Hospitality News Philippines Cover Story for July 30, 2023
MEGAWORLD Hotels & Resorts (MHR) aims to fulfill a commitment of an experience using the five senses in its brand of service. The homegrown hotel brand will banner hospitality traits in each of the senses—sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch starting July 27 using the Philippine national flower, the Sampaguita, as its symbol of hospitality.
Traveling and staying in a hotel-whether for business or leisure provides the ultimate experience and taps into our emotions. MHR seeks to capture that particular manifestation with the Sampaguita as its brand. The Sampaguita embodies that promise to fulfill a meaningful stay and to create powerful memories that will present a real opportunity for Megaworld Hotels to develop customer loyalty.
With six diverse brands in 12 locations and rooms totaling 8,000 including projects in the pipeline – Megaworld Hotels and Resorts is currently the Philippines’ largest homegrown hospitality management chain.
Withstanding the challenging times, the hotel group grew from one property with Richmonde Hotel Ortigas under the Prestige Hotels Group in 1999 to become the biggest homegrown hospitality brand in the Philippines with each property showcasing the best of the Philippines.
These hotels and resorts include Belmont Hotel Boracay, and Manila; Eastwood Richmonde Hotel, and Iloilo; Savoy Hotel Boracay, Manila, and Mactan Newtown; Hotel Lucky Chinatown; Twin Lakes Hotel Tagaytay, Kingsford Hotel Manila in Paranaque and its latest addition Belmont Hotel Mactan, and the soon-to-open Chancellor Hotel Boracay with 550 rooms and the biggest hotel in the country, Grand Westside Hotel with its 1,500+ rooms.
Unique culture of service excellence
The hotel group attributes its success to its unique culture of service excellence fueled by warm and heartfelt hospitality, an innate trait that Filipinos wear like a second skin. This translates to continuing patronage of loyal guests and supporters through the years.
MHR boasts of its brand of culture called the Circle of Happiness. Specifically curated at the time of the pandemic, the Circle of Happiness harnesses the philosophy of love for oneself, family, work, community, and above all, God at the center of what they do. This became the groundwork for making sure Megaworld Hotels & Resorts stay true to being an employee-centric company that raises a sound approach to taking care and training its associates, protecting the environment, and delighting guests.
“We really desire for our brand to stand out and touch the heart of every Filipino, be the brand that one can be truly proud of. It’s our goal to be the hospitality chain whose story people can reckon with because they have seen the struggles, they have seen the journey which encompasses what every Filipino undergoes yet come out stronger from,” said Cleofe C. Albiso, the managing director of Megaworld Hotels & Resorts.
Discovering the Sampaguita’s extraordinary touch
Today, MHR brings to the open a project in bloom.
Megaworld Hotels & Resorts is officially embarking on a new journey with the Sampaguita Project, tapping on the charm, beauty, and resiliency of the country’s National Flower, the Sampaguita.
Sampaguita is a species of jasmine scientifically called jasmine sambac. It is a tropical plant with slightly smaller flowers and grows as a bush. Historians believe Sampaguita may have arrived in the Philippines in the 17th century across the Himalayas. Since then, Sampaguita was grown in Filipino royal gardens and was frequently used in religious ceremonies.
Heads of state, kings, movie stars, and sports champions have been receiving sampaguita leis as part of the Filipino welcome. Ambulant vendors can be found anywhere, and people buy sampaguita garlands to adorn saints and personal gods and convey good wishes. Also, fancy sampaguita garlands, crowns, and other imaginative arrangements have become mementos for special occasions such as graduations, birthdays, and fiestas.
Records show it was named the national flower of the Philippines in February 1934 when American Governor-General Frank Murphy chose it to represent the people because it’s a Filipino symbol of purity, simplicity, and humility. Moreover, the flower variety has many legends attached to Filipinos. One of them is that it grew on a grave of a lover who was waiting for their love to fulfill a promise. Thus, the Spanish term sumpa kita (I promise you).
The Sampaguita project: Elevating and delighting every guest’s experience
For MHR’s Sampaguita Project, the hotel chain makes sure to explore everything about this Jasmine variety and touch every visitor’s sensory journey and every guest’s experience. So that when he or she smells or sees the Sampaguita flower he would remember that warm memorable service from the Megaworld Hotels & Resorts group.
Elevating and delighting the five senses or “limang pandama” may be a tall order but Megaworld Hotels & Resorts is resolute to make the Sampaguita standard, the hotel standard in the Philippines.
The Sense of Sight
Sampaguita goes beyond the five senses. “To us, it represents the Philippines and as a homegrown brand we want to celebrate our culture with a symbol as iconic as that of a Sampaguita,” says Charlene Go-Co, Group Director of Marketing Communications and project lead.
“Sampaguita represents devotion, purity, fidelity, and divine hope. It is not just a flower but a symbol encompassing many good traits about Filipinos. It might be a small flower but it shows our uniqueness,” she said.
In her presentation, Go-Co pointed out the four qualities that the MHR brand and sampaguita flower have in common: love, honor, dignity, and healing — values that the group strongly identifies with.
Love is exquisitely expressed over the years via MHR’s Circle of Happiness. Honor is giving tribute to the country and its people through heartfelt service. Dignity is the display of Filipino pride. And healing is done by providing rest and opportunities to all concerned.
“We are here because we choose to serve the Filipinos. Our goal is to be a Filipino brand of service with distinct elements evoking the five senses and honoring the values of every individual by providing them excellent, experiential experiences,” Go-Co said.
The Sense of Smell
For the smell component, Megaworld Hotels & Resorts partnered with a startup called Dwellbeing which concocted the premium scent for the group called Cool Sampaguita. The concoction is consist of Sampaguita oil, eucalyptus, peppermint, and other essentials. This would be diffused in places with high foot traffic including the lounge and the public restrooms.
The signature scent has a clear distinct smell of Sampaguita without being overpowering since not everyone may like the scent of the jasmine flower being associated with churches or holy dwellings. But the fusion of different scents would emphasize a unique blend specific to the hotel group.
Dwellbeing also came up with other options for the signature line. Looking into the future, scents will be further developed to fit the destination properties of MHR.
The Sense of Touch
After a long journey, guests get to refresh themselves starting with a cold towel infused with the calming and invigorating smell of Sampaguita. Guests may also book themselves a rejuvenating massage using sampaguita massage oils available upon request to further make the duration of their stay more relaxing. Looking at a plethora of possibilities, properties will also soon be providing face mists for added comfort especially for destinations like Boracay. On top of this, the management brand aims to develop a service that is eager to provide experiences and elevate every touch point through a team that is intuitive and sensitive to guest needs.
The Sense of Hearing
A person’s name is always the sweetest and most important sound in any language. Fully aware of this, MHR has set up programs to make greeting guests with their names as part of the standard. Beyond that, MHR wants to treat locals and returning Filipinos with nostalgic original Filipino music while giving international guests opportunity to appreciate local talent. One can imagine hearing piped-in music, all instrumentals – throughout the hotel from the popular songs of Anak, Gary Valenciano’s Sana Maulit Muli, Araw-Gabi by Regine Velasquez, all the way to Ely Buendia’s El Bimbo, among many others. By playing original Filipino music from 6:30 to 8:30 am and from 4:00-6:00 pm we celebrate homegrown talents and their gift of music and the arts.The Sense of Taste
Next time you come over to eat, one should look forward to seeing the national flower part of your dining experience. Adding in a taste of something new, expect petals or even Sampaguita buds to tickle your palate through dishes part of MHR’s select signature dishes. May it be a four-course dinner or around good friends and cocktails, expect a choice of twists with the essence of this aromatic flower. You may also enjoy the sampaguita through artisanal breads, jams, entrees and soothing tea concoctions as an option in the property’s in-house dining outlets.
In conclusion, the Sampaguita Project shall be implemented starting July 27, 2023. All employees shall be wearing the ‘Pambansang Bulaklak’ pin on their left chest symbolizing love for work and service to others. An especially designed gold Sampaguita pin with five petals including the Philippine Flag on it, will serve as an emblem or a constant reminder for all MHR associates for them to “EMBRACE our culture, UPHOLD our values, EDUCATE our guests, and CELEBRATE our uniqueness.”
For now, MHR is growing its own Sampaguita flowers across all destinations. Some, like Richmonde Iloilo, revealed that properties have partnered with the local agriculture department to abate the shortage of Sampaguita in the region. Megaworld Hotels & Resorts is currently in touch with a local farm in San Pedro to explore more possible collaborations.
Indeed, the Sampaguita Project is progressive. MHR intends to share it for the love of Filipinos and for Philippine travel. The hospitality management brand makes sure it doesn’t get tired of saying this: “We continue to grow with you as we create moments with meaningful experiences to awaken your senses.”
To know more about the country’s largest homegrown hotel chain, visit Megaworld Hotels & Resorts’ website, www.megaworldhotels.com or the official Facebook page for updates and other exciting announcements. (Leony Garcia & Buddy Recio)