Banking on great success of hotel Le Meridien Dhaka, Marriot International has drawn out plans to open seven new hotels in the capital and other cities in next five years to firm its grip on the country’s growing luxury hospitality industry.
At least 2,000 trained staffs would be chosen from home and abroad to operate the hotels, said general manager Constantinos S Gavriel of Le Meridien Dhaka, during an interview with New Age on Tuesday at the hotel.
Each room of the the hotels, some of them are in the pipeline and others on paper, would require investment of at least about $2 lakh, he said.
Constantinos S Gavriel, a British national, joined Le Meridien Dhaka in July 2017 as his company Marriot International, a US-base multinational hospitality company, is eyeing increased presence in Bangladesh following a double-digit growth of Le Meridien Dhaka since its launch in 2015 and the successful stint with Westin Dhaka and Four Points by Sheraton at Gulshan.
The success of Le Meridien Dhaka is overwhelming in category of luxury hotel in this part of the world.
In fact, Le Meridien Dhaka achieved its major targets ahead of time, noted Constantinos Gavriel.
He attributed great success of the hotel to services provided by its staff to the guests round the clock and facilities like accommodation of 1,500 to 2,000 delegates, two large banquette halls in addition to seven meeting rooms and a world-class spa.
Terming their operation as a beginning of an ‘exciting journey’ in the county’s hospitality business, Constantinos Gavriel said two luxury hotels — Renaissance Dhaka and Sheraton Barani — were expected to come into operation later this year.
He also said they have already signed two contracts with Best Holdings, owner of the Le Meridien, to establish two hotels — one is Marriot Courtyard with three to four stars facility and the others is an integrated resort at Bhaluka.
The proposed Bhaluka resort would be a luxury collection, he noted.
Other proposed hotels include Courtyard by Marriott in Chittagong, JW Marriott in Dhaka, Element by Westin in Dhaka and Courtyard by Marriott at Bhaluka.
Marriot International, according to Gavriel, is also looking for suitable places outside Dhaka to expand its business. The company believes that demand for luxury hotels would go up in the coming years with the proliferation of corporate groups in the country in addition to the growing presence of foreign businessmen for the readymade garment sector.
He gave credit to the present government for establishing infrastructure, especially the transport network, which is one of the major criteria to push the demand for hotels.
He noted that active cooperation between the government and private sector was a must for flourishing of the hospitality and tourism industry as seen in the developed and developing countries.
Constantinos Gavriel also noted that the dearth of skilled manpower was the major challenge for the county’s hospitality industry.
Unlike old days, the success of luxury hotel business nowadays not only confined within the comfortable suits and air conditioned facility but also rests on things beyond those, he said.
The hotel management should seize the customers’ expectation and experience, he said while elaborating the concept of the modern-day business strategy. And only talented persons are able to get hold of it, he said.
He further added that they have already picked up talents from the Asian University for Women in Chittagong.
According to him, women are industrious and eight percent of Le Meridien Dhaka staff are female.
He predicted that a large number of expatriate Bangladeshi working in hospitality industries in the Middle East and Europe would come back home to be employed in the growing hotel business in Bangladesh.
Still, there should be training and education institutes for meeting the future needs for skilled manpower for the hospitality and tourism industry, which, according to Gavriel, is now at an infant stage.
He expressed optimism that the hospitality industry would be recognised within the next one decade while referring to the thriving tourism industry in Thailand and Vietnam.
In the light of his experience of 24 years in the hospitality business, Constantinos Gavriel said one of the major critical areas of modern hotel business is to maintaining safety and security against the backdrop of recent suicide bomb attacks in churches and hotels in Sri Lanka.
He said they maintained world-class fire safety for Le Meridien Dhaka and also reviews other security systems of the hotel regularly, although the much-needed exercises increased the operation cost of the hotel.
But you have no other options but to invest on those areas to stay alive in the business. It is very much part of the business, he said.
To him, the traffic is an integral part of big cities across the world, but traffic Dhaka is different. It is unpredictable, he said.