Alain Borgers Takes On The Helm of The Alpha Suites
Alain Borgers has been in the hospitality management for over two decades and he is not slowing down. After retiring from a huge international brand of hotels and properties, he takes the reins of the Alpha Suites as president and consultant to Alphaland Corporation's Chairman Bobby Ongpin. Moreover, he also works as consultant to Modena Group and Field Realty, which are also both into real estate and hospitality management. On a side note, he will also be opening soon his French restaurant Metronome, together with Elbert Cuenca and the Joël Robuchon-trained chef Miko Calo. As Alpha Suites recently opened its doors to the public, Alain is guiding it to blossom in the hospitality industry, particularly in the line of five-star luxury serviced residences at the heart of the city's business district.
ALAIN BORGERS: The interiors undeniably Bobby Ongpin's taste, flair, and international experience. The advantage of the Alpha Suites is that you have 250 well-appointed rooms (one, two, and three-bedroom suites) that are spacious, in a great location, and part of the Alphaland Makati Place complex where you can access facilities of the City Club. It gives a unique package in the suite or residence business that no one else has in Makati.
PT: What for you is the ideal staycation experience or a suite life experience.
AB: Well, it is a combination of all that… First, if you are interested in the suite product, you’re interested in space. Obviously, we have that here. What is also important is the facilities that you have inside your suite. Here, it is fully equipped. You can cook in the full-sized kitchen, and you have all the other necessary appliances and equipment. Why look for a suite when you come to Manila instead of a classic hotel? There are reasons for that and for one, you need independence, freedom and space. Here you can have that. Plus all the other products that we can offer. That makes the difference.
The Alpha Suites is the city's newest 5-star serviced residences that caters to discerning business and leisure travellers. From high-end interiors to upscale amenities, every state-of-the-art suite was designed with the highest-quality bespoke furnishings and features; they come complete with a full-size kitchen with top-of-the-line appliances, a comfortable living area, a spacious bedroom, and Philippe Starck-designed Duravit bathroom fixtures. Each suite is generously sized, ranging from 63-sqm one-bedroom suites to a 262-sqm three-bedroom Presidential Suite, created to provide living spaces where you can relax, work and play in the same comfort you would enjoy at home.
Along with its prestigious Ayala Avenue Ext. address and top-of-the-line amenities, the comprehensive range of luxury guest facilities includes an expansive 80-metre lagoon-style outdoor swimming pool and 500-sqm gym, as well as access to nine fine restaurants (the same acclaimed restaurants in The Alpha Suites’ sister company, Balesin Island Club); to sports and recreational facilities, such as indoor tennis, basketball, badminton, and squash courts, boxing and martial arts arena, billiards, high-definition virtual golf simulator, private screening room, Wii game room; to Aegle Wellness Center, a state-of-the-art integrative health and wellness center, and Top of the Alpha, Manila’s most exciting new jazz bar and lounge. Business travellers can hold impressive meetings and corporate events at the meeting rooms, 76-seat auditorium, banquet hall, Tabacalera Cigar Divan, or in the private dining rooms. All the amenities ensure utmost privacy as they are exclusive to The Alpha Suites guests and The City Club members.
Guests can also pick up fresh produce and shop for their daily needs at The Shops at Alphaland Makati Place Mall just an elevator ride away. Long-stay guests can even avail of the convenient pre-arrival refrigerator stocking service for essentials such as milk and eggs. Overseas travellers can also rent a pocket Wi-Fi to stay connected when they step out.
In a nutshell, The Alpha Suites exceeds the typical hotel experience with its unbeatable array of amenities and with an incredible bang for your buck, with rates starting at PHP6,000++.
AB: There’s a long way to go. Alpha Suites is new, for obvious reasons we are not part of an international chain or organization… so we have to develop the product. Alpha Land is a strong brand, but there is work in the development of each product under it. So that takes a little bit more time.
PT: With your years of expertise in the hospitality industry, on what standpoint are you right now?
AB: I’m enjoying what I’m doing now, I’m free! (laughs) I am my own boss and obviously I’ve had many years of experience in the industry, so I already have a good knowledge of the market and built a network of clients over the years. I’m already at the phase where I can pass my knowledge and expertise in the industry to a company like Alphaland which is less structured and at the start of something new. And that’s very interesting for me.
PT: Do you still encounter some challenges?
AB: The challenge is basically the fact that we’re starting from scratch. And we have to let the world know that there is something amazing here in Makati. Something new that is an alternative to what they are used to experience when they come to Manila. It’s a positive challenge. We have our liberties and have the opportunity to build brand structures and frames.
PT: What is your brand philosophy? What will the guests experience when they stay in Alpha Suites?
AB: We’re working on an Asian philosophy or approach of service. Here, we talk about flexibility, attitude… One thing I always say to my people, ‘I will hire you for your attitude, then knowledge we can develop after.’ We want people to understand what hospitality means. You have to take care of your guests the way you’d take care of them in your home. And the Filipinos are very good at that. You don’t find that in all Asian countries. The house is open to your guests, to your friends, to your family. This is a philosophy or ‘feel’ that we want the guests here to experience: that they are welcome, and we mean it, and it’s an extension of their homes. Of course, there are rules and regulations and it’s a business, but we want to feel them at home. And that’s how we build loyalty from guests.
PT: I remember that you were very hands-on before in your previous hotel...
AB: Here as well but a bit... Before as General Manager I really had to walk and check on things but with Alpha Suites, it’s different because I am not here all the time. Basically I just walk to the front desk and go around, check on a few things. Physically, I’m just here 8 to 10 times a month as with technology nowadays, I can just be in contact with my team 24/7. When I’m here, it’s more to strategise, help them fix the policies, the procedures, the vision, the goals of each quarter, the direction of the business... I do not need to check on the croissants anymore (jokingly) but I still love to check on those little details (laughs)
AB: Hotel business is a people business. You obviously have to do marketing, finance, and whatnot. But most importantly it’s about dealing with people’s needs and you cannot be a good hotelier if you are not people-oriented. Even if today the hotel industry is somehow changing because the people are changing and new generations are coming in, you have to be more marketing-oriented because competition is tougher.
PT: What can you say about the hotel industry here in the Philippines? In the last couple of years there were a lot of hotels and resorts that have opened...
AB: It’s only the beginning. If you compare to the other big cities in Asia—not necessarily Hong Kong or Shanghai—like Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta... they are way ahead Manila when it comes on the number of hotels and the variety of international hotel brands. Today there’s a reason why these big names start to come in here—tourism is developing, the infrastructures are growing, so it’s only the beginning and it’s gonna boom in the next five to ten years.
PT: With this perspective, what is your vision for Alpha Suites?
AB: Definitely to be the leader when it comes to five-star serviced residence type of business. There is place for that. Obviously, we’re not the only one around here but there is definitely a place for people to stay for a longer period of time. We cater to business and leisure travellers who need a 'home away from home' for a longer period of time and with great ease of access to the city and their needs.
If the Chairman wants to do more in the future, we’ll see.
For bookings and inquiries: +63(2) 737-0088 firstname.lastname@example.org | www.thealphasuites.com