Hospitable in Design: An interview with Andre De Jong

December 19, 2019



Gabrielle De La Cruz

Granting BluPrint an exclusive interview during his one-day stay in Manila, Radisson Hotel Group Vice President for Operations Andre de Jong talked about the relevance of hospitality in design. 

“I believe no destination is the same. Every destination has its own cultural and local components that should be incorporated into the design,” says De Jong as he emphasizes respecting the community and tradition of every hotel location. 

BluPrint: Tell us about Radisson’s design journey here in the Philippines. 

De Jong:  We opened the Park Inn in Davao in 2012. That hotel was the first iteration of what represented Park Inn at that time. The color scheme and the decoration were a lot bolder—strong ceiling colors such as red and blue were considered part of the brand DNA at that time. Clark, the second iteration of Park Inn, has changed features. It was more toned down. Iloilo and this hotel (North Edsa) are the third-generation of the brand. The brand evolves as it concerns learning experiences, marketing efforts, market research, feedback, etc. These hotels, from a design perspective, are a lot warmer, a lot toned down. Late last year, the original bar under the Park Inn logo changed from very hard colors (green, red, yellow) to a lot of softer tones. The brand has evolved and found over its first couple of years a more adaptive design look and feel, which we believe suits the market these days better and is here to stay for a little bit longer. 

Park Inn by Radisson’s outdoor pool in Davao. Image courtesy of Radisson Hotel Group

What is one aspect that is notable in the brand’s journey?

I guess it is worthwhile mentioning, both from a construction and operating perspective, that sustainability is important to acknowledge. As an organization, when it comes to design features, the use of LEDs and reducing carbon footprint is very important.

Gym inside Park Inn by Radisson Clark. De Jong says that the gym is one of the frequently visited facilities in Clark. Image courtesy of Radisson Hotel Group.

Do you follow trends when it comes to your hotel’s designs?

Trendy is a very difficult word. What is the trend now will be different a year or two later. The beautiful story to signify that is Park Inn’s design evolution, which I narrated earlier.

Interiors of Park Inn by Radisson Iloilo. Image courtesy of Radisson Hotel Group.

What would you say is Radisson’s trademark in hotel design?

If you look at our Park Inn hotels, over the four destinations where we operate now, there are lots of similarities in design. You’ll find trademark design features of Park Inn but every location will have something unique—be it the artwork on the wall, street maps incorporated in the carpets, in the corridors, etc. In that way, we recognize local culture and influences in an international brand of hotel. 

Poolside area of Park Inn by Radisson North Edsa. Photographed by Gabbie de la Cruz.

How does Filipino hospitality influence Radisson Hotels’ operations? 

The Philippines, as a country, consistently ranks in the top 5 of all of our hotels. If that is in any way a reflection of the service being provided by Filipino employees, then that is a big compliment. 

Park Inn by Radisson North Edsa’s CASA Restaurant. The space was designed in such a way that entrance and exit to and from tables would be accessible. Photographed by Gabbie de la Cruz.

What have you learned from the Philippines that you reflected in your hotel designs?

Size matters. Large groups stay in our hotels. Filipinos are very family-oriented. Also, some people tend to combine business with leisure and some people tend to go for staycations. We see that very clearly in Davao and even here in North Edsa. That factor drove us to the thought of having plenty of open and social spaces. 

Radisson Hotel Group’s Vice President for Operations, Andre De Jong

Observing all of Radisson’s hotels here in the Philippines, what would you say is the brand’s biggest lesson so far?

We learn as we go. For a hotel, I think the facilities being provided are important. What Park Inn by Radisson does in its market position, in upper-midscale, the value proposition, and the brand it stands for, it provides good value for money and accommodation with add-on facilities. What we believe the most important, based on market feedback, is to provide people with a safe and secure environment, paramount in our hotel organization, which is what we stand for.

READ MORE: 5 unbuilt hospitality and recreational spaces we wish existed

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