyndham Soleil Danang, Pullman Hai Phong Flamboyant Island Resort, Eastin Grand Resort Phu Quoc, and InterContinental Cam Ranh Resort, to name just a few. 

Services & staff

Vietnam is a rapidly growing Southeast Asian tourism destination. The country’s rich geographic and topographic diversity and local micro climates support a variety of tourism appeals. The answer to the question of whether the country has the services to meet greater demand from a growing number of tourists is both yes and no.

“I think Vietnam has amazing locations and stunning scenery and the human resources to support growth, but only through sensible ideas and the correct allocation of funding can it reach the next level and meet the surge in demand,” said Mr. Aggele.

The key, he went on, is to meet that demand with products and services that people actually want to spend their money on, without damaging the character or the unique charm of Vietnam. “After all, this is what people want to experience when they come here.”

The next hurdle is educating staff, not only about what international tourists want but also how to deliver it. “For a country that’s relatively new to tourism and travel, it’s important to remember that many of the people you’re working with have never stepped foot inside an international-standard hotel. I think this is why some foreign tourists end up leaving Vietnam with negative views,” Mr. Aggele believes. 

As the hotel and tourism industry develops and grows, the local workforce becomes more and more scarce. Because of that, hotels need to attract employees by offering competitive salaries while providing them with a workplace environment where they feel cared for and respected, and where they see the potential to learn and grow. Only then will the industry be able to circumvent this challenge. 

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