Insights from the Hilton Garden Inn Danang

July 03, 2023 | 10:01
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Hilton Garden Inn Danang, boasting 234 rooms with captivating beach views, was inaugurated in late May – marking the Hilton group's first beach-front property in Vietnam. Alexandra Murray, area vice president and head of Southeast Asia at Hilton, spoke to VIR's Linh Le about the hotel's distinctive features and the group's ambitious strategy for Vietnam.

How does Hilton view Vietnam compared to the other tourism markets in Southeast Asia and around the world?

Sustainable practices and ambitious growth: Insights from Hilton Garden Inn Da Nang

Out of the nine markets in Southeast Asia that we currently operate in, Vietnam, together with Thailand, is our priority and strategic focus. We see huge potential here, and that's been proven by a lot of our achievements. We are always trying to identify more opportunities in the country and expect to double our footprint here in the next couple of years.

Why did Hilton choose this particular time to develop its first ocean-front hotel in Vietnam?

Since we first came to Danang in 2019, and even though the pandemic halted everything for a while, it has so far been a very promising and very successful start.

We are seeing the rise of the middle class in Vietnam and across the region, and the Hilton Garden Inn brand is perfectly suited to cater to the expectations of these travellers. With our mother brand already in the market, and the city's accessibility much improved, we had a lot of confidence in bringing Hilton Garden Inn to Danang.

Insights from the Hilton Garden Inn Danang

Does Hilton Garden Inn Danang incorporate any sustainable practices or initiatives?

For us as a company, sustainability is a very critical component of our global strategy. We have a clear environmental, social, and governance strategy up to 2030, which is to double our impact on the communities in the destinations where we have hotels, and at the same time, halve our carbon footprint. That's quite an ambitious goal.

At Hilton Garden Inn Danang, there's a whole range of initiatives. We implement sustainable energy practices by utilising a solar roof system to power a portion of the hotel's electricity needs, which is a logical thing to do in a destination like Danang. Additionally, the heat exchange from air-conditioning systems is used to heat the swimming pool during colder months, reducing energy consumption.

In collaboration with Hilton's sustainability partners, the hotel ensures that all conferences and events hosted on its premises are carbon-neutral. To combat plastic waste, we offer premium bath amenities in eco-friendly, full-sized dispensers, effectively reducing the single-use plastic footprint associated with bathroom amenities by at least half. Furthermore, the use of locally sourced and bottled water in reusable glass bottles eliminates the disposal of over 600 plastic bottles daily.

In addition, we prioritise responsible sourcing by serving sustainably sourced rainforest alliance coffee from Dalat as the standard offering throughout the hotel. The hotel also repurposes used coffee grounds by transforming them into fire bricks for the local community, providing an eco-friendly alternative to harmful charcoal and coal briquettes.

Insights from the Hilton Garden Inn Danang

Could you share some of Hilton Garden Inn Danang's initiatives to employ and empower local communities?

With the opening of the Hilton Garden Inn Danang, we continue to seek ways in which we can give back to the community we operate in, be it through employment opportunities or sustainable tourism efforts. Since March, we have added over 100 new jobs across our operation, in food and beverages, housekeeping, and the kitchen areas, all joining the nearly 160 existing team members.

We also take an innovative approach to hiring and recruiting through partnerships with local universities to raise awareness and highlight the internship and career opportunities at Hilton for young talent keen on the hospitality industry.

We understand that the always-on nature of the hospitality industry can be very demanding, which is why we take extra care to look after our team members’ wellbeing. Our employees are provided with healthy meals at the Team Members’ Dining Restaurant.

They also have access to Care for All, an expansion of Hilton’s mental wellness hub that was launched last year to offer resources, training, and benefits to support personnel who are caregivers and their loved ones.

As an Employer of Choice in Southeast Asia and a Great Place to Work in the region, we will continue to drive change in the hospitality industry, including introducing employee initiatives that strengthen the inclusive culture at Hilton where our team members feel engaged, appreciated, and empowered.

Insights from the Hilton Garden Inn Danang

How does Hilton plan to address the low numbers of tourists visiting Danang when compared to before the pandemic?

Tourist arrivals to Southeast Asia are currently about 60 per cent down on what they used to be. That being said, if we look at Vietnam's ambition of 8 million visitors for 2023, we’re actually at 57 per cent with about 4.6 million in the first five months.

Even though we're not at 2019 levels yet, we are confident that with all the activities and initiatives in place, tourism here will have fully recovered by 2024.

What are Hilton's plans for expansion and growth in Vietnam, and are there any upcoming projects or destinations that you are particularly excited about?

I must admit, I'm excited about every new hotel because there is so much passionate hard work that goes into each opening. But there are probably two aspects that I would like to highlight.

One is the growth in the luxury segment, in which we are seeing huge opportunities and where we have received great feedback from investors.

The second is the Hilton Garden Inn brand. While for the luxury world, there are very select cities that we would see as being right to cater to luxury customers, Hilton Garden Inn is something that you can really bring into any community and destination at a very different price point and as a value-for-money proposition.

In Vietnam, we're genuinely excited to bring Hilton Saigon in Ho Chi Minh City and La Festa Phu Quoc, along with the Curio Collection By Hilton this year. As mentioned, the Waldorf Astoria coming to Hanoi in 2025 will be a fantastic representation of the growth in the luxury segment in Southeast Asia.

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As the demand for luxury travel continues to grow in the region, Hilton is ramping up its activities in this segment. Alexandra Murray, area vice president and head of Southeast Asia at Hilton, shared with VIR's Hanh Van the company's strategy to tap into the opportunities in Vietnam's luxury travel market.

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By Linh Le

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