SM Hotels and Conventions Corp. (SMHCC) is optimistic Clark, Pampanga will take the lead in the recovery of the tourism industry of the country, even as the rest of the tourist destinations will likely see a slower upturn.

The façade of Park Inn by Radisson Clark in Clark, Pampanga.

In an online presser, SMHCC Executive Vice President Peggy E. Angeles said, “Overall, I think for SM hotels, where our properties are located in all three islands of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, we believe that recovery through pandemic times will probably take a little bit longer. It will probably start towards the end of 2023, on to 2024.”

SMHCC opened the second wing of its Park Inn by Radisson Clark on Wednesday, adding 100 rooms and suites to the property, which was opened in January 2016.

“As for Clark, because it has been on MGCQ [modified general community quarantine] for a very long time, the recovery of tourism and the hospitality industry in this part of the country will be faster than any of our other destinations. And that’s why we proceeded with finishing this project.” The company spent “over P470 million” for the South Wing, similar to what it cost to build the North Wing, according to Angeles, or a total of P1.3 billion, including the SMX Convention Center next door, set to open in the first quarter of 2022.

DOT Regional Director for Central Luzon Carol Uy was bullish as well on the recovery of Pampanga, and the region in general, as she mentioned several hybrid MICE events held recently at Clark, and sports events in Subic Bay, Zambales.

“So, it only means that Region 3, having all the support facilities, having the international gateway, seamless access roads—all of that gives us the advantage of being able to welcome back our tourists both from the local and international [markets]. And, of course, from being able to receive thousands of returning overseas Filipinos. Most of our hotels are slowly shifting back to operating as business and leisure hotels. So that gives us a very, very good signal that we are gaining back the confidence of our tourists the travel again.”

For quarantine and biz guests with the hotel now having two separate wings, the property is primed to take full advantage of its current classification as a “multiple-use hotel,” said its general manager Ann Olalo.

“The existing building, the North Wing, is now dedicated for quarantine guests. So that’s 154 rooms and with a separate reception desk, a separate entry and exit. What’s ideal with the South Wing, we can now really segregate our regular business guests here…[we also have] a separate entry-exit and separate reception. With the same standards of cleaning disinfection, our guests will be assured that they will really have a safe and comfortable stay,” she added. (See, “DOT approves 35 hotels that can host quarantine, non-quarantine guests,” in the BusinessMirror, June 15, 2021.)

For his part, Andre de Jong, vice president for operations, Southeast Asia and Pacific of the Radisson Hotel Group, said, “The unveiling of the new South Wing at Park Inn by Radisson Clark will enhance our ability to create exceptional, upbeat guest experiences. At Radisson Hotel Group, we appreciate the strong, long-standing relationships we have with our owners in the Philippines. [SMHCC] has been instrumental in the rollout of Park Inn by Radisson’s new brand positioning and we look forward to continuing our relationship with them in future.”

SMHCC’s portfolio is consists of eight hotel properties with nearly 2,100 rooms and over 38,000 sqm of leasable convention space. The properties are: Taal Vista Hotel; Pico Sands Hotel; Conrad Manila; Radisson Blu Cebu; Park Inn by Radisson in Clark, Davao, Iloilo, and North Edsa; and SMX Convention Centers and trade halls.

Source: Business Mirror