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Cover Story: The Garden of Tianjin, Hilton Tianjin Eco-City
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The Garden of Tianjin

Hilton Tianjin Eco-City

By Richard J.Cook

BT 201503 37 Cover story 97A9714The hospitality sector has a lot to offer as rivals play on the market, but once in a while something really special comes around, something jaw-dropping and different. We are all very familiar with hotels, offering towering heights for views and splendid inner city locations, but true tranquillity is lost. So where do you go to escape the rush hour chaos, the sound of horns and the brisk pace of inner city life?

At the heart of the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city, you may see what appears to be a Qing style palace. At a glance this beautiful structure could even be mistaken for the Forbidden City. This is the Hilton Eco-City. We spoke to Mr. Alan Tam, the new General Manager of this outstanding new hotel.

Congratulations on your recent appointment as General Manager of the Hilton Tianjin Eco-City. What are the new challenges and duties that you must entail?
Thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be speaking with you today. As you know, our hotel is relatively new as it opened in January. Thus, the first challenge is to effectively build the Hilton hotel team and bring them closer to one another to form a family here. It's very important to have good working relationships and be familiar with other members of staff, as we must all contribute to the success and development of our hotel. Also, we need to display our splendid and unique features as we promote the hotel. We are the first Hilton here and we have a lot to offer this fantastic area.

With rising environmental issues, it has been noted that you have led successful energy saving campaigns in previous hotels. Therefore would you say there is something special about this particular Hilton, being in the Eco-City? How will the Eco-City environment influence the day-to-day operations of this hotel?
Actually, we are not just a hotel in the Eco-City, we are part of this Eco-City. Besides the environmentally friendly technical aspects and equipment, we offer cutting edge ecological surroundings, bringing guests closer to the beauty of nature. Our hotel boasts a striking appearance as it takes on the form of a Qing Imperial Palace, something that other hotels cannot generate. The hotel itself is a vast establishment of 80,000m2. Keeping the traditional Qing styles, the Hilton can be proud of its 40,000m2 of green area, consisting of 5 towers and 5 courtyards. The architecture and theme of the hotel also ensure that there are no railings or other, sometimes displeasing, eye-soars that can taint the beauty here. These aesthetics provide for a beautiful venue with a vast space to cater for all types of events, in addition to the first class leisure on offer.

BT 201503 39 Cover story 97A9742This design aspect captures the important traditional Chinese philosophies of tranquillity. Furthermore, it brings together the past and present characteristics of Chinese culture and delivers it with nature. The five courtyards illustrate a traditional Qing dynasty custom of introducing people into the imperial palace. As guests pass through the beautiful landscapes presented in these courtyards, they are welcomed into the natural beauty of Chinese culture and tradition. This is one of the unique features that our hotel offers and links us to the serenity that the Eco-City area offers.
Within the Eco-City area, there are a host of fantastic parks that bind together to enhance the relaxing atmosphere that we offer. To bring our guests closer to the beautiful eco area, we have planned jogging and cycling routes for them to explore and enjoy the scenery.

In terms of the Eco-City influence, I can undertake a green challenge that I have being successful on in the past, which is reducing the carbon footprint and making the hotel more energy efficient. We are situated in the world's first eco-city, thus being eco-friendly is an important aspect that we aim to offer.

With the Tianjin and the Binhai areas noted for their vast GDP growth and the hospitality industry's growth running parallel, do you see any equilibrium for the industry in the near future? Is Tianjin's hospitality sector's competitiveness proving to be fruitful?
BT 201503 38 Cover story 97A9734The hospitality industry here is becoming more and more challenging. But that is where innovation comes in. The need to offer people something different and attractive is critical to success. Our hotel is offering something different from the inner city hotel mentality. The Hilton Tianjin Eco-City provides a spacious retreat for a true aspect of relaxation, whilst being just a short drive from the Binhai TEDA zone or the Tianjin city centre. When a person leaves work they no longer have to be trapped in the concrete maze of the city. Instead they can retreat to the open spaces and calm environment that we offer. As you can see and feel, the atmosphere here is completely different to the brisk pace of the inner city life. You cannot hear any traffic or feel the pace and stresses of the inner city environment. This is the additional market function we can offer, that other hotels cannot match. This unique feature doesn't just challenge the Tianjin hospitality market. We are just a short while from the bustling Beijing capital, meaning our unique features also challenge that market too. Hotel guests in the city centre cannot look up to see the stars or open night sky. At Hilton Tianjin Eco-City you can relax in one of the many courtyard area's and gaze at the night sky. No traffic noise, no light pollution and no hectic city mentality.

Having a reliable team is critical for consistent success. What is your secret to keeping your team motivated in order to maintain the high standard that you achieve?
Considering this fantastic hotel and its theme I prefer to say that this is "our stage". For my team it is "our story". Our collective efforts have risen from one person and now involve 200 staff members. This hotel offers a new chance for all those involved, a chance for them to display their talents and progress themselves as individuals and as members of a team. A hotel needs personality and personality comes with its unique set of features and a team that also seeks to better ones self. Working in such a special and distinctive hotel offers a significant advantage for us all to achieve feats.

Being a very experienced and award winning member of this sector, winning the Greater China best employee in previous years, what is your recipe for success?
Actually, I don't consider myself to be a very successful person. I prefer to take the view that this is a journey and I am still travelling on it. Each day offers new challenges and ways to improve yourself and those around you, so we never stop learning and experiencing. From the people that we meet to the guests that stay with us, we can universally learn. The environment that the hotel offers also caters for this calm and focused empiricist philosophy.

What gives your hotel the edge in Tianjin's increasingly competitive hospitality sector? What makes Hilton Eco-City special?
BT 201503 40 Cover story 97A9747Chinese culture is a famed experience and we feel that many of our competitors don't offer a true Chinese experience for guests when they are staying here in China. Our traditional Chinese architecture, crossed with contemporary design and the environmental ambiance, can really edge us ahead of the standard feel of other hotels in the region. This speciality is a priceless asset as our guests can enjoy their time in something so exceptional and different. On top of this, our prime position offers a competitive and luxurious facility for any kind of event. There are 2,500 square meters of banquet space, 9 function rooms, 1 VIP room and a vast Grand Ball room covering 1,500 square meters, accommodating for 1,400. Other facilities include an indoor pool, high-tech fitness centre and a spa for guests to escape into private sanctuaries of relaxation. These combined aspects offer ensured quality and a fantastic experience for guests and business agents. And where better to mediate in China, than in an authentically themed Qing style palace. The icing on the cake is that we are a part of the Hilton family, a recognisable and famed hospitality chain. This gives us the combined recipe for true competitiveness in comparison to other hotels in the vicinity.

What is next for the Hilton Eco-City? What events should we keep our eyes and ears zoned for?
The full range of our facilities will be in operation come May, meaning that the Hilton Eco-City's strategic location within the area will have matured. Again I emphasise its accessible and ideal location for the Binhai, Tianjin and Beijing area. This highlights Hilton Tianjin Eco-City as a deserved hub for business and social events on a local, regional and international scale. Our four unique restaurants and bars provide perfect accommodation for well-executed events. International cuisine is on offer at the all-day Elements restaurant with a wide-ranging à la carte menu and buffet selection. The Arashiyama restaurant caters for the flavours of Japan. Notable dishes such as fresh sashimi, seafood teppanyaki and miso noodle soup are included here. If guests wish to maintain the traditional Chinese sentiment, they can treat themselves to the especially themed Dragon Garden. Offering a delicious spread of dim sum, deserts and beverages, the Dragon Garden truly captures the Chinese theme. Furthermore, the contemporary themed Middle Lounge offers a relaxing atmosphere for guests to enjoy beverages and pastries whilst overlooking a traditionally themed courtyard. Within the coming weeks we will also be hosting musical attractions here, to add to the atmosphere on offer.

What is your favourite way to relax and enjoy your life in Tianjin?
For myself, I enjoy bonding with the staff. As we are a new hotel, it is important to ensure our staff familiarizes themselves with one another, inside and outside of the work place. If we are to work efficiently with one another we need to communicate and enjoy each other's company. This way ensures that the staff can develop their individual and collective personality, something that is reflected on our hotel's personality. The symbolic attitude of getting involved with one another provides charisma and character and this is something that a hotel needs, in order to stand out.


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