Published by Ozgur Tore
Monday, 09 May 2011
Size may not always matter, but for Phnom Penh’s newest luxury hotel bigger is bolder when it comes to luring MICE clients.
With its 1,800-square-metre Grand Ballroom – the largest in Cambodia — providing a show-stopping centrepiece for events, the Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra aims to establish itself as the country’s premier venue for MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) events.
Situated in the heart of Indochina with major hubs such as Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City within easy striking distance, Phnom Penh is positioned to host important corporate events and exhibitions.
Until now, however, the city has lacked truly top grade facilities to match its potential as a major MICE player in the region. The advent of the Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra, however, has changed all that.
In addition to the ballroom, the hotel has a range of other facilities for MICE clients, including five boardrooms, mobile communications systems and flexible accommodation for small- to medium-scale functions. The hotel also has a fully equipped business centre. Wireless Internet is available throughout the property.
The ballroom and the boardrooms are all fitted with state of the art audio-visual equipment – the fruit of a USD1.5 million investment on the part of the hotel. Meanwhile, clients who require multi-lingual capabilities can utilise the equipment for simultaneous translation in three languages.
The ballroom has earned its ‘Grand’ moniker. Towering ceilings are bedecked with crystal chandeliers, the floor is luxuriantly carpeted and there’s even an oversized elevator from the hotel’s drive to the ballroom to allow vehicular access for car exhibitions.
At the head of the room, a giant screen backs a spacious stage while two further screens are hung from the room’s right wall.
These additional screens can be used for smaller scale events, for which the ballroom can be partitioned into three separate rooms to create a more intimate atmosphere.
At full size, the ballroom can host up to 2,000 guests theatre-style while, for banquets and buffets, as many as 1,200 guests can be catered for.
A dedicated kitchen serves ballroom functions, and a complement of hotel chefs and wait staff alike have been extensively drilled to cope with myriad challenges presented by large-scale events.
When the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) was held in Cambodia earlier this year the hotel entertained thousands of guests in the ballroom during separate events organised by delegations from Indonesia and the city of Pattaya in Thailand.
The property has also played host to guests from the French embassy in Phnom Penh while weddings and gala gourmet dinners have also been held in the magnificent space.
“We had the room at full capacity for both the events at the ATF and the atmosphere was fantastic,” says Guiliano Callegaro, Food and Beverage Manager at the hotel. “The great thing about the space though is that we can adapt it for different sized groups.
“Our job is to make sure that the event lives up to the surroundings by providing top-class service and food. We’ve passed the test on several occasions already and we are determined to maintain the standards that have now been set.”
In addition to onsite facilities, MICE clients can also benefit from Sofitel’s Inspired Meetings concept – a bespoke service where a team of dedicated planners, chefs and concierges are made available to personalize and perfect a function or an event.
Beyond built-for-business amenities, leisure facilities at the hotel include a spa, a fully-equipped fitness centre and two outdoor swimming pools. The hotel’s eight restaurants and bars cater amply for gastronomes.
While Siem Reap has long reigned as Cambodia’s premier MICE destination, Phnom Penh is emerging as one of the most dynamic capitals in the region with a range of eating and entertainment options complementing tourist attractions such as its spectacular Royal Palace. The world-famous temples of Angkor are a short flight away.
“It is about striking the right balance,” says Didier Lamoot, area general manager of the hotel. “We expect that two of every three of our guests will be a corporate traveller, but they will want to relax as well as work.”