New World Manila Bay Hotel general manager Mark Heywood always carries with him a booklet that outlines the guiding principles of the hospitality brand’s character—“Ways We Work.”
The aubergine-colored two-by-three-inch booklet lists five qualities that the 300-strong staff of executives and employees of the hotel must know by heart in discharging their respective duties. They have to be “Engaging, Natural, Perceptive, Genuine, and Inspiring,” all together making them a cut above the rest in the very competitive industry.
Besides these, the New World culture, according to Heywood, further promotes the importance of family as a team, which he finds to already be intrinsic among his Filipino colleagues.
“Here in the Philippines, family is always the top priority, and that’s one trait, which is not only admirable but sets Filipinos apart from most cultures,” he averred in this one-on-one interview with The Sunday Times Magazine.
Married to a Filipina in fact for 34 years and a satisfied Manila resident for a cumulative eight years, Heywood is not just a mentor but a father figure as well to New World’s employees. In turn, he proudly shares that in an industry where it is commonplace for hoteliers to jump from one property to another, they have seen 90-percent of their staff to be very loyal ever since New World acquired the property that used to be Hyatt Regency Hotel in 2014.
“We treat our guests and associates with the warmth and friendliness of an extended family,” Heywood said, implementing what is written in the all-important booklet.
The hotel’s communications officer Joey Silvestre attested that their boss is approachable and available to any of them at any time of the day—and night—maintaining open-door policy.
“He is just like a real father to everyone who works here, but no one has dared call him ‘dad’ just yet,” Silvestre joked.
Already a father to two boys in a previous marriage, Heywood shared that he met then flight stewardess Nora Castro in Bahrain during his stint at Holiday Inn. His brood has since grown, blessed with three more sons, all living abroad today.
Before his posting at New World Manila Bay, Heywood was area general manager at Marco Polo Hong Kong for five years, following an impressive 19 years as general manager of various Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts properties and other establishments in China, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand and the Philippines.
In his LinkedIn profile where he confirmed his move back to Manila, Heywood remarked, “In my many years as a Hospitality Professional I have opened hotels and I have refurbished hotels and now for the first time I am re-branding a hotel. A whole new experience!”
In total, the top executive has 35 years of hotel experience, which he said started when he was a waiter in a restaurant in the United Kingdom. As such, Heywood, who is a graduate of Hotel Management at Hollings College Manchester, practically knows every aspect of the trade rising from the ranks, and even functioning as chef in one of his assignments.
Here at New World Manila Bay Hotel, his day starts with an inspection around the 33-storey establishment, checking every area, which he does again before going home in one of the upper floors.
Asked what his foremost consideration in hiring an employee is, he easily said attitude is most important to him.
“I may not know about electrical connections, but the attitude of one applying as electrician I can assess within two minutes into the interview,” Heywood averred.
He also values understanding the significance of every aspect with regard to the operations of the business—why for example a chiller costing millions is important to acquire, or why some employees need to attend a conference in New York.
Next in importance to family among Heywood and the hotel’s principles is community involvement.
“We commit ourselves to the ideal of sharing and giving, and show care and responsibility for the environment we operate,” the general manager explained.
“We also dedicate ourselves to constantly evolve our skills, our practices, our standards and our technologies. We move forward by never standing still in our advocacy to education,” he continued.
Heywood imparted that New World Manila Bay Hotel takes on trainees and interns from various hospitality and culinary schools, with a good number hired by the end of their work experience.
Respect is another important principle taken to heart at New World, which they do when they “show respect and courtesy to others that we would for ourselves” —their take on the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
And while luxury abounds at New World, humility also pervades in the five-star hotel. “We serve ourselves by first serving others,” Heywood elaborated.
“And as for integrity, we will uphold the highest level of honesty and fairness in all our relationships,” he added.
New World’s principles, have allowed them in a very short time to please such guests as Miss Universe Canada 2016 Siera Bearchell who returned in February after the pageant; the Zombies when they had their concert in 2015; and Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang and his wife during the APEC Summit held here.
Proud of their brand of service, as “Providers of Modern Oriental Hospitality,” Heywood noted how New World’s properties in Hong Kong, China and Vietnam have won industry awards. But for the two-year-old Manila Bay property, the Mabuhay Awards are what they are eyeing—the most coveted awards in the Philippine hospitality since 1984.
“We were close to getting it in 2016,” said Heywood, enthusing that there is a big possibility they can finally reap the distinction in the next edition.
New York City-based travel site Oyster, however, has awarded New World Manila Bay among its Best Kids-Friendly Hotels in Metro Manila, Best Luxury Hotels in Metro Manila, and Best Business Hotels in Metro Manila.
The recognitions, according to Heywood, are both cause for celebration and a testament to their principles in action.
“We delight in our successes and our individuality,” he smiled.
Up to the challenge
As one who has amassed decades of experience in the hospitality industry, Heywood acknowledges how customers have become more demanding and exacting in the kind of service they wish to experience, quickly adding that New World Manila Bay is up to the challenge.
“The way we communicate has changed a lot, too. Seldom do we send letters now. It’s through email that we communicate with our clients, same with associates and colleagues,” he said.
Even as he is an old timer in the industry, the staff shared with The Sunday Times Magazine that their boss is the most updated among them in all social media platforms—Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
And given his utmost enjoyment of meeting and dealing with people, they attest that Heywood exemplifies what a true hotelier is and should be with, of course, his distinct brand of management that goes so well with the principles of the “New World.”