ASTANA – The capital’s Marriott Hotel won the World Travel Award as Kazakhstan’s 2016 Leading Business Hotel. Marriott topped such brands as InterContinental Almaty, Radisson Hotel Astana, Renaissance Aktau Hotel and Rixos Almaty, which also bid for the honour.
“We didn’t need to work on anything specific to get the ‘Best Business Hotel’ award,” said Marriott General Manager in Astana Philippe Mahuas. In an exclusive interview with The Astana Times, he explained why the business category was so important for the hotel.
World Travel Awards was established in 1993 to acknowledge excellence in the tourism and hospitality industry. The honour is recognised globally as the ultimate hallmark of quality, according to its website.
“When we applied for the [business] nomination, we wanted to be sure we were recognized by clients as the best business hotel in the country. We didn’t just work for the award – the award was given for the service that we have been providing since we opened,” he explained.
“At the time we were bidding, we were not even two years old in Kazakhstan and the fact that clients identified us as the best business hotel is the best recognition from our guests and we are very grateful to all of our guests for their votes” he said.
“We hope guests will feel the difference when they compare us to other hotels and destinations, whether it’s Astana or Kazakhstan, it’s because we have the brand – Marriott. When our guests arrive, they have certain expectations that are connected with the brand and that is what the brand does – it generates a guarantee. People have certain expectations of us, so to our guests getting this award is a confirmation of the brand they have chosen,” he said.
Mahuas believes being labelled as a business hotel is very relevant considering the city’s status as a business destination.
“Astana is a brand new city. It is the leading energy behind the scenes and it just qualifies by default as a business city. So winning the ‘Best Business Hotel’ is something that identifies us here now. Whether it’s corporate or individual, economic or the Expo next year, it is connected to business. This was the right category for us to choose; we focused on it and it was a good sign of recognition that our guests voted for us,” he said.
Among of the key drivers of Marriott’s success, Mahuas noted the loyalty reward programme, local networking and the chain’s reputation around the world. He added the hotel is the only one in the capital with an executive lounge.
“The hotel business in Kazakhstan is growing extremely fast. When I first arrived here in June 2012, in terms of international brand hotels there were only few internationally branded hotels. Since then, the city has seen or will see in the near future about half a dozen brand hotels opening. The industry is growing and that is always a good sign. It means there are activities in the city; it is being recognised internationally.”
He noted some of the nation’s traits suit the hotel business.
“When I arrived in Kazakhstan, I met a lot of people who are friendly and generous but didn’t necessarily have the experience of working at a five-star hotel. This is where we come in to help with that aspect of things. We guide and train our staff and we rely on our human resources to make sure our service standards are at the top level. At Marriott, we know our best asset is our staff and we work with them to get better,” he said.
“To conclude, I would like to thank all our guests for their loyalty and their votes in helping us winning this award and I also would like to thank our teams for their everyday efforts in making this hotel a successful hotel!”