Arts & Leisure

What can you fit inside 3,000 sq.m.?

Posted on July 02, 2015

THE MARRIOTT’s new ballroom is huge.

THE BALLROOM can fit 2,500 for a formal dinner, and 4,000 for cocktails.
At 3,000 square meters (sq.m.), it occupies a building almost as big as the hotel itself, and a bridge is being built to connect the two buildings.

The building also boasts of several meeting areas and function rooms, and wide lobbies and hallways, which, said Marriott Manila’s General Manager, Bruce Winton during a press tour on June 23, adds up to 24,000 to 25,000 sq.m. total floor space. This makes the new ballroom the largest in the Philippines so far.

The kitchens are a highlight for the ballroom: according to Mr. Winton, the building has 15 kitchens, with a main production kitchen in the basement. “All in my life, I’ve never seen a better kitchen than this,” he said. The other kitchens serve as workspaces for smaller jobs or for finishing dishes before they are served. The main ballroom itself has three kitchens, a main one in the center, and two at each end.

Meanwhile, three restaurants were also opened to accomodate other guests within the hotel, a Chinese casual restaurant called Mian, a sandwich cafe called Allegro, and a coffee shop called Crema.

The building tour included a look at the basement, which has multiple parking levels, in addition to a lounge for staff.

The main ballroom is stunningly huge. During the tour, it seemed impossible to take it all in, or even walk from end to end. However, guests who walked from one end to the other could clearly hear others speak from the other end. This is the result of excellent acoustics, aided by the Skyfold system employed in the walls of the ballroom. The Skyfold system is a folding wall used by the hotel to divide the ballroom for smaller functions. It has soundproofing qualities, and some sections of this wall are separated by a few feet from the next, ensuring that multiple events going on at the same time will not disturb the other.

Instead of chandeliers, large pillow ceiling lights hang from the ceiling, and are programmable to change colors suited to the event. The ceiling also has a catwalk structure, eliminating the need for scaffolding during small concerts. Speakers are also integrated in the ballroom, concealed within grills.

Mr. Winton outlined the need for such a ballroom, in an economy boosted by foreign investments, particularly in the BPO industry and tourism.

“If you look at the BPO industries, some of these BPO’s have got upwards to... 4,000 employees, and when they want to do a townhall meeting... you know, they want to do it in a hotel environment, and they need a ballroom that’s big enough for several thousand people.”

Although about as large as a small convention center, the ballroom maintains the opulent feeling in a hotel ballroom. “Convention centers tend to be large, open, undecorated spaces,” said Mr. Winton, mentioning that the project cost $140 million.

Comparing the size of the building with other ballrooms, he described this building as “the largest meeting facility that it (The Marriott International, Inc.) has anywhere in the world outside of the United States.” However, the biggest ballroom outside of the US by Marriott is in the Ritz-Carlton in Jakarta -- “But the Ritz-Carlton in Jakarta doesn’t have all these other additional meeting rooms,” noted Mr. Winton.

Incidentally, the biggest pillarless ballroom in the world is also located in a Marriott property -- the Cypress Ballroom at the Marriott’s Orlando World Center, measuring 105,000 square feet (9,754.8 sq.m.), which claims in its Web site to be able to fit the White House five times over. -- Joseph L. Garcia