Venue of choice
HIDDEN AGENDA (The Philippine Star) - August 8, 2015 - 10:00am

The country’s bid to become a destination of choice for the MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) industry in the region has just gotten a major boost.

Marriott Manila has recently officially opened the Marriott Grand Ballroom, the Philippines’ largest ballroom and a first-of-its-kind facility that will redefine the country’s MICE industry.

Here is how Marriott describes this new architectural marvel:

 This new architectural marvel offers a total 8,000 square meters of function space with 28 versatile meeting space including six VIP sky boxes.  A blank canvas perfect for small or large meetings, all types of celebrations and grand events from product launches to concerts.

The main ballroom boasts of 3,000 sqm of pillarless venue that can easily accommodate 4,000 guests for cocktails and 2,500 for banquet set-up.  This massive venue can be subdivided into four sections and features state-of-the-art technology, including the only ballroom that uses the so-called SkyFold Technology which uses vertical folding partitions that comes from the ceiling, and 176 programmable pillow ceiling ights that change to 360 colors and can adjust the ceiling height from 12 meters to 10 meters for a more intimate gathering - another first in the Philippines. These hi-tech features can be operated at a push of a button.

Also intended for an exhibition space, each segment of the ballroom features nine utility boxes that provide event suppliers with data, Internet, water and even drainage. There are also catwalks and high steel platform structure to give flexibility to design and easy access for lighting effects or hanging decorations. To cater to event attendees, there are1,505 underground parking spaces across six basement levels,.

This grand ballroom is also set to become the wedding venue every bride dreams of. With opulent space, incomparable state-of-the-art technology, glamorous photo venue, elegant bridal suites with private gardens, versatile ceremonial halls, and impeccable service, the Marriott Grand Ballroom promises the perfect setting in making every moment unforgettable. Match it with comprehensive packages to suit the most extravagant affairs to intimate celebrations. Each celebration will be remembered for its unsurpassed grandeur and flawless execution. Any dream-wedding fantasy can be turned into an unforgettable reality.

The abundant space of the Marriott Grand Ballroom was designed by international hospitality firm professionals Gettys Group.  Overall concept of the design is “Bayanihan” a Filipino term for the community spirit and a representation of the Marriott Grand Ballroom as a source of local pride, a symbol of unity and celebration. Its modern and sleek design are accentuated with a touch of Filipino heritage which is evident with the lighted bamboo statement piece at the lobby, complemented with customized pieces by renowned Filipino furniture designer Kenneth Cobunpue. More intricate details depict the local arts and cultures, inspired from indigenous colors and materials, even traditional dance showcasing spatial flow and movement. See these interpretations curved walls, slated wood ceilings, accent pieces and fabrics in different hues of brown and warm colors, tropical plant decors and curved wall inspirations.

For an added touch of elegance, Marriott Manila commissioned Hong Kong based art consultant and international interior decorator Anja Silling of Melange Intertiors Ltd. to create a luxurious ambience through modern art pieces. Among her other prestigious clients include several Marriott properties, such as The Ritz Carlton Hotel Moscow, Russia and The Marriott Vacation Club in Macau, China, and other international luxury hotel projects, luxury residences, corporate and private clients.

The Marriott Grand Ballroom houses over a hundred pieces of modern art featuring a mix of local established Philippine artists and international artists as well as custom-made works from Melange Studio.  All artworks reflect Philippine culture blended with Marriott International art concept that can be seen through statement pieces such as floral mood wall relief specially made by Melange, timeless works by Tony Twigg, an Australian artist with strong Filipino influences, art installations by Filipina sculptor Impy Pilapil, and Filipino contemporary artist Roberto Robles.

Foreign governments like those of Singapore and Hongkong are spending huge amounts to promote their respective countries as MICE destinations. Just recently, I happened to attend a press conference about the collaboration between the Singapore Tourism Board, Singapore Airlines (SIA) and the Changi Airport Group targeting the Filipino MICE industry and offering an array of incentives. The announcement coincides with Singapore’s celebration of its 50th birthday as one people.

Here is part of a report from travelupdate.ph: “Singapore MICE Advantage Programme, a program of the three groups, provides organizers with privileges and support covering marketing, provision of maps and collaterals, complimentary welcome arrival desks at Changi Airport, assistance in venue recommendations, introductions with various vendors and suppliers, and subventions. Applications for SMAP are open until Dec. 31, 2016 for events taking place by 2017. CAG and SIA also created a special program for MICE travelers flying via the airline. For all new MICE bookings to Singapore made on SIA and sister airline SilkAir from Aug. 5, 2015 to Oct. 31, 2015 for travel before Jan. 1, 2016, the organization will receive a travel incentive per participant ranging between S$20 to S$25. SIA has other deals for MICE and business travelers: a new lounge in Manila, a one-day Singapore Explorer Pass to 20 attractions worth $36, and free guided tour of Singapore for transit passengers, among others.”

In 2013, Singapore was able to lure 3.5 million business and MICE visitors. More and more hotels are being built in Singapore to add to its current 390. This country is not the leading city for association meetings for nothing.

But then of course, Singapore adds more and more attractions for tourists and business travellers alike. These include Gardens by the Bay, Alive Museum, Madame Tussauds, and new rides such as Puss in Boots Giant Journey at Resorts World Sentosa.

It is great that companies like Resorts World Manila and Marriott Manila have taken it upon themselves to promote the Philippines to the world.

Let me also take this opportunity to thank people like businessman par excellence Manny Pangilinan who led the delegation that defended our country’s bid to host the FIBA world basketball championships in Manila against a very tough contender like China, which eventually prevailed. We fought a good fight. It was David fighting Goliath from the beginning. But we are a proud nation and we know that one cannot win a battle that was never fought. And so we fought. And we lost, but we still had our heads up high.

For comments, e-mail at maryannreyesphilstar@gmail.com

 

ACIRC ADVANTAGE PROGRAMME ALIVE MUSEUM ANJA SILLING OF MELANGE INTERTIORS LTD ART BALLROOM MARRIOTT MARRIOTT GRAND BALLROOM MARRIOTT MANILA MICE SINGAPORE
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