John Girard, General Manager, tells ITCM of its unrivalled facilitiesWhen a property has been awarded the accolade of World’s Best Airport Hotel for five years in succession and its General Manager is in town, ITCM has to meet him. So we had a fascinating chat in London with John Girard.
He is GM of the Regal Airport Hotel in Hong Kong and was able to surprise us with the hotel’s vital statistics.
‘We have 1,200 rooms’, he began, ‘and a pillarless ballroom that is the largest hotel meeting space in Hong Kong. We can seat 1,700 people at a banquet’.
John, who hails originally from Malta, has the right pedigree for his present job. He has been an F&B Manager in South America and Area GM for a large group of hotels in Asia. He moved to the Regal Airport Hotel in 2009 and took over as General Manager in July 2012.
And he is relishing being in charge of such a property. ‘We have as many as six f&b outlets’, he goes on, ‘and even in a destination famed for its cuisine, we stand out as one of the top places to dine. As we are only 19 minutes from downtown by train, and within walking distance of the airport, our restaurants and bars attract international and local clientele, as well as, of course, the hotel guests.’
Airport hotels have a wide range of markets. Obviously, passengers on the way out of or coming into a country, business travellers and leisure. Airports are particularly convenient as central points for delegates to gather for events, with multiple air links, train connections and parking space. Hong Kong airport handles 980 flights a day.
The Regal Airport Hotel in Hong Kong has made a major speciality of hosting events. In addition to its huge ballroom, it offers organisers 34 break-out rooms. It is, therefore, not so surprising to learn from John that his hotel can boast a 94% occupancy rate year-round. Recent events have included a 1,000-strong conference held by a multi-national technological company and a similarly-sized gathering for a religious community.
He is keen to point out, however, that ‘the property never feels crowded, even though we host at least one very large MICE event every month.’
The Regal is a very broadly-based 10-storey structure, so that there is no sense, he maintains, of facilities being on top of each other with everyone constantly having to be funnelled into lift lobbies.
‘The rooms are spacious, of contemporary style’, he says, ‘double-glazed for quiet and with many facilities available. This includes free Wi-Fi throughout, tea and coffee machines, satellite tv and a wide choice of pay movies.’
John emphasises that the Regal is also a favourite for incentive groups. ‘Hong Kong has so much more to offer now. It’s very easy to get around and programmes can be as varied as you want. We have a choice of 46 golf courses within reach, bird watching is a growing activity, visitor attractions include the giant Buddha and the world’s longest ride on a cable car. Macau and Guangdong are linked by fast hydrofoil services. Hong Kong even has a cricket club’.