Mr. Thierry Le Ponner: “Hotelliers never rest”

(#wanderlusttips #Novotelsuiteshanoi #AccorHotels ) “At Novotel, “feel welcome”, at Novotel Suites “feel at home”, said Mr. Thierry Le Ponner, General Manager of Novotel Suites Hotel Hanoi in an interview by Wanderlust Tips Magazine.

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AccorHotels is one of the leading hotel groups in the world. It brings together many renowned brands including Sofitel, Pullman, MGallery, Grand Mercure, Novotel and Novotel Suites. You have over 3,500 hotels with160 thousand employees in 92 countries. When did you join AccorHotels Group?

With the expansion of Accor all over the world, we just passed 180,000 employees this year and still continue to grow.

I myself joined Accor over 20 years ago in France and moved to Accor in Asia 15 years ago for a 2 years mission in Cambodia. Fifteen years later, I am extremely happy to be working in Asia still and especially in Vietnam for the second time.

You have lived and worked in Vietnam for a long time. How do you assess the trends in the tourism and hospitality industries in Vietnam in this age of integration?

I had the chance to open Novotel and Pullman in Saigon respectively in 2012 and 2013 and after nearly 2 years in Korea I decided to come back to Vietnam for those exciting new projects in Hanoi.

The hotel industry in Vietnam has been blooming over the past 5 years especially in some key cities and beach destinations – mostly in luxury market.

Vietnam still has great potential for further development in the tourism and hospitality industry. New destinations are rising up, the domestic market is increasing a lot and we may see the midscale and economic brands come up strong very soon, Vietnam benefits of a stable environment and can attract many investors, the exemption of visas is simplifying access to Vietnam for travellers, not to mention the cost benefit.

However tourism and hospitality are strongly dependent on the global economy and Vietnam needs to communicate its tourism attraction stronger. It has also a very strong need for quality hospitality and a tourism school that would benefit many people by enabling them to join the hotel industry with proper knowledge. With the growth of hotels and the need of qualified employees and managers this is a key priority.

Can you please tell us why AccorHotels brought Novotel Suites, a luxury resort brand, to Vietnam more specifically to Duy Tan Street in Hanoi?

Novotel Suites has been very successful in Europe over the past 10 years and Accor decided to bring the brand to Asia

It is another way of living the hotel experience:  All the facilities and quality of service of Novotel brand but with the comfort of a fully equipped studio or apartment from 32 to 104 m2, some even with terraces. A living area, a working area, a fully equipped kitchenette (microwave, fridge, coffee machine, crockery, washing machines, etc.)

At Novotel, “feel welcome”, at Novotel Suites “feel at home”.

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This is a perfect alternative for extended or long stays but is also very appreciated by short trip travellers who need to enjoy a hotel at their own pace with services designed for them, whether alone or with their family.

While the major hotel development in Hanoi is very central, Accor decided to respond to a strong demand of upper midscale hotels and residences in Cau Giay.

Location, location, location!!!

Duy Tan street is in the heart of one of the fastest developing areas in Hanoi, both in the residential and the business market. Novotel suites Hanoi is only a few minutes away, even walking distance for some of them, from those key business activity centres with direct access to the new expressway leading to the key industrial parks and very easy and quick access to the airport. It is indeed the ideal location for corporate travellers on a short stay, extended stay or permanent residents.

Furthermore, it is only 15 minutes away from the main city centre and is an ideal choice for leisure travellers too.

Having a Novotel Suites in Cau Giay is definitively added value for the district in its own development.

You mentioned twice “luxury” in your question and I thank you for your appreciation of Novotel’s quality. Indeed Novotel is an upscale category brand with utmost concern on guest satisfaction and quality of facilities and services. However luxury tends to make people think it is expensive, it is stiff and not relaxing, while Novotel is before all a friendly, affordable and very high quality hotel with attentive and friendly service.

AccorHotels focuses on travelling families. When Novotel Suites Hanoi opens, what services will AccorHotels offer to satisfy these customers?

Novotel is indeed well recognised for its generous “Family & Novotel” concept:

Accommodation and breakfast are free of charge for children under 16 years, sharing the parents’ room and utilising existing bedding.   If parents prefer to use a second room and have a separate connecting bedroom for their children, the second room is 50% off.

Additionally at Novotel suites Hanoi, we offer 2-bedroom apartments including 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and one living room with a kitchenette.  A great way to stay in a hotel but remain close together.

Our Food Exchange international buffet Restaurant also offers great benefits to families: Children below 6 years are free of charge and children from 6 to 12 get a 50% discount.

Novotel suites Hanoi also provides indoor and outdoor children playgrounds as well as a heated kids swimming pool, cartoon channels and adapted facilities for children

How about the services for business travellers?

Novotel suites targets mostly business travellers due to its location and has therefore adapted all its services to them.

Customers are now more cosmopolitan and mobile. The line between work and private life is becoming increasingly blurred and the desire to stay connected is a key characteristic of new business and leisure travellers.  Each customer wants to live in a hotel at his own pace.

Novotel Suites Hanoi is the perfect representation of this new contemporary and executive lifestyle: unique designs, hyper connectivity, 24/7 facilities be it fitness centre, web corner, catering services, laundry or even transportation.

As mentioned before all our studios and apartments (1 to 3 bedrooms) offer a fully equipped kitchenette for more freedom, a living area with a real sofa and working area, of course free Wi-Fi but also IPTV. Finally but not leas of all: large closets. Too many hotels have such little closets that they are inconvenient for extended stays.

A web corner is also available 24/7.

On the rooftop, a dedicated library lounge for our customers with a private roof top garden is available to relax after work or meet friends and colleagues. Time is luxury for business people and we developed the Online Check In and Fast Check out on mobile phone for business travellers especially for that.

Finally, we also offer versatile meeting facilities for 10 to 200 people with high tech equipment including interactive white boards and all the Novotel expertise.

A resort’s reputation is always tied to the quality of its cuisine. What kind of culinary style will Novotel Suites Hanoi focus on?

International, authentic, creative, fresh and tasty would be the key words.

The Food Exchange Buffet Restaurant is a social hub offering a modern interpretation of western and Pan Asia cuisine in a contemporary casual atmosphere. A show kitchen allows direct interaction with the chefs.

The Gourmet Bar is the new eat/bar experience of Novotel. It is an informal friendly eating and drinking place for social gatherings with friends, family and colleagues. Trendy drinks, addictive tapas, pasta fever, epic burgers or inspiring dishes of the day to enjoyed there or taken away.

The rooftop bar and its splendid terrace is THE place to unwind after a good working day. A collection of classic to surprising cocktails or a good glass of wine with some cheese or cold cut plate in a hip environment. Isn’t that the best way to refresh?

Of course a swimming pool bar, a 24/7 a la carte room service and pre-booked room dinner service is also available.

Whatever time or the mood, customers can always have their own needs met. Isn’t that the most important?

Was the role of General Manager for a brand new luxury hotel a new goal for you and one you just achieved?

As the general manager of a newly opened hotel, you need first to ensure that the product is right and conforms to Novotel International standards of security, comfort and quality. Working closely with designers, construction and suppliers is key. But the most important is to build up the perfect team, train and ensure quality of service and guest satisfaction. A GM without a team cannot make it and I am lucky here to have by my side a very Accor – experienced and passionate team.

My best achievement and pride is to see that all hotels we have opened being successful and highly appreciated by our customers.  Customers’ feedback is our immediate and first reward.

My other very personal satisfaction is to see our team members growing and developing, taking on new responsibilities within the group, some of them have already become General Managers as well.

Beauty needs to shine. In order for Novotel Suites Hanoi to shine, it will need outstanding and bold PR strategies. Do you agree?

Indeed PR is very important. Advertising whether online or offline for me need to follow a simple rule: to promote who and what we are truly without overdoing it.

Humility and truth is key in long-term relations with our customers. So our goal, our marketing and our communication must remain simple:  To be a perfect Novotel, not more, not less!

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Can you share your plan for Novotel Suites Hanoi in the next five years?

When you build a hotel, you invest for the next 20 years but you need to constantly adapt and reinvent yourself to always meet customer needs.

In 5 years, guests’ needs and priorities will surely evolve a lot compared to now: more technology, more interactivity, new F&B offers, new designs. What will not change is the human need of customers to feel welcome and to feel at home.  The tools will change but not the generosity of our hospitality.

We are also preparing the opening of Novotel Thai Hai (2 Thai Hai street, Dong Da) Hotel and Residence, which will be a perfect combination of 242 rooms and 102 studios and apartments.

Hoteliers never rest (laughs).

Thank you very much for this interview!

Wanderlust Tips | Cinet

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