Breaking Travel News interview: Bede Barry, General Manager, Conrad Macao, Cotai Central

Breaking Travel News interview: Bede Barry, General Manager, Conrad Macao, Cotai Central

Having just been nominated as Asia’s Leading Hotel by the World Travel Awards, Breaking Travel News editor Chris O’Toole here sits down Conrad Macao, Cotai Central General Manager Bede Barry to discuss what is on offer at the property, the importance of sustainability and the changing nature of tourism in Macao.

Breaking Travel News: Could we begin with a little about the location of the hotel? Could you tell Breaking Travel News about the world heritage-listed sites which are in the vicinity?

Bede Barry: Conrad Macao, Cotai Central is a world-class contemporary hotel located in Macao’s Taipa district and is one of the largest buildings on the Cotai Strip Resorts Macao.

The hotel is just a short shuttle ride away from the Macao International Airport and Taipa Ferry Terminal, as well as border crossings into mainland China. 

Many of Macao’s famous landmarks and world heritage-listed sites are also close by including Old Taipa Village which is an important historic landmark and full of colourful reminders of Macao’s early days, now it is home to many quirky cafes, bars and restaurants. 

One of my favourite places to visit is Guia Fortress, Chapel and Lighthouse which was first built in the 17th century.

BTN: Conrad Macao is also part of a complex of hotels in Sands Cotai Central. Could you explain to the readers of Breaking Travel News the relationship with its neighbouring properties and how they combined to create a world-leading destination?

BB: The hotel is part of the Sands Cotai Central which is a truly integrated resort; home to three international hotels and an array of international and local restaurants along with entertainment options to suit all ages.

If guests are looking to indulge in some retail therapy then they can enjoy more than 100 duty-free outlets at Shoppes at Cotai Central or just step across the road to enjoy more than 600 stores. 

Shoppes at Cotai Central caters to all shoppers whether it be luxury brands like Bottega Veneta, Gucci and Ralph Lauren’s flagship store or the newly opened designer children’s wear stores from Armani, along with the only Marks and Spencer store in Macao. 

Sands Cotai Central also offers a variety of restaurants to suit all tastes including seafood, Japanese, Indian, Italian and Mediterranean, not to mention the many Chinese and Asian cuisines.

Entertainment is also a major attraction to Sands Cotai Central and guests of all ages can enjoy the numerous DreamWorks events such as movie nights, All-Star Parade and Shrekfast with the DreamWorks Gang that take place on a daily basis around the property.

Conrad Macao, which is linked to The Venetian Macao by an air-conditioned walkway with easy access to the Cotai Arena and Venetian Theatre - home to a variety of events, is in the perfect location to take advantage of all these activities while still enjoying a luxury hotel experience.

BTN: Who do you tend to welcome to the hotel? Is it mainly Asian guests, Europeans? Are you noticing the makeup of guests change over time?

BB: Conrad Macao welcomes a variety of nationalities.

While the majority of our guests come from mainland China and south-east Asia, we do see a lot of international guests from the USA, UK, Asia Pacific region and Europe. 

Being the only hotel in Macao that is part of the Hilton Worldwide group of hotels, we benefit greatly from the Hilton network as our guests are able to earn Hilton HHonors points when they stay with us. 

Macao has certainly grown over the past few years and guests from all around the world see it as an entertainment and luxury destination whether they are travelling for business or leisure. 

In particular we are one of the very few hotels and destinations in the world that can cater for large meetings and conventions hence it is a very attractive option for guests from all over the world.

BTN: Macao is obviously a world beating leisure destination, but what do you offer to the MICE market? Can you tell us about the facilities on offer at the Conrad Macao for events’ organisers?

BB: Meetings and conventions are also catered for at Conrad Macao as we offer up to 6,500 sq. metres of meeting facilities which includes 53 separate conference and meeting rooms.

Guests of Conrad also have access to a further 6 Junior Ballrooms and 1 Grand Ballroom spanning 13,500 sq. metres within Sands Cotai Central.

These flexible meeting spaces can also be configured to host a variety of social gatherings including banquets, weddings and cocktail parties. 

Our meeting rooms are also supported by our Conrad Business Centre. 

All meeting rooms are fully equipped with the latest audio visual and technical facilities, satellites and video-conferencing including simultaneous translations.

The Macao government is also very pro-active and keen to welcome small and large scale MICE events; just recently they introduced an incentive cash back plan in place to attract organisers to the destination.

BTN: Conrad Macao took the title of World’s Leading Green Hotel at the World Travel Awards last year. Can you explain what efforts the hotel makes towards the sustainability of its operations?

BB: Conrad Macao is committed to undertaking strategic environmental management systems to lessen the impact on the hotel’s footprint and this year we were honoured to be only one of four hotels in Macao to receive a Gold Certificate from Macao Government for our recycling and energy conservation programmes.

As part of Cotai Strip Resorts Macao, the largest integrated resort city in Macao, Conrad Macao fully supports the Sands ECO360º global sustainability program.

On a daily basis, Conrad Macao undertakes initiatives to save energy as well as its water and recycles waste; the hotel has also established a ‘Green Action Team’ which includes management and team members whose role is to communicate, energize sustainability initiatives and promotes the ideas within the company. 

The hotel also participates in the complexes’ waste minimization and recycling management programmes that are designed to save natural resources and landfill space, thus enhancing clean air and water. 

The recycling program includes plastic, paper, glass, batteries, wood, cooking oil, aluminium cans, soap, toner, e-waste and shampoo. 

The hotel has also implemented free shuttle buses for staff to lessen the use of on-road vehicles enabling a reduction in carbon emissions; plus the hotel’s vehicle fleet includes petrol-electricity powered hybrids and comply with Euro IV emission standards.

Other efforts include participating in the ‘Macao Energy Savings Week’ and in 2014, the hotel has partnered with Clean The World, a charitable organisation based in Hong Kong which collects, repurposes and distributes hotel soaps and bottled amenities to over 45 countries around the world.

In addition, Conrad Macao leads the way with Earth Hour, the worldwide campaign which invites people and organisations around the world to turn off their lights in support of action on global climate change. 

Do you feel acknowledgement by the voters of World Travel Awards has offered a boost to the property? Are awards of this kind important?

It is always an honour to receive recognition from awards such as the World Travel Awards.

The voters recognise what we are doing and provide encouragement for both our management and team members to continue to strive for excellence.

In addition these awards help to raise a customer’s awareness so that they are able to make informed decisions when purchasing accommodation.

Interview: Chris O’Toole