With rooms brand new, Sonargaon poised retake lead in hospitality sector
-A Monitor Report
01 Nov, 2017  |
Paul Flett, GM, Pan Pacific Sonargaon Dhaka
: With all 284 rooms of Sonargaon Pan Pacific brand new, the hotel with a 36-year history is welcoming its guests back again, and is poised retake lead in the hospitality sector.
Paul Flett, General Manager, Pan Pacific Sonargaon Dhaka, said guests who had gone away to other properties are returning to us. The last three months of the year will be about our going out and informing everyone that we are back.
"We are done with the renovation of guestrooms. Come on back if you had gone away or come and see the new product if you haven't been here before, would be our message," he said while talking to The Bangladesh Monitor.
Installation of brand new elevators has started and they will be completed one by one. One of the new elevators will be ready by mid-November, he said.
Flett said, previously our priority was to get the rooms back fast, then take up other projects. We are discussing like making the entry of guests to the hotel easier, renovating Café Bazar, kitchen, new bar, more meeting venues and more bathrooms.
Sonargaon is a lovely property. The Oasis is on the back there_ it's a heaven, really. I think it is fantastic. So we'll look at the arrival experience of Oasis. In terms of when people are coming into the sqm/sqft green space, what they are seeing, how easy is it in terms of parking. What can we do to enhance that experience because that is a huge, grand space.
We are looking at entry though side gate. Possibly the left hand lane (of the road) will make a lot of difference . . . so that traffic comes from the airport, does not have take a turn at the fish market_ just come in a straight line_ and they are in the comfortable surroundings of the hotel.
So that's going to be a difference. Anything we can do to make it easier, that we will do. It is about making an experience that people want to come regardless of the traffic because they know a great experience is waiting for them at the other end.
Flett went round with a number of hotels in the city. He said, one of the things I noticed was the open kitchen. It's such a modern thing. It was nice to see hotels here grasping the concept. I think that's something that we would need to look at in terms of Café Bazar.
He said, I think people really like seeing chefs cook. People are very interested in seeing the food process happen, what you would call - farm to plate. And the last part of that is watching the chefs prepare the raw ingredients and cook your meal.
That's an area that would be talking with the owners in terms of I would like to see (open kitchen) in Café Bazar, making a bit contemporary. Because it is what our competitors have. And I think that's the way to go for us. That would be something I would look at while redesigning Café Bazar.
About kitchen he said, the key word for renovation is flexibility. So if I am doing the kitchen, I would probably segment it. The Ballroom would probably be the breakfast room. We need to close Café Bazar for three months while we do the kitchen part (of Café Bazaar).
We would next do the restaurants outside. For that three month period we will not be able to sell the ballroom. Obviously Jharna would operate. Then, when we have done that part, we move on to the next part_ the banquet kitchen. We can then re-launch Café Bazar.
Then may be (renovate) banquet kitchen and Jharna or the banquet kitchen or the banquet rooms_ synchronise those together so it would be done in stages to ensure minimal impact.
We have got spaces, we can shift it too, as long as it is done in a smart way. First thing we need to think is the concept. We need to spend time on that. Once we get the kitchen right, then we can think of other aspects.
We will get the opportunity to get ahead of the rest if we do something really modern in our ballrooms and in our function rooms in general. It will make it easier for people to hold functions.
In terms of size increase of Ballroom, or building on top of it is not possible. The time and the cost for that would be prohibitive. Ciao could be converted into banquet hall.
Aqua Lounge, the new bar would be in a separate building. And that would allow us to do something with the Balcony Bar. We could connect that up possibly with one of the meeting rooms and create more space, say for three hundred people. So, in terms of overall numbers, that would be possible.
We need to put in more bathrooms. That might sound silly, but it's quite important. Upstairs we have got only one bathroom. If I have 400 guests that would be a problem. We need to look at that sort of things.
Sonargaon was once a leading venue for MICE and it would be so again. The changes will enable the hotel to hold more MICE events_ big or small. I think we can create not only a bit of space but also a lot of experience.
Sonargaon has been host to a large number of heads of states and governments and was the preferred MICE venue before other hotels and facilities came along decades later, he reminded.
Flett was born in the town of Rawene, a town of about 200 people, in Northland, New Zealand, but he spent a large chunk of his life in Australia.
In a career spanning more than 20 years in operations and F&B, Flett had worked at Cypress Lake Resort in Hunter Valley, as well as hotel brands such as Radisson, InterContinental Hotels Group and Rydges, and_PARKROYAL Darling Harbour, Sydney_ before taking up the helms of Pan Pacific Sonargaon Dhaka.