HANOI, Vietnam — From European black-leather wingback chairs (with their bold, silver upholstery tacks), to textured copper-colored wallpapers (featuring their subtle, miniature-bamboo motif), the suites at the new Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi give off that pleasing sense of departure. They are, the entire hotel is, more than a little bit different, which is just the way Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, the feted Swiss hotelier, wants it.
The Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi held its official grand opening with a spirited bash for some 600 people late last month. The 154-room hotel had executed a soft opening in December 2008, and its Mangosteen restaurant debuted to rave reviews in early February. Today, with final touches applied to said suites, and the christening of its health club and massage rooms on the third-floor level, all systems are go.
“Most new hotels make a claim about being ‘different’ but this is integral to the Mövenpick philosophy and we have taken this to still another level here,” said Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi General Manager Knuth Kiefer. “Our guests will see it in the décor, of course, but also in the personalized service touches we make routine. The fact that we are Hanoi’s only residence-style 5-star hotel, and we are located in the heart of a city about to celebrate its 1000th birthday, only sets us further apart.”
The Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi has assembled for guests an eclectic mix of styles and accoutrements, both modern and retro, that together create a singularly hip, harmonious space — from the public areas to the private rooms and suites. The neo-colonial façade, which opens to a somewhat formal foyer dominated by a baroque, crystal chandelier, soon gives way to the cool, modernist décor of Mangosteen, whose rich mix of whites, browns and purples recall its namesake fruit.
The hotel’s guest rooms come in three grades: Superior Deluxe (30 square metres in size), Premium Deluxe (37sm) and Junior Suite (60sm). Many feature two-tone floor schemes where the entryways and bathrooms are underscored by a slate-colored, faux-wood ceramic, while the main spaces feature walnut. In most rooms, a giant glass monolith predicates the open bathroom design, providing privacy whilst lending the entire room an open, airy, ambient quality.
“There must be flare, but that flare must work beside and in service of the practical needs of our guests, many of whom, of course, are business travelers,” Kiefer explained, noting the striking, metallic silver dressers supporting flat screen TVs, set beside workspaces boasting uber-functional desktops. “The desk chairs are ergonomically sound and comfortable, and guests will appreciate, I think, the communications dock on the large desktop. No more hunting for outlets.”
Yet these are physical qualities. Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, in general, and the Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi, in particular, pride themselves in the personal touches. In Hanoi, on Kiefer’s watch, these expressions of the service ethic are legion:
• The fleet of cars available for guest use is not just classy and varied (a 1959 Citroen touring sedan, two BMWs, a Land Cruiser). Inside the BMWs, for example, there are iPods for passenger use. “The reality is, the Hanoi airport is quite a distance from the city,” Kiefer said. “It’s a 35-, 40-minute drive and the guest should choose what to listen to, if he or she should wish to listen to anything at all. The driver should not be choosing.”
• A collection of female business traveller rooms where the décor and amenities (powerful hairdryers, padded hangers) are as well conceived as the location: same floor as the health club and massage rooms, to mitigate the travel back and forth in a robe or workout attire.
• Mattress choice: Guests can choose their preferred resilience at check-in. Indeed, at the Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi, entire floors are specially designated soft-mattress and hard-mattress.
• Conference rooms — with windows! “This is quite unusual, to have conference rooms with daylight and truly sound-proof walls,” Kiefer said. “We are proud of our MICE amenities, and I have to say they are selling very well because they are so different, so functional, so attractive.”
“Here’s something else we do a bit better than the rest,” Kiefer continued. “If the room attendant should knock on a guest’s door, for delivery of some service or for any reason, we know that guest’s name so he or she can be addressed by name. It’s no mystery who is staying at our hotel, of course, and many hotels claim to provide this finer touch, but they don’t.
“We do, and it makes a difference.”
Kiefer is quick to point out, too, that another of the Mövenpick’s distinguishing factors has nothing to do with his crack staff, or the hotel’s splendid décor. While many of Hanoi’s top hotels are located far from the centre of town, the Mövenpick couldn’t be more centrally located — on lively Ly Thuong Kiet, right next door to Pacific Place, one of Hanoi’s most prominent business/residential buildings and home to local headquarters of IBM and HSBC.
Hanoi Tower is a mere two-minute walk from the hotel’s front door. Quan Su temple is just around the corner. Hanoi’s famed Opera House, Old Quarter shopping district, myriad embassies and central train station are all located a mere five-minute taxi ride away. Something tourists, not just business travellers, will appreciate when visiting the city tomorrow or next year, on the occasion Hanoi’s 1,000th birthday.