By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) Updated August 04, 2010 12:00
MANILA, Philippines - Berjaya Manila Hotel (formerly Astor Hotel in Makati City) is undergoing an extensive refurbishment program aimed at upgrading into the four-star category as it opens its doors to the public in the latter part of the year.
Berjaya Manila was acquired by leading Malaysian hospitality group Berjaya Hotels and Resorts in April 2010, marking the Malaysian conglomerate’s first venture in the Philippines.
Rudy P. Romulo, general manager of Berjaya Manila, said the facelift involves the renovation of all 212 rooms and suites, the upgrading of the internet infrastructure; introduction of new products; revamp of food and beverage offerings; and retraining of staff.
“We don’t want to leave any stone unturned. When the renovation is complete, the hotel will be moving one notch higher in category class, from three-star to four-star,” Romulo said.
This will make Berjaya Manila one of the few four-star properties on the northern end of Makati Avenue, an emerging leisure and entertainment district.
Romulo is a seasoned international hotelier with previous stints in Berjaya’s Malaysia and Seychelles resorts, and in Le Meridien’s Egypt and Abu Dhabi properties.
Berjaya Hotels acquired the 26-storey Astor from Best Western International, the world’s largest hotel chain with over 4,200 hotels in 80 countries.
“As Berjaya’s pilot investment in the Philippines, there is a lot riding on the success of this hotel. I’m determined to build the Berjaya brand here and carve a niche for ourselves in the market,” Romulo said.
Berjaya Manila is aiming to generate 60 percent of its clientele from corporate accounts, with the balance evenly split by online and travel trade bookings.
Romulo said the group is also reviewing the hotel’s pricing structure to more closely reflect its upgraded standards once restoration is completed.
Berjaya Manila’s current guest profile is heavily skewed towards the balikbayans (returning overseas Filipinos) market, which comprises 36 percent. Those from the United States make up 17 percent; China, 13 percent; Europe seven percent; Australia, six percen; and the rest from other countries.
Kuala Lumpur-based Berjaya Hotels and Resorts manages a portfolio of 17 luxury properties in five countries - 11 in Malaysia, two in Seychelles, and one each in Singapore, Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom.
It is part of Berjaya Corp. Bhd., a highly-diversified Malaysian conglomerate with interests in property development, gaming, hospitality, restaurants, education, financial services, and vehicle assembly and distribution.