Rising high into the Yangon skyline and offering what has been described as the best vantage point in the entire city, the international luxury hotel brand, Pan Pacific, have opened a spectacular new downtown hotel.
The 25-storey development – which is being hailed as the first ‘truly international luxury five-star hotel’ in Myanmar – sits atop of Junction City and offers guests a variety of superior facilities, differentiating itself in many unique ways from Yangon and Naypyidaw’s ParkRoyal, the brand’s sister hotel.
MYANMORE had a conversation with Mrs. Wei Ling Tan, the executive director of Pan Pacific Hotel Group, to get a better idea of what guests can expect from a visit to the fabulous new hotel.
Q: Tell us about the Pan Pacific Hotel in Junction City
A: We gave the partner at Junction City two brands – we both believed that the Pan Pacific Hotel would be more suitable for that location – and there is, of course, already the ParkRoyal in Yaw Min Gyi. They will compliment each other.
Q: How long have you been planning this Pan Pacific?
A: For four years.
Q: What is the difference between a Pan Pacific hotel and a ParkRoyal hotel?
A: When Pan Pacific opens, you will see that the two have very different characters. Pan Pacific is focused more on contemporary luxury – it has been designed around the needs of corporations, corporate travelers. In terms of star ratings, it is more of a classic 5-star hotel.
ParkRoyal has been here 15 years and is more connected to locals, more of a family hotel – I love the feeling when I stay here, it is extremely warm and cosy – you can see from the lobby that it is extremely welcoming, a class 4 plus / 5 star hotel. Pan Pacific is slightly higher ranking: you will see that there are extremely high ceilings, refined furnishings, chandeliers – it is extremely elegant.
Q: There are many new high-end hotels entering the Yangon market – have you seen, for example, Lotte Hotel?
A: We have not, are they nicer than us?! (Laughter). After you have seen Pan Pacific Hotel, Yangon, you will know how to compare! It is incredibly beautiful – especially when you reach the top floor and look over the city. We have a 35th floor view, looking over the entire city. In Pan Pacific, we have put great attention to detail in every single touch. From the moment you enter the lobby, to the guest rooms, the restaurants, you will experience a very particular styling. The designs speak for themselves. We also have an entire floor dedicated to wellness, and a large presidential suite – it really is fantastic!
Q: Could you let us know when the hotel will open?
A: The grand opening is on the 8th of December.
Q: Is the hotel based on designs that you have used in other countries?
A: No! It is an entirely new concept – we never copy our other branches, each is unique.
Q: Is it tailored specifically for Yangon and Myanmar?
A: Yes. We have a Yangon partner who we worked with to achieve this kind of feel. It also had to compliment the design of Junction City – the best shopping centre in town!
Q: How do you see yourself competing in the hospitality market now that Pullman, Lotte etc. are here?
A: Well, it will certainly mean that we will keep working hard. Pan Pacific always strives to be more dynamic, more innovative in approaching issues. I genuinely think we will all be better overall, we will push each other. Tourism is down this year, so everyone will have a tough time in the very short term, but I believe it will be fine for a number of reasons; in particular, people often overlook a growing market that Pan Pacific and ParkRoyal appeal to very strongly – that is, internal travellers: Myanmar people travelling between Naypyidaw, Yangon, and Mandalay etc. Don’t forget, we don’t only depend on overseas guests! The internal market is now big enough. If the strategy is right, the pricing is right, and if the marketing concept is correct – and we are confident in these areas – then people will want to come!
Q: In terms of amenities and features – what will Pan Pacific have that makes it different? How will you differentiate yourself?
A: Certainly, we are contemporary, we are young and more charming! Other hotels have an old charm. Design-wise, Pan Pacific is of a truly international standard, with a touch of Myanmar flavour. We are using a lot of Myanmar artists – sixty per cent of the interior is being commissioned from Myanmar artists and craftsmen. Just yesterday, I watched some very talented artists paint some of our interior murals. I believe that you should always promote local artists and talents. As such, there is a very strong element of Myanmar design.
We also believe that women in Myanmar are passionate about looking after themselves. Because of this, we have created our wellness floor. We believe that this is a unique innovation, that no other hotel in Yangon has anything comparable. This means that the swimming pool, spa, healthy eating zone and all the other facilities pertaining to a wellness break are located on the same floor.
Tied to this, we are promoting ‘staycation’ as a big selling point of Pan Pacific: Take a break from Yangon, or take a break from your family to stay at our hotel. We can provide physical exercise – swimming, spa, healthy breakfasts and meals etc. – and five-star facilities for rest and relaxation. I think this is quite a refreshing and unusual concept.
Overall, Pan Pacific is looking at targeting a niche market – it is not a mass market brand. When you are ‘niche’ you are focused – you do things well! And I am sure that we fit this tag.
Q: How many rooms will the new hotel offer?
A: 330 rooms over twenty five floors. The development sits on top of Junction City, meaning that the view from every room is fantastic – aside from all of the famous landmarks, you can even see ParkRoyal !
Q: How is Myanmar different now to when you opened the first ParkRoyal?
A: Oh, it’s changed a lot! For starters, in the past there was not much traffic – now, well, you know how it is! Also, the city is a lot cleaner. There is a beautiful new airport, and, recently I have seen that the bus services are much improved. I used to see people squeezed onto old buses, now I see a spacious, modern fleet in the city. This has all happened since I last visited – over only two years! So, I can tell you, I am impressed!
Spending power has also improved for many Myanmar people. I see that young people are less cautious, more able to spend – they spend more money than us! Go to the bars – they are getting more popular and people are out every night! Things are modernising quickly, and hoteliers and investors have to cater for this new market.
Q: What kind of restaurants will Pan Pacific be offering?
A: There will be a Chinese restaurant and an all-day dining restaurant. They are both stunning. We are putting emphasis on promoting our Chinese restaurant as we believe that this is an up-and-coming market in Myanmar and we have a track record of offering first-class Chinese dining in both Singapore and also globally. Our all-day dining will provide a large number of stations, each offering fine examples of cuisines from around the world: for example, we will have a Japanese corner, a roast station, a breakfast bar and all the cuisines that you would expect from a five-star experience. Our Chinese restaurants in particular are the perfect venue for reunion lunches, for meetings: we have tables that sit sixteen people!
Q:What kind of functions will Pan Pacific be holding or offering?
A: It will have a corporate focus – we believe that we will appeal strongly to many of the large Japanese companies in the area – this will be one of our target markets. However, as I said, my gut feeling and studies suggest that the wellness and staycation elements of the hotel will be particularly attractive – especially for women.
Q: With regards to ParkRoyal Yangon, is anything set to change? A friend of mine was upset that you decided to take his tennis court away!
A: Oh really! (Laughter). I thought that nobody looked at the tennis court! We are building a Soho – an office-cum-apartment – in the area which used to be the tennis court. This will operated by the existing team at ParkRoyal. For this area, we are looking to attract families and long-stay residents, yet also entrepreneurs who do not have their own office space in Yangon and live alone – it think that this is quite a new concept, catering for young freelance professionals.
Q: In terms of foresight and future plans, is there anything radical that Pan Pacific Group will be doing in Yangon?
A: Well, we are focusing to on what we do best – we will open the new hotel, and work hard with our local partners to make sure we succeed. This is the only future plan for Yangon – to make a success of the new Pan Pacific by establishing strong relationships with stakeholders – then we can go anywhere.