By Arra B. Francia
CLARK FREEPORT, PAMPANGA — The hospitality sector is catching up with the number of investments coming in to Clark, as the public saw the opening of not only the first five-star hotel in Clark Freeport Zone, but also the first to carry an international brand this month.
The Clark Marriott Hotel welcomed its first guests on Sept. 14, becoming a new destination for leisure travelers, corporate guests, and for the Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, and Exhibitions (MICE) market.
“This is the newest five-star hotel in Clark Freeport Zone with exciting new rooms, exciting facilities, exciting meeting concepts, different restaurants, two bars, (and) beautiful wellness floors. We’ve got an exciting proposition,” Clark Marriott Hotel General Manager Goeran Soelter said in an interview with reporters during the hotel’s opening.
Mr. Soelter said that apart from being the first five-star hotel in the area, he observed that not many four-star hotels have opened in the past five to six years. This will allow them to capitalize on Clark’s current growth.
“There’s a lot of development happening, and a lot of investment going to Clark. He [the owner] felt it would be good to have Marriott as the first international brand. And we will enjoy this for quite some time because no other new brands will be opening in the next two, three years or so,” Mr. Soelter said.
The Clark Marriott Hotel has 260 rooms — deluxe rooms, deluxe family rooms, executive deluxe rooms, deluxe suites, an executive suite, and a presidential suite.
The hotel has five restaurant and bars, namely the Goji Kitchen + Bar (which features a separate noodle bar), Smoki Moto, Urban Coffee Co., the Pool Bar, and The Lounge. Amenities include a swimming pool, a fitness center, a kids club, and the Quan Spa.
To attract the MICE crowd, the hotel has the Grand Ballroom which can accommodate up to 360 guests. Adjacent to the ballroom are separate meeting rooms of various sizes with different capacities from 20 to 80 people.
The 16-storey hotel also boasts of being the tallest structure in Clark, making it the best spot to enjoy a view of the booming business district.
“We want people of Clark to come here for their weddings, for their birthdays, to come and have coffee, but also just come for a Friday night dinner with their family. It’s important for us that we can connect with the community and be a part of this community,” Marriott International Senior Director for Sales and Distribution in the Philippines Peter Foreman said during the interview.
Mr. Foreman also expects to welcome people from Manila driving to Clark for a weekend getaway.
“They can have a two-night weekend here, play golf, eat at a local restaurant, have a massage, do local shopping, and just explore another part of country. So the staycation business is a big part of the way we sell to the Philippines,” Mr. Foreman explained.
Planting the Marriott brand in a growing district such as Clark is further expected to attract more international and corporate guests familiar with the brand. Marriott is one of the largest hotel chains in the world — over 6,000 hotels with more than a million rooms. This is spread out across more than 30 brands and 122 countries.
This will also introduce the brand to Filipinos. This is the second Marriott Hotel in the country, the first being the Newport Marriott in the Resorts World and Casino complex in Pasay City.
“We want to attract more Filipinos when they travel abroad, but also people coming in from Sydney or Singapore or China, we want them to say that ‘Ah, we’ve got a Marriott in the local city where I’m at and that’s where I’m going to stay.’ So we’re going to give them that confidence and that brand recognition,” Mr. Foreman said.
Clark Marriott Hotel is owned and operated by Widus International Leisure, Inc., which also operates the adjacent Widus Hotel and Casino in the area.