An interview with Ms. Nora Sun, General Manager of Park Hyatt Ningbo Resort and Spa
Leaning against green mountains and facing the vast waters of Dongqian Lake, rows of low-rise mansions with black roofs and white walls quietly tell the story of the ancient Jiangnan region. This is the first resort hotel of Park Hyatt in Greater China – Park Hyatt Ningbo Resort and Spa. The ingenious space design invites the picturesque surroundings into the hotel to the maximum and at the same time represents the consistent delicate and modern style of the brand. In addition to beautiful guestrooms with lake views, everything in the hotel works together to create a unique experience for the guests, from the Dining Room that features a show kitchen, the Sea House with individual pavilion-style private dining rooms, the Tea House that offers Chinese and Western tea as well as Kun Opera, as well as the grand ball room and seven conference rooms, state-of-the-art fitness center, indoor heated pool and outdoor pool by the lake, and the pampering SPA.
SpaChina interviewed Ms. Nora Sun, the General Manager of Park Hyatt Ningbo Resort and Spa, on hotel operations in the post-epidemic era. A graduate in Business Administration and Hospitality Management, Nora has accumulated rich experience in the hospitality industry. She worked with several hotels in Switzerland before joining the Hyatt family in 2007 when she took the post of sales director at Hyatt Regency Dongguan. In 2011, she began to work for Park Hyatt Ningbo Resort and Spa and then joined Grand Hyatt Lijiang five years later as hotel manager. In 2018, she was back to Park Hyatt Ningbo and was appointed as the General Manager of the hotel.
During the coronavirus outbreak, the global hospitality industry has experienced a difficult time. As the hotel General Manager, could you share with us any stories in the hotel during this period?
After the outbreak, we paid close attention to how the epidemic situation would develop. Meanwhile, we actively responded to the call of the government and adjusted our business hours, closed some public areas to ensure the health and safety of the guests.
Also, we have strictly followed the guidance and operation requirements issued by the Hyatt Group on dealing with COVID-19, and accordingly adopted a series of prevention measures. During the process, we also received great support from the property owner from the purchase of prevention materials to daily operation work. They assisted us to tide over the most difficult time.
With the support of the owner, and according to the requirements of Ningbo Dongqian Lake Resort Area, we orderly carried out our work after the outbreak, from temporarily closing the business, restoring business to supporting public’s anti-epidemic work. In February, the hotel’s management team visited some nearby anti-epidemic checkpoints such as Jianshe Village and Taogong Vilage with fruits, drinks, homemade pastries and other materials to extend our sincere thanks to the staff at the frontline. In March, representatives of the owner company, the hotel management team and Dongqian Lake Management Committee went to Ningbo Health Commission together to send their greetings and thanks to the medical representatives, and presented gifts to the 310 medical staff who had gone to Hubei for medical support on behalf of Ningbo. The property owner has always been working together with the hotel staff and local communities to prevent and control the epidemic spread, and make the hotel and the resort area a pleasant place where the employees feel proud to work, guests are willing to come and people are happy to live.
How do you carry out quick response to the outbreak? What have the hotel and staff done?
After the outbreak, the hotel immediately took measures to prevent the epidemic. We checked every employee’s activity track, recorded down their health status every day, enhanced the cleaning and disinfection work of employees’ dormitory. Also, we permitted guests who had made reservations before the outbreak to change their check-in date or cancel the reservation free of charge. Our F&B and housekeeping departments offer non-contact food delivery and room services to guests. Though we closed the spa during the outbreak, the spa staff still actively supported the work of other departments. For instance, our spa therapists delivered Tuina treatment to the staff who were on duty during the outbreak, helping them reduce fatigue and relax the body and mind.
How do you receive guests in a safe and orderly manner during the post-epidemic time?
So far, our guest flow has been restored by 70%-80%. In order to guarantee guests’ health and safety, we have adopted many effective prevention measures. For example, we did a deep cleaning and disinfection to all the facilities, equipment, utensils in the kitchen. We also did a deep cleaning and disinfection to all the guestrooms. We increase the cleaning times to public areas especially the elevators’ buttons and doorknobs. We require every staff to wear masks when they receive and serve the guests. We measure every guest’s temperature and confirm their “green code” and make sure that they wear masks before they enter the hotel.
Concerning the guests at present, where do the major come from? Why do they choose Park Hyatt Ningbo Resort and Spa?
Influenced by the epidemic, most of the guests now are from neighboring areas like Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Shanghai and regions around Ningbo and many of them are families. As the summer vacation comes, the consumption power that has been stored during the pandemic is now released. One big reason for people to choose us is our location inside Dingqian Lake resort area. The lake view is amazing and the air is very clean due to the low population density. It is truly a land of purity away from the bustling downtown.
As our business sectors reopen one by one, guests can again come to enjoy our high quality services. Tea House and Red, transformed from buildings with long history and profound culture, respectively dated back to 500 years and 700 years ago, are the most popular places among the guests. Our Seafood House is the only two-diamond restaurant awarded by Black Pearl Restaurant Guide in Ningbo. Many guests come to visit it for its widespread reputation and are quite satisfied with the dishes here. The afternoon tea at Dining Room has always been praised by the guests. After the outbreak, we require visitors to make reservations one day in advance in order to control the guest flow and guarantee the dishes’ quality and a pleasant dinning environment as well. In addition, the hotel tries to bring wellness lifestyle to guests through spa services and other programs such as yoga, taichi, morning jog and biking around the lake. These activities not only benefit the body and mind, but also improve the whole stay experience.
Many people predict that there will be a greater demand on health-related business in the future. What’s your opinion?
The coronavirus outbreak changes many people’s health habits. After the outbreak, people pay more attention to their health and decide to start from keeping early hours. This is very good. A healthy body is the foundation for a better living quality and being fruitful in one’s career.
So we design different activities to help guests stay fit during their stay including morning jog, yoga, biking around the lake and more. Meanwhile, our SPA features 7 treatment rooms where guests could enjoy a range of high quality treatments to enhance both their body and mental wellbeing. The hotel also introduces many destination activities such as boat sightseeing, Mt. Fuquan tea tour and horse riding at the local riding academy.
As a hotel management veteran, could you give any advice and suggestions to the industry peers in terms of their present work and future development?
The entire global hospitality industry is hit hard by the epidemic. Though China has done a very good job in dealing with the outbreak and many businesses have been restored now, the epidemic hasn’t yet completely over in China, so we need to be cautious.
Yet I believe, in every crisis lies opportunities. As a traditional service business, hotels need learn to be more flexible in face of changes. When crisis comes, we should adjust our business strategies quickly and correctly. Refusing to adjust or staying ignorant of the existing crisis will bring your business into troubles. On the contrary, if we embrace a positive mentality, react quickly and adopt new operation modes, we will be able to turn crisis into opportunities. Anyway, hotels are densely populated places, so we should always stay alert before the pandemic is completely over.
Now we see a consumption rebound, we can adjust our operation modes accordingly, but there are something that we should never compromise – the safety of guests and staff, along with the quality of our products and services.