Phu Quoc’s Hospitality Boom: The Future of Travel in Vietnam?
All around Saigon and Vietnam, you see (and hear) the signs of change. The economy is rapidly growing and many companies are leading the way with modern buildings, innovative businesses, and international amenities.
But it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. The infrastructure of Vietnam is having to work very hard to try to keep up with the rapid development. Waste disposal issues and slowly changing habits of many locals are obstacles to the success of new establishments. So how can the country adapt to growth while improving current conditions? Phu Quoc’s hospitality boom may be at the forefront of some solutions.
Image source: tripadvisor.com
Accommodation for the Masses in a Phu Quoc Paradise
Phu Quoc has changed dramatically in the last decade. Expansive resorts, scenic restaurants, and trendy bars now stand where trees and sand used to be. And there are no signs of this slowing down.
Pullman Phu Quoc Resort and Hotel is currently under construction. Premier Villas is in the works as well. Regent Residences Phu Quoc is set to become the first 6-star resort in Phu Quoc Island by 2020. Once complete, the Regent Residences will include 76 villas, 42 sky villas, and 120 hotel rooms, all exuding the highest standards of luxury and comfort.
Image source: hospitalitynet.org
The three major development investors in the area have carved out their own portions of Phu Quoc as well. CEO Group is developing the Sonasea Villa & Resort Complex in the Bai Truong area, consisting of internationally-recognized luxury hotel chains Novotel, Best Western, and Intercontinental, as well as smaller, mid-level hotels, villas, and hostels. The area is to set be a hub for leisure, amusement and eco-tourism in Phu Quoc.
Vingroup has taken over a chunk of northern Phu Quoc island through the Vinpearl Phu Quoc complex. Vingroup has built an amusement park there and the world’s second largest wildlife safari alongside premium accommodations in the hope of attracting foreign and domestic tourists.
The south of Phu Quoc is the new home of Sun Group, who opened the world’s longest cable car ride over sea in 2018 - one of our recommended best attractions in Phu Quoc. As part of the Sun World Hon Thom Nature Park, the cable car connects An Thới Town and Hòn Thơm Islet. Tourists have plenty of experiences available with nature and top-of-the-line luxury in the 1,000-room Sun Group resort and hotel complex.
Image source: vinpearl.com
Visitors to Vietnam’s Pearl Island of Phu Quoc
So who’s going to be staying in all those rooms? Airlines are getting in the game to shuttle new tourists to Phu Quoc. AirAsia now includes regular direct flights from Kuala Lumpur, which also connects the island to traffic from Europe. Regular charter flights bring visitors from China and Russia. Vietjet is planning to expand to flights direct from Seoul. Additionally, all domestic airlines have increased daily direct flights to the Pearl Island. As a result, Phu Quoc International Airport is expanding to meet the demands, aiding the process to swell the tourist population to five million annually by 2020.
To accommodate the differing nationalities of tourist, resorts have begun quite a curious trend. Resorts and hotels are catering their services around the general tastes and cultural sensitivities of their target market of guests. For instance, some resorts tailor their services around Chinese tourists, with daily buffets including traditional Chinese dishes as well as Vietnamese fusion. Well-known European brands follow luxury standards that guests from that region would naturally expect.
Still others, like Fusion Resort Phu Quoc, welcome guests from many different locales by offering unique services that can appeal to all nationalities. Fusion Resort’s “Fusionistas” are available to communicate with guests 24/7, in the guests’ language of choice, via their choice of messenger platform. Part butler, part concierge and part guide, the Fusionistas work hard to ensure that every guest, regardless of nationality, has an enjoyable stay at Fusion Resort Phu Quoc.
Resorts Raising Service Standards on Phu Quoc
Transportation to get tourists to the island year round - check. Bountiful accommodations to fit a range of budgets - check. High quality staff to cater to all guests needs - well… While most foreigners living in Vietnam try to understand and accept the way things are done in Vietnam, many have been frustrated by the difference in hospitality industry standards to what they are typically used to. Particularly when on vacation, people expect a carefree and enjoyable experience. Fortunately, various hotels and resorts in Phu Quoc are leading the way here as well.
Phu Quoc has long had an issue with maintaining adequate staff to meet the demands of its visitors. There simply aren’t enough local Vietnamese living on the island that are highly qualified to serve the influx of foreign tourists in all of the luxury hotels and resorts. But the people are coming, so how is the demand for hospitality staff being met?
Several resorts are partnering with vocational colleges and schools to recruit and train workers from mainland Vietnam, as well as from Phu Quoc. The resorts provide accommodation and ongoing training to help ease the transition. Additionally, a few of the resorts take things a step further by providing above average wages, better benefits packages, and more opportunities for advancement. And their efforts are evident.
The staff at Fusion Resort Phu Quoc, for example, happily care for the guests with an unmatched standard of service, express high job satisfaction and familial relationships with management. This translates to higher retention rates than many of the other resorts on the island.
At Best Western Premier Sonasea Phu Quoc, employees are provided with a good range of insurance coverage (from social and health to personal accident), and those from outside of Phu Quoc are helped with relocation costs being covered. In addition, return tickets are offered so non-local staff can visit their families. Again, this kind of effort by a resort helps to create a higher level of employee happiness, and happy staff usually means happy guests.
Image source: Best Western Premier Sonasea Phu Quoc
Another facet of maintaining guest satisfaction is preserving the pristine nature of Phu Quoc. People go to the Pearl Island to bask in the glory of nature, but it can be easily destroyed if everyone on the island isn’t mindful of responsible preservation. To this end, over half of the island remains a protected wildlife preserve, even with growth plans for the next 20 years.
Furthermore, resorts and hotels in Phu Quoc are working, to varying degrees at the moment, to reduce waste, keep the island clean, and educate staff, the local population, and guests on sustainability practices. Perhaps one of the best examples is Mango Bay Resort. Their luxury villas have been seamlessly built into the natural landscape, they carry out great efforts to maintain the coral reef in their area, and staff are required to regularly participate in Phu Quoc clean up efforts in conjunction with local waste removal groups.
Phu Quoc Tourism is on the Right Path
In many ways, Phu Quoc feels like a sort of science experiment. Clearly, there is a demand for luxury resorts and hotels and higher standards of service in a pristine environment. And these resorts and hotels are proving that it is possible to maintain profit margins while being conscious of the sustainability of the island. Of course, there is still work to be done, but Vietnam on a whole can look to Phu Quoc as a good example of what can happen in the rest of the country.
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If Vietnam is to meet its goal of being an internationally recognized “developed nation” in the next five to ten years, the country has to find the balance between proper waste management, infrastructure improvement, internationally recognized service standards AND economic development. Phu Quoc is at the forefront of positive development in Vietnam and set to be the most popular tourist destination in Vietnam. Time will tell how successful Phu Quoc will continue to be, but the future looks bright for the Pearl Island.
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