Taiwan’s growing appeal as a leisure destination: an interview with the GM of Shangri-La Tainan
CPP-LUXURY.COM has interviewed Ross Miles-Cadman, General Manager of Shangri-La Far Eastern, Tainan, a luxury hotel in Tainan, South of Taiwan
1. What are the key competitive advantages of Shangri-La Tainan?
Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, Tainan is the only international luxury five star branded hotel in Southern Taiwan and is also also the landmark of the city, being the tallest building.
Located in a vibrant area of downtown Tainan- within walking distance of the city’s main railway and bus stations, nearby the National Cheng Kung University and with direct access to the shopping mall (Far Eastern Department Store) – the hotel possesses a competitive advantage for both business and leisure travel.
Our Horizon level offers the finest levels of service to the discerning guest allowing a perfect escape in the “hotel within a hotel”. The services include a 24th floor exclusive lounge that serves personalizes breakfast and refreshing cocktails and canapés to close a day of exploring or to unwind after work.
2. How is the hotel positioned?
Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, Tainan, as the only international five star luxury hotels in Southern Taiwan, is the first of choice for business and leisure guests offering a range of superlative dining and accommodation options serviced by friendly, efficient, well trained colleagues living Shangri-La’s renowned hospitality from the heart. Shangri-La hospitality and international caliber of service quality earned unanimous recognition and support from domestic and international travelers alike, making it one of the iconic residential hotels in Southern Taiwan.
3. Which is your competitive set?
Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, Tainan, located in downtown Tainan is the only International five star hotel in Southern Taiwan. The 38-storey hotel has the largest guestrooms in the city spanning a minimum of 50 square meters. In year 2016 the hotel was recognized for the sixth consecutive year as the Best Hotel in Taiwan.
4. Which are the operational essentials in ensuring the highest standards of service?
At Shangri-la’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, our service translates to relentless striving for customer satisfaction. Excellent hardware is only half the achievement, therefore, the hotel has targeted “service” as its winning formula. Tainan has a reputation for friendliness and a strong welcoming culture and we tap into this. Upon arrival, we greet each guest warmly, actively introduce ourselves to the guests and provide guests with professional orientation and recommendations. We pay attention to enable us to anticipate and serve all our guest needs. We try to do this from the front door to the guest’s departure. Even though we may no longer be the newest hotel, we still uphold the friendliest, detailed service quality, maintaining our position as the local market’s leader for luxury hotels.
5. What is the profile of your guests? Which are the predominant nationalities and type of stays?
In 2015, 45% of our hotel guests were from Taiwan, 20%, from America, 8% from Mainland China and 8% from Japan.
Tainan now has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Taiwan, attracting a considerable number domestic and foreign tourists. The oldest city in Taiwan, Tainan is known for its numerous temples and significant historical sites, more than 50 of which are officially listed as national treasures. It was the ancient capital of the nation and has the feel of history round every corner.
We have our loyal base of Golden Circle members, of which a large proportion are business travelers, coming to the Southern Taiwan Science Park. The hotel lends itself to the need of a diverse range of guest segments and caters both to corporate guests and our leisure visitors.
6. Your hotel boasts a complex F&B offering. To what extent do you attract not only staying guests but also locals?
Each outlet has its unique personality and selling points ranging from multiple dining concepts.
Located high above the city with panoramic views of Tainan, our Chinese restaurant – Shanghai Pavilion presents authentic cuisines that emphasize the harmony of colour, smell, taste and delicate craftsmanship of the orient. Chef Ken Hsu has 28 years of culinary experience. Unlike other modern chefs who may present innovative dishes without their traditional flavour, he insists on maintaining original tastes through his culinary concepts and signature dishes.
Our interactive open-kitchen restaurant, Café at Far Eastern, presents Tainan’s most extensive buffet in a vibrant setting where the chefs take centre stage.
Each food station showcases its own signature specialties, for instance, the “Japanese cuisine area” is fully stocked with seasonal sashimi, nigiri sushi, seared sushi, sushi rolls, chirashi sushi, cold appetizers buckwheat noodles, etc. The “Carving and made-to-order area” serves grain-fed Australian oven-roasted steak and the famous Tainan fresh beef soup, local seafood soup and Tainan’s traditional Danzai noodles.
The Mezzanine Bar is a modern stylish setting combined with great whiskeys, local craft beer and a mouth-watering grill menu. We offer an exclusive selection of Australian Wagyu steaks and fresh whole Boston lobsters grilled to perfection on lava stone char. With dozens of years of star-level hotel and top, independent restaurant experiences, Chef James Tseng keeps things fresh and ensures the highest quality, not overly fussy, grill selections.
Our hotel set the precedent of implementing the “Rooted in Nature” initiative for the menu by purchasing food ingredients that meet the requirements of HACCP certification and integrating the local ingredients into the dishes. We show our support for the local agriculture and fishery industries, and hope that more guests will join our campaign and take action in actively supporting sustainable food ingredients.
7. What are your expectations for the development of Tainan as a leading tourism destination in Taiwan
The tourism market is the fastest growing sector in our economy. In recent years, the municipal government has encouraged local tourism marketing of Tainan gourmet food along with the rapid rise of the creative and culture industries, domestic individual travelers have increased substantially.
Although Tainan is rich in tourism resources including delicious local foods and gentle people, the tourism infrastructure such as public transportation, guest room inventory and exhibition/conference hall must be improved and developed. In this vein the local government in conjunction with hotels will implement a Double Decker hop on hop off bus in late 2016. This enhancement further improves access to tourist site and infrastructure.
Tainan has a huge potential to attract guests from both domestic and overseas such as Hong Kong, China and Japan. We expect more international direct flights from these countries to Tainan Airport. In order to push Tainan’s tourism industry to greater heights, we continue to collaborate with the government in enhancing the tourism resources, as Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts’ marketing increases the city’s international visibility, our goal is to help every single visitor to Tainan to bring home wonderful memories from their travel
8. Are there any market challenges you are facing?
As the numbers of tourists visiting Taiwan continue to grow, the tourism industry is experiencing an unprecedented boom, propelling further investments into Tainan. In the face of the fierce market competition, herein lie both challenges and opportunities.
Strategically, the focus is to target Tainan’s domestic Leisure market, especially during festivals, holiday periods and the summer months, for both FITs and Groups segment.