You have recently reopened after a period of closure. Which were the challenges which you anticipated? What about those you have not foreseen?
COVID-19 continues to be front of mind for all, and everyone hopes for a resolution. The global spread has had a devastating worldwide impact, and Mandarin Oriental, Munich has not been immune from this.
We have adapted many practices during this time, but our priority has always been to ensure not only the safety and comfort of our guests, but our colleagues as well. We have worked hard to keep our team engaged and motivated during this time and Mandarin Oriental, Munich operates with an open dialogue, promoting a climate of enthusiasm and a network of support for colleagues.
Many of our dining outlets have remained open during the rooms renovation and sourcing logistics have been more of a challenge than anticipated, but until now we have been able to source all ingredients and we continue to anticipate our deliveries to ensure we do not miss orders. We are in close contact with our purveyors to ensure we are consistently supplied.
What about opportunities and competitive advantages?
COVID-19 aside, finding the best employees is a challenge for everyone in the industry. Mandarin Oriental, Munich prides itself on being an employer of choice in the city and we have worked hard to ensure that we attract the best colleagues – and retain them – by providing solid training, excellent rewards and the opportunity for career advancement.
Mandarin Oriental launched our unique global guest recognition programme, Fans of M.O. in March 2018. This gives us a competitive advantage in allowing us to personalise each visit and anticipate guest needs from every destination, while providing guests with an elevated range of appealing and engaging benefits designed to surprise and delight our loyal guests when they stay with us.
We are immensely proud that Matsuhisa Munich is Nobu’s only restaurant in Germany and has established a loyal following. This, along with some of our other F&B outlets, has remained open during the hotel’s rooms renovation. We have presented a series of fun and attractive offers for our local market throughout, including a sushi delivery at home, the opportunity to “Rent a Sushi Master” (which proved to be particularly popular) and a sushi truck-style service which could be booked for private events and company celebrations. These all proved extremely popular in the local market to ensure that our loyal guests were able to continue to receive Mandarin Oriental, Munich service during the wider renovation.
Looking ahead, we are confident that our newly redesigned rooms and suites will appeal to discerning luxury guests from all over the world. We understand that in the current climate, flexibility is one of the most important elements when considering travel and will continue to offer highly flexible policies for changing and cancelling individual reservations.
With long-haul flights halted and many of your key feed markets unlikely to return this year, how has your target changed?
Through regular communication and Fans of M.O., we have remained in close contact with our guests during the renovation. Indeed, even in just the last two weeks since reopening, many have already returned to experience our new rooms and suites. Feedback is positive and we are delighted by the support.
It goes without saying that with many global travel restrictions in place, our domestic market will be a primary focus for the upcoming months. However, we remain optimistic that wider travel will return to Munich, which so far, has largely been less impacted than other European cities. Our city remains attractive not only for leisure travel, but for medical tourism as well as business. We look forward to airlift gradually resuming over the coming months.
To what extent your local patrons have remained loyal? Have their expectations or habits changed? (If in any way)
Mandarin Oriental, Munich has its own personality with a distinctive sense of place and has been designed to embrace the local Bavarian culture and reflect this unique location. We are very proud of our reputation for delivering tailored experiences not only for our international guests, but those residing locally too, with whom we have built a loyal following.
As I mentioned, many of our outlets have remained open during the rooms renovation, including Matsuhisa Munich and The Terrace, both of which have continued to be a dynamic hub for local guests. Expectations with regards to safety are more of a priority than ever, and we believe that our guests have continued to visit as they trust our stringent health and safety measures and appreciate the warm and tailored service delivered by the team.
Many hotels rely on ’staycations’, however in many cases, such guests often spend less.
With limited airlift, our local market continues to be very important. In addition to our newly renovated rooms and suites, a range of new services are available at Mandarin Oriental, Munich. We are delighted that our food and beverage outlets continue to be popular with local residents and visitors to the city alike and work hard to ensure we continue to recognise this loyalty.
Our current ‘Staycation by M.O.’ package has been created to appeal to our locally residing guests, including Champagne and a generous hotel credit and complimentary parking. We are committed to ensuring that those who decide to remain in Germany this winter, can be assured of a tailored and cosmopolitan experience within our hotel, so will be offering a range of dynamic experiences. These are all available on our website : mandarinoriental.com/munich.
While exercising the same high standard services, what Covid-19 safety and hygiene measures have you taken?
In response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, Mandarin Oriental has implemented an additional ‘We Care’ programme of stringent protocols to further safeguard the comfort, health and safety of all guests and employees, which we have in place at Mandarin Oriental, Munich.
The Group’s existing high standards of health and hygiene have been enhanced at every hotel, and each of us on-property remain alert to local advice from health experts and government authorities, adapting best practices accordingly.
‘We Care’ has been a vital and group-wide undertaking this year. Lloyds Register, the internationally recognized independent assessor, audit our Group’s FHLSS standards on an annual basis and have verified the new additional methods in place due to the pandemic.
In every department, there are detailed operating procedures, manuals and training programmes that are adapted and implemented according to each individual location.
A full list of group-wide ‘We Care’ initiatives can be viewed on our website. While some measures vary according to destination and local government guidelines, as you would expect from Mandarin Oriental, Munich at all times, the safety and comfort of our guests will be ensured. One specific initiative to highlight is HelloMO, a new communication system which allow guests and the hotel team to be in direct and smooth contact via their mobile phone to help decrease the physical interactions if a guest prefers to do so. Our guests can use this system for everything from checking-in to being updated when the housekeeping team has completed servicing the room.
What is your view on consistency when it comes to these measures? How would you define ‘feeling safe’ nowadays?
Consistency is certainly key. I’m confident that we have the right measures in place to ensure that our consistently high standards are maintained so that each and every guest – and colleague – feels ‘safe’. The definition of feeling ‘safe’ changes from person to person, and we tailor experiences based on individual needs.
Comprehensive and consistent training is key to ensure that our enhanced safety processes are in place. Furthermore, we are all focused on our new guest journey being as smooth and seamless as possible, which allows us to deliver memorable experiences and the personalized and discreet service that we are renowned for.
You recently completed an extensive renovation. Tell us more.
Mandarin Oriental, Munich has reopened following the most extensive renovation in the hotel’s history and just in time for our 20th anniversary. In keeping with the successful restoration of its public areas and the introduction of Matsuhisa Munich in 2015, we have now unveiled all new guest rooms and suites.
Each room incorporates comfortable and skilfull updates and a fresh new look and feel that includes artwork which pays tribute to Munich’s geographical location as the gateway to the Alps.
We are proud to be one of the first hotels in Germany to have replaced all single-use plastic items in rooms and bathrooms with sustainable alternatives that we hope our guests will appreciate.
Hamburg-based design studio cm-Design has implemented a well-orchestrated mix of styles, colours and patterns, combining furniture with historic heritage with a fresh and contemporary look and colour scheme. We also collaborated with renowned brands such as Ligne Roset, Bavarian-based and family-run carpenter Felix Graf and House of Tai Ping, the esteemed manufacturer of textile floor coverings headquartered in Hong Kong.
In addition to state-of-the art technology in every room and suite, the completely redesigned bathrooms in black and white tones incorporate advanced sustainable technologies to minimize energy and water consumption.
New art concepts can be enjoyed in each room, which feature individual mountain images by local artist Felix Rehfeld – student of Karin Kneffel, one of the most well-known female contemporary artists in Germany and master pupil of Gerhard Richter. The centrepiece of the collection, and my personal favourite, is an art installation of 100 miniature mountain paintings, prominently displayed in our lobby. The art in all suites includes a mountain massif exclusively produced for the hotel by Royal Bavarian porcelain manufacturer, Nymphenburg.
Do you agree that a choice of a luxury hotel is also motivated by how new the property is or how recently it was renovated?
I don’t. My own experiences have led me to believe that while luxurious surroundings and the latest technologies are certainly a strong component, they are only part of the decision process. Service is what makes the difference. I believe that ultimately guests choose their hotel based on the experience they are seeking or the connection they have already established with that hotel or hotel brand.
Many consumers are moving away from conspicuous consumption and favour tailored experiences based on their own individual needs. Mandarin Oriental, Munich is a well-established hotel with a unique Oriental heritage. Our culture lies in our legendary service qualities. We all strive to tailor experiences to the individuality of guests and their specific needs. Each guest is unique and will always enjoy a unique experience when staying with us.
We all have an unwavering belief in our brand’s guiding principles and commitment to excellence and are passionate about bringing the best in design, dining and legendary service to all of our guests. With this in mind, I have introduced a number of new services to the hotel, including Floor Butlers, which allows us to ensure that we are truly crafting memorable experiences based on the individual needs of our guests.
What novelties shall we expect for the rest of this year? (F&B, wellness, packages etc)
The team and I are feeling very positive to now be fully reopened. Looking ahead, we have lots planned for F&B. Our well-established Matsuhisa Sunday brunch will continue throughout the season – and we recently introduced Saturday Sushi Masterclasses.
New to our hotel is our Mandarin Cake Shop, which offers delightful cakes and tartlets for takeaway or to enjoy in our chic Lobby Lounge, where we now serve afternoon tea and present live piano recitals and musical performances.
Mandarin Oriental, Munich provides a charming experience during the festive season, we offer traditional Bavarian decorations and festive menus throughout. Munich’s popular December Christmas markets will open as they have done for many years, most of which are within easy walking distance of our hotel.
The highlight of the holiday season is our New Year’s Eve event, which provides an exceptional experience for our guests to enjoy the fireworks from our stunning roof terrace.
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