Delta Bridges: Could you tell us about your experience in the hotel industry? What brought you to China?
Adnan Yucel: My first position as General Manager was at the Divan Hotel Talya Antalya in November 2006. This was followed by further General Manager assignments with Swissotel in Ankara and Gocek, Turkey and in Makkah, Saudi Arabia. My latest posting was with the Swissotel Foshan in China as General Manager.
My love and passion for this country brought me back here again. My first experience in China was over 11 years ago in Dalian, and I was impressed by the beauty of the country. I need not mention that the industry was booming back then, and many luxury hotels were opening. Even now, it continues to do so in China, and hoteliers have the chance to work in many different locations in many nice hotels. Of course, it's much more challenging than in the past, but it's still a good experience for a hotelier to work in China.
DB: I'm told that you arrived in Dongguan relatively recently. What are your impressions so far?
AY: Yes, I moved from Foshan to Dongguan 5 months ago. Dongguan is more industrial when compared to other cities in Guangdong. Many factories and establishments have been based in Dongguan for many years due to its strategic importance. It has a strategic position between Guangzhou and Shenzhen, and a very close proximity to Hong Kong and Macau. It's a tough city, but its strategic location makes it preferable.
DB: Could you tell us about your brand? What makes Sofitel "magnifique"?
AY: Sofitel is the only French luxury hotel brand with a presence on five continents and in more than 50 countries. Sofitel offers contemporary hotels and resorts adapted to today’s demanding and versatile consumers, who expect and appreciate beauty, quality, and excellence. Whether situated in the heart of a major city like Paris, New York, or Bangkok, or nestled away in a country landscape in French Polynesia or Brazil, each Sofitel property offers a genuine experience of the French art de vivre.
As our vision states, "Sofitel and its Ambassadors link the world with French elegance across a collection of unique addresses, offering guests and partners a personalized service enriched with emotion, performance, and passion for excellence." That makes Sofitel "Magnifique".
DB: How did two Sofitels end up in Dongguan? Is the city just especially good for luxury hotels, or is there something that we're missing?
AY: Dongguan has a strategic position in the region. It may be missing leisure attractions, but is a preferred destination for businessmen. As we know, businessmen tend to travel often, and demand luxury where they travel. Sofitel aims to provide a luxury experience to those who work hard but also want to relax at the end of the day. We represent French luxury with our design, gastronomy, and culture. Also recently, Dongguan became the most preferred leisure destination for Hong Kong tour groups. We host many groups during the weekend who want to experience the food and shopping in Dongguan while relaxing in a luxury hotel.
DB: How would you characterize the business climate in the region? Are you worried about the recent economic downturn?
AY: The business climate is moving in a positive direction so far. Our business is picking up, and the situation looks stable. However, it's impossible to ignore the recent worldwide economic downturn, which affects China because of its partnerships around the globe. China had a high ratio of growth for many years, and I believe that it's normal to slow down at some point. Also, new competitive markets, such as India, are attracting more investment, as we also see in the hotel industry. That also affects the economic strength of our region. We expect a slowdown, but also a continuous growth. It might not be as strong as 10 or 20 years ago; however, China is already the production plant for many worldwide companies, and we hope that it will remain so for many more years.