Sometimes improvement comes in small, barely noticeable increments, more rarely in broad, vivid reinventions. Mövenpick Hotel Saigon has chosen the latter model in an accelerated, USD $15 million construction schedule that entails closing its doors for business on March 8th and reopening anew on August 1st.
‘Several factors persuaded us that this was the best course of action,’ said Dominik Stamm, the Mövenpick’s general manager, ‘but first on the list was, and is, customer service. Not only will disruptions to guests from an ongoing renovation process be eliminated, we’ll be able to better serve them during the resurgence in traffic that’s now widely anticipated for the fall. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have been fully operational until December, halfway through peak season.’
A veteran of a couple of substantial renovation projects at other properties, Stamm’s enthusiasm for the Mövenpick’s rebranding is palpable and infectious.
Congruent with that goal, Stamm stresses that the hotel’s permanent staff has been assured they will be retained following the renovation process, during which time their benefits program will remain intact.
‘It’s been great to see that people grasp the need to take decisive action in order to achieve the desired results,’ said Stamm, who added that guests holding reservations during the interval the hotel will be closed have also generally been understanding.
‘Naturally, we’ve done everything possible to help them find alternative accommodations,’ said Stamm. So many of them are frequent travelers that they already comprehend the magnitude of the undertaking and that sometimes long-term improvement requires a bit of short-term sacrifice.’
The bold approach to rebranding also makes sense in the context of Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts’ comparatively recent entry into the Vietnamese market, where they also opened the Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi last year. The Mövenpick Hotel Saigon’s previous incarnation - the Omni Hotel Saigon, which opened in 1994 and converted to the Mövenpick a year ago last July - has proved a durable identity.
That’s part of the reason that Stamm will convert OJ’s, the casual eatery near the entrance to the hotel, into a sort of ‘presales’ office, including a pictorial history of how the hotel has changed over the years (During the War, it incorporated the headquarters of the American Central Intelligence Agency, though that structure was razed in the early 1990s, when the Omni was built).
‘That will be one measure of the success when this total remake is complete,’ laughed Stamm. ‘First and most important, our customers will be happier. Also, nobody will refer to us as the Omni.’