HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam – Swiss hotelier, Mövenpick, celebrated the grand opening of its Mövenpick Hotel Saigon yesterday, September 16, following a US$15 million renovation that included each and every room, public space, restaurant, and retail outlet positioned behind the property’s shimmering new modernist façade.
Located in the bustling Phu Nhuan District, just 5 minutes from Ho Chi Minh City’s international airport, the Mövenpick Hotel Saigon has been redesigned in high style — the bright, new lobby design takes shape around four incandescent, central pillars — but with the business traveler firmly in mind. Twenty-seven new rooms have been added, bringing the property’s total to 278, while a pair of new chefs have invigorated each exciting dining option.
“Ho Chi Minh City is the second fastest-growing city in the developing world, and that means business men and women are arriving here in droves, pretty much 24/7,” said Knuth Kiefer, general manager Vietnam for Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts. “The Mövenpick Hotel Saigon isn’t merely positioned at the heart of all this change, all this progress, all this energy. We are part of it. With these upgrades, we have kept pace in terms of amenity and technology while providing business and leisure travelers a respite from city life that is at once hip, serene, and accommodating.”
Kiefer presided over the celebrated 2008 renovation of Mövenpick’s sister property, the Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi, and he has brought to Vietnam’s largest city and business capital a similar blend of the practical and inventive, of the modern and traditional, of East and West.
Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts are known throughout Europe and the Middle East for their Swiss precision, hospitality, and elegance. Kiefer and his local designers have again infused this sound formula with a youthful exuberance and organic, sophisticated Vietnamese style.
It starts with the rooms, where earth tones have been accented with touches of orange and naturally lit by ceiling-to-floor windows. The bathrooms are separated from the living quarters by more glass —full-length windows with blinds — that provides privacy with the feeling of more open space.
There are five categories of accommodation in the new hotel: Superior, Deluxe, Premium, Family, and Executive Club Room. In addition, like its sister property in Hanoi, the Mövenpick Hotel Saigon will feature six rooms dedicated to the female business traveler, with specially-conceived amenities (soft hangars, make-up tables, high-powered hair dryers).
“These rooms have been very well received in Hanoi; they are a natural outgrowth of the Mövenpick philosophy, which is always looking to personalize its interaction with guests,” Kiefer said. “Part of our determination to be better than the rest lies in this greater sensitivity to guests’ needs. Our efforts on behalf of the female business traveler — a segment of our customer base that has increased tremendously — is a practical expression of our approach to service. We want to be better than the rest, but also a bit different.”
This sensibility can be seen in the dining options, some of which have already debuted to great acclaim.
Iki is a new concept, a Japanese bistro where top-quality, super-fresh sushi, tempura, and other East Asian favorites are served in a decidedly non-traditional setting. Japanese restaurants often reflect Japanese calm and reserve. There is nothing staid about the Iki menu, however, thanks to the flair of Chef Kittisukd Sujaritvetee, who arrives in Saigon from Bangkok. Likewise, there is nothing formal about Iki’s décor, with its vibrant colors, youthful staff, and modernist décor.
Lotus Court will continue to serve what many believe to be the city’s finest Chinese cuisine, including dim sum that maintains a large and devoted following among Saigon’s resident Chinese population. However, a new chef, Brendan Ng, has arrived from the Mandarin Oriental in Jakarta, bringing with him a new menu that emphasizes traditional favorites, some fusion elements, some surprises (like salmon), and an obsession with freshness.
“Our restaurants, bars, and lounges will all draw from one of the largest wine lists in Vietnam — more than 300 labels — and we will sell them at the lowest prices of any 5-star hotel in the country,” Kiefer said. “Our approach is to offer superb variety and selection that is affordable, so people can enjoy premium wines without feeling that they are paying a premium.”
Café Saigon, the property’s all-day dining restaurant, returns with its signature elements intact: the most interactive and vibrant buffet-style dining experience in the city. New to the mix is the Cay Da Café, a brand new bakery that serves up homemade ice creams, pastries, cakes, and the best European-style bread in Ho Chi Minh City. This casual venue also features an outdoor, street-side terrace.
Kiefer added that the Mövenpick Hotel Saigon is newly equipped with all the technical amenities guests — business and otherwise — have come to expect at 5-star accommodations in Asia. But again, the goal is to present each one with a practical twist:
– Instead of a full-blown spa, the hotel offers a Wellness Studio that values privacy and individual treatments over sheer expanse, ubiquitous mirrors, and mounted televisions.
– The work environments in each room are exceedingly comfortable thanks to ergonomically-correct chairs and generous desk spaces. The latter are made possible, in part, by inconspicuous-but-comprehensive communication ports that sit just beside the tabletop, leaving workspace uncluttered.
– There is little danger the Mövenpick Hotel Saigon will relinquish its reputation as the most convenient, best-equipped business hotel in HCMC. No hotel is closer to the airport, and MICE coordinators will appreciate the two large meeting rooms, a ballroom for up to 400 guests, and three boardrooms. All meeting rooms have built-in LCD projectors, motorized screens, and fabric-paneled walls that absorb sound.