The MICE market has become increasingly important to China’s hotels, and the tourist destination of Sanya Bay on Hainan Island has been active in tapping into this market.
Hilton Sanya Resort & Spa
is spearheading the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) sector, especially as it was the first resort for the Hilton group in China. It is also running jazz festivals and furnishing its rooms in the style of local Chinese minority groups.
Breaking Travel News catches up with the general manager of the 100,000 square metre sprawling property, Dirk De Cuyper, to find out what is unique about the resort purchased on China’s southern island.
BTN: You were the brainchild behind the Yalong Bay Jazz Festival, what did this do for the region, for culture on Hainan and for the Hilton Sanya?
De Cuyper: Since the launch of our first beach concert in December last year, Hilton Sanya Resort & Spa has become renowned not only for our operational and service excellence, but also for providing entertainment offerings with a difference. We aim to make the series events a favourite in Sanya over the next few years and we do believe that these musical spectaculars will become a mainstay of entertainment in this tropical island and attract more guests to be here.
BTN: You have teamed up with the Sanya Tourism Development Administration to launch a new MICE brochure, why is the conferences business important to the island? Has Hainan got a lot of potential for China’s MICE industry?
De Cuyper: Exactly, the MICE industry is a key market for Hainan. Sanya is increasingly popular with travellers for its beachfront location, all year round tropical climate and stunning ocean scenery. More than just a stunning leisure resort, Sanya is recognised as a world-class MICE destination, with full integrated support for meetings, incentive, conference and exhibition travel from these renowned local and international resorts offering top class meeting facilities and services. The island’s leading hotels and resorts are now turning their attention to the growing demand for meeting, incentive, conference and exhibition (MICE) travel.
BTN: What has the Hilton Sanya achieved so far in the MICE sector? What types of meetings have you hosted? What are you hoping for the future?
De Cuyper: With the topping MICE facilities and full-service event team at Hilton Sanya Resort & Spa, our resort already held events for world-renowned companies, such as Intel, IBM, BMW, Sony etc…for their annual incentive meeting, exhibition, team-building or other activities. We are expecting more and more enterprises come to Sanya to hold their campaigns and enjoy the tropical scene here.
BTN: Sanya has been tipped by some in the media to become as popular as Thailand’s Phuket within a few years. Do you think this is likely to happen? Is there a lot of potential for the leisure market? Where do you expect guests to come from, mainland China or from beyond?
De Cuyper: Sanya already became a world famous destination with its tropical climate and unique natural scene for domestic and international guests. Actually, since opening, our guests are coming from all over the world; mainland China, Hong Kong, Korea, Russia, and Europe are all our key source markets.
BTN: You’ve infused contemporary and traditional features - with flat screen TVs and then with textiles in the rooms from Li and Miao minorities. What kind of atmosphere does this give to the rooms and the property?
De Cuyper: Hilton Sanya Resort & Spa combines contemporary China Southern element with traditional local Li Miao style in its architecture and decoration with modern facilities; hope our guest could enjoy a totally fresh and true resort experience with DIFFERENCE.
BTN: What has the spa facility done for the property?
De Cuyper: Set apart from the main pavilions of the resort and within the landscaped gardens, the 6,780 sqm Spa Retreat is a pampering retreat in every way - a private paradise where guests could lose themselves and find tropical bliss. The Spa Retreat comprises 5 single and 3 couple spa pavilions, a relaxation area, tea lounge, reflex zone and a fitness centre equipped with the latest work-out machines, including a workout studio.
BTN: What is the profile of your guests at the moment? Is it mainly mainland China guests from Shanghai, Guangzhou or Beijing? Is it more local? Or more expatriates working in China or Asia-Pacific holiday
De Cuyper: Almost half of our guests come from overseas; they come to Sanya for either holiday or MICE purpose. Shanghai, Guangzhou and Beijing are our key guest sources from mainland China.
BTN: What have you got planned for the future with the Hilton Sanya?
De Cuyper: Hilton Sanya Resort & Spa will keep the efforts to provide our guest “a true resort experience with difference” in the following days. Meanwhile, we will continue on the musical journey of the series charity concerts on the beach and invite popular artists from worldwide to performance on our fabulous beach along the grand China South Sea.
BTN: You are a western general manager working in a mainland China hotel and resort. What do you think you bring to the picture that is different say from a local Chinese general manager?
De Cuyper: I think what I could do more is to look at the picture with a more western touch, and this is also the angle our target international market need and want.