By Ronnel Domingo
DAVAO CITY, Philippines–Marco Polo Hotels Management Ltd. is expanding its facilities here with a convention center and additional rooms as Mindanao’s largest city attracts the growing interest of convention organizers and business executives on leisure travel.
Stanley Lau, general manager of Marco Polo Davao, said in an interview the company had not yet set a definite amount to invest but that this was “easily more than P300 million.”
“We are still in talks with building designers, but the owners–the Dominguez family through Halifax Capital Resources Inc.–have given instructions toward expansion as soon as possible,” Lau said. “Money is not an issue.”
He said the priority is to build a convention center that could accommodate 1,000 people at a time and possibly 100 additional rooms.
Marco Polo Davao’s existing 18-story building has 245 rooms and a ballroom that is big enough for 500 people.
Lau, a native of Hong Kong where MPHML is based, said the planned new building would rise on a vacant lot at the back of the hotel.
“Our priority is a new and larger convention venue and its design would determine the number of the additional rooms,” he said.
The veteran hotelier said between 70 percent and 80 percent of Marco Polo Davao’s existing rooms were occupied, which “are quite healthy numbers.”
At the same time, Lau said the firm has been spending on sprucing up the nine-year-old hotel, including the repainting of the exterior areas as well as the refurbishing of the rooms.
“We have been doing this little by little [over] the past two years, starting with the topmost floors,” he said.
Further, Marco Polo expects to finish work on a P50-million recreation complex on its fourth floor by yearend.
Having been soft-launched in August during the local Kadayawan festival, the complex called The Deck comprises a restaurant, a function room, a spa and a fitness center that includes a 25-meter swimming pool.
“All of these are part of our efforts to offer amenities that would provide the pampering and indulgence that our market wants,” Lau said.
“This is also a strong statement from us about the opportunities that we see as Davao City starts to realize its potential as big tourist drawer,” he said.