Have you even been to Vietnam if you haven’t tried banh mi? Source: Holly Patrick.
Banh mi (bun me) translates to “bread” or “wheat cake” in Vietnamese but throughout the Western world, it’s known as a small crispy baguette stuffed with rich pate, slices of pork, fresh vegetables, and handfuls of coriander.
However, this is only one kind of a banh mi found in Vietnam. There are dozens of variations to be enjoyed throughout the nation with many regions boasting their own combinations.
Banh mi is a traditional Vietnamese dish which found its origins during the 60-year period of French colonialism.
During this time, the French introduced Vietnam to baguettes, pates, and processed meats which were mostly enjoyed by wealthy French people as part of a breakfast platter.
But of course, the mostly poor and heavily exploited Vietnamese people couldn’t afford luxuries such as butter, ham, and pate. Instead invented their own version of processed meats and found cheaper substitutes for ingredients.
To this day, many banh mi vendors across Vietnam still substitute mayonnaise for butter, pack more vegetables in each baguette than meat and very rarely sell stuffed baguettes bigger than 20 centimeters long, all to save costs and cater to Vietnamese tastes.
Source: Holly Patrick.
And as for this traditionally French breakfast platter making its way into a baguette, you can thank the Le family in Ho Chi Minh City (previously Saigon) who packed all the ingredients into a baguette in the late 1950s, so it could be enjoyed on the go.
Vietnam never looked back.
While some restaurants still serve the ingredients on a platter, most only deal in the favored banh mi which is commonly enjoyed as any meal of the day and even as a snack in between.
Here are a few of places where can you try the best banh mi Hanoi has to offer.
Bami An Bread For an alfresco banh mi experience accompanied by an eclectic mix of anthems and super friendly staff, head to Bami An Bread.
Source: Holly Patrick.
The extensive menus are handwritten and beautifully illustrated which is only a sign of the deliciousness served up here.
We suggest trying their unique pork floss banh mi which has all the usual components of the beloved sandwich with an extra sprinkling of cotton-like pork and crispy onions on top.
Source: Holly Patrick.
Enjoy your sandwich with a fresh smoothie, juice or local beer and finish the experience with some silky coconut ice cream.
Address: 88b Trần Hưng Đạo, Hà Nội, Vietnam. Opening hours: Monday to Sunday, 7am – 10pm. Banh My P Perhaps not a whole lot to look at from the outside, but there’s certainly a lot to taste at Banh My P.
Source: Holly Patrick.
The hole-in-the-wall restaurant is fronted with a slim kitchen where the chef grills up Banh My P’s famous lemongrass beef before it’s packed into the crispy baguette alongside pickled daikon, carrot, cucumber, and coriander.
The lemongrass flavor goes well with a drizzling of the chili and garlic sauces found on the tables at the back.
Source: Holly Patrick.
Banh My P is also open until 2am every day and proves to be a great place to grab a sobering-up snack after one too many Saigon beers.
Address: 12 Hàng Buồm, Hà Nội, Vietnam. Opening hours: Monday to Sunday, 7am – 2am. Banh Mi 25 The authentic combinations of pork, chicken, or beef banh mi are matched with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options for those who often find themselves missing out on this delicious sandwich.
Source: Holly Patrick.
Each is packed full of fresh and pickled vegetables with the amount of chili sauce left to the eater to decide – watch out, it’s super spicy.
Don’t let the long queue outside Banh Mi 25 put you off. You’ll be served quickly and given the option to take out or sit across the road in their quaintly decorated restaurant.
Source: Holly Patrick.
We suggest taking a few moments out of exploring the Old Quarter to sit down and fully appreciate one of Hanoi’s best banh mi.
Address: 25 Hàng Cá, P, Hà Nội, Vietnam. Opening hours: Monday to Saturday, 7am – 9pm. Sunday, 7:00-19:00
Banh My Tram This is a place well worth waiting in line for, albeit a very short queue given the efficiency and encouragement to table-share at Banh My Tram.
It’s one of the hottest places to grab a bahn mi in Hanoi but locals often opt for the deconstructed sandwich which can be eaten as a platter or stuffed into a baguette.
Source: Holly Patrick.
Make sure you try their sticky orange sauce which has gained critical acclaim in Hanoi. It’s served with almost everything on the menu, so you shouldn’t miss out.
Address: 252 Cửa Nam, Hà Nội, Cửa Nam Hoàn Kiếm Hanoi, Vietnam. Opening hours: Early until late.
Holly Patrick | @HollyMaeVogel
As a recent graduate of Journalism from Westminster University, Holly is keen on exploring the stories that hide in the most curious of places. She enjoys discovering new cultures, and has strong opinions about women's rights and how modern technology is influencing the globalized world. She also has a healthy inquisitiveness to find stimulating content… and the best pad thai in town.
Month: November 2018
Have you even been to Vietnam if you haven’t tried banh mi? Source: Holly Patrick.
Six Senses MaxwellFollowing the highly successful opening of Six Senses Duxton, sister property Six Senses Maxwell is scheduled to open on 1 December 2018.
Six Senses Maxwell is the second of two heritage buildings that together form Six Senses Singapore — split across two buildings and five minutes walking distance away. It is housed in a colonial-style 19th-century building that has received the Urban Redevelopment Authority Architectural Heritage Award.
While Six Senses Duxton portrays Anouska Hempel’s iconic eclecticism, the 138-room Six Senses Maxwell, designed by internationally-acclaimed French architect and designer Jacques Garcia, offers an alternative aesthetic with his signature European style.
While paying homage to the building’s storied past, Garcia’s deep attention to detail is showcased throughout seven room categories across 138 guestrooms and suites — from the brass, lacquer and marble minibars to the handmade Lafroy Brooks bathroom fixtures.
Six Senses Maxwell houses five food and beverage concepts — ranging from Murray Terrace, a classic European-style brasserie, to Cook & Tras, a social library restaurant and bar influenced by heritage Straits cuisine.
The Rose Lounge & Bar features banquette seating, club chairs, cocktail tables and bar seating, and offers champagne alongside white and rosé wines, spritzers and the signature Rose Bellini. Quintessential spirits bar Garcha’s serves a collection of spirits, comprising small batch and artisanal whisky, tequila, gin, rum and vodka.
Four of the five food and beverage concepts are located on the ground floor lined with lush tropical foliage that follows the length of the building. Meanwhile, the building rooftop features Max’s Edible Garden complementing the 25-meter rooftop lap pool and gymnasium.
On the wellness front, spa pods will open in early 2019 where guests and locals can enjoy signature massages, facials, and beauty treatments.
New neighbourhood experiences will include the MacRitchie Treetops Walk, Botanic Gardens Exploration Tour, Civic District Discovery Walk, and a Black & White Iconic Heritage Homes Tour. These complement the current guest offerings at Six Senses Duxton which include complimentary Traditional Chinese Medicine consultations, tea appreciation sessions, yoga and well-received local heritage tours.
As part of the Six Senses experience, all these will be available to guests of either hotel.
Which country is safer for tourists than Singapore and Japan? Source: Shutterstock.
According to a new report, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the second safest destination to visit as a tourist.
The Arabian Peninsula nation came in second, behind Iceland and ahead of Singapore and Japan.
The Which? Travel report relies on data from the World Economic Fund, the World Risk Report, NHS Fit for Travel, and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s terrorism risk assessments.
“Of the 20 holiday destinations that we looked at, Iceland, unsurprisingly, came out as the safest country,” the report said.
“36 people have been murdered in Iceland since the year 2000, an average of around two a year. This is tragic but means, statistically, that it’s one of the world’s most peaceful nations.”
The UAE and Singapore were also considered extremely safe, with Spain the next safest of the six popular European holiday destinations the report looked at.
This is in line with a study conducted by international hostel and hotel booking platform Hostelworld which places the UAE among the most popular destinations for solo female travelers
To add on, the UAE was found to be “low risk” for health concerns. It also ranked quite high in the list of least risky countries in terms of natural disasters, behind Barbados and Iceland and ahead of Singapore.
On the flip side, the worst rated destinations in Asia are Thailand and India, while the riskiest country is unsurprisingly, Japan.
“The riskiest country was earthquake-afflicted Japan, which, while considered extremely safe by most measures, had a natural disaster risk of 13.47 percent,” the report wrote.
Japan is situated in a volcanic zone on the volatile Pacific Ring of Fire, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.
Frequent low-intensity earth tremors and occasional volcanic activity are felt throughout the islands while destructive earthquakes occur several times a century, with the worst being the 2011 Tohoku magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami.
Meanwhile. on the subject of terrorism, the reported stated it’s “very likely” in Australia, India, and Thailand, adding that terrorism “can’t be ruled out” anywhere.
Vivanta Dal View, SrinagarThe Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) has announced its second hotel in Odisha with the signing of a new Vivanta hotel in Bhubaneswar.
IHCL, one of South Asia’s largest and most iconic hospitality company, brings together a group of brands that include Taj, Vivanta and Ginger. It opened its first hotel, The Taj Mahal Palace, in Bombay in 1903, and today operates 170 hotels including 25 under development globally across 4 continents, 12 countries and in over 80 locations.
Through the management contract with Lifeline Multi-Ventures Private Limited, the company will continue its strategic expansion plans for driving aggressive growth.
“Consolidating presence in key capital cities”
Puneet Chhatwal, managing director and CEO at IHCL, said: “The signing of Vivanta Bhubaneswar is in line with Aspiration 2022 and our domestic expansion strategy of consolidating presence in key capital cities.
“Bhubaneswar has emerged as one of the fast-growing, important trading and commercial hubs in Odisha and eastern India. It offers immense potential for both leisure and business travellers. We are delighted to partner with Lifeline Multi-Ventures Private Limited for this hotel.”
Jagadish Prasad Naik, MD, Lifeline Multi-Ventures Pvt. Ltd. and Puneet Chhatwal, MD & CEO, IHCLVivanta Bhubaneswar, located at Patrapada in Kalinga Nagar, is part of DN Regalia Mall, a mixed-use development. The hotel will comprise 137 furnished guest rooms and other features including multi-cuisine restaurants, recreation facilities, modern meeting spaces, well-equipped conference rooms and banqueting facilities.
“The pioneers of the Indian hospitality industry”
Jagadish Prasad Naik, managing director at Lifeline Multi -Ventures Private Limited, said: “We are proud to partner with IHCL. We are delighted that through this association with the pioneers of the Indian hospitality industry, we are introducing the Vivanta brand to Bhubaneswar.”
With more than 1000 temples, Bhubaneswar is dubbed as the ‘Temple City of India’. It is the administrative, political and financial capital of Odisha — one of modern India’s first planned and fastest-developing cities.
All hail sunshine in the street art and skateboarding capital of Europe — the city of Barcelona. Within a two-hour flight from London, Paris or most other European cities; Barcelona is the perfect destination for autumn sun with temperatures averaging 20ºC and no summer crowds.
Teeming with Gaudi’s quirky works, pre-dated structures, hilltops and a not-so-natural beach (that blends in with the cityscape almost effortlessly); Barcelona is a great option for a quick escape. From modern shopping to day trips to a monastery in the mountains to mosaic-inspired houses to alleys full of tapas bars; you will never be short of things to do.
I headed out for a to explore its Asian charm a la Mandarin Oriental style.
Barcelona with an Asian touch
Reinstating the drudgery of an age-old bank at Passeig de Gracia with the classic warmth and care of an Asian hotel, the Mandarin Oriental Barcelona is not easy to miss. Look for a fashionista-esque runway ramp and insta-lovers posing with charm and you are at the footsteps of this Asian chain’s Spanish outpost.
While the friendly staff took every step to make me feel welcome, I could not help but notice (and compliment) their smartly designed kimono-style jacket that kept the Asian touch going. A quick tour and I was amazed at how this city-centre hotel fitted in a Michelin-star restaurant, an all-day diner, a rooftop lounge and pool, a spa and indoor pool, a bar retaining the bank’s ceiling-high safety vaults, 120 rooms and a secret garden.
The suites in the new heritage wing (started in 2014) were smartly spaced, each one with a walk-in closet and a vintage-looking balcony overlooking one of Barcelona’s main streets. Although close to it, retreating in the rooms felt like living in one’s own sanctuary given the warm lighting and the special treatment by the staff. It is very thoughtful of them to keep me informed of the weather forecast and events in the city, that greatly helped me plan my day.
While a major draw for the hotel is the two Michelin-starred restaurant Moments — inspired by Catalan cuisine and managed by well-known Chef Carme Ruscalleda and her son Raül Balam; my favourite part was the mini-terrace garden above it. The perfect backdrop for an urban wedding, it is great for small gatherings and private dinners during summer; and on a good day, it is the best relief from the sores of a big city. The landscaped garden and subtle furnishings made me want to hibernate for the rest of my day.
I almost settled for my spot, had I not witnessed the splendid sunset from the rooftop tapas bar, Terrat. Overlooking the pool, central Barcelona, Casa Batllo (by Gaudi) and a drink; as I indulged, words by a general manager, Jorge Monje replayed in my head: “A hotel should be a place where the community meets”.
Earnestly welcoming, the staff at Mandarin did feel like a cosy family, with each one eager to share suggestions, or caring for my comfort at all times. Jorge thinks, “love is the secret ingredient that keeps the Asian touch of this place going.”
Blending in with Barcelona
Although European himself, Jorge has spent nearly two decades working at various hotels in Costa Rica, Bali and Bhutan and hence take the Asian community feel to his heart. From the bar coasters inspired from the tiles on the street to the local designer amenities in the room, it feels like Barcelona even inside the hotel. Jorge noted they have taken efforts to embrace the city and its culture and that was well evident in the hotel store too which stocked local designer Miriem Quevedo and a specially curated ‘Mediterranean’ fragrance by Ramon Monegal.
Even amidst the tense political scene right now (the movement for Catalan independence), business may be slow but Jorge believes “the city has a lot going for it.” It is with this spirit that Mandarin Oriental Barcelona went one step further to club local experiences and highlights of the city in their itineraries. While an excursion further afield to a tour of l’Origan Cava cellar may not be uncommon, the experience here continues with a dinner tasting menu for two people with wine pairing at Blanc restaurant by Carme Ruscalleda, the most starred woman in the world with seven Michelin stars also known as “mother of Catalan cuisine”. Others include a gourmet tapas and wine tour around the bustling neighbourhood, the Boqueria Market and Barceloneta and one with behind the scenes access of the Liceu opera house and opera with a themed tapas and drink at the Banker’s Bar at MO to complete the experience.
Mandarin Oriental takes it spa seriously and wellness is quite synonymous with them. But I rolled my eyes when the director of communication, Monica Homedes told me the spa at MO Barcelona was “a closely held secret…of the locals”. Frequented by Barcelona residents, their gift cards are highly popular she added. With lavishly long Mediterranean treatments, I clearly see why.
Whether I was in the hotel or outside, the Barcelona vibe tagged along — from their extended street entrance to local designer push; Mandarin Oriental felt like experiencing a slice of the Barcelona lifestyle in addition to perks of its reputed service.
Only then I realised what Jorge actually meant when he said, “Mandarin Oriental does well if Barcelona does well…as our only reason to exist is the destination itself.”
Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona offers rooms from EUR 475 (approx USD 550) per room per night – when booking three nights guests receive a fourth complimentary night, on twin sharing basis.
Find out why couples are traveling for the sole purpose of baby-making. Source: Shutterstock.
WELLNESS holidays are getting increasingly popular as more and more travelers are crossing borders and seeking holidays to escape from monotony and stress.
In fact, it is the travel industry’s fastest growing sector with a 10 percent rise this year, making it a plus US$500 billion market.
Yoga and meditation retreats, for example, have been at the forefront of this growth in the past few years. It was not that long ago that it was considered just a niche in the wellness tourism market.
But thanks to the rising awareness about the concepts of yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda (Indian medicine system), more and more travelers began planning their travel around various wellness activities.
These days, there is an abundance of spas, yoga and meditation camps, and health resorts across the globe to cater to wellness travelers. And like most facets to the tourism industry, wellness travel will continue to evolve.
Here are the emerging “travel to feel well” trends for 2019:
Momcation Mothers are jumping on the #momcation trend, to give themselves a break from domestic and family responsibilities, such as having to chase children around the house or balancing a career and chores at home day in and day out.
During a #momcation, which typically runs from about two or three days to up to a week, moms are able to do whatever they want or better yet, do nothing at all, with other moms or girl friends.
These breaks are essential to a mother’s wellbeing and therefore good for the children too.
Painmoon Though it might sound sinister, a painmoon is the exact opposite of what it may be suggesting: a painful honeymoon.
On the contrary, a painmoon is an “anti-honeymoon,” a turning-point wellness travel that helps those affected by sadness, anger, and tragedy, empowering them and helping them focus on getting past the hard times.
These travelers escape to mourn or grieve a loved one, a bad breakup, a tough divorce battle, or to heal from poor mental health or anxiety.
Silence retreat Imagine traveling for the sole purpose of getting a good dose of peace and quiet. That is exactly what a silence retreat is.
It is mainly aimed at travelers who want to get away from all the racket in their lives, be it from the noise pollution in the city where they live to the daily distractions from their social media feeds.
At a silence retreat, travelers are left alone with themselves and given ample space and time to reflect, rediscover, recharge, and recalibrate. It is also the perfect opportunity to make up for all the lost hours of sleep.
Conceptionmoon This type of trip is the perfect pair for a babymoon (the last hurrah vacation a couple takes before their baby enters the world). Like its name would suggest, a conceptionmoon is a fertility holiday taken for the sole purpose of baby-making.
Because stress is believed to hinder conception, couples who are looking to boost their chances of getting pregnant hit the road or jet off to rekindle the fire in their relationship and increase their chances of conceiving.
Does it work, though? A survey of US mums on babycenter.com revealed that nearly half of all couples who took a conceptionmoon did actually conceive while they were away.
Harpa, Designed by Henning Larsen Architects and the Icelandic architectural firm Batteríið ArchitectsAs a destination Iceland sits in the imagination almost like a distant planet, a notion only heightened by the spectacular light shows of the aurora borealis, its stark beauty and the grandeur of its landscape — it’s no surprise that has been featured in some of Hollywood’s most successful recent productions — which, to my mind, always makes me think its a nightmare to get to.
However, in reality, Iceland is far more accessible than you might think, which combined with the Icelandic peoples’ individual charm and incredible sights and tourist attractions made me think somewhere like its capital city Reykjavík, would make an amazing, unique and memorable event location. I spoke to Thorsteinn Orn Gudmundsson, managing director of Meet in Reykjavík, to find out just how right I was.
ReykjavíkTD: In a recent statement Meet in Reykjavik described how the country has “built a reputation for reliability, high tech infrastructure, service excellence with flexibility,” can you explain this infrastructure development further?
TG: When Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre opened in 2011 it changed everything for the local MICE professionals. Harpa is a versatile venue of the highest international standard. It has different types of areas and function rooms that can accommodate special requirements of any event — everything from large conventions, concerts, exhibitions to smaller banquets or meetings alike.
What is unique about Harpa? Two things come to mind. Number one is its design; influenced by the exceptional and dramatic nature of the Icelandic landscape. Number two, is its location in the heart of Reykjavík, situated on the picturesque Reykjavík harbour, which features stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the North Atlantic Ocean all walking distance of the city’s hotels, restaurants and shopping centres.
Basically, Harpa has state-of-the-art technology and facilities in a magnificent setting, with an unforgettable view.
But, Iceland’s MICE offering is not just about Harpa. The hotel selection in Reykjavík is getting better every year and there will be close to 6000 hotel rooms in Reykjavík by 2019 — an increase of 34% since 2015.
To name a couple of new properties; next year Marriott is opening a new five-star property next to Harpa, as well as a Curio Collection by Hilton property, the Iceland Konsulat Hotel (below) — less than five minutes walking distance from Harpa.
What about getting to Iceland in the first place, is that difficult?
I am glad you brought that up. As I would also like to mention accessibility and our award-winning KEF International airport, which serves as a transatlantic hub and is only three hours flight from Europe and five hours from the east coast of North America.
Moreover, our flagship carrier Icelandair has direct flights to 25 gateways in Europe and 23 in North America. This year we had 28 airlines operating direct flights to 92 destinations — a number that has been increasing every year, and something I expect to continue.
The statement also declares there are “high hopes” for the future of MICE in Iceland. What new developments can we look forward to seeing over the coming months?
I already mentioned the Marriott Hotel and new Curio Collection by Hilton. These are definitely something to look forward to.
However, our associated partners are constantly improving their services, for example, Norðurflug Helicopter Tours just added an Airbus EC130 to their fleet; the Radisson Blu Saga Hotel, one of Reykjavík’s most historic hotels has been under renovation and their service offering and venues have never looked better. In addition Whales of Iceland (below) are also expending their services for those who like truly an otherworldly venue. The list goes on and on.
How does the unconventional lifestyle found in Iceland translate into the nation’s MICE product?
Because of our unconventional lifestyle Icelanders are very resourceful at finding where our competitive advantage lies. For example, we have been focusing on formulating policies on issues pertaining to equal rights, geothermal energy, and the Arctic region. This has resulted in increased interest in holding meetings and conferences on these matters here in Iceland.
The Blue Lagoon geothermal spaTo name a few, next year we’ll be hosting the Global District Energy Climate Awards Ceremony in conjunction with the 1st Sustainable District Energy Conference. Last year we hosted the Women Political Leaders Global Forum (WPL) and 2018-2021 we will be host to the Women Leaders Global Forum, an event that has been described as the “Davos of Women – Iceland style”.
The Annual Arctic Circle Assembly is the world’s largest international gathering on the Arctic; it takes place in Reykjavík every year and has over the years produced many smaller meeting and events.
“It’s the safest place on earth according to the global peace index”
If I was planning an event, why would I come to Iceland?
Easy, to name a few reasons: Reykjavík is a city surrounded by unique nature. There are many places in the city where nature feels removed or non-present. In Reykjavík, MICE travellers can enjoy both a modern European city and have a nature experience.
It’s the safest place on earth according to the global peace index.
Reykjavik is a friendly and accessible, there are more weekly flights from Keflavik airport to N-Amerika than from Oslo, Helsinki, and Stockholm altogether and twice as many as from Copenhagen. It is also easy to get around Reykjavík. The city is compact with minimal traffic with venues and hotels in Reykjavik being, at most, between a walking distance and up to a 15-minute drive from each other.
You can let your imagination go wild with daytime activities, and it will most likely become a reality in Iceland, whether it’s soaking in the Blue Lagoon, or helicoptering over vast lands of lava and ice. Participating in glacier hikes and drive snowmobiles, explore inside mystic cliffs and behind waterfalls, visit black beaches and hot springs.
The bottom line is that in Reykjavík you experience a safe, clean and creative European city that will raise your spirits and widen your horizon – a Reykjavík experience is an inspiration and will travel with you back home.
Research increasingly indicates that disparity – the difference between quoted prices on hotels’ own websites and those shown by OTAs and other third-party channels – has been a headache for the vast majority of revenue managers.
That’s all about to end as a report by OTA Insight on the current state of parity where key early findings have already shown that more than half of hotel professionals still don’t feel in control of their parity.
The report, presented by OTA Insight co-founder Gino Engels (main picture), raised questions on how parity is perceived among hoteliers and where they feel they should be versus where they currently stand.
Hotel parity – Europe The key findings were:
• OTAs are more likely to be in parity with Major Chains than Independents and Local Chains. Market-wide, there are significant parity loss issues with Independents and Local Chains facing losses 52% of tracked shops in comparison to 45% for Major Chains.
• A significant majority of parity loss from OTAs was from rates displayed 5-15% lower than brand.com rates.
• Issues coming primarily from non-contracted OTAs being out of parity – 38% in the case of Major Chains and 46% of Independents and Local Chains – suggest that unauthorised OTAs are the biggest contributors to parity loss.
• The eSky.com platform is the most frequently tracked channel for parity loss issues across Independent and Local Chain hotels, and Major Chains across Europe.
Hotel parity – UK The key findings were:
• OTAs are more likely to be in parity with Major Chains than Independents and Local Chains. Market-wide, there are significant parity loss issues with Independents and Local Chains facing losses 53% of tracked shops in comparison to 45% for Major Chains.
• A significant majority of parity loss from OTAs was from rates displayed 5-20% lower than brand.com rates.
• Issues coming primarily from non-contracted OTAs being out of parity, Agoda and Alpharoom are the most common offenders in the United Kingdom for Local Chains and Independents and Major Chains respectively.
Other findings Another key finding from the report, introduced by TD’s CEO Brett Henry at WTM last week, relates to the primary reasons hoteliers are giving for managing parity efficiently. For some, revenue management is the main driver; for others, it’s reputation protection.
The boss Brett Henry introduces the parity reportBut across the board, hoteliers agree that parity affects both the bottom line and brand reputation. This central finding underlines their desire to improve their parity management processes.
In this report, we will provide a full breakdown on parity in Europe and the key trends that are affecting the market.
Every traveler needs to put this on their “must see in China” bucket list. Source: Shutterstock.
LOCATED in Sunan and Linze counties, along the northern foothills of the Qilian Mountains, the Zhangye National Geopark is known its unusual colors.
Said to be one of the most colorful natural wonders of the world, it boasts smooth and sharp rocks which tower at several hundred meters tall.
Often referred to as China’s “Rainbow Mountains,” the mountains are the result of compression of sandstone and other minerals, and tectonic collision that occurred over 24 million years.
This resulted in a striking layer cake-like effect, with towers, pillars, and ravines in varying kaleidoscopic colors, patterns, and sizes.
Zhangye National Geopark, which attracts thousands of tourists each year, has been voted by Chinese media outlets as one of the most beautiful landforms in China.
It is particularly breathtaking at sunrise and sunset, as well as after a rainfall, when the endless hills look like a sea of fire with rolling waves – truly a treat for the eyes.
For the best view of the beautiful striped hills, visitors can simply hop on a sightseeing bus to get to one of the four viewing platforms.
In 2009, Chinese National Geography magazine chose the Zhangye National Geopark as one of the “six most beautiful landforms” in China.
Getting there: The Zhangye National Geopark is about 30 minutes west by car, in the northwestern portion of Gansu Province. Alternatively, you can also ride the bus from the prefecture-level city of Zhangye to the park.
One has to be too lost in thoughts while strolling past Singapore’s clean streets in Chinatown to miss a literal ‘concrete jungle’. The multi-storey design marvel dressed in green foliage at the junction of Pickering street, PARKROYAL on Pickering, is in fact, an eco-chic hotel. It recently bagged the title of “Asia’s Leading Green Hotel” at the World Travel Awards (Asia & Australasia) for the fourth consecutive year.
This win underlines the hotel’s expertise in green innovations and how it integrates them to enhance the guest experience. Acclaimed for its hotel-in-a-garden concept, PARKROYAL on Pickering seems to be at the forefront of sustainability initiatives for the hospitality sector in Singapore and across the Asia region.
Hence, I decided to dig in to their eco-conscious practices and find out what makes them the most sustainable hotel of all in Asia. General manager Jeane Lim, takes us for a ‘green’ walk.
TD: What does sustainability mean to PARKROYAL?
JL: Sustainability to us, is about making a conscious decision in our everyday lives to lower our carbon footprint through changing our habits. Beyond our green infrastructure, we’re committed to educating our guests and staff about why sustainability is important and to make eco living a way of life.
“Green living is central to the PARKROYAL on Pickering visitor experience”
What was the drive in making it a green hotel?
When Pan Pacific Hotels Group (which owns and manages PARKROYAL on Pickering) was doing a comprehensive review of its PARKROYAL brand seven years ago, it unveiled customers were looking for more intimacy with their hotel. Additional insight from the brand review also showed there is great concern amongst travellers about the environment.
With these insights, coupled with PARKROYAL’s positioning about local connectivity and connections, they chose to build a hotel-in-a-garden that is very much inspired by its local surroundings and local environment – extending the green areas of its surrounds, the green space of Hong Lim Park, and encouraging biodiversity in the city.
What kind of sustainability goals do you have and how do you keep up?
Green living is central to the PARKROYAL on Pickering visitor experience. With its eco-friendly, hotel-in-a-garden concept, the hotel has implemented a range of innovative sustainability features designed to add a fresh perspective to urban hospitality. Use of rain sensors, natural sky gardens, extensive water conservation, light saving, solar power, and reduced use of concrete in the building’s construction are just some of the initiatives incorporated into the hotel’s design and operation.
“An architectural stunner”
What makes PARKROYAL on Pickering better than others in Singapore?
Hailed by many as an ‘architectural stunner’, PARKROYAL on Pickering has been attracting business travellers and tourists to Singapore with its awe-inspiring façade. The intriguing structure is a first-of-its-kind in the world and unique to the region; encouraging key decision makers and business owners to make the switch from their preferred hotels to explore a unique hotel-in-a-garden experience that only PARKROYAL on Pickering can offer.
What makes it the greenest hotel in Asia?
The 367-room PARKROYAL on Pickering is Singapore’s first hotel-in-a-garden featuring 15,000 sqm (50 different varieties of plants) of sky gardens, waterfalls, and planter walls, which constitute more than twice the hotel’s total land area – which is a scale unprecedented in a built-up city centre. Flora species ranging from shade trees, tall palms, flowering plants, leafy shrubs and overhanging creepers encourage biodiversity in the city.
The vast greenery absorbs heat, provides shade to hard surfaces and accelerate transpiration thus improving air quality.
Comprehensive energy and water conservation features include light, rain and motion sensors, as well as the use of rain harvesting and recycled water. Natural materials and textures have been used throughout the design of the hotel, including light and dark wood, pebbles, water, green ‘moss’, carpets and glass.
Since August 2018, the hotel has implemented a plastic-free policy for its meetings. Drinking water is bottled and purified in-house, and made available in reusable glass bottles (similar to those provided in guestrooms since the hotel opened in 2013). For larger events, water points and dispensers are used.
In preference for more environmentally-sustainable alternatives, plastic straws have been removed from our all-day dining restaurant – LIME. We have essentially gone straw-free but in the event that guests really need one, paper straws are offered instead.
Outdoor corridors are lined with plants, and walkways set within the four sky gardens en route to the guestrooms. More than 60% of guestroom corridors resemble garden spaces with natural light and fresh air.
Singapore’s first zero-energy sky gardens are powered by solar-energy cells (which won the hotel the Solar Pioneer Award), and an auto-irrigated and fertilization system is installed for all planter areas.
Guestrooms and suites are designed to allow maximum natural light. Each room features all-natural products with recycled composite granite for the bathtubs, sinks and vanity tops, and wood and stone finish throughout. There are separate recycling bins for plastic, glass, paper and glass in all guestrooms (and throughout the hotel).
Besides our green innovations, we’re committed to hosting events supporting great causes at our hotel, such as the recent Green is the New Black – Asia’s Conscious Festival and Platform.
Does sustainability come at an additional cost to the business?
Our customers share a common value with us in recognising the importance of the environment and choose to travel with this in mind and collectively we see the long-term benefit to the environment by applying best practice in sustainability.
What are your future goals and how do you plan to enhance its eco chic?
To continue educating those who walk through the doors of PARKROYAL on Pickering on the importance of being sustainable and convert more consumers to become eco-conscious and make the right choices in their daily lives to lower their carbon footprint
To innovate and introduce new sustainable features without compromising on quality of the services we provide. We hope that our guests and staff can take some of these practices we have put in place away with them and implement in their own environments
Any special sustainability projects in the pipeline?
We will have more to share after Q2 2019 but some efforts we are currently exploring include environmentally-friendly options for in-room amenities, and we are also looking into expanding recycling efforts from used soap to non-disposable plastics.