One of Vietnam’s leading providers of luxury hospitality services will sail into uncharted waters with the launch of its inaugural cruise on Lan Ha Bay, situated just south of famed Ha Long Bay.
Authentic & memorable holidays
AccorHotels officially opened its MGallery Hotel de la Coupole, the first international luxury hotel in Sapa, in mid-December. The hotel was designed by renowned luxury resort designer Bill Bensley and features 249 modern rooms and suites overlooking the legendary Sapa Valley, nearby mountains, and the town square. The launch of Hotel de la Coupole is the latest addition to AccorHotels’ luxury and upscale segment during its 27-year presence in Vietnam. “Our first MGallery hotel in Vietnam opened in 2009 and this new opening adds to our existing portfolio of six MGallery properties in Vietnam, which signifies our continuous growth in the country,” said Mr. Patrick Basset, Chief Operating Officer for AccorHotels Upper Southeast and Northeast Asia.
Vietnam already has a number of highly-respected hotels. With regards to AccorHotels, the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi is an iconic historical landmark, while its other projects include The Legacy Yen Tu – MGallery by Sofitel, located close to Ha Long Bay near the sacred Yen Tu Mountain, which together with this new hotel in Sapa open up new luxury tourism opportunities in northern Vietnam. With a host of exciting projects in the pipeline, Vietnam’s upscale accommodation market boasts substantial potential, providing many opportunities for both local and foreign investors looking to invest in the country’s hospitality sector.
Rise of luxury hotels and resorts
According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), the total number of international tourist arrivals in 2018 exceeded 15.5 million, an increase of 19.9 per cent year-on-year. Visitors from Asia again contributed the largest proportion, of which China and South Korea remained the biggest markets, with a total of nearly 8.5 million arrivals.
As tourism grows so does the accommodation industry. The number of four to five-star establishments doubled in 2016. As disposable incomes continue to increase, domestic travelers seek more and more luxurious hotels. Meanwhile, foreign travelers, though being price sensitive, generally seek higher-end hotels when visiting Vietnam whether for leisure or MICE purposes.
In 2012, there were 598 three to five-star hotels in the country, of which four to five-star hotels accounted for only 37 per cent of establishments and 58 per cent of rooms, according to VNAT figures. In 2017, 25,600 accommodation facilities with a total of 508,000 rooms were available around the country, an increase of 21.9 per cent in the number of facilities and 20.9 per cent in the number of rooms compared to 2016. Meanwhile, the number of four and five-star hotels reached 262 and 120, respectively, up 13.9 per cent and 15.3 per cent year-on-year.
These figures indicate healthy growth in Vietnam’s high-end and luxury segment, which is expected to continue in the next three years.
According to Savills Hotels, a particularly large increase was observed in 2018, with announcements of Anantara Villas in Quy Nhon, Mandarin Oriental and Movenpick in Ho Chi Minh City, and Best Western Premier in Quang Binh and Long Hai. More brands such as Holiday Inn and Doubltree by Hilton, Courtyard by Marriott and Hyatt Place will enter the market some time soon.
New exclusive experiences
The development of high-end and luxury hotels and resorts also brings special services and experiences to satisfy the demands of high net-worth travelers.
MGallery is a collection of storied boutique hotels offering guests unique experiences inspired by the destination. Each MGallery hotel stands as a gateway into another world – be it a bygone era, a hidden haven, or a spectacular natural landscape. The collection is comprised of historic luxury hotels, many of which have hosted historic figures or iconic poets and authors. Others are stunningly modern hotels inspired by the cities they are located in, but in every case, MGallery hotels are inspired by their own stories echoed by their artful design.
“I’m excited to launch the first international luxury hotel in Sapa, which fuses high-fashion glamour with a colorful ethnic minority style,” said Mr. Jean-Pierre Joncas, General Manager of MGallery Hotel de la Coupole. “Sapa is famous for its fine rugged scenery and rich cultural diversity. Guests staying at the hotel can bask in the picturesque Mt. Fansipan with a ride up the cable car, which offers enthralling views of Muong Hoa Valley and the Hoang Lien Son Mountain Range.”
According to Mr. Anthony Slewka, Director of Sales and Marketing at Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi Hotel, the hotel aims to provide guests with a one-of-a-kind luxury hospitality experience. “Given our iconic brand, we anticipate guests arriving with high expectations,” he said. “Our aim is to ensure that their expectations are exceeded and that our comfortable rooms, exquisite cuisine, and special character make their stay memorable.”
For guests, the hotel provides a 24-hour personalized “Majordome” (butler) service, along with other features such as private express check-in and check-out services, special bath and pillow menus, a fleet of modern BMW 7 series sedans for airport transfers, and tailor-made menus and dishes to suit individual needs. “To be considered luxury, having the best amenities is no longer enough – it is about providing personalized services and experiences,” Mr. Slewka added.
Mr. Pham Ha, CEO of Luxury Travel, is of a similar mind. “Luxury is not about things; it is all about the experience,” he said. Fifteen years ago, Vietnam’s emerald checkerboard of lush paddy fields, meandering bays, and city rivers crammed with floating market was best suited to backpackers. These days, however, according to Mr. Ha, it is the luxury traveler who is being wooed with new hotels, experiences, new tours, and boutique and ultra-boutique cruises. “Travelers are seeking new and exotic experiences and more, whether in terms of personal value or value for money,” he said. “Many have moved towards a quieter understated luxury and plan their trips with a focus on authenticity and experiential travel, searching for particularly enriching once-in-a-lifetime experiences. For us, it is essentially about creating an experiential type of travel that is personal as well as authentic and memorable. That is why we are launching an ultra-boutique cruise in the Gulf of Tonkin in May.”
Many luxury travel experts say Vietnam is now one of the top ten destinations in Asia, with luxury as the fastest-growing segment. The beauty of Vietnam continues to involve its cultural heritage, retaining that delicate balance between modernity and the past.
“Vietnam as a destination full of potential,” Mr. Slewka concluded. “There are still many areas left untapped. The country is blessed with beautiful scenery and inspiring culture. Given the correct infrastructure and sufficient luxury properties, the country will become and remain a luxury travel destination.”