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Bucharest – skyline transformation 2025: Autograph, a luxurious new business card for Bucharest

Vytautas Drumelis, Member of the Board at Apex Alliance and Gerhard Erasmus, CEO Apex Alliance Hotel Management, envision a new life and new standards for hospitality in the Old City Center of Bucharest.

A preview for the first hotel of Autograph by Marriott International brand in Romania – The Marmorosch, developed in a historical monument and the most influential bank of modern Romania at the beginning of the 20th century – The Bank’s Palace of Marmorosch Blank & Co.

Published in an exclusive, investment destination – oriented, market tour: “Bucharest – the skyline transformation by 2025” – Read: here

What were the main strategic investment arguments for the recent hotels in Romania of Apex Alliance and that are the opportunities “adopted” and persuaded also by the team of Apex Alliance Hotel Management?

Gerhard Erasmus, CEO Apex Alliance Hotel Management

G.E.: They were encouraged by many factors of improving Romanian economy, the lack of internationally branded hotels in the market, effective tourism policy of Romania and direct foreign investments, which impacts increasing flows of tourism in both, business and leisure segments. Having in mind all the above, Apex Alliance Hotel Management started to look for the best suitable international chain which could offer a real choice and variety of brands for different locations of the capital city Bucharest and to the different taste of guests and targeted groups.

Being in the hospitality business for quite some time, the shareholders understood that different locations, different surrounding will attract different segment of guests and therefore it is really important to choose the right brand and the right concept for the given location. Marriott, being the biggest hotel chain in the hospitality world and having a wide range of different brands – from economy such as Moxy to the luxury or boutique such as Autograph was chosen for the most of our projects in different locations of Bucharest. Therefore it was a great strategic opportunity to add new supply as our hotels are perfectly located and brand new versus the compset. We see this as we have made significant impact with our Hotels earning more than their normal market share.

Likewise the timing was perfect, Bucharest is fast becoming an emerging tourism market & destination. Finally, for an old town location and for our beautiful heritage building in the protected area of Bucharest we have chosen something unique, something unforgettable and filled with aristocratic elegancy, suitable to a selective guest, who is unique and one and only himself, who is an individualist with the taste. We believe that with Autograph Collection by Marriott we will reflect those features and attract that special guest to our hotel. We think we got on the right track to success and long-term partnership with the biggest hotel chain in the world such as Marriott is. We believe that Bucharest will become a major hub of the region with many interesting conferences to be held, international companies headquarters to be established and overall infrastructure to be improved.

All those factors make a tremendous influence in the hospitality business therefore we hope and wish for Romania further growth and prosperity. We are really proud to end the year 2020 with such a nice bouquet of hotel investments with interesting and suitable brands from Marriott International and Hilton World Wide.

Buildings around the world have also iconic roles in their cities, blending attraction with historical sites, public squares, city centers or sport arenas. From this perspective, what impact do you estimate that the future Autograph by Marriott Hotel, in the The Bank’s Palace of Marmorosch Blank & Co, will have?

 

Vytautas Drumelis, Member of the Board at Apex Alliance

V.D: The Marmorosch rich history of being bank building for so many years and generations blends very nicely with the brand we have chosen for this property – Autograph Collection. It will be an experience. A hotel in the former bank building with the bar in the historical bank’s vault with safeboxes. We appreciate the rich history of this building, and will create an experience around it for our clients. I believe it fits nicely with the historical city center of the Bucharest, one of the main attractions of the city for leisure clients, but also well positioned and appreciated by our guests travelling for business.

What type of solutions or public support can also help the sector, what initiatives – programs, refreshing urban fiber – ideas is Apex Alliance Hotel Managament willing to promote, in partnership with the communities around the hotels? What is your vision for the “vibe” of the Old City Center of Bucharest?

V.D: With the third hotel being open in the same Doamnei Street (previously we have opened Hilton Garden Inn, and this year Moxy), we would encourage to develop this street as the hotel and tourism hub. Since the opening of Hilton Garden Inn in 2017, we are gradually seeing this area being redeveloped with some buildings in the vicinity being renovated, some new shops/restaurants opening. This is becoming one of the most vibrant streets in the Old Town, but could very much benefit from better accessibility, taxi drop off areas, bike/scooter rental stations, and easier parking for travelling customers. We would be happy to develop this area into the best environment and experience for travelers to stay.

Facing the challenges raised by new regulations, technologies, patterns of work, economic models, what role can we assign to hospitality? What is the ideal role of this industry envisioned by Apex Alliance Hotel Managament?

G.E: We see the role of Hotels as the “face” of tourism and play an important role in terms of destination marketing.  The more attractive the destination becomes, the more likely you are to attract foreign investment into the country. Therefore it is very important that Hotels are representative of the new regulations/technologies etc. as their guests will experience this as a reflection on the destination.  The better hotels are, the more attractive city would appear as a destination. Hotels also have to be the pioneers in the technology development journey, as all our Marrriott properties in Bucharest already digitalized their processes – mobile key, interactive, quick responsive chats, personalization and convenience in every guest journey through all our hotels. Being advanced in these fields AAHM is able to adapt to the fast changing environment especially in these pandemic times. AAHM were the first ones in the market to react quickly in the beginning of pandemic and make sure all safety & cost effectiveness measures are in place and monitored.

The pandemic has clearly affected all the hospitality industry. And we have done everything be one of the safest hotels in town. We are certain that fresh and innovative international brands in the city, offering exceptional guest experience & experienced hoteliers team in head office and hotels are the biggest strengths of our business models adopted in the market.

After the major challenges brought by the year 2020, how do you plan to convert business opportunities in the near future? What are the key strengths of AAHM, how do you see the hotel market in Romania evolve and the region going forward?

V.D: Year 2020 has brought the biggest challenge in hospitality industry in 100 years. For us, this is much much worse than it was in 2009 global financial crisis. We had to close hotels during the quarantine in spring for 3 months for the first time ever. It all started very suddenly, and developed critically in matters of days and weeks, until we reached almost zero occupancy. This was a big challenge for everyone in our industry.

However, we have reacted very quickly to the situation, and made some difficult but inevitable decisions very early in the crisis (second half of March) to be able to survive what is coming to us. We operate the hotels under Hilton and Marriott franchises, which helps us with our loyal clients base. We also understood that for the foreseeable future, clients will care a lot about their safety and hygiene standards, so we have put the highest safety procedures in all of our hotels across the portfolio. Now we see that during these thought times, our customers really appreciate staying with us. For example, all 4 of our currently operated Marriott hotels are in the Marriott’s TOP 10 main customer satisfaction scores among all their focus service hotels in Europe. We are delivering great customer satisfaction, with highest hygiene standards, and are operating extremely efficient in terms of the costs.

These are the key strengths of AAHM. we are the white label hotel operator, and can work virtually with any brand. We see quite a lot of hotel owners struggling with inefficient operators, in particular handling the cost side. We would be happy to offer our hotel management services to other owners in Romania.

The hotel market in Romania has been on quite a boom for new developments in the last few years, with new opportunities coming up more than before. This crisis, however, I think will stress test the business plans, and we will not see all of the planned hotels being finished. At least not until this crisis stabilizes. The branded hotels with strong operators will do better, and will recover quicker once the pandemic ends.


Published in an exclusive, investment destination – oriented, market tour: “Bucharest – the skyline transformation by 2025” – Read:
here

Content partners:

Concept Structure | KONE | Rustler | Atenor

With the support of:

SkyTower |  Immofinanz | Speedwell | Brisk

EMS Floor | RC Europe | NIRO Group | Liziera de lac

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