IT’S BEEN A YEAR since AccorHotels’ Novotel brand opened in Quezon City’s commercial center, Cubao and what a year it has been for the 401-room Araneta Center hotel.
Owing to its very close proximity to some of the capital’s top concert/event venues — the Smart Araneta Coliseum and the newly refurbished Kia Theatre — the hotel has played host to some of the world’s top acts, from Culture Club front man Boy George, to British-Norwegian boy band A1.
The Boy George visit was particularly eventful. The hotel’s marketing communications manager, Kristine Facto, told the media during the anniversary event in October that the hotel’s presidential suite was undergoing maintenance and, thus, isn’t available for viewing. When the media wondered what Boy George could have done in the room (under the assumption that he occupied the room during his concert in June), Ms. Facto slyly noted: “Do you really want to know?”
But aside from being the go-to hotel for acts playing at the nearby concert venues, the mid-scale business hotel has also been the site of controversy as the Commission on Elections had to inspect the hotel in May after the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting reported that some vote-counting machines had been secreted inside the hotel.
The hotel’s location, Araneta Center, is owned by the Liberal Party standard bearer Manuel Roxas II, giving rise to speculation of election rigging.
The inspection of some of the floors at the fifth floor eventually revealed that there were no machines inside the hotel and, thus, the issue was settled.
BusinessWorld was invited to tour the hotel during its soft-opening stage back in January and coming back a few months later this writer saw marked improvements as the promised features became operational: the Kids’ Club, a children’s playroom; the Gym, which boasts a wide range of exercise machines; the InBalance Spa; and the Premier Lounge on the club floor.
Another notable feature is the Versailles Garden, a 2,500 square meter outdoor venue located at the sixth floor atop one of the Araneta Center’s parking buildings. Aside from the soon-to-be plant-covered (the plants still haven’t found their way around) trellis archway which makes the venue perfect for pre-nuptial shoots, the garden also has an indoor events tent which could probably handle a few hundred guests.
“We have a good mix of guests who stay for both leisure and business. Historically, Novotel is known as a business class hotel and our guests see it now with our facilities and spaces fit for the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) market,” Bernd Schneider, the hotel general manager, told BusinessWorld in an e-mail interview.
Aside from Novotel Araneta, another AccorHotels property will soon rise as the group recently partnered with Century City Properties to develop a 310-all suite hotel and residential mixed-use property called Novotel Suites Manila in Mandaluyong. It is targeted for completion in 2019. — Zsarlene B. Chua