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November 16, 2011

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Grand Mercure turns on the style

THE Grand Mercure Hongqiao Shanghai is a five-star hotel that is part of the international collection of Grand Mercure Hotels - each expressing the spirit of their location.

With 10 multifunction rooms, one Grand Ballroom available in various configurations and a spacious glass-roof foyer, the hotel offers more than 1,000 square meters of meeting space for special events.

General Manager Gilbert Charles Mennetret took over the hotel two months ago. With over 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry, the Frenchman has worked in Thailand, Belgium, South Korea and Wuhan, Hubei Province, in the latest 10 years.

"I am excited to take up this new challenge at Grand Mercure Hongqiao Shanghai and to explore the most vibrant city of China," Mennetret said, adding he remembers his first trip to Shanghai was 13 years ago and that the city is now totally different.

"Named 'Paris of the East' in the last century and as the hub for China and in the world for the past decade, it is a very international and very dynamic city," he said.

Every new hotel is a challenge and Mennetret said that is what he likes about being a hotelier. In his short time here, Mennetret said he has been familiarizing himself with the hotel and competitors but added he is confident of the market.

"Shanghai nearly has the biggest collection of hotels in the world, and it's a good opportunity to experience. In this active city, there are more than 200 large exhibitions happening every year and the number is still growing fast," he said.

Grand Mercure has been in the market for four years and it has established a strong reputation. They have now a large share of their business coming from repeat guests.

"Keeping up with the competition and developing new customers is very important for us to stay in business. We are indeed working on some very exciting plans and I can tell you one of them involve paying tribute to Steve Jobs," Mennetret said.

The hotel boasts a good location as it's close to more than 10 foreign consulates, two exhibition centers, shopping malls, and countless banks, offices, restaurants, and bars. It's a 10-minute walk to the Metro Line 2 and a 15-minute drive to Hongqiao International Airport and train station.

The rooms are another highlight. All rooms are equipped with kitchenette and laundry facilities.

"We also have a selection of one or two bedroom suites," the GM said. "You won't find another hotel in our class that has the same advantages."

He also said that having a great staff is definitely a hotel's most important asset.

"To me, spot the talent, pay them right, respect and develop them so that they have a sense of belonging," he said. "This will benefit our organization in the long run."

The amateur jazz musician is talkative and seems to have won over his staff in a short time.

"I truly believe in the five values of Accor: trust, respect, innovation, performance and spirit of conquest," he said. "And I will add management ethics to the list."


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