AyalaLand Hotels and Resorts Corporation’s hotel chain Seda announced on its fifth anniversary this December that in line with its objective to be the leading Philippine hospitality brand, it will continue expanding and winning market share by using its agility as a homegrown player.
Senior group general manager Andrea Mastellone disclosed that its current 1,409 rooms in seven locations (BGC, Cagayan de Oro, Davao City, Nuvali in Laguna, Iloilo City, Quezon City and Bacolod City) is set to increase to 15 hotels totaling 3,500 rooms by 2019. “Being a wholly-owned Filipino company, we have a deep understanding of opportunities in the market. We were the first to bridge the gap between the luxury and budget hotels by offering a modern facility with efficient service at competitive rates. Solid demand for our hotels continues to steadily grow.”
In addition to service excellence, the other Seda brand pillars of a high-energy location close to restaurants and retail outlets within an Ayala Land development and great value have allowed the brand to establish its own network of corporate and leisure clients. “Guests now have the option of finding the same standard of service and facilities all across the country through the Seda chain,” said Mastellone. He revealed that in 2016, all Seda hotels had become the market leader in their respective destinations.
He added that Seda’s two-year old Guest Loyalty Program which has 20,000 members is an essential part of its business. “It has facilitated recognition and rewards for loyal clients. It has also become a channel of communication between the hotels and our guests.”
Members earn points with every qualified stay and can redeem upgrades, Club Lounge access, overnight stays, and other privileges. Better yet, the program allows guests to deal with only one Seda hotel for bookings as they travel through the country. An added bonus, is that the loyalty system keeps tabs of guests’ preferences which can easily be tracked by Seda front-liners in every location.
In the next few years, Mastellone expects tourism and traditional firms on expansion mode to be Seda’s growth drivers and to fill the more than 2,000 rooms coming onstream. Studies by the Department of Tourism support the brand’s optimism citing projected room gaps in popular destinations by 2022, including Metro Manila with 69,185 and Cebu-Mactan, 14,931.
Following the launch of Seda Lio in El Nido, Palawan in the first half of 2018, new Seda hotels will be inaugurated in the next two years in Circuit Makati; Arca South, Taguig; the Cebu Business Park; Ayala North Exchange, Makati; Bay Area, Paranaque; and the Cebu IT Park. In response to the Bonifacio Global City’s sustained expansion, an additional 342 rooms will also be added to Seda BGC in Taguig, the brand’s flagship hotel.
Mastellone assured that the brand’s service culture focusing on meeting people’s needs will remain its cutting edge. Seda’s training courses ensure that the hotel’s core values are prioritized in every
new recruit. “Once a new employee has embraced our culture, we then proceed with the technical training to improve skills. Training and development have been key to our success and we will continue to invest resources in this area so staff are empowered to create memorable guest experiences.”
He adds that certifications and trainings from respected institutions like the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute, the leading hospitality training provider worldwide, have also complemented in-house courses. “We are proud that many of our managers have risen from the ranks. We will continue to grow and develop talent from within.”
Melissa Carlos, group director of sales and marketing, notes that Seda has been able to scale up quickly from 179 rooms in 2012 to the current 1,409 rooms because “we are in constant conversation with our clients.” Consequently, it has begun offering new formats — such as bigger hotels that will have at least 250 rooms from the 150 rooms of its first generation hotels — serviced apartments and resorts. Carlos disclosed: “We want to be known as the hospitality chain synonymous with Filipino hospitality and the Philippines.”
THE HOMES OF ZEE: A Cosmopolitan Life
A home for a young couple that mixes tradition and modernity.
By Eva Gullas photography Pablo Quiza
If Colin and Araminta had a penthouse in Cebu, this would be it. This 15-storey buiding in the heart of Cebu’s financial district is easy to spot but not many people know that its top floor is actually home to a young couple and their toddler son. And a huge King Shepherd dog, Vesian.
After years of residing abroad, the prospect of building a home from scratch, or in this case, the carcass of a whole floor of an unfinished building, is anything but easy. Having to transform more than a thousand square meters of open space into a family home is a daunting task that takes a lot of imagination and is not for the faint-hearted. It didn’t start that way, of course. The original plan was to construct a house in one of the city’s gated communities. But it wasn’t too hard to convince the man of the house that having a home in the city center would give him the ease of being close to the business and a garage big enough for his car collection. “Being born and raised in Hong Kong and having the city below me was something I got used to,” he quips.
First on the design plan was to ensure a double-height ceiling fronted by a wall of glass that would give clear views of the sky, the city’s business center and Mactan Island beyond. The partitions came next. For this, the home-owners, Martin and Claudia Yeung, consulted with Arlen de Guzman, the Manila-based interior designer whose discipline comes mostly from working on projects involving the hospitality industry. Arlen spent 20 years working for HBA in Hong Kong, including the design for the Grand Hyatt Hotel, before setting up his own shop.
The mutual respect shared between the client and Arlen has made this home the way it is. As expected from someone who moves in and out of some of the most stylish homes and hotels, Martin has a very particular taste. With his direction, the decorator executed most of the division plans, including a space for a gym and a pool table, and the master’s bedroom with a loft TV room and a huge space for the closet area and en suite bathroom. In the loft area, the most private sanctum in this home, a highly coveted collection of Hollywood memorabilia is on display. The treasure trove features Achilles’ helmet worn by Brad Pitt in the movie Troy, the Lannister mask from Game of Thrones, and the Roman cuirass used by Maximus played by actor Russell Crowe in the movie Gladiator, among others. “It started as a hobby, but now it’s turning into a good investment as well,” Martin laughingly adds. Prices for these items bought at auction have more than doubled in recent years.
Entry to this private residence goes through a series of security checks, from guards and protection details at the lobby level, to the many cameras that are strategically positioned. If that doesn’t deter unwelcome guests, the ginormous size of 200-pound Vesian should stop anyone in his tracks.
The very essence of sophistication meets guests the moment the elevator doors open. At the entrance, a large rococo framed painting against a wood paneled wall, a modern glass chandelier and dark hide floor covering set the tone for things to come. Tall wooden doors on both sides of the elevator serve as access to the apartment. Stepping inside, the expansive view and the sheer enormity of the living and dining areas that almost spans the entire width of the building is something you don’t often see unless you check in to a luxury hotel like an urban Aman or a Four Seasons.
An open kitchen of wood and black glass anchors the far side and is equipped with a built-in refrigerator, ice-maker, freezer and storage cabinets hidden below the counter while behind its wall is the service kitchen. On the opposite end of the kitchen is the powder room, concealed neatly with 2 sides of exposed glass walls overlooking more city views.
The open floor plan has several seating arrangements—dark leather sofas and club chairs with Italian tables, a dining table made of solid hard wood with 14 seats and a bar filled with bottles of single malt scotch. Lighting is a big deal as well in this home. Several easel lamps and dark wrought-iron chandeliers play a huge role, but it’s the hidden ceiling lighting fixtures, with its various mood-changing combinations activated by remote control, that truly add to the drama. Set against a backdrop of glass and bare cement walls, leather and fine wood carpentry, the lighting effects evoke a welcoming luxury and a refined urbanity with the cityscape sprawled before your eyes. The layering of different styles is the main point in the over-all design. “I would think that it’s a good balance of tradition and modernity,” Martin sums it up.
If there’s not enough space, one floor up is the rooftop deck which provides more entertaining room. Furnished with outdoor sofas and added dining areas, this is the perfect venue for a good party on any given night.
As the only son of an industrialist family, Martin is actively involved in moving the family corporation forward. He is heavily invested in tourism with the company’s real estate portfolio including some of the most desirable beach properties in Cebu. The first premium resort he developed is the posh resort of Kandaya in the north. He’s currently developing an expansion that would offer an alternate lodging that is more affordable.
“Cebu is home to me and my family now,” admits the itinerant gentleman who is well-loved by his employees. “There’s a lot of potential here, and we would like to be part of the growth of this country.”
Trendy Renovation Ideas for the Home or Condo. Part 4
by Christa M. Cañizares IDr.
Part 4: Upgrade your Choices
A. Create different moods with lighting. The use of warm colored indirect lighting such as lamps, colored LED back lights, or even string lights can create a cozy and relaxing vibe after a day’s work.
B.) Convert to smart home systems. From door locks, CCTV cameras, you’ll also be able to control and turn on lights, appliances even if you’re away from home. All you need is a wifi connection and the applications on your mobile phone.
C.) Hire a professional interior designer. We always get an impression that hiring a professional would be expensive, but they actually help you make the best choices and save you from making bad purchases.
Trendy Renovation Ideas for the Home or Condo. Part 3
by Christa M. Cañizares IDr.
Part 3: Maximize Impact of Small Spaces
A.) Storage spaces. You can go with concealed storage systems such as built-in cabinets on walls, under the bed or seating. Keep the items that you use often more reachable than the occasional ones. Choose what works best for your space and for your convenience.
B.) Showcase your collection of interesting conversation pieces, like items you acquire from past travels, an artwork, an heirloom, coffee table books or a collector’s item. Make sure to save a special place for them in your home.
C.) Move things around to attract renewed energy into your space. May it be moving a sofa to the adjacent wall, creating a dining nook near a window, shuffling your accessories on to a different shelf? Little efforts go a long way.