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FINALLY, THE SAMPAGUITA IS HOME

Tapping on the charm, beauty, and resiliency of the country’s National Flower, the Sampaguita, Megaworld Hotels and Resorts (MHR) aims to create a Filipino brand of service with distinct elements evoking the five senses and honoring the values of every individual by providing them excellent, experiential experiences. Yes! The homegrown hotel brand will banner hospitality traits in each of the senses—sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch starting end of July 2023 using the jasmine variety, as its symbol of hospitality.
For MHR, the Sampaguita embodies that promise to fulfill a meaningful stay and to create powerful memories that will present a real opportunity for Megaworld Hotels to develop customer loyalty. The hotel group grew from one property with Richmonde Hotel Ortigas under the Prestige Hotels Group in 1999 to become the biggest homegrown hospitality brand in the Philippines with each property showcasing the best of the Philippines. Today, it has six diverse brands in 12 locations and rooms totaling 8,000 including projects in the pipeline. These hotels and resorts include Belmont Hotel Boracay, and Manila; Eastwood Richmonde Hotel, and Iloilo; Savoy Hotel Boracay, Manila, and Mactan Newtown; Hotel Lucky Chinatown; Twin Lakes Hotel Tagaytay, Kingsford Hotel Manila in Paranaque and its latest addition Belmont Hotel Mactan, and the soon-to-open Chancellor Hotel Boracay with 550 rooms and the biggest hotel in the country, Grand Westside Hotel with its 1,500+ rooms.
TOUCHING THE HEART OF EVERY FILIPINO At the helm of the Sampaguita Project is Cleofe Albiso, Managing Director, Megaworld Hotels and Resorts. “We really desire for our brand to stand out and touch the heart of every Filipino, be the brand that one can be truly proud of. It’s our goal to be the hospitality chain whose story people can reckon with because they have seen the struggles, they have seen the journey which encompasses what every Filipino undergoes yet come out stronger from,” said Albiso whose corporate rise in the hospitality industry is one for the books. The former preschool teacher from Cebu joined the hotel industry as the first female general manager of a Marriott property in the Philippines. Since then, there was no turning back for this indefatigable lady until she was assigned as Megaworld Hotels Group General Manager and eventually as the Managing Director for MHR. Under her helm, the group received various accolades. The recent one being the Best Operational Hotel Portfolio awardee, as awarded by the PropertyGuru during the 10th Philippines PropertyGuru Awards in March this year. Albiso was also hailed as the 22nd Gold Mabuhay Awardee during the 25th Mabuhay Awards 2022 organized by the Association of Human Resource Managers in the Hospitality Industry of the Philippines. Most recently, on June 24, Albiso was named as 2023’s Rising Star In Travel by Travel Daily during the TDs Inspiring Women in Travel Asia-IWTA held in Bangkok, Thailand.   MHR boasts of its brand of culture called the Circle of Happiness. Specifically curated at the time of the pandemic, the Circle of Happiness harnesses the philosophy of love for oneself, family, work, community, and above all, God at the center of what they do. This became the groundwork for making sure Megaworld Hotels & Resorts stay true to being an employee-centric company that raises a sound approach to taking care and training its associates, protecting the environment, and delighting guests. Watch the official video here: https://fb.watch/mfrRuTT0sv/?mibextid=Nif5oz THE SAMPAGUITA PROJECT Historians believe Sampaguita may have arrived in the Philippines in the 17th century across the Himalayas. Since then, Sampaguita was grown in Filipino royal gardens and was frequently used in religious ceremonies. Heads of state, kings, movie stars, and sports champions have been receiving sampaguita leis as part of the Filipino welcome. Ambulant vendors can be found anywhere, and people buy sampaguita garlands to adorn saints and personal gods and convey good wishes. Also, fancy sampaguita garlands, crowns, and other imaginative arrangements have become mementos for special occasions such as graduations, birthdays, and fiestas. Records show it was named the national flower of the Philippines in February 1934 when American Governor-General Frank Murphy chose it to represent the people because it’s a Filipino symbol of purity, simplicity, and humility. Moreover, the flower variety has many legends attached to Filipinos. One story tells that despite Sampaguita blooms’ short-lived nature, they still fill the world with good. And therefore, is a good example for everyone to live by.
For MHR’s Sampaguita Project, the hotel chain makes sure to explore everything about this Jasmine variety and touch every visitor’s sensory journey and every guest’s experience. So that when he or she smells or sees the Sampaguita flower he would remember that warm memorable service from the Megaworld Hotels & Resorts group.
Elevating and delighting the five senses or “limang pandama” may be a tall order but Megaworld Hotels & Resorts is resolute to make the Sampaguita standard, the hotel standard in the Philippines. As the project is something organic, Albiso admits to have spent something costly. THE BEST OF SENSORY EXPERIENCE Sampaguita goes beyond the five senses. “To us, it represents the Philippines and as a homegrown brand we want to celebrate our culture with a symbol as iconic as that of a Sampaguita,” says Charlene Go-Co, Group Director of Marketing Communications and project lead. “Sampaguita represents devotion, purity, fidelity, and divine hope. It is not just a flower but a symbol encompassing many good traits about Filipinos. It might be a small flower but it shows our uniqueness,” she said. “We are here because we choose to serve the Filipinos. Our goal is to be a Filipino brand of service with distinct elements evoking the five senses and honoring the values of every individual by providing them excellent, experiential experiences,” Go-Co said. For the smell component, Megaworld Hotels & Resorts partnered with a startup called Dwellbeing which concocted the premium scent for the group called Cool Sampaguita. The concoction is consist of Sampaguita oil, eucalyptus, peppermint, and other essentials. This would be diffused in places with high foot traffic including the lounge and the public restrooms. The signature scent has a clear distinct smell of Sampaguita without being overpowering since not everyone may like the scent of the jasmine flower being associated with churches or holy dwellings. But the fusion of different scents would emphasize a unique blend specific to the hotel group. Dwellbeing also came up with other options for the signature line. Looking into the future, scents will be further developed to fit the destination properties of MHR. Guests may also book themselves a rejuvenating massage using sampaguita massage oils available upon request to further make the duration of their stay more relaxing. Looking at a plethora of possibilities, the properties will also soon be providing face mists for added comfort especially for destinations like Boracay. On top of this, the management brand aims to develop a service that is eager to provide experiences and elevate every touch point through a team that is intuitive and sensitive to guest needs. MHR has also set up programs to make greeting guests with their names as part of the standard. Beyond that, MHR wants to treat locals and returning Filipinos with nostalgic original Filipino music while giving international guests opportunity to appreciate local talent. One can imagine hearing piped-in music, all instrumentals – throughout the hotel from the popular songs of Anak, Gary Valenciano’s Sana Maulit Muli, Araw-Gabi by Regine Velasquez, all the way to Ely Buendia’s El Bimbo, among many others. By playing original Filipino music from 6:30 to 8:30 am and from 4:00-6:00 pm we celebrate homegrown talents and their gift of music and the arts.
Next time you come over to eat, don't be surprised to see the national flower part of your dining experience. Adding in a taste of something new, expect petals or even Sampaguita buds to tickle your palate through dishes part of MHR’s select signature dishes. May it be a four-course dinner or around good friends and cocktails, expect a choice of twists with the essence of this aromatic flower. You may also enjoy the sampaguita through artisanal breads, jams, entrees and soothing tea concoctions as an option in the property’s in-house dining outlets.
At the implementation of the project l, all employees shall be wearing the ‘Pambansang Bulaklak’ pin on their left chest symbolizing love for work and service to others. An especially designed gold Sampaguita pin with five petals including the Philippine Flag on it, will serve as an emblem or a constant reminder for all MHR associates for them to “EMBRACE our culture, UPHOLD our values, EDUCATE our guests, and CELEBRATE our uniqueness.” For now, MHR is growing its own Sampaguita flowers across all destinations. Some, like Richmonde Iloilo, revealed that properties have partnered with the local agriculture department to abate the shortage of Sampaguita in the region. Megaworld Hotels & Resorts is currently in touch with a local farm in San Pedro to explore more possible collaborations. The Sampaguita Project is progressive. MHR intends to share it for the love of Filipinos and for Philippine travel. Indeed, the Sampaguita has found home at MHR. Looking into the bigger picture, this could be the start of helping the Philippines' National Flower out of its extinction and eventually the revival of the Sampaguita industry in the country. To know more about the Sampaguita Project, visit Megaworld Hotels & Resorts’ website, www.megaworldhotels.com.
This story is an entry to COMCO Mundo’s “UNMASKED: The COMCO Mundo Write to Ignite Season 3”. The initiative aims to pull and collate powerful stories from the Philippine blogging communities. “UNMASKED” aims to explore how each mask is a person brimming with hope and wonders to share with others, as well as why it is important to tell their inspiring journeys in life. The “Write to Ignite” Season 3 is made possible by COMCO Mundo League of Enterprises, with airasia, Babyflo, PHILUSA Corporation, Century Tuna, Licealiz, Lamoiyan Corporation, Rémy Martin, and Uratex Monoblock as brand partners. #unmasked #ComcoMundo #sampaguitahospitality #hospitalityPH #MegaworldHotels&Resorts

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