Marriott ready to reap benefits as Clark booms

Angelo G. Garcia

Posted at Oct 06 2018 10:32 AM

CLARK, Pampanga -- International hotel chain brand Marriott recently opened its third hotel in the country, at Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga. Located beside Widus Hotel and Casino, it's the first internationally branded 5-star luxury hotel in the area. 

Standing 17 storeys high, the Clark Marriott Hotel is the highest structure inside the former US base. The hotel has 260 rooms and amenities standard to a luxury hotel including five restaurants and bars, a grand ballroom, spa, fitness center, pool bar, and kids club. It is also the first hotel in the region to offer keyless entry. 

“The Clark Marriott is the first internationally branded hotel inside Clark Freeport Zone. The first hotel in Clark to offer keyless access to our rooms. The first hotel to bring the biggest rewards program in the world closer. The tallest structure in the freeport zone, standing 68 meters tall, making the first hotel to give you the best view of the city,” announced Clark Marriott Hotel general manager Goeran Soelter during its recent opening ceremony. 

Clark Marriott Hotel is Marriott International's third hotel in the country and first 5-star luxury hotel in Pampanga. Photo by author

The hotel's lobby is sleek and modern and features neutral tones like gray and and brown. Handout

The Lounge is a dining outlet at the lobby that serves Marioott and Kapampangan favorites. Handout

The grand ballroom. Handout

A deluxe double room with Kapampangan touches like parol-inspired carpets and wallpaper. Photo by author

Urban Coffee is the hotel's in-house coffee shop. Photo by author

Clark Marriott Hotel's Quan Spa offers relaxing massages and other treatments. Photo by author

Clark is considered one of the most progressive areas in the country. With its own international airport, a well-designed urban planning, and located just a couple of hours away from Manila, it's a prime choice for businesses and investors. 

“There's a lot of enthusiasm there in terms of what have been invested into Clark. I've spoken about the airport expansion and there's a lot of potential there and that's interesting to us because it brings our customers right where we want them. Additionally there's the discussion about the train connection between Manila and Clark, which will cut down the travel time dramatically,” Soelter said. 

The opening of the new hotel is just one of the many projects in the freeport zone. Clark has been the center of development in the Central Luzon region in recent years. This includes the ongoing development of the New Clark City under the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).

The ribbon-cutting ceremony during the grand opening of Clark Marriott. Handout

Business has been booming in the area and several businesses including other international hotels are set to open in there soon. When the Clark International Airport expansion is finished, business is expected to grow even further. 

The ongoing and future developments are what keep businessmen optimistic of the region. 

“As you know, there are a lot of infrastructure projects here, and I know there is a market here who cannot enjoy this kind of facility and they have to go to Manila. But Manila is very congested and there's a lot of traffic. I have received a lot of feedback from different market segments that they are expecting this kind of project. Not to mention, BCDA, they want to have proper facilities to showcase to all of the investors. I'm pretty positive about the developments here and not only me,” said Widus Philippines Inc. chief executive officer Daesik Han. 

(From left) Mariott International vice president for the Philippines Victor Clavell, Widus Philippines Inc. chief executive officer Daesik Han, and Clark Marriott general manager Goeran Soelter. Handout

Widus is one of the major developers in Clark. The company also plans to develop its existing property where Widus Casino and Clark Marriott Hotel are located, including commercial centers, a water park, and other international hotels. 

The company is also in talks with the BCDA in acquiring a 250-hectare property for a golf course and other leisure and entertainment facilities. 

“I don't think I'm not the only one who feels the sincerity of this government to try to make this Clark metropolis. With the expansion of the airport, I'm pretty sure that this area will be in the global radar,” Han said. 

“At this moment, I am focusing on Clark right now. I've been negotiating with BCDA for a 250-hectare property for a golf course, not only that but also a lot of different outdoor activities. So that when people stay in Clark, not only at my hotels, I want to build something they can enjoy,” he said. 

Marriott International is likewise optimistic about not only the Clark market but also the Philippine market in general. The US-based company has several hotels opening soon including Sheraton Manila at Newport City in Pasay City and The Westin Manila Bayshore at Entertainment City in Paranaque City. Marriott manages and operates various brands including Courtyard by Marriott, which opened a branch in Iloilo City this year.

In the next three years, the company will open seven more hotels around the country. And by 2021, it will be managing a more than 2,800 rooms in the Philippines. 

“For us, we want to be where the customers want to be. Of course, in key metropolitan destinations like Manila's business districts are ideal, resort and leisure destinations are fantastic. We look for a combination of both urban hotels but also leisure resorts. As a management company, we are working closely with the development community here in the Philippines and pitching our brands. ...You have tremendous beaches here. That's where we want to have resorts and we want to bring not only the Filipino leisure traveler but the global leisure traveler here to experience the brands as well,” explained Peter Foreman, Marriott International senior director for sales and distribution in the Philippines.