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More landmark buildings on the horizon


Mark Sergot, Vice-President Global Sales for Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel, talks to ITCM

Mark Sergot is Vice-President Global Sales for Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel. These are three of the world’s top brands and I asked Mark to what extent they can work together and how far the parent group goes to maintain their separate identities.
He explained that he is one of the small band of managers who operate across all three products. ‘We keep them all completely distinct. They have their own lines of management; their own human resources departments; their own loyalty programmes; and their own philosophies,‘ he emphasised.

Talking generally, he put Raffles as the top end, mainly with smaller numbers of rooms. ‘Typically 100 to 150’, he suggested. ‘It is a brand that has held a high reputation for over 100 years.’

Then comes Fairmont. ‘Still high end’, he said, ‘but with anything from 350 to 1,000 rooms.’ Fairmont originates from Canada and, after decades of experience, many of that country’s most iconic properties are Fairmont hotels. The Fairmont Banff Springs resort, for example, built in 1888 in the style of a Scottish castle, is itself a national historic monument in a park that is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was the brainchild of a Scot who wanted other people from around the world to appreciate the grandeur of the Canadian Rockies.

The Swissôtel brand still brings with it the main features of its origin about 30 years ago. ‘Quality, luxury, efficiency, with city centre and resort locations.’ Each aims to provide guests with an experience above and beyond simply accommodation and food. Typical is the Swissôtel The Bosphorus that has a prime hilltop site in Istanbul with views over the city and the stretch of water that separates Europe from Asia.

All three brands are increasing in numbers. ‘We identify locations throughout the world where we would like to have a property and we then assess all the factors, such as the type of local market, the attractions for incoming visitors; the size of property it would support; the type of competition that exists there. And this pinpoints for us which of our brands would be most suitable.’

Mark went to some lengths to stress that the potential for MICE business was always a major factor in making that decision. ‘MICE groups make up 50% of business for Fairmont, 40% for Swissôtel and about 20% for Raffles’, he estimated.

Meenaz Lilani, Executive Director Global Sales for Europe, Middle East and Africa, was able to provide me with a list of 14 Fairmont new-builds that will be opening for business between 2011 and 2014. Their designs were all striking in very different ways. In Jaipur, the new Fairmont will be able to accommodate 1,000 guests in its gardens and will have a 48,500sqft conference centre. Makati in the Philippines will have a 300-room tower block, whilst the Fairmont Haitang Bay in China will be a dazzlingly colourful 702-room property with an 8,600 sqft ballroom.

They were keen to show me the artist’s impression of the new Fairmont that is opening in 2011 in Baku, Azerbaijan. It is a hotel, office and residential complex in the form of three remarkable ‘Flame Towers’ that will share retail and leisure facilities. ‘The architects are given a free hand' said Mark.

I left the stand confident that the world was about to get 14 new landmark buildings.


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