Interview with Mr. Philip Dewar, General Manager of Shangri-La Hotel, Guangzhou
Of Scottish nationality, Mr. Philip Dewar has over 25 years’ experience in the industry spanning numerous countries in Asia. He began his career with Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts working at The Aberdeen Marina Club in Hong Kong, then at Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa in Malaysia, and now with Shangri-La Hotel, Guangzhou, as the General Manager.
Having graduated from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland, Mr. Dewar began his career in a Hong Kong luxury hotel in 1989. After years of professional exposure in various destinations, including Singapore, Bangkok, Tokyo, Jakarta, Malaysia and Hong Kong, he has established a strong vision complementing his well-versed knowledge and dynamic leadership. SpaChina interviewed Mr. Dewar.
Shangri-La Hotel, Guangzhou is well-known as a wonderful luxury hotel with the best business of hotels in the Guangzhou area. What are the reasons for this?
It’s all about service. Knowing our guests is the key to the success of this hotel. Creating engaging experiences is, and always will be, the reason we are here.
As we are adjacent to the city’s largest exhibition and convention center, a lot of our business guests return annually for various trade fairs. In this sense, we see familiar faces at each trade show. Whilst we build up comprehensive guest profiles for their preferences and special needs, we continue to create new experiences, such as this year’s pop-up “Jazz Experimental Club” to keep the hotel interesting to these return guests.
How do you see the Cantonese lifestyle and health requirements?
The Cantonese are well-known for their high standards on food. In the past decades, we see a rising number of people who care more about quality lifestyles. They seek a healthy life, which means, apart from the traditional emphasis on healthy eating, active involvement in sports and skincare for both men and women have become a new trend among the Cantonese. As spa provides both skincare services and after-sports care, it has become very popular in the past few years. I take this as a sign for improvement in people’s lives.
Are there any particular preferences among Chinese leisure and business travelers?
People tend to spend more on family leisure trips than business trips. China has a wide range of diverse cultures, I would say there is no standard travel style. However, people are often attracted to hotels that fit into their travel agenda and their character. We have spectacular Pearl River views, a 5,800-square meter landscaped garden and a huge outdoor pool. People who seek serenity in an urban city or ample outdoor space of their kids love to stay in our hotel.
How do you see the importance of a spa facility in a five-star hotel?
Although spa is not a major operation department in a city hotel like ours, it is a key value-added service available to guests. And it has become increasingly more important as spa is taken as an essential part of a quality lifestyle.
A good spa will certainly improve guest loyalty to the hotel, this makes it a valuable asset of a hotel. Resort guests tend to use Spa more often than city hotel guests. This is because Spa is considered the best choice for de-stress and relaxation.
Personally, I enjoy sports and go to gym every day. My favorite spa treatment at CHI The Spa, is the Deep Tissue Sports Massage. It is a 45-minute to 90-minute treatment. It allows the muscle to relax at an in-depth level and hence offer a great after-sports care to the limbs. The refreshing impact of this massage really encourages you to take up a new sports challenge. I go for a spa treatment whenever I feel really fatigued.
How does Shangri-la Hotel Guangzhou handle staff education and training?
We put a lot of effort into coaching our staff for continued improvement in services. All our spa staff are certified massage therapists and skincare experts. Shangri-La has a very high standard and quality mechanisms to make sure staff product knowledge is up to date and staff comply with work standards.
How do you see competition in terms of the China hotel industry?
I am aware that in the past few years, a lot of international brands have opened new properties in China, the hotel industry has been developing faster than five years ago. To me, I would say competition is a source of improvement. I welcome new brands in the market as I can learn a lot from our competitors and for the whole market to grow, competitors are our strategic partners as well. That is why GMs of the hotels in Guangzhou meet from time to time to discuss market trends together. Competition does make a better self for all of us.