James P McDonald, General Manager, says

InterContinental Dhaka is 30pc more energy efficient

-A Monitor Report01 Feb, 2019 | 556 Views|-+
Dhaka : InterContinental Dhaka is 30 per cent more energy efficient as "green engagement" is part of IHG's commitment. This will help lower the hotel's operating cost by 30 per cent.

The renovated hotel has been constructed with materials that consume less energy. Kitchen, chiller, boiler, laundry - everything is new. The washing machines which used to devour a lot of water have been replaced by the latest ones.

Sensor for lighting and room entry has been used all across the hotel. The utility consumption will be 30 per cent less than the old one.

James P McDonald, General Manager, InterContinental Dhaka said this while talking to The Bangladesh Monitor at the natural light-lit Social Room outlet of the hotel. Shahidus Sadeque, Director Marketing and Business Promotions, was also present.

McDonald said, profitability of the hotel industry in Bangladesh is very good compared to internationally. The big chain hotels in Dhaka are running 40 per cent and above GOP. That is not common in many other areas of the world, and definitely not in the Middle East. Middle East is the victim of oversupply, he said.

The experienced hotelier forecast that Bangladesh Services Limited (BSL) will get back their return on investment within seven years or so.

“For us at InterContinental Dhaka, if we do not give the owners the right percentage of return, then we do not get our share. So basically the business model has changed from what it was 15 to 20 years ago,” James said.

“Now if we do not operate efficiently, we do not get our share. The higher the profitability we achieve for the owner, the more share we would get. At the end of the day, the owner gets 90 per cent of the profits. So we have to operate efficiently.”

“There is also a fund set aside that we cannot touch, neither the owner. It has been set aside to make sure that money is available to maintain the property and replace the hotel equipment as needed,” he added.

McDonald said that the structure of the agreement is very much changed than what it was before. The owners got smarter. They have moved with the times.

The owner wants their asset to be well looked after and they want to maximise their profit. The terms of the contracts have change tremendously.

BSL took on board a consultant to advise them, do the calculations, the financials as well as the likely return, he said.

About the craftsmanship (refurbishment) of InterContinental Dhaka, the General Manager said it had really been very good. “I always say it took longer than expected but the workmanship, the finishes, has been really good.”

In terms of brand image, InterContinental Dhaka exceeds standards. Any new hotel would desire to be like this. This is the standard of an InterContinental property.

“The hotels in Dubai would dream to be as good as we have come out. It has come out, really, really well. The importations, the opening of LCs, bank guarantees, processes - just simple things to deliver - took time.”

The hotel had to import 400 40-feet containers of interior fittings - all these had to be manufactured overseas - by Chad in Australia. The furniture came from China. “So I think when you look at the finishes, the finished product has come out very well.”

Then project management companies and the consultants had to check and approve materials before they were installed on site. That's the normal process.

Hotels get old. The owners were quick to spend on the front - that is what the guests see - than at the back. They built the Winter Garden, they then built this extension - presently Social Room, the Lobby Lounge where the interview took place.

It did not grow at the back. Now it has grown - both the kitchen and the laundry. The infinity swimming pool and the gym are big enough, with the latter having all the equipments. Both are meant for hotel guests.

“The full 226 rooms are available. What we are doing is we are taking back one or two floors at a time. But anytime I want to occupy the hotel, I can occupy. The rooms are quite amazing. Spacious and with modern, chic design, the layout of the rooms is very good,” he said.

One of the things a standard room allows is that in front of a bed there is a sofa. The distance from the sofa to the television set is a very comfortable. Guests can sit on the bed or on the sofa next to the bed and watch television. It works out very well.

There is a spacious business working area - InterContinental being a business hotel. With good sized desks, there is all the interactivity. Guests can project their presentation or video they want to show onto the television from their laptops - these things are there for the business traveller.

The latest technology is in place. Everything guests would find it in London, Paris or elsewhere, they would find that in the hotel.

Suites are just magnificent. They are big, spacious, well-designed and the layout is very good. The hotel's suites, specially the Executive Suites, are designed around the guests. “I like the Executive Suites better than the Presidential Suites.”

“Among the 30 suites, five are Presidential Suites. We can convert ten more into Presidential Suites - they are designed that way. There are expectations that there may be a SAARC Summit here.”

“A lot of effort went in for being a government-affiliated hotel. We had to make sure we are meeting their expectations and demands. In the each Presidential Suite there is an adjacent room for an aide,” the GM said.

Regarding MICE, James P McDonald said, “We are the best in town. We added a pre-function room to the main venue, bigger break-up rooms - the most comprehensive than anywhere else in the city.”

He said, “If there is MICE coming in the city, it is coming to us. To accommodate people, we have kept the garden completely free for the purpose. We will also use the pre-function rooms that we have. There is a big medical conference coming up.

The hotel offers over 21,000 square feet of combined indoor meeting and exhibition space. There are nine small and large banquet halls including two ballrooms and seven meeting rooms. The Ruposhi Bangla Grand Ballroom and meeting rooms are complemented with spacious pre-function ares, all conveniently centralised for easy access.

On a query as to whether a two-floor facility at the former Winter Garden, he said, “We do not have the space to go to that level. The investment would have been too much. If we double the size, we cannot double the size of car parking. We have car parking for over 200 cars and another 70 to 80 in the annex building.”

You also have to marry your room accommodation to your facilities. “So if we had bigger event space, we would have needed to have more rooms,” he concluded.

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